We’ve all seen the performance benchmarks that demonstrate the positive impact that Field Service Management Systems have on service productivity and operational efficiency. There is no doubt that functionality like dispatch and scheduling, mobility, and knowledge management can have a dramatic impact on improving KPIs such as SLA compliance, first-time fixes, and other critical field service related metrics. For many field service executives, these benefits are a given. These executives don’t need much convincing that upgrading their service management infrastructure will help their organization.
Despite the promise of better results, field service leaders often face a bigger challenge when it comes to getting their organizations to invest in new systems. These leaders must build a strong case for their businesses that this expense will result in a high return on investment and rapid payback. At the end of the day, no matter how well thought out the business case is, it still must compete with other investment alternatives that the organization is considering. One of these alternatives could be to do nothing at all. Because doing nothing protects the status quo and conserves cash.
I’ve worked with several field service organizations (FSOs) that have faced similar challenges. They were able to overcome these challenges by dealing with the problems and costs associated with the current environment in which they operate, rather than focusing on gradual improvements that are possible through investments in new technology. These leaders concentrated not only on labor costs, but also costs associated with lost time, lost opportunities, and lost customers, as well as other issues.
Let’s look at some of the areas where these problems can occur:
- IT Maintenance Costs: FSOs that use older software systems are likely to experience high costs associated with maintaining and updating these systems, particularly if the original software developer is no longer supporting the systems. These costs could be placing a high financial burden on not just the field service division, but also the enterprise itself. Replacing these systems with state of the art solutions could result in significant cost savings that fall directly on the bottom line.
- Process Inefficiencies: It is not unusual for older software systems to be more cumbersome to operate than new versions. For example, there may be multiple screens or procedures involved in opening a work order, dispatching a field service engineer, or issuing an RMA. Typically, new solutions have streamlined workflows that save time and result in higher levels of productivity.
- Information/System Inefficiencies: Often one of the biggest challenges that field service organizations face is the time and effort associated with getting critical information from fragmented databases and software systems. More importantly, these systems may be lacking certain types of reporting capabilities or feature functionality. For example, customer self-service capabilities. As a result, field service leaders can often make the case internally to replace older systems with newer versions that are integrated or interfaced to a common database, thus facilitating faster and better decision making.
The areas highlighted above may appear to be basic challenges for a field service executive to solve. Many times, dealing with the basics is all that is needed for a field service leader to drive change. Whether it is something basic or more advanced, it is important to remember that companies-- just like people-- are motivated by two things: the desire to avoid pain and the desire to gain pleasure. Field service leaders are more likely to gain internal buy-ins for systems investments if they can focus on the problems associated with maintaining the status quo rather than the potential improvements of new investments.
This guest blog post was written by Michael R. Blumberg, CMC and President of Blumberg Advisory Group, Inc. Michael is an independent consultant with over twenty years of experience in the Field Service Industry. He is author and frequent speaker at industry events on issues ranging from sales and marketing to technology to strategy & leadership to operational excellence.