In building myFLO we drew on a deep knowledge about core principles in field service management and workflow. And while it’s useful to us, it’s alsouseful to you. This is the fourth article in our series about core principles.
Have you missed the other articles in the series?
Subscribe now so you never miss another one:
In the world of field service management, access can mean a few different things: Physical access (and security), or information access and visibility.
Workflow + Access: Two sides of a coin
It’s important to understand that access is impossible to separate from workflow, because it’s in the workflow that we find our access points. Thinking about access before you pay attention to the tasks and information flow is a bit like putting your shoes on before your pants.
Understanding the work structure gives you the ability to do two things:
- Discover the team members who need access to information
- Re-think your customer’s needs and re-imagine their journey.
Step 1: Define who needs (or wants) access
The first step in working out the types of access your business needs is to sort out who needs or wants access. It might be individuals, it might be teams, it might be other businesses. Let’s call them interested parties.
If you’ve started standardising the work, you will already have a map of sorts. Completing a map that shows each of the interested parties and their information needs is the simplest way of working out permissions. It will show you who needs to see information, who needs to change or input information, and who needs to ‘own’ it.
In the table below is a simple example.
The table shows that we have three interested parties: The customer, the salesperson, and the technician. We have taken a snapshot right at the end of a process, where the technician is completing a job and the customer gets the invoice.
|1||Technician||Submits a job completion form||To notify the operations side of the business that the job is complete|
|2||Administration||Checks the form, generates and emails the invoice||To finalise the job|
|3||Customer||Receives the invoice by email and is able to pay
from the email
|Notify the operations side of the business that the customer has settled
his or her account.
Who needs access? It’s not just the three interested parties who are taking an action. But it’s also the operations side of the business: All management, scheduling, and customer care. It’s the financial side of the business: Reporting, management, and outcomes. And it’s also the customer, who might have an online portal that shows every order, every payment, and their history.
Step 2: Define what they need access to
It’s here that we get into questions about permission and ownership. Someone who ‘owns’ the information is accountable for it. Someone who adds or changes information is responsible for it. Someone who accesses information may simply need to be informed.
There is a very easy way to assign these kinds of permissions. You can do it in a spreadsheet.
Put the titles: Responsible, accountable, communicated to, and informed at the top of a spreadsheet.
Then for each of the workflow tasks, you can map names or roles to the right area.
Together with your workflow map you are starting to get a picture of who is involved, and what kind of access they require.
In our example above, we know that:
- The customer is communicated to.
- The operations part of the business is kept informed.
- The technician is responsible for the completion.
- The administration is responsible for the invoicing.
- The person who is ultimately accountable might be the owner of the business. In a large organisation, it’s likely to be the person who manages a
Step 3: Define when and how access is needed
This is a critical step in determining how your field service management software is going to be useful. When do each of the interested parties need access to information? How are they going to want to do that?
It’s no good having a system that is only usable on a desktop computer, if your technicians are out on the road all day.
Similarly, if your system is only useful on Apple products, but your technicians and teams use a mish-mash of technology, it’s not going to be useful.
When it comes to other interested parties, like your customers, knowing their preferences is important in delivering great service. They may prefer to get notifications on their phones, so they can pay your invoices immediately. Or, your audience may be elderly and prefer to get their invoices by post.
Knowing how access is given, and when, enables you to craft a field management system that is going to meet everyone’s needs all the time.
Step 4: Track access to information
Keeping on top of who accesses what and when isn’t just good housekeeping. It’s also something that can help you continue to improve your business.
Being able to track and see patterns of use will help you to understand which teams access what, when they do it, what devices they’re using. You may find, after continuous monitoring, that you discover new and more efficient ways of working.
The workflow that you map at the beginning of the exercise will adapt and evolve, as your business grows and learns new ways of working. It’s a sign that your organisation is innovating on its own processes, and that’s an exciting sign.
Information access is critical to great field service management
At myFLO, we have been helping people solve this issue of information access almost since we started. Our platform grew out of a need to enable easier information access and handling, with the flexibility to adapt and grow as you do.
To learn more about how we can help your team, give us a call on 1300 78 46 60.