Dutch Prime Minister Rutte recently stated it effectively: in the context of the Corona crisis, his cabinet had to make 100% of the decisions based on 50% of the knowledge. For many (service) managers, this is the daily routine, because doing business means continuously adjusting and switching quickly. Well-known Dutch organizations such as Coolblue and Bol.com realize that steering based on “50% knowledge and a little gut feeling” does not always lead to the best decisions. The best decisions are data driven decisions are made and goals are set based on data.
Many small and medium sized service organizations are aware that good data management leads to more informed decisions. These decisions ensure better service provision, which in turn leads to more satisfied customers!
However, many SME’s don’t know where to start and have all sorts of questions: what data do we need and where do we get it? What can we achieve in managing and optimizing your service organization? But the most pressing questions are most likely to be: When and how can I start?
Get started with these tips
The first question is simple to answer: you can start now! How? Start by using the data you already have available. Data is collected by many of your existing systems and your field service solution is no exception! In this first blogpost, we therefore provide you with three practical tips on how you can use the data that is already at hand, to optimize your service organization today. Steps you can already take without implementing data warehouses, new forms of data logging, combined databases and algorithms.
Tip 1: Focus on factual data, not just information
American writer Mark Twain once said, “Facts are stubborn things, statistics are more pliable”. Any politician will confirm this: facts can be scary. They can only be interpreted one way and leave no room for discussion. Exactly that makes them so powerful.
By feeding back actual data to employees, you discover what really happens and you avoid assumptions. For example, one of your service engineers clocks a stop time of four minutes for an assignment with a standard time of 15 minutes. This can mean that the mechanic works quickly, but it can also mean that he uses his PDA incorrectly. You want to be aware of both situations in order to improve the process.
It is easy to state that “some assignments just take more time than others”, ignore excesses and focus only on the broader KPIs. These KPIs are based on “high over” data and average values over a longer period. The excesses disappear as a result. However, these excesses can be highly interesting. Why did assignment X take so much longer than all the others? Discussing the facts creates new insights about processes in practice.
Tip 2: Create a feedback loop
Data is subject to inflation: if you wait too long before using it, it will lose some of its value. Therefore, don’t wait too long to analyze data and ensure that data from yesterday, is used for feedback immediately, preferably today. Especially if you want to check actual events, it is important to discuss them while the memory of the event is still fresh, otherwise the memory of your service employees might have faded.
By discussing the excesses in start/stop times with service employees on a structural basis (for instance during a day or week start), a maximum learning effect is created. If, like many Sigmax Connect users, you also use your field service software to measure customer satisfaction, it is valuable to immediately share feedback from customer experiences with employees. By asking for immediate feedback while the information is still fresh, you will gain valuable insights. If this is not done, the momentum is gone and with that the learning effect.
Tip 3: Look and compare
Even with pieces of data that are available in every field service solution, you can quickly achieve process optimizations. Provided the right relationships are established. By relating some basic information with one another, such as duration of the assignment, type of assignment, associated standard time and the technician performing the assignment, insights arise that lead to process improvements.
If, for example, the average order duration is split by type of work order, you may already see opportunities to improve. Then relate this to standard times or break it down into regions to identify possible process improvements. Perhaps your standard time turns out to be too limited for a certain type of assignment and your employees will therefore not meet the agreed planning times. By establishing different relationships, you can easily identify possible process improvements.
Business Intelligence software can help to establish relationships and gain insights in a user-friendly way but are not necessary to start. An experienced computer user will come a long way with Excel.
If you do not yet use data for the optimization and management of your service organization, we hope that these practical tips have inspired you to start. More complex issues cannot be solved with this, but there’s no need to set up a large data project to implement small changes. This applies to both small and large companies. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Your field service software already touches data by itself, but by combining this data from ERP and planning systems there is much more to be gained. I’dd like to tell you more about this in future blogs.