Best Practices Organisations Have Already Learned the Differences Between “Less Is More” and “More Is Better”
In any number of forums, ranging from trade shows and conferences, to workshops, seminars and general consulting assignments, we are often asked the question: “What do Best Practices services organisations do differently from all others in order to attain that status?” The way we like to answer that question is with an explanation of why “less isn’t always more!”
In business – as in life itself – the best way of operating generally revolves around the concept of “less is more.” And, in most circumstances, this philosophy typically holds true. For example, less costs incurred with respect to operating a service center would certainly be a desired goal – as would less customer complaints, less customer system downtime, less technician time spent at the customer site, and so on.
However, Best Practices services organisations have learned, typically through experience, how to discern when a “less is more” approach is required, and when a “more is better” approach would be more desirable. There is a true distinction, and one that the Best Practices organisations have found they can literally “take to the bank!”
“Best Practices organisations have already learned that the best way to justify an investment is to measure how your performance has improved as a result.”
From research conducted over the past year, a number of factors stand out that truly differentiate Best Practices organisations from the general population. Contrary to conventional wisdom, Best Practices organisations do not necessarily face a different set of challenges than all others – they just deal with them more effectively. They don’t necessarily embark on a differing set of strategic actions than all others – they just apply more emphasis on some than they do on others. And they don’t necessarily utilise differing technologies and applications than all others – they just use them more pervasively and effectively.
Of course, it is not really just that simple. There is no doubt that Best Practices organisations generally have more resources available at their disposal than most others, and that they know how to use them better. But the story is actually much more complex than what may initially meet the eye. Let me explain …
First, most Best Practices organisations have already dealt with – and mostly successfully – the need to cut costs over the past several years. In addition, they have also taken steps to drive increased service revenues in the most recent timeframe. This is not to say that they have cut ALL costs, or that ALL potential revenue streams have been successfully cultivated; but, rather, that these issues are now fairly well under control among the leading organisations (i.e., as opposed to all others, many of which are still addressing these two issues as their number one and number two challenges). The advantage that Best Practices organisations have, as a result, is that they can focus more on other key strategic and tactical actions that will assure they stay ahead of the pack for some time to come.
Some examples of the primary means by which Best Practices organisations have dealt with cutting costs may include areas such as (1) restructuring the services organisation; (2) streamlining primary services processes, policies and procedures; (3) automating historically manual tasks and activities; and the like.
Examples of some of the more common means by which they may have driven increased service revenues include (1) implementation of a formal warranty and contract management solution; (2) deployment of mobile tools in support of the field force (e.g., to capture signatures and submit invoices at the customer site, etc.); (3) move toward the increased use of real-time data collection and exchange; etc.
Perhaps the greatest differentiator between Best Practices and all other services organisations is the following: Best Practices organisations typically know when they need to do “less”; and when they need to do “more.” However, the one key area where they are truly doing the “most” to maintain their status of Best Practices, is with respect to performance measurement.
In fact, Best Practices organisations are 20% more likely to utilise a formal set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure their service operations and delivery performance than all others. In addition, they are also using up to a dozen – or more – targeted KPIs to routinely measure critical performance areas, and report the results – often in real time – to all relevant stakeholders (i.e., those on a “need to know” basis).
This is clearly an area where “more” is better than “less,” and one where Best Practices organisations have already learned that the best way to justify an investment is to measure how your performance has improved as a result.
For a more detailed analysis of what differentiates Best Practices organisations from all others, we invite you to download our White Paper entitled, “Best Practices Organisations Plan to Invest More – and Measure More – in 2014”, available through Field Services News here