Integrate, collect, benchmark, and deliver the right data to the right people to facilitate intelligent business decisions and transform into a data-driven service organization.
Imagine driving down the road on a dark, stormy night. The rain pounding on your windshield makes it nearly impossible to see where you’re going and there are no street lamps to light your way. Luckily, (eureka!) you see the tail lights of the car in front of you, which you decide to follow until the storm is over. But eventually, you realize the car isn’t going where you want to go nor is it moving as fast as you’d like to move. But you’re blind without it, so you just continue to follow and drive further from your destination.
This sense of driving in the dark is like running a field service organization without reliable data. Instead of carving your own path and growing at your own speed, you’re blind to what makes your company successful.
By restructuring your field service operation with data at its center and a mobile app to facilitate data collection, you can begin to make small improvements—like access to more timely information, more relevant of data, and faster decision making— that reap huge benefits.
Use the following four steps to transform your field service organization into a lean, mean data-driven machine.
1. Break Down Barriers to Information Access
The best way to make data accessible to the right people in the company is to integrate each piece of the service puzzle. An integrated field service management (FSM) systems allows you to connect, collect, and centralize data for easy access from multiple areas of the operation, including:
Recent studies have found that service organizations utilizing (FSM) software complete more orders and turn more profit than companies using paper or manual methods.
Since FSM systems are designed for service organizations, everything your service department needs is built into one system, and can integrate with your other enterprise solutions. The process—from data entry, to collection, to analysis—is joined with the rest of the office operations and flows exactly how you’d expect.
An all-in-one system provides easy to use software that connects all sides of the business. For example, when a technician closes a work order in the field, the service manager is able to see that all work order information in real time, which she can use to guide decisions in real time. With out-of-the-box portals and reports, data is displayed in easy to interpret charts and graphs, which lay out how you’re performing over time. When the data is integrated with the rest of the system, the service manager isn’t left to follow the leaders in the field. He becomes the leader.
Because of the high volume of work, and the thousands of field visits per month, service industries lend themselves to being data-driven. Small adjustments multiplied across an entire fleet of technicians can make major improvements.
Performing a SWOT analysis—using data to measure your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats—can be a great way to break down your current performance and determine small changes that will lead to large improvements.
2. Employ the Power of the Field for Data Collection
Because technicians are usually the ones collecting data, it benefits the whole company to equip them with a mobile device and service app to collect timely data in the field.
Collecting information through mobile streamlines how data is collected across the industry, making it less onerous overall. With a mobile FSM system, technicians can perform inspections, clock their hours, and take notes for specific jobs. This information then links to the back office instantaneously, which leads to:
- Reduced administrative time in the back office.
- More accurate entry of data.
- Invoice and receive cash from customer sooner.
- Ability to submit completed work order information to customer for approval before they leave the job site.
- Access to training material while on site.
By employing the power of the field workforce for data collection, field service companies can get real-time feedback concerning the projects and equipment they’re currently working on. Recording data on paper and waiting for the back office to reenter it at the end of the day just isn’t fast enough to be proactive decision makers and compete in the service space today.
3. Benchmark Where You Stand…Then Act on It
Having data is the first step in determining where you stack up against your competition. But determining where you stand is just the beginning. According to Trimble Transforming Service Delivery Insight Report, “high level trends and benchmarking can be used in performance management while real time data means managers can make instant decisions based on robust and reliable intelligence.”
Access to service data isn’t enough. Follow these three steps to go from benchmarking to action:
- 1. Plan: How much will the job cost?
- 2. Measure: Based on the data collected, how much did the job actually cost?
- 3. Analyze: If the job cost more than the plan assumed, how can you account for those costs? Did the job take longer than expected? Was the technician’s training insufficient? Did it take the tech too long to get there? Did he have to go back for necessary parts?
Planning what data you need and how you’ll use it once you have it are as important as collecting it in the first place. Often, companies don’t even know they’re having problems until they see the data, which is why it can be so valuable. Real-time data provides actionable information which allows businesses to identify trends, opportunities, and threats and forces them to reexamine their assumptions.
4. Deliver Data to the Right Person at the Right Time
Now that you’ve collected, measured, and interpreted your data, it’s important to get the results to the right people at the right time. A variety of roles can benefit from the data you’ve collected, including:
- Executives—With a big picture view of service performance and metrics to guide informed decision-making, executives can leverage analytics to make better business decisions and enhance field service performance.
- Service managers—Use data to drive smarter decision making and increase service efficiency..
- Service technicians—With the right tools and insight, techs spend more time on billable hours and less time entering data, traveling, and returning to the office for parts or training materials.
- Schedulers/Dispatchers—Time and inspection data give dispatchers more insight into how long jobs will take, making them better able to schedule the most jobs per technician per day.
- Stakeholders—Corporate offices, equipment manufacturers, and retail distributers can use data-backed findings to unveil what customers want and adjust their sales and/or production strategies accordingly.
- Customers—With their own portal to view equipment performance, service levels, and technician and ETA updates, customers won’t ever be surprised or disappointed when working with your business.
Conclusion: Become One of the Few Data-Driven Service Businesses
It’s more important than ever for field service organizations to have strategies in place to measure performance, and becoming data driven is the best way to make those measurements clear and actionable.
According to the Trimble study, only 1 in 5 service organizations believes they get the field service data they need to do their job fully. Become one of that 20% and see where intentional, data-driven intelligence leads your service business in 2015.
Buyer’s Guide to Mobile Field Service Software: 9 Tips for Choosing a Mobile Solution
Equipping techs with a mobile app will lead to more accurate and intelligent data from the field (and much more!). Learn important tips, guiding questions, and to-do’s in our free, educational whitepaper: “A Buyer’s Guide to Mobile Field Service Software.”