The Critical Tools Manufacturers Need to Excel at Service Delivery with a Contracted Workforce

The manufacturing industry is rapidly changing, and the role that third party workers play in service excellence is becoming even more critical. Technological advancements in AR and IoT were already driving the move towards a contractor-focused – or gig – economy. In 2018, the IDC predicted that within two years, 20% of service would be delivered by contractors.

Since then, the combination of the field service skills gap and the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed 3rd party workforces directly into the spotlight and cemented outsourcing as an essential part of service delivery. Manufacturers are turning to third-party providers to overcome travel restrictions, reduce costs and extend their service capabilities.

To ensure outstanding service for clients, organizations must invest in the right tools to support and manage external service workers.

Provide 3rd Party Workers with Mobile Knowledge…

Service efficiency is directly related to a technician’s access to knowledge. A 2019 TSIA (Technology Services Industry Association) report found that knowledge management had a huge impact on performance, with a 50% reduction in mean time to repair.

The need for knowledge is true for all technicians, whether they are employees are contractors. In a survey by the Aberdeen Group of 3rd party workers, 24% said their primary reason for a repeat visit was because they didn’t have the necessary knowledge to complete the task the first time.

Mobile knowledge tools are a necessity for field service excellence, and one of the most important solutions a manufacturer can invest in if they wish to deliver or maintain a high quality of service delivery.

…But Don’t Provide More Knowledge Than Necessary

Not having access to technical and parts data makes it difficult, or even impossible, for 3rd party contractors to complete the job they were hired to do.

However, this is easier said than done when the manufacturer or customer’s security protocols might make it difficult to grant the contractor access to sensitive data. It becomes even trickier with blended workforces, where employers might have a hierarchy of employees within your organization, all with different levels of security clearance to sensitive technical data.

The ability to manage exactly what a contractor can access is critical for organizations stay secure and compliant. Furthermore, it is an important demonstration that manufacturers take the security of their customers’ business and assets.

Investing in a mobile knowledge tool that gives managers complete control over who sees what information and for how long will allow organizations to safeguard sensitive data while ensuring their workers – both internal and external – have the information they need onsite.

Use Analytics to Monitor 3rd Party Worker Performance

Extending service capabilities with a 3rd party workforce calls for more attention to monitoring external field staff’s task performance. However, with many technicians in different regions, supervision and quality control can be far more complicated. Managers need to have access to real-time information about how external providers perform.

One area of data analytics that is often overlooked is insight into how technicians are using available knowledge. And yet, this information is one of the most critical for an organization to locate knowledge gaps and training needs, as well as identify behaviors that are affecting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as first time fix rates and mean time to repair.

Knowledge is the Way Forward in Field Service

A gig-economy staffing model has long been on the rise worldwide, and service leaders are already embracing the use of a blended or outsourced workforce to navigate the challenges of a post-pandemic industry, workforce retirement, the talent gap, and evolving customer needs.

In order to meet and exceed the expectations of the customer, organizations will need to prioritize mobile tools that will enable technicians to efficiently resolve customer needs while also providing appropriate safety protocols and monitoring capabilities for the company.

AnswersAnywhere Announces Integration with ServiceMax Go and Host of New Features

Seattle, WA – October 18, 2019 –
AnswersAnywhere, the leading global provider of knowledge management solutions for field service organizations, today announced integration with ServiceMax Go and the availability of innovative usage analytics and control over the delivery of proprietary technical knowledge.

AnswersAnywhere’s integration with ServiceMax Go, ServiceMax’s new mobile app for service execution management, further supports AnswersAnywhere’s mission of delivering parts and service knowledge to field service engineers when they need it most – on site with a customer. Bo Wandell, Vice President of AnswersAnywhere said, “From inside ServiceMax Go, a field service engineer can call hundreds or thousands of pages of relevant parts and service knowledge simply by pushing the integrated AnswersAnywhere button.” Wandell said that a part selected from an AnswersAnywhere parts list or exploded product diagram can be added automatically to a work order in ServiceMax Go.

According to a Technology Services Industry Association’s (TSIA) research report 2019 Field Services Technology Stack, deploying a knowledge management solution reduced mean time to repair by more than 50% and lowered annual employee attrition rates by over 3 points. “Knowledge management has evolved from a ‘nice to have’ to a strategic necessity for field service organizations seeking ways enhance efficiency, increase service profits and improve engagement with their mobile device focused workforce,” Wandell said.

Unlike traditional knowledge management software solutions, AnswersAnywhere is a complete outsourced knowledge management service that includes the people, process and technology required to transform disparate parts and technical information into a mobilized knowledge base purpose-built to address the needs of field service engineers. Wandell said, “Developing and deploying a knowledge management strategy in a big corporation is not for the faint of heart, but it is a perfect outsourcing opportunity. Because AnswersAnywhere is a Knowledge-as-a-Service, we can deploy the first version of a customer’s field service knowledge base in 90 days after project launch.”

According to John Stetic, Senior Vice President of Innovation and ISV Partnerships at ServiceMax, AnswersAnywhere is a seamless complement to ServiceMax. Stetic said, “Our ServiceMax customers are large companies servicing complex assets supported by hundreds of field service engineers around the globe. Productivity and efficiency dramatically improve when field service technicians are provided with the right tools and information via ServiceMax and integrated parts and technical product knowledge from AnswersAnywhere – enabling successful service execution.”

AnswersAnywhere for ServiceMax v3.0 also includes new analytics that track and report every interaction with a field service knowledge base. “Field service executives want to understand how parts catalogs and service knowledge are being leveraged in the field so they can draw correlations between usage and achievement of key performance indicators,” Wandell said. “If AnswersAnywhere Analytics uncovers that the top 20% best performing field service engineers also are the most frequent users of the field service knowledge base, that’s an important piece of the puzzle when trying to figure out how to make the remaining 80% more efficient.”

AnswersAnywhere also has released new security functionality called Knowledge Segmentation, aimed at companies that employ third party service providers. Knowledge Segmentation allows field service managers to control access to parts and service knowledge based on audience. Access can be limited to specific products or a much larger subset. Additionally, organizations can create an “expiration date” that allows individuals to access information for a certain length of time, even if the information has been downloaded to a mobile device.

About AnswersAnywhere:
AnswersAnywhere is a Knowledge-as-a-Service that combines people, process and technology to convert, deliver and continuously update parts and product knowledge for use by field service technicians and technical support representatives. The types of source information that AnswersAnywhere knowledge experts convert into usable, interactive knowledge bases includes FAQs, parts lists, installation and service manuals, schematic drawings, exploded diagrams, product descriptions and alerts, safety notices, database output, images, videos and MS Word and PDF documents.

AnswersAnywhere knowledge experts have created and manage technical product knowledge bases for over 200 companies. For more information, visit www.answersanywhere.com.

About ServiceMax:
ServiceMax is the global leader in Service Execution Management, offering cloud-based software that improves the productivity of complex, equipment-centric service execution. Enterprise companies across the globe have turned to ServiceMax to help them keep the world running. For more information, visit www.servicemax.com.

To watch a demo of AnswersAnywhere for ServiceMax, click here!