The recent global pandemic, geopolitical events, and changing economic landscape are impacting field service supply chain management in a myriad of ways. Today, field service organizations (FSOs) face evolving challenges such as the delivery of critical parts and inventory, meeting changing customer demands, and securing protective equipment for field technicians and engineers.
FSOs can take proactive measures and approaches to better position their business to overcome these obstacles. In this post, we’ll examine the top 5 ways to improve field service supply chain management and make the case for deploying innovative digital field service management software.
5 Ways to Improve Supply Chain Management in Field Service
- Understand Your Inventory
Traditional approaches (typically manual and paper-based) are not made for the needs of modern FSOs. Likewise, how can businesses ensure an accurate and real-time view of current inventory? What if there are delays and disruptions in the supply chain? How will an FSO stay updated and adapt to these disruptions?
Field service management software can help FSOs solve evolving supply chain inventory challenges. More specifically, FSOs need a field service solution that features inventory management software, which is software that tracks and manages inventory levels in the warehouse and in the field to optimize the service workflow. With intelligent inventory management, FSOs can achieve increased visibility into inventory levels and detailed views of parts and inventory available which enables higher first-time fix rates, improved customer experiences, and encourages upselling opportunities.
- Embrace Your Local Partnerships
While the global supply chain can be impressive moving products over far distances, the recent fluctuations have proved just how fragile it is. FSOs looking to mitigate global supply chain (or even national supply chains) disruptions should consider a local partnership. The main benefit of sourcing locally is having a supply chain partner that is in closer proximity to the business, and ultimately, to the end customer.
Local partnerships present various other beneficial use cases. For example, nearly half of all service visits (48%) require a service part, according to Aberdeen’s Field Service research. If the parts and inventory are supplied locally, FSOs can cut the costs required to obtain the parts. A local partnership can also reduce field technician drive time, which can augment sustainability initiatives by reducing long and redundant drive times and expensive fuel consumption.
Moreover, ServicePower realizes the importance of local partnerships for its global customers and recently expanded into France to better service local European customers.
- Refine Your Parts and Inventory Workflows
Field service management software can help businesses improve the workflow of parts and inventory. As covered, the traditional paper-based and manual approach is time-consuming, error-prone, costly, and not made for today’s evolving needs. Intelligent field service management software can help FSOs refine and improve the efficiency of parts and inventory workflows.
Benefits of deploying field service management software for parts and inventory workflow include the improved ability to track and reallocate existing parts and equipment. This optimized workflow removes the need for field technicians to go back and forth to the location of the parts to check on inventory, delivery, and availability of the part.
Another benefit, depending on the software deployed, is leveraging servitization via IoT-driven predictive maintenance. For instance, with IoT-connected devices, FSOs can identify when a part or a piece of equipment will require service ahead of time – before equipment downtime. Predictive maintenance, through IoT technology and real-time data insights, can better position an FSO to order these critical parts in advance. Without predictive maintenance insights, customers can experience equipment downtime compounded by the long wait times in the supply chain. This is terrible for the customer experience, and can ultimately lead to lower customer loyalty or retention.
Overall, field service management software with parts and inventory management can streamline parts and inventory workflows, mitigate equipment failure, reduce multiple visits, and increase positive customer experiences.
- Ensure Rental Tracking and Returns
In response to the impact on supply chains, many FSOs are taking an equipment rental approach. As an example, FSOs can loan out parts or equipment to a customer while the original one is brought in for service and repair. This rental strategy helps to mitigate any customer equipment disruption while also improving the customer experience.
However, the non-digital approach for keeping track of loaner equipment is not well-suited for today’s needs. Deploying field service management software that features real-time tracking of loaner equipment – as well as parts and inventory – delivers a greater modicum of control and visibility for FSOs. With fluctuations in the supply chain, it is critical that an accurate, real-time, and easily accessible status of rental recruitment is available. This greater visibility helps FSOs streamline tracking, rental return processing, and repair, and also provides FSOs with the knowledge of where each rental is located in real-time.
- Invest in Technology
FSOs need to take a proactive approach to supply chain challenges by investing in the right technology to help them stay agile. Deploying innovative field service management software is the first step to adapting to digital transformation and becoming agile. However, it’s essential that FSOs evaluate marketplace vendors and determine the ideal software solution for their specific needs, as many solutions differ in features and functionality.
Partnering with a field service management software provider that unifies various technologies and features can help with integration, adoption, and also scale as your business needs inevitably evolve.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR) are two technologies worth considering. It’s important to first define these as two distinct technologies that should not be used interchangeably. AI field service software is defined as software that leverages AI technology to process large amounts of data and extract useful patterns. On the other hand, AR is an interactive experience that enhances a real-world experience by superimposing computer-generated 3D elements into an existing environment in real-time. AI can be used to help automate parts and inventory workflows and used in tandem with IoT devices to predict critical maintenance and repairs. This is crucial when global supply chains are vulnerable to change. AR, on the other hand, can be used to remotely triage, diagnose, or fix a part or piece of equipment, minimizing the need for new supply in the first place.
These are just two innovative technologies that can be deployed by FSOs to overcome supply chain challenges. However, AI and AR are not limited to just supply chain obstacles and can be creatively used in other facets of field service management such as scheduling, field tech dispatch, training, and retention.
Transforming Your Service Supply Chain Management
While it is difficult to predict any future disruptions or changes in global supply chains, FSOs can take strategic measures to better position themselves for success when these changes do arise. Digital transformation of field service management – through field service management software and its supporting technologies – is the crux of empowering FSOs with the right tools, approaches, and technology to remain agile and competitive in the face of change.
Discover how partnering with ServicePower can improve your supply chain management, in addition to maximizing your time to achieve ROI.