Anyone who has been involved in the scheduling of field service engineers will understand the complexity of the task at hand.
An engineer with the right skill level needs to attend an emergency call out to keep a production line moving, has to have the parts needed for the job with them, and the specifications for the machine to be repaired immediately to hand. As if this is not enough complexity, add to it the fact that the client is in one corner of the country, while the twelve engineers who fulfil the criteria are scattered across the country, some working on jobs currently, others with jobs scheduled for later in the day.
It is near impossible to make the correct call without a Field Service system. With a system, we need some way of locating the customer and specifying a region without resorting to individual map co-ordinates. For many years in the UK (and other countries) a postcode system has fulfilled this requirement. But until the launch of Eircode, there has been no universally accepted system here in Ireland.
Now, don’t get me wrong, Eircode is not perfect. It starts out great – a three character prefix to define a large geographic region, generally in line with county bounds and the Dublin regions. However the random nature of the rest of the code – four digits consisting of characters and numbers make it less flexible in terms of zooming in to a smaller area. But does that really matter? We are talking about scheduling engineers here, not a marketing campaign to mail blast a street or suburb. What are the chances that a service company has enough clients to necessitate scheduling to a greater degree of granularity than the Eircode prefix?
Anecdotal evidence would suggest that Irish business is slowly beginning to take to using Eircode. One customer of our manufacturing ERP solution told me recently that he now includes his Eircode on all documentation, the reason being that many foreign companies require a postcode in their systems. For this reason alone he found it helpful to have a consistent code. While slow to begin with, companies really are starting to embrace the system.
And for the field service scheduler, the adoption of Eircode will allow for
- Definition of region or area codes via the Eircode prefix
- Mapping of specific individual addresses to customers, suppliers and engineer locations
- The ability to better optimise engineer route planning
- Improved customer service with the ability to provide an accurate estimated response time to customers