Manage, Mobilise and Monitor – three key principles to digitalise your entire service lifecycle to boost the P&L
As we bring this series of excerpts from an exclusive Field Service News white paper to conclusion let us take an opportunity to reflect on how field service organisations can adapt a three stage approach towards digitalisation that can become part of an ongoing cycle of continuous improvement.
Manage processes better – automate where ever you can
With a clear understanding of your entire workflow and the processes at each interaction, you can now see how you can use automation to improve processes.
The example we have used on several occasions in this paper is the ability to automate invoicing as soon as the engineer receives the sign off on the job completion. While this is just one example of where automation can streamline the workflow, it is particularly pertinent. This is because we can see many other vital facets of this concept at play when doing so.
For example, if you clearly understand your customer’s accounts payable requirements, these can be embedded within this automation.
It is essentially a case of joining the dots to ensure that the required documentation that the field service enginner or technician captures (e-signature, photo evidence, work report, etc.) can be sent in tandem with an invoice.
Automating invoicing upon work completion is an excellent example of the difference between digitising a legacy process and moving through process change with digitalisation.
For example, suppose your invoices are all produced by a central accounts team. In that case, it is time to reflect on how many elements of such a legacy process are the remnants of a previous analogue approach to working and are primarily now redundant.
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Minor improvements to key metrics like first-time-fix and technician utilisation can soon stack up to significant boosts to productivity when translated across the whole field workforce
While automating invoicing directly from the engineer is an obvious win when it comes to reducing the service to cash cycle, the same principles should be applied to all processes within the service lifecycle, which will consistently produce opportunities to improve efficiency and drive profitability within the service operation.
Mobilise your workflows – empower your field workers with real-time visibility
We can focus on two stand-out metrics when improving the bottom line: first-time fix rates and technician utilisation. As we have looked at throughout this paper, both can be enhanced by ensuring our field service engineers and technicians have all of the information they need to hand in when on-site with the customer.
We have looked at several different ways to achieve this, and again, it is often a case of working with your solution provider to join the dots. Of course, each service organisation will have its priorities; however, universal elements apply to all field service organisations at the macro level.
- Are we sending the right field service engineer to the job?
- Does that engineer have the right tools and parts to complete the job?
- Does that engineer have access to the right information?
Working with your FSM solution provider can streamline your digitalisation process to ensure each of these elements is on point at each job.
Additionally, your solution provider will be able to guide you on how to make sure any new tools you provide to your field service engineers and technicians are intuitive to use, which will, of course, boost end-user adoption and thus allows you to achieve a return on investment and boost to your service P&L.
Monitor your assets, productivity and processes – adapt to a data-driven world.
We live firmly in a data-driven world. In 2019 Forbes magazine produced a report claiming that over 90% of current data was created within the last two years. In the intervening years, the volume of data we generate each day has only increased at a near exponential level.
In today’s connected world, if you are not leveraging data effectively, then, to put it bluntly, you are putting your organisation at a massive disadvantage. Data is everywhere in field service operations, and its potential value is huge.
The obvious starting point is asset data. Most new assets deployed in the field will have connectivity capabilities. Over time, our industry will move to one where asset data is automatically updated via the asset itself. However, as we transition to this point, we must utilise our field service engineers and technicians to collect and input data.
When on-site, the ability to do this is yet another crucial aspect of digitalisation and requires both a suitable FSM solution and rethinking processes to ensure that the correct data is collected in a consistent manner that allows for meaningful analysis.
Similarly, we must be utilising data analysis to measure the productivity of our teams in the field. As we saw earlier in this series, minor improvements to key metrics like first-time-fix and technician utilisation can soon stack up to significant boosts to productivity when translated across the whole field workforce.
Effective leadership in such projects involves courting several different perspectives and listening to the voices of various stakeholders within the service ecosystem, including your customers, your field service engineers and technicians and, of course, your solution providers...
Monitoring performance data allows us to identify where our field service engineers and technicians are under or over-performing and provide an opportunity for closer, more advanced training and development where needed.
Finally, as we look at digitalisation, avoid thinking this is a one-off process. Instead, look to digitalisation as part of an ongoing journey of continuous improvement. We can see which processes are failing and which are driving results by monitoring performance.
Remember, the service leadership shouldn’t take such an approach in isolation either.
For optimal results, effective leadership in such projects involves courting several different perspectives and listening to the voices of various stakeholders within the service ecosystem, including your customers, your field service engineers and technicians and, of course, your solution providers who will have experience in helping other organisations similar to your own take a path of improved service profitability through digitalisation.
Ten points of expert advice from Martin Knook, CEO, GoMocha, an organisation who have guided many field service organisations through such change, includes:
- Make sure your Field Mobility solution is flexible enough to follow the changing demand from lessons learned during the digitalisation journey.
2. Ensure your scheduling algorithm works seamlessly with your service communications across all channels.
3. Integrate survey capabilities in your field service order processing.
4. Enable technicians with the tools to document what they see in the field. Data is not exposed to real-life use cases, but your engineers are. Encourage them to build a living knowledge base.
5. Capture all data needed to enable the learning curve for your organisation. Make sure you collect data points from your field operation relevant to evaluate and learn.
6. Don’t collect data without a goal; ensure field data can create a digital twin of your business.
7. Don’t let an existing ERP system – or ERP Landscape – limit the ability to empower your field service engineers to work in a unified manner.
8. Don’t believe change has to come with expensive releases. With today’s technology changing, some aspects of your field operation may take only a day or two.
9. Empower your field operation with a toolset to support multiple service business models; you may not need it now, but your next move might, and you don’t want to lose business opportunities in this fast-growing market.
10. Don’t shoot for the moon and land amongst the sky. Today’s technology must support the growth path; you might want to start small and simple and create multiple options to optimise the service to cash process for your particular business needs fully aligned with your customers.
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This article is an excerpt from the exclusive Field Service News White Paper ‘Improving the service to cash cycle & boosting the service P&L through digitalisation’ which is available for FSN PRO subscribers and for a limited period FSN FREE subscribers also.
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