There has been a lot of attention given in recent years to the need to automate field service and related logistical processes through the implementation of Enterprise Service Management (ESM) systems. Although the benefits from improved automation are well documented, there is still a segment of the market that is facing challenges to achieving measurable productivity and efficiency gains associated with key service performance metrics. This shortcoming is due in part to lack of integration between Field Service and Reverse/Service Logistics functions. The growing trend toward remote support combined with the increasing reliance on spare parts in the service resolution process, places even greater demands on equipment service providers to ensure their field service and related logistical process are both integrated and optimized. We conducted a survey among a cross representative sample of companies in the High Technology Service & Support Industry to validate these assumptions. Over 250 respondents participated in the survey. The survey results reveal a number of very interesting trends:
- Greater reliance on Remote Support: The survey results support the fact that more and more service requests are being resolved remotely without the need to dispatch a field service engineer. More importantly, a large percentage of these remote activities are resolved by sending a replacement part to the customer site.
- Best of Breed Solutions outperform Integrated Solutions: Despite the breadth of functionality found within integrated enterprise systems, our results indicated a higher level of satisfaction with Best of Breed solutions than with Integrated ESM platforms. We believe this is because best of breed solutions are more focused on the detailed processes and transactions involved in managing a field service and/or reverse logistics operation.
- Perceived Gaps in Reverse Logistics functionality: Many companies perceive their ESM solutions have gaps in the ability to deal with Reverse/Service Logistics issues particularly when it comes to depot repair activities.
- Integrated Automation is critical to success: The level of integrated automation between Field Service and Reverse/Service Logistics functionality has a direct impact on ESM effectiveness. More importantly companies with a high level of integrated automation perform better on key service performance metrics than those who do not.
In summary, our research findings reveal that companies who have been able to successfully integrate Field Service and Reverse/Service Logistics processes report a higher level of service performance than those who have not. The most effective integrated solutions are those that incorporate best of breed functionality for both Field Service and Reverse/Service Logistics processes. More importantly, the data reveal that these integrated solutions are not only highly effective in managing ongoing service requirements but essential to overcoming critical business challenges.
Michael Blumberg is a mamber of the management team at Si2 Partners, where a Si2 ON-Demand provides a fresh new approach for clients wanting to leverage services to win in industrial markets. He is a Field Service, Service Marketing and Reverse Logistics expert as well as President of Blumberg Advisory Group
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