One of the most frequently misunderstood aspects of visibility is figuring out how to actually leverage it. In fact, when you improve your overall visibility, you may also uncover a fatal flaw lurking in your field service software that was, up until now, invisible.
It’s a little like the proverbial dog that’s always chasing cars and, one day, finally catches one. Now what? He can’t drive it, can’t eat it, can’t share photos of his victory on Instagram. As it turns out, there just isn’t going to be much of a payoff for his efforts.
Likewise, there’s often a disconnect that gets lost in the quest for visibility. Here’s the “catch”: Unless you have the ability to act on the information you’re surfacing as a result of improving your visibility, you might not move the needle on your ultimate goals very much. And field service operations can find themselves trapped by any number of constraints that prevent them from taking meaningful actions based on these new insights.
Such as? Here are two common constraints that can prevent you from acting on improvements in your overall visibility across your operations:
If You Can’t Fix It, It’s Still Broke
One of the most widespread constraints is the difficulty of making even simple changes to your workflows. Here’s a simple example: Your field technicians may be presented with many options to consider before identifying one as the best description of the equipment involved in the task they’re working on; as soon as they see a match, they can select that one and move on.
As a result of your better understanding of what’s going on in the field, you realize that the most common choice is the one you happen to present as the last item on the list. The upshot is that your field techs will almost always wind up having to scroll past pages and pages of unnecessary information before finally getting to the item that should really be the first one presented to them so they can move along more quickly.
Unfortunately, making that simple change – adjusting the order of items in a list – often requires an expensive and time-consuming change order in your software. What should be a quick improvement can easily be something you know you’ll wind up never doing.
In other words, visibility by itself often winds up being nothing more than a painful reminder of everything that you’d like to change about how you manage your operation, but are unable to change.
One way to avoid being frustrated when you do manage to improve your visibility but find yourself unable to act on any of the insights it brings is to make sure your field service software solutions are delivered in an environment that supports no-code customization. When you can easily add, delete, update, reorder, and experiment with new workflows – implementing changes in real time without getting bogged down by delays, costs, or time-consuming approval cycles – then you can fully harness the benefits of improved visibility.
The value of heightened visibility can also be thwarted if you’ve only factored in the needs of one type of stakeholder. The pursuit of improved visibility is often a goal raised by management and backoffice personnel who need a better understanding of what’s going on in the field. The thinking is that if you can’t be in all places at all times, you can at least try to have a view into “everything everywhere all at once.”
But, as the movie by that name suggests, that’s easier said than done. Even when you have all the information, you may not have the right context or perspective to fully appreciate what’s going on in all those various corners of your “multiverse.” Or it may be challenging to figure out the best next steps to take based on the inputs you’re getting.
On the other hand, the techs out in the field might find that information more meaningful and actionable than backoffice personnel. They may also have insights about what additional information would help them get the job done as effectively and efficiently as possible.
To get past the barriers created when the benefits of improved visibility are funneled into one stakeholder role, a field service solution should be designed to share appropriate information and insights to all stakeholders, whether they’re in the backoffice or working on mobile devices in the field. That doesn’t mean providing all data to all people, of course. That wouldn’t be appropriate and generally isn’t very useful. But it does mean thinking about ways that the information flowing through your environment could potentially benefit each different role in your operation.