Maintenance of equipment: how to stop “extinguishing fires” and count applications

Both warranty and post-warranty (post-sales) field maintenance is a complex technical process that requires compliance with technological operations and maintenance and repair regulations. This article will focus primarily on companies that manage mobile (mobile) personnel performing such work.

In order for a service company to remain competitive, when building an IT landscape, it is important to take into account not only “as is” (that is, today’s work processes) but also “to be” (the target model of the company’s work), which means that flexibility and scalability should be included in the chosen IT solutions.

Who I don’t know: my name is Andrey Balyakin, CEO of the company-developer of the catering service management platform HubEx FSM

In this article, I tried to collect the basic principles of “setting” the warranty and post-warranty service of equipment using automated systems of the FSM class (Field Service Management).

If you have embarked on the path of automating technical services, choose software that is capable of both supporting current processes and flexibly adjusting in the process of business growth and ongoing transformation.

Adapt to the system, it works correctly, and it is expensive to change it

This is partly true, but sometimes it is more expensive and painful to break an effective process built over the years. There are no identical companies, and the system that you choose to automate the warranty and post-warranty service should have flexible settings.

In addition, high competition is forcing the service business to continuously improve its processes. Therefore, the software should not only support current operations, but also allow the launch of continuous improvement processes at different stages of the company’s life, without requiring the involvement of developers to reconfigure the system.

Change or die

We hear the last two thousand some years. But change usually scares people, so if you can avoid changing work processes during automation and introducing new systems, it is best to avoid them. This is double stress.

It is much more efficient to first digitize the current process, accustom people to a new IT system, and then systematically change the process, optimizing ineffective stages and “tweaking” the system for improved service processes.

It is also important to avoid complications and radical changes. Water wears away the stone, including in the course of automation or changes in processes in the company.

Choose a growth solution

First, the software must be easy to customize without involving developers. Usually, to start work in the system, you need some settings, and for the subsequent fine-tuning, others.

Second, the system should help you build a measurable business. Those. provide an opportunity to analyze operational activities according to the system of key performance indicators (KPI).

Create your own service models so as not to compete in price

I would also like to note why it is important that your system be able to measure exactly balanced indicators, and not just some indicators. Let’s consider a classic case when a Helpdesk system is used for an on-site technical service, instead of a specialized FSM solution.

The indicators that are usually measured by helpdesk systems (status of requests, average response time for a request, etc.) do not make it possible to fully manage the work of service organizations.

For companies that provide field service equipment, it is important not only cope with the incoming volume of applications, but also

  1. Ensure the required level of equipment performance for the client,

  2. Minimize price struggles with fly-by-night firms that dump contracts. This is possible by creating new service contract models.

To do this, you need to be able to accurately calculate the profitability and cost of services in various aspects: by facilities, customers, equipment, types of work, performers, etc.

Example. Work on a subscriber scheme requires not only a transparent accounting of actually incurred labor costs, but also control of the cost of services for specific facilities or serviced equipment.

Accounting or accounting systems without major modifications usually do not provide such an opportunity. But even if your ERP system is able to calculate the cost of services for service objects or equipment, then it will need a source of actual data “from the fields”, which the FSM system should become.

Thus, a decrease in MTBF (mean time between failure) means that service costs will inevitably increase, and an increase in MTTR (mean time to repair) indicates potential customer dissatisfaction with the level of service.

The video shows examples of metrics that you need to be able to calculate to monitor the performance of field technicians.

Minimize and prevent staff errors

Another important point is the possibility such customization that standardizes equipment repair as much as possible, reducing errors and human error to a minimum.

For example, field technicians performing warranty or post-warranty service should:

  • Have customized checklists. Checklists can be different, depending on the specifics of your activity: by type of work, by service object or by equipment;

  • Be able to attach photos to orders when completing checklist items;

  • The system should not allow closing an application without observing the execution regulations and photo-video recording of the stages of work;

  • Quickly receive documentation or error codes of the serviced equipment from the mobile application of the system in order to navigate the necessary work and SLA requirements without delay.

Manage technical service instead of controlling order closing

On-site warranty and post-warranty service is not so much work with requests as ensuring the required level of equipment availability and maintaining the service level under the contract.

To do this, your IT solution must be able to:

  1. Structure the service process,

  2. Generate documents for customers – primary acts of work performed, invoices, accounting acts, service level reports, etc.,

  3. Automatically generate internal company reporting – technical acts on the performed service maintenance, reporting for managerial meetings, boards of directors, etc.,

  4. Partially “close” management accounting – to help calculate employee remuneration, control the volume of work performed by contractors, take into account the costs in the sections necessary for full-fledged management accounting (service objects, regions, specific pieces of equipment, contracts, etc.)

If you have an ERP, CMMS, WMS, CRM, accounting system, etc., then integration and data exchange with existing company software is a hygienic minimum for a modern FSM system.

Ultimately, you either switch to a managed technical service of equipment instead of the usual execution of orders, or your employees manually aggregate the data, and the volume of manual operations negates all the effects of system automation.

Make multichannel work for the business, not against it

Evaluate the capabilities of the software to collect all communications in one place. You can navigate by the checklist below:

  • What communication channels can be transferred to the system? What alternatives to accepting applications by phone are there? After all, it is no secret that the organization of a dispatch center that receives customer requests by phone is the most expensive channel for receiving applications.

FSM systems offer many tools for receiving applications from customers electronically: client portals, a customer’s mobile application, electronic equipment passports (filing applications by scanning a QR tag of such a passport with a camera of any smartphone), instant messengers with the ability to register an appeal directly in the FSM system, etc.

  • How is the possibility of communication with a technician organized without the participation of a dispatcher?

  • Is there an automatic geotracking by a field technician?

  • How is the distribution of requests by employees in the system organized: what does a calendar do, how are planned and unscheduled requests organized, are there any functions of an auto-scheduler?

  • How is the collection of photo and video materials organized upon request? Can you make it mandatory?

In custody

Above, I tried to collect only the key benefits that companies get by building a warranty and post-warranty service for equipment based on automated IT systems of the FSM (Field Service Management) class. If something responded, but there were not enough details – write in the comments or in a personal. I will definitely answer.

A full cycle of articles on the topic of field service automation is compiled by link and is constantly being updated. On our blog, we collect the best international and Russian field service management practices. Subscribe to our corporate blog HubEx to stay updated!

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