Last week, we posted the first in a series of blogs around the importance of connecting your field service business across people, places and things. The following dives deeper into how to effectively leverage technology to connect your field service operations, from the back office to technicians out in the field, and drive efficiency through the entire organization.
The first step to making improvements in operational efficiency is making sure that you are able to provide the right information to the right resources. When we look at what customers prioritize when implementing new systems we see that nearly 50% of them regard integration as being an important consideration. This is not surprising given that the benefits of an integrated technology stack can have a big impact on how teams operate.
ERP & CRM Integration
Many field service organizations have already implemented either an ERP or CRM system (or both) and are curious about what benefits a dedicated service management system might provide - and what type of integrations might be appropriate. One way to answer that question is to focus on what data is needed to support each business function and which role in the organization is performing it.
A similar approach can be taken with the ERP system. The accounting team will be performing all of the financial transactions in that system and an integration strategy will ensure that you are not duplicating data entry or creating a data silo. The most common type of data to transfer here is invoice details; which most service management systems should be able to provide.The sales team will primarily be spending their time in the CRM system and in many cases the customer service agents will want to manage service requests there as well. Most CRM systems have established modules for handling this part of the workflow. Alternatively, it might make more sense to manage the service request in the service management system; this is especially true for situations where the service request has attributes that might not be easily tracked; such as when the asset is moving from site to site. In either case some data sharing will be required such as customer details, contact information etc.
Data Integration Strategies
When implementing a data integration strategy the best approach is to look at each step in the workflow and determine what data needs to be handed off. One thing to avoid is integrating data that does not provide value to downstream functions, as that just creates reconciliation issues. Web Service technology has made pulling data and extending workflows much easier than it was in the past. So, don't be afraid of an integration project, just ensure that you understand the objectives and goals clearly.
Creating a connected supply chain that runs through your entire field service operation can have tremendous benefits, not only in operational efficiency but also in the ability to provide high quality customer service.
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You can download the full version of the Field Service Insight Report 2016 here.
For more information on how to connect your field service operations effectively, download our Field Service Insight Report. Connecting other key components in the service supply chain, such as workforces, customers and intelligence from the field, is also addressed.