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Is your company “servitizing” its products and “productizing” services? Now more than ever, service management software must be created using agile development processes but it must also enable business process agility.

Trending Initiatives: Servitizing Products & Productizing Services

Most service business leaders I’ve met with recently are working on “servitization” or “productification” initiatives. I’m not sure if these new words will make it beyond Wikipedia into the Merriam-Webster lexicon, but the need is very real, strategic and urgent. Companies are scrambling to provide customers with fully integrated solutions instead of products (i.e. servitization), and service organizations are being pressured to better design, produce, and deliver their service offerings (i.e. productization).

One interesting repercussion of this trend is the increased importance of software agility. Now more than ever, your service management software must not only be created using agile development processes, but it must also enable business process agility. Most RFPs don’t significantly address agility and they certainly don’t ask the vendor to demonstrate it, which is why I decided to write a white paper on the subject of selecting agile service management software, Selecting Agile Service Management Software.

There are a few ideas I would like to share with you on how to gauge vendor agility to improve your decision-making process. I actually think it is fun when software selection teams throw a few curve balls!

PUT A VENDOR’S SOFTWARE TO THE TEST DURING A DEMO

Dynamic Scheduling

It is difficult to differentiate between scheduling optimization engines. One approach that works, and one you should try when evaluating these scheduling optimization engines:

  1. Give one week of historical scheduling data to each vendor (like 10 techs and 200 jobs in a specific area) and have them schedule it for you. Evaluate the engine’s speed (stopwatch) and the optimized schedule’s travel time, jobs per tech per day, etc.
  2. Ask them to change one tech’s labor rate and re-run the simulation.
  3. Have one tech call in sick and re-run.
  4. Have one tech finish a job early and see what the engine does (and how quickly it reacts) based on this change. You can also see how the scheduler reacts to changes in real-time if you cancel a job.

Mobile Agility

A great mobile app is critical to your success, and user experience is one of the most important selection criteria (and also the least analyzed). Being a cloud-leader isn’t enough. You should expect vendors to demo on an iPhone, Android phone, iPad and Windows Laptop (yes…all of them). Then ask them to change the mobile user interface (UI) for you, something basic like adding a new field, changing the workflow or color scheme, on the fly.

Insight to Action

Business Intelligence (BI) dashboards and analytics are important, but all vendors have something to show and will happily demo the bells-and-whistles to you. Stir things up by asking vendors to show you how to create a new chart, key performance indicator (KPI), or summary table, right then and there. Next, have them prove it is role-specific by asking them to log into the app as a different user.

Internet of Things Ready

While it may be premature to expect vendors to demo an IoT scenario end-to-end during the selection process, it sure doesn’t hurt to ask! At a minimum, vendors should be able to clearly articulate their Internet of Things (IoT) strategy, explain the process and basic components, and highlight some successful customer projects. Now that Microsoft (Azure) and Amazon (AWS) have built massive infrastructures to support the next wave of IoT standardization, beware of proprietary IoT frameworks!

Although you may get some push-back, good vendors (like IFS) won’t shy away. Evaluating vendor agility upfront will help uncover which software best supports your continuously evolving service business.

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