One of the biggest challenges in the field service management space is the balancing act between customer expectations, customer satisfaction, service quality, productivity, and continuous improvement.
Service operations managers have a lot on their plate and before seeking help from an FSM solution, they need to obtain a deeper understanding of the underlying principles that come with operations management. Let’s dive right in.
What is Operations Management?
Operations management is the optimization of business processes through planning, organizing, and supervising human resources, raw materials, tasks, and projects in order to improve productivity and deliver a world-class service.
The goal of a service operations manager is to make the life of employees as easy as possible, helping them reach maximum productivity. The importance of getting this part of the business is crucial. No matter the sector or size of a company, mastering supply chain management is key to the overall success of the business.
Service managers are being asked to make operations decisions on a daily basis with many moving variables affecting their decision-making process. New employees, new projects, delays, deadlines, developing customer needs, capacity planning, and quality assurance are just some of the aspects of service management they need to take into consideration when trying to do their job.
Deciding based on instinct, experience, or gut feeling is not a sustainable way of building successful businesses. Service operations managers need a framework, a blueprint they can follow in order to create a consistent general management style.
The following principles were originally presented by Randall Schaeffer, an experienced manufacturing and operations management professional at an APICS conference. APICS is the leading US association of supply chain and operations management.
10 Principles Service Operations Managers Need Follow
Operations management needs to employ a holistic, end-to-end outlook on the needs of the company. Don’t focus on one tool, one project, one solution. Your problem-solving approach should always seek to fix service processes that affect the company at scale. Principles like training, product and process design, and service operations strategy are areas you need to pay close attention to if you want to be a better service manager.This principle is titled reality as most service operation managers get sucked in the daily struggles of their profession, forgetting to take a step back and see the real challenges holding them back from meaningful changes. Managing service operations is a multi-faceted job and tools are of great help but don’t think for one second that a tool can solve all problems at once.
Field service organizations share similar characteristics, such as the interconnection of their departments. Technicians need direction from service managers, service managers need to be constantly improving service delivery and service delivery should always seek to offer a better customer experience.
This chain of events wouldn’t be possible without consistency, planning, and a solid structure. This is where tools like Frontu come into place. The ability of our solution to centralize data and service processes such as customer information, task creation, scheduling, and management, equipment maintenance details, invoicing, and manager-technician communications allows service operations managers to save time, and stay on top of things.
Can you imagine having to jump between different software, folders, printed documents, emails, phone calls, and text messages in order to access this data? Leveraging information technology elevates the organizational part of service operations management and allows you to focus on making decisions rather than fighting to manage everything.
Knowing when to ask for help and what are the roadblocks holding you back can prove to be the difference between success and failure in service operations management. Yes, a can-do attitude is great, and trying new things shows a proactive, creative mind, but the reality of the situation is that there is little to no room for trial and error in the services sector.
Improving service delivery and customer satisfaction is a continuous and arduous process that requires continuous improvement. This is something you can’t really do by yourself and having the humility to seek help when necessary will go a long way.
This help can come in the form of new tools or new hires. Frontu is a great place to start looking for such help as it can digitalize your entire service operations management cycle, simplify your process design and instantly impact the customer experience.
Success is often measured in market share or hitting specific financial goals and while that is perfectly ok when you look at what success really is for service providers, it all comes down to the customer. Keeping your customers happy and enjoying high customer loyalty numbers is what drives the business forward and what will make you a successful service operations manager.
To reach success, your mindset should always be focused on how to build a customer-centric field service business.
Creating a sense of urgency amongst your team is another critical service concept. Your role as a service operations manager is to create a set of rules and metrics that guide technicians on how to do their job. This framework is meant to motivate your team and keep them accountable for the effort and quality of their work.
At no point do you want to micromanage, or pressure your team. The goal is to create a map with checkpoints they need to hit in order to stay on track with the overall business goals.
Getting to the root of the problem is a skill that every good service operations manager should possess. Solving a problem does not necessarily mean you addressed the symptom or cause it has led to its creation. What you truly want to achieve when presented with a problem is finding what caused it in the first place and stopping it from ever happening again.
Going back to the principle of reality, problems are not one-time events but recurring events, thorns that hurt your business over the long run.
In operations management, the Pareto Rule of Efficiency (aka the 80/20 rule) is applicable as 80% of success will come from maintaining current processes while 20% comes from applying new techniques to the processes.
What if you could keep current processes but at the same time bring the necessary change you need in order to better address customer needs? Frontu does not necessarily change what you do, it just helps you to do it faster, better, and more efficiently.
Change does not always mean completely scrapping things and starting over. Small tweaks and minor adjustments can be the difference-makers for better service management. Digitalizing your fundamental service operations with Frontu can help you manage your team in real-time, get more out of your employees, and help you deliver higher quality management.
Even when they have achieved a relative level of success and automation, service operations managers can never sit back, relax and rest on their laurels. This is a profession that requires the constant reinvention of doing things. Fresh ideas, new service models, and novel processes will always be part of your job description due to the dynamic nature of the job.
Projects evolve and so do customer needs. Frontu is a perfect example of what a service operations manager would use today that would have never even thought of using a few years back. Staying on top of trends and new technologies is something service operations managers need to be doing to address the variance of work they have to deal with.
Passion does not show up in balance sheets, quarterly reports, or investor presentation decks. It’s an intangible quality that is equally, if not more important, than other parts of the business. A passionate and motivated workforce is the key to success for any field service management business.
No matter how good your tools, your operations plan, or your business goals are, everything starts and ends with passionate field service technicians. Your job as a service operations manager is to create that sense of teamwork, togetherness, and ambition. Have one-on-ones with your employees, organize team gatherings, talk about things outside of work and show genuine interest in their long-term ambitions.
Much like the section on variance, this section is about embracing change. Field service management is undergoing a fundamental change and if you still haven’t jumped on the bandwagon, it’s time you do. Digital FSM is here to stay and Frontu is the ideal, one-stop shop to transform your service operations. We know change might sound daunting but we are here to help you ease the transition. Do not hesitate to contact us and explore all the ways we can help you be successful.
Being an operations manager in the field service management industry comes with its own set of challenges. In order to navigate these waters, you need a fundamental philosophy to start building your action plan on.
These 10 principles will help you be a better manager and subsequently enable your team to be more productive.