Case Studies

Global Industrial Manufacturing & Services Conglomerate Implements Multi-National Standardization Strategy

A Global Conglomerate Specializing in Industrial Solutions, Technology, and Engineering
Eastern United States

Client Situation

The client is a global conglomerate specializing in industrial solutions, technology, and engineering, with over 100,000 employees operating in more than 30 countries. Their size contributed to their problem: A lack of visibility, standardization, and automation across the different countries and regions in which they operated.

An ERP upgrade, which had been designed to serve all regions, was being rolled out without consideration of local and global processes; subsequently, the implementation had stalled. While the technology upgrades promised numerous benefits—including centralization of work-order management, the ability to implement remote service, analytics capture, and the ability to perform service performance management—it had been rolled out to the different regions without broader consideration of organization-wide standards.

As a result, the company’s numerous improvement initiatives had faltered; they had no insight into how each country performed Maintenance/Service Operations for Fire, Security and Automation products (the focus of this case study) from a global perspective.

The challenges were numerous:

  • Different country- and region-based management objectives contributed to the lack of organization-wide standards and coordination.
  • Each country and region had the same branded ERP (SAP), but maintained different data and process standards.
  • Unstructured customer-contract setups were rife with variance and non-standardized SLAs across regions; manual onboarding of customers using non-standardized forms and under-standardized service offerings resulted in over-customization of service contracts.
  • Not-in-good-order (NIGO) data made it impossible to bill on the first pass. What hours were worked? What was completed? Was there a purchase order? All of these questions—and the resulting backlog—could be traced to poor upstream data quality and under-standardized information capture.
  • Remote technicians lacked ways to triage simple cases for faster resolution. Technology for capturing travel time and ticket closures was under-utilized, impacting billing accuracy and dispatchers’ visibility into technicians’ whereabouts.
  • Field technicians often got calls directly from customers, bypassing ticketing—and thus billing. These technicians were effectively self-scheduling—resulting in unbilled work, while contract pricing and tasks performed went unreconciled.

All these issues contributed to massive margin erosion. In the U.S. alone, open and unbilled cases amounted to $13 million.

Project Sponsor

Head of Global Service Operations

Project Scope
  • 10+ US, 50+ Global Locations
    • Intake
    • Scheduling
    • Dispatch
    • Engineering
    • Customer Service

Project Approach: Process & Standardization Before Technology

The Lab jointly developed a long-term preventative-maintenance standardization strategy with the client’s Worldwide Services Operations Improvement Team. Analysis was rapid. Implementation followed in multiple, “process-first” waves. To reduce risk throughout the transformation, each wave lasted only a few months and began generating benefits immediately, to help fund the next wave of implementation.

The initiative began with a ten-week Phase I process mapping and analysis, documenting the major end-to-end business processes and related operations details:

  • Contract setup, offers, & customer onboarding
  • Call center operations, ticketing, & dispatch
  • Remote & field technician work
  • Invoicing
  • Related operations details
    – Organizational structure (global, regional)
    – ERP implementation (each region)
    – Service-level agreement (SLA) definitions, targets

The Lab accelerated process improvement with our patented Knowledge Work Standardization® platform of industrial-services standardization templates: industry-standard KPIs, related data definitions and models, process maps, benchmarks, best practices, automation use cases, and more. These enabled rapid process mapping and analysis of more than 85 percent of employee work activities—while only requiring one hour per week of any subject-matter expert’s time.

Phase I: Analysis, discovery, and design findings

Discovery and design were conducted across all four regions in which the enterprise operates, spanning ten branches and eight countries—at a cost far less than that of traditional large consulting firms.

The analysis revealed numerous areas for improvement:

  • Avoidable communication, both internal and external, created two to three extra touch-points—and 20 to 30 minutes of excess communication—per ticket.
  • Wasted dispatch effort, with a 25-percent re-scheduling rate.
  • NIGO (not-in-good-order) billing, with a billing error rate of more than 50 percent.
  • Poor usage of remote technicians, with more than 60 percent of tickets requiring rerouting from the remote center due to an inability to resolve them remotely.
  • Thousands of open tickets, which equated to millions of dollars in unpaid service for events more than six months old.

Phase II: Standardization strategy implementation and work plan examples

Strategic process- and data-standardization capabilities were implemented over three self-funding waves to rapidly improve processes, accelerate the client’s existing efficiency efforts, and enable future digital initiatives.

Each of the three implementation waves consisted of four- to six-month-long project “modules,” or work plans, spanning three to five regions. The improvement efforts included maintenance planning, schedule and dispatch, and service execution across the globe.

  • Wave 1. Primarily implemented non-technology improvement focused on near-term benefits and quick-win standardization. This also laid the foundation for intelligent automation.
  • Wave 2. Built upon Wave 1, this integrated automation and upgraded standards into existing tools and systems.
  • Wave 3+. Realized digital strategy, increased customer and engineer self-service, consolidated centralization, and prepared data standards for AI efforts.

Each wave improved information quality, reduced rework, and helped eliminate excessive variance, while integrating a global ticketing system with the ERP—which was a significant challenge, since the ERP instances differed across countries.

Project Objectives
  • Map region- and country-specific processes
  • Deliver org-wide standardization strategy
  • Standardize end-to-end business process design, existing data, sources, and uses
  • Reduce rework, improve billing
  • Roll out unified instance of ticketing-integrated ERP across countries, regions, branches
  • Increase visibility for executives
Assets and Deliverables

Standardization Outputs:

– Organization structure, job roles

– End-to-end business process maps

– Process, activity taxonomy

– KPI definitions

– System/application inventory

– Data source inventory, dictionaries

– Improvement opportunities:

  • Operational best practices
  • Automation use cases
  • Data standardization
  • Existing technology utilization

Implementation and Solution Examples

The Lab implemented more than 50 industrial-services standardization process improvements. Examples:

1. Developed call-intake standards, such as data fields, directly into the ticketing-system add-on for the ERP. The overall standardization effort decreased ticket re-routing, while reducing avoidable customer touch-points.

2. Defined and implemented ticket prioritization. Established standard criteria for high/mid/low priority for service tickets, based on customer types, issue, and potential financial/reputational risk impact, in order to optimize resource assignment, while ensuring adherence to established SLAs.

3. Automated maintenance-data transfer from sales offers to ERP maintenance agreements. Designed sales-offer forms with standard service offerings, pricing, maintenance timelines, and customer metadata to match downstream contract formats and maintenance-plan data entry into the ERP. This new standard enabled seamless automation from the point of sale through the handoff of work to remote or field service teams.

4. Standardized technician skills data, such as equipment specialization, software expertise, and industry-specific certification within the ticketing system. The implementation of these standards improved the “fit” of technician assignment, increased first-time fix rates, and enabled more automated dispatching.

5. Implemented automated escalation to technician supervisors when technicians failed to respond to dispatches within certain pre-defined time thresholds. This not only improved the rate of contract-mandated SLA adherence—it increased contract renewal rates, too.

6. Set up automated billing warnings to billing staff and billing coordinators to flag unbilled service at regular intervals, identifying the specific items requiring resolution—and the follow-up actions needed to resolve them. This mitigated the invoice backlog, while reducing lost revenue.

Key Output

– Data standards for call intake

– End-to-end service standards:

  • Contracts
  • Service offerings
  • Quoting
  • Service repairs

– Remote

– Field

  • Ticket prioritization
  • Customer issue types

– Emergency

– Planned

– “Nice to have”

– Standardized gap testing and analysis by location

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