Paul Whitelam | 05.29.17
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In today’s technologically advanced world, an organization relying on outdated tools is at a disadvantage against better-equipped rivals. But making the case to the decision-makers can try the patience of even the most stoic field service managers.

As a manager, you know that field service management (FSM) software is now essential to delivering streamlined, effective services. That, in turn, keeps company costs low, customer satisfaction high, and new business coming your way – all critical to maintaining a competitive advantage. You also know that to keep that edge, you need to call upon the newest features.

But this may require that your organization make a change – rarely a welcome situation in business. Your job is to connect the dots for your higher ups, helping them see that the value of this change will make it worthwhile. Here’s a step-by-step guide for doing just that.

Step 1: Align with Strategic Goals

You need to identify, evaluate, and select the right software for your business, and support that with a strong business case. To make the optimal choice, you need to find the solution that can best help your company achieve its field service goals. But it’s critical that you align these with bigger organizational objectives.

For instance, if a company priority is to reduce costs by a certain percentage, how much of that is field service expected to contribute and what are your options for cutting costs? Will a new solution help you better track and process work requests? Will it enable you to increase your first-time fix rate? If a top company goal is to increase customer renewal rates, can a solution help you put more power in the hands of your customers or streamline the entire process, from reporting a problem to paying the invoice? Changes like these that help deliver better, faster service can dramatically impact customer satisfaction ratings.

Be sure to understand the order of priority for your company’s top goals. By doing this and aligning strategic organizational objectives with field service goals, you can use a set of key objectives and associated metrics as a guide during your solution evaluation.

Step 2: Do Your Homework

Your next step is evaluating your options. Engage your IT group early as a key participant. This will help ensure you address their requirements and avoid IT resistance later in the process. Plus, IT can become a convincing ally as you make your case to the executive team.

User adoption will be a key concern for both you and your management team, make sure you clearly understand your team’s needs and preferences for FSM tools. It’s a given that you will need support for mobility and cloud-based access to effectively support your team in the field. In addition, it’s important to choose a deployment model that is most fitting for you. Beyond that, focus on the features needed to enable your team and best serve your customers. Few businesses make use of every feature available in a software solution. What’s important is making sure you get key features needed most, with the option to customize if necessary.

Rank how well each solution will support your team and can help you reach your strategic goals. Then ask the top vendors to help you calculate the potential impact of their solution on your key metrics.

If possible, solicit the participation of a field service team member to help vet solutions once you narrow the list. Better yet, run a small trial with a subset of users before making your final decision.

As you narrow your options, be sure to assess the vendor along with the software. Find out how long the software has been available, how much of the vendor’s attention and R&D is dedicated to it, and the experiences of other customers. Understand support options and meet staff you would interact with as a customer to ensure a cultural fit. Assess how well the vendor has kept pace with the market and even introduced innovations, and ask about its vision going forward.

Step 3: Make Sure Your Numbers Pass Muster

Ultimately, your executive team cares about numbers. It’s why you needed to be clear on key goals and metrics before starting your evaluation. As part of your business case, you’ll need to present how the solution will help your company reach those KPIs. But it’s even more important to share a cost-benefit analysis. In other words, you need to demonstrate that the benefits justify the cost of the solution.

Once you have established a solid case, ask your CFO to review the numbers and, hopefully, give you at least a cautionary go-ahead. The good news is that field service is increasingly playing a critical role in the customer experience, which is directly tied to revenue. That means you shouldn’t need to work hard to get the CFO to consider and weigh in on your plan.

Step 4: Craft a Compelling Case

Now it’s time to document the key findings of your evaluation. Remember: you’re not selling software to the executive team. All they care about are the results the solution can deliver and the ultimate value of the investment. With that in mind, write in a language that matters to the leadership team. Explain your preferred choice and justify your selection. Focus on presenting the facts of your assessment, and be prepared to articulate the risk versus ROI of going with your recommendation.

Highlight the ways that you and the vendor will minimize the impact of change, and be sure to underscore how the deployment will positively contribute to the company’s strategic goals.

By approaching your project in a methodical manner, focused on convincing the decision makers of the value of this change – in their language – you will be well on your way to deploying powerful new FSM software.

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