Every time your team is tasked with rolling out a new technology or platform for the business, you go through a similar process. Someone articulates the business driver, IT translates business concerns into technology requirements, vendors try to teach you how to buy their product, and as soon as you select a solution, you're already worried about how to drive adoption of the new system even before the ink is dry on the purchase order.
Even if you're likely to encounter a lot of similarities among implementation projects, it's important to recognize that seeing one such projects means you've seen them all. In fact, if you're implementing field service management software—or any tools for a mobile workforce—here are four key considerations that are less salient when rolling out a CRM or ERP.
1. Accommodating Ongoing Change
Whether one of your behemoth systems of record is an ERP, a CRM, a EAM, or any combination of the above, you can trust they will remain relatively static once implemented. In contrast, mobile workforce management solutions are intended to adapt and adjust to changing conditions. Deriving the full benefit of a field service management solution depends on its ability to maximize efficiency and quality of job delivery in unpredictable circumstances, and in real time. Anticipating these changes requires investigating various aspects of your business and the factors that can reshape them—it begins with understanding your business and designing processes and policies that balance flexibility and predictability. Your FSM toolkit should be equally nimble and not limited to best-case scenarios. This flexibility to adapt applies to the implementation process as well, where an agile delivery approach helps accommodate the learning and adjutment that must happen when deploying FSM solutions.
2. Addressing Operational Variability
For all service operations, there is a tidal shift toward an intense focus on being customer centric. Even customers who might not have an alternate vendor to choose can make their dissatisfaction very public—impacting your position in the market. Delivering exceptional customer experiences requires greater precision in all interactions and the ability to target processes, service policies, exposure of data, and mandates for user entry, among others, to attain the proper level of precision. FSM systems provide the touch point within operations where customers meet service, and can become the tool to address these very granular needs. Supporting varied work processes by type of job; interacting with a customer in their context (individualizing service); addressing inevitable changes in the work schedule that require varied processes (emergent work, traffic conditions, cancellations, changes in field service professional’s availability, etc.). Accounting for this level of variability in service of delighting the customer increases the sophistication of deployment.
3. Supporting a Broad Spectrum of Users
Business operations and sales are heavy users of your CRM. Marketing probaby doesn't need or want to access your accounting software. But with field service management software, you support a broad range of users within the service operation, all with varying levels of experience and distinct role-based access and concerns. Training users and maintaining an interaction with them to collect feedback and support adapting the solution is key. With this broader user base, change management challenges require more thought and action to address, as well as the previously noted agility. The shift from legacy systems (typically providing more individualized decisions on what to do, when and how) adds to this challenge.
4. Keeps Critical Business Functions Running
While unplanned downtime from a back office system will not grind all business activity to a halt (just whatever else IT is trying to do), when a MWFM system goes down, the flow of work and collection of details is no longer available, effectively stopping field service operations. Even if the power goes out in your office building, your mobile workforce needs to trust they are fully supported to keep delivering service to customers. It's also essential to your reputation and keeping costs and profits in balance. Your customers will not have a direct interaction with your ERP or CRM system, but they will be the first to feel the impact of a poor schedule, delayed technicians, or incomplete job information.
Does this mean that field service solution implementations are more difficult to conduct than other systems? Not necessarily. Each accurately scoped and well-thought out technology project will reveal its own challenges and complexities. There is no implement-by-numbers guide that will apply to all software. Understanding the unique requirements of each solution type and their ramifications will help you plan better for implementing and adopting new solutions, and deliver more business value once the system is up and running.