Knowledge Management for the Field Service Workforce
Field Service Engineers (FSE) are technology experts and product ambassadors who maintain the vast networks of technology that drive our industries. It’s essential that they have access to the most up-to-date methods of knowledge management to ensure effective, dynamic solutions in the field, in addition to providing satisfying customer interactions.
FSE need a number of things to succeed in the field:
- Accurate and up-to-date specifications for the task at hand.
- A detailed history of the particular project. This is especially relevant for providing troubleshooting information to technicians in the field.
- Information needs to be presented in a clear, step-by step format with relevant information provided for each step.
- Most importantly, an FSE needs this information to be available in real-time, exactly when and where it’s needed.
In theory, meeting these needs seems simple. However, traditional knowledge management systems such as email and online communities frequently fail to provide satisfactory results. They may contain relevant information, but they prove difficult to access and update in an efficient and user-friendly way.
Delivering effective knowledge when it’s needed requires a dedicated system that can be tailored to the people who need it most.
Despite these challenges, the future is bright for Field Service Engineers and the way that they access and capture knowledge while on the go. Advances in mobile technology and wearable devices mean knowledge management for the FSE of the future are dynamic, available, and engaging.
Mobile devices paired with intelligent software are quickly becoming the global standard for field service engineers. They are the most widespread tool for FSE, with over 75% using intelligent mobile applications in a support role.
- Mobile devices include rugged laptops, tablets, smartphones, and wearable technology such as smart-glasses.
- FSE use mobile applications for device configuration, data collection, on-the-job training, and knowledge capture and instruction.
- Mobile intelligence is a balance between the mobile device and the app. Apps should scale effectively across all mobile platforms and each specific function should be optimized for its intended platform.
Make it Easy to Find Relevant Knowledge.
Customers rely on FSE to provide solutions quickly in critical conditions. Customer satisfaction and employee efficiency demands a system that can distribute accurate information in real-time and is easy to use and navigate on an intuitive platform.
- The best platforms include instructions in a native app or allow FSE to scan a QR code (or similar technology) in order to queue up exactly which instructions and specifications they need for a particular project or task.
Make it Easy to Capture Knowledge.
A major component of knowledge management is the ability to capture up-to-date and relevant information. FSE and their supervisors need the ability to add to knowledge to a database in real time.
- Procedures change. Don’t allow knowledge to go ‘stale’ in a static format. Encourage updates as often as they’re needed and push them out!
Present Knowledge in an Actionable Way.
FSE often only have a short time to act and they cannot waste time trying to parse unclear instructions. A mobile platform needs to translate relevant knowledge into a simple, step-by-step format that can be acted upon immediately.
Continuous Tracking and Improvement.
Make your knowledge work for you! A good mobile solution should help capture as much knowledge as your engineers capture in the field.
- Instruction Scoring: Listen to your engineers! Empower workers with the ability to comment and rate instructions in order to improve their effectiveness. These features allow you to track progress and processes digitally in real-time.
- Instruction Analytics: Monitor the usage of instructions throughout your company and with all users, in real-time. Use this information to gather insights on what knowledge is used most and for which tasks.
Field Service Engineers perform an essential service by keeping our technology, communications systems, and machinery running smoothly. It’s up to us to ensure that they have the right knowledge when they need it most.
The industry is changing, and systems are becoming more complex at an incredible pace. The technicians responsible for caring for them need more support than ever. The good news is, powerful new tools and knowledge management platforms for Field Service Engineers are emerging to keep pace with the next industrial revolution.