Field Service News Editor-in-Chief Kris Oldland looks asks whether too many field service companies are taking the easier short term options that will ultimately lead to greater costs in the longer term...
Is x,y or z fit for purpose? It’s a question that we should be asking ourselves on a regular basis but unfortunately human nature tends to prefer a make do and muddle through attitude rather than face the tougher option of re-evaluating our choices...
Of course this isn’t always true, if it were there would be no innovation in the world and as anyone who reads this column regularly can attest innovation is one thing that gets me excited.
And in fairness in our industry it is all around us, my only fear is that perhaps such examples of smart out of the box thinking are sometimes the exception rather than the rule.
A point in case is to be found within our latest research project where our findings point to so many companies taking the easy options when it comes to device selection for their field service engineers.
In their defence they will likely point to the fact that it was the cheaper option, but all to the often what appears to be the cheapest option up front can ultimately be a more costly choice further down the line. Indeed the Total Cost of Ownership argument that many rugged manufacturers or distributors will put forward is based around facts and figures that support this exact notion.
However, for me the issue is not thinking the choice through in terms of how these devices will genuinely fit into an engineer’s workflow. For example of the 59% of companies that opted for consumer devices to empower there engineers in the field, 71% stated that ideally the devices for field service should have barcode scanning capability.
Now whilst I know the camera on a consumer tablet or smart phone is capable of handling barcodes, but it’s a cumbersome process whereas so many industrial devices are designed to incorporate this functionality with a dedicated button to make our engineers lives easier.
“For me the issue is not thinking the choice through in terms of how these devices will genuinely fit into an engineer’s workflow...”
Basically one product is fit for purpose and the other is not.
Yet the overwhelming majority of companies opt for the device that isn’t fit for purpose because of an initial lower cost per unit. It is a short-sighted approach that leads to potential efficiency improvements being missed, which in turn could see potential additional profits melt away.
OK I may be being a bit melodramatic but I’m sure you get the point.
Considering what is fit for purpose and taking the time to make considered decisions - whether it be around hardware, software or even processes is, in my humble opinion at least, the key to long term success.
In fact this issue is full of examples who questioned if what was the accepted norm was in fact actually fit for purpose or not.
Take Dr. Bart Guthrie, neurosurgeon and founder of Help Lightning to begin with. Ultimately it was his acceptance that the standard means of communicating remotely in the medical sector, i.e. the telephone, wasn’t really fit for purpose anymore that led to the creation of mobile merged reality and Help Lightning which is shaping up to be a significant game changer in both the clinical and field service sectors alike.
Then there is Kony.
A mobile app development platform who have identified the fact that the functionality of many traditional FSM solutions is constrictive and in the context of a digital mobile worlds not fit for purpose.
Or how about IFS’s Tom Bowe.
In our interview he makes a great point about beginning to define new processes today in preparation for the oncoming sea change that will be mass adoption of the Internet of Things.
Very simply Bowe argues that the SLAs currently in place and the processes to support those SLAs will soon no longer be fit for purpose as ultimately technology will make them obsolete.
It is only by challenging ourselves and our decision that we can continuously improve. And the question ‘is it fit for purpose’ is therefore a handy one to keep tucked in our head to help us achieve that.