Taking it Global: Expanding Field Service to the International Arena
MEDIVATORS is a leader in developing, manufacturing, and marketing medical devices, sterilants, and water purification products, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We have been experiencing exciting growth and recently launched our first global sales and service team, based in the Netherlands. Our field service organization is central to our success, and I am looking towards the future and considering what challenges we will see and which best practices we can leverage as my colleagues and I manage a global field service team for the first time. Here are some of my top priorities and strategies:
Leverage Proactive Teamwork
I have the privilege of partnering with John Welisevich, the Salesforce Applications Specialist at MEDIVATORS, to manage more than 200 users on our Salesforce.com and ServiceMax programs. These users include our sales, service and marketing teams. Since it’s just the two of us, we have to balance helping our end users, managing the integration with our ERP system, maintaining the Salesforce platform, and trying to develop new tools all on a daily basis. We heavily rely on collaboration, and I believe that supporting each other is fundamental. While I am sometimes focused more on enabling our sales team in SFDC, I need to keep up with everything happening with ServiceMax and align with John on the Salesforce side for our North America programs. Our time is very limited, but as we look forward to a global future, that close partnership will be even more important, and our mutual support balancing act will be essential to success.
Anticipate Process Differences (and Leg Work!)
There are so many differences to consider when you cross borderlines or oceans. Even though the European office might say “We want to follow the same process the U.S. does,” there is a lot of groundwork ahead of us as we consider enabling our global field service team in one centralized way. We can never assume that our global offices work exactly as we do. Maybe U.S. customers expect Preventive Maintenance plans once a year but customers in Europe expect PMs performed twice a year. Currency differences will also make a huge difference, as we will need to expand our system to include work and payment in GBP in the United Kingdom and EUR across the rest of Europe. Majoritively, we will stick to the same processes that have made us successful in North America, but nuances are everything! It’s not as simple as duplicating what we have. We are keeping in mind that we are endeavoring to go into other markets, with different rules, laws, and approval processes. We’ll need to learn and observe where stakeholders might do things differently than we do, and align our plans accordingly.
Incorporate Learning from the Sales Side
In late 2014, our European sales team went live with our Salesforce tools and processes. There are many things that I can take away from my work on that transition since I had the opportunity to go to the office to train the end users and obtain feedback on how their processes were different than ours. I found out essential details that I would have loved to have known before I started the implementation.This is why, in my opinion, the best thing that any company can do is bring the service director and salesforce implementation expert to the new regional or corporate offices before going live with an expansion to diverse teams. Face to face collaboration allows for unparalleled give and take. We were able to gather the exact business requirements and find out the merits of the existing programs and processes in place. Instead of saying ‘let’s just do what corporate does’ it was a conversation and a collaboration, and the result was that much better.
Respect In House Field Service Experts
As we look at everything we need to put in place and everything we want to achieve with our global expansion of the field service team, I have to incorporate the voice of our best experts, our field service engineers. I have to make sure the process is working here first, before we bring it to additional teams. We have a plan to gather extensive feedback from our current FSEs on their experience today and how ServiceMax is best serving them. We want to confirm if this process is working properly for us, and identify what’s working and what isn’t.
Q&A for community members:
1. How does your company integrate field service process with your ERP system?
- For example, is there a two way integration from the ERP to your field service software (ServiceMax or other) at all times?
- Or is the information pushed from the ERP, then completely handled from that start of a service call to closing the call in field service software (again, ServiceMax for us), and then the information is pushed back to the ERP?
2. What challenges have you faced integrating field service software with your back end ERP system?
3. Do you manage a global field service team? Or are you thinking about expanding?
I’d love to hear your challenges and considerations that global expansion has presented to your business!