In the area of field management systems, we talk about a number of overlapping concepts. Two closely related concepts are knowledge management and business processes (or workflow).
In simple terms, knowledge management means making sure that your team members have access to the information they need at the right time. In an ideal field service team, this ‘knowledge management’ will be built into the workflow. Each of your team members has access to the information they need, when they need it, and for them to complete their part of the job. It’s unhelpful to your team members if they have to stop, call someone, refer to other tools or documents, or use a multitude of paper-based forms that could go missing.
In a whitepaper published back in 2002 [PDF], the Customer Service Group pointed out that software will fail if it places additional burden on the people who use it. They give the example of a call centre in which a great solution becomes part of the flow, writing: ‘knowledge is accessed, captured and improved as an intrinsic part of how agents interact with customers to solve problems’.
Great knowledge management happens when you have a solution that allows your team members to improve the data that you already have.
Why capturing & improving knowledge is important
Besides the obvious benefits to customer service, we are facing an ageing workforce. When the workforce shifts, much of the corporate knowledge held by older team members will go with them.
In Australia, 1 in 4 employees is over the age of 55, and in the next decade it will be 1 in 3. By 2050, it’s estimated that one-third of people in developed nations will be over 60. (Source: Melbourne University).
It’s a considerable risk to your business if you have an older workforce, but haven’t got a system in place that allows them to contribute and update the information they need, while they’re working.
Your system ought to be able to serve every need
Field service management software isn’t just about managing jobs and payments. With the right system, everything that your teams need is in a central place.
What kinds of things can it deliver? Here is a list of where you might start:
- technical support documentation
- announcements and news
- repair and service notes
- all customer, client, job status information
- maintenance and service histories
… and so much more.
The key thing to remember is that once you have these elements in place, you need to close the loop.
Build a feedback loop into your system design
Storing and delivering information is one thing. Keeping it up to date is another. We have all seen the most well-intentioned systems fall apart because it was too difficult to keep them up to date.
You can do this by ensuring your system closes the loop and allows your teams to update it while they use it. This is what will turn your efficient system into a smart system.
Feedback loops sound complicated. But they don’t have to be.
One of the simplest ways that you can enable this is to allow for updates to reach whoever needs to approve them. When you go through and unpack your workflow process when first scoping what you need, build in a method for improvements to be captured. It might be as simple as a few comments in a form, which can then be reviewed regularly, and signed off when they’re complete.
If your system then establishes tasks and deadlines for the review, you will then be able to measure the time it takes for these improvements to roll out.
Speak with a knowledge management expert at myFLO
Our knowledge management and systems experts can help you think through the best system for your needs. Give us a call today to get started ».