Lean Six Sigma in Field Service Organizations – Identifying and Eliminating Waste
You have no doubt read various examples where Lean Six Sigma was used to identify and eliminate waste in both manufacturing facilities and service companies (i.e. https://saasjet.com/time-in-status/
financial institutions and hospitals). Most of us can quickly see how concepts such as inventory reduction and improved product quality are applied to physical objects or documents. But what about Field Service Organizations where the primary product (a completed service request) is often vaguely defined and the main component (technical expertise) is intangible? How can we apply the same techniques to obtain the same results (increased speed, reduced costs, and improved quality)?
In this article we will focus on just one element of Lean Six Sigma: Waste Reduction. While service managers may intuitively suspect that there are many areas of waste within their organization, they may not realize that the same tools used to streamline production assembly lines can be used to improve field service processes.
Let’s begin by comparing the fundamental activities performed in both a manufacturing facility and a service field organization:
Manufacturing: Product sales order is entered directly into the MRP
Field Service: Phone call or e-mail manually entered into SMS
Manufacturing: MRP checks parts stock lead times, current inventory, etc. before sending detailed demand to plant floor.
Field Service: Typically SMS only checks technician availability before dispatching (with limited detail).
Manufacturing: On plant floor – fabricating; assembling; testing.
Field Service: At customer site – replacing parts; troubleshooting; adjusting.
Manufacturing: Final QC inspection; Ship; Invoice.