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The Struggle for Technology in Field Service

 I took this picture several weeks ago. Five males like this, in addition to many females have been around my property for several years. They come by each evening to see what we’ve left them for dinner. It’s a real treat to see them. Living in the city for about 10 years, the only wildlife I ever saw were raccoons and opossums, raiding the trash cans.

What I saw just a few days later was different though. When I looked out at the normal time, 2 of them were engaged in a battle, the likes of which you see on National Geographic, antlers hooked and skulls smashing into one another.

I assume this is just normal for growing deer, learning how to live in the wild.

What struck me though as I thought about it are the similarities to the ‘battles’ that some field service organizations see when implementing field service management software.

FSM solutions are a sizable investment, both in terms of cost and human capital to implement. It takes the effort of the entire organization, bottom to top, to understand and outline the ‘now’ state, define the ‘to be’ state and structure the implementation to achieve organizational KPIs and ROI. Ongoing efforts are not insignificant, in terms of learning to use the software and manage it going forward.

But, often times, FSM software, and the improved processes that go hand in hand with an implementation, are seen by existing staff as a means of control, or even big brother. FSM solutions can have a fundamental impact on culture and the way people work. The battles commence.

To achieve the highest ROI and continuously meet KPIs, the FSO must drive adoption of the software from the top down, especially with field techs, dispatch and call center personnel.

Here are a few key tips to driving adoption of your FSM:

  1. Involve key stakeholders from the selection process through ongoing, daily utilization of the FSM. Buy in and support from the top throughout the organization encourages adoption and proper management of the FSM, raising the potential ROI.
  2. Once an FSM solution is deployed, maintain it and the associated processes. It won’t change and adapt to your changing service environment all by itself. Field personnel will revolt against it if it impacts their ability to perform their work.
  3. Offer continual training to combat knowledge loss. Personnel who don’t know how to use the software won’t use it. They’ll fall back to manual processes and create hidden factories to get their jobs done. That extra effort will impact your ROI.
  4. Develop policies that dictate employee interactions and utilization of the software that discourage ‘breaking the software’ or manually circumventing the software. Manual effort costs your FSO money.
  5. Perform regular health checks & system upgrades. Pay attention to new functionality especially in a SaaS environment where new features from other industries might be adapted for use in your organization, providing opportunities for improvement.
  6. Track and measure KPIs. Use them to continuously improve your process.
  7. Acknowledge super star employees! Nothing builds adoption like being congratulated for your efforts.
  8. Rely on your vendor partner experts.

The last point is especially important from my perspective. ServicePower employs not just software experts, but field service experts too. Our team includes people from third party administrators, retailers and OEMS whom have managed field resources, both employed and 3rd party contracted. We know our software, of course. But we also understand your challenges and can provide not just the expert knowledge of using our own software to achieve KPIs and ROI, but we can help you plan your workforce strategy. We can also do it for you, through ServiceOutsourcing.

But, don’t take my word for it. Check out this white paper from our own experts, whom managed remote field workforces for the largest US retailers and insurers, for tips on how to manage field techs.

So, to summarize, don’t stop once you’ve selected an FSM and deployed it. Invest time in your human resources and the software itself, to ensure the highest return on your investment, and prevent the battles that will rage if the software isn’t managed and supported over the long term.

 

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