Communications service provider XO Communications exclusively serves businesses, large enterprises and other telecommunications companies. The company’s user group is comprised of more than 300 field and central office technicians, who install, maintain, repair and test equipment. Central office technicians perform installation, general and preventive maintenance, and service activation and de-activation on infrastructure and networks.
Previously, XO Communications’ service delivery and repair teams relied on emails to send task requests and dragged orders to the dispatch board without thinking about drive time, job duration and other factors. The dispatch boards had multiple jobs stacked on top of each other. Estimated drive times were consistently inaccurate, which meant they were frequently ignored, and there was no accountability placed on the technician to complete the job.
Selecting a Partner for Increased Workforce Efficiency
XO Communications needed to identify a technology solution that would transform its workforce management and service supply chain. After a review of many qualified providers, the company selected Verisae, a provider of SaaS solutions that connects the maintenance and service network globally, for its proven expertise and flexibility to accommodate unique business needs. In addition, it offered a solution with performance management and field mobility capabilities that addressed XO Communications’ needs.
In an optimized environment, at the start of the day, all technicians are assigned a specific number of jobs—including drive time—organized in a logical format based on starting location, central location and final destination. Events occur throughout the day and plans need to change in real time. With Verisae’s solution, XO Communications now uses mini-optimizations that are triggered by events, such as new orders, to alter schedules.
With an understanding of its business goals, including service-level agreements (SLAs) and reduced job backlog, the organization is focused on improving efficiency and, with Verisae’s technology in place, expects to increase productivity by 20 percent to 25 percent.
Essential Elements for Success
When XO Communications selected a technology partner, it wasn’t for one feature or one change in efficiency; it was for a variety of improvements, including:
• Assignment Changes: With Verisae’s solution, XO Communications can add or remove technicians and scale for skills. If a field technician is on vacation, for example, the skills of a central office technician can be “changed” to a field service technician, so the central office technician can cover the field.
• Assignment Booking: Previously, XO Communications’ appointment windows were handled manually. After installing equipment, for example, field technicians would call the company’s toll-free number to activate equipment. But the activation technician may be on multiple phone calls at once because of simultaneous inbound calls from various technicians. The goal was for an efficient workflow that included field technician on-site, order loaded and activation technician notified. Verisae made this process a reality, and the activation group can scale their business based on the volume from technicians in the field.
• Field Mobility: For XO Communications, field mobility also plays a key role in the optimization process. With vx Field, XO Communications’ field technicians leverage the features of mobile devices to ensure they remain on plan, whether on the road or at the work site, and enable easier communication and information sharing with customers, peers and managers through phone, text or email.
Metrics and Performance Measurement
XO Communications had existing performance metrics (e.g., jobs per day, etc.). But when the organization set a goal, some technicians would only try to reach the goal, believing that reaching the goal alone would demonstrate exceptional performance. It is not how many jobs the technicians complete in a day, however, but the compliance of the jobs completed in a day. For the company, compliance includes the number of jobs re-shuffled as a result of optimization and the number of jobs pulled back at the end of the day.
A technician may accomplish only three jobs a day, for example, because that technician received the X amount of jobs with a specific time interval that could be completed in an eight-hour day. That technician should not be penalized for completing only three jobs a day. The company is changing the way it is measuring performance.
Performance is about more than hitting a number. It is also about how the organization is hitting that number. XO Communications sees performance management as a next step to hold technicians accountable for performance and to help manage the upstream business.
Expanding the Program for Greater Optimization
Initially, only the field technicians used the Verisae solution and dispatchers within the field organization were responsible for planning the workload for their technicians. In contrast, the central office technicians worked out of the provisioning system, dragging orders to the dispatch board without considering priority or service level agreements.
As a result, XO Communications wanted to extend the capabilities of Verisae’s technology to the central office technicians to increase efficiency among these teams, tasks and jobs. Instead of tweaking Verisae’s optimizer for field efficiency, the company added optimization to its central office technicians. In preparation for this expansion, the dispatch organization started working with the central office technicians located in smaller markets to get an understanding of that work. This way, the dispatchers were able to become familiar with the processes and tasks related to central office technicians before expanding the system to the larger markets.
With the decision to extend the solution’s capabilities, XO Communications’ Executive Director of Operations, Steve Pecorella concluded, “This solution is the future of our organization.”
Within the next year, the XO National Activation Center will be using workforce management for coordination with internal and external customers, connecting the XO Operation and Activations teams, reducing wait times and ensuring a good customer experience.