Not really social networking. Actually not social networking at all. But it annoyed me.

McKinsey recommend overbooking technicians to make them more productive. Let’s forget about all the delayed appointments, missing parts and lost in traffics – things that weren’t straight forward and gosh! most of the technicians that come to my house have to take/make a million cellphone calls. We’ll just assume that technicians sit around 1/2 the day because people cancelled appointments.

When was the last time a technician actually showed up early – or indeed on time – at your house saying “oh I had a few cancellations so I thought I’d come over straight away”? Yeah right, thought so.

Making field teams more productive

Companies with large field service teams—for example, technicians who install telephone lines or cable-TV boxes—find it hard to raise their productivity. For one thing, managers can’t easily observe the way these employees work. Besides, many companies don’t know how to schedule their field technicians: they underestimate what can be done in a day and fail to recognize that cancellations generally outnumber new jobs.

What’s the answer? For starters, giving teams more work in a shift than they could actually complete—that’s right, the way airlines overbook—knowing that some customers will cancel. Companies can also dispatch teams in the field more flexibly by reassigning them on the fly as jobs are cancelled and new ones pop up. Finally, managers should appoint “ride-alongs” to observe teams at work and use the findings to raise their efficiency.

To learn more about how companies can manage their “invisible” employees, read “Improving field service productivity” (July 2007).

View on the Web: http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/newsletters/chartfocus/2008_02_pc.htm

In Project Management we used to call this “crashing the schedule” or something. There’s absolutely no way it’s not done by these companies, already.

BTW several times I’ve been on the wrong end of the airline overbooking model and I wasn’t impressed.

Can’t we use technology to deliver a cheap and more dynamic booking service? Like cabs – the technicians don’t take a running sheet for the day but check online and find the job near them? That way, the consumer can look online and track their job and it’s scheduled time. Like a DHL delivery.

I reckon Salesforce.com may have a service that does this – SaaS (software as a service) should be able to give companies large and small an outsourced mobile resource allocation platform and charge by the # of jobs or something. GPS location based delivery of resources blahblah.

NOTE: I’ve been a project manager and project director in Asia and Europe for companies like Cisco Systems and UUNet. I used to teach PMI PMBoK and have a Grad Dip in Project Management *blows dust off the certificate* since early ’90s. I like things with timelines and milestones and resource allocation. So sue me 😛 I wish McKinsey let me comment on their reports – I get so excited by them!