Field Service Knowledge Management – It’s not all about technology!

Field service excellence begins and ends with knowledge management (KM).

It’s the number one reason for that “aha!” moment when a technician realizes what’s wrong and how to fix it. After all, how can any team expect to be efficient if they can’t effectively retain, share and access critical knowledge when out in the field. Poor knowledge management can be the nail in the coffin for a service organization because it leads to fewer first-time fixes, longer repairs, higher service costs and unhappy customers.

In the last few years, field service technology has made a massive leap forward, and the technology around information management has gotten cleverer and more accessible. Any service organization in the marketing for a KM system will have a plethora to choose from. And while technology is bound to be the top consideration when making a decision, it shouldn’t be the only one.

“Does the company handling your data understand field service or is it one of many different verticals they provide services for?”

Field service is a world of its own and that way that mobile technicians work is completely different from someone in an office or a warehouse. The challenges they face in the field and the types of data they work with are unique. Choosing a KM tool that is designed specifically with field service in mind will mean choosing a tool that will help meet those all-important KPIs and core metrics that are essential to running a well-oiled field service organization.

Another area to look at when making a decision is how (or even if!) the company handles high volumes of complex data. As anyone in field services knows, technical data is about as complex as it comes, and to anyone not familiar with it, it might as well be a foreign language. How can you be confident that a knowledge management company is processing your data so that it will work the most efficiently for you if they don’t entirely understand what it is they’re processing or how your technicians will be using it in the field?

“Will the company be providing the best solution for you or the best solution for them?”

Additionally, it’s very important to look at the other customers any KM company has worked with. Chances are, if they deal only with organizations that have minimal libraries and small service teams, they may not have the manpower or the know-how to meet the needs of a company that has 200+ technicians.

On the other hand, if they work exclusively with large, global organizations or are themselves a large corporation, they may have less flexibility to address customers’ information management needs on a case-by-case basis. Which means you may end up paying for a solution filled with features you don’t even use, or discover a gap in the solution because it wasn’t built specifically for your knowledge.

All of this isn’t to downplay the role of the actual technology, of course! However, this shouldn’t be the only factor taken into account when making a decision. The technology behind information management is growing rapidly, and a company in the market for a KM tool is bound to be spoiled for choice. When faced with deciding between two similar systems that both offer innovative technology, looking at the aspects outlined above can help a field service organization choose the best from the rest.