When a field service organization is implementing any change to the way it works, whether it is rolling out new technology or a new way of working, there are a number of challenges which need to be addressed to reach a successful outcome. These include leadership support, engaging the workforce and having the right strategies in place.

Louis V. Gerstner recognized this when he was appointed the CEO of IBM in 1993 – the year the company posted an $8 billion loss, one of the biggest in the history of corporate America. IBM had gone from being the gem of Wall Street to struggling for survival. Under Gerstner’s leadership, IBM made a dramatic comeback, reinventing itself from a floundering business to a multibillion dollar enterprise. Here are three things you must know before implementing any change program.

1) Leadership Must be Engaged

Board and senior level executives are at the core of any change, and success and failure can rest on their shoulders. Despite this role, they need to understand that they don’t need to be all-seeing, all doing and all-acting. Their goal is to ensure that the new strategy is aligned to the overall business goals and that employees are clear on the new direction.In addition to developing the best strategy, business leaders are responsible for setting the pace of the change process, and maintaining and even accelerating momentum when and if required. Many initiatives that start well can fall apart when unexpected challenges surface so it’s important that leaders ensure that processes and people remain aligned with organizational goals.

2) The Workforce Will Drive Change

For field service organizations in particular, gaining buy-in from the workforce when implementing change can bring its own set of challenges, especially since change can create resistance. Trimble’s latest industry report, Transforming Service Delivery: An Insight Report, found that 50 percent of field service managers ranked workforce resistance as one of the major challenges businesses face when rolling out change1.

The main cause of this resistance is because the workforce is spread over a large geographical territory with workers carrying out diverse types of work and spending little time in the office. And with such a mobile workforce, providing adequate training is often the main challenge field service organizations face when rolling out change[1] since it takes workers away from their jobs. Ensuring that the training is understood and implemented can be an issue for field service managers as well, since it can be difficult to monitor field workers to prevent lapsing back to the way things used to be done.

However, these obstacles can be eliminated if business leaders approach change in a way that ensures employee buy-in by involving them in any plans, from the beginning. Consistent communication fosters a culture in which the workforce understands the changes and why they are needed.

Mark Francis, director of support services for Shred-it, found workforce engagement to be a key factor in the business’s new technology roll-out. “We organized a number of road show sessions and workshops in order to educate the workforce on the new technology. This also gave the teams an opportunity to ask questions and understand the overall value attributed to change.” For Shred-it, the new technology would help improve its business performance but the tangible and lasting benefits came from employee engagement, commitment and passion to make it work.

3) Measurement is Crucial

The expression, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” is especially true for field service organizations when it comes to change programs since workers need to be held accountable to the overall vision through measurement and metrics.

Performance Management Analytics (PMA) is making measurement simpler because field service leaders can now report on workforce performance by accessing data they trust to analyze their operational efficiency.

The technology is based on real location data and can generate and customize reports that showcase key measures including quality of service, statistics for individual workers, actual tasks completed against the time of work day, actual against estimated task duration, total tasks completed, total fuel usage and distance travelled.

By providing greater visibility into the performance of each employee and the business as a whole, the technology enables senior executives to better evaluate the effectiveness of their new business strategy and identify what areas are working and what areas need to be addressed.

Clearly, making change happen is difficult. It requires long-term commitment, and organizations that successfully implement change do so because of their business culture, employee engagement, having the right strategy and because the change is driven by the leadership team.

For more information on how to successfully implement business change, download the report, Transforming Service Delivery: An Insight Report  www.trimble.com/fsm/insightreport.

For more information on Trimble Field Service Management, visit www.trimble.com/fsm.

[1] Trimble Field Service Management, 2014, Transforming Service Delivery: An Insight Report