• January 1, 2006
  • By Coreen Bailor, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Pounding the Pavement with Real-Time Communication

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Royal KPN's muddled method for scheduling, dispatching, and managing field engineers in its Fixed Network Operations division had the Dutch telecom giant hanging on for assistance. The company relied on a mix of applications, including Microsoft Access and Excel, and paper-based orders to plan and schedule appointments for its field force, which was dispatched via fax and phone. "Everything was done on hard copy, which was a very time-consuming activity," says Peter Aalbers, operations manager at KPN for southeast Holland. "So we needed to automate a lot of activities...in order to get some efficiency within our organization in the office and in the field." The lack of real-time mobile-communications functionality became service-delivery nuisances. "Our technicians made a lot of errors during installation due to lack of appropriate information," says Jacob Groote, general manager of transmission services at KPN. Moreover, the company sought a system capable of cutting field engineers' travel time and producing enhanced productivity-and-efficiency reports, while integrating with KPN's existing BMC Software trouble-ticketing application, Remedy Action Request System. The telco selected Indus International's Indus Service Suite (including Work Manager, Work Mobile, and Work Optimizer), the field service management arm of Indus's service delivery management solution. "The Indus Service Suite optimizes the use of field-based resources, ensuring that the right resources are scheduled, at the right time, to the right place, and with the right parts, in the most efficient manner possible," says John Borgerding, senior director of sales and marketing for Europe at Indus. The deployment kicked off with a small pilot in the northeast region of the Netherlands in 2003, Groote says, before extending to other regions and types of services including switch repairs and core transmission repairs. The first round of implementation was completed in 2004. Additional plans include augmenting the implementation to PSTN and ISDN services and PBX installation and repair in the first half of 2006, according to Groote. Service management specialist Mansystems, Indus's strategic partner in the Netherlands, spearheaded the implementation, providing all project management, technical implementation, and systems integration. The deployment has substantially boosted KPN's communication with its field force, while enabling real-time management. "By using Indus Service Suite we were able to provide the technicians with the appropriate information through wireless data services, and we were able to update their work assignments after completion of a job," Groote says. The implementation also cut travel time, as engineers can identify the quickest route to their appointments, which can be displayed on the PDA. And in pressing situations KPN can pinpoint the locations of its field staff, determine the closest engineer with the necessary expertise, and dispatch the technician. KPN's increased efficiency is impressive: 15 percent employee reduction in the first year and cost reduction of more than 1.5 million euros, along with handling twice as many incidents, as of August 2005. Field engineers have improved productivity by at least 15 percent, while the company has trimmed service implementation time from about four weeks to about two weeks. "Customers complained sometimes about the speed of delivery, so when you can reduce the amount of days needed for that particular delivery customer satisfaction goes up," Groote says. Following its success with Indus in its fixed line business, KPN's wireless division implemented Indus Service Suite in the spring of 2005. "When you're implementing a system like Indus Service Suite, you're not implementing a system, you're implementing a new way of working with your dispatchers and with your field force," Aalbers says. The Payoff By deploying Indus Service Suite, Royal KPN:
  • improved productivity of field engineers by at least 15 percent;
  • had 15 percent employee reduction in the first year;
  • experienced cost reduction of more than 1.5 million euros;
  • handled twice as many incidents;
  • centralized application management for fixed line and wireless divisions;
  • decreased service implementation time from about four weeks to about two weeks; and
  • improved mobile communication and reduced travel time.
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