Simplify Business

Simplify Business Processes and Optimize Costs in Field Service

Simplify Business Processes and Optimize Costs in Field Service

If you’ve been in business for over 10 years, think about business “then” vs. business “now.” A lot of aspects are different — and most involve technology, in all likelihood. This idea has been held up by research from Bain and Company. In their research, 20 years ago — so yes, more than 10 — the majority of business challenges were external. That means a challenge like “We don’t have the technology to pursue this idea.” Today, though? 94% of business challenges are internal.

Most of these internal challenges are around processes and people. The people side is hard for many — rather than treating your employees as interchangeable, as some companies will do, you need to treat them as valued members of your business plan. This reduces churn and turnover and keeps knowledge in your organization. That’s good in the short and long term.

This article is going to be more about processes, though. A lot of times, as field service organizations get bigger or take on more SLAs and contracts, they tend to add more layers of process to everything they do day to day. This is logical because process implies control of situations, and being in control is a good thing when dozens of urgent client needs are flying into your office every day.

The problem is: a ton of processes plus a lot of clients calling in with urgent fix-and-repair needs do not make an effective business. You might make money, yes. That’s good! But everyone will get burned out, staff and technicians will begin to leave, and it will be hard for you to focus on growth and other priorities because you’re spending so much of every week on racing around and putting out fires.

Rather, the antidote to this go-go-go busy-busy-busy business climate we live in is to embrace the opposite: simplicity.

Research from Stanford — it was done jointly by their business school and engineering school — shows a “Goldilocks Effect” around processes. In short:

Companies with too few processes and rules tended to get very little done
Companies with too many processes and rules tended to get more done in terms of providing service — but oftentimes it wasn’t what their clients/customers actually wanted.
Companies with a degree of basic rules (but not too many) tended to be the most effective in terms of growing and developing their businesses.

The basic idea: don’t over-complicate what can already be a complicated industry. Come up with some core business processes, integrate them, and use that integration to drive you forward.

One of the easiest ways to simplify your business processes is to use field service management (FSM) software programs. These integrate the different areas of your business, including:

Mapping and Routing
Work Order Management
Customer information
Sales leads

One of the biggest advantages of field service software is information transparency, meaning that everyone in your FSO can be on the same page about what’s going on in the business. This prevents silo-by-silo (scheduling vs. sales, for example) issues that can hurt growth.

Now, the biggest concern people tend to have about field service management software is potential cost. There is the old adage that you need to “spend money to make money,” and that’s true. But if you’re a small business field service operation, can you afford it? And can FSM software help you optimize costs?

To learn more about the cost and purchasing side of FSM software, download our eBook on the topic now. It will walk you through different cost equations to consider when evaluating FSM software.

Cost FSM Software

Organize Business

Organize Your Business With Field Service Management Software

Organize Your Business With Field Service Management Software

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.

Field Service Action