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Field services organisation: implementing successful change

To name a few, top-down leadership, engaging the workforce and having the right processes and strategies in place are essential.

Louis V. Gerstner recognised this when he was appointed the CEO of IBM in 1993 – the year the company posted what was at the time the biggest loss in the history of corporate America, $8 billion ( £4.93bn). IBM went from being the toast of Wall Street to fighting for its very survival. Under Gerstners leadership, IBM underwent dramatic transformation, reinventing itself to turn what was a failing business in to a multibillion dollar enterprise.

Board engagement is absolutely essential

Board and senior level executives are the heartbeat of any change lifecycle and success and failure can often rest on their shoulders.

Despite their central role in the change process, business leaders need to understand that they dont need to be all-seeing, all doing and all-acting. Their role is about making sure the new strategy is aligned to the overall business goals and employees have a clear line of sight to the new direction.

As well as creating the right strategy, business leaders are also responsible for setting the pace of the change process and ensuring that momentum is maintained and accelerated when and if required. Many initiatives that start well can easily fall apart when unexpected challenges arise so it is imperative that business leaders clear the hurdles to ensure that processes and people remain aligned with organisational goals.

The workforce is crucial to driving change

For field service organisations in particular, gaining buy-in from the workforce for a change project can bring its own set of challenges, especially since change can often be met with a lot of resistance. Indeed, research featured in Trimbles latest industry report, Transforming Service Delivery: An Insight Report, found that 50 per cent of field service managers ranked resistance from the workforce as one of the major challenges businesses face when rolling out change.

The main causes of this resistance may be due to the fact that the workforce, by its nature, will often be spread over a large geographical territory with workers potentially carrying out very diverse types of work, remotely and rarely, if ever, spending time in the office.

Furthermore, with such a mobile workforce, providing adequate training is seen to be the main challenge field service organisations face when rolling out change as it takes the workforce away from their jobs, especially if carried out in a classroom rather than virtually. Ensuring the training is understood and applied can also be an issue for field service managers as it can be difficult to monitor field workers to prevent lapse back to the way things used to be done.

However, these obstacles can be eradicated if business leaders approach change in the correct way to ensure employee buy-in. Involving the workforce in any change plans, from the initial planning stages to the final roll-out, is key. Consistent communication to foster a culture in which the workforce understands the changes, why they are needed, what role they will play in the transformation and how to embrace it is essential.

Mark Francis, director of support services for Shred-it UK found workforce engagement to be a key factor in the businesss new technology roll-out: We organised a number of road show sessions and workshops in order to educate the workforce on the new technology. This also gave the teams an opportunity to ask questions and understand the overall value attributed to change. For Shred-it UK, the new technology was a great enabler to help improve its business performance but the tangible and lasting benefits come from employee engagement, commitment and passion to make it work day-to-day.

Measurement is vital to the change process

As the business adage goes ‘you can’t manage what you can’t measure.’ This has never been truer for field service organisations, especially when it comes to reviewing the performance of a change programme as it is important to hold people accountable to the overall vision through measurement and metrics.

Developments in Performance Management Analytics (PMA) technology in the field service industry is making measurement simpler. Business leaders are now able to report on the performance of their workforce by analysing their operational efficiency using data they can trust.

Based on actual location data, the technology can generate and customise digestible reports that showcase key measures including quality of service, statistics for individual workers, actual tasks completed against the total time of the working day, actual against estimated task duration, total tasks completed, total fuel usage and distance travelled.

By providing greater visibility in to the performance of each employee and the business as a whole, the technology enables senior executives to better evaluate the effectiveness of their new business strategy and identify what areas are working and things that may need to be addressed.

There is no denying that making change happen is difficult. Business leaders can’t simply give a few speeches and declare that the organisation will be transforming. Change requires long-term commitment and organisations that do implement change well, can be seen to do so because of the culture of their organisation, their employee engagement, having the right processes and strategy and also because the change is driven by the Board of Directors and the leadership team.

For more information and expert opinion on how to successfully implenet business change, download our complimentary report, Transforming Service Delivery: An Insight Report , via the following link

John Cameron is general manager for Trimble Field Service Management.

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