Magazine Article | August 23, 2012

Field Management: An Ecosystem Evolution

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

By Mark Duffin, CEO, ServicePower Technologies,

With the ecosystem of service organizations evolving, there are important considerations for selecting a management platform.

As organizations must become leaner and more productive, they tend to evaluate their field service organization for improvement opportunities. But each service organization
exists within an ecosystem consisting of many entities within the field management model. Therefore, the entire ecosystem must evolve and be optimized for performance, costs savings, and customer satisfaction.

Simply selecting a single tool, like a routing or optimization application or a GPS tracking application for employed field resources, only addresses a single channel within the entire field management ecosystem. This alone will not yield impactful results for the service organization.

Seek Solutions That Accommodate Various Types Of Service Work

Additionally, service organizations tend to execute many different kinds of work, from warranty service or repair, to extended service, preventive maintenance, or installations. Each job inherently has different costs associated with it, different revenue opportunities, and different customer expectations.

Our research has shown that service organizations must look to global field management software solutions that facilitate a tightly delivered enhanced service experience, utilizing multichannel resources that exist within the ecosystem.

Multichannel resources, including employed field technicians, as well as third parties, including contracted and noncontracted/open market resources, provide the best mechanism for service organizations to capture as much desirable work as possible, while subcontracting less desirable jobs to third parties.

Using the multichannel strategy allows the service organization to offer its own techs for higher paying jobs, jobs that don’t require same-day/next-day turnaround time, or for major metro locations, for example. However, even jobs that generate less revenue are sometimes required of them, as warranty work that must be completed. Or, perhaps there is a specific skill set that doesn’t exist within the employed field force. One example is the plumbing skills within the smart or connected appliance repair sector. It is often less costly to outsource the work to third parties than to build an internal skill set. In those cases, the organization can simply offload segments of the total work population to third parties at will through the field management platform.

It’s critical when utilizing multichannel resources that the service organization be able to integrate its CRM application to a single point of entry to all channels within the ecosystem. For instance, job booking and status retrieval must be identical, regardless of which resource channel the job was placed in.

Additionally, in today’s environment of self-service, the service organization must provide its customers with optional communications mechanisms within the platform that facilitate initiation of a job and selection of a resource themselves. It must prove that the resource is safe through integrated background screening and facilitate payments of COD (cash on delivery)-type work as well. Ecosystem members should also be able to communicate within the field management platform through external social media sources, allowing them to build knowledge databases shared among themselves.

Business intelligence tools must provide data analysis as part of the field management platform such that all ecosystem resources are seamlessly measured on productivity, cost, fraud, part usage, and cycle time, to name a few metrics. The analysis should provide the service organization with the ability to select the appropriate channel for segments of the total work population through databased decision making.