June 2014 - The Service Council

The Connected Enterprise: Notes from PTC Live Service Exchange

By Sumair Dutta | Perspective | No Comments

Last week I had the opportunity to attend and speak at PTC’s annual Live Service Exchange. I also had the chance to listen in on PTC President and CEO Jim Heppelmann’s keynote presentation at PTC Live (the overall conference focused more so on design, engineering and PLM) wherein he outlined PTC’s role in supporting the connected enterprise.

Past PTC events have focused on business segments such as PLM, ALM and most recently SLM or Service Lifecycle Management. At this year’s event the focus was much more on connectivity and the Internet of Things (IoT) and how these trends impact how organizations design, build and service products. The focus on connectivity is appropriate given PTC’s recent acquisition of ThingWorx (Our commentary here).

In his keynote, Heppelmann highlighted 3 major value changes occurring with organizations (primarily manufacturing organizations)

  1. Hardware and software now share the stage when it comes to innovation
  2. The need for connectivity is real
    – Embedded vs. Cloud
  3. The rising importance of service in impacting customer interactions
PTC Live: Service Ascending Presented by Jim Heppelmann

PTC Live: Service Ascending Presented by Jim Heppelmann

Within the realm of smart connected products, Heppelmann stated that connectivity enables the organization to monitor, control, optimize and automate, all areas that can be supported by PTC’s technology. Instead of PLM or ALM or SLM, Heppelmann argued the need for Closed Loop Lifecycle Management that touches upon all those disciplines.

Heppelmann’s keynote was then followed by interesting case studies from ThermoFisher and Trane (an Advisory Board member at The Service Council) on how connectivity enables these organizations to optimize and transform their manufacturing and service processes.

At The Service Council (TSC), we see great potential in the marriage of the Internet of Things with service planning, delivery, and execution. There has also been a large amount of coverage on how connectivity can aid manufacturing and product development. The success of a connected enterprise however depends on the level of connectivity across various business functions – product development, design, engineering, manufacturing, sales, marketing, IT, service and more. The level of connectivity desired here amounts to more than just adhoc collaboration. It requires an end-to-end view of how products are designed, manufactured, sold, monitored, serviced, replaced, and more. Our research shows an increasing amount of collaboration between service and other business groups, primarily sales and engineering, wherein these teams connect in a more consistent manner to improve quality and the customer experience. More so, this collaboration is intended to be pre-emptive as opposed to reactive in order to address issues prior to their occurrence. Traditionally cross-functional task groups were only put together after an event or series of events that prompted a review. Collaboration between groups on a one-to-one basis is a good start but it doesn’t offer the cross-organizational connectivity required to truly enable the maximum benefit of a connected enterprise. Questions such as whose budget pays for the connectivity, who is responsible for selling connected services, and whose IT resources are needed to support connectivity cannot be answered with a function-specific look at connected products. This is taking the servicing organization’s perspective.

True acceptance of the connected vision also requires a change in the way customers look at purchasing and consuming products and services. Given that products have more software and need to transmit usage and performance information, buyers need to align with their IT and regulatory teams to reconsider information access and security protocols. Buyers and asset-operators also need to better understand the financial implications of a pay-per-use or power-by-the-hour consumption model vs. the traditional equipment purchase model. More so, product and service purchasers need to be aligned in order support a recurring cost that covers the usage, maintenance and management of the purchased product.

For PTC’s connected enterprise vision to take shape, both manufacturers and their customers need to transform and connect internally, a change that can delay the complete acceptance of the Internet of Things. Steps are being taken in that direction, but it is a slow transformation. Organizations such as Trane have transformed into solutions providers and are bringing together products and services, but they too are looking to overcome challenges associated with true connectivity. In their instance, connecting with legacy products is one challenge, something that Trane is looking to do in a cost effective manner while delivering the same level of experience as with their newer products.

Products to Solutions at Trane

PTC Live 2014: Products to Solutions Transformation at Trane Presented by Dane Taival

Overall, there is a great appetite, especially within service organizations, to increase collaboration with other business groups such as sales, design, engineering, HR and IT. In fact, this was a focus of the TSC workshop attended by folks from Southwest Airlines, Cisco, Manitou Group and more. Each organization represented in the workshop identified ways in which they could improve internal collaboration:

With IT –

  • Early inclusion in the development and scope of automation projects in order to identify concerns
  • Securing IT resources early on in the automation planning cycle

With HR

  • Improve education for HR on the evolving vision of the service business
  • Measure outcomes that are aligned with service business objectives

With Sales and Marketing

  • Align performance objectives and goals
  • Focus on account management (pre- and post-sale)

With Design and Engineering

  • Make both groups responsible for knowledge creation
  • Leverage service operational metrics and feedback to measure the serviceability of products.
Collaboration and Teamwork at PTC Live Service Exchange

Collaboration and Teamwork at PTC Live Service Exchange

As collaboration yields better business results, it will be ingrained in the culture of these organizations. This is necessary to support an enterprise-wide focus on the customer value delivered via a connected business ecosystem.

The World Cup and A Winning Service Culture

By Sumair Dutta | Perspective | No Comments

The World Cup commences today and it feels appropriate to draw parallels between the beautiful game and the changing service landscape. Pele, one of the best football/soccer players in the world commented:

“I am constantly being asked about individuals. The only way to win is as a team. Football is not about one or two or three star players.”

Essentially a team of players on the same page is better than one with a superstar who doesn’t fit into the culture and mindset of the team. This is why some of the best players in the world have yet to lift the World Cup (or insert trophy name as per your sport of preference).

There is a significant parallel between that statement and service culture. Peter Drucker famously stated “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” While I don’t disagree with the comment, I believe that culture needs to be paired with strategy or design to ensure that everyone is moving in the same direction. Without strategy and design you have a number of superstars who are pushing extremely hard for your organization by going above and beyond. This leads to burnout.

I really like Professor Frances Frei’s (from the Harvard Business School) take, wherein she states that Service Excellence is a factor of Design and Culture. Her equation is:

Service Excellence = Design x Culture

Within this equation, you can compensate for limited design with a well-developed culture. Conversely, a designed service process enables you to ensure that all employees are encouraged and motivated towards achieving the same goal. This in turn reduces the reliance on superstars and mitigates the likelihood that these superstars burn out in their tireless pursuit of service excellence.

We see and hear a lot about the tools and steps necessary to build a service culture. Professor Frei, who keynoted The Service Council’s 2014 Smarter Services Symposium, outlines her discussion around an employee management system, which requires a focus on job design, recruitment, training and performance management. Professor Frei also raises an excellent point about the inclusion of the customer in culture development and management and believes that the delivery of service excellence is heavily dependent on the organization’s ability to train and manage customers. Ron Kaufman, who also keynoted our event, indicates a structure of 12 building blocks that are necessary to build a culture of excellence. These include a common service language, service measure and metrics, service staff orientation and more.

Where I see a potential for more work on culture is in the involvement of other business groups into the mission of service excellence. Service excellence in itself impacts the performance of other areas of the organization. Likewise the work done by other areas of the organization impact service excellence. While we see some cultural alignment between service and HR in recruiting, training, and more, there is a vast need to better align service with other business functions. This is turn, will lead to the entire organizational team (and not just the service team) being cued in on delivering service and customer excellence.

I welcome your thoughts and comments on design and culture. Is there a company that’s doing both well?

Some resources to consider:

  • TSC podcast on culture with Jason Bingham from Trane (Listen)
  • TSC webinar on talent in the service workplace with the team from Vivint (June 17 – Register)
  • TSC’s new survey on talent management in field service (Participate)
  • If you’re in Boston, I’ll be sharing some thoughts on design and culture at PTC’s Live Service Exchange on Monday June 16.

Hiring, Interviewing & Onboarding: The Interview (Part 2 of 3) by Cary Chapman

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In today’s hectic business world there is the tendency, way too often, to rush through the interview process. This is done for a variety of reasons; time savings, lack of knowledge, the belief that it is all that is required, this is the way we were taught, and the list goes on. This section is intended to address only the “lack of knowledge” topic. Quite by chance, and in desperation due to my obvious lack of knowledge on how to properly interview, I ended up in a seminar on interviewing. The year was 1987 and I had been thrust into the need to hire several new employees in different disciplines. I happened to notice an advertisement in an airline magazine for “Behavioral Interviewing with Dr. Paul Green”. This session had a profound positive impact on my ability to properly interview prospective employees; and, I have continued to use this skill throughout my career with rewarding results. Many of my comments, theories and practices originated in the foundation set by Dr. Green those many years ago. Finally, we need to keep in mind several key points as we enter into the interview. We are usually interviewing candidates who will be directly or indirectly involved in a product, service or both that our customers will experience. Therefore, it should be obvious that we focus on hiring the very best and most qualified candidate we can find. The other significant key to remember is that while we are interviewing candidates, in a sense, they are simultaneously interviewing us and our company.

Prior to the candidate’s arrival, we should have sent them whatever paperwork is required such as job application, personality profile, as well as any other required information. We are then able to put these documents with their resume to create the packets to be used during the process by all interviewers. In my last organization I assigned this task to one of our administrative professionals to handle travel, lodging, and any logistic questions the candidate may have. This really helped streamline the process with one individual becoming the expert. We received many positive comments on how the admin took care of this task. Earlier I mentioned that not only were we interviewing the candidate but that the candidate would be interviewing us. One step we took to address this point was to conduct a plant tour which lasted about 45 minutes to an hour which enabled the candidate to observe us in our element. Our manufacturing facility was very impressive, however, one of the interesting comments we received had to do with the number of people I was acknowledging on a first name basis. The subtle statement this made was that we had a team or community environment which also made a favorable impression. As I mentioned in section one, I like to have the same four or five key people doing the interviewing for consistency. I use the structured Behavioral Interviewing process; the other members use structural but not all use behavioral. There is a real need to use a structured process so that it provides consistency and a fair evaluation thus insuring that all data being collected can be efficiently rated. The three things that I focus on are: first, the technical skill sets to match the job description. Secondly, does the candidate have the demonstrated behavioral skills to meet the performance needs of the position? Lastly, will their personality / demeanor add value or detract from the team they will be joining?

In breaking down the key components that I use for a structured interview they are as follows.

  1. Control the experience that you will have with the candidate. I like to ask them if they have experienced behavioral/ structured interviewing in the past and then give a brief description of that process. We should provide them a verbal outline of what will take place while you are with them. Typical pieces of information are: who they will be talking to, how long the entire process will last, where rest rooms are and lastly, ask if there is anything they require before starting.
  2. Next I like to ask ice breaker questions such as how was their trip if they travelled, something to do with the weather, if they stayed overnight how was the hotel room and/or how did they find our process leading up to this interview day. Here I pay close attention to the demeanor of the candidate, if they seem relaxed move on. I have interviewed many military personnel just rotating out of the service and it was their first interview; frequently they are quite nervous. Then I spend more time in this area just to put them more at ease. Here I will also explain that because you place a high priority on interviews you will be taking notes to ensure that you have captured all of the key points they discussed. This in turn provides me the opportunity to evaluate everyone equally.
  3. A majority of the positions that the team and I interviewed were technical in nature. Therefore, as a first step, I requested that one of the technical managers conducted the first interview by phone to insure that the candidate was technically qualified. With that requirement being met, I conducted a soft skills phone interview to insure that they were capable of solid communication skills. In this step I’m trying to discover how they handle difficult interpersonal situations with examples. The instances they use could be from their personal life or their working life. I center on a few questions intending to drill down with several follow on questions to each main question. As the interviewer, you need to have the discipline to pursue a solid answer because I discovered that a candidate who is uncomfortable with answering these questions will try to convince you they have never experienced what the question is asking.
  4. Having previously determined the exact behaviors that are important to this position, I construct specific questions that will highlight whether or not the candidate possesses these behaviors. It is best if you try to stay with approximately six questions and again drill down with several follow on questions. My experience has taught me this area requires the most time and effort but gives us the most insight to the candidate and provides our greatest opportunity on deciding whether or not we have a good match.
  5. My second highest priority is the next section where I allow the candidate time for their questions. I expect them to have meaningful business related questions. These questions should not be associated with pay, work hours or benefits but rather direction, challenges, vision, areas of expertise and areas requiring improvement. This time with the candidate allows me some very solid insight into who they are and what is important to them. Are they focused on the big picture or themselves? I have heard many schools of thought on this topic as to time devoted, however, I will always error on the side of too much. I also will encourage the candidate to contact me after the interview if a question comes to mind.
  6. The wrap up is where I verify with them that we have accomplished everything they had expected. I will talk briefly about when we hope to make a decision based on the number of people that we still need to talk with etc. I will walk them back to the front desk to sign out and ensure they are set with transportation. Time permitting I would drive the candidate back to the airport as it was just a few miles away. This time in the car frequently afforded me an insight that I had not been exposed to during the formal process.


Once you have completed all the interviews you intend on conducting, it is imperative to reconvene with the interview team for feedback. Create an excel spread sheet to collate all the data and scores from each interviewer. With this information, arrive at your top two or three and here I like to apply a little “gut feel” to the empirical data during a group discussion. If required, after this exercise, you would invite possibly two candidates for a second face-to-face. It is important to have two potential candidates since with some frequency you complete the offer process and the first choice candidate does not accept the offer. Another key comment would be the need to move quickly through the overall interview process. I have found the higher the quality of candidate you are trying to hire the more companies there are trying to hire them. The quicker you move the more you improve your chance to land the candidate. At the completion of this process you will want to create a packet that contains all the written documentation for each potential candidate that demonstrates how and under what parameters you arrived at the candidate of choice. This packet should then be submitted to HR to retain for their records. It has been my experience that the offer process should be and works best with HR handling it. If there is a need to take a hard line they can take it with a stated purpose of following corporate rule etc. With this approach you have not started the new relationship with any conflict. HR will also tend to be more objective and structured and not emotionally invested in any one candidate. This concludes section two on Interviewing. It should be mentioned that there have been books written on this topic alone. The intent here was a few paragraphs emphasizing the key points and highlights. If it drives you to deeper questions, Dr. Green, whom I mentioned earlier, conducts a very valuable seminar. Also, feel free to contact me via email or phone and I will try to help. I sincerely hope that this provided a few nuggets that allow you to walk away and improve your interview process.

NOTE: Look for the third and final paper on this topic covering “Onboarding the New Employee” over the next month or so.

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