Guest Column | July 28, 2009

Managing Field Service Sustainability


By Israel Beniaminy, Senior VP At ClickSoftware

As Charles Warner (collaborator of Mark Twain) said, "Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it."

Well, by now everybody's talking about environmental responsibility, emissions, carbon footprint and sustainability. Unlike the weather, some of us, some of the time, are actually doing something about it. It does not matter whether we do it for ourselves, for the next generations, for the planet, for meeting government regulations, just for that "feel-good" feeling, or for any combination of reasons. What does matter is that we examine our actions to see whether we're really contributing to sustainability, measure the impact, and look for ways to do better.

Back in 2007, we asked some members of the service community to tell us what they see as the top contributions to greener field service, and we posted several answers together with our "top ten tips for green service" at Of course, we at ClickSoftware weren't the only, or even the first, to point out the potential for sustainability initiatives in field service. After all, by its very nature field service involves travel as well as use of consumables and spare parts. There must be something in there we could improve upon, right?

Indeed there is. And it gets better: Greener service is, in many cases, more profitable service. Drive too many miles and you find yourself paying twice: once for the miles (gas, vehicle maintenance etc.) and once for the hours spent driving instead of serving. Replace too many parts before you find which part was actually faulty and you find that all the parts you removed go back into the logistics chain, incurring costs as well as environmental impact (and that's the best case – at worst, the removed parts are not even recycled). Discover that you lack the part you need, or that your customer is not at home when you arrive, and you‘re forced to drive there again the next day. Furthermore, good service has further beneficial repercussions: Equipment which is better-maintained not only causes fewer emergency service calls: often, it also requires less energy and generates less emissions.

Therefore, any steps that you take to reduce number of visits (eliminate the second visit – or even the first visit if you use remote diagnostics and maintenance), optimize routing of the visits you do make, reduce use of consumables and spare parts and keep equipment at to performance condition must be good for the finance people as well as for the planet they – and we – all inhabit.

Does this sound convincing? Probably, but in many cases it still leaves a lot of hard work to be done: proving and quantifying the impact, in order to make the business case and to make the sustainability case. If you haven't taken such initiatives already, you may need hard, reliable numbers in order to get the go-ahead. If you have, you may need the numbers in order to showcase your achievements – whether you need to do so for showing your customers and employees that you care about the environment, or whether you need it in order to satisfy government regulations, qualify for tax cuts etc.

This is where I'd like to hand over to you, readers of the Clickipedia blog. Do you have a sustainability initiative in your organization? What organizational form does it take? What are its goals? How does it set actions and measure results? Is the initiative specific to the field service operations or do they extend across the overall corporation? To what extent has sustainability become important to how you manage your field service business and set your strategy? Will it become more important in the future?

SOURCE: ClickSoftware