Field Technician Performance Evaluation
The value of a Mobile Workforce Solution
An employee performance evaluation or appraisal is a review of the employees’ overall contribution to the organization. It is an evaluation of the employee skills, achievements, and growth – or the lack thereof. Performance evaluations are used to provide feedback on performance over a specific period of time. Besides the feedback are performance reviews also used to justify adjusted remuneration as well as possible corrective actions. Corrective actions could include re-deployment, additional training and in some extreme cases even service termination.
The idea of employee performance review is sound from a managerial perspective. The system performance review however is not without problems. The problems that rise from this intervention happens because of human involvement in the process.
This article will look at some documented problems associated with the process of employee performance review for technical staff in service orientated organizations. The article will follow with suggestions on how these documented obstacles could be addressed.
An article published in Talent Management & HR, January 2011, by the highly acclaimed Dr. John Sullivan serves as basis for this article. The article is named “The top 50 problems with performance appraisals” (see the internet link the bibliography) and lists the identified problems under six different problem types. The first problem type – “Most serious performance appraisal problems” list the following five detailed problems:
1. Do not access actual performance – the appraisal focusses on the person, including personal traits while actual output is being ignored.
2. Infrequent feedback - quality assessment / control in the business is conducted in real time. Most employee evaluations are conducted annually.
3. Non-data-based assessment – the reliant on memory of those completing the assessment is problematic. Some criteria are “fuzzy” and subjective.
4. Lack of effectiveness metrics – Process owners hardly ever measure their processes’ contribution to attaining organization goals. Too much emphasis is placed feedback on weaknesses, determination of training needs and to identify poor performers.
5. Lack of accountability – supervisors are not held accountable for providing accurate feedback.
There are many more problems related to performance review in the article of Dr. Sullivan, but they are focus of this article.
Mobile Workforce Software as assisting resource for employee performance appraisals.
Organizations adopting a mobile workforce solution do so to streamline operations and help field technicians to provide a better service at client sites. An adopted mobile workforce solution manifests itself on two levels, namely:
First – a mobile workforce solution abandons the need for paper-based business systems; and
Second – new enhanced connectivity emerges. Connectivity based on a cloud-based solution between management, office staff, field technicians and customers with the aid of smart devices.
While there are many benefits associated with implementing a mobile workforce solution, there are some hidden, but valuable benefits that management are not aware of or take advantage of.
One hidden and unobserved benefit is value of the solution is the data that is available to assist in employee performance reviews. The data is recorded as part of specified business processes and not specifically to measure technician performance. Mobile workforce solutions tend to automate business processes as far as practically possible. The data that obtained in this particular manner is unbiased and a true reflection of the employee situation.
The data can also point at procedural inconsistencies and used to correct business processes that do not contribute to the bottom-line of the organization.
Some of the system functionalities that can be utilized as part of the technician performance review include the following:
· Time Tracking – time tracking can be set up to measure billable and non-billable time. Time tracking is crucial in organizations where labour rates are recovered based on the amount of work performed. Reports are available over specified periods of time and anomalies, either within the employee or within the business process can be addressed.
Punctuality, or lack thereof can be established with extreme accuracy. Much repeat business is depending on technician punctuality.
Time tracking can also be utilized to determine how many repeat trips where recorded. Repeat work can be analysed to establish patterns and determine if the applicable skill set is sufficient.
· Location – the location ability of a mobile workforce solution will indicate how much a technician has deviated from the prescribed route and goal destination. The data can be utilized in discussing technician performance and also for cost establishment.
· Customer satisfaction ratings – part of the business process can be a signed-off customer rating. This is done electronically. The customer ratings can indicate trends and reasoning. This will provide excellent feedback to the technician and the final rating should be reflective of the customer satisfaction.
· Inventory – Field technicians are issued with inventory to perform their respective work orders. The number and nature of Purchase Requests can be indicative of how company inventory is being utilized. This data forms part of the management of risk within the organization as replenishment is costly.
· Planning and Scheduling – this refers to the number of work orders performed by the technician under review. The number of first-time-right work orders without repeat trips is indicative of productivity and rewards should be reflective thereof.
The functionalities listed in the previous paragraph indicate that mobile workforce solutions has the ability address some of the identified most serious problems of technician performance review. It is clear that a mobile workforce solution has the ability to:
· Provide feedback in part on actual performance
· Can conduct feedback in relatively close to real time
· Utilize data-based feedback wherever possible without relying on supervisor memory
· The data is based of business process metrics; and
· Supervisors can be held accountable to provide more accurate feedback.
Mobile Workforce Solutions is not the silver bullet to eradicate all problems associated with technician performance reviews. It is however an unbelievably valuable tool and resource to provide more accurate feedback to field technicians which will lend itself to a more satisfied customer base.