Co-author: Joe Kenny
It is an age-old dilemma for Operations Managers. Your CEO wants XX% revenue growth, your CFO wants XX% cost reduction, your CRO wants better references and higher NPS scores, and you are supposed to deliver all of this with zero additional investment, because – of course – you have been doing this for years with no additional cash, so why would you need it now?
To top all of this off, you had very little idea of where you stood, operationally or financially, at any given time. And this was due to the fact that access to real-time data, a current view into work in process, and accurate financial information was all impossible to come by.
Historical Challenges for Service Operations
I often speak at conferences and participate in webinars, and I often relate this anecdote – in March I would lay out my operational plan, based on the most recent P&L statement I had received (January’s), intending to address performance weaknesses I had uncovered. My team would execute the plan and in May I would receive my March P&L to see if the response to January’s performance shortfalls were successful or not. It was madness.
Now, layer onto that, the fact that 30, 60, 90-day invoicing accruals were also Operation’s responsibility, even though we had an AP department. This process greatly impacted both revenue and cost, as the cost of service was consumed, but the associated revenue may not have arrived in 90 days.
Impact of Digital Transformation
Fast forward to today, and service operations managers have been given a lifeline—digital transformation. Digital transformation can be like a light switch, illuminating what is happening in real time, allowing service operations leaders to adapt to circumstances immediately. They can reallocate precious resources instantly, validate payment status and credit status prior to service delivery, and see and understand the impact of operational plans in real time.
Digital asset and service management platforms can provide real-time performance measurements, both foundational and top line. This includes data round first-time fix rate, mean time to repair, mean time between failures, and equipment uptime. With this data, operations managers can organize and drive for peak utilization of labor resources while ensuring that the training and quality of work are optimal. This then increases the efficiency of their organization and lowers the cost to deliver excellent service.
With today’s technology, service operations are finally on par with our commercial partners and can see and act on upsell, cross sell, renewals, and service contract extensions instantaneously. In addition, we can support sales by identifying and helping them target competitors’ equipment for targeted replacement. We are the eyes of the commercial team on the customer’s location.
Newfound Financial Control
Utilizing a digital solution allows for real-time tracking of labor, parts consumed, travel, and any other costs associated with a service call, regardless of whether it is a T&M call or in support of a warranty/service contract entitlement. This is a key advantage that enables service operations leaders to manage labor and parts expenses far more granularly. In addition, they can evaluate the revenue associated with the service provided to validate if the pricing is correct based on their revenue and margin targets.
This ability to understand the Cost to Serve on an asset or entitlement agreement in real time is a huge step forward for service operations. It gives them the data they need to truly align entitlement pricing, cost control, operational efficiency, and productivity to accurately manage and forecast their performance and address fundamental issues that are obstacles to achieving their own performance objectives.
The evolution of equipment and asset service management platforms has greatly assisted service operations professionals in attaining the insight, visibility, and control that their commercial and financial counterparts have enjoyed for decades. As asset and equipment maintenance and service becomes a larger part of most organizations’ revenue and margin contributions, it is important that they equip teams with the technology that enables them to better manage and control their operations.
This article is published in ServiceMax Field Service Digital on November 2nd, 2021 and Field Service News on October 19th, 2021.