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When a supplier decides to provide more than just product-related services it has to consider risk over the whole product life-cycle because the risk is no longer just a “warranty”.
Traditional manufacturing companies are often strong with risk-management process on the product side, however they fail to grasp the complexity associated with managing risk on the service side. Based on the interviews with fourteen companies operating globally and domestically in different fields: from power generation to food industry, this paper introduces their insights on risk awareness and evaluation in services.
Some companies produce high capital goods and services constitute the part of the product-service portfolio; others offer purely services; their annual revenues vary from millions to billions. Another aspect is that some of those are pioneers in service provision rather than others already have long experience in the service business. So, we can classify them by the percentage of service sales: three companies with service sales up to 25%, five companies indicate service sales between 25 and 40%, and four firms provide purely services (100%); also, two respondents present opinion on risk from the customer perspective.
Industrial feedback on risk in services revealed that service providers neither recognise risk as a competitive advantage nor actively implement risk management practices into service offer creation. This white paper provides guidance on how to understand and manage risk to create competitive advantage in a product service system environment.
Risks From An Asset Life-Cycle Perspective
Risk should be initially considered on an asset life-cycle perspective. (See Figure 1.)
Today a well-documented example is the Rolls-Royce Trent engine, the turbines of which fail to meet the operational performance due to poor design. The deterioration of turbine blades inside Rolls-Royce jet engines has required constant monitoring of the engines, urgent maintenance and repairs through 2022.
The problems have caused serious disruption to airlines — and they are proving costly to the engine-maker. Rolls-Royce reported an accounting charge of $315 million to cover ongoing repairs to two models of its jet engines it has supplied for more than 200 aircraft as well as compensation to airlines for planes taken out of service for the engine retrofits.
Which confirms the fact that issues at early stages cause significant risks and endanger not only product performance but also the reputation and financial stability of the service provider.
Service offering and embedded risks
In order to see what particular services industrial companies offer we analysed 14 firms. The analysis confirmed that in general there was risk transfer from the basic services to the more advanced services. A variety of services can be built-up in product-service portfolios depending on company’s ability and readiness to deliver good service, risk acceptance, as well as the type of relationships service provider wants to establish with a customer.
The analysis also showed that they provided three different levels of service: product services, operations support services, life cycle and asset support services. The typical services in each level are shown in Table 1 (below) and have been categories based on the service level.
I. Product services – represent services which are closely associated with a product or to help the customer to gain access to it, often mostly associated with the maintenance of the equipment.
II. Operations support services – represent services that support the operation of the equipment provided.
III. Life-cycle/asset support services – support the product over its life; they are designed to ensure good asset performance and to help to improve performance based on new technologies and market requirements. When building a portfolio of products and services, companies should consider risks over the product life no matter whether it is basic or advanced service
The execution risks will continue to repeat unless effective control and improvement measures are put in place. The statistical information on the failure rates will support the understanding of the commercial risks ensuring that they reduce the negative impact.
Finally, if it is not tracked, how do you know where the problem is, the root cause and how to best solve it in future products?
Execution and Commercial risks
This white paper breaks risks into two closely related categories, the first is execution risk and the second is a commercial risk. Execution risk is the additional cost that the firm has due to execution failures and closely associated with service delivery, includes internal and external quality problems, late completion, or post service failures due.
For example, the late delivery of a small consumable item can mean that inspection work on the machine cannot be completed on time. This can then trigger commercial risk to come to play which could be many times larger than the cost of the consumable item.
The commercial risk can be made by the supplier at the contracting stage, such as unsuitable contract decisions, typically firms overpromise performance (delivery, availability etc.), or have unsuitable agreements for services. These are often related to the execution risk (e.g., late delivery) and can be significantly higher in value (e.g., liquidated damages resulting from the late delivery).
This is shown graphically in Figure 2 (below) where the supplier’s liquidated damages never cover the customer’s risk fully, this is because the customer’s business risk is typically orders of magnitude greater than those of the supplier.
Therefore, the customer needs to either self-insure and to buy insurance to cover their full consequential and business interruption costs. The supplier should always consider the full impact it can have on customer’s business because the liquidated damages will likely only cover a part of the customer’s losses.
The use of risk/reward-type performance commitments should incentivise the supplier to achieve the right outcome for their customer, it is not a replacement for insurance.
At each stage from the beginning, different risks may unstable internal processes, increase the time to the market and affect future performance of the product. For example, poor reliability of a part decreases the overall reliability of the product, consequently, the supplier under a basic after-market service holds minimum risk and only responsible for the replacement of the first failing part under warranty.
Under an advanced service agreement (performance/output-base) the supplier is responsible for removing and replacing the part as well as paying the liquidated damages for poor performance due to machine downtime because its customer has a revenue loss.
So, the supplier is not only exposed to execution risk but also to significant commercial risk: it has to pay the liquidated damages meaning customer is partly compensated for the loss of performance. Interviews confirmed that risks rise both at the service contracting stage and at the delivery stage, so they refer to commercial risk and operational (execution) risk.
It is common for manufacturing firms to have well defined contracts for new equipment sales whereas service contracts may be less appropriate for the service environment, being more applicable to the sale of basic rather than advanced services.
It is very challenging for contract or project managers identify and measure potential risks and create sort of standardised approach for risk assessment.
Their role is to determine the risks that customers expect them to take with service contracts as well as evaluate the critical risks that they finally accept. The deep understanding of the customer, awareness of your capabilities can decrease the lack of information and associated counterparty risks.
The supplier can actually create competitive advantage by building an active model for risk management. Understanding the risk implies that service provider can identify and measure the risk it transfers from the customer.
Calculating the Value at Risk
Only knowing the possibility of risk appearance does not solve the problem, more important is to know the frequency of events, its execution and commercial impact. Digitalization can help here in the form of data analysis of performance (e.g., lead times, number of failed starts, output), so the firm should create a database that allows the supplier to model and predict risks. By collecting and analysing data on product design or manufacturing issues, failure rates and time (logistics or maintenance completion), the supplier also knows what must be changed or improved as well as understanding the cost of mitigation. Statistical analysis helps service providers to understand better their capabilities and to control risks.
The Value at Risk (VaR) concept is defined as an expected maximum loss of the risk position and it is widely applied in the finance industry. For example, we take the planned maintenance and the issue would be late delivery of parts which was promised at 26 days.
From the past (data analysis), we have to find out what is our actual lead time and deviation from the ‘expected’ lead time. Form this we can calculate the expected execution cost and predict the commercial impact based on the lead time.
The total risk is the position valued at current prices, in our case is the total execution and commercial, from which we can define the expected maximum loss.
The higher the chosen confidence level is, the higher the potential maximum loss. From these principles and calculations results drawn from the concept, the VaR of individual risk position can be derived.
This analysis will help the supplier to decide on what delivery terms, performance commitments or other KPIs they can provide as well as calculate the commercial value of the contract with particular services.
Answers to these questions also will tell what liquidated damages to expect for availability, reliability, efficiency and late delivery if supplier choses terms that do not correspond to statistical analysis.
Pricing the risk
Now that we understand the value at risk, it is important to price the risk. This is because you are taking risk from the customer and you are therefore providing a valuable service for them. How can this additional service be priced? First, the price should be above the cost otherwise you are not getting a reward for taking the risk! Questions to ask yourself when estimating the ‘fairprice’ to charge:
• What are the customers critical performance measures or outcomes?
• How much would it cost the customer to take the risk themselves?
• How much pain are you really taking from the customer?
• Is the gain/pain sharing balanced?
• What do you think is their ‘willingness-to-pay’?
Do not accept to hold a risk where they cannot control or mitigate the risk, taking market risks is not a sure-fire way to go out of business. Finding a balance with the risks so that you are incentivised to improve performance and outcome for the customer is nevertheless difficult but something worth doing.
Learn from past experiences, the RR example with the Trent engine was predictable as were the costs. Recommendations Firms should consider how they assess risk for product service systems, this is practically important for advanced services. It is recommended to measure execution and commercial risks for every project.
Learning to track the events that cause both execution and commercial risks will help you to better understand the risks and the costs associated with them.
By being more proactive in risk management, industrial firms can turn the risk into commercial advantage.
Value based pricing is a hot topic in industry today, but what exactly is it and why is everyone talking about it?
Value based pricing is a hot topic in industry today, but what exactly is it and why is everyone talking about it?
Is value based pricing simply about getting as much price from your customers as possible? Or is it about valuing your longer-term relationship with your customers, or perhaps improving your service? In fact it is each of these and potentially more. What is clear however, is that cost-plus pricing for services does not always offer the customer or the supplier the best value - yet there may now be options to combat this with value based pricing.
The following report co-authored by Dr Shaun West, Lucerne University and Dominik Kujawski, Arvik Bolting Solutions brings together good industry practices in a solid academic framework. The report provides business leaders with a guide on how to create a value based strategy to price B2B services - as such it is essential reading for all business leaders...
Why value based pricing?
During a conference we recently attended, a phrase that kept coming up in conversation was “We should all switch to value based pricing”. An increasingly topical statement in industry today, however, the approach of value based pricing is also one which is not being discussed any further. No one seems to be speaking about HOW to actually achieve this goal.
Pricing is not new- even Oscar Wilde said: “Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing”
Companies need to focus on customer value in developing pricing strategies as pricing pressure in the industrial B2B market has been increasing as a result of changing customer buying behaviors. In this article we’ll delve deeper into why value based pricing can be challenging and why it has a huge impact on companies’ business.
Is pricing really a strategic capability?
Pricing is an important management tool to help achieve the firm’s objectives and has a huge impact on the financial results. It is a multi-departmental activity influenced by several functions within the firm that may attach different importance to pricing and the value drivers of the business.
Every business manager needs to be aware that pricing has an impact on customer satisfaction and that pricing is not only dependent on price itself.
Pricing of services is dependent on situations in which a customer finds themselves in and the jobs in which they need to do at that time.
This relation of pricing to customer engagement in this process includes three strategies:
- Cost plus strategy;
- Competition/market base strategy;
- Value based strategy.
Cost plus pricing
The process of cost plus pricing starts with the firm determining the scope of their service. Here, a unit cost is simply calculated and a pre-determined margin is applied to set the price. This margin reflects the desired profitability of the firm. The customers are then told what will be ultimately delivered in exchange for the set price
Competition/market based pricing
This process begins with pricing based both on the scope and the costs, then additionally on what the competition charges for a similar service. Setting the price here has an influence on the market situation. Large competitors tend to have a scale advantage over the smaller ones since their fixed costs are mostly lower due to a larger customer base. The last step of this process is presenting the customer with the value that is being offered through the service.
Remember that data is in your CRM system and in the market – keep track of it.
Value based pricing
The value based pricing approach is based on analyzing each customer’s needs, pains and gains, and their willingness to pay. It depends on the customer interest and acceptance of price for a provided value. Here, the price is set for the offered value, and later the scope of the service itself is determined.
Calculating the costs in this strategy is also necessary as they used to make a reality check and afterwards calculate the margin achieved.
Listen to your customers
The process of pricing in cost and competition based strategies suggests to ask the question “why is the customer situated at the end of the process if all of the companies always state that customers are the most important?”. A juxtaposition to the truth, you will always hear stated that companies involve their customers in the co-creation of service value from the very beginning, but how can this be actually possible with a cost plus and competition based pricing strategy?
Now, how do we turn this approach around and place focus back on the customer? Straight away, let’s forget about pure cost plus strategy.
This ‘simpler’ pricing strategy shows that the supplier can have a lack of understanding of the customer value and as a result the customer offering can be weak.
In addition to this, the competition/market base strategy, which is endorsed by many companies, indicates that pricing is controlled by the market. As such, this removes focus from the customer and indicates that the supplier does not entirely understand customer value, showing that the resultant value outlined by the firms offering can also be low.
So, how should service companies price in order to bring the customer into the focal point? The answer is quite straightforward; by aligning pricing objectives, strategies and tools according to the holistic strategy of the company.
Note: pricing needs to be strategic… it must not be left solely to Sales,
Production or Marketing departments. It needs to be driven by management and agreed by all the departments influenced by pricing Companies should create more customer focused objectives to choose pricing strategies that consider customer value.
This means that when pricing services, you as a firm need to firstly understand how your customer creates value and secondly, where you and your equipment fit into this process. You need to know that pricing tools used also need to support the objectives of pricing and the pricing strategies. For example, a pricing tool supporting customer oriented objectives can be bundling as it is a way for firms to present the scope/price negations, thereby providing a different approach to customer value discovery and leading to improved customer experiences.
Source of pricing power
Here, a B2B example is given, showing that the source or pricing power comes from customer need states. Let me take you through the example of a simple bolt used in industrial equipment. Bolts are widely present in everyday life and more specifically, they are present in almost every technologically advanced machine or construction, from compressor valves and turbines, to the foundations of wind mills.
So, what is the price of tightening a single bolt? The price of a single bolt varies from market-to-market, from machine-to-machine and from company to company.
The most significant result of bolting, however, is the residual load that a customer requires from the bolting supplier. Now, to show where the pricing power of services come from, let’s imagine a situation where you exchange a single bolt worth a couple of dollars, in a compressor valve which is worth hundreds of thousands or install one in an offshore wind turbine, worth even
more. How much should the tightening of one bolt be worth to keep the compressor running or the turbine safe on its foundation?
In this case, bolting provides safety and savings on a huge scale however, the value of the service to each customer varies depending on the scope of the project. Here, not all customers are the same, so they should also not be treated with the same approach.
Customer value connection based on colors
Customer value connection shows that companies need to do what their particular customer values. If the value proposition you offer creates no customer value, it is then only a purely basic cost to your customer.
It is time to use the “knowledge” about your customers to move to customer value propositions and find ways to deliver what is really valued. Hence, what they are really ready to pay for?
Firms need to consider what is core and what is standardized.
It is important to be aware that pricing can be different for different modules. This means that the customer can pay a different price based on the “menu” or “á la carte”, and shows that there are multiple pricing points for services but what is really interesting, is that its components don’t change. So what is changing?
It is the location and more importantly the type of service provision together with the customer need state. In the first mentioned case, the compressor valve is available in a workshop where the bolt can be tightened with use of onshore equipment, in a quite friendly environment.
However, the tightening of wind turbine requires going offshore to harsh conditions with special trainings and guaranteeing the customer that a bolt tightened worth a percentile of the whole wind mill will provide safety from failing the whole project.
This clearly shows that the customer gets usage, location and utility from the supplier. And if a firm is able to segment customer needs states and purposes for buying. It is also able to find the right pricing points for it.
This helps to identify margin and revenue opportunities available to a company.
This shows that that customer value identification process work for product based firms too.
Pricing waterfall for value based pricing
A prototype of pricing waterfall diagram provides guidance towards value based service pricing. It considers the most important aspects of pricing, starting from benchmarking competitors to considering the customers’ willingness to pay. As such, it helps you to triangulate on the value based price that your customer is willing to pay.
The pricing waterfall presents that single, inflexible offerings can limit companies to sharing limited value. Whereas, flexible offerings respond to customers’ changing needs.
Also, flexible pricing based on all important factors helps to increase customer value. Offering flexible service dimensions that support customer choices, together with flexible pricing strategies can provide the supplier with additional pricing dimensions that can have a positive margin increase impact. The pricing waterfall also highlights the importance of triangulation of pricing based on market analysis, internal value creation and customer value.
This article presents that pricing is a strategic capability and needs to be kept in line with the company’s overall strategy. There is a great need to focus on customer value creation during service pricing, and aligning strategies and tools to support the objectives set by the company. Understanding customer value rather than simply relying on cost-plus or market-based approach, is a key to pricing industrial services. Another very important step in the process of pricing, is margin calculation based on the identified costs and value price offered. It is essential to calculate the margins in order to assess the correctness and validity of the price.
To summarise, consistency in pricing is of great importance and needs to be maintained across all pricing objectives, strategies and tools used to determine the final price of a service offering. So after reading this article, ask yourself again, “Should I switch to value based pricing?”. The answer is not always, but one can learn to determine situations, locations, needs and pains to price according to value.