This content is part of the Essential Guide: Digital transformation strategy guide: From e-fax to AI

SPP Pumps uses field service software to increase efficiency

After implementing field service software, SPP Pumps managed to get customer invoices processed in less than one day, compared with up to two weeks when using a paper-based format.

Many industries are affected as the internet of things and machine learning become more prominent, but few feel the effect more than field service.

With more devices, machines and systems collecting data, it's vital that customer service departments be up to speed, and that field service software helps empower the agents and engineers on site.

By digitizing a substantial portion of the field service process, SPP Pumps -- one of Europe's largest commercial water-pump manufacturers -- was able to greatly decrease the amount of time required for maintenance and repair. The systems SPP Pumps monitors are typically connected to sprinkler systems and commercial water pumps to help fight fires on oil rigs.

"We would fax out work orders and wait until the next week to get them faxed back by the engineers," said Damian Hudson, head of IT at U.K.-based SPP Pumps. "Then, someone in the office would take that paperwork and manually type it into our computers."

To help expedite this process, Hudson worked with ServiceMax and Jitterbit to provide field service software that would integrate ServiceMax with SPP Pump's ERP software of choice: SAP. SPP Pumps was able to reduce invoice processing from up to two weeks to less than one day.

Like other field service software, such as Oracle, ClickSoftware, HouseCall Pro and FieldAware, ServiceMax allows field service agents who are on site to connect with their headquarters or warehouse.

SPP Pumps used Jitterbit to integrate ServiceMax data with SAP.

"Being able to use ServiceMax and connect directly to SAP, [SPP Pumps] reduced its invoice process to less than one day," said Andrew Leigh, vice president of alliances at Jitterbit, based in Alameda, Calif. "They needed to allow field service technicians to be able to order and source parts and bill the customer directly."

To help expedite these integrations, Jitterbit worked with ServiceMax to design a set of prebuilt API integrations designed specifically for ServiceMax and SAP customers.

"We have 25 integration flows that represent best practices from field services, and we worked together with ServiceMax to design them," Leigh said. "No application should be deployed as an island. Integration amplifies the value of every application out there."

Speed and efficiency are key to providing stellar field service, because field agents are typically working under tight customer schedules. According to Gartner's latest Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management, 80% of organizations with more than 75 field technicians will miss more than 20% of planned efficiency gains due to incomplete integration through 2020. Two-thirds of large field service organizations by 2020 will equip field technicians with a mobile application that drives profitability through efficiency and customer satisfaction, according to the report.

We don't have as much paperwork flying about anymore.
Damian Hudsonhead of IT, SPP Pumps

"We don't have as much paperwork flying about anymore," Hudson said. "We try to do things like improve our first visit by making sure engineers have all the correct parts and information when they go to a site. We can also get information more efficiently back to the customer on when work is complete or where an engineer is."

Hudson added that there was a brief training period to get his engineers up to speed on using tablets for most of their work, compared with the paper-based model that has operated within field service for decades.

"We had some agents that had never seen an iPad before," Hudson said. "There was some hesitancy, but they came around once they realized that they got an iPad to use, and we aren't that strict with how they can use it. But there are always one or two agents [who] don't want to use it, ones who have been with the company for so long."

While on the iPad, agents using ServiceMax field service software are able to see in real time the accounts they are working on and the availability of products both in their truck and at their warehouse.

"Before, oftentimes, these updates were being fielded by call center reps or by workers in the warehouse," said Jonathan Skelding, vice president of global alliances at ServiceMax, based in Pleasanton, Calif. "You shouldn't want to pay call center staff to provide that information to field engineers -- you want them dealing with customers."

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