Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Why Mobilize a Field Services Team?

This article contains an interesting reason to mobilize field technicians - better cash management.

For Dave Croteau, manager of customer support for Toshiba America Medical Systems, getting data from his mobile field-service staff in a timely manner was a nagging problem. And the delay was losing the company money.

Croteau oversees customer-service operations for the Tustin, Calif.-based company, which provides service and support for medical imaging equipment, including ultrasound and X-ray machines, to hospitals and labs across the country. His team dispatches one of 400 field service engineers whenever a customer needs help.

Here was Croteau's beef: The engineers were equipped with laptops running Amdocs' Clarify customer relationship management software to enter information about the work they performed. But if they were at a customer's facility, they usually couldn't get a network connection to log in to the Clarify system, and they'd put off the data-entry task. "The average close for a case was running over 13 days," Croteau says, "which coincided with the technical engineers doing their expense cards every two weeks."

That delayed how quickly Toshiba America Medical Systems could get paid, because the billing department can't process invoices until an engineer files a report detailing the work. Plus, Croteau says, the billable hours engineers entered were often only hazy guesses, and it turned out that on average, customers were being undercharged.

So the 2 reasons Mr. Croteau gave for mobilizing - delayed billings, and under charging customers. In other words - bad cash management.