Paul Muggleton, Services Director, HSO explains why the temptation to try to achieve too much too quickly should be replaced with a clear, well planned iterative approach when it comes to implementing field service management systems…

One of the big challenges for companies, when it comes to delivering a return on their investment in a field service management solution, is that often they (or the vendors they are working with) will have set their targets and expectations far too wide.

The result of this is, of course, disappointment at both the executive level and the operational level and ultimately can make gaining approval for, and subsequent implementation of future field service management centred projects even harder.

The solution to overcoming this all too frequent issue is incredibly simple. When approaching the initial project, there is a six-word mantra to remember “don’t try to boil the ocean”.

A field service management solution can revolutionise how your field service operations run. It can improve your internal efficiencies, drive revenue and delight customers. But remember field service is a complex beast with many moving parts, and if you try to optimise everything at once the chances are you may well fail to optimise anything at all.

At HSO, we advise our customers that an iterative approach is almost always the way we have seen our clients achieve the most significant benefits both in the short and long term.

We believe it is vital that we have a firm and comprehensive understanding of where our customers are in terms of their capabilities, processes and existing technologies at the beginning of a project. That can then provide us with a mechanism for actually identifying the best approach and allow us to build a comprehensive roadmap that isn’t just a tick box exercise, but builds a technology platform that meets the exact needs of their business. Let’s take scheduling as an example.

If an organisation is moving from manually scheduling their engineers with a dispatch team using a spreadsheet, in the first instance, we may not want to see a huge amount of automation added to the solution.

The reason for this is that when it comes to scheduling, you first need to understand how you want to schedule your work. Simply by moving through the process of using a dedicated scheduling solution as a company, and more importantly its dispatchers, are going to begin to see benefits as they begin to see scheduling in an integrated way.

We can then begin to introduce some light touches of automation as the processes become more refined and clarified, to begin to bring some further order into the workflows and, as time moves on, we can begin to ratchet up the use of automation as more advanced constraints are introduced.

Once we reach this point, this is also when we can start exploring what other technologies should be introduced – for example, real-time alerts that tell the customer where their engineer is, or improved triage in the contact centre to improve first-time fix rates.

By adopting such a layered approach, a field service organisation will not only see a direct return on investment on their initial implementation sooner, but will also minimise any potential early costs while simultaneously reducing risks as well.

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