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5 Tips for smooth field service software implementation

Dec 12 • Features, Software and Apps • 940 Views • No Comments on 5 Tips for smooth field service software implementation

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Manuel Grenacher, CEO, Coresystems outlines a clear plan for smooth software implementation…

Software implementations fail across various industries and markets, but mostly for human reasons rather than software catastrophes.

According to research firm, Gartner, 55% to 75% of all ERP projects fail to meet objectives.

Panorama Consulting worked with independent research company Mint Jutras, and found that more companies in 2015, 21% to be exact, are defining software implementations as failures, up from 16% in previous years. Field service businesses bring their own challenges in levels of complexity, remote access, and skills, but these are manageable with the right planning and partners. Here are my five tips for successful implementation of field service software.

1. Setting Objectives Is Key

It’s easy to get fixated on features when choosing a new software solution. However, there’s more to implementing a new system than that. Features and functions are obviously important, but you should choose software and a delivery partner that understands your field service business and what you’re trying to achieve. While choosing a software solution, think of the end-to-end process and the people that will have to use the software to do their jobs and how information will be accessed and used throughout that process.

Set objectives before starting to compare systems so you know what you’re trying to achieve. What ROI is the Finance Director looking for? How will you measure the degree of success or failure?

Data entered by the admin team needs to be in the right format and accessible to technicians remotely.

Set objectives before starting to compare systems so you know what you’re trying to achieve. What ROI is the Finance Director looking for? How will you measure the degree of success or failure?

Think holistically about the whole field service business, including the people. Take a baseline measurement before you start for comparison purposes, e.g. average number of site visits per day, time taken per visit, call backs, technician upsells, direct online access by customers, cost per visit.

2. Getting Acceptance and Trust From Your Staff

A new software solution can succeed or fail depending on how your staff reacts to it. They after all are the most important part of the business and the software is only there to make them more productive, so take care of them before everything else. Identify everyone affected by the roll out: sales, admin, technicians, accountants, line management, etc. Plan ahead and maybe even get their input during software selection. Plan in detail how the software will accomplish the business processes, especially the interaction between the new system and humans.

Offering training pre- and post-implementation is vital, plus having ongoing support.

3. Ensure Security of Data 

Just because a new software system is based in the cloud, that doesn’t make it immune to problems. The implementation should be treated the same way as it would be for a traditional IT system. It’s very important to be just as rigorous with project management, objectives, data migration, phased rollout, testing, etc. A cloud implementation will bring many benefits and cost savings, but it also has its own challenges around access, compliance, and security.

When it comes to security, it is still your responsibility to ensure personal and confidential data is kept secure so be responsible

The main servers and networking infrastructure will be looked after in a secure data centre, but technicians need remote access on-site. Their tools, such as mobile devices, should be tested and given as many means of data connectivity as possible at fast speeds with significant amounts of storage for downloading manuals, catalogs, video, etc.

The new system shouldn’t bypass your company’s compliance rules, or the industry rules in regulated regimes such as some utilities. When it comes to security, it is still your responsibility to ensure personal and confidential data is kept secure so be responsible when specifying requirements for data connectivity, VPN tunneling, encryption (including on mobile devices), rewalls, etc.

4. Pick A Project Management Team

Strong project management skills are vital during this phase, which will mean choosing a supplier and delivery partner that understands your business. Plan out the whole end-to-end field service deployment with them and keep staff and customers in the loop. Still, you should stay flexible enough to take on unexpected changes without risking derailing the whole project.

Don’t expect staff to be able to do their day jobs and run the implementation, too. You’ll need to assign dedicated people to set up the product information, customer site details, report structures, etc. These people may come from the delivery partner, but you’ll still need to assign time for internal experts to pass on information and perform testing.

Getting the features right is one thing, but installing the new system will take time, and it will probably be disruptive to ongoing operations and cause anxiety among a affected staff.

Don’t be afraid to make carefully considered changes to the plan. For instance, if a big new customer comes on board half way through with new service requirements, decide whether to delay working with the customer or delay the whole project. Either decision can be right, but you should have a process ready to help you make the decision, understand the consequences, and communicate your decision.

Getting the features right is one thing, but installing the new system will take time, and it will probably be disruptive to ongoing operations and cause anxiety among a affected staff. All of these disruptions have to be planned for and managed properly so they don’t spin out of control and take the project down.

5. Implement Step by Step

It’s usually much better to adopt a phased approach to implementing a new software system rather than expecting to do it all in one big bang.

Keep the phases manageable by dividing the rollout into controllable chunks. These chunks could be based on regional teams, functional steps, the business model, or all of the above. A good way to start might be to choose a team that performs well and is fairly close to HQ. Spend time getting them up and running smoothly, iron out any wrinkles, and be sure to understand their worries and objections because you’ll see those worries again at every other site.

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