Business Processes and Data Accessibility within Field Service

Nov 12, 2020 • FeaturesWhite Paperfield service managementLeadership and StrategyAppify

In a new series of excerpts from a recent white paper published by Appify we analyze the impact of change within the modern field service organization...


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Many in the Field Service industry started their company with nothing but a toolbox and sporadic house calls. Some remained a solo operation, and others went on to work for large companies, such as DuPont or Canon. People who started with nothing but a wrench are now running profitable service companies or managing massive service teams within enterprise organizations.

These people, and the organizations for which they work, service everything from grocery store refrigerators to hospital MRI machines. And, when the pandemic hit, the industry felt the repercussions. Grocery store rushes meant more frequent refrigerator repair trips. Restaurants shutting down meant fewer trips to fix a fryer or stove.

The pandemic is just one example of societal upheaval the Field Service industry may encounter. And, any time an event impacts the way society at large uses these pieces of equipment, the industry must adapt.

We hope this report illuminates possible strategies and solutions for your organization as we all navigate through these unprecedented times.

About the Survey:

To understand just how people are coping with the current challenge, we polled more than 250 individuals in the industry—field technicians and company owners alike—from a variety of companies around the world to take the pulse of the industry.

We classify mid-market businesses as those that employ 50-500 people. Enterprises employ more than 500 people. Nearly 41% of respondents work for an enterprise-sized firm, and 58.98%  of respondents work for either a mid-market or enterprise-size company.

Fifty-five percent of respondents are individual contributors or team leads. This group also includes respondents who have labeled themselves engineers. The group will be referred to as "field technicians" throughout this report.

Who Are the Business Process Decision Makers?

Parsing who is responsible for business process decisions—decisions ranging from how teams are dispatched to newly developed Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) guidelines—is the first step in mitigating any issues that hamper the delivery of services.For example, though 41% of respondents list themselves as individual contributors, 36% of respondents are themselves responsible for business process decisions. Thirteen percent of respondents are either C-level or owner or president of their company, but 25% of respondents say business owners or CEOs are responsible for business process decisions.

A slightly larger proportion of C-level people make business process decisions than there are C-level respondents in the survey. This isn't terribly surprising. Many businesses rely on executives and higher-level contributors to guide the organization forward. But, in an industry where field technicians have intimate knowledge of the job at hand, it seems reasonable to wonder whether they should have a larger say in business process decision making.

As organizations attempt to improve their decision making, they will often be tempted to purchase fix-it-all technologies and spend budget on tools that they feel will help them solve every issue. Despite the urge to fix everything at once, Field Service companies might instead determine one or two concerns to address and work their way forward from there.

BUSINESS PROCESSES AND DATA ACCESSIBILITY WITHIN FIELD SERVICE

Assuming companies have enough data to make intelligent decisions, reviewing business processes regularly should be high-level priorities for companies that wish to become more efficient.

More than one-third (31%) of respondents report that they review business processes every six months or even less frequently.

And what of the data used to inform business processes? It will be difficult to affect positive change with poor or inaccessible data no matter how frequently a company reviews its processes.

How Often Does Your Company Review Business Process Used to Service Your Customers?

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A majority (53%) of field technicians rate the quality of their accessible data as either "good" or "very good." Fifty-nine percent of those in managerial roles believe their data is "good" or "very good."

At the other end of the spectrum, nearly 14% of field technicians rate their data as "poor" or "very poor." Companies will likely improve their business process decision making by coming to a better understanding of what makes poor data, poor and eliminating that information from their internal data sources.

How Would You Rate The Quality of Your Accessible Data?

It will be difficult to weed out low-value data if that information is not first accessible. Only one-quarter (26%) of field technicians describe their work-order data as "accessible through one single application."

Nineteen percent of field technicians describe their work-order data as either "accessible but inaccurate" or "inaccessible."

Another challenge exists. A majority (55%) of field technicians say their data is accessible but either through "a couple of apps" or "many apps."

How Would You Describe the Overall Accessibility to Work Order Data Which Enables You to Provide Services to Your Customers?

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For Field Service organizations, data enters their systems in the form of manual data entry, paper transactions or mobile device data capture. Data types include information from invoices, work orders, parts, inventory, equipment- maintenance data, and so on. If managers and field technicians alike must jump from one application to the next to manage all of this information, it is likely they will encounter more errors and lower efficiency standards than if everyone had data accessible in one place. Technicians rely on mobile devices in the field.

But what if they enter a poor cellular coverage zone or the Wi-Fi on the jobsite goes down? What if the data input while offline doesn't sync when the device is able to connect to the network again?

Ensuring data is accurate requires a variety of different systems and devices to communicate, on and off-line. Doing so is impossible without a flexible solution that can integrate these sources and limit data-quality and accessibility issues.


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Look out for the next feature in this series coming next week where we discuss how to measure field service readiness.

However, www.fieldservicenews.com subscribers can read the full white paper now by hitting the button below. If you are yet to subscribe you can do so for free by hitting the button and you can access the white paper instantly upon completing the registration form!

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