If you think about the last 20-25 years of business in any industry -- but definitely within field service management -- one of the most interesting things that’s happened is that challenges to business growth have moved from “external” to “internal.” What does that mean? Well, 20-25 years ago, you had a lot of external challenges, mostly around available technology. If you wanted to monitor your technicians in the field as they moved through appointments, you could maybe call them (if they had a mobile phone) or page them. GPS might have been around in some academic environments then, but it wasn’t a standard in business. Most of your challenges to growing and sustaining a business came from external factors, then -- elements beyond your control.
Per some new research from Bain & Co., though, you can argue that 94% of business challenges are now internal. Internal challenges refer to ideas like hiring and recruiting the best people, team formation, management, and organizational processes you use to stay productive.
In fact, that research shows that most of the internal challenges come from “complexity,” or having a business with a lot of different moving parts -- but at the same time, not having systems in place where those parts are “speaking” to one another.
A field service business would fit into this category because typically a FSO has elements including:
- Back-office staff
- Customer relationships/accounts
Now, in a small business, two to three people might do all of the bullets above aside from “technicians.” But as you grow, you’ll have more people, and those people will tend to focus on one to two specific elements of the business.
This is where the “internal challenges” come into play. Consider this scenario:
Your technician (one role) needs to be re-routed to an urgent client need (handled by customer relationships/accounts) but before he can be re-routed (dispatch), he needs a specific part (inventory) for that job. Also, it’s a crucial account within your local area, so (marketing) wants him to be ready to up-sell more services.
That’s potentially five people that need to be involved in order to make this smooth for the customer. Anytime you go beyond one person being involved, challenges can crop up.
This is really the core value of FSM software for a field service organization: it helps you integrate the different aspects of your business. It makes the information transparent. Someone specific may still handle inventory, but the dispatcher can see what’s available in inventory, for example. The dispatcher now knows “OK, that part is available and I can route the technician to the warehouse, but I’ll check in with the inventory person quickly too.” It’s a much smoother process internally, and that results in a smoother process for the customer.
In fact, we put together an entire document on putting Field Service Management software into action for your business -- the steps to consider, the pros, and yes, even the cons. (We try to be transparent, just like the software is.) You can download it now. If you have any questions about anything, don’t hesitate to contact us.