Those in business will know that a company is more likely to perform at its best if there is a clear plan and goal: a means of measuring success or failure and how to get there. This is as true for a financial year as it is a single client work order. Meanwhile we do well to remember that Moltke the Elder once proclaimed “no plan survives contact with the enemy”.

In the case of business, you could call the enemy “real life”, with all its variables that we can’t control. One of the strengths of Shepherd is that its information registers directly in NetSuite where it is available to support all other NetSuite functionality. And this means that when things do unexpectedly change out in the real world, you find out about it there and then, not hours later. Whilst preventing the unpredictable is not within Shepherd’s power, equipping you with all the information and options to respond to it swiftly certainly is.

Eye and ears in the field

With mobile devices being both varied and ubiquitous, it is a rare occasion indeed for someone to be out of internet coverage. In the case of NetSuite-native Shepherd CMMS, this gives workers in the field the possibility to share their status on the ground, receive instruction from headquarters or, make their own decisions about how best to proceed when things go awry. In cases, however, where your staff are offline, Shepherd switches to offline mode automatically and allows the technician to complete all service work.

Let’s look at these 3 functions in turn and imagine how they might evolve in real life. Let’s do so through the eyes of an imaginary technician: Daniel. Daniel works for a maintenance company that specializes in the pumping systems used by the national water authority. His company recently acquired the contract to deliver field service operations at all sites in the northwest of the country.

Sharing the status on the ground

In the first situation, Daniel is en route to site for a scheduled service at a suburban pumping station. Upon arrival at the site Daniel soon learns that his predecessor had not performed the requisite tasks on the pump in question, meaning that his own responsibilities for the day are impossible until the outstanding maintenance has been done.

Engineers and technicians need to take parts from the warehouse. Shepherd models the field inventory by extending the Location and bin functionality in NetSuite. Field and plant staff may even search other colleague technician vans and trucks. This means that there is even the potential for one driver who has a part logged with them to meet another who needs that part out in the field without the need for either to return to base.

Making decisions on the fly

Fortunately, in this case, Daniel has planned ahead by taking a selection of commonly-used parts with him to the job, so he is able to handle the situation unaided. It does mean, however, that his job at site will take significantly longer. This he can relay to headquarters via the Shepherd mobile app. Armed with this information the maintenance manager can take steps to keep the working day flowing and ensure all clients get the service they paid for by reallocating jobs.

Alternatively, Daniel (realizing almost immediately that the situation has torpedoed his plans for the day) can simply take the initiative and use the mobile app to redesignate his own job roster as “unassigned”, at which point they will become available to all other technicians to choose from. This allows them to pick their own next stop based on, for example, how close they are to the listed locations, or how familiar they are with the various tasks’ requirements.

Orchestrating actions in the field from HQ

It may be that the client contacts Daniel’s manager with news of a major incident: a power failure or a fire, for example. What then? Clearly, Daniel’s planned visit to the site is a waste of his time, since there will be other issues to deal with first. Ordinarily, a manager might simply call to abort the job but Shepherd makes more possible.

Yes, the assignment can be canceled but doing so through Shepherd means the reactions to that change are far faster: Daniel can start looking for the unassinged next job on the list, possibly one nearby or one that will allow him to use the parts he had taken as a precaution, allowing for those parts to be sold on, and not simply returned to the warehouse, unsold, after a drive around the region.

General flexibility beyond dealing with the unexpected.

On a more automated front, and leaving Daniel aside briefly, customers can both create and terminate statuses on rented, owned, and customer machines, in order to understand the present, past, and predicted health of their fleet. This happens when Shepherd terminates the current status and automatically creates a new one including an expected end time. Shepherd does so on subscriber identified triggers again automatically. Each status entry is a record with the ability to add rich meta-data All these status changes fall under the asset’s history to give a full overview of what that asset has done in terms of work, costs and revenue.

Moving into the realm of NetSuite, to which Shepherd is native, supply chain issues will also be immediately highlighted allowing for action to be taken, there and then. Going back to Daniel, he will know to postpone a planned visit as soon as he learns that parts expected to be in the warehouse are actually on backorder. This may hold back a job from taking place but not in the wasteful way it would if Daniel had found about lacking parts on the day of the visit.

A clear paper trail removes uncertainty

Another advantage is that, if ever the events are being contested on contractual grounds, Shepherd’s mobile app with allow Daniel’s company to prove where he was and when in relation to the event in question, meaning they can either avoid questions of liability and can perhaps justifiable charge for travel time, where applicable under their service agreement. Beyond the immediate benefits to sales implications this tracking can later come into its own for audit purposes, such as the full paper trail of Risk Assessment Method Statement (RAMS) documentation, or as a general indication of staff productivity

Whether big or small, the ability to adapt swiftly is both more efficient and less stressful. It also minimizes the potential for a domino effect passing on to other clients. If you want that flexibility built into your daily field service and management operations, why not get in touch with a Shepherd sales manager or NetSuite solution consultant?

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