Field personnel and their management

Field personnel are employees of an organization who spend most of their working time on the road or at the customer’s site. These include sales agents, merchandisers, couriers, service engineers, auditors, realtors. These are the employees who lay out the company’s products on store shelves, hand out leaflets, maintain and repair equipment that is critical to the process, or communicate with real and potential customers.

Field workers perform their job duties outside the organization. At the same time, they often have their own place in the office, where they come to receive a new assignment or write a report on the work done.  

The job responsibilities of field staff are extremely varied and depend on the position. Such an employee can perform the following functions:

  • maintenance of security and video surveillance systems;
  • cleaning service;
  • organizing the sale of the company’s goods in stores;
  • conducting marketing activities;
  • telecom and field service in IT;
  • installation, maintenance, adjustment and repair of equipment;
  • training field staff at their workplace;
  • audit at points of sale;
  • service in industry, oil and gas and fuel and energy complex;
  • control over the implementation of plans.

The quality of work of field employees inevitably affects the efficiency of the company, especially if all its activities are based on the provision of services to customers. It depends on their quality and efficiency whether the client will contact the company again and recommend the company to his/her friends. That is why control and organization of field workers requires a competent approach to management.

Problems and distinctions of organizing field staff management

Schedule failure. This includes working moments associated with irrational scheduling, personnel lateness, schedule failures due to the lack of timely control of employees from the main office.

The operator cannot quickly control the teams. To find out where the work team is located and which one is closer to the place of the call, the operator has to personally call each employee every time. At the same time, the phones of some of them may not be available, for example, due to the lack of connection at the facility.

Difficulty in maintaining records of site visits. As a rule, data of this type are transmitted by telephone and recorded by the operator or dispatcher. Information is perceived exclusively by ear, which gives rise to a significant number of inaccuracies. In some cases, global inconsistencies in the results are revealed, which is fraught with serious consequences.

The problem is getting real data from the field staff. Traditional reporting forms are inefficient, as they give employees almost unlimited opportunities to make false reports and enter distorted data. For example, employees can artificially inflate the time spent on work, or add a few additional types of services that were supposedly provided.

Management of field personnel using automated systems

The current level of technology development allows companies to use automated control systems to manage the work of field personnel. They already include the functions of tracking the geolocation of an employee and controlling the time spent at the facility. For the rational planning of the workflow, the functions of forming goals are provided with the indication of deadlines, the development of a route and a schedule of visits to the object with a pop-up reminder of it for the worker. The system automatically detects and notifies of any deviations of the team from the route, monitors the performance of tasks and reports problems that arise during the work process.

All information is collected and analyzed, which allows to assess how effective the field staff is, which teams are performing better than others, whether the plan is being followed, and if not, why not. The information obtained can also be used to evaluate and adjust existing routes, work stages and work sequences.

In addition, the software for managing field employees has been supplemented with the functions of coordinating and issuing invoices and assignments, and generating completed work reports. It can be used to train personnel, standardize some types of work and maintain a database of service objects, generate analytics and prepare reports.

Modern automated control systems simplify the management of field personnel and significantly reduce the cost of organizing their work and servicing territories.