Enterprise software deployments are costly and complicated and come with significant risk. Gartner estimates that between 55 percent and 75 percent of ERP deployments fail to meet their objectives. In 2015, the Standish Group’s CHAOS Report claimed that just 29 percent of enterprise management information systems (MIS) projects were considered successful.
Field service management (FSM) isn’t immune to this level of disappointment. While the high rate of failure (or at least the low level of outright success) of enterprise software projects may be surprising, the underlying problem is fairly clear: organizations underestimate the effort required to prepare for the software deployment; they don’t do the proper due diligence on the quality of data or ease of system integration required; and/or they fail to properly define the scope of the project and obtain organizational support.
For field service organizations (FSOs) specifically, many organizations struggle to create and maintain complete, accurate, and consistent service operational data. They may fail to state clear operational objectives, or they don’t optimize existing processes in advance of the project. Without this preparatory work, these FSOs may fail to implement and maintain an effective FSM platform, which leads to suboptimal results across the larger organization.
In some cases, FSOs treat the input and quality of data that is needed to fuel the FSM system as an afterthought because they have incorrectly assumed that their own internal IT staff or the software vendor will manage that process for them. They may lack sufficient resources to take the proper time and attention to map current processes, validate existing data, and then help the vendor configure the new platform.
A Structured Approach to FSM
In order to satisfy growing customer expectations and meet the goals of their own executive management or ownerships, these FSOs need to adopt a modern field service management platform that enables the level of control, visibility, responsiveness, and efficiency needed to stay competitive.
Yet many service leaders have little idea where to start when it comes to improved data management, operational optimization, or successfully adopting and integrating a new software platform. In addition, the deployment process itself is highly disruptive. Stakeholders in key management and operational positions will be required to help create the software request for proposal, evaluate vendors and solutions, and then work with the chosen vendor for testing and training purposes, and to finally implement the system.
These factors can lead the FSO to rush the implementation, both to minimize the impact on productivity and to (in their minds) more quickly realize the benefits of the automated solution. However, because they have failed to thoroughly map out existing processes, identify the data needed for the new system, and validate the accuracy of that data, they might ultimately undermine the entire project. They could easily configure the new system to match old processes and wind up with disappointing results.
Consultative Guidance for a Successful FSM Deployment
FSOs need expert help that can offer broad and deep expertise that comes from implementing FSM software across a wide array of service organizations in different markets. The right FSM vendor will take a consultative approach, providing insight into how industry-leading service organizations are leveraging the technology now, and offering guidance on how to optimize their operations prior to deployment to maximize results.
This is an opportunity to re-evaluate and optimize all current processes, cleanse and validate existing system data, and make a determination about which data doesn’t make sense to migrate over to the new solution.
In addition to process evaluation/optimization, the FSM vendor can assist with mapping their data to support these new processes and validating its accuracy. FSOs are overwhelmed with an increasing array of data sources related to the service lifecycle. The FSM vendor should help with converting this data into useful information that can feed into the new service management solution. As such, one repository of field service data should be created to provide a single system of “truth” of the client or job file. This enables the FSO to extract accurate business intelligence from the information.
A consultative approach to an FSM deployment should include:
- Identification of clear and quantifiable FSM deployment objectives
- Thorough mapping of current operational processes to identify and resolve bottlenecks
- Data mapping to identify and link data both from within and outside the FSO that will be required for these new processes
- Resolution of any data integrity issues prior to project launch
- Confirmation of the integrations between the FSM and any outside data sources or output targets (CRM, ERP, etc.)
This structured and consultative approach to adopting an FSM platform ensures that the FSO maximizes its return on investment in the technology. Rather than simply implementing new software, FSOs can work with tenured field service management experts to optimize the entire service lifecycle, establish a solid data foundation, and invest in the resources and time required to create a strong data infrastructure upon which the new system can be built.
Vice President of Service Delivery, Astea
Astea International is a global leader in field service automation and workforce management solutions across the entire service lifecycle. In the following interview, Astea’s Anil Gupta provides insight into his company’s approach to a best-practice-based field service management (FSM) software deployment.
What are some common challenges that customers face when implementing FSM software?
When we interact with new customers, or even existing customers, change management is something we really focus on – getting the internal organization to be receptive to looking at their service enterprise from a different more optimal vantage point is more crucial to the adoption of the solution than by simply making the proper configuration selections within the system.
It’s one thing to implement a solution and go through the sales cycle and review use case scenarios; it’s something else to work with executives and the end user community in the organization to ensure we are addressing their challenges and to provide a value-driven solution. We have to prove to them that their investment in time and energy to implement the software, cleanse the data, and work through the use cases and configuration selections in addition to doing their normal day responsibilities will make a positive impact to their roles and responsibilities.
You have to clearly define the value and purpose objectives of the implementation project as part of the project kick-off. Getting the buy in from user community early in the journey will significantly reduce solution adoption resistance throughout the implementation journey.
In what way does Astea approach FSM software implementations that is unique from other providers?
One key differentiator is our ability to leverage the years of experience from both our technical and business consulting teams. The customer can leverage their expertise to validate and improve their business processes and get to a more predictable outcome.
We also focus on taking a phased approach for the deployment which gives the customers a faster time to value. Taking this approach also helps to drive the adoption of the solution as well. It’s important that we not only understand our customers’ immediate needs, but also their long-term strategic goals because what is right for an organization at the moment might need to be refined as their business grows and evolves.
We discourage customers from making customizations to the core platform as it drives up cost and lengthens implementation time and with so many industry best-practices built into the platform, it benefits our customers to tailor their processes to our tested and proven capabilities. That is also why we built the customizer feature, to empower our customers to make further modifications and enhancements to the platform quickly and easily themselves.
At Astea, when does the company’s professional services team get involved in the selection cycle?
As the Vice President of Service Delivery, I get involved in the latter part of the sales cycle when the prospect wants to understand what the implementation journey will be. I talk to them about the implementation philosophy and approach, and the key resources that are needed to achieve a successful deployment. I often include other members of the service delivery team in the discussion to share their experiences and recommendations.
What team members are typically involved in the implementation process?
On our side we have business and technical consultants, a project manager, and an executive sponsor. This core team of resources can then bring in other resources from our shared operations team as needed.
From the customer perspective, we look for comparable roles on their side – a functional subject matter expert for each module (dispatch, contract administration, inventory management, etc.). We want to involve an SME who lives and breathes those processes and roles. As an example, you’ll want the field force manager to make decisions for the Mobile Edge deployment. Having this person driving the configuration selections will ensure the practical real-life scenarios are being addressed.
The customer will also want an executive sponsor to reinforce the vision, objective of the initiative and to deal with any escalations or executive decisions in a timely manner.
Can you describe the roles of the business consultant?
The business consultant focuses on working with the operational team to review and understand their business requirements, objectives, business challenges and opportunities that the deployment of our solution must address.
They take an agile approach with customers to make configuration selections. As the customer is providing insights, the business consultant will refine the setup of the application and the customer can see their data and workflow successfully appearing in the solution. They can walk through that workflow themselves and gain confidence and comfort of the solution meeting their objectives.
The business consultant is actively involved during the design and configuration phase and works closely with customer SMEs during the user acceptance testing and during the go-live preparation and rollout stages.
What other processes does the business consultant go through with the customer?
Based on our experiences, customers would like to implement the solution as quickly and efficiently as possible while maximizing the value proposition within their operations. The business consultant leads the design and configuration selections sessions to meet the scope and expectations as reflected in the statement of work. Any new requirements are reviewed and validated for business impact or value and for the potential impact to project timeline or budget. As new requirements and business scenarios come up, they are constantly probing – what is the value and necessity? Is it going to impact the scope and timeline of the original implementation?
If it does, the broader implementation team makes the decision to move forward with the change and in which phase of the deployment to introduce this additional effort.
What about the technical architect?
The technical architect is there to provide technical training to the customers’ technical team and to deal with data integration needs to external systems. The business consultant defines workflow and processes required of the solution. The business consultant will then work with the technical architect to determine the optimal way to exchange data from external systems to complete the workflow. The technical architect will then work with the customers’ technical team to build and configure that integration to the external application and also participates in the go-live preparation and rollout stages.
They also provide training on the data structure and models so that they can build operational reports to meet the customers’ needs.
How has this approach to development and deployment benefited customers?
The customers get a focused implementation experience that ensures that the desired value and functional objectives are met in a predictable and efficient manner. We focus on empowering the customers with the knowledge and familiarity of the deployed features and functionality available within the solution. The customers benefit by streamlining the configuration selection process and by being guided by the highly experienced consulting team on how best to solve complex workflow or processes requirements.
FSM solution deployments require more than simply installing software and issuing mobile devices to field service technicians. For organizations to fully realize the potential benefits of these systems, they must evaluate their own internal processes, identify relevant data sources, ensure that the data is accurate, and then create reliable integrations with other business systems. In many cases, these FSOs lack the internal resources to complete the necessary pre-installation work – and are disappointed in the results.
By working with an experienced implementation team like that provided by Astea, field service organizations can improve their results thanks to the insight that Astea’s business and technology consultants have gained from service companies across different vertical markets.
Astea has also forged partnerships with implementation and integration partners to help facilitate this highly structured, process-centric approach to FSM deployments. For example, Astea has added YASH Technologies to its solution implementation partner network. YASH can supplement an internal implementation team. Thanks to this type of partnership, Astea can not only take advantage of its own industry-specific expertise in enterprise platform integration, but also offer the resources and experience of partners like YASH.
Leveraging the operational and technology best practices gleaned from these market leaders, combined with a structured, consultative approach to deployment, can help accelerate an FSO’s digital transformation processes and ensure a successful FSM deployment.
About Astea International
Astea International is a global leader in field service and mobile workforce management, including all the cornerstones of full service lifecycle management: customer management, service management, asset management, forward and reverse logistics management and mobile workforce management and optimization. Astea technology helps the world’s best service-driven companies generate higher profit while properly balancing customer satisfaction and service levels through proactive communication that creates a seamless, consistent, and highly personalized experience at every customer relationship touch point. Astea’s solutions unify processes, people, parts, and information to focus the entire organization on the creation of sustainable value in highly competitive, global markets.
www.astea.com. Service Smart. Enterprise Proven.