Your field service operation needs to run like a well-oiled machine. Just as you need well-oiled trucks, vans, tractors, forklifts, front loaders and types of other equipment to safely transport technicians to and from the field and to support them in their work, your technology needs to run smoothly, securely and reliably.
Regardless of the products and services you offer, regardless of the number of technicians you have in the field, and regardless of whether yours is a manual, paper-based shop or one with a digital solution that’s not performing as well as you expected, you need to “up your game” to ensure that you can deliver what you promise – on time and every time – both now and well into the future.
That’s because customers expect nothing less. And it’s because you need to keep up with – or, better yet, surpass – your competitors. But how to find a future-proof solution that will bend and flex and grow with you? “There are so many solutions and providers, I don’t even know where to start,” you may say.
We all know it’s not as simple as it sounds.
We’re experts in what we do, and when we work with our customers, we become their partners and we take a dive deep into what they do and how they do it, as we assess their needs. Without knowing precisely how your organization is structured, I can’t provide all the specific questions you should ask vendors and all the features and functionality you should look for in their solutions.
However, I’ve seen what’s worked for dozens of customers and tens of thousands of technicians in the field. And while working with them and custom-fitting solutions to meet their specific needs, I’ve heard stories from some about the inefficiencies in manual systems, and from others about the mistakes made when selecting what turned out to be the inappropriate solution for your organization.
Before you dive in headfirst and select a solution that may not meet your current or future needs, I’d like to share a few pitfalls to avoid as you move toward a new or replacement digital field service solution. Because the more you know as you head into the vendor-selection process, the more likely it is that you find a great partner and a solution that you can custom-fit to your organization.
Without further ado . . . five pitfalls to avoid, summarized:
- Mistake No. 1: Neglecting to clearly define the results you hope to achieve.
- Mistake No. 2: Assuming that technicians in the field want new tools.
- Mistake No. 3: Failing to search for an intuitive solution that’s easy for everyone to use.
- Mistake No. 4: Worrying that a new solution will take months to implement and train.
- Mistake No. 5: Waiting for the perfect moment to make the transition.
Mistake No. 1: Neglecting to clearly define the results you hope to achieve.
How will you know if you’ve achieved success with your new field service management solution, if you aren’t clear about why you’re transitioning to a new solution? Want to reduce errors in the field? Want to increase customer satisfaction scores? What to speed up the time from job completion to invoicing? Start by building a business case and developing a plan that includes the results you want to achieve, and also include these metrics: By how much do you want to reduce/increase/speed up? And by when?
Mistake No. 2: Assuming that technicians in the field want new tools.
There will be resistance to change among at least some of your employees and subcontractors, whether in the back office or in the field. Learning new ways of doing business is difficult for many, especially when they’re faced with dashboards, digital forms and design tools they’ve never seen. Before you begin vetting vendors and shopping for solutions, communicate with employees about the planned changes. Involve them in the process by asking what frustrates them, what improvements they would like to see, what they fear about a new way of working, and what they hope a new solution will bring. Don’t simply spring it on them in your “weekly recap” meeting on Friday afternoon: “Oh, by the way, we’re going digital on Monday, so show up for training at 7 am.” That type of approach kills morale.
Mistake No. 3: Failing to search for an intuitive solution that’s easy to use.
Keep “intuitive design” in mind when you seek a field service solution, because field technicians and back-office staff want and need a solution that is easy to understand and easy to use. Intuitive design expertly combines science and art. The science of intuitive design means the solution can perform complex tasks; the art of intuitive design means it is logically laid out, with self-explanatory dashboards containing well-recognized patterns, concepts and symbols. Remember, the primary objective of an intuitive solution is – with minimal training – to make users’ work more efficient and more enjoyable.
Mistake No. 4: Worrying that a new solution will take months to implement and train.
When remodeling a home, there’s a not-so-outlandish rule of thumb homeowners often cite: Plan to spend twice as much as you budgeted and anticipate that it will take twice as long to complete. This is not the expectation you should go into the vendor-review process with. As you meet with vendors before selecting a digital solution to replace manual processes or an existing digital solution that doesn’t meet your needs, don’t review only those with complex, multi-layer solutions that require custom coding and laborious training and support. Bigger and more expensive doesn’t always mean better.
Mistake No. 5: Waiting for the perfect moment to make the transition.
How long have you been thinking about digitizing your paper-based manual systems or replacing your existing digital system with something more powerful? What’s stopping you from diving in and making the commitment? What quarterly or yearly goals are you working on that are more important than planting a firm foundation under the business so it’s ready for the future? Don’t wait for the “perfect” moment to make the change; take the moment and make it perfect.
Make no mistake about it.
No matter where you are on the path to transforming your field service operation into a well-oiled machine, if you’re not where you want to be, check out FMP360. We’ll let you test drive our solution – and we’ll even customize the ride to fit the dynamics of your unique organization. And even better, we’ll help you avoid all the mistakes that field service organizations typically make during the review process!