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Set against a backdrop of rolling Welsh countryside, this invitation only summit will see senior field service executives debate, discuss and divulge their successes and challenges in 2019.
Customer Service and Mindset
There can be no doubt that the traditional interpretation of Field Service is changing: a fundamental shift is being made to focus on service and its incorporation and development into existing, more product-centric, business models. Where once it was enough to rely on a stellar product, now competition is fierce and margins are being squeezed this is no longer the case. Where excellent service is being provided and taken for granted in everyday life, it makes sense that this is now being expected, if not demanded, within business transactions.
A new age is dawning and customers are continuing to ask how a product and company ‘adds value’. Engineers in the field have access to, and interactions with, potentially hundreds of contacts within a specific customer base. So it’s no surprise that those customers will come to associate a product’s ‘worth’ based on the dealings they have had with these field service representatives. As the American poet Maya Angelou is attributed to have said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”.
By 2020 customer experience is slated to overtake price and product as a key brand differentiator.
Women in Field Service and Brand
With this shift to customer centricity there must also be a shift in perception. Traditionally seen as male dominated, a career in field service has not attracted women. However, with service coming to the fore this situation is starting to change and the skills that women offer are becoming more vital than ever. The ‘soft skills’ required for customer service roles are often attributed to women, but it’s not a question of gender, the focus must be on what skills can be brought to the table as a whole and how these can be used to improve a company’s field service offering.
"Traditionally seen as male dominated, a career in field service has not attracted women..."
In order to ensure that quality talent is acquired and retained Field Service must also diversify so that the next generation of bright minds can see themselves working in this sector. If a certain demographic is only ever highlighted and portrayed then it is no wonder that it is presumed that this is all there is. As you would market a brand, the same must be done throughout Field Service. Why would you choose this career? What is there to offer? What is the long term career outlook?
In order to keep up with rising expectations it will require a massive change in mindset, starting at board level and moving downwards, to truly transform a company ethos. For some this will mean a transformation in culture that has formed over decades but must now be changed rapidly if they are not to be left behind by the competition. This will be easier said than done; as change is happening so fast it’s fundamentally hard to move quickly enough! However, as the old adage goes, ‘just because something is difficult, it doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing’.
Alongside the cultural shift needed to meet customer expectations, Field Service is also being driven by digital. Gartner defines digitalisation as ‘the use of digital technologies to change a business model and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities; it is the process of moving to a digital business.’ ‘Digitalisation’ and ‘digital transformation’ have become such buzz words in recent years that some have lost sight of not only what it means but what they are actually trying to do.
Digitalisation is a tool by which to achieve an end goal, not the goal itself. Gartner predicts that by 2020 10% of emergency field service work will be both triaged and scheduled by artificial intelligence. With AI assisting with everything from scheduling to predictive maintenance to using past data to make future plans.
The human element within Field Service is still very much relied on and future technologies and solutions will be there to support these interactions - to make life easier and more efficient, not to replace humans altogether.
People still want to do business with people and until the customer becomes more Terminator than terrestrial this will probably always be the case.
You can find out more more information about Field Service Connect UK 2019, including how to register here.
A panel debate on the best digital tools for achieving top-end service, strayed from shortlisting technologies and focused more on the end-user impact. Field Service News’ Deputy Editor Mark Glover attended the session – part of Field Service...
A panel debate on the best digital tools for achieving top-end service, strayed from shortlisting technologies and focused more on the end-user impact. Field Service News’ Deputy Editor Mark Glover attended the session – part of Field Service Europe 2018 – and saw discussion range from strategy to data, but always swinging back to the customer.
Among the many highlights from Field Service Europe, held in Amsterdam before Christmas, was a debate attempting to shortlist digital tools that can contribute to a world-class service process.
Panellists included Miguel Angel Hernanz, VP Head of Global Service Delivery Transformation at Phillips Healthcare; Karen Mehal, VP Field Service Lightning at Salesforce and David Nedohin, President at Scope Augmented Reality.
Chairing the debate, Field Service News’ Editor-in-Chief Kris Oldland began by defining world-class service and more specifically what it means to customers used to high-end service delivery from the likes of Uber and Amazon. “Service is no longer how we compete with our direct competitors,” he told delegates. “We’re now constantly at competition with the best service experiences customers have ever had. We’re now moving into a world where customer satisfaction is perhaps no longer the right phrase anymore.
"It has to be about customer experience and understanding what the experience is to the customer and working back from there. Only then can we really start thinking about what world class service is,” he posed.
Oldland put it to the panel that technology and digitisation in service should be perceived as “one continuous eco-system that compliments and feeds off one-another" rather than separate tools. Hernanz, who recently oversaw a large B2B and B2C contact center service transformation at Phillips Healthcare, was keen to set the focus on strategy and away from the tools. “The different tools are enablers," he said. You should first of all take a look at your strategy and secondly re-define your processes end-to-end, then use the different solutions or tools that are available in the market to make it happen.”
He continued: “The problem with digitisation and the variety of tools in the market is that you get overloaded with information; you find opportunities all over the place and you want it all and you want it now and that is a big mistake. “You should start doing a proof of concept. You try it, you learn, you correct and you scale up; if it is scalable. Or you dismiss it and you try something else” he urged.
Servicecloud’s Karen Mehal agreed: “If you don’t understand what your objective is, how do you know you’re getting there? she asked, going on to question the use of the term digitisation. “We digitised field service technicians with laptops 20 years ago, did we not? We gave them a laptop. That was digitisation."
It's a good point. The industry can be guilty of getting swept up in buzzwords without fully understanding what they mean, and more importantly how they can impact on customer service. “What’s the objective?” Mehal continued, “Is it around your customer? Is digitisation serving your customer? If it isn’t, it really should be. Or are you just taking your ERP and digitising it?
If the customer service is the end goal, then digital tools should be used to empower that process. Putting this theory to David Nedohin, the co-founder and president of an Augmented Reality company, Oldland asked how such a new and innovative technology such as Augmented Reality can cut through the excitement and intrigue to become a genuine ROI. “It’s about identifying what the problems are but to also make sure there are measurements to it,” Nehan explained. “For example, if you are currently sending out your field service team to help support your customer on a certain percentage of problems, what is that costing you right now? And if you could implement a technology that could help reduce a certain percentage of those, then what is the actual cost savings?
“If they don’t have those numbers, we work with them to find out what those numbers are so there’s a business case that can be presented to management,” he says, before adding: “It’s a strategy they need to put together to understand exactly why they’re solving that problem. You have to start with the problem, you have to start with the use-case.”
Concurring, Oldland suggested that technology should underpin a wider business plan of evolution. “Digitisation is not a one-off process,” he said. “In a sense, we’re talking about a continuous improvement journey, it’s just that the tools behind that evolve too.”
“I see a lot of people get lost in that,” offered Mehan, who by her own admission is customer-facing, “They get lost in the shiny object, such as Augmented Reality. But if your strategy is around customer support, better customer service, wouldn’t it be better to use digitisation to look at someone’s asset now and fix it now, rather than scheduling someone to go out there and fix it?
“Our world is no longer traditional. We’re not in a traditional world, we’re not in a traditional software world, we’re not in a traditional field service world. We should not be bound by EAPs or by software. We should by bound by what serves out the customer,” she argued. “My questions are: are you doing that with your digitisation. Are you really taking care of the customer when you’re doing your strategy?” She said.
Philips’ Hernanz admitted working in large organisations ,where many different stakeholders have many ideas can be difficult. However, all these opinions come second to that of the most important stakeholder: the customer. “You need to put the customer at the centre and listen to them,” he said. “This is very important. You must find out what they need and then start building solutions which are suitable for today, but also for the future because the whole process is also an evolution.”
"We're not in a traditional software world, we're not in a traditional field service world..." (Mehal)
One digital tool that has made a significant impression on this process is data and, in particular, big data. Filtering the most useful information remains the challenge, given the reams of information that smart assets churn out. “There’s no point in having data if it’s not providing the right insight,” Oldland said to the panel, all of whom agreed and acknowledged all the customer cares about is fixing what needs fixing.
Referencing a client who made industrial cooking equipment for fast food restaurants including Burger King and Macdonald’s, Mehner told the audience that when their client's equipment – such as a bun toaster – produced a fault the restaurant would call out a contract worker ill-equipped to isolate and solve the issue. “This piece of equipment,” Nedohin explained, “now has 20 or 30 tickets associated with it because the technician doesn’t know how to diagnose the problem, let alone fix it. The message is clear: we need to find a better way of fixing the assets.”
The restaurant now uses remote support tools to directly contact the manufacturer, who can identify the model, the fault, diagnose the problem and send the right technician with the correct parts and asset knowledge “There is data with this such as preventative maintenance,” Nedohin said. “But the customer doesn’t care, all they care about is getting the equipment working. That data is important to somebody and that somebody is in the manufacturer's office. “The person at the end just needs to know what to do,” he concluded, summing up a key take away from the debate.
Enlightened delegates left the session without a list of digital tools but an idea of what to do before you choose them. Data collection, Augmented reality can all complement a process, but without a strategy that also encompasses your customer’s needs, those tools may as well be blunt.
2018 saw continued merger and acquisition activity in the home healthcare and related markets as firms moved to build out their services footprint, offerings and build economies of scale.
And 2019 appears to be trending in the same direction. However, it is quite possible that many providers that have a mobile team delivering care in the field fail to understand the complexity that comes with size and multiple service offerings, especially as it relates to scheduling ever growing teams in the field.
Many organizations do not understand that as the number of appointments increase, the scheduling complexity does not increase linearly. In fact, it is not even close! The reason complexity does not increase in a linear manner is due to the fact that each scheduling decision has a factorial growth. For example, here are the number of scheduling possibilities for various jobs:
• There are 6 possible schedules for 3 jobs and 3 nurses;
• There are 720 possible schedules for 6 jobs and 6 nurses;
• There are 3,682,800 possible schedules for 10 jobs and 10 nurses.
This is why it is important that healthcare providers utilize scheduling software that can handle such complexities. Scheduling optimization technology, found in Field Service Management (FSM) software, enables organizations to create detailed schedules that can handle the complex scenarios detailed above.
Optimizing the schedule for an organization with hundreds to thousands of nurses and care providers is far beyond the capability of simplistic scheduling products (not to mention manual approaches). The complexity is due to the number of events that must be taken into account when developing a schedule such as travel distance, travel time, overtime costs, labor costs, employee availability and skills, patient or member availability and preferences, contractor availability, regulations and a myriad of other inputs. With FSM schedule optimization, an organization can create an optimal schedule that meets unique business rules that can:
• Minimize associated costs related to care delivery such as travel time, overtime and missed appointments;
• Meet patient and regulatory requirements by assigning only the person with the correct skill set for the visit.
An emerging trend in the home healthcare space is providers offering new services that deliver specialized, hospital-level care. For example, one program provides a 7 day a week offering that promises a 2-hour response to a patient call. While the benefits to the patient are great, the potential strain on the organization that has to schedule these appointments could prove to be difficult.
"As healthcare organizations scale, they need to invest in technologies like FSM software..."
The organization will need to estimate capacity, understand who can make the appointment (taking into account travel time and other business objectives) and who has the correct skill set to deliver care. These variables highlight the need for schedule optimization (and capacity planning) to calculate all of these variables to help deliver cost effective and safe care while delivering on their promise.
Schedule optimization provides real, tangible business results for organizations. The approach organizations take to optimize scheduling and appointment booking often depends on unique business policy and goals. Some healthcare organizations might prioritize on time arrivals or decreasing overtime, while others might prioritize a reduction in travel time. With schedule optimization software, organizations can define business goals and quality metrics, then tune the scheduling policy to comply with these variables. For example, let’s look at an organization that prioritizes on-time arrivals as a key business KPI. You have two customers who live on opposite ends of town and there’s only one nurse available in the area that is certified to deliver care. How can this organization meet the patient and regulatory requirements while maintaining business policy?
If that nurse runs into unexpected traffic, or the previous appointment runs over, he might arrive late to the next visit. With schedule optimization, the scheduler can recognize the possible conflict and assign the appointments with enough buffer to ensure an on-time arrival, meeting that business objective and satisfying a patient need.
FSM software provides advanced schedule optimization that enable a healthcare provider to schedule and manage hundreds to thousands of patient appointments. Not only does this help control costs with better routing and a reduction in overtime, it also helps to deliver a better experience for both the patient and the employee. For example, extended travel times can increase turnover among caregivers. In fact, a study that found that for every 15-mile increment that an employee must travel to a client, that provider becomes two times more likely to leave the organization. In an industry that is struggling to find and keep talent, improving travel time can be a great employee retention tool.
As healthcare organizations scale, they need to invest in technologies like FSM software that will help enable this growth in order to cost effectively improve operations and, most importantly, ensure that patient care does not suffer.
Paul Whitelam is VP Product Marketing at ClickSoftware.
In the latest Field Service Podcast, Nick Frank, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Si2 Partners of Field Nation, discusses the ethos behind The Service Community, a knowledge-sharing, independent service members' group and looks forward to the...
In the latest Field Service Podcast, Nick Frank, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Si2 Partners of Field Nation, discusses the ethos behind The Service Community, a knowledge-sharing, independent service members' group and looks forward to the organisation's next gathering taking place at Renishaw's HQ in Gloucestershire, UK.
In this episode, Field Service News Deputy Editor Mark Glover, speaks to one of the spearheads behind The Service Community, Nick Frank, who explains the origins of the group's and explains its future goals. Nick also shares some of the challenges that members are highlighting in the service sector and tells us what delegates can expect at the association's next gathering taking place at the beginning of April.
You can find out more information about The Service Community here and sign-up for the group's forthcoming event at Renishaw's HQ in Gloucestershire on 2 April here.
Proactive Service® is a term I use to describe the proactive efforts by field service personnel to promote their company’s products in services to help their customers achieve their business goals. It is an excellent way to differentiate your service and stand out in today’s ultra-competitive environment.
If you encourage your field service team to look for opportunities to promote your services, here are seven questions to ask yourself to help you ensure that you are getting the most from your efforts.
1. Is opportunity identification part of your service deliverable?
This is the most important question and is the biggest determinate of overall success. When the subject of field service personnel promoting services comes up, it is often viewed as a selling activity that is in addition to regular service work. This is unfortunate since when our field team take steps to uncover opportunities that they feel will benefit the customer in some way, they are providing a valuable service – a service as valuable as their ability to maintain the equipment in top running condition.
As a service, the act of finding new opportunities is not an “add-on” activity for the field team to do “while they are there”, but an integral part of the field service person’s expected service deliverable. Our field teams have an obligation to bring forward ideas that will help the customer achieve results they may not have thought possible. When we take this perspective, it becomes easier to win enthusiastic support from our team of field service professionals. From this perspective, it is also easier for us to recognize the importance of implementing specific tools and processes to formalize this “opportunity identification” role. (See Question 4 below).
How well do you integrate business development by your field team as part of your service to your customers?
2. Do your technicians recognize the valuable service they provide by making recommendations to help their customers be more successful?
Many of the service professionals that I have met do not see their role as a salesperson. They tend to leave sales activities to the people with the expense accounts and fancy cars. What these service professionals fail to see is that, with a service perspective, we are not asking them to sell at all.
By identifying and speaking with the customer about the actions that the customer can take that will help them improve operational performance, reduce costs, improve tenant satisfaction, etc. is a valuable part of the service.
This is important because, it will be difficult to get enthusiastic engagement from your team if they don’t see their proactive business development efforts as part of the service that they provide. They may give it lip service, but it is unlikely that they will put their hearts into the effort.
How about your service team? What do they think of your expectation for them to promote your services? Do they talk as if their efforts are a sale or a service?
3. Do you “talk the walk”?
Language is important. Your team will scrutinize what you say in an effort to understand what you mean. For example, if you tell everyone that their proactive efforts is a service but you talk about it as if it is a sale, then they will think that your service idea was just for show. Or if you reward individual team members for their “sales” efforts but do not put emphasis on the “service” they have provided to the customer, your words will not be consistent with your purpose.
How about you? How do you describe the proactive efforts of your field team? How well do you talk the walk?
"Many of the service professionals that I have met do not see their role as a salesperson..."
4. Do your processes support your business development strategy?
There are implications from this approach on the processes used to support business development activities by technicians in the field. Because lead handling becomes just as important as lead generation, the successful firm will have to ensure that they have a failsafe process for handling leads from the field and following up on them in a timely manner.
What processes do you have in place to help the field service professional uncover opportunities? What questions do you require them to ask when they arrive on sight that might reveal problems that you can address? What steps can they take before leaving?
Think about your processes around the proactive efforts of your team. Are they consistent in quality and scope with the processes and systems you have in place to support the other services you provide?
5. Does your field service team have the skills and knowledge to deliver on the strategy?
Skills development is an integral part of the strategy. Service technicians will have to become as good at interpersonal skills as they are with their technical ones. They will need to be comfortable in speaking with the customer about their ideas and the benefits of taking action. Service management will need to be skilled at coaching and in opportunity management. Training on these interpersonal and communication skills will drive improved learning and skills adoption.
Knowledge is also critical. How well does your team know about the various products and services you offer and how they benefit your customers? You might be surprised by the answer. In my experience, there are gaps in the field team’s knowledge about their company’s capabilities. If the field service person doesn’t know of a product or service or if they do not know enough about it to engage the customer in a high level conversation about it, they will not bring it up to the customer.
What about your team? Do you ensure they have at least a conversational knowledge about all of the ways you can help your customers?
6. Do you tell your customers what you are doing? If you were to add a new service to your portfolio, would you tell your customers about it? Of course you would. So, if your field team is providing an exceptional service by using their knowledge and expertise to identify ways to help your customers be more successful why not tell your customers?
We should tell our customers this, just like we would tell them about any other service that we offer that would benefit them. Perhaps the conversation might look like this:
“We have encouraged our field service team to use their knowledge and expertise to identify opportunities to help you achieve your business goals. If they identify an opportunity that will benefit your business, would you have any objection if they bring their ideas to your attention?”
Do your customers know what your field team is doing through their proactive efforts and how it benefits them?
7. Do you measure the effectiveness of your efforts beyond revenues? If you engage your field service team in the promotion of your products and services, chances are you measure the increase in revenues. What additional business have we won that can be attributed to the efforts of the field team? But, if these proactive efforts are a service, shouldn’t we expect more results than simply improved sales?
What about customer satisfaction and retention? If a customer sees value in the proactive efforts of our team, should we not expect to see improvements in these areas? How about the amount of unplanned emergency work as a percentage of the contract base? If we take proactive steps to help our customers avoid unexpected failures, would it be reasonable to expect to see a change in the relationship between unplanned and planned work? And what about our customers’ level of satisfaction with the proactive efforts of our field team? Are they comfortable with their proactive efforts?
When it comes to assessing the impact of the proactive efforts of your field service team, what do you measure? What do you manage?
There is a tremendous opportunity to differentiate our service from our competitors through the proactive efforts of our field service professionals but unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we may not be achieving the results we had hoped when we embarked on the initiative – either for ourselves or for our customers.
Asking questions to help us reflect on our efforts may give us some insight to improve our effectiveness and further increase the level of service we are providing our customers.
Jim Baston is President of the BBA Consulting Group Inc.
Research by cyber-security provider F-Secure has shown that cyber attacks in 2018 increased by 32% compared to the previous year.
The survey consulted 3350 IT decision-makers, influencers and managers from 12 countries also highlighted a lack of awareness in detecting incidents, suggesting firm's preventative measures such as firewalls were insufficient.
Findings also revealed that the Finance and ICT sectors were most commonly targeted by attackers while healthcare and manufacturing received fewest, with the majority of attacks affecting US-based IP addresses.
Leszek Tasiemski said today's cyber-attacks had evolved significantly and questioned whether or not companies were even aware of the issue. "Today's threats are completely different from ten or even five years ago," he said. "Preventative measures and strategies won't stop everything anymore, so I've no doubt that many of the companies surveyed don't have a full picture of what's going in with their security."
You can read the full report here.
This April, Copperberg is returning to the Warwick Conference Centre for its 4th Annual Field Service Summit and 2nd Annual Spare Parts Summit, bringing over the course of two days 200+ service and parts leaders from the UK manufacturing industry. Chaired by Andy Neely of the Cambridge Service Alliance, both days will be filled with intense group discussions and inspiring keynotes.
First up on 3 April, The Field Service Summit will focus on how to move from a service culture to an experience economy.
The right customer experience directly translates to economic gains and differentiation as premium service. With the growing number of connected devices, easier integration of new sensors and the rise of automation in the field, customers now demand a more memorable experience. The experiences consist of being able to make the customer participate, connect and build a relationship with the service, assuring loyalty in the long term. To be able to shift from a service culture to one based on capabilities and outcomes demands organisations need to go the extra mile in providing prompt, accurate and reliable solutions in the short customer attention span.
This shift requires developing internal competencies and changing leadership style while finding seamless solutions, to make field service memorable customer experiences.
At the 3rd Annual Field Service Summit UK in April 2018, more than 120 field Service Directors gathered to learn how to use the latest advances in software technologies to improve their connection points with their customers and maximise their service operations’ financial performance.
In 2019, The Field Service Summit returns with an even more engaging value proposition: entering the era of the Experience Economy with an outcome based service strategy.
Memorable keynotes will include Rajat Kakar, Vice President, Head of Product Related Services at Fujitsu on Preparing your CEO for the Unprecedented Service Digital Disruption. Other keynotes will include Airstream, IFS, SightCall, Salesforce, ebecs, clicksoftware, and regular Field Service News contributor, Bill Pollock from Strategies for Growth.
The highpoint of the event, though, will be the idea blitzes: 16 group discussions on distinct and dedicated topics within field service management that will run four times throughout the day, for intense discussions.
Then on 4 April, the 2nd Annual Spare Parts Summit will take place, focusing on putting availability at the core of a manufacturer’s strategy.
Spare Parts is the money-maker of a service division; however, in a time of great uncertainty, where the boundaries of competition are crushed wide open by tech giants and technological breakthroughs, and where global trade agreements are under constant threat by protectionist governments, the need for change and innovation is more important than ever.
"Spare Parts is the money-maker of a service division..."
The 2nd Annual Spare Parts Summit will guide you through the most modern tools and strategies to ensure that your customers’ expectations, availability, is ensured. The event will offer engaging peer discussions to discuss how to not only digitize service offerings for the benefit of customers and profit margins but how digitalisation will impact spare parts businesses and the industry as a whole.
The event will also look at pricing strategy as a key to business growth, and how to be coherent in pricing approaches in an omnichannel environment where ecommerce becomes a vital tool to lock in customers and fend off competition.
Finally, the event will also showcase innovations in warehouse management, supply chain optimization, and how to use IoT for parts failure predictions in order to ensure that manufacturers always deliver the right part at the right time.
Some keynotes to look out for: the Increasing Influence of Ecommerce in The Industrial Aftermarket by Carl Daintree from Sandvik. In this session, Carl will highlight Consumer/Customer behaviour analysis, and their new expectations regarding a seamless online experience with 24/7 access to information as well as why manufacturers are now working towards utilising Ecommerce as their primary sales channel, and exploring the benefits of this strategy.
Another keynote to look forward to: When reality trumps value-based pricing of spare parts - Moving beyond from Price Setting to Price Getting by Matias Mäkelä, Pricing Manager at Kalmar Services.
The session will focus on how even state-of-the-art product segmentation, carefully built value-based price structures maintained by modern pricing tool do not always guarantee the optimal result in final net prices. Matias will share his hands-on experiences on tackling margin erosion due to various indirect factors affecting net price getting.
With over 200+ service and parts leader in attendance over two days, the Warwick Conference Centre will once again be host to the UK’s largest business conference for service leaders in the UK, with a unique format putting delegates at the forefront of the program with the idea blitzes.
You can register for the Field Service Summit here and the Spare Parts Summit here.
The ability of Field Service Organizations (FSOs) to deliver an optimal customer experience depends in a large part to their ability to effectively schedule their Field Service Engineers (FSEs).Scheduling of Field Service Engineers if a critical success factor in optimizing customer experience. Ultimately, this requires FSO to make the highest and best use of resources to obtain the highest and best outcome for themselves and their customers. In other words, outcomes that result in high first-time fix rate, customer satisfaction ratings, and profitability for the FSO.
Smaller businesses using five or fewer technicians may be able to manage scheduling effectively enough to operate a successful business. However, an increase in the number of employees, the number of customers, or the number of service requests can quickly disrupt the flow of business. With each new addition, the complexity of scheduling grows exponentially. This is because each addition brings a host of related attributes. For example, a new technician means identifying a new skill set, adding another vehicle, identifying a different route, stocking more parts, and redistributing servicecalls. Multiply times two - or twenty and a logistical nightmare quickly ensues.
At issue, end-customers increasingly expect a high level or responsiveness example, one that provides them with visibility into their FSE’s route and schedule, and one that provides a high level of certainty of when their FSE will arrive onsite. Using manual scheduling or basic dispatch software will not result in this outcome. It is virtually impossible to remain competitive in the field services environment using manual scheduling and spreadsheets, which can cost mangers 20% of their workday. Further, incorporating even a single change, such as adjusting for a driver who calls out, can have a domino effect on the overall schedule, wasting additional time by the scheduler and downtime as other technicians wait for reassignment.
Dynamic Scheduling software offers a host of benefits and there are several factors which should be considered when evaluating scheduling software options. Some core functions include resource scheduling, dispatching, route planning, work order management, SLA compliance tracking, parts inventory management, forecasting, integration with other systems, and reporting just to name a few.
The table below shows which outcomes are typical for organizations that use dynamic scheduling applications:
|REDUCTION IN:||INCREASE IN:|
|Labor costs||Procedural consistency|
|Scheduling/re-scheduling costs||Customer satisfaction|
|Fuel costs||Availability of resource usage reports|
|Inventory costs for parts||First-time fix (FTF).
SLA Compliance/Onsite response time
While the most common reason for not replacing an existing field service management system is cost, efficiencies gained from a technology-based system often negate that argument. Further, companies using dynamic scheduling can gain a 20% - 25% improvement in operating efficiency, field service productivity, and utilization. Other reasons to consider a change are opportunities for growth, more accurate and reliable data, flexible and scalable scheduling, and positive impact on KPIs.
With a seemingly infinite choice of features, identifying a workforce and scheduling management platform that is cost-effective and offers what you need without unnecessary add-ons that don’t add value can be a challenge. Most systems offer a customizable range of features and benefits appropriate to your industry, size, and business objectives.
A benchmark survey by Blumberg Advisory Group indicates that advanced tools like Dynamic Scheduling software allows companies to perform more efficiently and effectively by optimizing scheduling and associated functions. Companies that use these tools also are more likely to have an SLA compliance rate of 90% or higher. Field service workers scheduled through an automated process are also more likely to complete five or more calls per day, at a utilization rate of 85% or higher.
"It is virtually impossible to remain competitive in the environment using manual scheduling.."
In addition, companies that utilize advanced tools are more likely to be able to manage and schedule a higher volume of service events. For example, half (49%) of the companies surveyed that use advanced receive at least 500 service request calls per day, and about half of those companies (26%) receive 1,000 service calls per day.
They are also more likely to have a higher ratio of FSEs to schedulers than companies who do not use w technology. In summary, Dynamic scheduling software offers clear advantages to field service organizations regardless of the industry, services, revenues, or number of field service workers.
Automated technologies provide enhanced functions beyond the capabilities of the most adept schedulers and other manual approaches. Being able to get the best qualified FSE to the customer site at the right time, relies not only on identifying a knowledgeable technician and the necessary parts but ensuring they get to the customer site within the timeframe promised. Using a scheduling software system can make this happen while simultaneously adjusting the calls, routes, and ETA’s of other field service workers to maintain responsiveness and avoid jeopardizing schedules.
The business intelligence collected and stored in these systems allows FSOsto make better decisions about what inventory and tools to carry, equipment to be repaired or replaced, routes that should be developed or changed, and other factors that influence the bottom line.
More and more field services organizations recognize this need and adopting dynamic scheduling platforms, leaving businesses that do not provide these increasingly expected and desired services struggling to compete.
You can download the whitepaper, Creating an Uber-like Service Experience: Benchmarks and Best Practices in Field Service Scheduling, here.
Having served as a non-executive director at BigChange since it was founded, Dupeyron joined the company on a full-time basis at the beginning of February as Executive Vice President for Europe.
He is tasked with establishing BigChange subsidiaries in mainland Europe and its expansion across the region. Frederic Dupeyron, who will report directly to BigChange's CEO, Martin Port, has held several senior leadership positions for European transportation and technology organisations over the last 20 years.
He was CEO at Masternaut prior to its acquisition by Francisco Partners in 2012 and previously served as CEO of Hub One and ADP Management, subsidiaries of French airport operator Groupe ADP. Frederic Dupeyron began his career working in finance, serving in the Transport Finance Team at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and then as Director of Corporate Finance at Aéroports de Paris.
Martin Port, founder and CEO of BigChange, said: “2019 is going to be a huge year for BigChange as we ramp up our activities around the world. I’ve worked with Frederic for many years and am delighted that he is joining BigChange on a full-time basis to lead our charge into mainland Europe.”
Frederic Dupeyron added: “I’ve seen BigChange go from strength-to-strength since it was launched and I am excited the opportunity now exists for me to focus my efforts on boosting its business in mainland Europe. BigChange’s multilingual technology is already transforming mobile workforce operations on the continent, and there are huge growth opportunities for the company there.”
Simon Fahie, Managing Director - Global Technologies, at ByBox reflects on a busy final quarter for the year, what the big challenges for 2019 will be and how we can overcome them...
Simon Fahie, Managing Director - Global Technologies, at ByBox reflects on a busy final quarter for the year, what the big challenges for 2019 will be and how we can overcome them...
Judging by the packed conference halls I’ve seen across the world this quarter, I think it’s fair to say that Winter 2018 is ‘events season’ for the global field service industry.
I was among the thousands of professionals who travelled to attend flagship conferences – all connected by a ‘need to know’ the latest developments within our sector.
But, as I heard tales of pioneering innovations and technologies at, for example, exhibitions in the USA, and a user group event in the UK, I was struck that the processes behind our work are just as important as the technology which supports it.
Hearing about the increasing pressures and challenges affecting the field service supply chain, and the different ways organisations are seeking to address them, triggered a train of thought in my mind around the power of lean thinking.
The principles of Lean are clear. It’s a systematic way of checking every process to find and extinguish waste. By eradicating unnecessary spend, time and resources, organisations can focus on adding value to customers.
And this one methodology is so effective, it can be used equally well within a wide range of businesses, from office cleaning, to automotive manufacturing, or the delivery of complex highway schemes. All three of these tasks have been analysed, broken down into steps, designed and redesigned to be as Lean as possible.
For decades, service companies have seen the value in similarly systematically removing unnecessary delays, materials, labour and costs from their processes. And yet, as the events began to wrap up, it became obvious to me that Lean thinking could have played a part in the case studies I had presented, and the networking conversations I had enjoyed.
I heard over and over again that the pain points are there. For example, getting the right service part to the right place at the right time is so important that, ironically, some businesses seem wary of making strategic changes. We heard stories about excessive inventory or significant costs related to same-day distribution being left unchallenged because ‘it works’. We know from analysis carried out recently for one organisation that 65% of items sent to site using same-day transport were returned by the engineer as good stock.
It doesn’t take much effort to start finding waste in that process, but what are the seven types of waste in Lean, and how might field service industries start finding some waste to eliminate?
Based on my experience at 2018 field service events, here are some examples, and how our customers are going about eliminating them:
Transport: Unnecessary movement of people or parts between processes
We saw one company save 640,000 miles of driving by delivering parts to app lockers at service sites, instead of using dispersed forward stocking locations. (FSLs)
Inventory: Excess raw material or finished parts
Another firm had more than £1 million-worth of duplicated stock sitting in repair engineers’ vans.
The company cut spend significantly, by storing items specifically required by each location in secure on-site lockers
Waiting: People or parts waiting for the next step of a process
45 minutes per day, per engineer – that was the average waiting time saved by one organisation when it replaced PUDO collections with public locker collections.
Motions: Unnecessary movement of people or parts within a process
In our experience, the most advanced firms enable engineers to order parts for direct delivery, using a mobile app. This eliminates the unnecessary and inefficient movement of thousands of parts to and from warehouses, and can even enable firms to remove entire FSLs from their supply chains.
Rework: Correction or repetition of a process
Forward-thinking firms also use mobile apps to assign condition codes for parts which need to be returned. This allows items to be directly routed to repairers, rather than return to the warehouse for evaluation. We’ve seen this contribute to a 40% reduction in total inventory for some firms, as well as a reduction in processing resources.
Overproduction: producing sooner or in greater quantities than customer demand
We saw one corporation reduce duplicate inventory by consolidating a UK stock-holding into a European warehouse. Delivery lead times and customer service levels were maintained by exploiting scheduled flights, and pre-8am distribution to lockers.
Over processing: Processing beyond standard required
Implementing a dedicated delivery point at a secure site reduced same-day transportation costs by 80% for one customer. In this use case same-day delivery was only used to ensure early next day availability.
It’s important to remember that the benefits of Lean thinking go above and beyond reducing waste, and into adding value to customers. For example, eliminating unnecessary movements often reduces overall lead-times -which in turn reduces risks to SLA compliance. And reducing transportation waste further supports carbon reduction targets.
I don’t pretend to be an expert in Lean thinking, however, as we seek to meet ever tighter service level requirements while simultaneously reducing costs these examples serve as reminders that there is plenty of waste to find if we go looking for it.
Simon Fahie is Managing Director, Global Technologies for ByBox
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