You already know that the telecommunications industry is one of the most critical industries in the world, responsible for keeping people connected and businesses operating. The global network of communications infrastructure requires constant attention, maintenance, and upgrading. Obviously, this requires a large and diverse workforce.

It’s not just the people in the field that you see driving around in vans emblazoned with the telco’s branding. These field workers are also supported by a large team of back-office experts. The challenge for communications service providers (CSPs) is to coordinate the activities of the front and back-office workforce effectively and efficiently. Together, they handle the entire network lifecycle from planning and design to implementation, operations, and maintenance. This is where Workforce Management Systems (WMS or WFM) play such a crucial role.

Connecting back-office planning with field workers: the role of Workforce Management Systems

WFM tools like SunVizion Workforce Management System (WMS) are comprehensive solutions that enables carriers to manage a complex set of moving parts, usually in near-real-time. They help to coordinate an array of teams, workers, skills, activities and target timelines in a coherent manner. They provide CSPs with a centralised system for managing field workforce activities, from task allocation to completion. As one of a CSP’s largest operational expenses (OPEX), WMS have the potential to not only greatly improve key service provider metrics, but significantly impact the bottom line. 

Optimizing workforce efficiency in telecommunications with Workforce Management Systems

WMS perform a vitally important bridging role. They enable CSPs to optimise their entire workforce by connecting back-office planning workers with the field workers that implement those plans into live communication networks.

The high-order tasks performed by WMS include:

  • Customer activations
  • New builds and projects
  • Scheduled and unplanned maintenance
  • Recurring events
  • And more 

The more detailed actions and activities include:

  • Work order capture
  • Work breakdown
  • Work allocation
  • Job scheduling
  • Work status tracking
  • Asset / material management, and 
  • Job routing. 

The direct roles supported by WMS include:

  • Team leaders
  • Project Planners
  • Dispatchers
  • Work teams
  • Field workers / contractors, and 
  • Administrators

Of these, there are two primary categories for MWS purposes:

  • Team leaders / dispatchers are responsible for evaluating, planning, scheduling, work breakdown and assigning new activities as they come into the WMS work queue. They then dispatch work into the queues of teams or individuals for acceptance and completion. 
  • Field workers / contractors / teams are responsible for performing the fieldwork in the form of the jobs / tasks / activities assigned to them. They record / update details of the work performed and update job status, such as acceptance and completion

However, there are many other roles that interact with Workforce Management Solutions  in a more indirect manner as their planning activities (capacity planning, design, network operations) land as jobs in the WMS job queues for allocation to the direct WMS roles.

Streamlining field work activities with Workforce Management Systems: a CSP's guide

Since there is a distinct division of work between field and back-office roles, there also tends to be a distinction between the WMS tools they use. The team leaders / dispatchers tend to be based in office environments and use WMS tools on a computer at their desk. The field workers tend to be predominantly based in the field and use mobility solutions like SunVizion Mobile on their phones or tablets. These mobility solutions must support online or offline mode (using information previously downloaded to the device) as field workers will not always have reliable connectivity.

SunVizion Mobile allows field workers to use their mobile device to conduct activities such as service activations, network maintenance activities, fault-fix/resolutions and logging of problems / faults / hazards. They also allow field workers to query back-office information for better situational awareness when performing tasks, whilst also sharing knowledge from the field. It can even allow for monitoring the current location of workers for health and safety purposes if needed. 

Many of these process-driven activities between front and back of house are coordinated via integration with SunVizion Workflow, which can support manual and automated task completions.

Benefits of implementing Workforce Management Solutions 

There are many benefits of implementing a WMS: 

  1. Customer Satisfaction - It improves customer satisfaction through timely activations and fast service restoration
  2. Right workers, right skills, right equipment / materials, right tasks, right time - A WMS enables CSPs to allocate and dispatch jobs to suitable workers with appropriate skills and equipment / materials at an optimal time to ensure that customer requests are met promptly and as cost-effectively as possible
  3. Increased Network Reliability - When back and front-office workers and activities are managed well, it can also reduce network outages through preventative and predictive maintenance, which ultimately leads to more reliable services for customers
  4. Operational Efficiency – A WMS should significantly improve operational efficiency by optimising the allocation of labour and reduce the amount of travel across jobs (milk-runs)
  5. Truck Rolls – A quality WMS implementation should help to ensure fewer truck rolls, especially repeat visits, using sophisticated task aggregation to ensure the right mix of skills, equipment and materials are brought to each job
  6. Environmental Impact – Reduced travel between jobs (and associated transport of equipment materials) combined with reduced truck rolls not only reduces costs but also minimises the environmental impact by removing unnecessary travel
  7. Optimal Workforce Allocation - a WMS enables CSPs to record valuable data about the workforce and the jobs they complete across all stages of the network lifecycle from planning and design to build, operate, upgrade/replace and decommission. This data allows a CSP to right-size the number of workers, contractors, teams, and projects they need. This applies not only for business-as-usual states, but can also identify seasonality and workforce loading required during unexpected events such as disaster events or major incidents
  8. Supplier and other Insights – Because a WMS cross-links workers, work orders, equipment, materials, task sequencing, durations, and more, it has the potential to unlock many different insights and trends. These may include quality controls and additional training being required, equipment that is unreliable or not being installed correctly and much more.