Field Service panel debate: All change please? Mark Forrest

Apr 17, 2014 • FeaturesManagementFuture of FIeld Servicefuture of field servicemanagementpanelTrimble

The field service industry continues to evolve at pace. New technologies are constantly emerging which have the potential to change the industry as we know it.

At the same time we are seeing a huge cultural shift with many seeking to realign their service division from cost centre to profit centre. To help us keep up with these changes Field Service News has put together a panel of five field service industry experts and asked them each to share their insight on the industry today. The third member of our panel is Mark Forrest, of Trimble Field Service Solutions


What is the biggest driver for change in field service today?

Many companies managing a large field service workforce operate in industries which require highly skilled individuals, whose work is variable and complex in terms of location and task. Add in a high degree of compliance-focused work and that means that field service work has become increasingly mission-critical in terms of timing, skills and consequence. With increased customer expectation it is important that companies ensure that their field service is not derailed by unpredictable dynamics of the working day.

An increasing number of organisations are beginning to realise that it isn’t where the vehicle is that’s important, it’s where the engineer or field service worker is and what they are doing that is of paramount concern, as ultimately they are the ones providing the service to the customer. The support of solutions to help manage work efficiently and effectively has therefore become integral in helping to meet customer demands and achieve service delivery excellence.


Which technology has had the biggest impact on the field service industry in the last 5 years?

Organisations with field service technicians have previously struggled to effectively schedule their work and track their progress to continually meet service commitments. Indeed, one in ten organisations still collect data from the field via paperwork. However, work management technologies have emerged to transform the productivity of mobile workforces through intelligent scheduling tools and performance management analytics.

Organisations can measure, manage and improve their operations through optimising resources, offering real-time visibility and monitoring and giving warning of tasks at risk or showing the impact of work allocation decisions.

Data obtained from such technologies can be analysed through performance management analytics to allow interrogation of the information to provide an understanding of the performance, trends and the barriers in line with business targets. The analysis drills down to different variables around individuals, teams, regions, job type etc. and can be provided to different stakeholders within the organisation depending on their business need for day-to-day management or longer term business planning.


What is the most important consideration when moving from cost centre to profit centre? 

Field service has evolved from what was once an operational necessity to a strategic significance, as the technician may now be the only contact a customer has with the company and therefore exposure to the company’s service delivery and brand. With a proven link between customer satisfaction, retention and profitability, how the technician interacts with the customer can be significant in the customer experience.

The most common customer complaint is when a technician does not resolve the issue first time. Making sure you get the right people with the right skills with the right assets to the right place within a set time is therefore essential. Work management technologies can help by incorporating technician knowledge, parts availability, and capacity into scheduling processes to ensure that the technician arriving on site is the person who can resolve the issue first time.

In addition, employing mobile workers who have the ability to upsell or cross-sell products and solutions whilst with customers can also make a difference to service delivery as a cost or profit centre.


Who is Mark Forrest? 

Mark Forrest

Mark Forrest is general manager of Trimble Field Service Management, a position he has held since January 2012. In this role, Mark is responsible for providing worldwide mobility-based productivity solutions to the communications, field services and trades markets.

Prior to joining the Field Service Management division, Mark served as general manager and Chief Operating Officer for Caterpillar Trimble Control Technologies (CTCT), a joint venture between Trimble Navigation and Caterpillar. Mark also has served as the general manager and worldwide sales director for the Heavy and Highway Division. A native of Australia, Forrest holds an undergraduate diploma in Engineering Surveying and a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Colorado.

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