Much has been done to advance the efficiency and effectiveness of field service delivery – smarter parts inventory management, intelligent routing and dispatch, improved ticketing, design for serviceability, remote service, mobile information access – the list goes on. With all these IT investments, you’d expect we all would have maximized field service technician productivity.
But we haven’t consistently achieved all that we can, and there is increasing pressure on productivity and profits. Service performance time and outcomes still vary based on individual technician’s skills and knowledge. Mobile devices and social media make it easier for techs to communicate with peers to get help and share tips, but most field service organizations don’t capture and exploit this expertise.
Collaboration happens every day informally, for some formally. But, exploiting collaboration to gain optimal productivity and quality means you can systematically:
- Capture innovative best practices from technicians as they happen
- Validate tips and tricks and rapidly distribute them to the field
- Improve the flow of information between the field, R&D, engineering, and product management
- Use best-in-class search to provide a single integrated answer to questions across all sources of information
- Provide distributors and VARs lightweight mobile access to the same integrated answers.
We call this systematic approach Closed-Loop Collaboration (CLC). CLC uses web-based tools and workflow for field service support, product management, and sustaining engineering to validate incoming tips and rapidly publish them to the field, often using information systems that are already in place but under-utilized.
Applied Materials (AMAT) implemented CLC using their existing SharePoint licenses. Technicians now collaborate in real-time through the same portal they use to search for service answers. A single search solution enabled techs to search all best practice, service records, parts lists, BOMs, and even legacy knowledge bases. The tight integration of collaboration and search cut 50% from the time required to find service information. It also allowed AMAT to close the loop between product managers, support personnel and engineering teams.
So what? Closed-loop collaboration helps drive consistent quality and consistently higher levels First Time Fix and Mean Time to Repair. Less variability means improved scheduling and reduced costs.
It’s time to level up! Closed-Loop Collaboration opens new opportunities to improve or outperform service levels, reduce warranty service costs, and increase profit from performance-based service agreements.