Management by exception in the service department

14/07/2017 - Joan Gaastra

The (field)service department in your organization is the ideal department for achieving great results by streamlining business processes. An important rule to apply here is 'management by exception'.

Management by exception

In order to work efficiently, you try to make all processes run as smooth and fast as possible without you interfering or taking action. But there are always situations that deviate from how the business process should normally go and thus require special attention. You want those situations to be solved by a select group of employees who are specialized in this and have the mandate to take decisions. That is management by exception. Imagine one of your technicians is on site with the customer for a repair job. There he finds out that a part has to be replaced. This specific part is in the engineer’s service bus, but it is damaged. The part can still be used, but towards the customer you will need to come up with a proper solution. Will you charge the part at a reduced rate? Deliver a new part as fast as possible? Use this part now and schedule a new meeting to replace it with a part that is not damaged? You do not want to confront your technician with this choice. In the case of such an exception to the regular process, the service planner or workshop manager should take the right decision on this matter.

Why management by exception?

By using management by exception, you can quickly identify problems and devote all your time and energy instead of keeping busy with minor issues or things that run smoothly. In addition, you do not have to look at everything anymore, but you can focus on just a couple of things, saving you time and allowing you to take better decisions. What is the purpose of reviewing and checking a batch of invoices every week, while most of these have no irregularities? Much better is to filter out the invoices with irregularities and focus on these completely.

What should you pay attention to?

The difficulty in applying management by exception lies in defining and detecting of what is standard or normal and what is different. You must have defined your business processes perfectly and should have a clear understanding of how these normally work and when there is a deviation in the process. Determining and setting up your business processes can be done with a group of colleagues and possibly with the help of your software partner. The ERP software also plays an important role in this. The software should also facilitate filtering the exceptions and assign these to a specific user or user group. Therefore, talk to your software partner and discuss how your business processes can be made even more efficient by applying management by exception.

As a Product Owner, Joan Gaastra is in the driver's seat at Dysel. He decides which functionalities are developed and how they are prioritized.

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