Fundamental Principles that Must be Applied to Driving Remote Service Adoption

Featured in Field Service News – July 2022

As any service management leader who has implemented a technology solution will attest, driving user adoption is the fulcrum of whether the project is a success or failure.

The introduction of new technology within the service operations chain can often fail to hit the predicted return of investment, not because the tools or systems were inadequate to do the job but simply because the user adoption remained poor.

Of course, proper change management will help drive user adoption of any new technology. If done correctly, the shift in overarching business strategy that the effective adoption of remote services as a dominant part of the service portfolio requires will also establish core processes that drive user adoption as a natural bi-product of that change.

However, we still want to ensure that the transition from on-site to remote service being the primary mode of service operation is as painless as possible. To achieve this, we need to ensure that user adoption of the technology is fast and widespread.

History shows us that for any technology to be quickly assimilated within business operations, it needs to be effortless to use. Introducing a new technology that is seamless to use, that is intuitive, and that makes the end-users life easier will always have a greater chance of securing high adoption rates within a shorter time frame than a technology that is complicated to get to grips with.

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Similarly, it is also crucial for the end-users to understand why technology has been introduced and, in the case of remote service, why such a significant evolution in the way the business approaches service and maintenance is being undertaken.

“The most important thing is to outline the vision,” states Laszlo Szilas-Neff, Head of Service in Cluster East Europe & Hungary, Konica Minolta

“What is it that we want to do? Why do we want to establish remote as default? How do we achieve this, and what benefits will doing so bring? Once we have identified that strong vision of what we are setting out to achieve, we can break things down into more manageable aspects to understand.”

It is through a process of clearly identifying the vision of the company at the senior level that the various layers of operational management were able to articulate what this vision meant for the multiple stakeholders within the business.

This includes outlining to the front-line field service engineers the changes that would be coming, why these are important for the business as a corporate entity going through a necessary period of evolution and then perhaps most importantly how these changes would impact the field service engineers themselves and what the benefits of adopting these new tools and processes would be for them.

As Cranny explains, “It is not just about the service business. It is about all the different areas of the business and explaining the why.”

“When it comes to the field service teams, explaining why is absolutely vital,” he adds. “You are going to have to take some of your field service technicians as specialists and put them on the remote service desks, and the first thing they are going to do is slow down because they don’t want to take the work from their friends who are still in the field. So what you have to do is explain the why and what the why looks like.

“You have to explain to your field service technicians that the world is changing and the way their role will change. We traditionally, as an industry, viewed the world as ‘you are x-type of an engineer, you are a y-type of engineer, but in today’s world, we have to teach our engineers to be engineers of everything; they need to be generalists and then we have to get our specialists to support them from the remote desks.

“If we explain this correctly to our existing field service engineers and technicians, we can communicate that we are not moving to a position where we are removing their jobs. Instead, we are enhancing their jobs.

“Explaining the why, allowing the engineers to understand that why better can, in many ways, even allow for the ‘how’ to be shaped by the field service workers themselves. For example, like most companies in the field service sector, we face a challenge with an ageing workforce. Yet, what is to stop an engineer on the fringe of retirement, easing down to three days a week logging in remotely to support those field service engineers in the field as well as customers, rather than spending five long days on the road every week?

“This is a win-win. The engineer gets a better work-life balance at a time of life where they may not want to be spending so much time away from home, while we retain that the talent, knowledge and expertise within the business.”

As Cranny alludes to, ultimately, in any change management process, you need to win the hearts and minds of your colleagues right across the business and having a clearly defined vision of the change you would all be undertaking together is a vital first step towards achieving that.

Having then established and articulated the vision, Konica Minolta as an organization was able to develop a change management strategy that was based on three foundational pillars – organizational, technological and collaborative.

As Szilas-Neff explains, “the first of the three pillars we built our strategy around was organizational. We needed to understand our organizational structure better. We needed to identify who would be undertaking the remote service delivery? Then we needed to sit back and establish the driving motivational aspects for that team and map out how we would be tracking their performance.

“The second pillar was the tools we would utilize for remote service delivery. For us, we developed our own tool internally, but we still had to establish how we could measure the usage.

“It is not just enough to have the tools available; they have to be used, so we made our second pillar not only identifying and implementing the technology but also how and when it was to be used.

“The final pillar was to ensure that this was seen across the business as an endeavor that needed to be embraced. This needed to be seen within the business as something that impacted the whole organization, not just as a project that was only related to the service department.

“We realized that we needed to establish a remote service as a default mindset for the whole organization – which included marketing, sales, senior management – basically, it has to be a mindset that runs from the factory throughout the entire business,” he added.

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