Product-oriented businesses review and value their “product roadmap”. The vitality of a product-based company depends on the on-going development of a product roadmap and continuous innovation. Future market growth and company valuation are in part determined by their product roadmap.
Recognizing field service as its own line of business, the people of the organization are the product for field service. Have you ever had a conversation about your service business and the other party quickly asks about your people roadmap? This usually is not the case. Service-based companies, or operations of blended product-service businesses, also have a product and that is called an organization of field service engineers, technicians, coordinators, support personnel and managers. One would argue that the organizational or people roadmap is of equal if not of more importance for a field service business than a product roadmap for a product-based business. I’ve always said as a field service leader that I’m in the “people” business, and as such the business needs a clear, vibrant “people roadmap”. The people roadmap must include all roles in the organization including service managers and their ability to lead and develop business.
But do we talk earnestly of our people roadmap? Are there regular human resource reviews, succession plans, coaching, mentoring, variable project assignments, training and skills inventory for today and tomorrow’s needs? When is the last time the organization roles were updated for the change impacts and business strategy? Are customer satisfaction survey data incorporated to in this review? If a human resource review process is in place, is it done in the context of the specific field service business dynamics of revenue creation and workforce development? In my career, I’ve experienced some outstanding practices addressing the areas above. I would recommend however that any human resource review process address powerful drivers such as digital transformation, workforce generational differences and styles, technician soft-skills and ability to advance. The degree and pace of change in the field service industry have increased due to technology, consumer experiences, and new employee talent. This recent increase of change underscores the leadership action required to update roles, proficiency requirements, development plans and institute human resource reviews.
Service organization leaders must plan, act and communicate both internally and externally about their career roadmap. A fairly simple but very effective practice as an example is to provide a brochure of all of the job roles that exist within a field service organization. The brochure helps in both recruiting conversations and current workforce development conversations.
Summary Points for a Field Service Roadmap:
- Field service roles have changed and will continue to change with workforce retirements, new talent shortages, technology and company business strategy changes. Deliberate and engineered job roles work in synch with business process and technology to maximize business outcomes. Service leaders must prioritize job role updates and supporting skill requirements.
- Recruitment and effective on-boarding require the job roles defined and coupled with targeted training and job tools, proficiency level definition, and opportunities outlined for advancement. Additionally, to address the knowledge transfer, both technology and role assignments for senior personnel are necessary.
- Setting performance expectations and metrics for these new roles, aligns the field service engineers and technicians with company goals and outcomes to ensure strong performance and financial results.
- A career roadmap directs training, coaching and professional development. A field service organization must have an on-going commitment to the skills and behaviors necessary for service performance. Ask, is there energy around my people roadmap, both at the employee and management levels?
- A people roadmap energizes the organization around a company mission that is focused on both products/services. The roadmap and directional mission create more engagement with a simple, clear message for the employees to follow.
FSO leaders are maximizing the people roadmap and partnering with HR to impact change, growth, and organization engagement. The field service people roadmap is prioritized as an elevator pitch for both internal and external communications.