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Scaling Field Service Technology Investments: The Key is Change Management

It’s no easy task to scale a technology implementation. But there’s good news: With proper planning and execution, the benefits should make the effort worthwhile.

That was certainly our experience at Genpact.

Adopting field service management technology is a transformation. It impacts several organizational functions and how people across those functions interact with each other and with customers. Managing the change and creating a unifying vision across various stakeholders is crucial to realize for successful adoption and creating the business impact.

In our experience, focusing on the following 8 elements of change management helps to manage and sustain the transformation into a continuous success story.

1. Clearly Define Business Objectives and Outcomes

We are all wired to maintain the status quo. Clearly articulating the vision of the future, how it will benefit the organization — and, more specifically, individual stakeholders — is crucial. This is even more important when we are talking about service managers, field engineers and back office operations staff. Along with quantitative aspects like ROI, communicating a compelling case for change and tangible improvement it brings to their experience will help them readily embrace the change. If we begin by explaining why the change is necessary, and how it will benefit the organization, we’ve won half the battle.

2. Leadership Alignment and Executive Sponsorship

It is important that any change initiative has the buy-in an alignment from senior leadership, who will then champion it down their departments. Any issues and concerns should be thoroughly analyzed and resolved to ensure complete alignment across senior leadership. Since the organization’s mid- and lower-levels take cues from senior leadership, anything less than full support from senior leaders will have a detrimental impact on initiative. Address the “human side” of change early, honestly and systematically. Identify an organization-wide, well respected and influential executive sponsors, both at the corporate and business unit levels, who would lead and drive the execution and transformation. These selected executives should demonstrate strong and unwavering support, both in words and actions. Different business units have different set of challenges and set of priorities.

3. Communication Plan

A good communication plan keeps all stakeholders informed of the progress and is crucial to create transparency, and momentum for the effort. Develop a customized communication plan for each stakeholder group and define the type of communication and frequency based on the group’s involvement. Teams at the bottom of pyramid — field engineers, back office operations and service teams, for example — need continuous communication from the leaders. Also, ensure a feedback mechanism is in place to have a reverse communication from the ground. Encouraging feedback helps in creating a 360-degree communication loop and helps to ensure a continuous engagement.

4. Recruit Change Agents

Identify and recruit change agents early in the process, as it is important to create the momentum for success. Also, provision adequate training, resources, time and welfare to manage retention. Equally important is to make sure resources are available to coach people on the new ways of doing things once the change goes live to ensure it sticks.

5. Align Processes, Operations and Technology

In most of the organizations, operations and IT teams are in to two separate siloes and rarely talk to each other. They have their own charters, challenges and priorities. For example, operations teams might focus on speed, while IT focuses on security. Both are critical and cannot be ignored. Identify single points of contact at both teams and agree on all the aspects of the processes and information management. Work on internal process streamlining and process re-engineering as well to bring in standardization and SOPs. Create a structured governance model with defined roles and responsibilities, policies, exceptions and performance.

6. Big Bang vs. Pilot

Define the phases for rollout of change execution early in the process and identify potential risks and mitigations to ensure successful execution. Typically, piloting the change is less risky as it allows you to work out the kinks, create quick wins and create more internal champions. Phase-wise, execution also helps in identifying and mitigating risks and issues, which are dynamic and based on the real-time environment. Develop lesson learned and best practices at each phase, and follow up on subsequent phases.

7. Define KPIs Aligned with the Business Objectives

One of the biggest challenge is align the KPIs across the business units within the organization. Define a set of organization-wide KPIs, aligned to the business objectives towards customer, experience and net financial returns. Also, monitor and track these KPIs, both at the organization as well as business unit leadership.

8. Recognize (and Reward) the Leaders

It is critical to recognize and reward the change adopters. Incentivizing the process champions and teams helps in realizing the transformation smoother and quicker, and more engaged. Internal partnership is key and rewarding the same goes miles! Equally important is to identify and discourage detractors in adopting the change.

Technology alone is not a silver bullet that can solve for performance issues. However, technology as a process enabler, coupled with strong organizational change management, will help to create sustainable business benefits and a competitive advantage.

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