Shorter Installs Mean More Time For Business

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New Orleans-Operators pressed to optimize manpower in the competitive age can shave the equivalent of 3,600 man-days per year from work-order fulfillment, according to panelists at the National Show here last week.

Those offering the rosy picture were, naturally, vendors of the kind of work-force-management systems they hope to sell to operators.

But executives from CSG Systems International Inc., Mobile Data Solutions Inc. and Mobile Force Technologies agreed that appropriate application of management systems can improve employee efficiency by 20 percent to 30 percent.

They based their projections on the use of software systems to shave 10 minutes off the average customer contact. This is achieved through quicker browsers used by customer-service representatives, quicker routing between jobs and direct work-order closure, rather than dispatcher-aided closure and activation.

Indeed, seven of the top 10 MSOs have implemented or contracted to add work-force-management systems, the companies said.

The rest have resisted due to "merger indigestion," Mobile Force executive vice president and chief financial officer Rod Royce quipped. Others are intent on the launch of new products, rather than improving management of existing ones, he added.

Overbuilders are buying the systems, Royce warned. They don't have legacy systems to deal with, and workforce management is part of the state-of-the-art management systems they are building, he said.

For those who wince at the expense, Mobile Force offers a hosted application. Users can negotiate cost on a per-tech, per-month basis. If the system doesn't produce the desired results, clients can withdraw.

In response to question about employee-union resistance, vendors noted that users have stressed that the products have not been used to justify work-force cutbacks. Most users are MSOs that are rapidly expanding their product lines, and they are using the management tools to expand their businesses without hiring more people.

The technology is even available with a global-positioning-satellite interface. Few customers are utilizing GPS so far, but that facility can have interesting uses.

Mobile Data director of product marketing Scott Munro said a customer in the Philippines used the service to catch its own installers, who were selling company property from their trucks.

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