Industry Insights

Smarter Field Services: Automating Quality Management Services

Quality management systems (QMS) ensure adequate work is done. By automating your QMS, your field services team can accomplish more with fewer resources.

Field services staff in telecommunications, utilities, and public services are tasked with performing a range of complex jobs. Collecting and tracking observation data once fell to experts who were uniquely qualified for these tasks. However, many of these staff are now retiring, leaving a skills gap. To continue accomplishing quality work with fewer resources, companies must automate their quality management systems.

Consider Encepta field services technician Zack Henry, who collects and delivers data to telecommunications and utility clients so they can make more informed decisions. Accuracy matters, which is why he utilizes the latest technology.

For instance, Zack uses Eos Arrow Gold positioning hardware to collect survey-grade geographic information system (GIS) location data. The resulting precision is necessary to assure clients they have the correct utility data. This saves time and money when field technicians go to a site. Behind the scenes the system is able to analyze the data collected by Zack, like an experienced supervisor formerly would have, to identify errors, gaps in training, or data that “looks or feels” suspect.

The high-quality GIS data goes into various apps such as ArcGIS Field Maps. All the apps work with the same precise data on any asset type. Encepta tracks objects such as water valves, gas lines, and cable boxes. The QMS consists of integrated layers including training, hardware calibration, analysis of work patterns, and automation of locational analysis of collected data.  

Clients gain access to unparalleled maps and visual evidence, allowing them to better track infrastructure assets. Smarter field services enable the designing and building of new infrastructure in accordance with the toughest quality standards.

quality management systems

The Biggest Hurdles in Field Service Quality Management

Field service quality is notoriously difficult to manage. For one thing, field work can be unpredictable. Depending on the data available, what you find in the field may be very different from what you were expecting. If you aren’t prepared, your productivity, customer satisfaction, and overall success can suffer.

There are new technologies available that make analyzing data and improving services faster and safer, ensuring accurate work gets done. This means your field service team will be ready for anything—and you’ll be well-equipped to overcome these common field service quality management hurdles.  

Manual Processes Impact Your Service Quality

Companies in every industry are discovering the hidden costs of manual processes, including quality, speed, and total cost. As automation becomes more widely available, businesses are exploring uses that might improve efficiency and quality.

Managing field services with paper-based processes is unproductive and risky. A lack of intelligent organization, particularly around data, spells trouble for service quality. Therefore, innovative geospatial technologies are necessary to overcome the limitations of manual tasks.

For instance, telecom once depended on manual techniques to validate data and perform field tasks. It worked well enough at the time—but society and the economy have moved forward.

Companies like Encepta have revolutionized field service work to fix the quality problems associated with old-fashioned methods.

Poor First-Time Fix Rate

A low first-time fix rate (FTFR) indicates only a small proportion of issues are addressed on the initial site visit. This could be due to a number of causes, such as a lack of information or equipment. Regardless, a poor FTFR signals problems with field service quality, since it should be feasible to resolve the situation right away.

A poor first-time fix rate also suffers from low efficiency and high costs with more truck rolls. Each unnecessary field expedition adds frustration and sets back the project. It also complicates the delivery of consistent quality.

By contrast, Encepta uses unique technology to assess the site so only a single visit is necessary. It’s a tested solution that ensures reliable data on which infrastructure services can be performed confidently.

Lack of Data Analytics to Measure Field Service Quality

Data analytics involves looking at the results of past field services to improve quality in the future. A lack of effective data analytics can therefore impact long-term results. If you can’t analyze past service delivery performance, you won’t be able to find weaknesses to improve.

More specifically, without analytics, you can’t easily tell if your scheduling is efficient. For instance, you may be blind to an extremely slow field service schedule, resulting in late appearances. This ties in with the problems of manual processes: it’s hard to plan routes well without automation and online maps.

By automating your quality management systems through a robust software platform, GIS and data specialists can analyze all your available data to determine the best approach to site visits ahead of time. A detailed understanding of geography facilitates the optimal use of time and resources. Instant quality checks enable adjustments in the field.

The output of data analytics can also be shared among team members to improve field service quality. A lack of insights will interfere with work, so it’s better to combine the knowledge. Technology promotes better communication, not just better understanding.

Finally, artificial intelligence (AI) accelerates data analytics. The software learns from big data relevant to telecommunications and cable businesses. This produces visual interfaces through which you can see geospatial information. The result is superior field service quality.

Improving Services by Automating Quality Management Systems

Automation is the key to improving quality management systems. Too often, field services have suffered from slow performance and poor resource use. Now, there’s a solution. As with many other areas, automating manual tasks will increase accuracy at a lower cost.

Field service management software organizes data so it’s accessible throughout the organization, both now and in the future. This fixes longstanding problems where data has slipped through the cracks and negatively affected quality.

The technology for field service automation continues to improve.

In fact, Encepta uses innovative tools designed specifically for field services. For instance, data-driven automation empowers smart audits and inspections, offering much more functionality than spreadsheets and phones.

Follow these three steps to put automation to work for you:

1. Revisit the Pillars of Quality Management Systems

Quality management systems employ rigorous methods to improve services. There are foundations or pillars that drive reliable outcomes. For example, it’s generally important to include planning, control, and assurance stages.

Planning is essential to know what you aim to accomplish as well as how you will complete tasks and measure success. Clear quality standards direct efforts toward greater efficiency. Areas to include in planning are stakeholder expectations, regulatory considerations, and the assignment of duties.

Quality control involves the measurements made against your stated goals. Test against the criteria from the planning stage to determine performance. If any failures occur, now is the time to fix them. You should have trustworthy data supporting field services.

Then, in quality assurance, you evaluate the final delivery of services. This allows modifications to your processes and plans. You may also find new opportunities to use data to improve field services.

2. Leverage Automated Solutions for Field Service Management

Automated solutions help teams improve their total quality of field service management by streamlining processes and resource management. This solves the previously noted problems of manual processes.

For example, Encepta visits telecommunications sites and collects data, enabling quality assurance automation.

This procedure identifies any notable data, as fielders store information on an online map. At any time, you can look at the portal that reports progress. The automated system improves on traditional methods of acquiring and processing data, and the algorithms continue to evolve.

With data automatically validated, the site visits are more productive. Projects take less time and services are provided more effectively. Error rates drop, bolstering the first-time fix rate. Field service automation is also valuable in training, simplifying workflows, and showing accurate data.

3. Use Data to Improve Your Service Quality

Data is at the root of automation and can improve your field service quality. By digitizing images and other media, the quality function moves to a computer. That’s faster and more accurate than having to go on-site for spot checks.

Centralizing information for quality personnel enables smarter decisions. One can also enhance the data processing with AI. Leverage the data and technology now available to boost quality to a higher level.

When you see the media documentation, you’ll have evidence that service quality is where you want it. This also builds trust, which is valuable in any business.

Geographic data in a digital map makes it easy for field technicians to go where they’re needed. Once there, they’ll take extremely precise measurements of cables and hardware. Photos of each action and the finished result get stored securely with geographic data, making it easy to find the information you want.

Field service quality builds from a solid basis of GIS data. Asset management and resource capacity planning become more feasible. As a result—and unlike conventional methods—you have visibility on all field work done.

quality management system illustration
Image Source: Shutterstock

Automate Quality Management Systems With Encepta

No matter your industry, data can improve your field services. The automation of quality management systems runs the data through processes that verify the information. On the basis of the validated data, you’re able to deliver better services.

Encepta enhances your data by cleaning and supplementing it, then AI processes the information to find answers quickly. We handle all the steps in processing geographic data—whether it’s new or already available—to make it useful for your organization.

You’ll see visualizations derived from industry experience and your key performance indicators (KPIs). These are outputs that steer smarter decisions with better data quality. Bottom line: improved performance.

Encepta provides essential services to achieve efficiency while improving resource management and reducing expenses. Validated data throughout the process goes into analytics to improve decisions and actions.

Contact us now to learn how automation can help you improve field service quality.

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