Part 2 of a 3 part series by Dane Peterson, Salesforce Field Service Practice Lead at Traction on Demand. Complete the series and check out more Field Service content.
If you read my first post on this topic — Salesforce Field Service (SFS): What You Need to Know to Get Started — then you already know Salesforce’s field service solution is designed to make your life (and the lives of everyone around you) a lot easier.
But how do you get started with Salesforce Field Service?
As with any digital transformation, you’re going to come across challenges and unexpected obstacles. While there are many considerations that need to be made in navigating the waters and ensuring the success of your project, we have identified the five things that will make or break an SFS project based on our years of experience as a Salesforce implementer.
1. Create Your Change Management Plan
Challenge: Traditionally, you gathered everyone in a room and taught them how to use the technology. Now, field service operations are dealing with a distributed workforce of small teams or individuals, so training is more difficult. Adding to the challenges of the process is the intricacy of the mobile platform itself, which alters how you distribute quick-access FAQs, help docs and training videos.
Solution: Start planning your change management early and account for this in your project budget and timeline. Train your workforce adequately and don’t assume your workers put the “tech” in “technician.” Consider how you are going to train and support your team. Road shows, office hours and change champions are all great methods for helping your users understand the new system. You don't want to finish your implementation only to learn that no one understands the technology!
2. Strategic Alignment Across Your Organization
Challenge: What do you want your SFS system to do? What functionality does your technician want to see? What does the accounting department expect from this project? How are you going to align all the competing visions? There are many questions that need to be thought out before the digital transformation can begin.
Solution: There are many players in field service, from the on-site technicians to the executive managers, so you need to create one vision that aligns with the overall business objectives. But identifying the strategy is just the first part. Then, you have to think about measuring your strategy to see where you can improve your processes. I suggest setting goals that are SMART: specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timely. SMART goals will provide a baseline from where you can start to measure your success.
3. Process Awareness from All Angles
Challenge: In field service, there are a lot of processes: inventory, case management, work orders, scheduling, quoting, invoicing and more. Then, there are the people that are involved in each process: technicians, agents, dispatchers, customers and others. The challenge is bringing them all together in a way that makes sense.
Solution: Start by spending time up front to define what these processes look like. You will discover how simple or, more likely, how complex your processes really are. Dive in deeper and explore the “what ifs” that are critical to your processes. A Salesforce implementer should be able to help you discover these processes, but if you come to the table with the homework done ahead of time you will save time and money.
4. Thinking “Out of the Box”
Challenge: Being asked “What do you want in your SFS solution?” by a Salesforce implementer is a long road to nowhere. This open-ended question will bury the project with complex wants that could require a lot of custom work.
Solution: While it is important to know what you want in your solution, ensure you understand what functionality you can leverage out of the box with low effort, while still following best practices. Then, figure out what you need to tweak. Going through these steps will likely result in some process changes for the better. A Salesforce implementer should be able to guide you through this conversation and help you understand these functionalities.
Sidebar: What used to be a request of “I want a map that shows all my technicians in a 10-kilometre radius, so my dispatcher can choose the best technician for the job,” may now be an explanation of “SFS uses rules and objectives to tell you who the best technicians in the area are to complete a particular job. You can either select from those top candidates or SFS can even choose for you. No map or complex custom UI required.” So there you have it: the beauty of SFS is in its simplicity and efficiency.
5. Focusing on What’s Most Important Right Now
Challenge: One of the biggest challenges we hear about is the time-to-value of these field service projects. Although all the above points play into this factor, another challenge is trying to cram too much into phase one of your project. If you limit the scope, at least at the very beginning, you can expect to be up and running and realizing value faster.
Solution: Ensure you create a proper foundation. Prioritize your day one needs. Think about what functionalities you truly need to operate and try not to go beyond that in the beginning. Do you really need to parse emails into auto dispatched work orders on day one? Do you really need to capture all 50 data points from your technicians on day one? Your answers may be yes to these questions, and that's fine, but prioritizing your needs will allow you to shorten the time-to-value immensely.
Ahem, So in Conclusion...
A Salesforce Field Service project can be an exciting and creative journey. I encourage you to explore the latest technologies, and research where the field service industry is going. If you are looking to bite into a project, make sure you have accounted for the general project aspects listed above, as well as those specific to your area of business.
Once you are ready, and with the support of an SFS implementation partner if you choose, ensure you focus on making educated decisions about what SFS can do out of the box—especially in the case of your data and business processes.