The Infosys global supply chain management blog enables leaner supply chains through process and IT related interventions. Discuss the latest trends and solutions across the supply chain management landscape.

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December 30, 2013

Work Force Management - Key Challenges

Work Force Management is about managing the availability of right resources at the right place, at the right time and for the right duration to execute a work. Sounds easy! But it is not. Answers to certain questions like - the time to analyse the work request or the time to assess the resource availability with the right skill set or how optimum is the utilization of resources or how optimum the operating processes are to manage the end to end work execution cycle, where the field force is involved, if not answered properly can pose challenges to achieve the organization's goal.

A typical workforce management cycle starts with the generation of a work request which is analysed by a work planner who identifies the required skills and materials to fix the problem. The planned request is forwarded to a scheduler who identifies the right resources based on certain parameters like required skills, availability of resources, priority of the work request, physical location of resources etc. Post this analysis the scheduler assigns the work request to appropriate resources. After this it may require multiple manual interventions between planner/scheduler and field resources to manage the execution of work at a remote location.  For example if the work request requires another engineer/labour with a different skill set or the work requires additional material/tool to complete the work or work is not completed on time and had to be extended to another day or labour/engineer do not get access to the location/asset under consideration or if the engineer is stuck in traffic and will not reach the work location on time or the engineer is not available to work due to an emergency. These and many more similar scenarios has to be managed with multiple manual intervention between the planning/scheduling office and the field engineers.

Such scenarios may occur while executing a single work request. Imagine a global service provider organization having 1000 field engineers/ labours and managing equal number of work requests on a daily basis. Doesn't sound easy! Right?

Some of the key challenges that an Organization might end up facing are -
• High operating and administrative cost.
• Lack of optimum utilization of resources.
• Risk of not meeting agreed SLAs.
• Lack of communication between the on-site resources and planner/scheduler leads to delay in work execution.
• Lack of visibility on the work that is executed at a remote location and hence it becomes difficult to manage the productivity of these resources.
• Prioritization of work becomes a challenge.
• Grouping of work for a particular location does not happen in an optimum manner.
• Inaccurate allocation of resources as per required skills.
• Delay in the reactions on the feedback received from the field resources.

All these challenges and business drivers like cost leadership, competitive differentiation, improved operations, improved visibility etc leads organizations to automate and optimize, where feasible, their workforce management processes. 

Automated Workforce Management is an emerging trend in highly competitive and price sensitive Service industry. The right level of automation can be achieved by tightly integrating various applications like Enterprise Asset Management, Scheduling, Mobility, GIS etc. that supports business operations and incorporate the required intelligence and automation within them. Watch out for my next blog on how we can achieve this.

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