Leading a Field Service Team Through a Major Technology Transformation
Headland’s Insights into an Enlightened Change Program
George Yammouni, CEO of Headland Machinery, sat down with us to share helpful company insights, practices and tips from the perspective of a seasoned field service business that has utilized NextService for 8 years.
By providing their field service team with modern tools, methods and guidance, Headland has learned to harness and implement advanced technology to stand out against competitors within their industry.
Headland discusses how software technology has been an absolute necessity, to improve efficiencies within the business by:
- properly managing their field services workforce,
- having the right information at their fingertips, and
- delivering a better client experience.
Get a sneak peak as Headland reveals how NextService has been an exciting catalyst that has enabled Headland to evolve in the direction they’ve been steering their team, through their elusive “Project Holy Grail.”
Join the conversation, and take away useful tips that will help your field service business grow in the directions you’d once only hoped it could and now can with NextService.
About Headland Machinery
Location: Burwood, Victoria, Australia
Industry: Machine & Software Technology
Services: Machinery, technology, and automation sales, service and repairs
Annual revenue: $6-100 million
No of employees: 60
Headland Machinery provides machinery, technology, automation and advisory services, supporting the advance and growth of manufacturing in Australia and New Zealand.
With one of Australia’s largest teams of factory-trained engineers, Headland has focused on enabling industry 4.0, automation, innovation and smart factories as a market leader of software and technology integration to support manufacturing.
Key Headland insights
Here’s a quick overview of the key insights that George shared with us:
- Insider experience using NextService over the last 8 years
- Challenges Headland has faced over the last 12-18 months
- Why all field service businesses go through the “Roller-Coaster Effect”
- How advanced technology has helped them stand out against competition
- Creating “Project Holy Grail” and the five key factors to getting it right
- How technology supports the success of “Project Holy Grail”
- How Headland’s team have responded to company changes
- Roadblocks they encountered while implementing new technology
- The importance of timing when introducing new processes
- How to help your team embrace change with new systems
What has been Headland’s experience using NextService over the last 8 years?
The technology is the key enabler to what we’re trying to do in the business.
My experience, certainly over the last couple of years, has been an acceleration of what we’d hope to do, which is improve client experience. And that of course comes back to the fact that we are a people business in field service management.
The field service team is more than half our company.
So having the right digital technologies, the right information at our fingertips, and the right decision-making data allows us to manage our field services workforce, deliver a better client experience, and enables the business where we’re aiming to enable the business.
What challenges has Headland faced within the last 12-18 months?
The business on the whole is going through another growth period, with some exciting aspirations, and great potential for building scale.
But when you build scale, you have growing pains. Those growing pains relate to how you onboard new people, from:
- how you train them
- how they become part of the fabric of the company
- what systems and tools you provide for them
- how you enable them to be productive
- how you retain them, by providing modern tools & methods of working
All those growing pains are not unique to us. It’s a part of any business that’s in growth mode, which naturally represents certain challenges.
Can you explain the “Roller-Coaster Effect” within a field service company?
In our industry, most of our competitors (as well as ourselves) have gone through periods of time when we’re known for delivering excellent service, then other periods of time when it hasn’t been as good. This is the roller-coaster effect.
When you analyze it, it comes down to availability and quality of resources. The shame about that is it effectively means you’ve got to have excess capacity, and the very best product you can find. Which is not always affordable.
These factors are an opposing force to driving efficiencies, lowering cost, and improving competitiveness. Having excess resources on bench and having the very highest calibre in quality of resources is not necessarily the smartest way to build a service business like ours.
Most of our competitors are facing some of the exact same challenges.
How does technology help Headland stand out to their customer community?
Customer community is very important to us, which naturally has increasing demands on us as a company. The world grows more competitive year after year, and we must be incredibly competitive in everything we do.
We must drive cost down, while improving productivity, and achieve greater competitor advantage. We turn to technology as a way of automating in order to help us drive some of that cost down, in order to introduce more efficiencies in the business.
Can you tell us about Headland’s “Project Holy Grail”?
Our “Project Holy Grail” looks at five aspects of what must improve to take those difficult challenges away, and to smooth out that roller-coaster effect.
Project Holy Grail looks at how to have the right engineer with:
- the right skill set
- the right tools
- the right parts
- in the right place
- at the right time
With NextService, we can now build a business model of how you get alignment of all of those things, and is less reliant on just one person.
It’s actually reliant on the business processes and the systems that enable you to get; the right person, the right tools, the right parts, at the right time. That’s what Holy Grail is all about.
We believe once we’ve nailed it, we will have established a competitive advantage, while our competitors are still going through the roller-coaster.
How has technology been an enabler in “Project Holy Grail?”
Everything that is part and parcel of the Holy Grail, relies on quality information at our fingertips. Without the over used term digital transformation, it comes down to having access to right information to make rapid decisions.
That’s how we make good decisions of deployment and dispatch of our resources to the right jobs, to make sure they have the right parts, the right tools with them.
Technology is at the heart of information, and information management.
Our business is wide, it’s varied. We service and support a myriad of different technologies, machinery, and software where our obligation is to a very diverse customer community.
We have extensive information-type requirements that we couldn’t do without technology. It’s impossible.
How has your team embraced “Project Holy Grail?”
We all know change programs have to be carefully executed, for them to be successful and sustainable.
I think like any project in concept, when you describe it, you’re going to be met with human nature that will:
- be excited – having an infectious effect on others in the company
- be initially cynical – needing more validation of how it might work and becoming fans overtime
- be conservative – needing more detail
- be ready to jump in and get on with it – but you need them to pause while a more methodical approach is taken to rolling out a change program
We’ve all had those human reactions. It’s not unique to us, and not unique to the project itself. But it’s a significant change program.
Is there a disconnect within the team around utilizing NextService to support “Project Holy Grail”?
I’m not sure that there is a disconnect as such. The thing that sometimes frightens people, is the aspect of learning new technology. But people learn at different rates, embrace change at different rates, and it’s all still relatively new for them.
The reality is – technology can be implemented much faster than the other pieces. You can move at great pace when you implement technology. But any change program still requires people-time to process the technology.
I certainly don’t think the technology is a limiting factor, leading to any disconnects. I think once team members have learnt and started to implement the technology, it is an exciting enabler in the workplace.
My advice to help your team become motivated to learn and use the technology, is to help them understand and even become excited about how the technology will simplify their workload and enable efficiencies in the workplace.
What’s your time frame for achieving “Project Holy Grail?”
Eighteen months. It’s a great question because in any change program that I introduce I prefer that it’s done right the first time, and that it’s done at a healthy pace.
Anything longer than eighteen months, the energy, the enthusiasm and initial embrace within the workplace starts to wear very thin.
If you’ve got a significant amount change in people and process, not just in the technology, you must also afford people the opportunity to truly understand the benefits behind the change.
To them, to the clients, to the business, to the stakeholders in general, I think you’ll get a more sustainable result to a change program.
Eighteen months, as the window of time which I want to complete Project Holy Grail, is to afford people enough time to really make it their own. And to be part of a longer journey thereafter.
But it also causes us to work at some pace, because there are many elements of this program that must fall into place.
What’s your advice for leading a team through major changes within a business?
What you really need to do to overcome some of those long-ingrained habits and ways of working, is you must go back to the basics we all know.
You need to paint a clear and honest picture of where you want the business to be, and why, and be really crystal clear and quite passionate about the benefits to the stakeholder group.
Start with the client experience. That’s where I’ve chosen to start. Looking at what the clients need from us in in 1, 2, and 5 years from now.
- How you can benchmark yourself against the best of the best
- Look at what must change in the way of process
- Look at what must be amongst the enablers
Then the technology becomes a critical piece of the puzzle, because the technology is critical amongst the enablers.
To overcome those ingrained people habits, sure you can excite people about technology. But get them to understand where we need to be in 1, 2 and 5 years, why it’s important to all the stakeholders, and what part they can play amongst it all.
And then they will embrace whatever tools are necessary to get there.
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