J eremy Squire, Managing Director of FLS UK spoke to Kris Oldland, Editor in Chief of Field Service Magazine at the Field Service Expo, London.
Now, Jeremy, I wanted to talk to you about best of breed versus the platform because we’re talking a lot these days about the rise and return of the platform. There’s a lot of talk about end to end solutions; as a best of breed scheduling provider, why should we still be looking at best of breed solutions?
First of all Chris, just reminiscing, I’ve been coming to this event for 15 years now. It’s a little bit smaller than it used to be but still just as vibrant. So, I’ve worked with this type of technology for a long time and absolutely, the value of best of breed is when it fits the requirement. If you can go to an ERP or a service management system provider and their technology fits your need because you don’t need truly optimised routing then fine. However, in my experience there’s a dramatic amount of benefit to be had from choosing the right technology for your cause and there’s nothing that I’m aware of that gives more value for your service than optimising your time and resources. Compared to a built in scheduling solution, which might come from your service management provider, we could save you 30 percent of your time in the day; which might be your driving time, maybe half of your day is driving, then that’s a lot of benefit.
I won’t do a calculation, but if we can help you achieve an extra 10-20 percent of productivity then the value is enormous. If we don’t give you that benefit then we will be the first to say that this is not the best technology for you, but with this you will be able to plan better and react better throughout the day.
You mentioned for certain companies that optimising is better but perhaps not for others. What is the clear, distinct advantage of an optimised dynamic scheduling over the ‘vanilla flavoured’ scheduling that you would have in many FSM systems. And is it purely based around the number, if you’ve got a huge mobile workforce you should be looking at a fully optimised solution or is there other layers and complexities in that?
It’s not always about large numbers. There does tend to be an entry point, but it does tend to be about choices. So if you have no choice and this person is the only one who can do this task in the country then we’re not going to get as much value as when we’ve got a choice of say ten people. And then a choice of ten people is perhaps internal resources which you have already bought and paid for versus using contractors. If you have a contractor and you have used them once in the day but you pay for the whole day, we can take that type of rule in order to get the best value for you as a company.
And one final question of this specific look at best of breed conversations going on, obviously the big shout out for the platform approach is the ease of data moved from one silo to another. Is the onus on you as a best of breed provider to be able to integrate into any of the wider systems and is that a challenge in todays market, where API’S are much more prevalent and data does tend to move much easier, or is it still a challenge?
I think integration is always a key aspect of any project like this and we go to the market and look to partner with people where they have an allocation rules or a semi assisted scheduling type of technology, so that they are able to offer their customers something more. We spend a lot of our time working with those types of companies, that you see here today, but also some of the bigger companies such as SAP and Microsoft we have already formed partnerships with so we have pre-built integration.
As an example we went live with a SAP customer recently where our total effort for all the integration to their unique needs was about ten days. I know that historically this can be a big project, so we focus on particular technologies where we feel we are going to partner on a regular basis or need to work together, so it is absolutely key.