Efficiency Vs. Effectiveness in Field Service

“Efficiency is Doing Better What is Already Being Done.”

       – Peter Drucker, author and management consultant

Like me, you have probably seen this quote a lot on field service social media channels. It is no surprise considering efficiency is the name of the game throughout this industry – I know I’ve certainly written a lot about it over the years.

I recently came across another quote from Peter Drucker that I found equally interesting: “Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.”

The digital transformation is in full swing and field service organizations are putting more emphasis than ever on investing in new technology to drive efficiency. But are they doing so at the cost of effectiveness?

Wait… aren’t efficiency and effectiveness kind of the same thing in field service?

What exactly is the difference is between efficiency and effectiveness? Efficiency is the ability to accomplish something with the least amount of wasted effort, time, and/or money. In field service, it often translates to a peak level of equipment uptime.

Effectiveness, on the other hand, is defined as the degree to which something is successful in producing a desired result. In field service, as in all business, the desired result is success.

More than ever, field service managers need to ensure they are investing in solutions which will deliver results that are both efficient and effective. Here are some important questions every organization should ask when considering a new solution as part of their digital transformation strategy:

1.     Will the solution have minimal training and high adoption rates?

Does this issue sound familiar: Your companies invests a lot of money, time and resources into adopting a new solution that is meant to increase field service processes and drive efficiency. The problem is your engineers aren’t using it, making the software completely ineffective. Low adoption rates can have a variety of culprits, but they usually have one thing in common: lack of input from the end user from the onset.

Engineers are the best equipped to spot potential roadblocks and pitfalls because they better understand their teams’ work preferences, work conditions, field processes and workflows. Including extensive feedback from field service engineers from the very start of the search will drastically increase adoption rates once the solution is selected and deployed.

2.     Will the solution address app fatigue… or exacerbate it?

Increasingly, field service engineers are being inundated with a growing number of apps needed to do their job. While these apps are all designed to make their job more efficient, too many apps can have the opposite effect. Having to switch from app to app, screen to screen, over and over again, sometimes to complete even the simplest of tasks will fatigue even the techiest of engineers.

This is a perfect example of a solution that sacrifices effectiveness in the name of efficiency. If a new solution creates extra steps for engineers — like having to navigate away from work orders or copy and paste important information like parts numbers — the efficiency gains will be lost almost immediately. Integrating with existing field service software will help create a “single pane of glass” experience for your engineers, making them more efficient while avoiding app fatigue.

3.     Is the solution creating more work than its worth?

This is something we see a lot at AnswersAnywhere with prospects we speak to. To get important technical and parts information to their call center staff and engineers in the field, the organization creates an in-house shared folder or wiki. However, the company soon realizes that the time and resources it takes to keep this repository organized, optimized and up to date so that it will be useful far outweighs the benefits of having their information all in one place. It also doesn’t take into account that most of the documents on the shared folder are user-unfriendly formats like PDFs, which means an engineers has to take time to pinch, zoom and scroll through pages of documents to look up the relevant information. What seemed like the most efficient solution to a common problem ends up being very ineffective.

Before adopting any solution, make sure you are thoroughly investigated the amount of time, money, resources and staff it will take to keep it performing effectively for your organization You may find that the efficiency gains you experience on the frontlines will be lost in another department.


The digital transformation is moving full speed ahead. Any organization that wants to stay competitive needs to start implementing their digitization strategy now. However, if a strategy is going to be successful, it is important to consider the overall effectiveness of each solution; not just the efficiency improvements that it is expected to deliver to your field service organization.