What is innovation?
What comes to mind when you reflect on innovation in business? Do you picture fast-growing, groundbreaking companies? Or, do you dismiss the idea of innovation all together as a techy-buzzword?
The main purpose of innovating in business is not just to make improvements to productivity and quality, but to determine the best way to operate in every area possible. Innovation requires reflection and review to understand what is, or isn’t, working in your business. It also requires testing and experimenting. You must be willing to go through phases of trial and error to try new things and test what could work for your business. Often, the people who are most aware of problems or inefficiencies within a business are the drivers of innovation.
Recognise that innovating does require some risk-taking, but all for a good cause. You will either find new ways of operating to revolutionise and improve your business, or you’ll learn some valuable insights to help you move forward. While innovating in your business may help improve processes, being innovative is so much more than seeking to improve. It means thinking outside of the box and making complete changes to your operations.
How can you be innovative in your field service business?
1. Careful planning and attentionWhere in your business is there room for growth or improvement? This is where you’ll want to start to begin making changes. And remember, you aren’t just looking for a quick fix to make processes faster. You are looking for ways to completely alter your process so that they are more streamlined, efficient, and can ultimately improve your bottom line.
2. Awareness of innovation blocksDo you have staff who aren’t willing to change or systems that are outdated? These things can hold you back from implementing new systems or from thinking beyond what’s right in front of you.
3. Willingness to step outside of the normWhen looking for ways to revolutionize your own business, consider looking for examples of innovation outside of your industry or region. You may find inspiration to think outside the box when you look at organizations vastly different from your own.
4. Don’t make assumptionsNever assume that processes in your business are as good as they can get — maybe they are, but be willing to evaluate other options. As Harvard Business Review states, “At its heart, every operational innovation defies an assumption about how work should be done”. In other words, are there areas in your business where you have assumed that your current processes are the best way to do things? By thinking outside the box you may find innovative ways to improve processes you previously assumed were optimised.
5. Ask probing questionsSometimes, the best way to break out of the mundane is to ask yourself (and your team!) questions that help you think in a fresh, new light. Are you doing the bare minimum to share information about schedules, invoices, and job details with your customers, or could you improve? Innovation could look like changing the way you interact with your clients to not only improve their service, but also to reimagine what is possible. How do field staff in your business record job details? If those notes are scribbled on a sheet of paper or sent over in a text message, is that really the best way to communicate? Think about changing the way your field staff relay their job details as that will make life easier and cut down on miscommunication for managers, office staff, and other staff on a job.
As a field service professional, being innovative is not a quick, one-off task. Being innovative takes hard work, and it won’t happen overnight. However, keep in mind that innovative changes can help you stand out in the marketplace, stay ahead of your competitors, and run your business in a way that makes work easier for all staff involved.
Learn more about how simPRO helps field service professionals make the most out of their operations management.