The Value of doing a Ride Along

How are your service operations doing and where do you see the improvement potential?

In facilitating many transformation journeys, we are privy to conversations with excutives and people in the field alike. In bridging everything in between we discover a wealth of ideas and point of views. The instrument we use: the ride along.

Going in the field

In many organisations it is common for a manager/ executive to “go into the field” as part of the onboarding process; to get to know the business. The ride along builds and expands on similar learning objectives.

“Staple” yourself to a service request, follow each step in the process and observe

Merging different views on the business

Because executives, managers and people in the field have different experiences and scope of responsibility each has a different appraisal of the state op operations. The ride along taps into the diversity of views to create a more holistic and shared business objective. In parallel the discussion facilitates understanding and buy in.

A ride along has the potential to transcend priorities and experiences across functional silos and hierarchies. A ride along creates mutual understanding and paves the way for adoption and value delivery.

Understanding the As-Is

Doing a ride along is literally observing a process end-to-end and asking tonnes of “why” questions. We find that people are often able to explain “what” they do and “how” they do it. Getting to the “why” is important as it gives insight into people’s understanding of what they do and how that links to their perception of the overall business objectives.

As a very important adjacent benefit we see that the ride along instrument creates understanding and appreciation between all functions and roles involved in your service operation:

  • Horizontal: a process is typically a relay of activities spun across multiple functions. By sharing ride along findings across those functions any sub optimisation behaviour can be tabled.
  • Vertical: on the one hand we see executives/ managers operate at a greater distance from day-to-day service operations while on the other hand people in the field may feel detached from the office. Exchange of ride along findings brings your people closer to each other.

We see that people are genuinely inclined to change for the benefit of another person once they understand the issues & objectives of the other.

Small things having a big impact

When asking why people work as they do today with an open mindset, we tend to hear loads of smaller improvement opportunities that typically don’t make it to executive level. In the field people talk and care about the small things. Considering that most operational people in the service domain are customer facing, ideas from those people often have a proportionally large impact on customer satisfaction and thus customer value perception. Thus, those ideas are a valuable addition to the big things priming the agenda of executives.

“My management has a different perception on how we do our work. We use all kind of work arounds to get work done. Small things could make us so much more effective”

Technician during a ride along (2019)

Repeat and Improve

Transforming your business is a journey requiring frequent check points to see if everybody is still on board and if the original value promise materialises. The ride along proves to be a valuable instrument.

Thus, at ServiceMax we encourage and assist customers to perform ride along ‘s on a repetitive basis. In the first ride along we establish a baseline and project a trajectory of benefit potential. In all subsequent ride along’s we observe how the customer is using and adopting ServiceMax.

The repetition allows you to see progress and make it visible to all stakeholders. The repetition also allows you to spot obstacles and mitigate them in a timely fashion. Finally, the ride along facilitates the dialogue to push the needle for continuous improvement.

“Our people now better understand how each plays a role in the bigger picture. As a result, they feel part of a team and have inspired each other to improve. We will do a ride along next year.”

Customer medical industry (2019)

This article is published in ServiceMax Field Service Digital on July 24th, 2020