So where’s the “missing parts” part? Many new tools make it easier for onsite technicians to know which parts they need to quickly tackle the job. However, none of them ensure the technician, nearby warehouse, or third-party forward stocking location (FSL) will have the required parts in stock.
The Power of Persuasion & People
Another triple P. Sorry. This one refers to change management. As it turns out, the missing parts problem sheds light on challenges relating to the other two “Ps,” especially people.
In the “old school” Field Service Parts Planning model, technicians determined their own stock lists. They knew the products; they knew their customers. They used this knowledge to fill their vans (and sometimes their garages) with more than enough parts to meet customer demand. As long as first-time fix rates remained high, businesses stayed complacent about the excess inventory in technicians’ vans.
But eventually, many service organizations adopted a more efficient parts sourcing plan that pulled large, expensive equipment out of technicians’ vans and into shared inventory hubs. It’s a superior approach, as most of us acknowledge today; but at the time, some experienced technicians weren’t happy. They resisted this shift, as it disrupted their tried-and-true method of doing business. Listen to Mike’s presentation for some real-life examples of how this issue unfolded.
Resistance to change among seasoned employees hasn’t diminished. As technology advances, change management issues only get more nuanced, and we’re seeing them play out today. That’s why it’s essential to be transparent with technicians on the front end whenever you implement a new solution.
When your business strategies evolve:
- Actively plan for the impact new technology will have on technicians and their stocking patterns. Let field workers know that their routes will likely change, as will their inventory mix.
- Adjust key performance indicators (KPIs) to encourage behavior that benefits the entire organization, not just individuals. When technicians know they’re incentivized based on first-time fix rate alone, it can lead to parts-hoarding habits.
- Use workforce turnover to your advantage. Newer employees are likely willing to embrace new tools.
- Quickly identify issues and adjust if parts availability is causing you to fall short of your expected ROI.
In essence, you must consider the big picture when you adopt a new technology and take a proactive approach to your parts planning and change management strategies. Today’s business landscape is more dynamic and interconnected than ever before, so your planning process needs to elevate from the individual technician level to the team and territory level. Look at aggregate parts requirements and figure out how to best distribute them, while also incentivizing employees to operate as an agile team.
For a more in-depth take on this topic, listen to Mike’s full presentation here!