Industry Insights

What is the Role of GIS Mapping in Field Service Operations?

Discover the full scope of benefits GIS mapping solutions offer field service operations. And learn how this can significantly boost your bottom line.

Field service operations are innately mobile, so managing such dynamic operations with static tools doesn’t make sense. Spreadsheets and paper trails can’t provide insights and real-time feedback. In addition, field services involve multiple tasks and operations executed simultaneously, which further necessitates robust data integrations. Dynamic operations require dynamic solutions such as GIS mapping.

Geographic information systems (GIS) identify location points on a map and integrate descriptive information of relevant conditions, activities, or features at every location. GIS mapping connects location and descriptive data.

It allows a variety of field service operations, including mining, landscaping, construction, gas and pipeline, emergency response, and waste management, to plan, track, and monitor their activities. Field services can also visualize their operations through instant critical data access across locations and make better decisions.

If you’re still stuck in front of a spreadsheet with manual tracking and limited on-site feedback, you’re trailing behind competitors. What’s more, your team is wasting time, losing productivity, and flushing dollars away.

Here’s the good news: if you haven’t yet transitioned from spreadsheet planning, you can quickly catch up by implementing GIS mapping to collect, store, and interpret spatial data. This will let you understand patterns and relationships in a geographic context for improved communication, efficiency, management, and decision-making.

Let’s look at the full scope of benefits GIS mapping solutions offer field service operations, including how this can significantly boost your bottom line.

Before You Roll Out: Optimizing Your Daily Field Service Operation Plans

We’ve all heard an hour of planning can save 10 hours of doing. The exception, however, is if you’re still using outdated spreadsheets to map out your field operations.

For notable time (and money) savings, GIS mapping enables your team to start with an optimized plan that minimizes delays, misunderstandings, and incorrect allocations. As a result, you’ll maximize productivity at every visit. GIS mapping can help you streamline the day before the trucks ever roll out. Here’s how:

Route Planning

A map view of the day’s job locations helps employees determine the best starting point and streamline the job order accordingly. Some tools even allow you to select a group of jobs and filter them through an automated route optimizer. It then recommends the best routes to minimize travel time.

Contextual Information

While it’s important to optimize your route based on location, there are other factors that will influence which jobs need to be attended to first. GIS mapping provides additional information on all job points. This includes live traffic, sensitive environmental areas, land use, zoning information, demographics, and heat mapping.

Skill Set Allocation

Cleaning up the data in your system will narrow down information, including job types, locations, and specific task requirements. With this information, you can ensure you assign people with the right skills to the right jobs. Field workers can also prepare accordingly for the scheduled jobs and therefore minimize wasted resources.

Big corporate or aged asset data isn’t always very reliable. A GIS analysis can help identify unreliable or conflicting information and eliminate duplicates. You can then merge several data sets to accomplish in-depth insight and improved baseline data reliability.

For example, suppose technicians need to carry out telephone pole maintenance. They can use scrubbed and GIS-analyzed data to identify the poles that need attention, the issues, and the job requirements. This eliminates the need to inspect every individual pole just to see which ones require maintenance.

Customer Demand Heat Maps

If you maintain internal or customer-owned assets, resource capacity planning is key. GIS and field service management automation software can generate heat maps so you can visualize customer locations on a map. Heat maps allow you to be strategic and distribute technicians according to customer demand to enhance service capacity.

Time, Labor, and Cost Savings

Having geospatial data accessible on-demand in real-time allows utility company staff to work proactively. Instead of managing unexpected issues that pop up in a scattershot manner, you can identify and mitigate infrastructure risks and problems before costly outages occur. Thus, GIS asset management technology improves operational efficiency, reduces response times, cuts labor hours, and improves service outcomes.

On the Road and On the Job: Real-Time Support for the Field Service Employees

Staff requires clear, accurate data and straightforward processes when in the field. The more job information and support field service staff have on the ground, the more efficiently they can work.

By employing GIS mapping solutions during the workday, your team will enjoy several advantages:

Improved Efficiency

With a full understanding of the requirements and problems of each job, before they set out, staff can have more on-the-ground influence and work efficiently.

Real-Time Support

Dispatchers, fielders, and team members can share information about job changes, new developments, or simpler ways to get around. For example, mapping reroutes around accidents or construction sites can save a significant amount of time to optimize field workers’ schedules.

Improved Collaboration

Field workers can easily collaborate with other team members and share site information such as images and progress updates. They can also ask questions and communicate while on the road to team up with the closest coworkers in the vicinity when required.

If the job needs different skilled professionals in succession, workers can receive updated information from previous task members on their way to the site.

Quality Assurance

Contextual information isn’t always accurate or complete. Field workers on the ground gain significant insights into the features and conditions of the location infrastructure and environment.

With real-time feedback between managers, field workers, and field-based GIS applications, teams can effectively capture new data that will drive database, quality assurance (QA), and accuracy improvements. This data may include positional accuracy based on field-collected coordinates; or, it could populate missing data, clarify conflicting data, and record features located in the field.

Better QA information combined with built-in QA using geofencing can later automate the feedback process, reduce review workloads for managers, and increase trust in data set outputs.

Post-Job Analytics: Utilizing GIS Mapping to Look Back on Your Day

The work on-site might be done, but the job is far from complete. A significant part of field service operations includes understanding the history behind a finished task or work order.

GIS mapping is a key element of operations analytics because it contextualizes data. From travel routes and task coverage to grid mapping, data gathered by field service teams uncover insights to improve your entire operation. It also helps quantify field operations, which is critical for budgeting, maintenance planning, invoicing, and data accuracy for future starting points.

Real-time on-location data and post-job information are also necessary for work order audits. Checking technician stops along a route, arrival, and departure status, and task time to completion can streamline processes and monitor inconsistencies. In cases where compliance requirements and complicated regulations apply, it’s imperative to have accurate records of who completed what task and when it was signed off.

All these records help managers identify areas that need attention or team members that would benefit from additional training.

Transform Your Field Service Operations with Encepta

Without access to real-time data and operational insights, your field operation schedules and achievements become a guessing game. While you might have a schedule laid out on a spreadsheet, you’ll just have to hope there are no traffic delays and that skilled technicians end up at the right site with the right tools for the job. This makes budgeting ineffective, leads to poor productivity, and wastes a significant amount of time.

In addition, manual data capturing is prone to human error and often incomplete or incorrect. This is just another factor leading to inaccurate budget forecasts and costly project delays.

Encepta can help you minimize data inaccuracies and leverage business insights with a focus on geospatial analysis. With customized data models, optimized processes, and real-time intelligence, you can now solve business challenges with accurate, updated, and relevant metrics.

At Encepta, we analyze, validate, and scrub your enterprise data. We then expand your data capabilities by collecting new information. In addition, we integrate analytical and AI-powered models to generate precise insights that facilitate your business decision-making.

Our software solutions generate dashboards, reports, and big-data business insights that are driven by key performance indicators (KPIs). Therefore, you can easily visualize the implications of these data points across your business and implement actionable initiatives to counter losses and improve operations.

GIS mapping solutions can transform the way you manage field service operations. As a result, you’ll boost workforce productivity and efficiency and lay a strategic, data-based foundation for streamlining and simplifying future jobs. This directly translates to decreased labor hours, fewer mistakes, increased task completion, and better service quality—as well as a healthier bottom line.

Contact our experts today to leverage GIS mapping solutions and take your field service operations to the next level.

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