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Knowledge is power… why knowledge sharing is key to modern field service (part two)

Mar 3 • Features, Future of FIeld Service • 3261 Views • No Comments on Knowledge is power… why knowledge sharing is key to modern field service (part two)

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In the first part of this feature we looked at why medical device manufacturer Elekta felt it was necessary to establish a global knowledge sharing platform, now in this the concluding part of this feature we look at how they managed the task…

In terms of logistics, Elekta took a broad approach initially with a couple of duplicated platforms to ensure that everyone had access to the knowledge. The main plan was to integrate the knowledge base within the deployment of their new CRM system, which would provide automated access to relevant articles dynamically, based on customer, service desk or field engineer requirements.

However, they also placed the articles from the knowledge base onto a searchable database as a secondary system whilst the CRM was being rolled out, leaving no stone unturned and meaning full global access to the program was achieved from the start.

The content itself was then tailored dependent on its use, with the knowledge base comprising of a mix of mediums including text, images and videos with links to e-learning snippets also embedded within many knowledge article.

Expanding on this further Gilday explained

For our engineers in China or Japan or many of the other evolving countries these were really valuable because it didn’t require any translation or any language issues

“If the article was talking about a particular part of the machine, and one of the procedures was something that often caused a difficulty for the engineer, we would just embed a link into an e-learning module that was only a few minutes long that would demonstrate to the engineer how to do a particular procedure.”

“For our engineers in China or Japan or many of the other evolving countries these were really valuable because it didn’t require any translation or any language issues, they could simply look at what was done.”

Of course the global scope of this project was one of it’s key drivers in the first place and whilst gaining adoption of the program on a global basis sounds like a huge task, in reality, for Elekta at least it actually wasn’t that big a hurdle.

“The adoption around the world wasn’t particularly difficult because there was a pull from the field service engineers in the first place.” Gilday states.

“There really is quite a bit of internal competition in that the engineer that has provided the most knowledge articles or the engineer that has provided the article that is used by the most engineers round the rest of the world holds an awful lot of kudos.”

There really is quite a bit of internal competition in that the engineer that has provided the most knowledge articles or the engineer that has provided the article that is used by the most engineers round the rest of the world holds an awful lot of kudos.

Indeed it is perhaps a phenomena of the connected world we live in where public ranking has become ingrained within our thinking.

As Gilday elaborated “There is a lot of pride of being a very competent technician and being able to share your knowledge. I think many years ago the approach was knowledge is power and people were less inclined to share it but today its the other way around and people are keen to be seen as experts in their area.”

Indeed Elekta play on this mentality by publishing internal league tables with 1,000 users generating on average 60 new knowledge features a month the approach is certainly working at present. It was simply a case of getting the ball rolling.

To do so they made good use of the knowledge that they had locked up in siloes across the organisation and harvested close to 4,000 articles which were put into the knowledge base initially.

They also created some video material captured at a global summit and established a training and awareness program through targeted webinars across the team.

“We did a lot of training and awareness around the whole program to say that this is everybody’s collective responsibility once it started its actually fairly self perpetuating, you just need to clean up every now and then, to focus on the areas that get a lot of attention, take out the articles that are never used.” Confirmed Gilday

“Everybody has responsibility for it and the constant peer review means you can improve the quality of the content as you go.”

Linking the knowledge directly to support

The other advantage Elekta were able to utilise by aligning the knowledge base to their new CRM system was that they could now connect this into their service desk function.

Previously Elekta had been a very product driven company, which had largely grown as a result of continuous product innovation. In such an environment often service is a secondary consideration and so it was for Elekta in the past. However, by Gilday’s own admission that is rapidly changing.

By clever design the system is also continuously refining itself making it ever more efficient.

So the benefit of setting up a service desk environment where upon receiving a call from a customer and as the service desk agent is typing up a problem, a keyword search on the knowledge base which pulls up the articles that are most related to this problem, is even more widely felt.

By clever design the system is also continuously refining itself making it ever more efficient.

“We implemented a scoring system so as the engineers close the service call they are encouraged to identify whether a knowledge article helped them and to link it to the particular problem” Gilday illustrated “So the system essentially self learns. This further qualifies that list of knowledge articles to be able to present it in a very dynamic form at the help desk.”

So with Elekta having established what from the outside seems a very slick and effective means of sharing knowledge across their global network the ultimate question is has it had any impact on the levels of service they are delivering?

It is of course impossible to establish a true value contribution of a new service initiative unless you undertake them really do them one at a time. And to do so severely limits the speed at which potential progress that can be made. In this instance the implementation of Elekta’s knowledge base program has coincided with them up-skilling their service desk staff and also driving forward with remote support connectivity.

However, across these three initiatives Elekta have seen more than a 20% visit avoidance, which will result in quite a dramatic effect on their efficiency on service to the customer.

Across these three initiatives Elekta have seen more than a 20% visit avoidance, which will result in quite a dramatic effect on their efficiency on service to the customer.

Looking specifically at the Knowledge Base they are getting over 2000 knowledge articles views each day, nearly half of the articles are used with service cases attached.

There are also over five and a half thousand knowledge articles published now. And whilst they started with a large amount of features, they are undertaking more and more clean ups, removing any articles not being used regularly or related to old products.

There is also a lot of potential value in the product base for those customers who maintain their own equipment. Generally Elekta will offer a second level support to customers in those situations, and the value of the knowledge base could potentially be leverage further amongst these clients, either as a value added proposition or even on a transactional basis.

Finally there is the benefit that bringing the knowledge to the fore can have on future product refinement, which is a real benefit for the team working in R&D.

As Gilday outlined “A lot of this knowledge goes straight back into product updates. This product intelligence form the field says if we can eliminate this particular problem this will have an x percent benefit.”

So whilst the initial project may have seemed daunting, it appears that knowledge really is power, and by bringing it to the fore, we can truly harness it a number of different ways to push our organisation forwards to ever greater heights.

 

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