The Organizations engaged in providing Asset Management Services are facing a number of challenges in managing their Service to Billing process. This article highlights the Characteristics & Challenges of these Service provider Organizations and how Mobile & Maximo EAM solution can help to automate Service to Billing (S2B) process to address these challenges.
The Assets managed by Service Provider organizations are generally distributed geographically. The following are the examples of services provided by these organizations:
- Managing Facilities such as Buildings, Utilities (Water Treatment Plant, Sewage treatment plant, Air compressor unit, Electrical Substations etc.), and Diesel Generator (DG) sets, HVACs etc.
- Managing Maintenance of Transport vehicles such as Trucks, Buses and Lifting Equipment such as Cranes, Forklifts etc.
Customer Contract - Typically, these service providers engage with their customer using a Service Contract finalized for a period. The contract will specify
Work Order - The work orders are generated for the service requests raised by the customers. The Work Orders can also be generated based on the preventive maintenance schedules as agreed in the contract. The work orders will be used to perform maintenance/ service work and a service report will be sent for customer acknowledgement
Billing - Bills will be generated for the work orders. The customer acknowledgment on these Work orders will be used as a proof for the bills.
The following are the challenges faced by service provider organizations:
The above challenges can be addressed if their field workforce record their Service details, Work Time, Material & other expenses accurately & get customer acknowledgement on-time.
Mobile App for S2B
IBM Maximo Service Provider product helps to manage Contracts, Work Orders and Billing. However, the challenge is to facilitate the Field work force to record work details, get client sign-off and enable automatic bill generation as per the terms & conditions of the contract.
The Mobile Apps designed specifically for Service to Billing (S2B) process can facilitate Field workforce to record work details on the move. These Mobile Apps can work without any internet connectivity and therefore can be of great help to update the details even in the remote places. The following illustration explains how a Mobile App can be used to automate S2B process:
Let’s take an example of a Field Technician, John, who performs Services for the distributed Assets owned by different customers. The following are the sequence of events:
1) John receives notification of work assignments in his Mobile Device. He views the Work Orders assigned to him.
2) John select the work order and travels to the work location as per the suggested route map. The Mobile App records his travel time and updates to the EAM System.
3) On reaching the work location, the app starts the work timer. John reviews the work Order Tasks, perform the work and completes the Tasks.
4) John pause the work timer when he goes out for lunch. He starts again when he is back
5) John views parts/spares required to perform the work. He also updates the parts used for the work.
6) John updates the work log in the App and also captures a photo of the work site. He stops the work timer on work completion.
7) John enters additional expenses incurred as part of this visit.
8) John gets a Sign-off from the client. The customer receives a service Report in his mail id.
9) The charges are calculated for the following and an Invoice is sent to the customer's mail id automatically as per the billing cycle.
- Work hour charges - Standard charges for normal work hours + overtime charges as per contract terms ( if the contract specifies work hours beyond 5PM is to be considered over time, then the App calculates the overtime charges accordingly)
- Material charges – Cost of parts used in Mobile App + markup % defined for the parts in the contract
- Miscellaneous expenses – Other expenses such as Toll, parking costs associated with this visit
- Fixed Charges – Any fixed charges ( such as Monthly or one time charges) specified in the contract
The following benefits can be derived with the use of Mobile App for Service to Billing process:
- Improved Process Efficiency: No duplication of work. Data captured automatically (such as work & travel time) or entered from the field directly. If the Mobile App is not used, data needs to be entered in a paper form and to be sent to a billing team to enter into the system manually.
- Better Compliance Tracking: Work locations are geo-tagged and can be used as a proof for service compliance. No more complaints from customers on the PM (Preventive Maintenance) and other Job compliance.
- Improved Communication: Automated mails for Service Report & work status (app can send a mail to customer if the work is awaiting for the parts and so on) helps to improve client communications and work visibility.
- Value-adds to customer: Field Tech can update improvements as part of their customer visits. This will help to showcase value-ads to customers.
- Reduced Travel time: Optimal Route suggestions based on work priority & traffic conditions helps to reduce overall travel time.
- Analytical insights for continuous improvement: Travel , work time and local purchase expenses data provides opportunity to find ways to achieve overall cost reduction.
- On-Time Billing: The expenses are recorded on the go and bills are generated automatically. No more paper trials.
- Effective Billing: Work & travel time is acknowledged by client immediately on Job completion. No more questions or reductions on the work time & other expenses.
This is an era of user friendly Mobile Apps and it's the right time for Service Provider organizations to adapt mobility to automate their S2B process to derive value from the process improvement opportunities.