In yesterday’s post, Strategic Service Management, I talked about the importance of making the customer efficient while maintaining a profit – something you are likely to only achieve in today’s highly competitive marketplace with strategic service management – a proactive approach to service management that balances service strategy, resources, commitments, and pricing that supports the integration, optimization, and efficient management of core business processes, adds to your overall business solution, and differentiates your offering from that of your competitors.
Why is it important? Despite the huge investment in IT to support the front end of the sales cycle (which can consume up to 85% of the IT budget in some organizations), in today’s competitive market, you can still see declining sales without the right strategy – which today needs to involve services. After all, in a well run services organization, particularly in the durable goods and consumer goods verticals, post sales service can provide a nice margin of 20% to 50%, which not only turns service from a cost center into a profit center, but increases your profit while decreasing your costs (since you simultaneously optimizing your resource allocation).
So, how does Servigistics tackle Strategic Service Management? Three ways: parts management, pricing management, and workforce management. What’s the difference?
Service Parts Management is the process of ensuring the right part is available at the right place at the right time. The alignment of planning, forecasting, and inventories, it makes sure you can respond to a customer need as it arises, without costly expedited shipping, unnecessary wait times, or financial losses (that can result from service level guarantees).
Service Price Management is the management and optimization of service parts prices by way of sophisticated pricing methodologies, advanced optimization techniques, and adaptive business logic to maximize revenue. Pricing is more difficult than you might think. It’s not about charging as much as you can – because that limits you to a few customers. It’s not about charging the most competitive price, because that might cut your margins to the point where sustainability is at risk. It’s finding the right balance that maximizes your customer base while maintaining profitability.
Workforce management is the process of optimal workforce scheduling to make sure that you have the right number of service professionals on duty and the right amount of service equipment (and vehicles) available to deliver committed levels of service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. This involves monitoring and adjusting your schedules on a continuous basis, optimally dispatching and routing service professionals as service calls come in, and aligning your workforce skill set to meet your evolving customer needs.
So, optimize the workforce to deliver the right part at the right time at the right price and you simultaneously minimize cost and maximize resource utilization and revenue opportunity. Does it address everything? Well, for starters, you still need a good strategy and product life cycle management tool to understand what might go wrong, when, and what you will need to fix it, so it’s not yet a panacea solution, but it is a great start. All you have to do is look at their customer list – a Fortune 500 who’s who of High Tech, Heavy Equipment, Automotive, and Aerospace – and the magnitude of savings a service management solutions suite has enabled for them. (As per a 2005 Business Week article, Avaya reduced service parts inventory from $250 million to $160 million, Sun Microsystems saved $40 million and Dell nosed out Hewlett-Packard for the top spot in the U.S. hardware support market, growing its service business unit by more than 20%.)