Is service still the poor relation to manufacturing?
Typically, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system was considered the core system managing operations for manufacturers. This hasn’t changed much for years, but what has changed is the value of the after sales service for most manufacturers. Peak and trough demand patterns and squeezed margins can deliver good returns for shareholders. However, it’s generally the service department that’s making the bread and butter profits that keep the business in the black. Not only that, but it’s the field service team who are keeping your brand in good favour with your customers; so that when it comes round to their next equipment purchase, they stay loyal and buy your big-ticket items.
So why would you neglect or delay your Service Management System whilst you sort out your ERP?
Forget for a minute that in many cases service management departments could make more profit than their production division counterparts.
Let’s say your ERP system can’t give you this level of data analysis; so you don’t really know where the value is being driven from. Instead ask yourself why you really need to wait to improve service? If your answer is about the importance of ensuring all other systems integrate well with the core ERP system, then you really are stuck in the dark ages.
Because integration isn’t as problematic as it used to be. Technology has advanced.
We’re living in a world where there’s an app for everything. We should simply use the best tool for the job each time. Businesses that want to excel use the best technology for each aspect of their business. Why would you settle for less? The proliferation of applications has advanced the development of integration solutions so, integrations are seamless and efficient.
Not only that, but they’re also happening all the time. Meaning companies can integrate new applications as and when they need them. Rather than delaying improvements and then funding large implementation teams to transform systems across the company in projects that can seem never-ending. Worst still these projects can become so massive and delayed; they end up effectively launching old tech by the time they are delivered.
So next time you get fobbed off when your data isn’t right and your First Time Fix Rates are too low; but you need more resource and can’t find it and you’ve asked again for a better system that could help you, why not start to build a proper business case. Show the improvements and cost savings you can make with a new system and then still integrate with the ERP when they finally get round to it. Integration is nothing to fear, it is everywhere. The results will highlight the value of your service division; create savings and improve customer satisfaction. See? No reason to be concerned.
Service needs to stand up and show why it should no longer the poor relation to manufacturing. It is, responsible for good cash flow, long term positive effect on equipment sales and how it could make greater margins if it was just valued in the same way.
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