Meet ESG Goals with the Right Tools

Steve Mason, Contributor

How field service organizations are successfully meeting ESG goals with the utilization of field service management tools

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards have become a hallmark of organizational expertise. In previous years, the corporate stance on ESG issues was a bit more of a public relations tactic, but it’s now clear that ESG programs have become a critical piece of a company’s long-term competitive success.

Investors are increasingly interested in moving their capital toward companies that treat their employees fairly, operate ethically and make serious commitments to sustainability. In fact, according to PwC, 80% of investors now report ESG considerations significantly influence their investment decisions, with 50% indicating they would withdraw from investments that did not take appropriate action.

ESG is also on the radar of employees, regulators, customers and everyone else who is a part of the corporate ecosystem. As such, companies are taking steps to improve their diversity, equity and governance—while reducing their emissions as much as possible. Because investors want to engage with companies on their ESG journey, if there is a lack of tangible action and no transparent communication through reporting, they will use their power to, if necessary, sell their investment and walk away from a company.

Eyeing Sustainability in Field Services

With tools like augmented reality, in-person visits can be eliminated and, instead, service technicians can communicate directly with customers virtually to troubleshoot problems. (photo courtesy Adobe Stock Images)

Most organizations are already making strides to reduce their carbon emissions, but field service operations are a main contributor to an organization’s overall carbon footprint. Since field service has historically relied upon fleets of vehicles to reach customers and their deployed assets, it must be a focal point in reducing emissions.

We know fleets are essential to so many realms of life, so keeping them moving is important. However, the downfall is that they contribute significantly to air pollution: approximately 25% of the total global warming emissions come from the transportation sector.

For many organizations that rely on fleets to run their business, reducing emissions can seem nearly impossible, but that’s untrue. As an extension of any organization, field service management (FSM) is beginning to play a much more significant role in helping companies meet their ESG standards, especially in reaching sustainability goals. According to Sustainability magazine, eliminating just one on-site service visit per day for a year could lessen the amount of carbon equal to what 5.5 acres of U.S. forests absorb in the same amount of time. FSM solutions are handling issues like this with the ability to reduce waste, lower emissions and ensure an organization’s supply network meets high ethical standards.

Field service teams need to recognize that dedicating time, effort and resources to sustainability don’t have to mean lost revenue. An FSM solution is not just a resource for sustainability, but an investment to make a company more efficient. It can produce a substantial return on investment (ROI) while enabling increased customer satisfaction and reduced churn.

Utilizing Tools to Drive Sustainability

Many aspects of an FSM platform help reduce emissions and drive sustainability, including reducing the necessity for in-person appointments. With tools like augmented reality, in-person visits can be eliminated and, instead, service technicians can communicate directly with customers virtually; assess an issue; and work to troubleshoot problems. This allows field technicians to work smarter and safer, reduces human error and supports a work environment that puts safety at the forefront.

With smart scheduling and route optimization tools, planners and dispatchers can quickly create highly optimal work schedules for their teams taking into consideration key information, such as customer priorities, technician skills, job times and travel times. These optimal schedules reduce average drive times and mileage per job, which creates free time to schedule more jobs per day—while also reducing emissions per job.

A GPS tracking solution within an FSM tool can also help monitor and analyze the field service fleets’ efficiency and reduce unnecessary idle times and improvements in technician driving behavior. This further reduces emissions and accidents for the organization.

These advanced tools increase first-time fix rates by ensuring the right technician with the necessary parts can complete the work on the initial visit. Reducing wasteful repeat visits leads to lowering emissions. Digitization and paperless office tools—along with work order management tools—help to support the documentation of a job quickly and accurately with one-touch data collection, while creating a positive work environment for employees. They have more access to job information from anywhere. And, should a technician need to make an in-person visit, things like mobile apps, predictive analytics and field engineer communication tools help them better and more efficiently execute the job.

When all these technologies are combined, along with even more tools within an FSM solution—like artificial intelligence, self-service technology and 5G technology—it ultimately helps a company to reduce service visits; enables team members to monitor assets remotely; and empowers customers to resolve issues on their own successfully.

Meeting Goals

For those who have already begun utilizing tools within an FSM solution, many have reported that 5G technologies and self-service technologies, as well as smart scheduling and route optimization, are all “very effective” in helping them reach their sustainability goals. Additionally, many field service organizations currently using augmented reality and remote assistance tools to reduce on-site visits and cost services agree that they have also been effective in reaching these sustainability goals.

All of this suggests that most field service companies have likely already reduced truck visits by more than a quarter, which means a significant reduction in annual fuel consumption, resulting in cost-savings and a notable contribution to organizational sustainability through lower emissions.

Prioritizing Reporting

The more the field service industry can do to standardize reporting and create common metrics to measure sustainability improvements, the easier it will be for more organizations to participate and succeed in ESG. Merging fleet and field data so that it not only provides insights into the business, but also produces the data in a format that can be transformed into high-level reporting, allows the information to be utilized across an entire organization.

It’s important to think beyond the obvious stakeholders. A company’s main focus might be to showcase ESG reporting for an investor, but consider the impact of communicating what is happening from a sustainability standpoint to customers and employees. It can help grow an organization’s brand, strengthen its image and prove to be a strong selling point for new hires.

The type of in-depth analysis that is part of successful ESG efforts can be made simpler and more streamlined by using software platforms, like an FSM solution that measures these efforts. According to a recent GPS Insight/World Business Research survey of field service leaders, while only 35% of respondents report that they are currently using software specific to ESG reporting, almost half said they plan to adopt this type of software soon.

This suggests that ESG reporting, measurement and action will soon become standard across field service organizations. With these tools in place, field service teams will have all the data they need to form strategies related to tackling key ESG issues.

All-Encompassing Tool for ESG Success

ESG initiatives can do so much for an organization when executed successfully, and field service must play a significant role in organizational sustainability efforts. Many field service organizations have already begun to measure key sustainability metrics with technological investments, and many solutions are helping companies collaborate on sustainability with supply chain partners, reducing fuel consumption and waste, but there are surely more to come.

An FSM solution is an all-encompassing tool for these organizations to successfully drive sustainability, ultimately fulfilling ESG goals that will appeal to investors, as well as potential talent and customers. IHW

About the Author

Steve Mason is General Manager, Field Service Management, at GPS Insight. Mason has nearly two decades of experience in the field service management industry and an MBA from the University of Sunderland London Campus.

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