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Field service management is presently evolving in many industries: Companies from the manufacturing, logistics and medical technology sectors, but also from the fleet rental and real estate industries, commission us to implement field service management projects. The objective is to improve the customer service experience with the help of software such as Microsoft Dynamics 365. A better organised field service is expected to boost customer satisfaction. Customers also turn to adesso when digitisation projects implemented in their service organisation have not delivered the desired results. In addition to the goals of optimising the productivity and costs of the company’s service organisation, added value is also expected to be created for (end) customers to prevent customer churn, for example.

A typical example of a Dynamics 365 for Field Service project is the digitisation of the service technician dispatch workflow. These projects therefore generally involve the interface between a company’s service organisation and its end customers. This is exactly where the direct interaction with customers takes place, which is why it has a decisive impact on whether the customer experience is positive or negative, which ultimately has significant bearing on customer loyalty.

In my view, the following five points are (often neglected) decisive factors for the success of a field service project. This means that they are often not adequately taken into account or enter the picture at a late stage. Therefore, these points are to be understood as a checklist that should be considered and adapted in every field service project in order to implement the project successfully.

1. Understand who you are and what makes you special

Service organisations usually focus on generic, necessary questions such as: What types of service cases occur most frequently and which are particularly important to my customers? This is certainly important, but you should also ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are we proud of?
  • What can we do better than others?
  • What could a customer say that would make us very proud? And what kind of feedback would disappoint us deeply?
  • Where can we improve?
  • What words and attributes do we want to be associated with in the market?

Answering these questions helps you become aware of what your unique selling points and core competencies are. This allows you to better take them into account when improving your field service processes.

2. Consider the customer experience and the customer journey in the analysis phase

Existing documentation of previously conducted audits or optimisation initiatives of the customer journey provide a very helpful foundation on which you should base your analysis. The introduction of a new field service management solution adds another variable to the communication context between the customers and the company. This should be seen and used as an opportunity for further optimisation.

In order to tap into the full potential of Dynamics 365 for Field Service, it is important to understand what end customers expect from individual services and how they actually experience them. For this purpose, you should analyse and document all customer contact histories. In this context, it is advisable to put existing business processes to the test, check them for automation potential and optimise them where necessary. It is important to include the customer’s point of view when analysing your service processes.

Find out...

  • how people move through the service process,
  • what your weak points are,
  • how you can remedy these weak points,
  • how to inspire people with services they don’t expect and
  • how you can surprise customers by delivering new value.

On this basis, you should examine the customer journeys and service processes for weaknesses and determine to what extent Dynamics 365 for Field Service can help to achieve optimisations.

3. Plan to use real-time data and analytics early on

One of the most useful and powerful features of Dynamics 365 for Field Service is real-time data. This not only gives service organisations the opportunity to see their operations processes in action, but also provides access to valuable customer interaction and process data that can be used to easily identify strengths and weaknesses.

The inventory and stock management capabilities in Dynamics 365 (directly or through integration with an inventory system) provide service staff with real-time insights into stock movements. This also makes accurate inventory and availability forecasts possible. The analysis tools included in the standard version of Dynamics 365 allows you to display both the ongoing processes and the inventory and stock movement data in the form of reports or well-structured dashboards. Right at the start of the implementation phase, you should define the most important key performance indicators (KPIs) to be tracked in order to achieve the strategic goals. These must be taken into account in data modelling and the integration concept to be developed in order to avoid time-consuming changes later in the project due to reporting requirements that have not been covered.

4. Mobile, mobile, mobile

How products and services are perceived by people critically depends on the employees who interact directly with customers in the field. It is therefore of great importance that all important information is always available to these employees. This access is typically provided via mobile applications. If you want to offer excellent customer service, the first step should be to ensure trivial things such as optimising routes, informing customers in good time and a personalised approach. These ‘small’ things should work smoothly before you move on to further optimising the service organisation with advanced intelligent planning tools and AI functions.

5. Plan holistically, start with an MVP

Start by defining a vision and corresponding strategy with a set time frame, and ensure this vision is supported by all stakeholders involved. After you have defined, documented and prioritised the core elements of the future solution, it is advisable that you set the scope. The complexity of FSM projects is often underestimated. Solution vendors suggest an image in which all relevant systems are ‘connected’ to the mobile end devices at the push of a button. In many cases, this does not correctly reflect real life. Project teams are often faced with technical challenges, such as multi-backend integration or multi-device support in an organically ‘grown’ IT system landscape. Companies and project teams should definitely take this into account when calculating the time and cost of the project. We therefore recommend you tackle the final solution in small steps that are ‘digestible’ for the organisation. Furthermore, achievement of these small milestones has a motivating effect on the team. The Minimal Viable Product (MVP) method has proven particularly successful in implementations of Dynamics 365 for Field Service. An MVP is the first, functional iteration of a product that is developed to the point where it meets the most pressing needs of key users with as manageable an effort as possible, thus enabling relevant feedback for subsequent development steps. It is important that you consider which components of the solution platform can achieve rapid success and added value for users and customers. After the first implemented modules have been made available, users can gain positive experience with the solution at an early stage. This approach usually leads to early buy-in to the solution and support for the project.

Conclusion

In implementation projects, the big picture is often disregarded because project stakeholders do not look beyond the end their nose (project-specific fields of knowledge). Reasons for this often include pressure from tight deadlines, lack of interdisciplinary competences, non-budgetary consideration or inadequate planning of the analysis stage. In addition, project teams too often think in terms of functions and features and forget to consider the processes to be implemented as part of the entire value chain. There is a lack of understanding and, more importantly, methodology to integrate the customer experience into the solution design in a Dynamics 365 Field Service implementation. In my experience, if the five points described above are taken into account as early as the project planning phase, this will significantly increase the probability of sustainable project success.

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Picture Marcel  Baron

Author Marcel Baron

Marcel Baron is a PMI-certified Project Manager (PMP) and Practice Lead Dynamics 365 Field Service in the Line of Business Microsoft at the Essen location. His activities include the analysis, conception and implementation of marketing, sales, customer service and field service solutions and supporting his customers in the digitisation of these processes.

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