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6 challenges to manage Maintenance and Customer Service resource efficiency

SOA People |

In maintenance and customer service activities, resource optimisation is essential to ensure efficient working processes. With so many elements to consider (labour, machine, materials, tools) making sure you have the best use of resources is tough, and organisations often face the same typical challenges…

The need to optimise operations

Optimising the execution of maintenance or service tasks is a key challenge. For example, this could be planning and executing diarised work-floor shutdowns. Many large plants schedule at least one shutdown period a year during low season to allow maintenance of operational-critical components that otherwise could not be maintained. This means there’s a very specific, and often narrow, window of opportunity to service each part of the operation, and as such efficiency and accurate deployment of resource is critical. Having a planning tool to see what needs to be done and in what order well in advance is a start, but you also need to understand what physical resource you have available in the form of workforce and ensure that they are being put to best use during the maintenance processes.  

Another example would be customer interventions. Companies that experience high levels of customer requirements with limited resource still need to provide the best possible service. To do so, they need to optimise these interventions as best as they can. This could be geographically based; using geolocation to ensure visits are planned for the least possible amount of travel and the most effective use of time; a by-product of which can be travel costs savings as well. It may also be dependent on customer priorities and optimising processes to service those clients with the biggest need at the right time.

So what do you need to think about:

  1. Optimise your labour, machine and material resources utilisation

Having the right person, with the right tool at the right moment to execute the right task is, without doubt, a real challenge. Without a planning solution that allows you to see the tasks, the resources, the priorities and so on, how can you possibly make the right decisions? Without a global view, you can't ensure that you're making the right decisions or the best possible use of the available resource.

  1. Keep your assets in good condition

The goal of the maintenance line of business is to keep assets in good shape, whether that’s technical equipment, production resource, machines, building or anything else. The same can be said for customer service, making sure the customer asset in good condition. In order to achieve this, workflows need to be as efficient as possible.

  1. Maintain flexibility to meet market requirements

Organisations are always striving to be able to manage resources with enough flexibility to meet changing market requirements, while still maintaining and improving customer satisfaction. This is no straightforward task. Remaining agile is impossible if the processes used to run the day to day business are inefficient and cumbersome; too much time is spent administering current workflows rather than giving the opportunity to understand how to effectively change with the times.

  1. Improve your time to react

In an emergency or unexpected situation, you need to understand the whereabouts of all your resources and talent in order to remain agile and react quickly and effectively. Only then can you send the right person and resources to the job that can turn the situation around. This requires a planning solution that gives clear view of priorities, the importance of each task and the current status of resources you have available.

  1. Ensure you meet your SLAs

Companies in service industries have SLAs and contracts with customers that if not met can result in large penalties. Being able to assess the gravity of each situation and the urgency of required tasks allows you to remain agile and move planning around in order to meet all SLAs. You need a system that allows you to view the SLA against each task so that planners can make the right decisions with the knowledge that they will be safely within their SLA requirements.

  1. Cost cutting - Finding the right balance

Keeping maintenance and service costs at the right level is paramount. Without a proper view of the requirements and resources available, you might miss opportunities to optimize your activities. For example sending the wrong technician to a particular repair, organising a technician to go onsite without the right parts or without the right information for other tasks at the same location, will cost you time and money because you will ultimately have to redo work and face customer dissatisfaction.

The right system could help you find the most cost effective person to do the job based on the requirement, and allow you to group together customer visits to reduce travel costs and so on.

Facing the challenges of resource efficiency

The good news is that these challenges can all be faced head-on. SAP provides the platform to support a wealth of information that can help you plan and manage Maintenance and Customer Service line of business operations. SOA People’s Ready4 Advanced Scheduling (R4AS)  solution takes this one step further to make the process highly optimised. With a simple but powerful graphical interface, drag and drop management capabilities and full direct integration with SAP, it’s the very best way to enhance and revolutionise your Maintenance and Service planning operations.

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