BRANDON BEALS, DIRECTOR OF DATA & ANALYTICS,...
Scott A. Roberts, Vice President, Logistics,...
Phillip Dana, Director Of It, Netafim Usa
ERICA FERRO, VP OF PRODUCT MANAGEMENT FOR CLOUD...
MO DASTAGIR, CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER, CRESCO LABS
As the world navigates through the COVID19 pandemic, dealing with the complexities of Social Distancing and operating a business, the Field Management Services (FSM) topic has become increasingly important. Having a robust set of solutions that allows you to deliver product and services to Customers while most of the country continues to stay in quarantine has become table stakes. Whether you have a product being delivered to your doorstep, an online order being picked up at curbside or you’re requesting for a service technician for your home appliances, you’re interacting with some form of a Field Management Services Platform.
WHAT IS FSM?
In a sense, it’s the technology platform that runs the engine to connect Orders and Service Request platforms to the people who fulfill them. Everything from assigning work orders to your workforce to dispatching, scheduling, and tracking inventory or people can be done by an FSM tool.
The best part of most FSM tools is the rich data and analytics that they
provide for you to determine where and what you can optimize in your Workforce Structure to service your customers or how to connect demand information to supply. They allow you to plan your workforce capacity by day, by hour, by specialty of job, by job duration, and in some cases, availability of certain components need to get the job done.
The FSM tool can also be used to locate your assets such as Trucks & Tools or manage tasks such as Invoicing, Accounting, Service Order processing.
WHERE HAVE I SEEN IT WORK WELL?
When I was a CTO at Sears Home Services, we had 7000 Appliance Repair Technicians, Nationally, on our payroll that we managed through an FSM Tool. Additionally, we had another 3000 Technicians that were available through our contractor network. We’ve used both Service Max and CLICK at Sears Home Services through the years and these tools allowed us to Schedule, Route, and Dispatch (SRD) support to our Technicians. The tools allowed identify and isolate our network’s Technician availability / capacity down
to a zip code level and allowed us to match it to Market Demand. Paired with location tracking software we could monitor where our Technicians were and we could use the FSM tool to provide turn by turn navigation support to our Techs.
The tool also allowed us to manage our network capacity at the most optimal level where the tool would set the schedules for Technicians the day before based on Availability of the Technicians against a Geographic code, Job Type Specialization (Washer / Dryer, Refrigerator, Cook Top, Dishwasher), Brand Type, Job Code Repair Duration, Availability of Certain Parts and tools based on Job Code as some of the many factors that went into the planning software.
The FSM tool was something we used to identify the open spots on the Technician’s Schedule and book jobs that keep productivity and customer satisfaction high.
Additionally, we were able to see dramatic improvements in some of our core metrics such as Customer Satisfaction, First Time Complete, On-time Arrival of Technicians, Reduction in Travel Time between Jobs, and Improvement of Productivity.\
WHY IS FMS MORE RELEVANT TODAY THAN EVER BEFORE?
With the stakes high and most businesses being survival mode, it’s important to determine how you’re going to operate your limited workforce to meet the varied demand from the customers. Customers are moving away from being able to visit restaurants and retail stores to order for pick-up or curbside delivery. This is where FSM platforms come in. There are usually SaaS platforms, that are very easy to deploy, plug, and play for Small-Medium Businesses and they take a ton of the guesswork out of the equation.
For integrations to Sales Order Platforms & Point of Sales Systems or
to Enterprise Platforms such as CRM & ERP Systems, most FSM tools come with modern API structures that allow you to integrate fairly quickly.
An FSM Tool makes the most impact in industries where they are field services to operate such as Repair & Installation Services, Delivery Services, Order Fulfillment (if you connect your Order platform to an FSM tool), and transportation services.
DOES IT MATTER AFTER COVID19?
The last 8 months are driving a foundational change in how customers consume products and services. These changes are going to stay for a much longer time after we are past COVID19 as people get acclimated to how to engage with their favorite brands or order their most-used services from a point of convenience rather than physically visiting a place. Yes, people will be out in full force once we get past the brunt of the Pandemic but after the initial surge in outdoor activities when things normalize people, people will fall back to the convenience of ordering products and services from the comfort of their home or picking up something curbside.
NOW THAT YOU KNOW, WHERE DO YOU START?
As an IT professional, the first thing you do is define your problem statement and then spend the time with your stakeholders to map out the requirements. Once you map out your requirements, spend the time to stack rank them based on priorities and impact on Key Business Metrics. Then you develop your key requirement user stories that demonstrate what metric you are trying to influence and why.
Each step of the way you have to make sure that the IT Team is connected to the Business team whose problem you are trying to solve. I cannot stress enough about stakeholder engagement
and expectations management. This is where most enterprise projects fail.
Once the Requirements and Problem Statement information is ready you can use it to build an RFP document and start your process of soliciting responses from potential solution providers and get more information on pricing. My advice would be to do some research online or through publications like CIO Magazine or Gartner to determine who to invite to your RFP.
Once you receive proposals and pricing information and you zero in on your top 1 – 2 choices, the final step is to develop a business case that connects the Total Cost of Ownership (Software License Cost, Implementation costs for Internal & External Resources, Change Management Costs and Hardware Costs) to Improvements in Key Business Outcomes such as improvement in Productivity, First Time Completes, Customer Satisfaction, Reduction in Travel time. The Business Case is crucial to understand the costs vs benefit of software deployment. The Business Case will give you your truth on what you should be doing next.
Once the Business Case directs you to move forward based on the math, you can start negotiating contracts with the potential solution providers on license and implementation costs. Most Software providers either do their own implementations or can direct you to one of their preferred vendors who can implement this for you.
Final comment, most software deployments don’t fail because the software itself is bad but they fail because either there was no upfront planning (requirements, user stories, and resources needed) or because there was no stakeholder buy-in. The software vendor has an inherent interest for their product to succeed so if you go in with a smart plan and you choose the right implementation partner to hammer out the right contractual conditions, you’re off to the races.