I spoke at an industry conference several years ago and was asked by a member of the audience to describe the ultimate objective of Field Service Management (FSM) in one word. My answer was “optimization.” So what is optimization? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, it is an act, process, or methodology of making something (e.g. a design, system, or decision) as fully perfect, functional, or effective as possible. In other words, optimization is about the “highest and best use.”
Field Service Management Optimization
Simply put, field service management is about ensuring the highest and best use of service resources so that a company can achieve its greatest financial potential. This requires that service managers and executives have access to data that enables them to make the best decision. To achieve this outcome, a service executive or manager must be able to evaluate alternative scenarios and make trade-offs between these scenarios in order to determine the best outcome. As a result, field service management has become synonymous with technology that captures data, automates the decision making process (i.e., trade-off analysis), and facilitates the best outcomes.
For example, field service management technology enables a field service organization to get the right technician to the right place at the right time with the proper information and necessary resources (i.e., parts) to resolve a problem within a previously agreed to time commitment. It helps the contact center determine if the customer is entitled to service in the first place and provides the call center agent with information to resolve the call remotely. From a service logistics perspective, field service management technology ensures that there are enough spare parts available at the right time, in the right locations. Field service software provides full visibility into the location and costs of goods in the reverse logistics supply, and provides insight on what to do with the returned unit. There’s also information on trend data, inventory levels, overdue invoices, and contract renewals available.
Optimizing Field Service Software
It is important that you do not view field service management or service optimization as just a technological solution. It is so much more. If you think of field service management as only technology, service performance will not be optimal because you are only considering highest and best use from an operational perspective.
Therefore, in order to truly maximize the potential of field service managment, we have to optimize at a strategic and tactical level. This means having the right data to make the highest and best use of knowing which market segments to pursue, which services to offer, and at what price. It means making the highest and best use of human capital, the skill sets we employ, whether they are on our payroll full-time or are obtained through a variable workforce model.
Optimization also involves making the highest and best use decision about how we go to market, the frequency at which we engage with current and potential customers, and the role that the service organization plays in renewing service contracts.
By optimizing from the strategic to the tactical to the operational, we can maximize the full profit potential of the service organization, especially when the service organization is fully leveraging the feature functionality of field service software. Ultimately, this is what an effective field service business strategy is all about. All too often, companies fall victim to the maxim “that’s the way we’ve always done it around here.” That works as long as finding the best use is the way you’ve always done things. By adopting a highest and best use mindset-- a mindset of optimization enabled by FSM software--a service organization will continuously find ways to innovate and grow.
Let me know what you are doing to optimize your service business from your “go to market strategy” to your service infrastructure to your service delivery processes. I’d love to hear from you.
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 an author and frequent speaker at industry events on issues ranging from sales and marketing to technology to strategy & leadership to operational excellence.