You’ve seen lots of glossy, shiny options in the market and they all seem to sing, dance and juggle their way to Field Service heaven. But now you have to make a decision. How can you possibly choose between all the incredible options out there? Everyone tells you they can do what you need and they must be telling you the truth, right?
Here are three little pointers to help you down that path that will make sure you purchase the right solution for your business.
1) Think Strategically
The idea of Field Service Mobility gets used as a panacea at the moment. A lot of people will tell you it’s the magic wand that will fix your service issues, no matter what they are. Magic Wand? In reality, it’s perhaps more a “golden bandaid”. If you don’t fix your actual business issues, then all a mobility solution will do is give them a pretty sheen over the top.
If you have back office process problems before you implement a field service solution, you will very likely have the same problems after your implementation. In fact, you can almost guarantee that things will get worse in this scenario – not only are your users juggling the “old problems”, but they are also trying to become comfortable in the “new scenario”. This can cause a lot of confusion and mess within a business.
Your Field Service solution should absolutely help you solve current challenges, but it also needs to take you a step towards the future of your service business. Is this going to be the right solution for you in six months/twelve months/eighteen months when you’re current pain points are fixed? For eg, it might be enough to simply capture OH&S information electronically now, but what might you want to do with it in the future? Or you might excited about the ability to capture technician start/stop times and run reports to review them, but what if you want to integrate that to your payroll system down the track? No business is ever truly static. Recognise that your business needs now are different to what they could be in the future. Make sure that you pick a solution that will easily grow and adapt as your business does.
2) Remember your Back Office
It’s easy to get focused on the shiny tablet/phone/device with the fancy screens that are going to cater to your every wish when out in the field. But make sure you remember that data has to get from your back of house to the field and then return. How does a service job get from your in-house system to the service tech? Are you using “Swivel-chair” integration, or is it worthwhile transferring the information from one system to another? If you don’t get a lot of calls in a day, then rekeying information might work. However, once your call volumes increase it could become a crippling overhead.
The other side, of course, is what you’re going to do with all the extra information you’re capturing on the tech’s device. How will it get off your device to the office? And can you do it in a way that means you don’t need manually handle or rekey all the data?
There’s no point having your field operations running like a well-oiled machine and having your back office held together by a range of manual or time-consuming processes. The right field service solution for your business will provide you with end-to-end benefits, decreasing back office processing as well as increasing information flow back from the field.
A good field service solution will give you different options to access your information. It may be via reports or data extracts, they may provide you with simple program integration options, or may be through providing a complete integration back to your EMS.
3) What do your Customers really want?
When we’ve talked to businesses about field service mobility in the past, two key reasons for the change always arise. The first is, “we want to get paperwork back to the office faster”. The second is “our customers expect us to have a solution and we’re losing contracts because we don’t”.
So let’s take a step back. What do your customers expect you to provide? Are you just ticking a box to say “yes we have a solution”, or do they expect certain functions to be included? If you’re building a solution just to be able to tick a box on a tender, I think it’s fair to say that you might have some issues actually determining what you need and how it’s going to add value to your business as well as a good ROI.
In steps 1) and 2) we talked about strategy and streamline, now think about tactics. Don’t just tick the tender box and do what your customers expect! Take it further and look at how this is going to enhance your overall offering to your customers. What can your technology give them that no one else can? Is there a specific feature that’s a “nice to have” that will not only increase customer satisfaction but increase customer retention? Remember, it’s often the small things that help your customers, so don’t feel like you need to re-invent the wheel in order to provide features. You’ll often find that by collating customer comments about your service you’ll find the “it would be really great if you could…” that you need to really make your Field Mobility Solution sing.
The best Field Mobility Solutions will do three key things for your business – help you to manage your business, help you to meet your customer needs and provide a smart and intuitive interface that your service technicians will happily use. If you have a clear idea of what your business needs from a Field Mobile Solution, then finding your way through the maze of vendors becomes a much simpler task. There’s no way a vendor can dazzle you with potentially unsuitable solutions because you’ll be able to clearly see what will work for you and what could just be expensive smoke and mirrors.
Do you need help finding and implementing a Mobile Field Service solution? Business System Alchemy can do both for you! Contact us for more information by clicking here.
The Alchemist comes to your courtesy of Ruxana D’Vine and Michael Meryment, specialists in matching business needs back to technology.