Why is Service Lifecycle Management so essential for today’s manufacturers?
Research and advisory firm The Service Council recently interviewed Bill Berutti, EVP of the SLM segment at PTC, to get some insight into what manufacturers are saying about their service organizations and how the right SLM strategy can help address issues and create a clear path to success.
You’re out in the field speaking to service executives every day. What are they saying to you about the challenges they’re facing? What’s driving their interest in SLM?
Part of my job is to talk to manufacturing companies on a daily basis to gain a full understanding of what challenges and obstacles they’re facing to improve their service performance and what’s driving them toward considering a more comprehensive SLM solution.
The greatest challenge most are facing today is having to manage a fragmented or decentralized services operation that is a result of acquiring stand-alone applications over time around warranty, field service, service knowledge management, service parts management, and service documentation in order to support a growing service organization.
Many find themselves forced to use multiple technology vendors or customized home-grown systems to support increasing customer service demands, another vendor for parts planning and management, another vendor for field service management, another one for service knowledge management, contract management, and so on.
Manufacturers/OEMs should strive to deliver a single, unified view into the extended service network, across the entire service lifecycle, driving higher service and product performance to more profitably meet or exceed their customer’s expectations.
How do you define “true” SLM, and why is it important for manufacturers/OEMs to adopt this approach?
Many of the manufacturers/OEMs I speak to agree service is a major differentiator, but they are not yet well enough organized to run it efficiently. In fact, many find themselves wrought with inefficiencies that prevent them from being able to leverage service as either a market differentiator or competitive advantage. The desire is there, but technology and process barriers often inhibit service from being managed effectively.
For example, they’re performing their parts management activities on spreadsheets with minimal or no connection between parts management and field service, which leads to a fractured field service operation. There is little to no service infrastructure in place and, as a result, there is a great deal of chaos, inconsistency, and confusion. This is a problem that can be solved – by managing the entire service lifecycle through a single system for service.
Field service is a large component for many service organizations. What advantages of SLM do you see applying to field service organizations?
The key advantage to field service organizations is that SLM enables the ability to provide information directly at the point of need. It’s more than just delivering work orders to field techs; it’s about the ability to put all of the required information in their hands, electronically— including 3D and animated service tutorials—as they need it and when they need it.
This includes parts availability, service history, and repair documents, along with GPS navigation tools to get them right to the customer site faster. An SLM solution must enable service organizations to optimize call scheduling and work orders and make this information available via any mobile device – tablet or smartphone.
So, for those manufacturers/OEMs searching for a more effective way to manage their service operations, what can you tell them to look for in an SLM solution?
They should look for two major differentiators. First, the SLM solution should offer a consolidated view into the service network and be able to connect the planning, delivery, and performance analyses of service.
Second, they should look for an SLM provider that has the ability to leverage dynamic service intelligence—which includes not only product design information, but also the product’s service information and history—to enable continuous improvement across the product’s service lifecycle.
With the ability to access and use this service intelligence throughout the planning and delivery of service, a manufacturer can make smarter decisions at the point of service and provide the customer with a more valuable service offering and experience. By understanding how products perform and are serviced, manufacturers can also minimize risk and maximize business impact with every new investment in service process and delivery.