Kevin McNally, Asolvi gives us the inside track on what makes a strong RFP when looking for a new FSM solution, and the benefits the process can yield...
Want to Know More? There is a white paper that expands upon which is available to Field Service News subscribers. Not a subscriber? If you're a field service management professional click here to apply for a complimentary industry practitioner subscription
When building your initial RFP (i.e. the document you give to prospective solution providers that outlines your needs and objectives) for a field service management system, you are able to establish not only a firm understanding of what the challenges are that you are looking to resolve, but also a reasonably wide-ranging understanding of what is possible.
I recently co-authored a white paper with Kris Oldland, Field Service News that offers five fundamental points for consideration to help you ensure that your RFP gives you the very best chance of selecting a solution provider that will be able to work with you to deliver the right solution to help you improve efficiency in the mission-critical operations of field service.
The white paper looks at each of these in some depth but let’s take a quick look at each now.
Consideration #1: Don’t wait until you’ve completed your RFP to approach potential Field Service Management solution providers use them to develop and refine it from the outset...
Some companies like to come to the table with an understanding of what their needs are and will approach the market with a fully formalised RFP. Other companies may be less sure of what a solution can provide so they may engage with a number of providers at an earlier stage.
In today’s business world we are in the era of Everything as a Service, where business and system ecosystems and outcome based contracts require building deeper relationships - a strong argument can be made for the latter approach.
In fact, there are a number of reasons behind why this approach is becoming more and more popular and in the white paper we take a look at three of these which are:
- You’ll never know what you don’t know you don’t know!
- Get a feel as to if a potential provider is in it for the long-haul or the quick-buck
- Strong relationships are built over time, but all have to begin somewhere
Consideration #2: It is crucial that you keep the fundamentals in place of what you require from a new field service management solution as you build the RFP...
As you begin to develop your RFP it is absolutely crucial that you keep the fundamentals required in mind when bringing together the roadmap for where you want your service operation to go and how you want your new solution to take you there.
Whilst the obvious starting place is to look at your current pain points, far too often companies can tend to put too much emphasis on various small problems rather than focus on the bigger picture
During this stage, you really need to be thinking macro rather than micro.
Consideration #3: Get a firm understanding of the key baseline technologies that you should be expecting from a modern FSM solution...
You’re looking for your FSM solution to become the link between your back office operations and your field workers. At its core this means that the functionality you need as a minimum requirement is to facilitate communication - whether that be between dispatcher and engineer, engineer to engineer or even the easy flow of data to and from the field and all other co-dependent business units.
Real-time information flow is therefore absolutely critical and something that you should be seeking from any modern FSM solution that you consider.
Consideration #4: Don’t make a decision from the top of an ivory tower - make sure you take in some feedback from the guys who will actually be using the system day in, day out...
It is important to get an understanding of your existing work-flows and how the end users in your team are going to be using a system. A natural default is to focus on how the engineers are going to utilise a system, but don’t fall into the common trap of glossing over how a new solution will impact on the way the back office support team works as well.
Those companies that tend to get the most out of a new FSM solution are often those that have built up a fuller picture of how they will be using the system throughout the process of building their RFP.
It is very often the case also that the companies that get this right have taken the time to listen to their end users both in the field and in the back office.
Consideration #5: Integration needs to be at the forefront of your thinking - will the FSM system play nicely with both legacy systems and even systems you may need in the future?
In one sense it almost feels that in today’s world where, as we’ve already alluded to, easy data flow should be at the top of your list for any prospective new FSM solution (or business system in general for that matter) that integration should be a bit of a gimme.
However, things aren’t quite as simple as that - it is still an important question to ask, just as it is important to understand that one integration to another can be hugely different.
There will be certain integrations that are a given - but there may well be some that fall outside of that group, so it is important that you understand the whole ecosystem of your business network across various different units of your organisation.