Last month I celebrated my five year anniversary working for a field service software company. Having had a prior history of 25 years in service delivery and service sales, many service transformation engagements have been a trip down memory lane. As former business leader I too sought for modern tools to replace my legacy business processes. When software vendors showed me their capabilties, they showed the happy path. As service-firefighter I knew that real life needed contingencies for not-so-happy.
You are special
When you’ve run a service organisation for multiple years, you’ve built a routine of tools and processes to get the job done. If, like me, you had limited access to budget, your business processes will be a hodgepodge of makeshift tools.
And then, either by design or by the turn of events, your company is in a digital and service transformation process evaluating standard software. The happy path looks great. It’s easy and it’s efficient. But something doesn’t feel right. Your business is more complex. You have many variants and exceptions. You are special.
Of course you can ask the software vendor to demo all those exceptions, but do you really want to re-create your legacy business processes with modern tools? Or, do you want to make use of the new tool capabilities to challenge your legacy processes?
Common global process
One of the big drivers for new tooling is standardisation. Not only can you rationalise your current IT-stack, you can also ‘clean-up’ the sprawl of business process exceptions. In transformation journeys I often hear verbage like ‘common global process’. When I do hear this, I try to understand how will employees and customers will benefit from a common global process.
Do customers want a standard one-size-fits-all process, or do they want a contextual transaction? Do employees want a business process that is cast in iron, or do they need a level of flexibility to address the unforeseen? This brings me to the theme of this blog: is the happy path really so happy or do we essentially need something different?
At the Copperberg Power of 50 event we talked about “managing the hybrid service paradigm”. If on the one end of the scale we have forces driving a common global process, then hyper-personalisation is pulling towards the other end. The good news is that technology can help us find the middle ground. One does not have to go at the expense of the other.
If we picture the blend of interests:
- Business and IT leaders want to exercise control over the execution of business processes.
- Employees need a level of autonomy in how they deliver their work to cater to expecting and vocal customers.
- Customer expect services to be delivered situational to their business impact … and those tend to fluctuate.
The above three actors operate in shifting contexts. Because priorities tend to change over time, we advise business leaders to enable and empower employees deploying contextual workflow beyond the happy path. Because it is beyond the happy path where friction, inefficiencies and dissastisfaction manisfests itself.
80% Global, 15% local and 5% situational
At the Copperberg Power of 50 event, we saw a video of service technicians Amy and Jake from DormaKaba. They talked about how every day is different, how they need trust and empowerment to get the work done. What this means? If we want happy customers and technicians, we need to abandon the belief in a happy path and move towards contextual business process behaviour.
Guiding many transformation journeys for our customers, we’ve seen we can strike a balance between business process standardisation and situational flexibility using modern workflow techniques. We call this 80% global, 15% local and 5% situational.
- Global: Despite the uniqueness of service businesses there is a core of commonality in business processes. This core will ensure that global leaders are able to roll-up the data for decision making purposes.
- Local: Instead of standardising everything, we have to be mindful that localisations exist for a reason. It’s often the commercial reality that a local product-market combination that dictates how we need to do business with those customers. Without localisations a company may not be able to do business.
- Situational: Echoing the words of Amy “every day is different”, we may have agreed upon a process, but in day-to-day operations we encounter unforeseen situations. Instead of responding with a freeze we need enable and empower employees to make informed decisions to maintain a flow, to keep the world running.
Adoption drives Value
The happy path is what any software tool can support. Implementing the happy path may even seem to be the preferred transformation path. The value-proof is in eating the pudding. When you deploy the happy path it is very likely you will encounter the adoption hurdles assosciated with local and situational variants. Needless to say: no adoption, no value.Thus, the way forward is to account for local, contextual and situational workflows. When you ask for your next demo, do ask to deviate from the happy path. Ask how the software facilitates the excpetions. What insights and visibility will be available to the users, such they can make informed decisions? Decisions that align with your overall company objectives.
This article is published on Field Service Digital.