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October 29, 2021 | 4 Mins Read

Optimize your Candy Collection to be a Halloween Service Champion

October 29, 2021 | 4 Mins Read

Optimize your Candy Collection to be a Halloween Service Champion

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By Tom Paquin

As I mentioned last week, I am a Halloween enthusiast. When I’m not forcing my wife to hide her face at scary movies, or shoveling pumpkin seeds and pulp into a bowl, I’m thinking about ways that I can traumatize my young neighbors with home haunts and giddy little frights. So if there’s a holiday season worth spilling ink onto across two consecutive weeks, this is the one for me.  

So, having discussed the most explicitly service-oriented spooky movie imaginable last week, where do we go from here? Rather than talk about another pop culture property, let’s talk about what is truly (at least here in the USA) the reason for the season: trick-or-treating.

I, for one, am very excited to take my daughter trick-or-treating. Of course, my daughter is six months old, so we will not be doing that for a few years at least. And though I abandoned trick-or-treating around age 12 or so for “cooler” Halloween activities, near the end, I took great pride in canvassing as broad a swath as possible of an extended network of neighborhoods with my friends to maximize candy acquisition. 

And that’s a distinction that we need to point out, as it’s quite different than service management in how it handled optimization. Yes—both service deployment and trick-or-treating reward maximizing quantity, but there are obviously more dimensions to consider with respect to service—SLA agreement, job complexity, parts management, the list is lengthy. Obviously, all of those elements are important when it comes to true optimization, but for our purposes, let’s assume that that each ounce of candy equals one positive metric of service delivery, whether that be dollar of service revenue, client renewal, SLA compliance, or whatever makes the most sense for your business. Use your imagination. 

With that in mind, what service software capabilities could trick-or-treaters use to be successful? Let’s discuss:

Optimization of Schedules
Young folks might be inclined to move as a single group in order to maximize candy weight output, but in reality, often schedule engines show that what seemed like a conventional wisdom was in fact a hidden inefficiency. Smart scheduling engines will dispatch each trick-or-treater in a way to meet the specific requirements set out by the system, which we have defined as maximization of candy. At a basic level, this can be accomplished by ensuring that each trick-or-treater visit the most houses, and the system could dispatch several kids to specific dense neighborhoods to ensure that the most houses are hit by each individual with no bottlenecks, then the candy can be united into one big pile and divided up. But there are other things that we can use to improve that schedule optimization.

Using Historical Data
My wife insists that we be “the house in the neighborhood that hands out full-size candy”. I find this personally very annoying, because we can purchase, hold onto, and distribute far less candy than we could otherwise (also meaning your humble author has less candy to sneak at 3AM, which is actually for the best), but also because now, years in, some kids know we’re the house in the neighborhood that hands out full-size candy.

Of course, that sort of information, when maximizing candy weight, means more candy with fewer stops. For that reason, logging historical precedent and building those assumptions into your optimization engine will naturally increase the output. To do so, the scheduling engine may prioritize those houses first, even if they’re not on a linear path, in order to make the best use of time. A good system will of course benchmark doing that against following a liner path. 

Simulated Assumptions
That same historical data can be used to build some assumptions if you’re looking to trick-or-treat in new “territories”, so to speak. Let’s say we know that every fifteenth house hands out toothpaste rather than candy, and we have some criteria for what defines those houses—perhaps the public record indicates that 75% of dental employees hand out toothpaste rather than candy. We can build those assumptions into our models, and attempt (through simulation) to avoid any houses that generate a less-than-optimum output of candy weight. 

All these little things may be too much for the average eight-year-old dressed as Captain America to be concerned about, but when it comes to effective service delivery, there’s certainly a great deal of small things that can make a big difference. Taking optimization seriously might help prevent a truly terrifying outcome for your business.

Happy Halloween, everyone. 

October 27, 2021 | 18 Mins Read

Cimcorp Shares 4 Defining Characteristics of Strategic Alignment

October 27, 2021 | 18 Mins Read

Cimcorp Shares 4 Defining Characteristics of Strategic Alignment

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Maarit Leppäaho, Vice President, Corporate Marketing and Communications at Cimcorp Group, shares with Sarah the guiding forces and lessons learned from the company’s recent initiative to reshape strategy and create better strategic alignment.

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. Strategic alignment has become a very important focus as companies are innovating at faster paces than ever, transforming their businesses in different ways. Looking for ways to introduce new customer value propositions, dealing with issues related to changes in the workforce and the idea of working toward a common goal and a common mission as an entire organization has become super, super important.

I'm excited to be joined today by Maarit Leppäaho, who is the vice president of corporate marketing and communications at Cimcorp, to talk with us a bit about their defining characteristics of strategic alignment. Maarit, welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast.

Maarit Leppäaho: Thank you so much. And thank you for inviting me here.

Sarah Nicastro: Absolutely, thanks for being here. Okay, so before we dig into the conversation related to strategy and strategic alignment, tell our listeners a little bit about yourself and your role at Cimcorp.

Maarit Leppäaho: Well, like you already told I'm VP corporate marketing communications and I lead this function globally. I'm also a member of our executive management team and I've been leading this strategy process at Cimcorp group.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay, good. How long have you been at Cimcorp?

Maarit Leppäaho: For two years.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. What's your background, prior to this role?

Maarit Leppäaho: Well, my background is in marketing and communications, different kinds of multinational and domestic companies in Finland.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay.

Maarit Leppäaho: In electricity field, mainly. Before, yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay, okay. So, a little bit of a different perspective from that background.

Maarit Leppäaho: A little bit, yeah. Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Okay, good. All right. Cimcorp has recently undergone a process of revisiting, revamping, reshaping strategy, to create this better alignment. That we, as I just mentioned, know is super important. We're going to talk today about some of the guiding forces, of how you have reshaped your strategy and created better alignment. But, let's talk a little bit, first, about the purpose for this initiative.

What are some of the reasons, within the market, within the company, within just trends in your industry and in the world, that it was important for Cimcorp to undergo this project of sort of taking stock in strategy and looking at how to create better alignment?

Maarit Leppäaho: Well, our business in logistics automation solutions grows fast and develops with giant leaps. We, of course, want to help our customers to succeed in their future business. So, we need to be prepared. We need to be innovative and a couple of steps ahead. We have been growing and now is the time to take that growth even more seriously and plan according to that. That's why we, at the beginning of our strategy work, studied trends carefully.

Sarah Nicastro: The trends that you studied; can you talk a little bit about how you did that? What were some of the sources of insights that you collected? What were some of the things that you examined to think through where you wanted to take the direction?

Maarit Leppäaho: Well, the logistics business trends are the most important, of course, because it's our business. We studied and then, we found the three main trends. They are complexity, shorter lead times and increasing share of online.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay.

Maarit Leppäaho: Then, we of course studied, because the world is also changing. We studied the mega trends and wanted to align our work and plans together with the global mega trends. They are sustainability and automation.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. Yes. It's interesting. One of the things that comes up in almost every conversation I have these days, is the pace of change. To your point, this idea of needing to stay a few steps ahead of your customers and be anticipating, not just their current needs, but what are they going to need from Cimcorp in a year or three year or five years? Be making sure that you're taking steps to be able to meet those needs. I think the idea of complexity is a big one, right?

Maarit Leppäaho: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: I mean, there's complexity from many layers, right? I mean, there's complexity in the world right now, there's complexity in various industries. There's complexity in the workforce, there's complexity in technology, right? At the end of the day, what customers want, is an outcome.

They want what they need, and they want peace of mind and they want predictability. So, to do that, it just requires a lot of effort to master that complexity, so that, it's, in many ways, invisible to the customers, right?

Definitely a lot going on that makes it very important for organizations to create this strategic alignment. I think, if you look historically at how businesses have operated, the pace of change wasn't as fast and it was okay, in many instances, to have some different silos that were working toward initiatives. Because things weren't changing as quickly as they do today.

So, it's really adjusting our thinking and adjusting our working processes, to make sure that we're reshaping the way the business plans and creates goals and measures progress, to be aligned with where the market is today. Okay. So, as we talked about the process that you and this import team have undergone, we really talked about four major themes that guided the development of the new strategy.

I want to talk a little bit about each of those and why the theme was so important. What it looked like as you went through this process, et cetera. The first is prioritization. Talk a little bit about the role of prioritization in creating strategic alignment.

Maarit Leppäaho: Well, we have professionals working in various areas of work, from assembly to finance and everything between. Each of them have a variety of projects and priorities, everyday duties and routines. Then, add in to the mix, that we work in three big segments. Tire industry, warehouse and distribution industry and then service. Each of them are demanding. So, prioritization is the key when aligning everyone's workload, so that the resources match from each function.

We needed common priorities, because in a corporate company, everyone has to work towards mutual goals and in the same rhythm. When we think about that, in today's hectic world, prioritization gives peace and clarity. We have a new purpose statement, and it is, "We guarantee profitability and peace of mind." When we made this, we thought about that, when we give to our customers profitability and peace of mind, we also get it at Cimcorp.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, that's a very good point. There's a lot of research that's been done. If you look at employee engagement and employee satisfaction, on understanding expectations, right? Again, this conversation around prioritization is a big one, because I've talked with a lot of folks that work in organizations, where it's just every week, the priority changes, you know? It's almost simply putting out fires, right? It's, "Oh, well, last week we were going to focus on this, but now this week, this is happening and we need to do this."

When you operate that way, it's hard to make actual progress, right? So, there's also this idea of what gets measured makes traction or gets action. I think that that's true, when it comes to looking at, "Okay, what are our strategic objectives?" We can't prioritize 40 of them, right? No one can effectively consume, and on a daily basis, measure progress or work toward too many competing priorities. Or, not even competing, but just parallel, right?

There has to be some focus. I think the other big thing here, related to prioritization, and I've talked about this quite a bit on the podcast and in different articles, is this idea of the pace of innovation, right? There's mastering the day-to-day business and making sure that you're operating effectively. That you're meeting customer needs, that things are going smoothly, that you're handling all of that complexity. But then, there's the idea of all of the forward thinking, planning and strategy to innovate the business. To not only meet those needs today, but be two steps ahead, like you said, right?

So, it's doubly complex, because you're talking about prioritizing what needs to be done in the present day, to make sure that you are optimized. Then, there's prioritizing the strategic priorities for innovation and transformation, to meet the needs of those customers in 2, 3, 5 years. I think the concept is super important. Now, how did you all kind of narrow it down? If I remember correctly, you landed on six key areas of focus. Out of, I'm assuming, quite a few, right?

Maarit Leppäaho: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: So, how did you decide what was most important for the key focus? Then, how frequently will you be revisiting that, to see if you need to sort of change those priority areas?

Maarit Leppäaho: Well, we have chosen the key focus areas, the battles that we are going to win. This strategy is for 2024. Of course, during the strategy period, every year, we will be revisiting that. How we are doing? Should we change the direction or correct some things, clarify some things? I think that strategy work is constant work. It's not that we have done our strategy and that's it, really, for the coming three years. But, it's constant work, all the time.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, it is. That's a really good point. If you're looking at creating this strategic alignment, you need to be examining, how frequently are the key stakeholders of the business communicating? Because what you don't want to do is say, "Okay, we did this initial sort of evaluation and setting strategy process. Now, everyone, go do your parts and we'll come back in a year and see how it's going."

I mean, because people are going to learn things as they go. There's going to be struggles and there's going to be wins. If you're not sharing those among those key stakeholders, you risk fueling or feeding those silos, right? I mean, you have to have that visibility across the business. To be able to ensure that you are making progress and that you're also all staying on the same page.

Maarit Leppäaho: Yeah. Of course, that people believe in that, and really buy that, in a way that they are involved.

Sarah Nicastro: Yes, yes. We're going to come to that. Now, number two, the second key area is globalization. At Cimcorp, we're looking at the growth and realizing that there needed to be better globalization of strategy. So, talk a little bit about that.

Maarit Leppäaho: Well, we have had entities and customers around the world for many years, for tens of years. But, being global doesn't only mean that we are present there in some countries. It means understanding and including different cultures, languages and personalities. With this new strategy alignment, we wanted to clarify internally, what it really means to be a global company.

We took the time to really understand and analyze what global means for our processes. For our customers and for ourselves. We came to the conclusion that truly global means that the customer experience is equal, no matter where in the world. Customer experience is a direct result of good employee experience for us.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. Now, the third key area is harmonization. Explain to me the difference between globalization and harmonization.

Maarit Leppäaho: Well, in harmonization, to reach the consistent high quality around the world, it requires harmonization. It's about the processes, in a way that, before being able to do that completely, we needed to understand how our processes were functioning and find the best practices for that. I think that's the difference. They are very much connected to each other and we talk about globalization and we have our harmonization processes in the globalization process.

Sarah Nicastro: Just to make sure I'm understanding, would it be fair to say that the globalization was more in the thinking around, "How do we take our truly global footprint and standardize it in a way that is true to everyone? Then, the harmonization is really the action of the processes below that, to bring that vision to reality." Does that-

Maarit Leppäaho: Yes-

Sarah Nicastro: Okay.

Maarit Leppäaho: You are right. Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay, okay. That makes sense. I think, again, that idea of the first part of it, the thinking part, the understanding that every country, every region, every area of the business. I think, when companies standardize things globally, it's always tricky, because every region feels that their own entity and they do it the best way.

There's a lot of emotion tied to that, so it can be difficult to honor the hard work they've done to create whatever processes and strategy they have. But, also help them understand the value in, as an organization taking a more consistent approach. It's easy to run through that on a list of things, but I know that it's far harder than it sounds.

Maarit Leppäaho: You're so right. You're so right.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, but it's important. That's where you get back to the people part, which is, if you don't consider everyone's viewpoints and thoughts and ideas and hard work when you're making some strategic changes, then people get disconnected. Disenfranchised in what that mission is, because they don't feel that their work to that point has been valued.

How do you make everyone understand, "Hey, you've done a great job and any change we make isn't related to you not having been effective. But, here's why it's important to all of us." So, I guess that kind of brings us to the fourth point, which is connection. This is sort of the people part. I think when we spoke about this, it's not just about change management, because unfortunately, I've spoke on this podcast a few times about my frustration with change management. Because, when I talk with companies about any sort of change and I ask them, "What were the biggest missteps or lessons learned?" It's always related to change management.

"Well, we could have done a better job with change management." "The hardest part was the people." Yet, it is continually de-emphasized, under-prioritized, under-invested in. Because, I think, for a variety of reasons. But, I think that people also see it as, like you said, this one-time process. "Okay, we'll set our strategy and then we're done. We'll manage the change and then we're done."

It's not that way. I mean, so I like that we framed this as connection, because it's ongoing. It has to be an ongoing focus of, "Are our employees invested in our company mission? Are they invested in our strategy? And, if not, how do we help them more? How do we help them feel more connected?" Talk a little bit about how you've connected the strategy and the mission to the employees within the company.

Maarit Leppäaho: Okay. Well, strategy is only strategy when everyone understands it, remembers it, and follows it in the same ways. In this process, we wanted to bring the strategy close to our everyday work. Strategy can easily be something distant, difficult to understand and to follow. There's some there on the top level and the management is doing something and no one else understands and is not really interested in that.

We didn't want to create that kind of strategy. Our goal was to be able to really prioritize our work and to support the collaboration between functions and to grow in a conscious manner. We have so many big things going on at the same time, because we have been growing for a long time already. But now, we want to do it so that we involved every single person, in some ways, in this process.

We started in January and we interviewed the key persons extensively. We have had a lot of workshops. Then, we have sent a couple of queries, asking about important things. People could be involved and give comments and ideas for the strategy work. This process was well thought and planned, because we wanted to hear everyone's opinion, but also, to do it in a controlled manner. So that not everyone can be involved with everything, but anyway, everyone could have had just their say to the process.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. It's interesting, how this idea of connection is tied, really, to the other elements. Like you said, strategy is only effective when it's understood and can be executed. I think that goes back to when it can be understood, to me, ties back to prioritization. No one is going to understand a list of 30 strategic priorities, right?

Maarit Leppäaho: Right.

Sarah Nicastro: I mean, so you have to simplify that down, to some degree, for it to be consumable, repeatable. To be something that people can keep top of mind. Then, something that can be executed and that, again, you can have clarity around. "Here's our six key areas of strategy." But, if you get there and then you say, "Okay, go do this however you will, regions, countries, locations."

Then, it's sort of that communication game, right? Things get lost in translation. Some things are interpreted one way and some things are interpreted another way. You have to have that globalization and harmonization, to make sure that, not only are you creating a consumable list of priorities, but you are ensuring that people are clear on how they're expected to make progress toward those priorities.

Maarit Leppäaho: It's very, very important to have a proper communication implementation plan in a way that we are going to have workshops, so that everyone understands that, "What is my role in this strategy?" So, it will last a long time. It is not ready, yet. It was launched, but it's not ready. It's going to continue, like I said, all the time.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, yeah. Right. Okay. There has to have been some challenges along the way. What were some of the challenges that you've encountered and how did you navigate those?

Maarit Leppäaho: Well, because we are a global company and we have offices in six countries, of course, we had the time zone a little bit difficult, because we had to be innovative in a way, how to include everyone efficiently, without overbearing their workload. Of course, it was easy to gather the necessary information from all functions with those queries and everything. But, then going through all the data and find the diamonds, was hard work and required many conversations and reflections with the organization.

Then, there's one thing that, I wouldn't call this a challenge, but something to have in mind, was also the fact that our Cimcorpers work in many different tasks in many, many different responsibility areas. We have professors working in workshop insights, mechanics, warehouse, everywhere. We have people in office, software to engineering, they have different places. They don't have always the connection and they can't conversate in the same ways.

We wanted to involve everyone, but everyone's job includes different aspects. We wanted to create a strategy that truly is connected to our everyday work. Just a strategy, but it really has to be connected and it can't be something new, but it has to be connected to our values and also to our customer experience.

Sarah Nicastro: I want to go back to a point you made, which is the data. You have these workshops and these meetings and you're involving as many people as you can, in the appropriate ways, so that everyone feels they have a say in this. You were researching trends and all of those things. When do you decide, "Okay, we could examine data and have workshops forever. But"-

Maarit Leppäaho: Yeah, that's right.

Sarah Nicastro: "We need to make some decisions and set the strategy and then get going." Of course, it's an ongoing effort. It's a continual work in progress, but I mean, you have to start somewhere. You have to kind of make a judgment call at some point, of, "Okay, enough discussing, enough investigating. Here's what we land on, here's how we move forward." How did you make that decision, or get to that point?

Maarit Leppäaho: Well, we made the final decisions some weeks ago. There's person in our organization who is in charge of this implementation process. There are certain development streams, development processes that will be worked on. We have chosen the specific one and of course, there will be strategies for functions and regions and everything. But, the development work has started already.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay, yeah. I think it's a tricky thing, because the idea of getting input is important. The idea of doing due diligence is important. But, sometimes, I think companies let that paralyze them from action. You can kind of get lost in an endless cycle of planning and talking and researching, before you actually make some hard decisions.

The reality is, again, when we look at the pace of change today, that's not a good idea. I mean, you're better off making some decisions and needing to course correct, than you are staying in sort of an endless cycle of analysis. Okay, Maarit, what would you say is the biggest lesson that you as an individual learned throughout this process?

Maarit Leppäaho: Well, this has been very, very exciting and interesting journey. I have to say that, to listen and to plan well. Because balancing the everyday work with something as extensive as strategy work can be difficult. Also, to me, because I have my responsibilities and then I have been leading this process. But, I think that, with the strong project management, planning, agendas, meeting those deadlines. Very strict, in a way, discipline that can be done. Because everyone has to do this and everyone says, "Should I participate in this? Or should I do my daily routines?"

Sarah Nicastro: Right, right. It's a very important point and I think it's one for businesses to consider too. In the sense of, to the degree you want any layers of your workforce to be involved in strategy and innovation, you really need to think about how that fits with their day-to-day demands. Is there steps that we can take to create space for them to do that work? Because I agree, that the input is invaluable. But, I've talked a bit, here in this forum about the weight it puts on leadership, to be responsible for both day-to-day operations and innovation. How do we make sure that we're having realistic expectations and not creating too much burnout, I guess, is the key, right?

Maarit Leppäaho: Yeah, right.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Last question, Maarit, is what impact do you think this process, this effort will have on Cimcorp as a business and on your customers?

Maarit Leppäaho: Well, our employer experience will be globally harmonized, and higher quality. That ensures a stronger customer experience, that's how it started. With this strategy alignment, we wanted to ensure that we have the proper tools and resources to grow in a cogent manner. Without the possible growing pains that may happen if a company grows too fast and without any plans.

Our end goal is to have globally harmonized customer experience, no matter where in the world. Also, a globally harmonized employer experience. Our good team spirit, which we call Cimcorp Spirit, inside the company. It needs to be seen and felt throughout the group.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. I really admire the attention that you all are putting on the employee experience and understanding how that will relate to customer experience. I think that companies have become very focused on customer experience, which of course is a good thing. As it should be. But, sometimes, the correlation between employee experience and customer experience is overlooked. So, there's this effort to improve the customer experience, at the expense, sometimes, of the employee, instead of along with their experience.

I think that the way you're looking at it, Cimcorp's looking at, it is absolutely the right way. It's the only sustainable way. I mean, you need to be able to continue to attract and hire and retain good talent. Giving them a positive experience as a valued employee is the only way to do that. I like that you've prioritized that in the big picture and understand the role of that for the company. All right. Well, Maarit, thank you so much for joining me and sharing today. I really appreciate you being here.

Maarit Leppäaho: Thank you. Thank you so much.

Sarah Nicastro: You can find more by visiting us at futureoffieldservice.com. You can also find us on LinkedIn, as well as Twitter @thefutureofFS. The Future of Field Service podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more at ifs.com. As always, thank you for listening.

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October 25, 2021 | 5 Mins Read

Tackling the Talent Gap Requires a Focus on Controlling the Controllables

October 25, 2021 | 5 Mins Read

Tackling the Talent Gap Requires a Focus on Controlling the Controllables

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Last week, I had two very compelling sessions related to the ever-excruciating challenge that hiring ample talent poses to businesses across industries and across geographies. One was a session I led at the IFS Connect customer event in Itasca, IL. The other was a session with the Future of Field Service Advisory Forum where we were joined by Lauren Winans, CEO of Next Level Benefits, to do a working session on a real job description of an open role within one of the customers in the group. Both were enlightening and served as a reminder of how critically important this topic is in our space (and beyond). 

The IFS Connect session focused on the fact that while we must acknowledge that this challenge is indeed a very real and very frustrating one, the path to progress is to focus on what we can control versus what we can’t. I reviewed six controllables that I believe companies need to focus on:

  1. Let Go of “The Way It Was.” All too often, I see leaders allowing the frustration of the situation keep them focused on how things used to be, versus focusing on how to accept our current reality and adjust. Change is inevitable, and resistance is futile. Step number one is to accept that the labor market likely won’t go back to the way it was three, five, ten years ago – and allowing ourselves to be mired down in negative emotions about this prevents success. Letting go of the way it was requires us to examine our tendencies to hire based on experience, because as we all know, that experience is becoming impossible to find. I recommend the idea of an outcomes-based hiring approach instead, which Bonnie Anderson, Global Manager of Talent Acquisition and Future Talent at Tetra Pak describes in this podcast
  2. Take a Fresh Look at Your Hiring Mindset & Practices. Once you can clear your mind to focus on the present and the future, you can begin to more objectively examine the realities of your hiring practices and whether they stack up to today’s demands. This means really understanding your target audience and what’s important to them as they seek roles and evaluate opportunities. Are you speaking to these desires? When is the last time your job descriptions were updated? More modern language and a focus on what your target audience wants most may help. How you communicate the roles is also important, and more and more companies are getting creative with the sources they use to attract new talent – because they must. Are you leveraging social media? Is your application process mobile-friendly? Have you considered partnerships with local schools, community resources, or military? It’s time to get creative.
  3. Focus on Future-Proofing. With such an immense challenge, it’s easy to get lost in solving only the problems of the day – but we need to make sure we are taking a forward view as well, or we’ll only fall farther behind. For many organizations, the roles of the frontline are evolving. If this is the case, you need to be able to hire for your current needs – but also be building a strategy for how to hire for those evolving needs as well. A few key concepts here are re-skilling and upskilling, which we discussed a bit in relation to the work Orange is doing here. Another is the idea of “farming” your future talent – creating programs that help draw more resources into the industries and help you to build up some of the experience you’re accustomed to being able to hire directly.  
  4. Don’t Overlook the Criticality of Retention. New resources are more expensive to bring on than keeping your existing resources, plus they have less experience. We can’t focus so heavily on recruiting and hiring that we forget to put ample attention into retention. Especially as businesses evolve and roles change, communicating with and involving your current employees is more important than ever before. Understanding what they want out of their roles, what areas of opportunity there is to improve their engagement and satisfaction, and how to maximize their tenure is a key aspect of any talent strategy.
  5. Consider the Role of the Gig Economy. Outsourcing isn’t for everyone, but there are increasingly very diverse examples of how it’s being used. Foxtel, for instance, relies 100% on a third-party frontline workforce. Philips, on the other hand, has looked at how to leverage contract workers to eliminate some of the more basic tasks so that its W2 workforce can focus on mastering the role as they evolve to delivering outcomes-based service. 
  6. Leverage Technology to Your Advantage. In no way can tech solve this problem, but it can act as a great alleviator. From maximizing the utilization of your workforce to enabling greater self-service among customers to improving training and using tools like Remote Assistance to allow newer resources to become adept more quickly while receiving back-office support, there are many ways it can help you to bridge the gaps.

On our Advisory Forum session, Lauren walked us through her firsthand feedback on the open job description – what she’d add, what she’d change, and what she’d leave off. As she highlighted her edits, she explained the reasoning behind each suggestion and offered important tips and reminders for those in attendance. A few particular points of hers that I think are very important to recap are:

  • Create candidate personas so that you can tailor your wording and communications toward what will work best for the people you believe are your best targets
  • Consider what is a must versus what is a preference in your job descriptions, and list as such so as not to dissuade potential candidates unnecessarily 
  • Applicants prefer as much detail up front as possible, so she suggests sharing salary details if you can – not only does this help get the attention of applicants, but it also saves your organization a lot of valuable time weeding through candidates who aren’t in your range
  • If the idea of listing salary makes you concerned because you’re paying new hires more than your existing talent, reflect on this – as discussed earlier, retention is easier than recruiting, and you should ensure your incumbent talent is being properly compensated (and appreciated)
  • Get creative! Lauren pointed out that one of the top wants of talent today is flexibility – while this can be more challenging in service roles, it often isn’t impossible if you’re willing to examine how to make it an option
  • Lauren cautions that the labor trends are likely to be a longer lasting fact than some might like to think, so accept and adjust however you need to in order to find success in the current landscape

For more insights from Lauren, listen to her recent podcast here

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October 22, 2021 | 2 Mins Read

Who you gonna call? Field Service!

October 22, 2021 | 2 Mins Read

Who you gonna call? Field Service!

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By Tom Paquin

Because I’ll never pass up an opportunity to write a truly strange article, and I unironically love Halloween, let’s talk about Ghostbusters.

I’m actually surprised that I hadn’t thought of ghostbusters previously when working my way through pop culture references. It is arguably the most field service-oriented film franchise of the last 40 years. 

For the uninitiated, the premise is shockingly simple: The Ghostbusters are ghost exterminators. 

So let’s consider Ghostbusters in the context of modern service management technology. What are some of the biggest considerations when running a heavily need-based service business that primarily works with the supernatural? Here are some software considerations:

Service Project Management
Not all service appointments are created equal, and that is doubly true for the Ghostbusters. For every slimer that they need to clean up, which is a one-stop appointment, you’ll have to deal with a Vigo The Carpathian which takes weeks, causes ancillary appointments to crop up, and requires visits to multiple sites.

This is why, as a component of service delivery, it’s important to also ensure that you have a strong project management system in place. This will ensure that staff is deployed effectively, that you have all the proton packs and ghost traps that you’ll need without having to go back to the shop, and that even when tickets are aging due to their size and complexity, that the resolution of that job can be managed quickly, and furthermore, that any ancillary jobs be closed quickly as well.

Hazardous Waste Disposal
Apparently the Ghostbusters just store all the ghosts that they’ve caught in some kind of big metal tank. This seems find in the immediate, but having a system for offloading a full tank, managing resources, and ensuring that your ectoplasmic footprint is kept to a minimum are key. 

We talk frequently about sustainability in service, and this certainly extends to busting ghosts as well. Building a solid system for reverse logistics of parts, equipment, and yes, ghosts, is imperative to avoid an issue like the ghostbusters run into in which the EPA shuts down the ghost containment. By maintaining and adhering to EPA guidelines though smart reverse logistics tactics, you can avoid excess waste, clear yourself of liability, save money on containment, and not have an increasingly large pile of ghosts in your basement.

These are just two realms of strategic service delivery that impact busting ghosts, but this is far from an encyclopedic list. With the right technology and business plan, bustin’ can make all aspiring ghostbusters feel good

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October 20, 2021 | 23 Mins Read

Bureau Veritas’ Focus on a Sustainable Future

October 20, 2021 | 23 Mins Read

Bureau Veritas’ Focus on a Sustainable Future

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Lou DeLoreto, Vice President, Safety & Sustainability- North America, Bureau Veritas talks with Sarah about the company’s focus on improving sustainability, both in achieving its own objectives and also by helping customers with their sustainability goals.  

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today, we are going to be talking about how Bureau Veritas is focused on building a sustainable future. I feel like I'm going to be saying this for a number of podcasts in a row, so you may already know this, but I do have some renovations underway in my house, so if you hear any background noise on my part, please bear with me. The show must go on, so we're going to forge ahead, but there might be a little bit of noise. Okay, so I'm excited to welcome to the podcast today, Lou DeLoreto, who is the Vice President of Safety and Sustainability for North America at Bureau Veritas. Lou, welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast.

Lou DeLoreto: Super happy to be here. Nice to meet you, Sarah.

Sarah Nicastro: Thanks. Thanks. Happy to have you, so before we dig into the topic at hand, can you tell our listeners a little bit about yourself, your background, and maybe give a little recap on BV as a business.

Lou DeLoreto: I will do that, so let's see. I won't bore you too much with my career, but essentially for the last 26 years professionally, I've been in the health, safety, and environment field, most with two large multinational companies, a lot of field service construction, in fact elevators were a big part of that career throughout the world. And it's now I think been about eight months since I've joined Bureau Veritas, like you say, BV safety and sustainability for those. And BV sometimes isn't well recognized in the US, but I can tell you that anyone listening at some part of their day, BVs been involved whether it be the food or water you drink, to the car you drive, the bridge you cross, the building you work, or school you study in. Maybe it's an electronic vehicle that you're driving. We really inspect, certify everything from food to, like I said, infrastructure, but we really are like kind of the quality control, the trust of the product for those who use it, so you've definitely have been around us whether you know it or not.

Sarah Nicastro: Yes. Thank you, Lou. And we recently had Maggie Laureano on and we put a link in that show note episode, I'll do the same for this one of the kind of day in a life video that shows a lot of those different interactions with BV. And it really illustrates your point of, you may not know the brand by name, but you've inevitably come across pieces of infrastructure that have been touched by BV.

Lou DeLoreto: And I'd say like in the North America space, roughly about 6,000 plus employees and 150 locations of labs and buildings around US and Canada, that's kind of where we're positioned.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay, cool. All right, so Lou, my first question is really just, if you can comment on the topic of sustainability and the desire to move toward a more sustainable future. In your words, why is this so critically important to have top of mind right now?

Lou DeLoreto: Yeah, I think, we think a lot about that and I say that I think it's always been critical, but you can't find a news outlet or something on social media, that's not talking about some major climate event. Whether it's the fires happening in the west, what Ida just did to the south and up to the Northeast. Whether you're choosing not to listen about the impact of climate or maybe some worry denial, it's real and present. And I think that's where you see a lot of, I would say even organizations, regardless of policy, really taking on some environmental stewardship, recognizing that it's going to take all levers to try to get around this thing, but really not only find out what their impact on their businesses to the environment, but how can they use their businesses to make it even better. I think it's just really eye opening what's happening around the world. And I think you're seeing a lot more, I'd say leadership in the space and I think that's extremely critical for us to make some improvements.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. I think that's a good point. It kind of feels to me like, particularly in North America, we're reaching a tipping point here where companies have an option to do some of what we're going to talk about today, that BV has done and sort of lead the charge in this area or quickly be forced into doing so, right? And so just like most business change, the more you can be proactive instead of reactive, the better off you're going to be. But there's a lot of new legislation coming along, new regulations being passed that companies are going to be forced to comply with. And so whether your catalyst is altruistic or just business focused, it's an important topic to sort of educate and do some work on.

Lou DeLoreto: You know what I'm seeing, so obviously you're also seeing financial institutions. If you want backing and support, they're expecting you to be mature or at least have a plan to be mature in this space around sustainability, as well as like attracting and retaining employees, so employees just it isn't all about just the paycheck anymore. They also want to be part of something bigger, so the more that you have some strategy around making the planet or making people better from when they came to you to your company and went back home, like people are starting to expect that, so it's even beyond the environment, you know? And I think that's important.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Those are really, really good points and different areas of consideration around this topic. Lou, can you talk a little bit about the role you feel or not, do you feel like COVID has had an impact on the way companies perceive this topic and are taking action?

Lou DeLoreto: Yeah, I think COVID had a couple of, I'd say important aspects on how companies not only saw how they can support clients but also what COVID did is really made companies think about how they can operate during a pandemic, right? For us, I can give examples, we're an important say part of a supply chain, so if you have a big project you need do, or you want your fuel, or if you need your food certified so you can go sell it, we had to be there. And so we found ways on how we could keep our labs operating, how we could leverage drones for example, or even halos for lenses, but really kind of be creative on how we could bring that same service during a pandemic while making sure we have health and safety of our employees. That was one aspect, right?

I'd say the other thing is, are there other ways we can help our customers during a pandemic? And one example would be like the restart of the business, so we did a lot of audits and inspections of building spaces to make sure they could reopen refaced or even have the right checklist or things in place, so if people were at work they had the same protocols, masking, distancing, hygiene, all those things. We did two things, we said, okay, how can we continue to provide the same service so that clients need it. How can we also help them to keep their services? And then lastly, I'd say it also gave us a look at how much is there a nice to have versus a real necessity?

And so for an example, we had a lot of virtual work, do we need 60,000 square feet in this building anymore? When a lot of what we could do is maybe virtual. How much is true essential travel? The idea of like a carbon footprint, it also made us reflect a little bit on, okay, so what could the future look like where we reduce the impact of carbon to the environment based on the way we work. We're seeing opportunities there, so I think there's lots of areas where it did actually impact us.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. I agree. We had a podcast published recently with Dr. Andreas Schroeder of the Advanced Services Group at Aston business school. And we were talking about how specifically servitization, but even just services and sustainability are inextricably linked, and his point was there is just so much that is really good business that improves sustainability. And there's so many opportunities for sustainability in business, right? He is kind of talking about whatever your lens is in looking at this topic, there's business benefits to becoming more sustainable and there's business opportunities in sustainability, right? You can look at those things a bunch of different ways, but I agree that COVID was a big reflection point in a lot of those areas of, okay, wait a minute. And then there was some points where I read some different research on how it impacted the environment.

And I think that made people think about, to your point, is all of this necessary or are there things we could be doing that would have a big benefit that we just... You get caught in the status quo and that shook things up enough, I think for people to reflect and think about that a bit more. Lou, I want to talk about two different areas here next. I want to talk about how Bureau Veritas in some of the ways that you're enabling your customers to become more sustainable. And then I also want to talk about how you as an organization are focusing on your own sustainability as well. To start, can you talk a little bit about some of the efforts and options that BV is offering to its customers to improve their sustainability?

Lou DeLoreto: Yeah. It's interesting, and I look at it in both of those areas, so when we look at how BV looked internal for sustainability, as well as external, what we found is a lot of the things we were already doing before ESG or CSR was kind of a thing. We were always doing stuff on it. What this allowed us to do is kind of get more strategic around it, get it under one sort of packaged umbrella, but we had a lot of offerings, so we call them our green line of services, okay. We kind of have like four pillars. We work in sort of the consumption and traceability space, so that's like supply chain resilience, the food, everything that you're using or... Is it traceable and what's the sourcing and making sure that we've got that aspect for customers.

We also do obviously the building and infrastructure. We'll do the green building certs, we'll make sure we project manage good life cycle of all of those projects to make sure from conception design, to final install, all those are meeting that expectation and really all those aspects of infrastructure that would be for renewable energies, we have a piece of that. Third is new mobility, so I think 25% of the carbons really around air travel, vehicles, all those things, so we actually try to work with clients on a variety of technologies, mixing fuels. Bless you. To see if there's alternative ways that we can do that travel more efficiently. In fact, I think we're one of the only companies that have conceptually put the whole life cycle of electronic vehicles from design to install, to even govern it's inspections, to make sure they're always doing it.

And so that's kind of a new offering we just came out with on mobility. And then lastly, it's just like the resources and production, which is really around the renewable space. We just acquired and bought to the BV family, Bradley Construction. And they're really heavily in the solar and wind space. I think they've got over 50 projects that they've been a part of. And that's like probably like the fourth pillar that we are in, so the renewable piece. But long list of renewable, I would say, our green line service are really helping other clients achieve their sustainable goals too, which is exciting.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay, so let me ask you this. You mentioned that BV has really been doing these things for quite a long time, but the focus on these initiatives has allowed you to sort of become more strategic, categorize things differently. How long would you say the green line of services has existed? Even if it wasn't referred to as that?

Lou DeLoreto: Hard for me to exactly say, but I know some of the industries I spoke about is who BV was born on like in Marine & Offshore, so thinking about how they can be more efficient and optimized, that travel has always been there so like conceptually, I feel like there was always pieces of sustainability in BV strategy. I can't give you a year, but I know it's kind of, if you think about Veritas is the pursuit of truth, right? We've always been trying to help clients do the right thing and confirm they're doing the right thing. And sustainability's been just part of that, so I think it's really conceptually, always a piece. I just think the pieces are getting a lot bigger in our offerings going forward.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. That makes sense. Would you think it's fair to say, like has there been an increase in interest specifically around those sustainability services? Like of customers looking at it from the lens of sustainability, so their desire to expand their initiatives?

Lou DeLoreto: Yeah. One of the things, so we've got a platform we talk about as Clarity. We do a lot of certification, so training certification, and buildings, and everything, and people, so we're getting a lot of interest of us leveraging our platform to come into a company and help baseline where they think they are in sustainability, so it pulls in, you can help decide what's important to you in the whole CSR or ESG space. We come and help you walk through where you are in that journey and then work with you on the pace for which you want to get to somewhere different, so we've seen a lot more interest in that, because I think you can define CSG so many different ways. We help you define what it makes more value add for the company yourself.

And I see that's come a long way as well as just infrastructure, right? Even as we're getting a lot more project-based work that's in that area to make sure that obviously the quality, the control, and even the sustainability targets they have in those projects are met, so those are probably two big ones I'm seeing. 

Sarah Nicastro: Now, if you consult with a client who has this interest in improving their own efforts, do you provide guidance on the best ways to do that? Or do you just help them execute the plan that they've set?

Lou DeLoreto: No, I think the product and the service is just that, so I think it tells you where you are.

Sarah Nicastro: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Lou DeLoreto: And I think it then it gives you some BDPs practices that we know from other clients.

Sarah Nicastro: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Lou DeLoreto: And then we just work realistic to a timeline and investment that, that client's interested in, right?

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah.

Lou DeLoreto: It's collaborative.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. And I think it's interesting that you say that's an area that there's a lot more interest in. We are recording a podcast with Tetra Pak and they're kind of seeing the same type of thing, and having organizations that they work with in their services division, looking for more assistance on what are the right targets? What is the right path to get there? How should we measure our success? And it's just interesting to me that some of the companies like Tetra Pak or BV that have maybe then more of a leader in this area are in a really good position to leverage that expertise and experience to help others on this path. Okay, cool. All right. Lou, let's talk a little bit then about how BV itself is transforming in the area of sustainability, so maybe if you can talk a little bit about what are the goals, what are the focus areas, that sort of thing?

Lou DeLoreto: And I'd say like, this is the same kind of thing. When you start taking inventory of the things that you do in CSR, you find out, wait, we do train people. We do care about the environment, so the inventory was already there, but again, it allowed us to kind of really kind of package it, and be a little bit more strategic, and really get some KPIs around it. But so we go to market shaping a world of trust, right. And really building it for our customers, helping them, internally we call it shaping a better world, so CSR in BV is called Shaping a Better World, okay. And so we're kind of playing on really what I think is important. And we look at three, I would say areas within sustainability. One is people of the workplace, and the middle is the environment and the climate, and last is business practices.

And so we're kind of emphasizing initiatives in each one of those. In the workplace we talk about things, health and safety. We talk about diversity and gender, training and development, right? There's a lot of whole people play in the work place. The environment is really about impact on the climate, our carbon per employee. And then business practices is not only do our own business practice, but our suppliers. So we kind of make sure of ethics and those things are important. When it comes to like goals and KPIs. There's 17 sustainable development goals that are recognized around the world. We've started with five that we think we can make a good impact fast. And who knows if it doesn't turn into all 17, but those five all live in those three pillars, so we are looking at equal pay and diversity, health and safety, economic growth and development, climate action is the middle.

And then the last one again is like business practices. And all those drive KPIs, right? We want to reduce our injury rates by 2025, by 50%. We want to get women in leadership positions, equal pay to a percentage, so we've got KPIs lined up for each one of those. Climate, we want to reduce our carbon footprint per employee all around the world, so we've got like different KPIs that we've set up ourselves up to 2025, and then we'll probably push again thereafter. And then when it comes to like management's engagement, like other things CSR is kind of a pay for performance, so their engagement and I'd say influence of those KPIs that I just mentioned are really built into sort of the objectives that we're all held accountable for.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay, so apologies if this is a silly question, but the 17 metrics that you mentioned of which BV has picked five to focus on, are those BV metrics that you could choose from, or you're talking about like a global standard?

Lou DeLoreto: Okay, so the five SDGs are global standard. What we do is we assess BVs maturity of each one of those five, okay. And they're not really KPI driven, it's just a maturity path. Here is you're doing everything, what percentage of you do you still need to do? That's a separate, like how does BV perform against other companies in those, and everyone has the same kind of self-assessment, so that's one get out of those five SDGs that are around the world. Inside that we develop BV KPIs, so it's kind of more of a target based KPI than really just the maturity of that whole development area, so we might have, 95% completion in health and safety because we've been doing it forever, right. But we still want to reduce our actions by this, here's the KPI. They're kind of two separate focuses for us, keep maturing in those five but also give yourself some agreeable targets as a KPI. Does that make sense?

Sarah Nicastro: It does. Yes. And I think there's a couple things that I think are just important enough to touch on, right? One is this idea that when BV decided to sort of formalize this focus and you know put some different structure and terminology around it, you realized that there was quite a bit you were already doing, but it also then brought clarity to the areas that you did need to focus more on, right. And so I think that if I'm just thinking about how to derive some of what you're saying into actionable insight for folks that are listening. The first thing is if you don't have some formality around this within the business, that's where you need to sort of start. You always hear if it's not measured, it's not going to change, right?

It's sort of this idea that, if this is going to be an important focus, then it needs to have its own structure, its own strategy, its own measurement, et cetera. Which leads me then to the second point, which is you saying that you have the key areas of focus, but if I'm understanding you correctly, the individual KPIs within each of those categories can change related to where you have made progress and have achieved the target level of performance and what areas still need to be improved upon. Is that correct?

Lou DeLoreto: That's exactly right. And it allows us to kind of lean in and try to drive a little bit more, I would say, tactical improvements.

Sarah Nicastro: Right.

Lou DeLoreto: And really kind of push us.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. And that's what I was hoping you could maybe talk a little bit more about, is just this idea of the role accountability plays in all of this because CSR and sustainability, I mean they are buzzwords, right. And there's a lot of things in business today, we have a great company culture and our employee experience is awesome. And there's all these things that people know they should say, but there's a difference obviously between saying it and doing it. And I think particularly related to things that are very measurable, like a lot of the KPIs that you're giving as examples. This idea of measurement and accountability is super important, so can you talk a little bit about that?

Lou DeLoreto: Yeah. I think there's two important things. I think when you talk about sustainability, although like I'm probably the facilitator and lead, you're not successful in sustainability unless everyone owns it, right. No matter what role you are in the organization, you do have to support sustainability activities for BV to be successful and for us to truly make an impact, right. That's one thing, and I think the way I integrate that into all of the different roles throughout the organization is really important. And I think that's still a maturity path, right? For every individual to wake up and say, oh, CSR is part of what I do takes some time, right. It's kind of new script, so that's got a maturity path to go to. In terms of, I would say accountability or like even I think is like more importantly, if a company says it's important to them, how are they really showing it by action?

And an example I could say is, one of the things that we're trying to increase is participation in citizenship and volunteering, right. And we had pockets of people doing it just because it's the right thing to do with no real BV sanctioned program, so we recognized that through our self-assessment and through not really knowing the participation rates of volunteering. We came out with this year that we support eight hours for every individual, as a proved PTO to go help someone or something, right. And that was a huge demonstration by leadership to say, we are really supporting sustainability and here's one exact way, right? In fact, this month around the world, all of BV is Shaping a Better World month, so we have people all over the world doing what they can themselves or in teams in volunteering, right. And so that's pretty cool. I think that's an important part too, is not only just saying it's important, but like what are you putting yourself out there that shows you really are driving it and really important to it? I think those are two important parts.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. I like that point too because, so we have that as well at IFS, we have a CSR day and what I like about that is there are KPIs and metrics, which are going to be driven by process change, and technology change, and operational things. But you need or should balance that with how to get your people personally invested in making a difference as well. You can have the goal to reduce fuel consumption or whatever those things are that are more operational. But I like the idea of also considering how do we bring each individual, that's a part of this company into this mission and how do we... I mean, to your point, some people are going to do it just because it's already a part of their life, but for those that don't already, that's a great way to get them involved.

Lou DeLoreto: Yeah. I think leveraging your resources, and finances, and your business processes to make impact, but more important leveraging your employee resources to give back is huge, so I think that, that participation level is really important to us and we want to see that really increase.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah.

Lou, if there's someone listening who let's say is lagging a bit in making this a real focus in the business. Like we talked about with some real structure around it, with some real strategy around it, with some real accountability around it, what is sort of your best overarching advice?

Lou DeLoreto: I think there's a few things, its workshop driven. It's really kind of... Well, first you could hire BV to help you to get the sense of where you are, but it's like who are you as a brand? How do you see or define CSR today? Where are you on that maturity path? It's really just taking stock of looking inside your walls, and learning about your company, and what your impact is on the environment to people, to the CSR sort of like structures, but it's like really doing the self-work of learning what you do, and what's important to you. I think, like not giving yourself the space and time to really kind of think that through and jot down that inventory is really important, that's one thing.

There are experts out there like us and others that can help facilitate the discussion, make you ask the right questions, there's tons of tools. We've pulled in experts globally. We've got kind of a board of exports that help us sort this out. We meet quarterly, but really it's kind of a dynamic process. We're always kind of learning more and there's not one size fits all. But I think it's giving yourself that time and space to understand, what does it mean? What do you do? What does it mean to you? And where do you want to go with it, right? I'd say the last thing is just start, like waiting to make it perfect is just a loss of time, so just start getting engaged, picking a few things that are in CSR is really important.

Because you can lose months and years if you want to try to make it perfect. And we've already recognized, even our first start is, let's expand on this and we've got now OGs, which are regions around the world, they're adding their own different goals, so they're even like the foundations there globally, but their own country or culture thinks this is also important and they're roping more things in, so it's not perfect. Start somewhere and ask the experts, they're out there.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, that makes sense. I think too, just thinking through when you're in that sort of thinking process. Thinking about the different drivers for this, right? It is, what difference do we want to make? What type of initiatives and efforts do we want our business and our brand to be associated with? But it also is, what opportunity is in this to provide different green services to our customers. And then also what is the customer demand? Depending on the market you serve, people are becoming more and more invested in our future and they're going to demand better from their service providers, and their vendors, and their manufacturers, so it's important to consider that as well.

Lou DeLoreto: Yeah, that's a good point. I think like even asking your clients where they are and what's important to them.

Sarah Nicastro: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Lou DeLoreto: Helps you mirror sometimes what you might be missing, so having that dialogue with vendors, suppliers, and clients start finding it for you as well.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Or if you're... Again, really just getting started with this initiative, it may give you some really good insight on where to start. What are the biggest areas of impact, and start there and like you said, you can't do it all at once. It's not going to be perfect.

Lou DeLoreto: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: So figure out what's most important to your customers and start with those things and then go from there. Lou, I also wanted to ask, what do you think are going to be some of the biggest trends or topics related to sustainability that we'll see over the next 12 or 18 months?

Lou DeLoreto: Well, I do think it's in the way of infrastructure, so we're kind of seeing some of that push through some of the policy changes. And I think you're going to see a lot more investment in some of those sort of infrastructure, climate driven project work, for sure. I think, we're already seeing a lot of that happen and people sort of looking at that opportunity to see how we can support our clients with that project work. I do see it in some of the mobility piece, so you're going to get a little bit more, I'd say recognition around electric vehicles, and stations, and those pieces. But the last piece is I think you're going to still get a lot more transparency around how to measure different companies on sustainability. Make sure they're not green washing, that they're really kind of doing what they say they do and not trying to find shortcuts, so I think you'll find more ways where you can normalize and configure control. How someone's good at it and they can prove it. I think those are probably three areas we see coming.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. That's really interesting. I hadn't really thought about that from a consumer, or even a business consumer, consumer of services perspective. Being able to investigate the transparency and the efforts that each company is doing. Cool.

Lou DeLoreto: I mean, we have about six or eight non-financial agencies that come and look at our work-

Sarah Nicastro: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Lou DeLoreto: So that we can make statements and be comfortable and transparent about it, so I think you're going to see a lot more of that you're going to need to be kind of accredited-

Sarah Nicastro: Right.

Lou DeLoreto: About the lofty goals, KPIs, and maturity path you're taking.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, no, that's good. Any other comments? Words of wisdom? Closing thoughts?

Lou DeLoreto: No, the construction work wasn't so bad back there, so that was okay. I didn't hear much.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay, good. Well, you did have to say the dreaded you're on mute once, so apologies for that. I was trying to be fast enough.

Lou DeLoreto: No worries.

Sarah Nicastro: I think the mute helped, but I'm glad it wasn't too disruptive.

Lou DeLoreto: No, I appreciate the time. Listen, we're very passionate about the topic and we're doing some great things, so it was great to have the opportunity to share with you and listeners.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Well, thank you for being here. And BV does a really good job on social media, sharing some of its sustainability initiatives, safety initiatives, diversity and inclusion initiatives, so well worth a follow and checking out some of the things that are going on. Lou, thanks again for being here. I really appreciate it.

Lou DeLoreto: Great.

Sarah Nicastro: You can find more by visiting us at futureoffieldservice.com. You can also find us on LinkedIn as well as Twitter @TheFutureOfFS. The Future of Field Service is published in partnership with IFS, you can learn more at ifs.com. As always thank you for listening.

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October 18, 2021 | 3 Mins Read

Pausing to Reflect

October 18, 2021 | 3 Mins Read

Pausing to Reflect

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By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

It isn’t my nature to do much reflecting – I am more the type who quickly moves on to the next thing, usually at lightning speed. My husband always jokingly asks me if we’ll ever take just one year off of doing “major” things (he knows that, with me, the answer is no). There are a lot of reasons why this is my norm, but this isn’t that type of self-reflection piece. 

On October 15th, I celebrated three years with IFS. For those of you that knew me before, when I was with Field Technologies, you likely have an idea of how emotional the transition was for me. While it was in some ways difficult for me to move forward from a role I’d loved for so long, I knew in my heart that the potential I could see in IFS – both for me in my role and contribution, and in the company’s journey – was too significant to pass up. So, with that instinct, I leapt. 

My first day “on the job,” I flew to Stockholm to attend the IFS Nordics team’s customer event. The overwhelm was fierce – this was the day after my last day at Field Technologies, I wasn’t accustomed to international travel and the jet lag was real, I was highly intimidated and self-conscious about being what felt like the only single language fluent person at the event, and I was so unsure of the decision I’d just made. I put on a brave face, but if I’m being totally transparent, I called my husband crying with uncertainty more than once.

Here’s the wonderful thing, though – experiences like that are what help you grow. You know the saying; good things don’t come from comfort zones? It’s true, and after more than a decade in one environment, it was time. Looking back, I cherish what that trip taught me – that I can do hard things, that those around me see my worth and value my contributions and potential (and that I should, too), that a whole new world brings a whole new realm of opportunities, and that there are kind people all around (huge shoutout to Marne, Fredrik, Elni, Daniel, and Jonathan whose warm welcomes will forever stand out in my mind from that first week). 

Three years later and many more experiences of being stretched in ways that enable my own personal evolution, and I’m not only proud of what I’ve accomplished but thankful for my decision. I was brought into IFS to launch Future of Field Service, which has grown into a platform with thousands of followers that is providing true, objective thought leadership to the industry I love. The podcast, which launched in April of 2019, was something I’d dreamed of doing for a long time – to invite others to share in the wonderful, enriching conversations that I am fortunate enough to have as a part of my “job.” Today we’ve published more than 130 episodes, and I have immensely enjoyed every one of those conversations and value the people I’ve met in having them. 

And more on the people – the people are the best part of this journey. I value the IFS colleagues that I’ve met that have become true friends, those that have challenged my thinking and expanded my views, and those I can watch and admire. The IFS customers, who are just beyond wonderful. I have built relationships with customers where we regularly exchange pictures of our kids and/or pets, where we help one another through challenges or do some great brainstorming, and that have taught me so much. All while continuing to interact with folks outside the IFS ecosystem in a way that enriches the overall progression of the industry.  

Thank you for indulging me in this moment to reflect, and to share with you. I am proud of what I’ve contributed to Future of Field Service, to IFS, and to the industry over the last three years – but more than proud I am incredibly grateful. And best yet, while reflecting is something I truthfully should do far more of, I am also very excited about what’s to come. 

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October 15, 2021 | 2 Mins Read

The State of Industrial Operations

October 15, 2021 | 2 Mins Read

The State of Industrial Operations

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By Tom Paquin

This is part of an ongoing series of articles about the current State of Service going into 2022, along with the contributing elements that have and will continue to impact the industry in the years ahead. Read this to get caught up:

Industrial enterprises have been the focus of service software efforts for decades—certainly longer than small and medium-sized businesses. That level of relative maturity is of course a double-edged sword: It means that for many industrial organizations, there’s a strong embedded infrastructure of software and potential connected assets to draw from. 

But that infrastructure might be staggeringly out of date or running a patchwork of software solutions that don’t integrate with one another. As I frequently say, bad data begets bad data in a negative feedback loop that can build unwanted biases into your technical criteria and undermine optimization efforts.

So, given the tectonic shifts in industrial operations, what is the current state of the industry. And more specifically, what can businesses do to start leveraging the accelerating digital transformation that is impacting other disciplines?

Benchmark Your Digital Transformation Maturity
So—I’d wager that for every company that has a sophisticated infrastructure of connected assets, and smartly-deployed applications, there’s another company that has a woefully underpowered, or downright primitive service solution in place. Over the time that I’ve been studying service industries, I’ve been gobsmacked by the number of big, high-profile brands that have woefully primitive systems of engagement for their customers when it comes to service.

There are tools to do this, chief among them market guides from some of the bid analyst firms, which go into the core capabilities, hype cycles, and appropriate case studies for your use case. These findings can help you answer questions like these:

Do major manufacturers have systems in place to manage remanufacturing and pure service providers that support their products? Do telco companies have asymmetrical planning utilities that support both customer and industrial appointments, and the ability to easily do crew scheduling? 

Organizations that lack these basic functions run the risk of being left behind. There are, as noted previously, some benefits to this sort of positioning, of course. It means you don’t have to rip out a bunch of old systems to modernize your current ones. But it means that developing a sequential deployment system, from hardware, to software, to people, is imperative. 

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October 13, 2021 | 25 Mins Read

Creating a Compelling Employee Value Proposition

October 13, 2021 | 25 Mins Read

Creating a Compelling Employee Value Proposition

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Lauren Winans, CEO and Principal Consultant and Next Level Benefits, talks with Sarah about ways to modernize the perception, creation, and articulation of an employee value proposition to improve success with recruiting, hiring, and retention.

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. Before we get started, I do want to apologize in advance. If anyone hears any background noise. My kitchen is being remodeled and in the work from home life, there are very few places for me to go that would be less noisy. So I figured I would have equal trouble at Starbucks as I am here. So if you hear any loud crashes, smashes, or booms, please know that everything's fine. So, all right. I'm excited to be here today talking about creating a compelling employee value proposition. We've talked a number of times on this podcast about how it is becoming increasingly challenging to attract new talent at the pace we need to with folks leaving the workforce. And what makes up a compelling value proposition for employees evolves regularly. And so, I'm thrilled to have on the podcast with me today, Lauren Winans, who is the chief executive officer of Next Level Benefits. Lauren, welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast.

Lauren Winans: Thank you, Sarah. I'm really looking forward to this conversation today.

Sarah Nicastro: Me too. And I will say, we had some technical difficulties getting started, which is a rare occurrence, and Lauren has patiently hung with me. So here we go. Okay. All right. So Lauren, before we dig into some of the things that we're going to touch on today, tell our listeners a little bit about yourself.

Lauren Winans: Sure. My background is human resources. I've been a human resources professional for over 20 years now. Prior to starting my own HR consultancy practice, I was in corporate HR roles, primarily in total rewards in the employee benefits space. But have been an HR leader for many years with experience across all disciplines of HR. I've worked at large public corporations, primarily in organizations that have a multi-generational workforce that is dispersed across the country. So I have a lot of experience in trying to find the best ways to engage employees.

Lauren Winans: So when I started my practice about two years ago, just really excited to leverage my experience in a new and different way. And right now we work very closely with HR teams to help them build a really wonderful employee value proposition that is deep, that is truly what employees want, and not necessarily what companies want to offer. It's something that we pride ourselves on from a strategic standpoint. And I can say right now we've got four different clients that we're working on this exact project about. So it's something that is near and dear to my heart and I'm excited to share some experiences and some stories with all of you today.

Sarah Nicastro: Cool. Well, thank you. And Lauren is my quasi neighbor down interstate 79 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. So we're going to make a lunch date happen here at some point.

Lauren Winans: That's right.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. So I have a couple things that I think would likely be preconceived notions, maybe some of my own that I want to kind of clear up maybe to get us started. And I will say, Lauren and I have talked about the fact that the listeners of this podcast are primarily not HR. I mean, there may be some, but it is not the majority. That being said, I talk with you all listeners regularly about the challenge of filling the talent gap and understanding better what needs to change in terms of meeting those employee wants and needs is important regardless of whether you are actually in the HR function or not. So, that's kind of the context we're going to take today.

Sarah Nicastro: So Lauren, I have a feeling there could potentially be people that listened to the setup of this episode and think, I'll tell you what the employee value proposition is. The employee value proposition is show up to work and collect paycheck. So what would you say to that?

Lauren Winans: Well, I would say, yes, that's one side of the employee value proposition. The other side would be, well, what does an employee get in exchange for showing up and providing the company with the hours in which they're providing their service. And so, the other side of this is, what does an employee get out of it? And ultimately those, they have to be in balance. So what the employer wants to get out of the relationship with the employee versus what the employee wants to get out of the relationship with the employer, they have to be you in a balanced situation in order to kind of keep that talent, retain that talent within your organization and attract new talent. And so that's why it's important to consider this concept.

Lauren Winans: I'll try as much as I can during this dialogue too, to kind of let you know when I have my HR hat on and when maybe I have my leader hat on or my employee hat on, just so you can kind of get the different players and stakeholders that are part of this conversation. They all want something different and they all play a different role in the process. So an employee value proposition, ultimately, when you think about what it is, it's what is an employee getting out of this relationship? And what's an employer getting out of the relationship? And so the best way to infuse value into this relationship is to identify what it is that both parties want and to construct a... let's say a structure around what that really looks like. And there's typically four components of employee value proposition. And I'm going to talk about them now, just so that this concept gets a little more clear.

Lauren Winans: So it's primarily total rewards, which is compensation and benefits that companies would be offering to employees. And then it's also, career growth and opportunity as well as employer culture. The actual culture within the organization. So all four of those components in an ideal situation have the right balance of what an employee wants out of those four categories and what an employer wants out of those four categories. Some of those categories, most of those categories cost an employer money to offer or to create or to operate or to train. And in most cases on the employee side, these are things that are very valuable to you. Your wages, incredibly important. The health insurance that you have, incredibly important. The ability to grow your career and to work in an environment that's inclusive and equitable and fair. These are all things that employees want.

Lauren Winans: And so ultimately, employee value proposition is an incredibly important concept, but you definitely need to get a good sense of what it is and not necessarily go into it with any sort of preconceived notions. Naturally there are, I think some, misconceptions out there around what value, how you can actually define value. But I think generally speaking, if you can think about, if you can really break this down into what does an employee want? What does an employer want? And yes, an employer wants you to show up and just do what you're supposed to do, clock your hours and in exchange give you a paycheck. That's the basic formality of the transaction here.

Lauren Winans: But ultimately employers are in a place where they need to build upon that, and employees have a lot of choice right now. They can easily move to another employer to find a deeper and more meaningful value proposition that works better for them. So to ignore this concept would be a miss in a lot of different ways.

Sarah Nicastro: For sure. And I think, just to explain a little bit, and Lauren and I have talked in preparing for this. We're talking a lot about field service roles, manufacturing roles and things like this. And so I think there is this issue where maybe generationally, there was a time historically where the employees priorities or what they wanted from the employer was different. Maybe i.e. perceived as simpler. And as the generational changes take hold along with the fact that you have less people coming into these types of roles. And so it's creating this urgency to recruit and to fill a bunch of talent. We need to, as an industry, understand that the desires of the talent base have matured and the way that we're looking at this type of talent need to as well.

Sarah Nicastro: And I'm talking a lot about the frontline workers, but that feeds up into the management level, the director level and all the way up. I mean you need people in all of those spots as well. And so, it's just something to think about. So, maybe can we talk about that a little bit, Lauren, in the sense of like, it seems like when you talk about employee value proposition or a compensation package, that seems intuitive at a certain level of management or leadership, maybe not all the way down to the front line. And so for some of those roles that the workforce is beginning to have more mature or different desires. Talk about the fit or the need to consider value proposition, whether you're talking about hiring in a new CEO all the way down to hiring in a first time field technician.

Lauren Winans: Yeah. I think it's very important at every level. Doesn't matter what level we're talking about. It doesn't matter if they're a leader, if they manage people, if they don't, if they're an individual contributor, if they're entry level. The value proposition exists at all levels. And in most employers, it's different at every level. So if you think about executives, you've got, executive compensation packages are very different than entry level or perhaps field, any sort of individual contributor is going to have a different package as an executive would. And it's okay to develop employee value propositions that are different for the different positions or the different levels within your workforce. I think that ultimately when we're thinking about employees that are individual contributors, and when I say that, I'm saying, they're not managing people.

Lauren Winans: When you think about that type of employee, regardless of their entry level, or they've been enrolled for many years. What're ultimately wanting to do is create a package that makes sense for that individual. And there's a lot of data that can be poured through and analytics that your company will have at its fingertips to identify what types of compensation makes sense. Not just salary, but also like pay raises and bonuses and how fair we are and equitable across the different compensation scales and whether or not, people are getting fair on treatment across the board. All of that kind of is a compensation package, not just that dollar figure, not just that salary figure, that hourly rate.

Lauren Winans: And so if you think about that across all the different types of jobs within an organization, it's really important to remain competitive and to make sure that the value that you're building has direct meaning to those that you're building it for. And so, for example, if you're building an equity program for an executive, you're going to want to make sure that the number of shares that are being offered to that executive is comparable to your like size competitors or your like industry competitors. And same goals for a frontline field technician. You want to take a look at that salary. You want to bench that compensation on a regular basis. You want to make sure that you're ahead of those who are going to try to take those people away from your organization.

Lauren Winans: And that's ultimately what a value proposition does, is it keeps people in the seats, it keeps people in the trucks, it keeps people wherever that they might be. It keeps them in role. And then ultimately allows you to attract more talent and new talent into the organization, and from a talent gap perspective, that is incredibly important right now. You ultimately want to bring in really bright talented individuals. There's a lot of different skills that you can train than you can teach on. But you definitely want to be finding, talented folks that are willing to learn and are willing to grow with a company. And in order to do that, they're shopping around just like you would interview several candidates for a position. They're shopping around and looking for the right companies that align with their values or offer the right benefits and compensation, allow them to grow and move up the ranks over time.

Lauren Winans: And so it's a really interesting conversation, because when you're talking about the talent gap, the talent gap has really put a magnifying glass on employee value proposition, how important it is to the conversation and how important it is to make sure that you're customizing an EVP, Employee Value Proposition. An EVP that is sustainable for the different pockets of your organization, the different generations within those pockets. And so it's just really important to kind of think through it big picture, and that's ultimately what an HR team does, but a lot of times it takes leaders to kind of come forward and say, this is something we need, I want to be able to offer this to our entry level employees. Or I want to be able to spend time figuring out a succession plan for these four individuals.

Lauren Winans: You're absolutely in your right to partner with the HR team to develop a value proposition that works and is customized based upon your specific team, based upon what your workforce needs. And I think that there's even folks who are maybe in an older generation, maybe close to retirement, they're still going to find this meaningful, just as much as someone who's coming in from college or maybe coming in from a trade school, or maybe coming in directly from high school. Everyone is looking for value in exchange for their time and their effort and their skills.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. There's a couple points that I want to go back to there. So the first one that comes to mind is the idea that employee value proposition is important for everyone, but it doesn't need to look the same for everyone. And I think that when we talk about some of the roles that companies in our audience are having the hardest time filling right now. So we'll just generalize field technicians. Okay. There's aspects of the role that are there already that if you just position them creatively could get more attention.

Sarah Nicastro: So I'm thinking specifically of a conversation that I've had with a gentleman who's been on the podcast before Roy Dockery, he's with Swisslog and he's done a lot in his role in service leadership to revamp how they recruit and hire. And his point was as he started as a pretty young man in their business as a field technician. And one of the things that he loved is being able to travel, and see different areas of the country. And so just kind of understanding better what aspects of the job could be attractive to candidates and looking for how to creatively call out different things, rather than just always defaulting to only, and here's what the pay is. I mean, there are other things that you can leverage to your advantage with a little bit of creativity to get people's attention or to differentiate or to draw yourselves in.

Sarah Nicastro: So I'm wondering if we can talk a little bit about, I think people have a better understanding of the hard benefits. Like, okay, well, people obviously want paid and for a lot of folks that consists of, a base pay and some sort of variable pay and how should that be structured, etc. Things like health insurance, things like that are fairly standard. Let's maybe talk about some of the soft benefits and different categories or examples of those so that the listeners can get kind of get a sense of areas they could maybe explore if they haven't.

Lauren Winans: Yeah. I think anything that really kind of falls into that career or culture bucket, those two buckets in addition to the comp and benefits. But the career and the culture, I think are really where some of those soft items kind of fall into. So if you think about culture, an organization's mission and values are really important and they need to be defined and they need to be communicated. And so employees who are coming into an organization need to have a really good sense of what those are. And it's really important for an organization to also be able to kind of walk that walk and not necessarily just be kind of like, okay, here's our mission and values, but they don't have an environment that kind of lives up to that.

Lauren Winans: And so, the atmosphere and the sense of teamwork and camaraderie that kind of exists within culture is something that can translate from top to bottom, from an office setting to a field setting, to a factory setting. All these different, it doesn't matter where an employee is working. You should be able to feel the culture throughout out the entire organization.

Lauren Winans: And culture can be something that you're waiting to feel as an employee, or it can be something that you participate in because it is part of your day to day interaction with your coworkers or with your boss, or with other colleagues. And I think the reason I say that is that particularly, employees that are dispersed and are not necessarily in one location aren't always going to feel culture exactly the same way that someone who might be sitting in a corporate office is feeling it. But you can still live it, it can still be embodied. It can still be something that your leader takes the time, effort and energy to make sure that by checking in with you, by communicating with you, by sharing messages that you to be hearing about, by letting you know about big company changes or how the company's investing in some community efforts, or has just made a charitable contribution or it can also even be making sure that you have an opportunity to watch any sort of company videos or read any company announcements directly.

Lauren Winans: It's a matter of what steps and what types of activities and events can, myself as a leader, get my employees involved into as well as if I'm an employee, what types of things do I want my leader to help inform me about. And all of these relationships are all two way streets. So let's say, right now you are listening to this and you're an employee, not managing anybody, but you just don't feel that connected to your organization. There is nothing wrong with trying to figure out how to seek out repairing that, because if you don't have a deep connection with your organization, perhaps that's a box that remains unchecked when it comes to the employee value proposition that your organization is offering you. Your company wants to know that. They want to know if they're falling short in some of those areas. I mean, most companies do.

Lauren Winans: And so expressing that is not necessarily in my opinion an issue. I think it's, hey, I need to better understand what our mission is here, or I need to better understand what my guiding principles are when I'm making decisions out in the field on my own. Or are we able to get together once a month so I can meet with my team. Or, hey, can we create some sort of standard check-in meeting where, we're able to kind of just discuss some of the challenges that we have so that we can all be on the same page, kind of help each other through it.

Lauren Winans: There's a variety of different soft skills that kind of fall into a culture bucket. And culture, that term is thrown around a lot. And I think the best way that I would describe it is, it's how you feel about the company that you're working for. It's how connected you are to their mission, to their leaders. Whether or not you agree with what's going on, or you don't. And it's kind of hard to sell to someone who's coming into an organization as someone who's coming in from, let's say maybe they're in their early twenties. It's a hard concept to kind of wrap your brain around. It's also hard for someone who might be on the tail end of their career and going to be retiring soon.

Lauren Winans: Culture wasn't necessarily something that was that big of a... It wasn't really part of a value proposition for the entire time that they were employed. But it's about making sure that you are able to get something out of this relationship more than just financially speaking. Now, some people may be totally fine with a financial arrangement that does not have anything to do with culture, and there's nothing wrong with that. But there are a lot of employees who want to love where they work, who want to connect on a deeper level, and who might feel that that connection is lacking and are looking for ways to kind of bridge that gap. So I think the soft side of culture, combined with a little bit of the soft side of career, like around coaching and training. Those are types of things that a company who does culture and career development well will definitely find themselves being able to retain employees over longer periods of time.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. So it is tricky because number one. Well, let me just say, you're right. It might not be super critical to everyone, but I think there's a lot of research that indicates its far more critical, too far more new employees than it ever has been before. So I think it is undoubtedly incredibly important to be thinking about. So there's that.

Sarah Nicastro: The second thing that gets tricky though is, we're talking about this assuming that the company does care about its culture and the environment it's providing. Which is fine for the sake of this conversation, but to put real action behind it, that has to be true. And then the third thing that gets really challenging is just playing devil's advocate. If I'm someone who has a bunch of different job opportunities, or I'm taking a look at what's available in a certain industry, everyone is going to say they have a good company culture. And so it gets hard to think about tactical ways to illustrate that.

Sarah Nicastro: So to your point, I think that when we talk about retention, it does the work for you. Like if you are really putting the effort into having a good company culture and providing career development opportunities for employees that you bring in, that will be reflected in retention. But I'm thinking about sort of the initial sell, the initial hiring process and what is in the employee value proposition that sticks out. And that is really tough. So what I'm thinking, now I'm no HR expert and maybe you're going to tell me like that's too expensive or crazy or whatever, but what I'm thinking about, again, through the lens of our audience is, you all know your company mission and company values and company culture characteristics better than anyone else. But maybe look at those and try and think through some fairly inexpensive ways to make those tangible for new hires.

Sarah Nicastro: So for instance, like let's say that you want your employees that are in the field to have an opportunity to learn and educate them. Maybe give them an audible subscription, or maybe... things like that. Maybe it's Spotify. I mean, whatever it is like you're talking about 10 or $15 a month. Something really low cost, but things like that, I'm just thinking whether it's you want to play up the fun or the education or the we care. I mean, there's a ton. You could do Headspace. If you want to say, hey, mental health is very important to our company, so we give all of our employees a subscription to Headspace or Calm or whatever the different options are. But I'm just thinking like, those are the type of creative thinking processes that I believe companies need to be doing to take what on paper is very abstract, and honestly easy to be highly skeptical of. And at least put some specifics behind it in a way that can stand out a little bit and make people think like, oh.

Sarah Nicastro: I mean, I've seen people that do, they purchase their employees a certain number of books per year, or they do. And those are all just for their consumption. That's more on the culture side. On the career side, what I've seen that has worked well is because the younger workforce does want to have more progression opportunity and we kind of know that with them coming in, mapping that out and discussing that in the interview and hiring process so that they have of what the longer term potential is from the outset. So I'm kind of babbling, but I'm just trying to think through different ways to take some of the soft things that can be very abstract and try and make them more tangible for folks.

Lauren Winans: Yeah. I think those are really good examples. And I think that there is some cost issues that come along depending on how large you are with those sorts of things and how many employees you might have. But that's the type of actionable examples that we need to be thinking about when you think about employee value proposition, because it's going to be different for each person you're kind of catering it to.

Lauren Winans: And to your point, when you're trying to attract new individuals to your organization, really trying to hone in almost like creating a persona. Okay, well, if I'm going to be hiring a 25 year old in this particular geographic area who is single, who doesn't [inaudible 00:33:31]. And you kind of list out who they are, you can develop more of a custom EVP in a different way. And if you just kind of wing it and you're just kind of like, you're trying to figure it out.

Lauren Winans: But yeah, it's all about creativity. It's about the type of people you want working for your organization and what you know about them and what you know would be valuable to them and meaningful and then just creating something around that, whether that be comp or whether that be a benefit, whether that be career development in, maybe it's a succession plan or maybe it is something as simple as I just want these people... Anyone on my team to have access to masterclass or something that helps people to learn a little bit more from a personal and a professional standpoint. And then culture naturally kind of wraps around all of this and is really critical.

Sarah Nicastro: I was thinking maybe focus groups would be a good idea too, in the sense of, if you have a new wave of employees come in that you can tap into, or if you have your HR team, maybe it's a university, high school, trade school, depending on what the requirements of sort of your entry level positions are. But go out and sit down in a room of those people and just ask open-ended questions. Like, as you start looking for jobs, what are you looking for? Or how would you rank these criteria? What's the most creative idea... And get some input that way. Because that's one of the things too, is I think historically we've reexamined employee value proposition maybe less frequently than we need to today. Would you agree with that?

Lauren Winans: I agree. I think what I would say is on an annual basis, you need to be looking at the four factors that kind of make it up. You don't necessarily need to make sweeping changes in each category every year, but you need to be assessing it on an annual basis. And the reason being is that things are changing so rapidly within the labor market, within the workforces that, we all are a part of. And it is silly to think that something that worked you year ago or two years ago is still working today. And not just talking about the pandemic, I'm just talking about generally speaking, even if we aren't in a pandemic, it would still be something that you need to be looking at regularly to stay ahead.

Lauren Winans: And ultimately we all want to stay ahead and be pulling the best talent possible into our organizations and be working with the best colleagues possible. That's what makes work fun is when you can accomplish things together on a different level. And the only way you're going to be able to do that is to gradually enhance that EVP year over year to a place where you can feel confident and comfortable that you are able to retain and you're able to attract. And it's a hard thing to do because I think there's a misconception that HR and or leaders are solely responsible for EVP, and that's not the case. We're all responsible in some way, shape or form in all of these categories. And even an employee in an entry level position is responsible for contributing to the culture of the organization.

Lauren Winans: So everyone touches this in various different ways and it's important. It's more important now than it ever has been. It's going to get more important than it is today in the future, and it's got to be something that you at least spend some time better understanding, and figuring out which ways you can take action on it.

Sarah Nicastro: What are some of the, I guess, further changes or evolution of kind of what employees want or what becomes important to consider over like the next five years?

Lauren Winans: I think that EVP is going to get bigger over time and not just focused mainly on like four categories. I think diversity equity and inclusion is going to end up with more of its own category, so to speak and not just kind of shoved in there in the culture category. But that's going to become more important and naturally so. So I think that is something that we can see kind of change over time. I do think too that some of the things that we're used to seeing today as it relates to benefits and compensation are going to change over time, especially if federal minimum wage at a $15 an hour rate does indeed take hold. I think there's going to be quite a few changes in total rewards and how we kind of look at salary scales and compensation in general.

Lauren Winans: And then lastly, I think from a career development standpoint. What we're finding right now with a lot of the clients that we work with is that there's a desire to make sure that all training components and methods are able to meet people where they're at. So for example, I think there's going to be a lot more training and development opportunities available via video through your company over time. As well as through external third party sources that your company's going to contract with to offer development opportunity. And so I think that's going to be something that grows over time because of desire and need, but also because we all consume content differently and we're all leaning more towards that video, audio content more so than actually reading the words on a page.

Sarah Nicastro: Right. That makes sense. Okay. In summary, any sort of last words of wisdom, missteps to avoid.

Lauren Winans: Yeah. What I would say is, if this concept was a little bit foreign today, that makes total sense, because this is an evolving concept that changes quite a bit. But what I'd like you take away from the conversation hopefully is that there are components to an employee value proposition that could attract and retain employees in a different way than maybe it is being done today. And so spending some time, identifying what that EVP is and coming up with solutions for tangible changes that are going to move the needle for you to bring in talented individuals and keep them, I think is worth the exercise of going through.

Lauren Winans: And you can even make small tangible changes for your own teams. If you are a leader listening to this, you can make similar, just small changes to some of the things that you're doing to increase inclusivity or help someone get promoted by getting more development opportunities or making sure that everyone on your team is making a fair and equitable wage for the work that they're putting in. You have the power, and I think we all have the power when it comes to this. It's just a matter of figuring out where you kind of fit in the equation. And I hope that you will also kind of take away from today that, this is an important concept to continue to learn about and to not necessarily assume that just giving someone a paycheck is going to be enough anymore.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. I did think of one other question. So we talked a little bit at the beginning about sort of assessing the competitive landscape. So in your industry, what are other people providing and how do you match or address that. But I also think there could be some maybe creative inspiration just looking outside of industry. So I just wanted to ask, and it's okay if the answer is no, but is there any one company that comes to mind or a couple that you think do a really good job of this right now?

Lauren Winans: I really do think that Walmart does a really great job of this. I think everyone has varying opinions on Walmart and some of the stances that they take. But what I will say is that their ability to create culture and infuse it in every single thing that they do, including making sure that total rewards packages and career development opportunities are available. They really take the time to know their employee base and know what would be meaningful to them. And they develop their EVP around that. And I think they do it very well. So I would say they're a really great example to turn to, even though they might not necessarily be within your specific industry. They have some really great examples of how they're doing that. And it's public, you can just like Google these things and the information on their website. And so, there might be some really great ideas out there to kind of take advantage of.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, that's good. I think it is helpful. It's always helpful to look in industry, but I think it's helpful to look outside of your own industry as well and get some different thoughts and fuel the creative process. So, okay. All right, Lauren. Well, thank you so much. I really appreciate you coming and talking with our listeners today. And this is a super important topic, and I know that there's a lot of other areas of this we can address. So I'd love to have you back at some point.

Lauren Winans: Yeah. I would have to come back. We've just scratched the surface of EVP.

Sarah Nicastro: Yes.

Lauren Winans: But I very much appreciate the conversation and I look forward to chatting with you again soon.

Sarah Nicastro: Awesome. All right. You can find more by visiting us at futureoffieldservice.com. You can also find us on LinkedIn as well as Twitter at thefutureoffs. The Future of Field Service podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more at ifs.com. As always, thank you for listening.

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October 11, 2021 | 4 Mins Read

What’s the Services Growth Potential around Sustainability?

October 11, 2021 | 4 Mins Read

What’s the Services Growth Potential around Sustainability?

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By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

The discussion around sustainability is increasing in urgency based on a variety of factors – the observance of environmental necessity, regulatory pressures to force progress toward a more sustainable future, and the impact on certain business models and processes that don’t align with sustainable standards. It’s a conversation about more than just the environment, though – it’s also a conversation about good business. 

According to Accenture, Companies with stronger Sustainability DNA are more likely to deliver financial value and a lasting positive impact on society and the environment. Recent research shows that the EBITDA margin of top quartile companies on the index is 21% higher (+3.4 percentage points) compared with the bottom quartile. Their sustainability performance is also 21% higher (+9.2 index points). This means that whether your priorities are positively impacting our environment or growing your business or both, the conversation will only become more important.

On last week’s podcast, I had a discussion around this topic with Jason Pelz, VP of Sustainability Americas and Sasha Ilyukhin, VP of Service Solutions for the Americas, both at Tetra Pak. Tetra Pak, the world's leading food processing and packaging solutions company, is a recognized leader for its sustainability initiatives and continues to work on accountability for its own progress. An area of the conversation that was especially interesting, though, was around the service potential sustainability holds for Tetra Pak and this potential begins with a holistic view of what impacts sustainability. 

“People are looking for products as consumers that are circular products, and as such sourcing becomes extremely important and recycling becomes extremely important. And I would argue that if you just go out in the street and stop the first 20 people and you ask them, they will say that it’s important to them where the product is coming from, that it’s sourced properly, and how it is then recycled,” explains Sasha. “What is interesting about this is that there is one piece in the middle there in that circular value chain that is called manufacturing. You source the materials, you start putting them together, that typically happens in a manufacturing plant. Then there may be multiple manufacturing nodes, if you will, on that value chain because then it goes further. We manufacture, for example, equipment. We manufacture packaging material. Our customers manufacture consumer products using what we had manufactured previously. So, if you take that whole manufacturing piece, our data suggests that the whole impact on the carbon footprint of the entire value chain, 48% of that footprint is actually caused by manufacturing. So, you think about, again, sourcing, extremely important, recycling is extremely important, but half of this entire impact comes from manufacturing.”

Tetra Pak’s Sustainability Services

This knowledge has led Tetra Pak to explore its ability to provide services to its customers to help them in reducing the carbon footprint of their own manufacturing operations. “What we see lately is a clear need from our customers in improving sustainability, so we are aligning our services portfolio into what it can do to help our customer reduce their carbon footprint to enable them to be more competitive versus other producers out there,” says Sasha. “When we do cost reduction projects with our customers, when we help our customers reduce their operational costs, we do it using the methodology of TPM or total productive maintenance. With sustainability, it’s a very, very similar process. We’ve learned how to do a mass balance, but using the energy, using the water consumption, using the VODs, CODs, using the waste. Recently, we’ve managed to reduce in one of our customers over 1,000 tons of CO2 per year. This is a confirmed equivalent that we have reduced. If you convert that back to the efficiency of the plant, so overall equipment protectiveness, that increases 19.4%. So, 19.4% efficiency increase plant-wide is equivalent in that case to just over 1,000 tons of CO2.”

Sasha shares more on the podcast related to the details of how Tetra Pak is approaching this new services potential with its customers, and it is well worth a listen. But the goal of this article is simply to get you thinking about the opportunity that may exist in your industry, for your company, to provide services that help your customers progress their own sustainability goals. The discussion is important in terms of examining your own business’ progress and actions, but there may be a wave of service growth tied to the overall increase in focus on sustainability. 

“It makes absolute sense that businesses are starting to pay more and more attention and put more and more effort into sustainability goals. It’s not at the bottom of the balanced scorecard anymore, it goes to the top,” says Sasha. “And I have examples in our business where in talks with our customers, some customers are starting to place these goals as equivalent to their business goals. They not only want to achieve their net sales and profitability, but they also want to achieve their goals on carbon reduction and being carbon neutral. Sustainability is becoming, has become, a license to operate.”

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October 8, 2021 | 3 Mins Read

The State of Small Business Service

October 8, 2021 | 3 Mins Read

The State of Small Business Service

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By Tom Paquin

This is part of an ongoing series of articles about the current State of Service going into 2022, along with the contributing elements that have and will continue to impact the industry in the years ahead. Read this to get caught up:

More than anyone else, small businesses have seen a tectonic shift since the start of COVID. Businesses of all stripes have been driven to technology to keep their doors open during lockdowns, completely refocusing the way that commerce and service function. Just the other day, Slate ran an article on the wellspring of “invisible customers” in food service, as the trickle-down of ecommerce technologies seep into the crevices of even mom-and-pop shops. Even my very favorite greasy spoon, a cash-only hole in the wall called Steve’s Kitchen in a grungy, collegiate neighborhood of Boston has launched a website. No one is safe.

This digital acceleration has of course impacted service businesses as well, though along a slightly different vector. For what it’s worth, I’ve been talking about the importance of small business investment in service software since before it was cool, but it’s certainly not 2018 any more, and the expectations of what small businesses need has shifted. So here are some considerations for adopting an all-new service platform, whether you’re replacing a wall calendar or a homegrown frankensystem.

Scaling Down the Big Boys
While the enterprise service software companies certainly can scale up (some better than others), their ability to scale down is more complex and nuanced, believe it or not. And it might not be as simple as stripping away features—under many circumstances, the whole architecture might be the wrong fit, or features that you want might be optimized for different use cases, and therefore will not meet your needs.

Forward-thinking vendors have calibrated for this, by offering more tailored solutions, sometimes swapping out products wholesale in order to meet the specific needs of your business. The goal of every best-of-breed service firm should be to have a solution to every problem that you might encounter, and to be able to conform to the shape, size, and specifics of your use case. So let’s take a look at what you might need to find success:

The Tools for Success
We’ll break this down by capability. A full-featured small business service platform will be prepared to tackle the following:

  • Scheduling, planning, and routing
  • Appointment management
  • Mobile access
  • Billing and payment modules
  • Reporting and analytics
  • Marketing and business development

There are some additional features that might be industry-specific, and whether there are add-on modules or specific solutions for those businesses will depend on the industries themselves. All of this raises a broader question, though, about where your new service software sits relative to other software platforms. 

Using Service as Your System of Record
The truth of the matter is that for small businesses, especially those transitioning from bespoke, low-tech processes, a good service management platform might be like and express elevator into technical literacy. And for those businesses, it can certainly function as such. If you want your service platform to manage resource planning functions like procurement, parts management, human capital management, customer relationship management, and so on, you can find a system that includes that as well. With the right tools, small businesses can approach service with a degree of ease-of-use and efficiency that offers value to customers, drives more business, and offers the tools and power to grow.

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