By Sarah Nicastro, publisher/editor in chief, Field Technologies
I moderated a panel earlier this month at Field Service USA on “Demistifying AI” and one of the recurring themes from the participants was how absolutely crucial it is to have a narrow focus when you embark on a project. This idea is applicable whether we’re talking about AI, AR, IoT, or really any strategic shift you’re making. What these participants kept saying is that with all of the change going on in field service today, and all of the cool new technologies there are to easily become enamored with, it is challenging to stay focused on the task at hand.
While challenging, staying focused – and not just generally, but narrowly – is critical to the success of your field service initiatives. Why? There are a few reasons. First, defining a narrow focus will enable you to more easily make a business case because you’ll get return on a narrow focus easier than you will something broad or vague. Second, a narrow focus prevents you from biting off more than you can chew – a project that’s too loosely defined will almost always unravel. Finally, maintaining a narrow focus will enable you to execute well and achieve wins, and that solid execution will set the stage for moving on to whatever the next step of your larger vision may be.
The best way to define your narrow focus is to first examine the bigger picture and long term objectives. This may seem counterintuitive as this sort of big thinking is what makes it easy to get off track and into the weeds, but having at least a working vision of what the roadmap is both for strategy and technology is the only way you can define clear and digestible steps. With this bigger vision in place, you need to carve out time in your schedule to keep revisiting that big vision and making adjustments as necessary, but you then need to shift your focus to what is the quickest, attainable, impactful win. That’s your first narrow focus.
Let’s look at this in the context of implementing a field service software solution. You have a big picture objective of a completely automated, optimized scheduling process; a paper-free and automated field workflow; a seamless customer experience; etc. Today’s software solutions are powerful – they can help you achieve all of these things, and then some. However, trying to take all that on at once isn’t necessarily your best bet. Can you define your BIGGEST painpoint? Start there. So maybe it’s scheduling – maybe your customer satisfaction scores are horrible because you can’t get a tech onsite on time. Focus in on implementing scheduling perfectly (well, as close as anyone can get). Make sure the technology is sound, make sure you’re mastering change management, make sure your employees are adopting the system well. Get return on that facet, and then move on to the next step.
A narrow focus like this enables you to build on a foundation of success. It gives your employees more confidence in your ability to select solid technologies and implement them well. It gives your executive team a positive example of how your business plans will come to fruition, and makes them more likely to support future initiatives. It sets the stage for a culture of success, instead of haphazardly rushing through too much at once and creating more work for yourself than you started with.