Selecting a platform partner to empower your field service operations

In this final feature from a recent white paper we published in partnership with Exel Computer Systems, we shall take a look at consideration for ensuring the platform you select is one you can have faith in.

 

As we have seen in our series of excerpts from this paper so far, there are a lot of benefits to the platform approach. However, there is one significant draw that can cause hesitancy in many companies – relying on one provider.

 

In the concluding feature in the series, we shall take a look at consideration for ensuring the platform you select is one you can have faith in.

 

Reliance on a single solution provider is, of course, the natural counterbalance of having one platform and one provider being integral to so many mission-critical aspects of your business. For every company, the decision as to whether the risk/reward ratio of taking the platform approach is suitable may be different.

 

However, having provided a small outline of just some of the benefits of the platform approach, in this concluding section of this paper we shall outline some of the key considerations that could help you mitigate risk on the other side of the equation.

 

When considering any platform provider you should consider the following:

 

What is their track record of working with organizations like yours? 

 

This should always be the starting point – how well will this company genuinely understand our needs? However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should be looking at a solution provider that only serves your particular industry vertical, or even one that caters to companies of similar size, be it enterprise or SMB.

 

One of the most consistent themes within Field Service News discussion groups is that so many of the pain points of field service operations are shared across vertical industries. Yet, the insight from outside your vertical sector can often help reflect on a problem – and show ways to overcome it from a new perspective.

 

Similarly, there are learnings from smaller, more nimble organizations that can help larger companies; and best practices of the enterprise that SMBs can adopt to improve efficiencies.

 

The solution provider who has that broad experience across different industry verticals, with clients of all sizes that can demonstrate that they not only understand the challenges you face but also that they have helped companies with similar needs, will be worth their weight in gold when it comes to not only improving your workflow but, perhaps most importantly, guiding you to avoid the common pitfalls you might otherwise have faced.

 

Do they have a solid financial position?

 

This next consideration is essential for two key reasons. The first and perhaps more prominent of the two is that the last thing you want is to implement a solution across your business only for the provider to cease trading a year or two down the line, leaving you with what will quickly become an outdated legacy product that ultimately will cause more harm than good.

 

So the first key is to assess the long-term financial health of the business. Generally, if a solution provider is financially robust, this will be woven into their sales pitch at some level, but never be afraid to ask. Additionally, a look through their current customer roster can be a strong indicator of business strength. Many companies using the product, including some with strong brand recognition, can often be another indicator of a healthy and profitable business.

 

However, the second reason this is a crucial consideration is probably even more critical. A solid and healthy balance sheet allows for consistent investment into research and development.

 

For example, Exel Computer Systems solutions are under continuous development and have been since inception – the development never ends – one of the key reasons they have such strong loyalty within their customer base.

 

Can they help you shape your future development roadmap? 

 

Another aspect for consideration that leads neatly on from this is understanding how responsive the solution provider is to customer input in terms of future developments?

 

This is an area where perhaps you may be better served by selecting a platform provider that is more accessible than the behemoths of the tech industry that may be the more appealing at first glance.

 

Does the solution provider host regular user groups? Is there a mechanism for feature requests? What is the success of such programs?

 

These are all questions that can indicate how responsive the platform provider may be to working with you to enhance further and refine the solution, or even introduce new modules to the platform entirely.

 

Is the platform modular? 

 

This brings us to our final point for consideration – does the platform have a modular structure?

 

As we mentioned at the top of this section, there are many shared pain points across the field service sector. However, every business remains unique, and every company will have different needs.

 

Introducing new modules as additional requirements arise can allow a platform to offer the easy data flow we discussed in the first section of this paper, yet provide the flexibility that we often see as a highly celebrated benefit of a best- of-breed technology stack approach.

 

A modular-based platform also allows for more straightforward implementation. The old maxim that you can’t boil the ocean is especially true for mission-critical software implementation. The possibility of easing the implementation with a modular platform, particularly if deployed across multiple business units, allows for a much smoother transition.

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