In an ever worsening economy and steadily decreasing profit margins for field service delivery what is a computer service organization to do? Engineers live in fear of layoffs, receive less and less training, are asked to carry more load, and have their call out, standby and car allowances reduced. Can both issues be resolved. Can companies continue to service their customers with highly skilled engineers, while meeting their demands for cheaper services. Can engineers be justly rewarded for studying and taking the time to learn and become proficient? Can engineers once more command financial reward for competency and motivation, where todays companies have diluted the resource pool, with "Good Enough" and canned annual reviews and insulting annual increases spread across the board like peanut butter. I think so...
What if you were to created a market place where freelance engineers could bid on work? An auction type clearing house for opened service calls. What if freelance engineers had ratings that were a function of previous customer experiences, training/certification levels, previous successful job completions (perhaps time to resolution), and personally stated skills. These would have to be solid and very consistent, if people are to buy into them. But if there is true quality and integrity in the way they are arrived at and maintained over time, then these ratings become highly coveted and a badge of honor amongst themselves.
Now support a customer does not want to be locked into a contract and pay for services they may never use, is there a better solution than simply T&M services on an as we can get to it bases? What if they were to agree review/survey every engineer they have deliver a service. Not a random sample but everyone as a function of this service.
I don't have this completely worked out, but the concept is that a customer in need of service logs onto a website and initiates a service request. They provide the needed information about the problem (I know this is not simple) then select the skill level and urgency of the request. Maybe we suggest skill levels for broad categories such as disk drive replacement might require a level one, while mirroring a three way cluster might require a level 5. But if a customer is very nervous they should be able to pay for a higher skilled individual.
Now the freelance engineers is registered with our service and has an RSS feed or email or whatever notification method they select running. They only see service requests at their level and below, and are then allowed to reverse bid on the job. Reverse bids would have to include amount he/she is willing to do the service for and time to arrive. Say three of four engineers
This needs more thought, but that should get the juices flowing.