Effective planning and scheduling of technicians for maintenance or other facility interventions can be quite a puzzle.

It starts with a good understanding of the on-site requirements, to avoid multiple trips back and forth to assess the situation. A template-based ticketing system will improve the first-time fix rate as it allows to pinpoint issues more accurately.

The next step is planning and scheduling the required resources for the task.

Work planning

A work planner will calculate the time needed to execute the tasks and define the required skills. He will perform a task/risk analysis to determine the measures that need to be taken to ensure safe work execution. He will also book the right spare parts, materials and tools, and order any additional parts that are out of stock.

This requires having an integrated view on available stocks and expected delivery dates. Stock management software can provide visibility into quantities and delivery due dates, i.e. when materials are available-to-promise.

After the planning process has defined the ‘what’ and ‘how’, a scheduler can determine when and by whom the job will be done.

Scheduling FM technicians: availability, skills and location

Finding the right person for the job is driven by:
– Availability
– Required skills
– Location

To assess availability for an intervention, schedulers need to have up-to-date visibility into working hours of technicians, periods of unavailability (holidays, sick leave, etc.) and whether they have already been scheduled for other tasks. Live feedback from the field is also extremely useful to schedulers. Through mobile apps with a user-friendly interface (e.g. single “start/stop task” button), field workers can provide current progress in real time and in an automated way.

Knowledge about technicians’ skills is ideally automated for every person and kept up to date, by linking to your HR or learning management system. As every task requires a specific skill set, the use of standard call templates (linked to tasks) enables to quickly determine which technicians have the skills to do the job; or for more complex tasks and projects, to combine resources to build a team with the necessary skills.

When it comes to location, you may be dealing with an on-site dedicated team or mobile technicians working at different locations. These can be your own teams or outsourced subcontractor technicians. Scheduling software should allow you to seamlessly manage the schedules of different teams. With mobile workers, you can use a geographic information system (GIS) to optimize routes and match real-time location of technicians to the location of needed interventions.

Minimize downtime

Maintenance should work in close partnership with operations to minimize disruption.

It makes sense to try and schedule routine maintenance of machines and installations outside normal operating hours; if not possible, you can schedule several maintenance activities to happen at the same time, thereby minimizing downtime.

Dynamic planning

In an ideal world, FM teams need to be able to dynamically take into account all of the above dimensions.

Due to the complexity of this multi-dimensional decision process, schedulers need centralized visual planning & scheduling tools, that let them assign all types of resources and notify them immediately of any changes, including real-time feedback from technicians through mobile apps.

The system needs to be fully integrated with stock management to ensure that parts are available, picked and ready for use by technicians. Additionally, integration with GIS allows for geo-optimization of mobile technicians’ schedules.

If you are interested to learn more about resource scheduling software, contact the MCS Solutions team or request a free demo.