The following is a guest blog post from Jim Sweeney, VP of solution management at PTC’s Service Lifecycle Management Group, a ServiceMax partner.  For more information, visit PTC’s site listing in our online marketplace here.

It’s a great time to be in manufacturing. According to recent Gartner projections, the industry will be No. 1 by share of global economic value-add, so companies that are able to identify the opportunities and quickly bring solutions to market will be leaders in their field for decades to come.

How can manufacturers create new customer value while also competing in a global market that seems fixated on lowest-cost production? Embracing connected technologies and alternative service approaches is the key. Among the myriad approaches to augmenting the value of your service organizations, adopting a remote service model can open up the door to providing service that is more efficient and nimble — and less costly. We’ve rounded up eight steps to build a case for your organization and to implement your remote service pilot.

Step 1: Find Your ‘Why’

OEMs will have different business priorities. For some, it may be to cut costs and improve service, while others may prioritize growing revenue organically or building long term customer relationships by meeting new customer expectations. Ensure any initiatives or pilots you launch are in pursuit of your goal. Remote service capabilities touch on many business priorities, including improving service by optimizing asset utilization and cutting costs with remote problem resolution.

Step 2: Decide Where You’d Like to Be

Relate a remote service solution to a business goal, which is typically related to a financial metric such as operating income, profits, revenue or cost. Then, develop a call to action (e.g. “Reduce our on-site visit costs by 20 percent in the next two years.” Remember to set SMART goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.

Step 3: Determine Your Starting Point

Don’t be intimidated by a big goal, especially if you’re not currently within striking distance of meeting it. The first step is knowing you’re starting point and understanding that, and knowing the starting point won’t dictate your end point. An honest assessment of current capabilities is key. A good first step to achieve remote service capability is deciding to connect your assets for visibility into their performance — and understanding which assets can be connected.

Step 4: Gather Affected Departments

Digital service solutions, whether connected field service or remote diagnostics, do not fall under the sole purview of your IT department. There are many stakeholders that need to achieve consensus on viability and financial terms, and encourage adoption across your organization.

Step 5: Pick a Key Metric to Track

When seeking to optimize your service business, it’s tempting to want to fix all the things. But to make your initial pilot successful, you’ll want to stick to one metric you’d like to test. A few of the more important metrics that a remote service solution can affect:

  • Mean time to repair (MTTR)
  • Service cost per customer
  • Technician utilization rate (%)
  • Service Level Agreement compliance
  • On-site visits

Step 6: Model your Use Case

Once you’ve picked your metric, plug it into your normal service scenarios to determine the potential benefits your organization could see. This metric will also allow you to determine makes sense given your current capabilities, and where your business is headed. See an example below:

Step 7: Weigh the Costs of Building vs. Buying a Solution

Implementing any digital solution will come with cost, regardless of whether you decide to DIY or use a commercial provider. Building your own solution gives you the flexibility to completely customize your experience, but it requires in-house engineering and development skills and manpower, as well as the ability and desire to service this capability for years to come. Technology changes happen rapidly, and you’ll need to commit to keep up with these changes so that your proprietary system remains effective and secure. Buying a commercial solution may meet a smaller percentage of your use cases, but even with subscription and implementation cost, the overall cost of ownership may be lower over time.

Step 8: Launch!

By following a systematic approach to assessment and goal-setting and gathering cross-functional support across your organization, you will be ready to launch your remote service pilot. Monitoring the key benchmarks that matter to your company and tracking progress toward your goal can help you determine whether you should deploy remote services to additional assets.

With customer expectations around speed of service at an all-time high, adopting service capabilities that allow you to service more customer assets faster, or to prevent a service call in the first place, is a key strategy to growing customer relationships and maintaining a competitive edge.

For more information about operational excellence in service, visit PTC’s Thought Leadership and Industry Research page.

ABOUT Jim Sweeney

Avatar photoJim Sweeney is a Vice President of Solution Management in PTC’s Service Lifecycle Management group. Jim has over 20 years of software experience in various areas of product development such as engineering, service, and supply chain. Prior to his current role, Jim held a variety of product management roles within PTC across several solutions areas such as search, component and supplier management, materials compliance and product costing.Before joining PTC, Jim spent several years as a field service engineer with ABB CE Service