Guest Column | August 24, 2018

How Do You Make The Best Use Of Productivity Gains?

By Bruce Breeden, principal of Field Service Resources, LLC

Field Service Productivity

Annually, field service organizations achieve higher levels of technician productivity through technology, process improvement, training, quality assurance, and hard work. Productivity, as a field service objective, is defined as more output from the work produced. Consistently service leaders make productivity an annual focus to drive value and meet corporate objectives.

I believe we have options in terms of how we measure productivity in modern field business service models to better leverage the body of work of a professional field service team. Traditionally field service productivity has been defined with a balance of service quality to improve revenue per tech, first time fix rates, percentage of travel time, percentage of 2080 available hours or percentage of non-productive time, CSAT, and other normal productivity/quality measures. Often, the standard is the more billable hours by tech, the higher the productivity. The margin gained has gone to the bottom line as an EBITA contribution from service operations.

We constantly recognize the changing value of field service and especially the technicians who are face to face with customers as problem solvers, brand ambassadors, and lead generators and who represent the voice of the customer. But are we keeping up with the correct productivity metrics to evaluate the organization’s true productivity, not just in service but across the corporate enterprise? It can be argued that technician hours used to service equipment, either as billable or per service contract, should be reduced to spend more time on customer relations, lead generation, safety, and other soft skill outputs. 

As technician billable hour outputs increase with use of new technology, process improvements, and other initiatives, it’s important to also recognize the value of:

  • Sales leads
  • Customer relationship building
  • Proper inventory control
  • Adopting technology and use of systems
  • Avoiding safety and driving accidents
  • Continuous learning to improve technical and soft skill proficiency
  • Care of company assets
  • Helping teammates and knowledge transfer 

The balanced service scorecard of today looks a lot different than the past, mainly due to the new role field service techs play and combined with the retiring experienced technicians and their base of knowledge.

In most of my work with service leaders, we find it hard to measure some of these contributions with our current systems and reports. Second, the corporate level may still only measure the direct P&L performance of service where valuable sales leads are recognized in the product P&L, or finance with vehicle assets and insurance premiums. That is why the business of service must be discussed and reviewed at the highest levels to recognize and measure the total value of field service. 

Considering the limitation of “silos” within a corporation and singular business unit contributions, there is no better time to consider the cross-functional impact of service business operations and process improvement to improve financial performance, customer experience, and employee development.

As productivity increase remains on the corporate goal sheet, this is the time to establish the value of a service business and make critical decisions on how those gains are recognized and valued. At the corporate level, a prudent choice is to measure across the entire business enterprise and continue investment and initiatives that deliver direct service labor gains as well as outputs from their soft skills and new roles.


Bruce Breeden is the author of the book, The Intentional Field Service Engineer, and creator of the Field Service7℠ development program.  As principal of Field Service Resources, LLC he partners with field service leaders to improve human performance and develop organizations.