Understanding Field Service Maturity and Enabling Business Growth

Kris Oldland talks exclusively to Steve Wellen, CEO of FieldAware about today’s field service operation, maturity model adoption and when the time is right for an organisation’s evolution…



Evolution of an organisation’s field service and field service maturity models are hot topics and gaining increasing attention in field service management right now. Moving from basic, manual processes through to automated stages and beyond can deliver significant results to an organisation. But what does this maturity model mean in reality to an organisation and do all field service companies need to strive for the highest levels of field service maturity?


With over 35 years’ experience in the technology industry, Steve Wellen is somebody who knows more than most how important developing maturity is to business success. Prior to joining FieldAware, nearly two years ago, Steve held executive positions with software giants Domo, Inc and Omniture and his passion for the results that technology can deliver is clear.

It is useful to get his insight into how the concept of a field service maturity models can turn into reality for organisations and to take a closer look at the evolution that is happening right now. “I hear time and time again from our clients directly and through our customer support teams that field service is moving on from simply bringing efficiencies into operations, keeping customers happy and managing costs.

“These are important factors in any business, without doubt, but the focus is shifting and that shift is away from service delivery being considered to be an overhead within the business model and for field service to be an integral part of the company, that adds real value. With this strategic shift on the operational side, technology has to at least match these objectives or better still drive and deliver the outcome. Field service leaders realise they have the means to be empowered by the many recent developments in software capabilities – and how forward thinking companies are applying them – to become true value drivers in their business.”

As Steve highlights, technology and operational maturity are integral to one another, so it is useful to talk through the stages that are identified in the FieldAware model.

“In the simplest terms, we have outlined five stages going from the basic, paper-based processes through to a wholly transformative level of maturity which embraces the latest capabilities and emerging technologies.”

At the most basic stage, the field service team is seen as purely reactive, Steve explains. “The organisation’s operational development is restricted by the use of paper-based processes; there is reduced visibility of the workflow and the approach to managing work will generally be function-based and hence, reactive in nature. The field team is likely to be a siloed operation with strong focus on the department, rather than any wider business requirements.”

Moving up to the next level to part-automation means with near real-time management the work can move to a less reactive, more controlled approach with procedures and processes more easily established. However, while field service KPIs may be more easily defined because of the enhanced visibility, they may not align to wider business strategy, so the field service operations may continue to operate within a silo.

The next stage identified in the FieldAware model brings in integrated technology, and as such the operations become more managed. At level three, an integrated operation brings realtime visibility across all of the elements that need to be considered, bringing improved collaboration between teams and increased accountability within them.

Operational growth across the wider business can start to be realised, extending the impact of the field service organisation without compromising effective delivery of service promises and SLAs.

The fourth level is an optimised stage of technology maturity which means operationally field service turns into an opportunity to drive business as continual operational improvement becomes the norm. Processes become underpinned by true business intelligence and trend analysis.

Operations become more quantitatively measured and managed. An optimised stage brings with it a shift from being seen merely as service delivery, to unlocking the business value of field service with the competitive advantage that this can bring.

Finally, the most advanced stage of maturity in the FieldAware model is transformative, where the emerging technologies of IoT, AR, AI and Machine Learning become the norm and this stage has potential to have huge influence on field service operations. At this stage of maturity, the field service organisation is wholly connected across the company, applying analysis to continually improve performance, and adding value to the business through product and service innovation.

Ultimately, this enables field service to drive, not only the business, but the market, which is how companies differentiate themselves from their competition and lead company growth. The maturity of a company’s field service operations is dictated by many factors, explains Steve. Company size, type of industry and customers served, complexity of workflow, value of the assets and equipment they supply and service, and importantly, their leadership.

So, taking these into account, what then drives a company to develop and evolve their field service solution and how is FieldAware seeing this firsthand I ask. “There are four key drivers we see within organisations looking to evolve. The first driver is growth as it is imperative that a growing field service organisation has solutions to support it and keep pace with operational needs. Next is flexibility, which is crucial to a developing field service organisation – being locked into using any solution that can’t easily adapt, handcuffs the business and restricts its development. Efficiency is critical as not having the right technology in place can be a cost driver, limit productivity and compromise service delivery.”

Last, but certainly no means least important is the increasing need for business insight. With more data available to field service organisations than ever, field service leaders demand better insight into their business and they understand that the right software holds the key to this.”

One of the most significant transitions for companies, Steve believes comes when they focus on their business insight. It becomes clear as Steve talks that business intelligence and analytics is an area he is particularly passionate about. His previous role as COO at Domo, Inc has enabled him to bring a fresh look at the application of analytics capabilities in field service.

“The premise of Domo is that it unifies every component of your business and while field service solutions have long had the capability to integrate into other business systems, such as CRM, ERP and accounting, it is analytics that provides the means for field service organisations to realise their full potential.” “Companies that recognise this value, see the importance of a closely integrated and connected field service within the wider business. The new interactions that come from this connection, further unlock the value for the company in terms of customer service, sales or product development to fuel competitive advantage.”

FieldAware has a strong focus on enabling clients to know more through their business insight, allowing them to serve more and grow more as a business. Steve again believes that analytics underpins much of this and for him seeing FieldAware clients achieve their objectives for company growth is another area he has great passion for.

“We are starting to see analytical data being used in unique ways to help field service organisations leverage the findings that are uncovered to drive innovation into their products and services. Forward-thinking companies apply these insights to help customise the service they offer to their customers more easily, deepening the customer relationship and improving levels of satisfaction.” “At the transformative level, the creation of new, unique, predictive and preventative services will help them to serve more and ultimately achieve greater growth.”

FieldAware is working with many organisations through their stages of maturity to address issues they encounter when their operational and technology stages are not aligned. Meadows Office Interiors is just one example. With over 50 years in business, Meadows Office Interiors creates innovative workspaces and company growth along with a strong customer focus, meant the creation of Meadows Service Group to offer ongoing support to their customer base.

A dedicated team was set up to focus on maximising the lifetime and effectiveness of their clients’ workplace assets, but as Steve explained it soon become clear to the management that current processes and practices couldn’t keep pace and more streamlined ways of working had to be introduced.

“Meadows quickly realised they had to be more strategic in the way they worked, to effectively manage the operational side of the business. Working with them to develop their technology maturity enabled improved day-to-day operational management, which has translated into driving their revenue growth. A great success for our client.”

It certainly seems like a successful approach for FieldAware and it is interesting times with their field service maturity model, which will mean more and more organisations will be asking themselves the question is the time right for their evolution in field service maturity.


 

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