Webinar Recap: Redefining Service Parts Management
I recently hosted a webinar with Justin Simpson, the Director of Service Operations at Avnet Integrated, about the biggest Service Parts Management (SPM) pitfalls and how to avoid them. In it, we redefine traditional SPM through a solution-oriented lens and Justin shares tactics to improve part dispatch, backorder management, and execution oversight. This blog post covers highlights from the webinar, but for a more in-depth conversation, check out the webinar recording.
Justin and I opened the conversation by focusing on the enemy of planning: execution. We all know it’s one thing to come up with a brilliant plan, but your plan means nothing if it doesn’t translate into proper action. Your true metric of success is on-time delivery. That said, the best Service Parts Management approach zooms out to consider how easily your dispatchers and technicians can implement the plan, how to manage customer expectations in the case of a delay, and how to improve partnership dynamics.
Here are some insights to maximize uptime of mission-critical equipment and strengthen your relationships along the way.
Variables of Service Parts Management
When an order request comes in, the clock starts ticking. Your parts dispatcher needs to make the best decision as quickly as possible, especially when it comes to same-day commitments.
But all the dispatcher needs to do is find the nearest warehouse and ship from there, right? If only it were that simple.
To get the right part from the right location to the right place at the right time involves a lot of moving variables, including:
- Potential substitutions (part chains)
- Site reliability and “cutoff” time
- Inventory position (excess vs. shortage)
- Contract mapping based on entitlement (aligning with planning execution)
- Errors in the order creation process that may delay execution.
On a four-hour service level commitment, you can spend the first hour trying to figure all that out. These moving parts can translate to a lot of open tabs on your dispatcher’s computer—not the best for making swift decisions. Justin shares how, using our LynX solution, you can account for numerous variables surrounding a part order and surface them for users in a centralized location. For example, LynX can compile the following information into a table that gives dispatchers a clear picture of their best option:
- Geo tagged sites for the warehouses that can physically meet the SLA
- Estimated drive times and distances
- Warehouse cutoff times.
With those critical variables woven together on one screen, the dispatcher can execute without wasting unnecessary time and energy.
Escalation Management for Service Parts Management
Even the best plan can’t account for all of life’s curveballs, so missed SLAs are inevitable. That’s why you also need to plan for backorder management. Justin makes the salient point about how, in looking through his inbox at escalations, he sees how customers react to that one time his team missed the mark. It doesn’t matter if they met their SLAs 95 times before their single mistake; the miss shines brightest.
If you know you might not meet your SLA, communication and collaboration are key. It’s time to work with your customer to decide on the next best option. So, your delivery will be late: At this point, you could either spend a premium to have it delivered at 11 p.m. that night, or spend less to ship it in the morning. It might not make a difference to your customer, but you won’t know for sure unless you engage with them. Justin points out that, by consulting with your customer, they can reclaim a sense of agency in the situation and feel better about it, too.
Your customers feel better if you inform them about the missed delivery earlier rather than later. That means you need to recognize potential delays from all your logistics partners as soon as possible. It helps to form strong partner relationships that involve tracking from a milestone progression standpoint, so you receive prompt updates along the way. When you understand the nuances of your partners’ workflows and the challenges that hold them up, you can collaborate with them in a more intentional, actionable way.
Specifically, you’ll want to define a workflow that allows you to get partner alerts about exceptions, not a play-by-play when everything’s on schedule. And of course, your staff needs a unified place to see these alerts as they come in from a broad range of partners. With the power of these easy-to-see alerts, you might even have enough time to enact a backup plan—or use a backup part—before you miss your SLA. Not only does this kind of tracking help you triage unexpected events, it helps uncover and mitigate the root causes that could lead to future challenges.
I hope this quick recap inspired you to rethink some of your current parts management processes. Ready to hear more real-life examples on redefining Service Parts Management, details about LynX’s easy integration process, and answers to questions from webinar attendees? Listen to the full webinar here!
Chief Customer Officer
Phillip Kennedy leads Baxter Planning’s go to market strategy and is responsible for driving market leadership, global awareness, demand generation, and strategic partnerships. His vision and passion for customer success has resulted in Baxter’s Best Practice Scorecard, increased adoption Planning as a Service, and growing list of customer success stories.
Phillip joined Baxter in 2012 as VP, Product Management and has 19 years of experience solving enterprise market problems. Prior to joining Baxter Planning, Phillip held leadership positions at high growth software businesses with a focus on differentiation based on service.
A proud Hokie with a degree from Virginia Tech in Accounting Information Systems, Phillip is also Pragmatic Marketing certified as a Product Manager. He lives in Leander, Texas with his wife and two children who keep him busy supporting and volunteering with local nonprofits.