The art of scheduling a breakdown service
How a breakdown service fits best in capacity planning
Many organizations that do project-based work offer products that should be available to customers 24 hours a day. This includes web applications, IT infrastructure and production lines. No product or service is perfect and everything can break. So there must be someone who can immediately communicate with the customer in case of a problem and who can provide a solution. To facilitate this, you must start scheduling a breakdown service and schedule employees for that breakdown service.
Customers regularly ask us about the best practice of scheduling a breakdown service. For example, they are curious as to how they should best include a breakdown service in their capacity planning and how they should deal with capacity utilization. In this blog we first discuss what a breakdown service is and then we look at how you can best integrate this service in your companies resource planning.
What is a breakdown service?
Multiple names are used for a breakdown service. For example, a breakdown service is also called standby service, consignment service, availability service, contact service or pager service. The name you use obviously does not matter for scheduling a breakdown service.
In addition, as the name implies, a breakdown service is a service and not a project. A project is a one-off and never comes back. The work for the breakdown service takes place in addition to the normal project work of the employee. You schedule a breakdown service for every day that your company offers your service, so 24/7 breakdown services are possible but also only during the week. It all depends on the service levels that you offer your customers. The content of the service is unknown, since the malfunction has not yet occurred. You do not plan specific breakdowns or repair activities for the employee, but you do want to reserve employees for these.
You not only schedule a breakdown service for the evening hours, the service can also take place during office hours. That depends on whether you have a support department during the day, which then takes care of all malfunctions. Small companies often choose not to set up an entire support department. In this case, one of the employees has the breakdown telephone for a day or week and speaks to customers in the event of an incident. Larger companies often choose to set up a separate support department, since the number of support questions often increases with more customers. In these cases, the breakdown service only takes place outside office hours.
Scheduling a breakdown service in your capacity planning
It is useful if you can take the capacity planning of your employees into account when scheduling a breakdown service. By integrating it with capacity planning you get an overview. This has several advantages. First, you can see at a glance who is responsible for a breakdown service. In addition, you also see whether the breakdown service fits into the employee’s day. Running a breakdown service is difficult for an employee if it coincides with a flight or seminar. In addition, an overview also ensures that you can easily distribute the breakdown services among the qualified employees, so that you can spread the workload equally.
As mentioned earlier, a breakdown service takes place in addition to the employee’s normal daily project activities. What you do not want is that a breakdown service is included in the total capacity utilization of an employee. If this does happen, the capacity utilization of an employee is 200 percent. That gives a wrong picture. If you are going to start scheduling a breakdown service, you also want to avoid your resources from being no longer available for other projects. Scheduling someone for a breakdown service is like an extra ‘note’ in your resource planning.
At Timewax we solve the latter challenge of scheduling a breakdown services by using note bookings in resource planning. A note booking is not included in the capacity utilization, but it does help you to see who has breakdown service and when.
Is that all that is involved with scheduling a breakdown service? No, there are still a number of aspects that you have to take into account. For example, there are rules about the minimum amount of rest hours for an employee, a maximum amount of working hours and there is a maximum on how often a person can run a breakdown service at all in one period. Which rules apply depends on how you set up the breakdown service in your organization and the Working Hours Act.
In any case, it is useful to integrate the scheduling of a breakdown service with your capacity planning. That creates an overview. You can see who is running a breakdown service when, whether the service fits into the schedule and whether the workload is distributed equally among all qualified employees.
Questions or comments regarding this blog? Contact Timewax.
Mark de Jong
Mark is the director at Timewax. He has a background as a project and resource manager with PricewaterhouseCoopers Management Consultants with expertise in the field of Professional Service Automation (PSA)