Information Management in Service

How tools can help.

Information Management in Service

The planned downtime of a system has long passed, but the maintenance work has still not been completed? Are the Service Technicians on-site missing important parameter information they need, in order to be able to start the system up again?
Non-existent, incomplete or outdated information is a decisive (negative) factor for the Service efficiency of companies. It severely disrupts the workflow of Service teams – with a direct impact on the availability of production equipment.
The good news is that much of the information your teams need in the field already exists – but often in disparate systems, sometimes only in the minds of your Service Engineers. It's long since become a key task for companies to capture this information in the best possible way, to manage it centrally, and to make it available to all employees.
How can this be achieved?


When important information becomes lost

In our Insight-Report-Service 2021 Cooperation Study (available in German, only), we found that for almost half of the respondents, Service information is created directly within the Service department. The advantage is obvious: the expert knowledge of the company's own specialists can be accessed and used immediately.
But what about the methodical and technical implementation? The busy schedules of Service Technicians usually leave little room for updating documentation. Between maintenance orders and business trips, there's just enough time to type up the most important information in a text editor. In the best case, the text document is stored on the company network for co-workers – if they can find the document at all.
It's obvious that this approach offers a lot of room for improvement. What are the biggest pitfalls?

  • The information you really need is hard to find.
  • It's not clear whether the existing information is still current.
  • It's unclear whether new information that needs to be created already exists elsewhere.
  • The specialised experience and expertise of the Service Technicians, which is only documented in handwriting for example, remains largely unused within the organisation.
  • There is a lack of an overview of the basic information situation in the Service department. What important information is still missing? Which documents need to be revised?

What does this mean for manufacturers? They must prepare themselves for the fact that the need for information in Service will continue to increase in the future. The shortage of skilled workers, the increased use of less experienced lateral hires, and the loss of knowledge (due to generational changes) in working life are the critical factors here. In view of this development, decentralised document management in the traditional sense quickly reaches its limits.



Solving Service tasks faster with information portals

How can all of this be done better? In the field of Technical Communication, the trend is clearly toward platform-based solutions for standardised and centralised content management. In the Service sector in particular, special digital information portals are increasingly establishing themselves, with which the provision of information to Service teams can be optimised in a very targeted manner.
What functions do such information portals offer – and what are their advantages over traditional document management?

  • All Service documents in one place
    One system – all information: Your entire Service Documentation is managed in a central location, and can thus be made available to all employees within your Service organisation in an uncomplicated manner.
  • With AI support, get directly to the solution
    No more tedious searching in different systems or complicated folder structures: Thanks to the Intelligent Search function, hits are sorted by relevance and search queries are completed automatically. In addition, documents related to your search query are suggested – and these can also be evaluated at a glance by using the Preview function.
    This means that your Service Technicians can access the information they need (when they're on-site) at the touch of a button.
  • Solve problems step-by-step
    Guided dialogs (based on intelligent decision trees) support your Service staff and customers in quickly isolating problems and finding appropriate solutions. This way, the know-how of your Service organisation can be better structured and your Service quality sustainably increased. In addition, new employees can be trained more quickly and can also solve critical Service cases reliably.
    Another benefit: In the Service business, the first-time-fix rate of your customers is increased. This reduces the workload of your support staff and frees them up to solve more complex Service requests.
  • Standardise expert knowledge and make it usable
    New information such as checklists or notes can be documented and stored by your teams directly on-site. This allows expert knowledge to be siphoned-off from the field in a targeted manner, formalised and made available to all employees.
  • Evaluation & feedback
    Your Service staff can directly evaluate the individual content modules in the portal, such as troubleshooting procedures or dialogs, and suggest changes. This makes it easy to close information gaps and correct possible errors. This improves the quality of your Service Documentation step-by-step.
  • Information anywhere and anytime
    On the production floor, in the office, or on the go: Thanks to mobile app support, your entire collection of Service Documentation is available anytime, anywhere – and even offline. This reduces the coordination efforts between your employees and shortens production downtimes.


What new tasks can arise from the use of information portals?

Basically, the selection, acquisition and implementation of an information portal for Service are steps that should be thoroughly considered and aligned with the individual framework conditions of the company. In most cases, they go hand-in-hand with a restructuring of information management within the Service organisation. It's therefore important to get the main users (e.g. Service Technicians) on board early enough, and to take their requirements for the new system into account.
It should be noted that the rollout success of a new software tool depends, to a large extent, on the acceptance of users. Here, it's crucial to familiarise the entire Service team with the new options and functions through targeted training. Only in this way can the information portal develop into a real benefit for your company.
New challenges await the Service Technicians: In the future, they'll have to be prepared to feed their valuable expert and detailed knowledge back into the organisation to a greater extent, and to share it in the form of Service content on the portal.
The information portals currently available on the market support this workflow with a clear and intuitive interface that's familiar from common online applications. In addition, existing Service Documentation can be easily transferred to the system. Following the credo of "first things first", the portal is quickly populated with information and your Service people benefit from significantly simplified information access shortly after launch. Subsequently, any remaining information gaps can be identified and gradually filled with new content – thus gradually increasing the content volume in the information portal.

In order to professionalise the creation and management of Service information over the long-term, it can also make sense to rethink the distribution of roles and tasks. For example, responsible individuals are needed to take care of the development and maintenance of the information portal. Ideally, these Information Managers should also be responsible for both editing and producing the new Service content. Their know-how helps to relieve the Technicians of purely editorial tasks and to create Service Documentation that's as comprehensible as possible, and from which every Service employee benefits.

Do you still have questions about the benefits of digital information portals in Service, or would you like to learn more about specific functions? We'd be happy to advise and support you.

Steffen Vorderstemann
Blog post Steffen Vorderstemann