ClickSoftware | 03.14.17

A conflict of interest doesn’t just afflict shady politicians. It’s a daily fact of business operations— even among teams aligned to the same goals. Whether your company delivers field service or custom-made golf clubs, you will find someone is fighting this age-old battle: increasing investment versus reducing costs. Every area of your organization can have the best intentions for the business and customers, and can still find themselves at odds.

To Save or To Spend?

Productivity and efficiency methodologies compete for gospel status among various schools of thought, because every penny wasted is subtracted from your bottom line. You have an obligation to all stakeholders to keep operational or production costs low. Your investors deserve a maximum return on their funds. Your business should be cash positive enough to compensate employees fairly and consistently. And costs that are reasonable keep customers from paying high prices. But cost reduction can become an obsessive pursuit that, taken to extremes, could hurt business growth and customer satisfaction.

Cost-reduction agendas inevitably clash with substantial investment. Growing your business— be it through scaling up your workforce or extending your product line— requires investment. Customer satisfaction is not only non-negotiable in competitive markets. It's also an accurate predictor of share price. Meeting changing customer expectations and adhering to service level agreements (SLAs) means you can’t get by with the bare minimum workforce with the bare minimum qualifications. You get what you pay for.

Quality customer experiences and exceptional service require the right people, processes, and technology to support their delivery. They’re essential for a thriving service business, and provide tremendous returns on a smart investment.

5 Ways to Balance Conflicting Interests

When competing interests bring your business to an impasse, everyone loses. Use these five tips to guide your teams towards the right balance between supporting efficiency and growth.

  1. To develop policies and process that satisfy the most critical business and operational needs, your stakeholders need insight into both the long-term, big-picture aspects of field service, as well as the short-term concerns, balancing strategic and tactical requirements.
  1. Identify the non-negotiable constraints (defined by rules or SLAs) as well as areas with more flexibility. Avoid being reactive by anticipating scenarios where those non-negotiables must be more flexible, and define the criteria and process for bending the rules.
  1. Create multiple policies where more granularity is required, and flexible policies that accommodate more scenarios.
  1. Never stop measuring. Your service policies are living, evolving entities that must adjust to reflect the changing business constraints and goals.
  1. The right technology is critical to solving field service problems. But define your needs and processes clearly before seeking specific technology solutions.

Cost-reduction agendas must be balanced with intended customer service levels, growth desires, and ultimately, the intended corporate brand. Balancing the objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs) of various stakeholders is challenging, but a necessary process for maximizing the value of each decision around field service management.