Vendor Selection

When shopping for an IT solution for your enterprise, there are two things you should scrutinise: the product (or service) itself and its vendor. Many times, companies overlook the importance of the latter, giving the reason that “it’s only the product we need”.

Wrong.

What about after-sales technical support and training? Ok, so you have an in-house team with the required competency for that IT solution in question… not that I believe it’s reasonable basis to pass up on the expertise that the vendor can provide. How about upgrades, patches, and documentation?

Still unperturbed? Here’s one factor that you may not have started to consider – What happens to your product if the vendor goes bankrupt or gets swallowed by a merger and acquisition? Surely, you no longer believe this is far from possible, do you?

But how are you supposed to know the financial stability of each vendor or whether it is an acquisition target? Well, you can either conduct your own research or you can leave that up to us. Part of our job includes not only establishing linkages in the industry but also being in-the-know on such relevant information.

Evaluation of Business Needs

You can’t separate vendor selection from the process of choosing the desired IT tool. That’s why our vendor selection services starts by defining exactly what your business needs are.

Once we’ve pinned down your needs, we can then narrow down the list of possible IT solutions. Only then can we proceed with the main vendor selection process.

Have you ever been caught in a situation wherein you thought you knew what you wanted, only to end up realising it’s not what you were looking for after all? We’re here to make sure you don’t get caught in that kind of situation when choosing an enterprise-class IT solution.

With the TCO (total cost of ownership) of such solutions typically running up to hundreds of thousands of euros, you can’t afford to arrive at what you really want by way of trial and error.

These are the things you stand to benefit the moment we start working with you:

  • Thorough assessment of your IT needs. We’ll consult the people in your organisation who’ll be affected the most in order to obtain a clear picture of what your specific needs really are. Most IT solution purchases are made with very little consultation that, after installation, many of the end users don’t benefit at all.
  • Minimal interruption during assessment. As with all our other services, we see to it that the interruptions we make are absolutely necessary. So the moment we start with our work, you can still continue with yours.
  • Insightful suggestions of the required IT solution. You still know your business better. So even after we’ve gone through the assessment and given our recommendations, the decision as to what IT tool should be pursued will still be up to you. The difference now is, you’ll be making a decision based on expertly gathered information put forward in an insightful proposal.

Request and Evaluation of Vendor Proposals

With so many IT solutions companies mushrooming, it is becoming more difficult to keep track of them, their specialities, strengths, and weaknesses.

Companies selling best-of-breed products may be relatively easy to spot. But there are also other attributes that are equally important but not as well publicised. For instance, which companies offer better quality management philosophies? Which companies have strategic visions running parallel to yours? Which of them possess implementation capabilities that can cater to your rapidly growing IT requirements?

Vendors who answer positively to these queries need to be given the appropriate importance in the selection process. We see to it that these and other relevant attributes are factored into our scorecards and evaluation processes.

These are the things you can look forward to when you grant us the opportunity to serve you.

  • Experience is a vital item in our vendor selection criteria. Our vast knowledge of the reliable players in the industry will lead you to experienced vendors who can hit the ground running from day one and continue with the same vigour onward.
  • We can help you draw positive response for each of your Request For Proposals (RFPs) or Request For Information (RFIs). Did you expect these vendors to be enthusiastic in sending out proposals each time you asked them to? Think again. You’ll have to persuade them first of your sincerity to become a potential customer. With our help, your RFPs will make preferred vendors see “opportunity” written all over.
  • No need to go “Eany, meeny, miny, moe”. Deciding which vendors should move up in the selection process can take up a lot of time if you don’t know which criterion should be given more weight. Our scorecards are designed to collect the most relevant information and to generate results that will help you decide on these matters at a glance.

Interview, Negotiation, and Monitoring

As soon as you start getting positive response to your Request For Proposals, the interview process should be next. It’s at this point that vendors can present and highlight their strengths while we try to glean as much information of their true capabilities as well as their dedication to the project.

Some companies can provide proof-of-concepts and we may require them as part of the interview process. This will not only give us a better idea as with regards to their product’s capabilities, but also to their level of expertise on the solution in question.

  • We’ll help you set up the interview process and organise the evaluation committee. Members of the committee will typically include representatives from each department that will be affected by the new technology, which we would have already identified during our Evaluation of Business Needs.
  • Since our scorecards are designed to expedite the filtering and selection process, you may eventually be able to choose the finalists yourself. However, in the event that two or more vendors turn out evenly matched, we’ll help you identify the better company.
  • We’re very familiar with the price ranges of various IT solutions, including the effects on price of certain variables. As such, we can tell you whether a product’s price tag is justified or not.
  • Our exceptional familiarity on both the IT industry and the entire negotiation processes itself will give you the edge when it’s time for us to haggle for the best bang for the buck.
  • After the contract is awarded, we’ll even be on hand to monitor whether deliverables are handed over and milestones are achieved as promised.

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7 Challenges Facing Mobile Field Service ? And Overcoming them with FSM Solutions

Managing a mobile workforce comes with its set of challenges. There are multiple coordination levels, administrative hurdles when distributing tasks amongst your employees, the need to meet your customers? expectations, whilst still operating profitably. Your goal is to rake in more revenue, while striking a balance between the number of employees and the quality of the service being rendered. Under utilisation of the company resources may be misinterpreted to mean that you need more employees- which will affect your bottom line. Repeat visits with older jobs affect the response time for new client appointments. Clients get frustrated when their needs are not met on time. Remember that, for your client, their priority is getting their issue sorted- be it that pipe leak, electrical fault, damaged gas valve, or window installation completed on time. Administrative challenges on your end will simply come off as excuses, costing your brand dearly. The different fields share similar challenges- from utility firms, pest control, installation and repair services such as with plumbers and electricians, those running residential and commercial window cleaning companies, to property managers in charge of different buildings. Here are some of the obstacles faced:

1. Coordinating your team

Running things from the office can get hectic when your technicians are out on ground, and clients are at different locations. From appointments being delayed because the workers met traffic on their way, those calling in sick and requiring you to find replacements on short notice, clients who cancel appointments without notice- they all present a logistical nightmare. There is also the need to have a skill-based task distribution in place. Here, the focus is on getting the right technician for the job, not someone who has simply “dealt with it before as they helped their colleagues on a similar job“. With your firm having different personnel, you want to ensure that you spend the most appropriate technician to your client. This also aids the employees themselves, by increasing their morale as they will be dealing with tasks that they are particularly adept at, score you a high first-time fix rate, and avoid having to do follow up visits to resolve issues that were not properly addressed the first time round. 

Capterra undertook a field service software survey, which showed that 82% of organisations adopting FSM solutions saw an increased rate of first-time fixes, and a 90% rise in actual conversations from quotes.

Capterra

How field service job management software impacts businesses. Source: Capterra

 Follow-ups tend to cost extra with the additional dispatch, and take away your fiend agents from the work that had been scheduled to be handled. Resolving these logistical issues with traditional approaches can be problematic, especially with all the paperwork involved. In fact, let’s delve into that.

2. Mounds of paperwork

Having loads of data streaming in from your field workforce can put one on edge. Organising the documents, creating the spreadsheets and typing away at calculators, sorting the files in cabinets and the stress that comes when a single file appears lost in the heaps of sheets – it creates a bottleneck for your operations.  Manually handling the data at the central office also compromises on the accuracy of the process due to human error, from syntax issues when transferring information, incorrect inputs, to duplicate errors- which is expected to occur with increased frequency due to the tiring nature of the process. Actually, 46% of the respondents surveyed by the Service Council said that paperwork and admin work was the worst part of their day.

The field worker is also affected by the paperwork. From having to come to the office each morning to collect the documents needed for the day, walking with the bulky files from one site to another, perusing through lots of sheets whenever they want mire information about a particular customer or the job description- and the frustration that comes when some documents have been forgotten back at the office- it hampers productivity. Running out of copies of paper will also be unavoidable when your staff are away from the office- and more time will be spent coming back to restock. There are also additional issues like the forms getting soiled or torn, and even the wind blowing them away as your technicians are out in the field.  Dealing with the contracts, collecting signatures for each job that is handled, jotting down notes concerning the particular tasks that they are taking care of- it increases the workload. In fact, this often results in errors in data entry, and jobs being poorly documented.

Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be the case for your firm. Technological advancements have seen solutions being developed to minimise the paperwork involved. These mobile service management software allow the field worker to access all the details of the job via handy apps on their smartphones and tablets- as is the case with FieldElite. Instead of walking around with the documents and files, the information is stored via cloud, and is accessible in real-time. The job documentation- from photos, notes to the customer?s e-signature are all collected through the app, and the information is securely stored and immediately available to the personnel back at the head office. 

Service analytics- where you get to observe product demand, performance of your workforce and analyse your customer base growth through the dashboard reporting modules that come with the FMS software is a key tool for decision makers of the company. You get to optimise your performance without having to resort to adding more work hours, or pushing your employees into overtime. Field service analytics has been shown to increase profitability for leading companies by 18%, going by the ?Get Smart: Business Intelligence and Analytics for Service Organizations? study done by Aberdeen Group.

3. Scheduling conflicts

First, there are multiple jobs that need to be attended to- and disappointing your clients will lead to backlash. Secondly, you have a large team of workers- and you want to optimise on their productivity at an individual level. From an administrative perspective, you are also required to provide proper work structures that incorporate your employees? safety during the jobs being handled- and not to run them like mules, overworking them in a bid to hit your targets. Thirdly, the workers have different individual hours of operations- or they work in shifts. Running all this from a central point, allocating the jobs as needed and managing the different schedules, can be a tall order without the right field service scheduling software.

When your customers book an appointment, they expect that your company will deliver on its mandate, providing the services that they are paying you for as required. On the other hand, as the company, you are relying on your employees to meet those expectations. This means that you should have structures in place to ensure that your field workers stick to their assigned schedules. For this you will need to know their location in real-time, track their performance, and check on their adherence to the set schedules. Working with field service job management software allows you to handle the logistics of every task from one dashboard. By tracking your technicians while they are out in the field, you will be able to allocate orders faster, monitor the incoming customer requests, and manage the task distribution more efficiently. When you have an FSM that allows your workers to coordinate with the head office via mobile app, there will be an increased rate of job completion, and a reduction in overtime. Both your clients and employees get to be happy at the end of the day.

4. Lonely workers

Working in the office has its perks. You are surrounded by your colleagues, and can easily get the attention of anyone in management if needed. However, while out in the field, the workers can feel disconnected from the company structure, left to their devices while still bearing the responsibility of presenting the company in positive light- as they also double up as your brand ambassadors. The loneliness can get to them, with a report by the Service Council showing that isolation was the worst part of the work day for 21% of technicians. The chat feature that comes with the mobile service management software apps is one of the reasons behind their popularity, keeping the employees connected to the rest of the manager at the central office, and even other field employees- which makes them feel as part of one large family.

Safety is also a concern, especially for cases where your field staff will be working in hazardous situations – like conducting repairs on top of radio towers, dealing with gas equipment in concealed spaces. The central office needs to remain in constant communication with the workers, and have the appropriate structures in place to handle emergencies. You don’t want to lose employees because they don’t feel that their safety is a priority to you. A skilled technician is an asset that should be protected- and certainly you wouldn’t want to incur extra funds to hire and train personnel- which will end up being an additional strain to your budget over time. Field service job management software with features that allow your employees to check-in remotely via app will be handy in notifying the head office of their arrival at the job site, and in case of any incident, the field manager can quickly see the employees? last location, and dispatch help to them. 

5. Difficulty in assessing performance metrics

When you have a situation where timesheets are only handed in after the workday- and in some cases at the end of the week, it becomes difficult to assess the level of productivity of your field workers. Are you getting value for your money with the wages that are being paid out? Are there lots of lost work hours due to logistical hitches- or cases where the field worker delay the tasks, or take out sections of their day to attend to matters of personal interest- and still bill you for it? All this translates to poor customer service, with issues ranging from cancelled and rescheduled appointments, unmet targets, disagreements based on the scope of work being handled, to client dissatisfaction for not having their issues addressed in a timely manner- which becomes a hit on your brand.

FSM comes in to enable the field service manager to always be in the loop during the entire process- knowing exactly how long the workers are spending on each particular task, the jobs that are pending, cancelled or rescheduled, in order to constantly review and optimise the planning of the firm?s activities. With software like FieldElite, you even get a birds-eye view, as the work areas are mapped out, that way you will be in a position to direct your field workers on aspects like the best routes to take to avoid traffic gridlocks.

6. The break factor

How do you plan for breaks? Jobs are different, and there will be unexpected issues cropping up regularly. However, the field worker is still entitled to breaks during the working day- such as the all-important lunchtime. The problem arises when there is unextended time on some job sites, and cases of unscheduled breaks being taken. These have a ripple effect, as they will cause delays on other projects that are on queue, and you can also expect customer complaints to be coming in hot and hard. From a management point of view, you want to have the ability to respond to the issues as they arise, and reassign the jobs accordingly. Mobile service management software gives you this power.

7. Customer relationship management

Customers want to be part of the process, staying in the loop with the service appointments that have been scheduled- and understandably so. From the booking process, to following up on the progress of the job- it all factors in. In case there are issues that crop up- like service vehicles being delayed, situations where extra parts need to be ordered, or the session cancelled and scheduled on a different day- being fully transparent with your customers will be a great boost to your brand. Gaining new clients and retaining the current ones requires the firm to maintain a quality customer service.

Negative feedback because of your customers? feeling neglected will be a setback for your business. Integrating the customer relationship management into the field service will go a long way in enhancing their experience. Here, software solutions like FieldElite have also got you covered with a customer self-serve portal, accessible online through their browsers. This has the welcome benefit of reducing the number of calls as they conduct follow-ups, since they will be in a position to track the project right from the comfort of their homes and office desks, thus increasing customer satisfaction.

Strategy and Portfolio Management

 

A well planned strategy is the necessary bridge between brilliant leadership and excellent execution. Without it, your entire organisation cannot hope to respond quickly and effectively to challenges and changes within the landscape on which it operates.

Strategic planning involves identifying objectives, understanding what resources are needed to attain them, and then allocating the resources to the appropriate units to ensure they are used optimally towards the achievement of desired objectives. Among the end results which can be reflected by your team members are:

  1. Deeper understanding of the competitive environment;
  2. Snappy execution of plans;
  3. Faster, more aligned actions; and
  4. More intelligent and apt responses against strategic moves of the competition.

We understand the need to institute strategic management in such a way that your organisation can easily adapt to unforeseen developments. As such, all our solutions are formulated to make your organisation not only well-guided but also as dynamic as possible.

Strategy Formulation

Before you can proceed to map out any strategy for your company, you’ll have to study your company’s current environment. This will help you determine what courses of action should be taken to be able to navigate through such environment on your way to the end goal.

If you’re not a full time strategist, such a task can either be very daunting or deceivingly easy… the former can prevent your team from getting started, while the latter can lead your team astray.

Ideally, strategy formulation should be carried out as quickly and as efficiently as possible so you can move on to implementation before the competition can react. Our methods can enable your leaders to hit the ground running each time they set out on a strategic plan.

How?

  • We can assist in accurately applying strategic tools like SWOT and Gap analysis, then help integrate the results into an effective strategic plan.
  • We’ll train your team how to carry out effective research techniques so that the information they gather will really be what we need. This is because the tools mentioned earlier can only work effectively if the inputs were picked intelligently. Of course, if you want the entire process expedited, we can also conduct the research ourselves.
  • We’ll establish best practices for top-down, bottom-up, and collaborative strategic management processes. We’ll even show you how to organise and hold meetings where team members are constantly engaged and in-sync, so action plans can be developed and relayed fast.
  • We’ll see to it that strategies for all functional departments (such as IT management, supply-chain, HR, marketing, and legal) are in line with your business strategies, which should in, turn be aligned with your overall corporate strategy.

Strategy Evaluation

Your strategies have to be periodically assessed if you want to determine whether they are attuned to variations affecting your organisation. These changes may include new technologies, emerging competitors, new opportunities, as well as unexpected developments in the economic environment and political climate.

While no time limit is imposed for the build-up of resources vital to the attainment of a specific objective, the window of opportunity can shut on you before you can start amassing such resources. Given this possibility, it is important for your strategies to undergo evaluation processes that will determine whether you should pursue them or not.

Using only the most reliable evaluation techniques, we’ll help you establish whether:

  • Your strategies will place your company in a position that will give it competitive advantage or will erode whatever advantage the competition already has;
  • Your strategies are consistent with the landscape on which your company currently traverses;
  • They are realistic enough in relation to the resources you have on hand;
  • The associated risks have all been identified and the appropriate control measures have already been put in place;
  • The time frames for their full realisation are both realistic and acceptable.

Portfolio Management

In today’s highly competitive market, many of the more successful enterprises are driven by project-based systems.

Now, there’s always a tendency for project managers to become overenthusiastic and to come up with a number of projects that can’t be sustained by available resources. If your project-based company frequently runs out of resources, then either you just have too many projects running or too much is being allocated to a select few.

In both instances, the problem does not necessarily lie on the individual project managers themselves. Rather, what is needed is the ability to have full control over existing projects and investments.

Your leadership should be able to rank projects in terms of their impact to your organisation’s growth, positioning, and profitability. This will give you sufficient information when deciding which projects to pursue, prioritise, or shut down. These are the benefits you’ll gain from our services:

  • A vivid presentation of the big picture. Only when you can step back from all the detail and see the interplay of investments and resources will you be able to make wise decisions regarding how and where to position them.
  • The ability to distinguish between projects with the highest potentials and those that are outdated.
  • Access to expertise that will help you distribute your present IT infrastructure, human resources, financial resources, and facilities across running projects to obtain the biggest benefits for all stakeholders.

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Scrumming Down to Complete Projects

Everybody knows about rugby union scrums. For our purposes, perhaps it is best to view them as mini projects where the goal is to get the ball back to the fly-half no matter what the opposition does. Some scrums are set pieces where players follow planned manoeuvres. Loose / rolling scrums develop on the fly where the team responds as best according to the situation. If that sounds to you like software project management then read on, because there are more similarities?.

Isn’t Scrum Project Management the Same as Agile?

No it’s not, because Scrum is disinterested in customer liaison or project planning, although the team members may be happy to receive the accolades following success. In the same way that rugby players let somebody else decide the rules and arrange the fixtures, a software Scrum team just wants the action.

Scrum does however align closely ? dare I say interchangeably with Agile?s sprints. Stripping it of all the other stages frees the observer up to analyse it more closely in the context of a rough and tumble project, where every morning can begin with a backlog of revised requirements to back fit.

The 3 Main Phases of a Scrum

A Scrum is a single day in the life of a project, building onto what went before and setting the stage for what will happen the following day. The desired output is a block of component software that can be tested separately and inserted later. Scrumming is also a useful technique for managing any project that can be broken into discreet phases. The construction industry is a good example.

Phase 1 – Define the Backlog. A Scrum Team?s day begins with a 15 minute planning meeting where team members agree individual to-do lists called ?backlogs?.

Phase 2 – Sprint Towards the Goal. The team separates to allow each member to complete their individual lines of code. Little or no discussion is needed as this stage.

Phase 3 – Review Meeting. At the end of each working day, the team reconvenes to walk down what has been achieved, and check the interconnected functionality.

The 3 Main Phases of a Scrum ? Conclusions and Thoughts

Scrum is a great way to liberate a competent project team from unnecessary constraints that liberate creativity. The question you need to ask yourself as manager is, are you comfortable enough to watch proceedings from the side lines without rushing onto the field to grab the ball.

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  • (+353)(0)1-443-3807 – IRL
  • (+44)(0)20-7193-9751 – UK

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