In the early part of this century we have seen huge technological developments impact field service management and increasingly technology and service delivery have become entwined – but investing in the wrong technology can be an expensive mistake, Paul Whitelam, VP Product Marketing, ClickSoftware outlines how we can ensure we avoid such pitfalls…
As we count down to 2020, companies are considering how to prepare for the next decade and get a jump start on the future.
There are many exciting technologies about, which offer much promise. In field service management,
where there is serious complexity that raises the stakes for any technology investment, it’s important these promising avenues realize their potential sooner rather than later.
But investing in new tech doesn’t guarantee its potential will be fully realized. It remains within the purview of the tech buyer to ensure the business extracts maximum value from new technology.
Identify Opportunities for Improvement
Understanding your business strengths, weaknesses, and technological maturity is prerequisite to any exploration of new technology.
Have you outgrown an existing solution and need greater sophistication, or are you limited by processes rather than technology?
Knowing your biggest obstacles and inefficiencies is the starting point for any tech conversation.
Are you able to measure everything and set benchmarks for desired performance? You will need to in order to have a productive conversation with a vendor.
For example, if you know you want to reduce windshield time rather than mileage this creates different requirements for a routing solution and what methodology it uses to map routes for service workers.
In organizations new to field service management solutions, there might be a lack of sophisticated measurement and benchmarks.
If you are moving from spreadsheets and manual paperwork for the first time, the leap can seem daunting. But this is the perfect opportunity to put prospective vendors to the test and use their expertise to source measurement frameworks, benchmarks, and best practices—then hold them accountable for delivering.
Invest in Outcomes, Not Products
Anyone trying to sell you a hammer will characterize your problems as nails, regardless of their nature. Once you’ve understood your challenges, you can articulate desired outcomes that can define the required capabilities for a solution.
The underlying technology is not irrelevant, but how it’s utilized is most important, and to what end.
Imagine you want to speed up response times without adding staff.
This will require the ability to schedule and dispatch workers automatically—with zero touch.
This could lead you to AI-driven automation and keeps the horse before the cart. The desired outcome first, tech and methodology second.
Whether your ultimate aim is to reduce costs, increase revenue, or improve customer experience, it should be clearly stated and technology agnostic.
Don’t let shiny new technology give you the old razzle-dazzle—you’re in the business of getting real work done—drive every conversation back to outcomes and proof.
Incorporate Change Management
New and innovative solutions can fall short of their promises if not wholly adopted by your workforce.
Even the best solutions can fall flat if your team is not on board.
Many field service organizations save money by using augmented reality wearables to remotely assist junior technicians on advanced jobs.
A senior technician can provide the expertise and guidance without having to travel. This sounds like a great idea to implement until you realize senior technicians are uncomfortable with the technology and prefer to use phones or to be dispatched to the job themselves—at a higher hourly cost.
When talking to your technicians, extol the benefits of the change from their point of view, rather than the potential
When talking to your technicians, extol the benefits of the change from their point of view, rather than the potential. They’re more likely to buy into an idea that impacts their work positively.
Have a plan for communicating with, training, and reassuring your workforce about what’s in it for them.
Looking ahead, make sure you recruit employees who are technology friendly and are eager to learn and use the latest and most advanced solutions available.
Automation, machine learning, real-time traffic based routing, and augmented reality all have practical applications in the field today.
Just as the technologies of yesteryear that they’re succeeding, these are simply tools to enable the job field service workers have always done.
To capitalize on their potential, whether you’re considering an upgrade, a process change, or purchasing a new solution, remember to lead with your biggest challenges, define your desired outcomes, and ensure your team is excited about the coming changes.
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