Month: August 2014

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Service Order ROI – Proper Scheduling

I like to jump back to this topic, because I feel it’s very valuable to recognize just how you can get additional return on investment using service orders within SAP.  Now often the points I’m making may not be new information, and even better, it could be things your organization is already doing.  In that case, be sure to remind your executives of the things your group is doing right 🙂  However, if you are like many organizations, take these as possible ideas to make your service organization even better.  Today I want to talk about proper scheduling of your service orders.

Now if you want a great way to realize a return on service management, it is scheduling your service orders in the most effective and efficient way.  Again, this concept sounds so obvious, but in general, I see many organizations overlook this concept and just “wing it” when it comes to deciding what to work on next.  There are a few key things that you can easily do to help increase your ROI on the service order.  But before we cover those simple ideas, let’s focus on exactly what you will gain by implementing these.

The first and most important is a more satisfied customer.  How can it get any better than that.  If your customer sends you back their broken widget, you look at your schedule and give them an accurate date of when they can expect their widget back.  Now, customers will always want things back faster, but in general, if you can live up to your promise date, they will respect and trust you.

Next, you get an efficient service shop.  What do I mean by that?  I mean that you don’t have technicians jumping from one order to the next every 30 minutes, because your missing components, the machine you need is in use, or the technician doesn’t have the required skills.  By letting your supervisor schedule things appropriately, you’ll minimize the jumping around, which leads to getting things done faster.  If you’ve ever tried to do 5 tasks at the same time you know that the more jumping you do, the longer it takes to finish.

The first is using the priority field on the service orders.  Now, I’m not going to pretend that this will solve all your issues, but this is the fastest and easiest way to perform what I consider “rough-cut” planning.  The default priority profile for service orders comes with the standard 4 options, Very High, high, medium, low.  Now for most organization, this is fine.  However, you can easily configure these priorities to be whatever you need.  In addition, the priority fields even give you the option to set start and end dates that the priority needs to use.  The dates are great, but in my opinion, just setting a priority on every service order will quickly give your service technicians what needs to be worked on first.  Just drilling in the concept that all #1 priorities must be completed (or at least taken as far as possible) before looking at any priority #2.  In my opinion, the easier you make the rules, more likely your entire team is to follow them 🙂

The next thing I believe is assigning every order (or operation) to a person on your team.  Now this could be overkill if you have a very small team, but even then, unless you assign everything to the same person, you will get benefit out of this concept.  When you assign a responsible person to each order, you take that next machete slash in scheduling.  This way, if you have someone with a specialty skill, say welding, you can assign all the welding operations to that person so it’s very obvious what that person’s workload really is.  It also gives your supervisor viability on the upcoming bottlenecks for a particular resource.

Next up is the basic start and end dates.  If you set these, and if you have your supervisor monitoring these, now you know instantly what needs to happen first.  Now, if you pair these dates with the priority and responsible person, you have essential built a simple capacity plan for your service shop.  When you have each person looking at what they need to do, combined with the date it needs to start/end, and in the event of a conflict, the highest priority wins, and more importantly your customer wins.

Now, if you are really looking to take your scheduling to the next level, you can start moving toward actual capacity management.  Now, I can’t speak as an expert on this topic, but I certainly know that your service work centers can use capacity planning just like any production order work center.  Now, in the service world, things will always be more “fluid” than in the production world simply because you never know when something will break.  That doesn’t mean you can’t still plan to the best of your ability.

I hope this gives you some ideas to increase your service order ROI.  Thanks for reading,

Service Execution – Our newest offering

Now, I’m pretty excited about this.  This is the execution of my latest brainchild.  Now, this idea really should’ve been obvious to me quite a while ago, but it’s amazing how difficult it can be to see the forest through the trees.  As you may know, we’ve had a product called Proximity, and one of the pieces was production execution.  What I finally realized is that I could take the same concept and apply the idea to the service management realm.  Now the elegance of this solution is the simplicity I can provide to the service/repair shop.

By creating a single transaction that allows any service technician to quickly see the service orders that apply to them.  They can see every operation they need to work on, quickly see the priority, and even any notes that have been entered onto the order.  Then, they can even drill into a specific service operation, they can run availability, they can do a confirmation, if the shop uses PRT’s you can even view those all right in the same screen.

If this sounds like something your service department could use,  please check out our web page that includes a demo on the functionality for Service Execution.

I’d love to hear your feedback and thanks for reading,

When Inspiration Strikes…

Well, this past week was a good one for me.  This past week, I finished the first round of development on my latest brainchild.    Then, I was actually a little lost for a couple days, because I didn’t have anything urgent that I had to jump on, so I let my mind start to wander a bit.  I relaxed on Thursday and Friday, and then on Saturday, it hit me again.  I was trying to get my little guy to take nap, when inspiration hit me again.

So, why I am talking about this?  not to brag about my latest ideas (I’ll get to that in a future post 🙂 ).  No, I wanted to emphasize that when you can start to step away from the day to day work, you free your brain up to do the really valuable work.  Perry Marshall calls this the $1000/hr work.  The reality of the situation is that this idea might not have broken out of my subconscious if I had just jumped blindly to the next piece of minutia.  And believe me, in a small business, minutia can quickly rule your life.

What I would love for you to take away from this, is that it’s ok to be a little lost.  It’s ok to take a break from everything.  Give your imagination a chance to break free.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results you end up with 🙂

Thanks for reading,

Delegating… Another Update

Well, since I’m still getting back into the swing of blogging consistently again (man, was that a mistake for me to stop.  ha ha ha), I thought I’d give you another update on something I’ve been trying to do.  In an attempt to remove myself from the equation of the person that does everything, I’m trying to delegate more stuff.  Now, this is incredibly difficult as a small business person used to doing everything.  It’s tough because there is no one to delegate things to unless you go out and find them.  It’s also incredibly difficult to let go of doing things I’m good at.

Both of these are excuses, and I know it.  But it doesn’t make it any easier.  Now, my first that I’m willing to start stepping away from is the day to day ABAP coding.  So I’ve gone through several different iterations.  First off, I reached out to some friends to see if they were interested in making some extra money.  Like everyone, they were interested, but what often happens is that life just gets in the way.  I don’t fault them at all.  If I was so damn addicted to my own business and seeing it succeed, I’m certain I’d be doing the same thing.  Now this isn’t to say that I won’t still get the chance to work with my first round of candidates…  but it did mean that I needed to keep hunting.

Lesson 1.  finding people willing to work on a fixed bid basis for programming is incredibly difficult.   There’s good reason behind this, but it doesn’t help my pocketbook :).  With programming, there are often unforeseen issues, poorly written specs, incomplete analysis, or just “weird” data that you thought you understood until you started to extracting it.  Any number of things can cause work load to go from 40 hours to 80 hours.  Most of the programmers doing this for a living and not a hobby (I count myself among the hobbyist) recognize this, and will only do it hourly.  So, I went onto ELance, and put a sample job out there.  It’s impressive how many responses I got to the job.  it was also interesting the rate ranges, and the approaches that I got with each.  I only found one person that gave me enough of a comfort level to try him out.  So far, the experiment has proved to be a success.  But, it did require an hourly rate.  The good news is that my programmer has done the homework upfront, so his estimates have been right on, or even under budget.  This is good on many levels.  First, it’s teaching me to write better specs each time.  Second, it gives me an outsiders perspective on my thoughts.  Finally, once we figure out exactly what’s involved, for the most part, I’m just spending a few minutes a day answer questions, and the rest of the time the code is being written without me.

Lesson 2.  Prioritization is key.  When I realized that I found my first consistent contractor, I had to figure out what was most important to me.  Now this should be easy, but I look at my extensive development list, what specs I currently have written, how attached to my own stuff i’ve become, well, let’s just say this took some effort.  The hardest part was letting go…  I have an idea that I really want to do, but I keep getting pulled away from it.  I even had a pretty solid spec written, and some of the work started.  But, since it’s my latest and greatest idea, I wanted to do it myself.  Well, I had to take a leap of faith and let it go.  I moved my work over to the dev box, and handed the spec over.  Again, it’s good because my idea is only getting better with another set of eyes.  But it was a bit of a challenge.

All and all, the experiment has been successful.  My next addition needs to be someone that can do ABAP Web Dynpro.  Otherwise I will end up doign all of that myself, or paying someone else to learn it.  Neither is the end of the world, but in the idea of delegating, looks like this is the next most logic place to go…  if you know anyone, or you’re interested, please ping me.  I have some simple things to get started on and we can do a trial of each other 🙂  Or, I’ll be happy to let you learn for a fixed bid project. 🙂

Thanks for reading,

Getting time back in your life… An Update

Well, a couple months back, my new guru, Perry Marshall, put the idea out there to unsubscribe ruthlessly from everything you don’t read in your inbox.  I just wanted to circle back to that post, and let you know how that went.

Now, for the first few weeks, it took me just as much time to keep unsubscribing from every little thing that kept popping into my inbox.  After about 2 weeks though, I did start to notice a difference.  I won’t lie, initially, I felt a little sad.  I didn’t have emails in my inbox to tell me I was important or someone was thinking about me 🙂  By the time I was doing this for a month, I was getting maybe 1 or 2 emails to unsubscribe from a week.  My inbox went from getting 30-50 junk emails a day, down to one or two.

Now, the real change came to my realization that the email inbox is NOT my top priority.  I don’t wake up first thing in the morning and check my inbox.  Instead, I just go about my daily routine of hanging out with the family, getting breakfast ready etc.  My inbox doesn’t get looked at for at least an hour or two after I wake up.  Now, this might sound like no big deal to you.  But just a few months ago, the first thing I did when I woke up was roll over, grab my phone and start deleting/reading emails.  Now, it’s something that I often forget to look at for several hours at a time.

IT’S FANTASTIC!!!  it is so freeing to not be addicted to my inbox, constantly checking for emails.  Just this one little trick not only bought me time back in my day, it taught me that the inbox isn’t my master.  Talk about a Win-Win.  Anyway, if you haven’t tried this experiment, just do it for 2 weeks.  It could change your life, and a minimum, it will at least buy you back a 1/2 hour of your day that you normally spend deleting junk 🙂

Thanks for reading,

Service Order ROI – Parts Planning

Well, it’s been a while since I started covering this topic, so I thought I’d get back to my series on the Return on investment for SAP Service Management.  if you missed some of the previous posts, be sure to check them out:

Notifications – Service Contracts 2

Notifications – Service Contracts 1

Notifications – Maintenance Plans

Notifications – Improve your products

Notifications – Measure Productivity

Notifications – Accurate Warranty Dates

Service Master Data – Is there an ROI?

I might get back to the notifications again soon, but today I wanted to talk about the service order.  I recently did a post talking about the concepts and practice of service parts staging.  Well, that got me thinking about the importance of parts planning within the service order.  Now everyone knows how important it is accurate forecast your inventory levels for production.  And while it’s still a bit of voodoo to figure out what you will really sell over a coming period, you at least have some idea of what to do.  And more importantly, you know exactly what components it takes to make one unit.

Well, service completely defies this logic.  In most places I’ve worked at, there is a “small” percentage of known maintenance coming.  This is often related to service contracts or maintenance plans.  It’s predictable and you know what’s going to happen.  If you want the generic example, oil changes for your car.  You sell a “plan” for discounted oil changes for 1 year, with up to 4 oil changes.  You know that you need to plan for the oil, filter and technician time.  No problem.  You still don’t really know exactly when it will happen, but you at least can guess.  But the real bulk of most service is unplanned and unpredictable.  You hope you’re product is designed to last at least a certain time period without a failure.  But things happen.  The point is, since you have no idea what could go wrong, how do you plan for this???

This is where your service order (and to some extent you service notification) become invaluable for helping you develop your own crystal ball of potential repairs.  Your service order should always contain the material that is being repaired (that’s a given).  But if you are using it correctly, you are also loading up all the time and materials you used for the repair.  This is normally driven from a cost perspective.  But what many people don’t realize is this is building your history, if you just remember to look at it.

I’m hoping the light bulb is starting to go off out there, but if not, let me lead you a little further down the path.  If you start looking at the components used for a particular repair for a material, it’s likely a pattern will emerge.  So let’s say you have you widget, and there are components 1 – 20 used to build it.  Now, if I were to pull every service order for the past year for that widget, and analyze the components (and qty) issued to those jobs, in most instances you should see the pattern of common parts usage.  Typically there will always be the common wear components (in your car this is the oil filter, air filter, brake pads, etc…)  Things you know will wear out and need to be replaced.  But now if I take this one step further, I can start looking at the average time before these components needs to be replaced.  Now, this analysis is a lot harder, because now you need to take into account the date the components was added to the widget (this could be the production date, or it could be the last service date).  However, the information is all in SAP.

Now, let’s just step back for a second.  Knowing exactly how long a component will last is great to know…  but for our purposes, this might be more info than we need.  If we can simply look at the component usage for service over a time span, we can now “forecast” what we really need to keep in stock in order to turn around those customer issues as quickly as possible, while still maintaining minimum stock levels.  Now if you’re already doing this, my hat is off to you.  In general, I don’t see this happen in the service order very often.  For the rest of you, if you’re looking for a tool to help you get this information, check out the Renovation Service Management Dashboard.  We are currently adding several new sets of metrics/reports to this dashboard, including service component usage.  If you could use this information, we’d love to help.

Thanks for reading,

Having a Bad Day…

Have you ever got an email or a phone call that manages to haunt you all day long?  I recently had one of those experiences, and in retrospect it’s making me angry that I let it mess up an entire day.  There will always be things that just slap you in the face.  What it all comes down to is how you deal with it.

If you let that conversation replay over and over in your head, then you relive that anger, frustration, pain or whatever feeling you felt over and and over.  Essentially building in your mind those bad feelings 10 fold.  So…  now how do you reverse that???

I’m certainly no expert, but I’m finding that I just deal with it, and move on.  But to dealing with it, can be a pretty vague task.  For example, you don’t want to tell the person off, because often it’s a misunderstanding, so you need to deal with it appropriately.  A couple of things tend to help…  it’s not foolproof by any means, so if you have a suggestion, I’d love to hear it.  But in the meantime, here’s what i do…

1.  Take a walk and listen to some of my favorite music or podcast.  It helps me shift my focus away from the event and take a fresh perspective.

2.  Write a blog post.  Sometimes for me, writing is my venting.  Once I get it down on screen, it helps me move past it.

3.  Play with my kids.  This is always a winner, even if I’m having a good day.  For example, I ended the day watching a 1/2 hour of Star Wars with my favorite little man.

I’d love to hear how you handle a situation like this.

Thanks for reading,

Lesson Learned…

Well, perhaps you’ve noticed I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus lately.  There were multiple reasons (borderline excuses, I admit :)).  It’s summer, so like everyone, there are always extra things going on, and I also had aspirations to do weekly “BIG” posts, rather than daily posts.

Well, what I found is that distributing the time into one big post, turned into an easy way to not do it at all.  So, the lesson learned for me is that staying consistent works so much better for me, than trying to one big post.  In general, I think this means that I might do more “series” going forward.  This will give me the big posts, but still force me to stay on track.

anyway, I wanted to apologize for my lack of posts.  It’ll take me a week or two to get back into swing, but I plan to be posting more 🙂  Stay tuned, and as always, if there’s something you’d like to hear about, please let me know.

Thanks for reading,