Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from ServiceMax VP of Global Customer Transformation Patrice Eberline’s latest book, “Into the Diamond Mine: A Field Service Transformation Handbook for Executives.” Request your free copy today

In almost every transformation conversation that I’ve had, I am asked a question similar to Where do I start? What do I need to know first? How do I begin a transformation effort in my field organization?

While there are many ways to approach this, and just as many models to implement a plan, at the core of every transformation effort is that first step of benchmarking your service organization. You have to understand where you are now before you can determine supporting goals, areas of immediate focus and an execution plan.

Let’s say that you wanted to learn a new sport like golf. Now, golf is not necessarily an easy sport to pick up, and if you are hoping to become a great golfer someday, it is likely that you might first contact a golf professional for assistance. A fairly predictable approach for your instructor to take would be:

Step One: Assess your current skill level. This would include your experience with the sport, your strengths and weaknesses, and your own perception of your expertise. In addition, the golf pro might take you out to the driving range in order to watch your swing, and perhaps to the putting and chipping green to see your short game and putting skills first-hand.

Step Two: From that “benchmarking” exercise, the next area to understand would be exactly what you are trying to achieve — your end game or goals. For example, are you looking simply to hold your own at an upcoming business function that centers around golf? Perhaps you really just want to be able to go out with your spouse and not be left behind on the weekends! Or, perhaps you have great aspirations of professional-level play and success on the circuit. Understanding the goals you have for yourself will help your instructor align your growth and transformation plan, and support your progress in the best way possible.

Step Three: Through a number of exercises and experiences, you and your instructor will work together to prioritize and focus on the basic skills and progressing steps that will bring the biggest impact to your game as quickly as possible, while at the same time providing you with a long-term path to even greater success and to hitting your overall goals.

Step Four: With that practice plan developed and documented, you are well on your way. Your job now is simply to go out and work the plan!

Now, I know many of you have golfed for years and know it’s not as simple as four short steps. You’ve no doubt noticed that each week you are on the driving range, you are in good company, with others trying to improve their games as well. Golf, as with many things, is a journey of small and impactful improvements — reduce the slice, read the green, understand your performance with different irons. Understanding and constantly monitoring your progress helps you focus on the most impactful skills in order to achieve your goals. That same approach works well for service transformation efforts.

Benchmarking, or understanding the overall performance and maturity of your field organization, including where you are positioned with respect to others in your vertical, is the rst step in your transformation. Effective benchmarking can answer not only beginning questions — Where am I currently? — but also deeper questions —  What metrics do I need to measure and monitor as I grow and mature my service organization? or How are those metrics defined? and even Where am I with respect to my competition?

Benchmarking can also provide insight into best practices and processes. According to the Technology Services Industry Association’s “State of Field Services 2016” report, “Benchmarking is an integral part of every business transformation effort since it identifies successful business models and provides Pacesetter practices that can be used to close performance gaps.”

The effective benchmarking of field service maturity cuts across a number of field services process areas, and as we all know, there is more to field service than simple dispatch!

To measure or benchmark service maturity, you have to address a number of different service management dimensions. Where you are in each of these dimensions will set the baseline for where you might want to go, and help you determine your focus and how best to get there.

Click here to request your free copy of Patrice’s book, and register for Patrice’s webinar with the TSIA’s John Ragsdale (Octoober 5) to learn tips for beginning your service transformation journey.