Astea International and Baxter Planning Have Partnered to Introduce a Cohesive Approach to Field Service Management and Service Parts Planning
Ever get tired of hearing people say, ‘In my day, things were much simpler’?
When you think about how drastically the field service industry has changed just in the last few years, that old adage rings true. Things were simpler. Typically the same technician visited the same customer site and fixed the same piece of equipment for years. So predicting what parts to keep in technician-held inventory was pretty simple.
But gone are the days of the same technician showing up each time the office copier or store cash register breaks down. Now there is an influx of new field service workers with a tendency towards much higher turnover. And these new workers are being scheduled using route optimization and dynamic call assignment. This increased optimization of the technician workforce has significant benefits for field service organizations, such as increased technician workforce utilization (less drive time!) and shorter customer wait times for a technician to arrive. However, scheduling optimization tools can create new challenges for planning a technician’s trunk stock. Attempts to rely on traditional supply chain methodologies fail to recognize that now, factors like technician training and team assignment play a significant role in which technicians are assigned to service calls and the part mix they need. This leads most organizations to rely on the technician to control inventory in their trunk. Manual processes combined with an evolving workforce create inefficiency that is frustrating for both the technician and the supply chain team.
Astea International and Baxter Planning have partnered to introduce a cohesive approach to field service management and service parts planning. In this article, we outline the five main reasons that service organizations are taking an integrated approach to their field service management and service parts planning:
Field Service Talent Constraints & Higher Turnover
One of the biggest challenges facing field service organizations is the retirement of career technicians. The shift to a younger technician workforce, and with it a loss of knowledge base about which parts to stock based on years of personal experience.
More Demanding Customers
Let’s face it, there is more competition than ever before in field service. That means the power has shifted from the service providers to their customers. If your service organization is not ensuring that the right technician with the right skills and the right spare parts is showing up at the right time, then your first-time-fix rate suffers. And when your customers have a poor experience by not getting their equipment fixed the first time, it makes them ripe targets for your competitors.
Evolving to Predictive Maintenance via IoT
The machines you are servicing are getting smarter, and can sometimes predict when certain critical components need to be replaced. Tight integration of FSM and service parts planning can help ensure that technicians show up on time and with the correct parts to fix equipment proactively.
FSM Software Offers Route Optimized Technician Planning
Route optimization means that technicians spend less time driving and you are more likely to have a technician on-site in time to meet your SLA agreement with your customer. This changes the planning process for technicians. Route optimization, when combined with technician turnover, means there is constant churn in the workforce and which technicians are candidates for a specific service call. The parts planning process needs to proactively adjust when route territories are changed to ensure the affected technicians have the correct mix of parts to close calls on the first visit, or some of the benefits of route optimization are lost.
Manage Technicians and Spare Parts in One Place
Astea’s FSM software, Alliance Enterprise, gives companies one platform that can power their entire service business. From managing customer contracts and warranties, to customer sites and assets, and of course all their technicians and inventory, this end-to-end field service software does it all. In fact, it also includes an inventory management solution that supports all the different types of warehousing strategies and spare parts management, including: centralized, regional, repair depot stock, customer-site inventories, and field technicians’ personal and mobile inventories.
But like everything else we do at Astea, we’re constantly asking, ‘How could this be better?’ The answer is by seeking out the experts and offering seamless integration between our FSM platform and their solution. And that’s exactly what we are doing with Baxter Planning. While our expertise is in field service management, Baxter Planning’s expertise is in service parts planning. This means that large, complex service organizations with stock in multiple places can leverage our field service management software in conjunction with Baxter’s service parts planning software in order to reduce total inventory carrying costs and maintain higher and more consistent service levels. Astea’s FSM platform, Alliance Enterprise, will provide historic usage, current part demand, and inventory location information. Baxter’s service parts planning solution, Prophet, will provide optimized target stock levels, automate execution of the inventory plan, and provide planning analytics to drive continuous improvement.
Want to learn more? Stay tuned for an upcoming joint webinar from Astea and Baxter Planning!