Managing spares inventory for service delivery channel

Spares inventory for service delivery

Availability of spare parts on demand can make the difference between a happy and an angry customer. Unavailability can also lead to multiple visits by the repair technician. Spares are valuable assets and must be tracked. Many service organizations build their reputation on “genuine spare parts”. Some spares may even carry warranty and that needs to be managed too.

It is thus imperative to manage spares inventory for service delivery- in all parts of the channel.

Parts movements through service delivery channel

Central procurement and stocking

Most organizations procure spare parts centrally- whether they are manufacturing themselves or providing service for someone else. Central procurement and stocking has multiple advantages. Some are: quality control, ability to drive a good bargain with suppliers etc. Also, in engineering industries, there is a need to standardize on the parts.

Parts movement in service delivery

The hub and the spokes

We described the hub and why that needs to be there. Yes, the central warehouse. But, local stocking of parts is needed as well in many cases. How local? Regional/ branch offices, surely. But, sometimes, the customer might buy parts and store it at site as a risk mitigation strategy.

As an aside, in a previous job at a distant past, no sale was complete without the “RMSPK” (Recommended Maintenance Spare Parts Kit). The customer assigned approximately 10% of the hardware value to parts which he intended to buy and keep with the equipment.

Some companies provide support through a network of service dealers. Dealers need to  keep spares inventory for service delivery. They also need to have a way of ordering and receiving parts from the central warehouse/ regional offices.

Spares inventory for service

As the dealers order and receive parts, the company also needs a way to monitor parts stocked at various points on its service delivery network. Ideally, every time a part is used in a service call, information should flow back to the company which can use this information to keep tabs on its stock of parts spread all over the country.

Deciding on an appropriate level of spares inventory for service

Trend of spares consumption data is a key indicator of planning for stocking appropriate spares. Factors like seasonality and machines population data are used to forecast. Then of course other variables like lead time of spares ordered, MOQ and EOQ are all factors.

How a service CRM helps

A service CRM completes the cycle at a customer location- at multiple locations in fact. It helps you track your sales efforts to culmination and beyond. Helps you solve customer problems after sales and installation and beyond. And more than anything, it opens up opportunities for future sales by managing customer relationships.

A service CRM depends on effective management of spares inventory for service effectiveness. A good service CRM will not only help you track stock of spares at various points in the service delivery channel but will also help track usage at customer sites and use the data to monitor effective utilization of spares.






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GPS enabled service management

Running GPS enabled service operations

field-serviceImagine peak summer and yourself as the head of customer service of a brand of air-conditioners.

Your resources are strained- your team has fanned out in all parts of the city- attending to calls for installation and servicing breakdowns. A real time update on which technician has how many calls pending is useful.

Knowing the location of the technicians is however a great advantage. Think of a visual map of what the “fault sites” are and where the “assigned technician” is. You can set priorities of the calls, move them around, even re-assign to another technician who is closer and has some slack.

Servicing remote locations?

gps enabled service for remote locationsHere the issue is not so much re-assignment of calls real-time but knowing the whereabouts of your team. We have also seen customers plot the site locations – at the time of first visit – on GPS.

GPS enabled service can help inject urgency and predictability and even security in your service operations.

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Mobile workforce management : use cases

How our clients perform mobile workforce management

Most of our clients have teams that work in remote. It is not unusual for the teams stay mostly out of the office and communicate only sporadically. They perform crucial customer facing functions: sales, customer support and product delivery.

They all use our mobile and web based mobile workforce management tools.

Field sales reports

One client uses our mobile tools for simply reporting visit data from the field. Who did you meet, when and where and what did you talk about and what is the next meeting date.

Another took that product a step forward. They wanted to correlate the visits with the progress in sales opportunities. Plus, in their business, they gave out samples and they wanted to track, who the samples been given to and how that correlated to business going forward.

Picking orders from the field

The other interesting use case of mobile workforce management is that of mobile sales teams picking up orders from the field. We have clients who manage their mobile field teams’ personal journey plan using the software. Dividing the territories, scheduling visits, tracking visits and picking up orders from shops.

Mobile workforce management : scheduling journey plans

The company sends the orders straight to the distributors, who get a consolidated view of the orders they need to place in turn on to the stockist. All through the software: mobile first, cloud first!

Field service Management

Now, this one is huge.

Think nine hundred field service technicians spread across the length and breadth of the country- servicing more than 30000 sites. We have a client who does that; and their team uses our mobile workforce management software.

And, yes. We know 3G connectivity is not available everywhere. No matter. Our app works offline as well. So, work all day in the field and update status of the calls (tickets) in your mobile app. In the evening, get back to “civilization” (!) and sync the data with the server.

Saleswah CRM has always been mobile enabled

Saleswah CRM works on Android and Windows phones. Very soon, it will work on iPhones as well. Saleswah is our enterprise CRM platform. The use cases here are of course different as well.

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Field service management- technician deployment

Some field service management issues we have tried to solve

Technician deployment for field service

field-serviceThe first task in field service management are logging and assigning call to a technician, ensuring he is informed and able to attend to the call. In case he is already busy or loaded or simply located too far away, the manager needs to be able to re-deploy the technician.

Technician deployment is critical. Wrong assignment can cost in money, employee morale and customer satisfaction. No wonder the service HQ of most companies look like a war-room. With harried supervisors constantly on the phone, tracking their people- ensuring the calls are attended to and monitoring progress. Balancing workload of their people is important too.

Elegant solution to Technician deployment in field

Accept or reject callsWhen a customer calls the call centre to log a complaint, the moment the call centre logs the complaint in the CRM, a few things happen:

  • the Technician gets a SMS alert with the installation address
  • the list of pending calls in his mobile phone (yes, he has an app) gets updated with this new call.
  • the Technician can accept or reject this call. In the latter case, the manager back in office knows on his dashboard that here’s a call he needs to re-assign to someone else.
  • Now, after the acceptance the Technician proceeds as per the standard operating protocol to the site and attends the call. But, let’s focus on the back office for a while.

In the back office, the supervisor view

  • The manager gets a view into all open tickets: those that are assigned but not yet accepted, those that have been rejected- so need to be re-assigned, those that are accepted but no action has been initiated- so now, he can call the Technician and find out. Oh, BTW, you can turn on GPS tracking if you want- so you know where your Technicians are at any given point.
  • The manager also sees – when it comes to Technician deployment- which technician has a relatively lighter workload so he can, assign the call to him for faster resolution.


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Hiring sales people: experiences on startup journey

Hiring Sales people for a start-up (us!)

Over the last 6-8 months, ever since the sales position in the company fell vacant, we are trying to hire sales people. We need different profiles- we need some to do tele-calling, some to actually knock on doors.

And, we want them to sell enterprise crm software products.

It’s incredibly difficult.

There’s no shortage of people. We interview a lot every day- walk-ins, call-ins, call outs in response to applications. We advertise in all the websites. We even tried a couple of “internship” websites. Posted our ad and got responses; but, the process did not “close”.

Here’s my observation about the whole process of sales recruitment.

Young folks do not want to be in Sales.

It is a pity really. I see graduates in different disciplines and even MCAs walk in the door- looking for a Telecaller position. They have two deep aversions:

  • they will not work for a job that will take them out of the office. So, no- they will not work in a role that will require them to beat the pavement.
  • they will work in tele-calling but they do not want a target- they want jobs where it involves them calling 150- 200 people a day- communicating insurance plans, housing schemes and so on. Ask them to call only 15 -20 people clearly targeted people a day with a well articulated value proposition- which is what we need them to do- and they get scared and run away.

Let me illustrate this with a classic example from two recruitment ads we ran in Naukri.


Hiring sales people

Notice the response rate difference? The Senior exec, corporate sales position had 1/4th the rate of response than the Senior BDE role. By the way, in case you were wondering, Business Development is a desk-job.

Any job will do?

Folks at junior or middle levels apply “in bulk”. Every single candidate I have called or emailed and introduced myself have responded with- “oh, I applied, did I?” kind of scepticism.

I modified my process- learnt to attach the job posting with my email response. Still the same result. I tried calling, most people did not even pick up the phone.

When you actually get a candidate to the office- you start dealing with another set of issues.

  1. Fake degrees, fake experience claims- some are difficult to catch but some, like the candidate who walked in claiming a degree from NIT Patna in computer science, are blindingly obvious.
  2. Aggressive with no reason- guys walk in with swagger and have a comment on everything. They sometimes have funny answers though- someone told me, “I was preparing myself” – (for this interview??)- when I asked to explain what he was doing for 4 years after graduation.
  3. And, then, if you end up hiring someone- horror! No one joins. Not just that, the go offline- no email, no phone calls- no accessibility.

Our experience with Intern hiring

Friends told me to hire interns. They told me Interns are young, dynamic, energetic and looking for real world experience. So, I advertised in two of the leading websites and, we got a few responses and … I ended up hiring one.

She never turned up! So, what else is new?

We do not compromise on hiring quality

We do not, repeat, do not compromise on hiring quality. See, I hate firing. So, I would rather wait than hire someone who is not a proper fit.

For those who read this far, guys we still have vacancies and we are still looking. So, if you think you fancy a career in sales and marketing, the world of Technology marketing excites you, you like understanding customer business processes with a view to fitting your solutions to them- give us a call or send a mail to work AT anwesha DOT in.

We are actually nice guys. Driven, yes. But, nice!

We pay well and treat out folks well and since we are a startup, we let you have a lot of freedom with how you want to approach your task.


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Comprehensive customer relationship management for business