Building a business case for modern field service - CFO insights

Profile picture for user rgustafson By Rick Gustafson January 18, 2017
Do enterprise leaders realize how modern field service management tech can transform a business? Only if you tell them, says ServiceMax CFO Rick Gustafson

ServiceMax on iPad held by service technician 740px
As a service leader, you strive to stay at the forefront of technology and innovation to ensure your customers stay happy and you don’t lose them to competitors. If you come across a tool like field service technology that can not only improve your numbers, but also satisfy clients and make your teams more efficient, you know you’re going to do everything you can to put that system in place.

But it’s not always that simple. While this tech has tremendous potential to improve bottom line, make teams more successful and boost customer satisfaction, it also requires investment, time and buy-in from leadership to be successful.

As CFO of ServiceMax, a leading field service management (FSM) company, I’ve had a front-row seat to the profound impact modern FSM technology can have on a business. So for me, it’s an easy sell. Sure, I’m biased — but I talk to other CFOs and C-suite leaders every day. For the companies who have seen the best results with this technology, they have two key foundations in common. They focus on the business value opportunity, and they’re are committed to clear metrics. Here’s how to leverage those two main pillars to make the case for field service technology.

Focus on the business value opportunity

Depending on your business, the management of your company might not be familiar with field service technology’s potential to transform their business. As a service leader, you know the impact FSM technology has on organizations overall in terms of customer satisfaction, profitability and cost control — but they might not.

When having a conversation about the vast potential for this technology, educate your colleagues on the staggering benefits with real numbers and case study examples. Start having conversations with the executives about how your service organization compares to competitors long before you’ve selected a vendor. Engage in benchmarking exercises so you can see where your organization is ahead, and where there are opportunities for improvement. Giving leaders an early heads-up allows them to anticipate field service investments in their budgets, and allows them to give feedback and input on the process.

It may seem basic, but remember that executives care about making customers happy. Happy customers equal more renewals and more revenue. When educating higher-level leaders, be sure to emphasize that modern field service technology means satisfied customers who are more likely to renew service contracts or buy more products.

For example, take our customer, analytical instruments maker PAC. After implementing ServiceMax, its technicians now use iPads in the field to access information and collect signatures instead of the former clunky, heavy, slow laptops. The technicians appreciate having a new tool, it makes them faster and it looks more professional — which customers notice. Thanks to this efficiency, PAC’s profitability per service professional has increased by 6%, and the company reduced its job-to-invoice time from an average of 21 days to same-day invoicing. By improving its field techs’ efficiency, PAC has also seen customer satisfaction levels rise, too — and since rolling out ServiceMax in October 2015, PAC’s profit margin has risen 9%.

Support your case with clear metrics and goals

Field service technology gives greater transparency into dozens of metrics that executives are eager to improve — productivity, inventory management, efficiency and capital, among others. When making the case for FSM technology, spell out what those benefits would look like in your business to give leaders a sense of how an investment translates to business value.

This is an opportunity to use data to make your case. Present how your field service business performs in comparison to industry averages. Are you a leader or a laggard? Are your time-to-fix rates faster or slower than your next competitor? Are you managing inventory better or worse? Many FSM partners, like ServiceMax, will work with you to offer a complete view of how each solution can address those numbers that aren’t where you’d like them to be. They can also work with you to create sample numbers that show the margins you can improve and the revenue you can estimate once you make the investment in becoming an industry leader.

Here are a few examples that our customers have seen after investing in new tech. Biotech company Luminex improved same-day service call resolution rate to over 95% and boosted its customer satisfaction scores into the high 90th percentile. After implementation, optical equipment maker Topcon achieved productivity gains of more than 30% and increased its service revenue by 10%. Show your executives in real numbers what these changes would look like in your business.

Making the case for field service technology is a matter of translating the benefits in the field to the impact for your company’s customers and its bottom line. It will take a bit of education, some crunching of numbers, some practical conversations and some investment in forward-looking innovation, but – as your executives will see with this approach – the time to seize this business opportunity is now.