Field Service

Field Service Organizations: What It Takes to Go Global

Field service managers who head global service organizations often have to make the tough call — do you send your local people abroad every time there is a service call or is there an easier solution? Important details such as service level agreements, travel time and expense, as well as whether sending local techs can assist the organization’s growth in the longterm, all play into the decision.

If the considering these details give you pause, it might be time to consider a global organization staffed with people in various countries or regions. A global organization design can help you achieve:

  • Cost savings from having local resources due to reduced travel expense
  • Cost savings due to different labor rates in different countries
  • Improved customer response time, satisfaction and relations through the use of local service people
  • Support for the growth and strategy of your company as you expand worldwide

What’s the best way to draft an organization that will support your global field service needs?

Begin by analyzing where your customers are by country and region and determine the expected revenues and forecasted repairs from field service operations in each.  Research the availability of potential staff in each area plus labor rates, employment practices, and typical benefits.

With your goals and this data in mind, design a few alternative organizational charts that will support your goals.

  1. Focus on the roles that belong on the chart, not the individuals.
  2. Experiment with different models for organizing, and get input from your peers and your boss.
  3. Determine which of the alternative organizational charts will best help you to achieve your goals. For example, should Field Service people report to individual country managers? How will they be dispatched? Will they report on a dotted line to the headquarters organization?
  4. Once your draft organization is designed and you have thought through reporting structures and operations at a high level, begin to assign names to the various roles.

Consider All Sides of the Coin

You may have people in your current organization who are interested in an international assignment. Survey your current staff and ask for international volunteers. Give your best workers a chance to work where they want and to step into new roles if they prefer.

Next describe in detail the positions and roles you have in mind. Complete job descriptions to help your HR staff and recruiters to understand what kinds of candidates you are looking for. Consider using a mix of local hires along with some corporate or expat assignments to give the organization a global perspective.

Next, determine the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that you will use to drive the organization and measure the people.  You may need to hand-off these KPIs to your Country Managers to supervise the in-country employees.

We recommend the following universal KPIs:

  • Utilization rates for field service people
  • First-time fix rate
  • Revenue targets achieved
  • Call center response time
  • Contract renewal rate

Whatever KPIs you chose, be sure they are just a few very important ones, are meaningful to your business, and will help you achieve your goals.  Keep in mind that cultural approaches and expected performance are different around the world.  Listen to Country Managers and HR to refine your KPIs to be appropriate for each country.

Review your organization on a regular basis or at least once per year.  Make changes where necessary to realign your goals or when the business environment has changed enough that you need to rethink your approach.  Don’t allow your global organization to stagnate.

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