Edition 54
What Exactly Is Service Lifecycle Management (SLM)?
by Erin Petruk, Associate Marketing Representative, CSDP Corporation

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What does Service Lifecycle Management (SLM) mean? The basic definition by industry analyst firm, AMR Research is: “Service life cycle management (SLM) refers to a strategy that supports service organizations and helps them recognize their gross income potential. This is done by examining the service opportunities proactively as a life cycle instead of a solitary event or set of discrete events. This helps to combine every service-based operation into a solitary, but complex, set of workflows and associated business processes.”

What does this definition really mean? Companies have long focused on integrating the process to manufacture and deliver products to customers (product lifecycle management and supply chain management), but few companies have embraced the integration of the processes that happen after a product is sold when the company services that product. This is where Service Lifecycle Management comes into play since it includes anything that needs to happen to service a product after it has been sold to the consumer.

What are the processes included in SLM? All of the following are included:

• Call center management
• Workforce management (including scheduling, dispatch, and other field service processes)
• Parts planning and forecasting
• Reverse logistics management (including returns and repair management)
• Knowledge management
• Contract management
What are some benefits of SLM?
• Using SLM in field service can reduce your overall costs for customer service and parts inventory.
• Your operational efficiency will increase, as you’ll have easy access to accurate service information from all parts of the service lifecycle.
• You’re able to adapt to change more quickly and effectively by having information automatically updated when fields are modified.
• Allows you to be more competitive.
• Improves your service quality, which enhances customer satisfaction and in turn, service revenue.
• Reduce time and costs by eliminating a swivel-chair environment and reducing duplication of effort and errors that come from manual updates.

So what does SLM mean for your field service department? It means the right technician with the right skill set is properly dispatched the first time with the right information and parts. It also allows your field technicians to have access to the right information at the right time. For example, most technicians use portable devices, ranging from laptops to tablets to smart phones. While in the field, they need to have access to detailed and specific information and that could be inventory, service tasks, customer history, new products that correlate with existing products (to cross-sell and up-sell), etc. SLM ensures that all information is up-to-date. Orders can also be made and completed on site, minimizing downtime and directly affecting your financial performance. Having the right person with the right parts and all the needed information significantly increases the likelihood that the service call can be completed the first time. This increases customer satisfaction and ultimately your bottom line.

So what does SLM mean for your reverse logistics department? It means having full visibility of goods throughout the reverse logistics process and in-depth, real-time visibility into demand, supply, and inventory costs. Having all your reverse logistics data together enables trend analysis to minimize unwarranted returns and alert for faulty product/design. It also offers visibility into contracts up for renewal, overdue invoices, ideal situations for upselling, warranty expirations, etc. thereby increasing profitability. The organization will also benefit from streamlined repair processes, higher productivity for workforce and equipment, reduction of costly errors, and increases in efficiencies.

What is needed to implement SLM? Companies need to integrate their people, processes, and technology to fully realize the benefits of Service Lifecycle Management. People from different departments need to be working towards common goals and measures and service processes need to be optimized across the service supply chain. Your people, processes, and technology all need to be working with each other, not against each other. You need technology that integrates all of your service information into one system so all of your service personnel can have access to the necessary information. However, technology cannot fix broken processes, so don’t implement new technology before your processes are analyzed and optimized. Your technology also needs to make your people more effective and not hinder processes. Starting with business process mapping and analysis can help uncover all of your people, processes, and technology issues.
Content Manager of the CSDP website. Create and publish blogs, surveys, polls, charts, and diagrams for the CSDP website, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ YouTube, etc. Manage all social media/networking accounts. Maintain library of technical documentation, journals, and proposal material. Write technical manuals, training material, user documentation, and presentations. Responsible for managing data entry, integrity, and maintenance. Assist in the development of proposals and effective management of the proposal process by identifying proposal strategy, theme, and content; write and edit copy.

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