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Time is of the essence

Every business contract I have ever read made some mention to time being of the essence. I used to think that this was some legal eagles trying to display their prowess with the English language, and that they were stating the obvious.

Now, I understand the almost sublime importance of this simple fact.

This leads me to introduce the topic of this post - How accurate is Job Duration estimates?

All seasoned service workers will intuitively have a decent idea of how long a particular job is likely to take. They will all sub-consciencously calculate the time it will take to prepare the job, disassemble, repair or replace, re-assemble, clean up, and so forth. The good ones will even know how much time to include for selection / arrival of parts. It will be rare however, for your field guys to have an understanding of the administrative component of each job. 

This 'admin' portion is the time taken to fully complete documentation to ensure the job is properly recorded, and most importantly, invoiced to the customer. If your invoicing process occurs back at base, and your clerk receives an incomplete form from the field worker, then the time taken to chase up the missing information must be included in the time cost for the job.

If you look  carefully at this scenario, you will realise that you don't have a problem. It's much worse than that. You have two problems.

The first, and obvious, problem is that the extra time taken by the admin clerk is not directly chargeable to the customer. This kind of overhead is difficult to quantify, and therefore difficult to cost, without specific procedural steps being implemented. 

The second problem arises because the base information being used to schedule your jobs is now wrong, leading to too many jobs being scheduled in a given time frame.

There is an easy way to tell if your job timing data is inaccurate. If you are constantly finding that you are unable to complete the number of jobs scheduled for a given period, then your understanding of base job durations may be inaccurate.

There are other causes for this problem, like parts being back ordered, workers not turning up due to illness, the customer postponing the job after the tech has already left base, etcetera., but if you have these issues in-hand, and still experience scheduling grief, then it might be time to take a good look at how you calculate your job durations.

A competent EAM/CMMS will allow you to automatically calculate the real duration of your jobs by either job type, asset type or customer.

Posted by Mark Chimes
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