It’s a classic image from detective movies – a hardboiled gumshoe working day and night to track down a bad guy, aided by an evidence board papered with photos, notes and newspaper articles related to the case, with various colors of yarn crisscrossing the surface to show connections.
Seen in shows like “The Wire” and “True Detective,” the “crazy wall” or “big board” is a standard trope that appears in pop culture again and again. Real police officers will tell you that its usage is probably a little exaggerated, like everything in Hollywood, and that in the age of computers and algorithms, using a “crazy wall” is, well, a little crazy.
And that’s not just true for movies.
Scheduling a staff of field techs using a million sticky notes or a white board might sometimes make you feel like you’re Jake Gyllenhaal in “Zodiac” with his crazy wall.
It’s a great way to drive yourself nuts and also puts anyone in charge of scheduling or keeping track of employees at risk of making mistakes – not because they’re being sloppy, but simply because using paper notes or markers on a white board is an inefficient way to schedule.
When a schedule exists as a dead document on paper or on a whiteboard, it makes it hard to adjust things on the fly: Dispatchers can see where people are supposed to be, but no one knows for sure until they call around, which eats up large chunks of time.
Even after they figure out where people are and who they can send to a job, they have to erase sections of the whiteboard and rewrite the day’s schedules, or scribble new sticky notes to replace the ones they scrapped. It’s like rewriting your whole grocery list because you forgot to add “bread” and you ran out of room on your notepaper – it’s time-consuming and frustrating.
It’s little annoyances like this that make people want to quit their jobs (death by a thousand cuts, anyone?) – but there’s a solution: Get rid of the crazy wall and go digital.
Using field service management software means all this information is kept digitally in a living, dynamic space, and dispatchers can see on a digital dashboard – not a messy dry-erase board or bulletin board – where every tech actually is in near real time, eliminating any phone tag.
So if things need to be updated suddenly, the dispatcher uses a simple drop-down scheduling process to change things around. The system pings the tech on his or her mobile device, saying to head to a certain location ASAP. The tech accepts the job, reads the job order details and is on the way.
These mobile and digital capabilities mean that businesses can scrap the old-school ways and stop driving employees batty with “Zodiac”-style paper trails of where techs might be. With GPS vehicle tracking and workforce management solutions, companies can get the right tech to the right job at the right time, and take less time doing it.
And that’s still crazy – crazy efficient, that is.