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The scene at the field operations control center of a large company that sells high-tech equipment troubled its COO. His company had spent millions on a new automated scheduling and dispatching system that promised to optimize the deployment of 3,000 field service engineers. The results, however, were disappointing. The company had spent more than a year implementing the software and installing the hardware for the new system, equipped all of its engineers with GPS-enabled handheld devices, and spent months training engineers and dispatchers to use these new systems. New data finally flowed into the control center, yet response times had not improved, and the number of jobs each engineer could handle in a day had not increased. Feedback from the frontline workers was mixed as well. Some field service engineers were happy that the new system reduced their administrative burdens, while others complained that it wasn't compatible with the way they did their jobs and that even more software customization was necessary.
That kind of experience is common for leaders of service-ops organizations who manage large groups of remote or distributed employees.
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