The success of any technology solution implementation within an organization depends on how humans interpret and accept the technology and its functions. In the case of mission-critical implementations like field service management (FSM) solutions, a strong change management strategy is necessary to win the buy-in of the users—who will ultimately determine the value and adoption of the technology.
Some organizations might be running their field service operations on fancy Excel spreadsheets, home-grown solutions, or on-premise scheduling solutions that haven’t been upgraded in 5-10 years. Though new technology would likely make operations more efficient and cost effective, it’s difficult to undertake and adapt to such a colossal change. Typically, the users who have grown accustomed to current processes are most likely to resist these implementations.
But many organizations have made this transformation—some as radical as going from paper to fully automated optimization solutions. While they’re no simple feat, successful implementations are accomplished through a clear strategy and deliberate actions to get employees excited about new technology.
So how do you get planners, dispatchers, supervisors, and field technicians excited about new FSM solutions? Follow these steps for successful change management.
1. Sell It Internally
Change management is a lot like a sales process. To get people on board with the new field service management solution, you have to sell it internally. As the users of the technology, your employees will be impacted heavily by the implementation, and will have a lot of questions:
“What’s in it for me?”
“What’s wrong with the way we’re doing things now?”
“Why can’t we keep doing things the way we have for the past 10 years I’ve worked here?”
Of course selling to your employees isn’t as simple as saying the new solution has “this cool feature” or “that cool future.” You must demonstrate the value of the product for each user group, and show how it addresses their pains and helps the organization as a whole. Otherwise, without any real benefit or value to employees, why should they support such a drastic change?
In the case of a new fully automated and optimized FSM solution, you could explain how the solution is meant to simplify scheduling, increase workforce efficiency, and allow for more focus on customers.
2. Designate Ambassadors of Change
Selling value to your entire field service organization might be difficult if you haven’t actually been in your employees’ shoes. Sure, you know the new solution will simplify processes and improve the bottom line, but do you know what pains your employees experience each day?
Begin by getting buy-in from a small group of tenured employees in each user role—planners, dispatchers, technicians, and supervisors. Having been in field service for a while, they know the business and have experienced the pains more than anybody. They might even be more willing than newer employees to accept changes if they understand how the new technology will make their jobs easier.
Once on board, this team of tenured employees can be your ambassadors for the change. They’ll be better equipped to deliver the message because they have personal, real-world experience that you, the vendor, or any consultant would have. Plus, other employees can trust and relate with them.
For instance, a field technician with 20 years of experience might speak to a colleague and say, “You know how when we come back to the office, we have to shuffle through our paper work orders that are all over the car? Sometimes you can’t even find one, and it’s so frustrating because you know you had it just a few minutes ago. Well, that headache is gone now because we get mobile devices that sync automatically.”
This is a powerful statement that goes much further than a consultant saying, “You no longer need paper!” to which the techs might respond, “But we like paper!”
3. Involve Employees During Implementation
Don’t leave your employees out of the loop. There should be a representative from each user group (likely your team of ambassadors) in each of the requirements and design workshops, and throughout implementation testing. And they should each have a say in how the solution is configured. And not only because they will have valuable insights to provide as users, but because it will put the rest of the organizations’ minds at ease knowing that their trusted team members are part of the process.
If you exclude the key users in the process, you risk employees feeling that business operations and IT are building something that won’t work for them. This will only make them more resistant to change. Likewise, knowing that they had a say in the new solution might make them more willing to accept it.
4. Show the Technology Early On
Your employees probably won’t like it if you drop a massive change on them—like implementing an FSM solution—without warning. Employees appreciate visibility into the organization, and generally want to know sooner rather than later if there are going to be any major changes.
Make an announcement early on and be sure to involve your ambassadors in this process to communicate the pain points the solution addresses. Coordinate webinars and present demos during company conferences or town halls. Also get your vendor involved in the process to set up environments, answer questions, and represent the solution.
These announcements and demonstrations will likely be followed by some office chatter, so it’s key that the solution is positively received.
5. Start Small and Communicate Wins
When implementing a solution this big, it’s best to plan for a phased roll-out. You don’t want to overwhelm your organization with a change so massive. Start with a small pilot group of your ambassadors and any other employees who seem excited and willing to embrace the new technology.
Be sure to communicate success to the rest of the organization throughout the pilot—no matter how minuscule it may seem. Even a small win can draw a big crowd. Once word spreads about success with the new solution, more groups will be willing to join in.
Ultimately, an organizational change this large relies on the participation and acceptance of the people affected most by it. Even a mandate from the executive team won’t work if the organization is not willing to embrace the new field service solution. Truly successful adoption starts with communicating the value of the solution to the organization.
For more change management best practices, visit the ClickSoftware blog.