Are UK field service companies keeping pace with the rest of the world? In this exclusive four-part report for Field Service News, Bill Pollock, President & Principal Consulting Analyst, Strategies for Growth SM, explores how UK companies compare with their global counterparts.
Each year, Strategies For Growth (SFGSM) conducts a series of Benchmark Surveys among its global outreach community. The content of this report is derived exclusively from the UK/Europe responses to our 2015 Field Service Management (FSM) Benchmark Survey and, thereby, represents a geographically-specific universe base from which to identify key FSM usage patterns and trends. The research coverage was sponsored by Kirona.
For example UK/Europe survey respondents identify the following as the top factors, or challenges, currently driving their desire to optimise field service performance (compared to the overall global results):
- 56% Customer demand for quicker response time (up from 52% overall)
- 47% Need to improve workforce utilisation & productivity (up from 43% overall)
- 47% Need to improve service process efficiencies (up from 40% overall)
- 41% Customer demand for improved asset availability (up from 35% overall)
Thus, the data clearly reflects that UK/Europe Field Service Organisations (FSOs) appear to place somewhat more emphasis on each of these key market drivers, focusing on customer demand and workforce utilisation, productivity and efficiency, than their worldwide respondent counterparts.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that they are also planning to invest more in mobile tools in support of their respective field forces than other global geographies represented in the overall survey universe.
However, in order to effectively address these key challenges – and strive to attain Best Practices status – UK/Europe respondents then cite the following as the top strategic actions they are currently taking:
- 64% Develop / improve metrics, or KPIs, used to measure field service performance (up from 52% overall)
- 49% Invest in mobile tools to provide field technicians with real-time access to required data and information in the field (up from 42% overall)
- 35% Integrate new technologies into existing field service operations (i.e., iPads, Tablets or other devices, etc. (up from 34% overall)
Improving the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) used to measure performance is cited as a top strategic action by 64% of UK/ Europe respondents, compared to only 52% overall.
In fact, the percentage of UK/Europe FSOs currently developing/improving their respective KPIs, at 64%, is higher than the 62% cited by the survey’s Best Practices respondents (i.e., those attaining at least 90% Customer Satisfaction and 30% Services Profitability).
The remainder of this report provides insight into each of these and other related areas that may be influencing your organisation’s quest to attain Best Practices, as well as highlighting those resources that the leading UK/Europe organisations already have in place – or are planning to implement in the next 12 months.
Field service as profit centres
The survey results reveal that 65% of UK/Europe respondent organisations currently operate service as an independent profit centre (or as a pure, third-party service company), similar to the 66% reflected among the overall survey respondents, but far fewer than the 81% cited among Best Practices organisations.
Even so, there are still more than a third (35%) that operate as cost centres in support of product sales.
While there appears to be some consistency or continuity in these percentages from other surveys conducted by SFG℠ over the past few years, this nearly 2:1 ratio strongly validates the fact that profit centres now represent the dominant business model within the UK/Europe services community and, based on responses from other questions in the survey, this trend is likely to grow even stronger over time.
It is noted, however, that the percentage of organisations running service as an independent profit centre varies – sometimes significantly – by size of organisation (based on annual revenue or turnover).
The percentage of organisations running service as an independent profit centre varies – sometimes significantly – by size of organisation.
Not surprisingly, organisations reporting total annual service profits of greater than 30% come in at 76% – one of the highest levels charted among all of the segments covered in the survey.
As such, they are not only operating service as a profit centre – they’re actually making a significant profit by doing so!
Bespoke or out-of-the-box
More importantly, the UK/Europe respondent base clearly confirms that the predominant mode of Field Service Management (FSM) solutions currently being deployed is mainly off-the-shelf, either with some customisation (53%; compared with only 37% overall), or basically right out-of-the-box with no customisation (2%; compared with 6% overall), comprising more than half (55%) of the respondent base in total.
This figure is 9% higher than that cited by global Best Practices organisations (i.e., 46%)
Roughly one-quarter of UK/Europe respondents are either using home-grown, or internally-developed automated systems (15%), or bespoke solutions developed by a systems integrator (9%).
As such, UK/Europe organisations are far less likely to deploy a bespoke solution either internally, or by a systems integrator, compared with the overall survey respondents, but are far more likely to deploy an off-the-shelf solution and, then, have the specific types of customisation they require built-in to tailor it to their organisation’s requirements.
However, the most perplexing statistic may be the fact that nearly one-in-four UK/Europe organisations (22%) are still running their field service operations basically via a series of manual processes (and spreadsheets) – higher than the 18% attributable to the overall respondent base!