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Service Delivery is Now a Strategic Issue

John McVicker

At Best, we’ve recently seen three large partners get on the front foot, approaching us to get strategic on around field services. These partners have identified the challenges which lie ahead for all of us and realised they need to make field services a major strategic part of their business. This clever shift in how they approach projects will allow them to guarantee continuity of outcome and switch on their services revenue sooner – and so can you.

Tightening labour markets and supply chain delays are brewing a perfect storm for the delivery of partners’ services revenue. In Australia, we’re already seeing warning signals, with a shortage of talent at all levels already impacting business

And here’s why…

This country’s severe labour and talent shortage is presenting as one of the biggest potential barriers to economic growth in Australia over the next two years. We have a record number of job vacancies but the lowest unemployment rate in 48 years. What’s more, the labour shortage in the IT industry is now critical, with approximately 250,000 jobs advertised on SEEK at the time of publishing, 17,500 of which are in information and communication technology.

Furthermore, an already deeply worrying issue is being compounded by supply chain delays, as distributors hold a collective $1 billion in back orders alone. This has delayed projects, with equipment still 6-9 months away from delivery. So, what happens when the equipment finally arrives, you’re gearing up to install it and start charging for your services – but there’s nobody to complete the installation?

Here’s how to get strategic about services

Filling the ever-widening skills gap is not going to be easy and requires a multi-pronged approach. If it’s not on your agenda already, planning how you are going to source the people to install equipment must be a central part of your strategic meetings. At Best, we have an engineering workforce of 250 people, and you can be sure people are at the top of our agenda at every weekly management meeting.

You will firstly need to figure out how many people you need to fulfill your projects and then, how you’re going to get them. In today’s climate, there may not be one clear solution, but you can look to the following sources:

Offshore: Tapping into offshore talent can be useful for process-orientated tasks, but it’s not secure, nor is it as cheap as it used to be.

Remote work: In a post-COVID world, most businesses have accelerated their remote working capabilities. While this unlocks talent in regional areas, not all jobs can be performed remotely.

Hire from overseas: Previously, if you wanted highly skilled workers, hiring from overseas was a viable option. However, before the pandemic former Prime Minister Scott Morrison lowered the permanent migration cap by 30,000 places to 160,000. At the end of March 2022, there were 96,000 skilled temporary visa holders. That’s less than half of the 195,000 in June 2014. Furthermore, in April more of these visa holders left the country than arrived.

While this cap remains in place, the fact is that you will not be able to rely on overseas workers to fill your labour shortage. Currently, The Business Council is pushing for the annual permanent migration cap to rise to 220,000 places in 2022-23 and 2023-24, reverting to 190,000 in 2024-25. In addition, ACCI has requested the permanent migration intake for 2022-23 be increased to 265,000 places. Until then, and assuming these proposed changes come about at all, your ability to hire from overseas will be greatly constrained.

Picking a field services partner: Strategic alignment with a channel specialist Field Services provider is essential. If you want onsite work completed, ad hoc outsourcing is no longer an option. You need a reliable field services partner who will support you strategically and help you achieve your goals. This will allow you to guarantee consistency in quality and cost, deliver a better service to your customers and give you the ability to flex when you need to. A national workforce will also help you accelerate delivery and bring forward its associated revenue.

What else can you do?

Your response to the skills and labour shortage isn’t just about where you find people, but what you get them to do. By outsourcing any simple or repetitive processes, you can maximise your existing talent and maintain your focus on the core of your business.

Another key piece of this puzzle is automation. Taking away low-level tasks from your talent through automation is a no-brainer. At Best, we’re investing $250,000 just to automate simple and reparative processes and we expect a payback within 18 months.

As the last mile of onsite services, labour for delivery of field services can get lost – often relegated as a problem to solve later. But the current unsettling conditions in the labour market mean you no longer have that luxury.

The answer is clear: it’s time to get strategic about your field services and tackle this shortage head-on, before it becomes a major issue for your business.

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