By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service
I have a confession: I don’t write about parts management much because it isn’t exciting to me. I was a Psychology major in college and I just incline for many reasons to the “people” stuff. Leadership effectiveness, change management, sales and service strategy, innovation and transformation? Love it. Parts management? Meh. Why am I telling you this? Because it’s a shortcoming I’m owning up to – and also because it isn’t just me that is underdiscussing this topic. In a webinar I hosted recently we talked about how parts management is one of the most underemphasized aspects of service delivery. Everyone tends to think worrying about parts is “someone else’s job” and therefore it can get overlooked and underprioritized which inevitably unravels a company’s progress when it comes to all of the topics I listed that I do love discussing.
Further, we are entering a time where parts management will become more critical than ever. As recovery from COVID-19 ramps up and demand increases, the pressure that puts on service organizations will be infinitely amplified if there isn’t visibility into inventory and appropriate allocation of parts. If your organization is still in a lull from the impact of the pandemic, now – right now – is the time to get a handle on this to ease your transition to the next normal.
Ineffective Parts Management Will Ruin Your CX Efforts
Most organizations today are heavily focusing on the customer experience. When you think CX, parts management might not be the first topic that comes to mind. But the reality is, ineffective parts management processes are detrimental to your CX efforts. You may have the best strategy for selling service, the most personable and consultative technicians, and the latest in mobile technology to help them on site – but if you haven’t tackled parts management and they show up without what they need to get the job done, none of it matters much. It’s an imperative area to incorporate into your overall digital transformation journey around service optimization. Parts management is most impactful when it is not siloed from service but integrated into the service and scheduling systems. I have heard the phrase “right person with the right skills with the right parts and the right time” no fewer than 10,000 times in my career, but that is the case because it is true – underprioritizing any variable in that equation leads to missing the mark.
The Future of Service Requires a Holistic Approach
Ineffective parts management is also costly to your organization. Repeat trips and aging inventory are detracting from your bottom line. Moreover, the idea of any function being overlooked or operating in a silo is outdated and will not hold up to the demands of today’s service businesses. The future of service, if you really boil it down, is in maximizing your ability to manage complexity so that you’re offering the utmost in simplicity to your customers. Seizing the opportunity of Servitization or outcomes-based service requires a holistic approach to service delivery – the elimination of silos and the creation of an aligned, digitally-enabled, cohesive operation that can take on the burden of complexity to deliver what appears to be a simple solution to your customers’ greatest challenges. For this to happen, parts management can’t be handled in a silo – operationally or technologically – and either should any other function. The silos need to be broken down and, in their place, rebuild an open-concept culture where communication, collaboration, and interconnectedness are the norm. This means integration of operations and alignment across service, logistics, supply chain and procurement teams – as well as investment in a technology stack that can synergize insights of parts inventory into the service management and scheduling mix.