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A guide to getting the best from your field force optimisation software

Wednesday 21 November 2018 Field Force Planning

Stephen Britnell's picture
By Stephen Britnell

Self-Service or Consultancy?

Field force optimisation software allows you to plan resource to ensure that the right numbers of people are deployed, plan territories to create workload balanced and drivetime efficient areas, and call schedule to produce optimised daily routes.

If you are planning for a field team, then in my opinion it is vital to utilise field force optimisation software. But the question is how? Should you take the software in-house and self-serve or outsource the work to a specialist consultant? There are pros and cons to each approach and it depends on a number of factors that differ from company to company.

Important points to consider are:

  • Internal resource
  • Usage
  • Budget
  • Complexity
  • Ideas likely to develop
  • Responsiveness to change

Internal resource

The first thing to consider when trying to decide the best way to engage with field force optimisation software is do you have the internal resource?

Current technology can manage the software effortlessly, but can your team? Do you have someone in your organisation with the right analytical skillset? Do they have the time available? Will you need to recruit for a new role?

This type of software often fits well with a field sales support analyst, but we know many organisations where different job roles are assigned the task. The key for me is having the time and enthusiasm for the work. But, if you are struggling with internal resource then a consultancy project might be a better fit regardless of other considerations.

Usage & budget

What might not be so obvious at first, but of significance in decision making, is just how often will you be using the software?

You may only do one major territory reorganisation a year but consider if you will need to continually check that you are recruiting in the right places. Or if you have to manage multiple field teams. Maybe your business is going through a period of change with a need to support call file expansion/rationalisation. Or you work in a fast paced, dynamic sector. Having software in-house that meets your ongoing business needs will be essential.

Even if your headcount, territory allocation and call file is relatively stable how often do you need to produce call schedules for your field team? The longest call cycle length I come across is quarterly, which is four call schedules per year, meaning self-service software is a better fit. Some of our customers prefer to engage with us on a project basis to meet their territory planning needs and take the call scheduling software in-house.

The level of usage often informs budget, as licencing software can be more cost effective than doing multiple consultancy projects per year. However, if you don’t have sufficient funds, consultancy projects can be a cheaper way to access field force optimisation software. It may not give you everything you need, but it’s a good place to start.

Complexity

If you have a particularly complex set of requirements then it might be better leaving it to the experts. Some examples of complexity I have come across include multiple teams having to align within a single regional structure, visits having to precede delivery days by a certain time window and assigning people to territories based on HR requirements. However, it’s not a problem if you prefer to take the software in-house. I have successfully trained users how to do complex processes many times.

Clients that have not used field force optimisation software before often find themselves on a journey. Whether it’s using the software themselves or on a consultancy project basis, CACI consultants are there to act as a guide.

Ideas likely to develop

In a project setting, when the journey has become particularly arduous, hindsight might suggest the self-service route might have been the better option. With this being so difficult to judge CACI take a flexible approach with consultancy projects. To put it into context the average field force planning project takes around 25 hours of work over a 4 to 6 week period.

Responsiveness to change

As discussed, projects often develop as the result of analysis and sometimes the most well thought out specifications are subject to change. CACI aim to be flexible partners but if your project is under strict deadlines then you may find it better to take the work in-house allowing you to adjust immediately. With outsourcing there is often a degree of delay processing change requests because the consultant has to work around other already scheduled project work. The key question is can you wait a couple of days for the results of a change request or do you need to act immediately?

Conclusion

If you want the most effective field team, then it is vital to utilise field force optimisation software. There are two options available; take the software in-house and self-serve or outsource the work to a specialist consultant via a one-off project. The key question is which one is the best fit for your requirements? The table below is a quick guide to important considerations.

Consideration Self-Service Software Consultancy Project
Internal resource Yes No
Usage Frequent One-off / Annual / Bi-annual
Budget Adequate Lower
Responsiveness to change Immediate Quick
Complexity Medium / Low High
Ideas likely to develop Yes Set Specification

Whichever option you choose, self-service software or consultancy project, CACI will work closely with you to meet your needs. Clients that take the self-service route are fully supported through onsite training, access to real-time support, assigned a dedicated client service consultant and account manager. If you choose the consultancy project option then we will start with a project specification session so we fully understand your requirements and the project will be managed end to end buy a dedicated consultant.

Whichever you choose, you can be assured that CACI will help your team work smarter, with reduced drive time and increased sales opportunities being the result.

Please contact us to understand the best option for you.

 

If you are planning for a field team, then it is vital to utilise field force optimisation software. But the question is how? Should you take the software in-house and self-serve or outsource the work to a specialist consultant? Stephen Britnell explores your options.

A guide to getting the best from your field force optimisation software