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Field service management glossary

The Field Service Management Glossary of mobileX explains terms related to resource planning and mobile order processing in service and maintenance. Click on the respective term to get to the explanation.

The accounting indicator is the SAP term for cost element.

The activity type in a confirmation describes the activity performed with regard to its rate to be billed. This results, for example, from the type of activity performed (fault clearance, maintenance) and from the period (weekend, overtime).

There are different types of automated planning, depending on the level of automation (scheduling, semi-automated, fully automated) and the complexity of the planning. Each of the automated planning procedures allows the possibility to integrate manually planned operations, “fixed dates” into the planning.

The basic end is the latest point in time at which the execution of an order or operation must be completed. The basic end is used to define SLAs.

The basic start is the earliest point in time at which the execution of an order or operation can be started. The basic start is used to define SLAs.

A checklist is a set of instructions for a technician consisting of individual steps to be confirmed. It makes it easier for the technician to carry out complex maintenance activities. This includes, among other things, maintenance, condition assessments or functional tests of systems. Using a digital checklist, the technician documents the individual work steps on site and signs the document, which is transmitted as a PDF or data record as proof and for further processing to the office staff.

Component is the SAP term for a material reservation in SAP CS.

The confirmation is used to record the actual effort in the form of time or material that a technician has invested. This is then used in the backend system for controlling and often also for billing orders. Confirmations are always entered with reference to an operation.

A consignment warehouse is a warehouse of goods or parts set up by the supplier in the immediate vicinity or even on the premises of a customer to ensure rapid delivery to the customer for urgently needed parts. The goods remain the property of the supplier until the customer (or indirectly the technician in the course of an assignment) removes them from the warehouse.

In every possible planning scenario, a cost function defines the costs for certain parameters. In addition to the obvious parameters such as travel times between deployments and kilometres travelled, there are many other factors such as workload, SLAs, corner times and priorities with which companies can define their individual optimisation.

The cost type specifies an activity more precisely with regard to its allocability. Common cost types are “allocable”, “warranty” or “goodwill”. By selecting the cost type for a service, the technician or internal service determines whether it is charged to the customer or not.

In resource planning, the domino effect is the effect of scheduling on the current route plan. A resource planning software recalculates all tours or puts them in a new order.

The term doubleplay describes the simultaneous use of offline capable software on two mobile devices of a user. The different advantages of the end devices such as mobile radio, handiness and constant availability of smartphones (for telephony, navigation, status updates) or tablets as well as the large screen and keyboard of laptops (for text capture, forms) come into play.

The equipment describes the plant or machine that is to be maintained or repaired (at a functional location).

The first-time-fix-rate describes the error correction rate during the first customer visit. A high FTFR stands for high customer satisfaction and low service costs and is a key KPI in the service business.

A maintenance and technical service form documents inspections and tests as well as verifiable services. These can be requested either by legislators, customers, internal service management, quality assurance, or controlling. Forms can also trigger further follow-up processes, such as the earlier replacement of a part of a plant if the measured value is poor (predictive maintenance).

Field service management stands for optimized deployment planning of a company’s mobile resources for processing service or maintenance orders.

A functional location is an organizational unit in Logistics that classifies the objects to be maintained in a company according to functional, process-oriented, or spatial aspects. A functional location represents the location at which a maintenance task is to be performed.

A Gantt chart is a planning instrument named after Henry L. Gantt (1861-1919) that graphically displays the sequence of activities in the form of bars on a time axis. In resource planning, dispatchers usually use a Gantt chart to display the assignments of technicians and fitters.

With heuristic solution methods – i.e. certain assumptions that simplify and shorten the calculation – good routes can be determined relatively efficiently with a disposition tool. Such heuristic methods can lead to practicable solutions with limited knowledge and in a short time. Heuristic solution methods are the basis for finding solutions for the “multi depot vehicle scheduling problems” class used in route planning.

With the inventory, the technician regularly carries out a stocktaking of his vehicle warehouse. He compares the actual physical material stock with the data stored in the warehouse management system.

KPI is the abbreviation for Key Performance Indicator. The term refers to key figures that can be used to determine the performance of activities in a company. Which KPIs should be considered in order to measure success or failure depends on the company, the respective measure and its goals.

The maintenance activity type defines the type of maintenance activity performed. A distinction is made, for example, between services for repairs, shutdowns, inspections, and other planned activities.

Using material ordering in a mobile solution, the technician can order material to a warehouse or storage location. This can be the technician’s warehouse or the customer’s usage site. He can order the material with or without reference to an order, for example, to replenish his vehicle warehouse.

A material reservation is a material that has been pre-reserved for a specific order or operation. It is reserved and posted by the MRP controller or internal service in the backend system to a storage location for a specific usage. Since regular maintenance means that it is known in advance which material the technician will need when he or she is on site, this is usually automatically reserved and posted in the order.

In SAP, a notification is a data record with which a user informs plant maintenance, quality management, or customer service about a particular subject. A notification can be a ticket (generated, for example, by a customer call) from which an order has been or is to be created. However, a notification can also be used as an object for recording quality data. In SAP, the CS/PM notification provides a documentation object in order to describe or have described the content of facts on the part of the customer, the internal service or the technician.

The notification type categorizes the notification according to its origin and characteristics. The selection of the notification type is again adjusted to the process. For example, there can be service notifications (customer notification, service request), repair notifications (maintenance request, malfunction notification), or quality notifications (description of the qualitative status of an installation).

Offline-capable software is also functional without a connection to the leading system (e.g. SAP). This allows the technician to enter data without an online connection or to view temporarily stored data from the backend on his smartphone or tablet. He can therefore work, enter data and complete the order. Offline-capable software makes a strong decision in favor of a pure caching mechanism, since it not only temporarily stores called data, but also stores data for specific applications in the background. For example, material master data with several hundred thousand entries or the installed base can be stored offline.

An operation is a plannable unit that can be uniquely assigned to a resource at one point.

An order comprises one or more services that are cost-effective and can be billed for if necessary. If an order consists of several individual steps or if several colleagues have to work on the same order at the same time, this is represented by the concept of operations within an order. Each operation can be assigned to its own technician and have its own start time and duration.

The order type categorizes the order. The order types are defined in the organization according to the concrete business processes. These can be, for example, repairs, maintenance or inspections.

In route planning, the individual parameters of a company (such as journey times, kilometres, SLAs or priorities) are defined. They are then assigned a specific value that is related to the other parameters. This results in tours that are calculated individually and optimally for the company.

A planning board is an originally physical board for the planning of employees and other resources, which today usually represents the capacities and utilization as well as the tours and sequence of the assignments to be processed per resource in the form of software.

Resources include internal and external technical sales representatives, vehicles and other aids or machines that are scheduled for the implementation of orders. Since resources are always scarce and expensive, planning and control is worthwhile.

Resource planning or scheduling plans and controls the deployment of resources (technicians, aids and vehicles) to orders / operations.

If material is not consumed because it was either ordered on suspicion or from stock, is defective or has been removed, the technician can return it to the central warehouse. Returns are processed either with or without reference to an order. To do this, the technician either creates the returns using the material confirmation of the order or uses the Material Returns module for cross-order returns.

The so-called route optimization in an operation planning solution calculates the most cost-effective variant for all waypoints with the available resources using an algorithm. Which variant is the most cost-effective for a company depends on the respective service and scheduling strategy. For example, this can be the shortest or fastest route. In addition, there are many other optimization parameters that a company can define individually in a cost function.

The route planning is an essential part of the field service planning. Orders are grouped into tours and arranged in a certain order. These can be daily or weekly tours, in which a technician is on the road with a vehicle and then usually returns to his starting point.

A service report includes all services, such as times, kilometers traveled, and material consumption for an order or operation. It serves as proof of the execution of the documented activities or material consumption. In this way, the service report provides the basis for subsequent invoicing. The service report signed by the customer (and, if applicable, the technician) is usually sent to the customer as a PDF document and is then sent to the head office in the order for invoicing.

Skills are certain qualifications or general aptitudes of technicians that are required for a job and are usually stored in an HR system. This enables the dispatcher to select the most suitable technician for an assignment.

A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is an agreement between the customer and the service provider for services that include, for example, the scope of services, response times and deadlines.

The status describes the processing status of an order and an operation. In general, it is the life cycle of an order from a business point of view: new, in process, paused, completed, and so on.

A subcontractor(s) is a service provider who, under a contract for work or service, performs all or part of the work owed by the principal enterprise to its principal on behalf of another enterprise (the principal enterprise). The use of subcontractors is particularly common in the energy supply, customer service, IT and telecommunications and facility management sectors. The reasons for this are often cost savings, special capabilities of the subcontractor, specific regional coverage or seasonal fluctuations in the order situation.

A technician warehouse is the material store that the service technician carries with him in his vehicle. The correct stocking of the vehicle warehouse plays an important role in spare parts management and consists of an optimal ratio between a high availability of spare parts and low costs for stocking them.

A time window refers to a time frame of usually a few hours that the dispatcher agrees with the customer to visit the technician on site for the repair.

A tour is a sequence of orders. These can be day or week tours, where a technician is on the road with a vehicle and then usually returns to his starting point.