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Service Control Towers - a pre-requisite for successful global operations? - Part 1

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This is the first in a series blogs on the adoption of Control Towers by the Service Industry.   They are part of a white paper that I am writing on Control Towers.

Introduction

The increasing adoption of 3rd party vendors for the delivery of the entire life cycle of the service request (Call Centers, Service Parts, and Field Service) has brought the realization that service control towers have become more of an operating requirement than a competitive differential.   In parallel, the adoption of service analytics and BPM is gaining more and more attention as key enablers for improving the capabilities of service control towers. This is particularly true in global operations where there are multiple service vendors participating in the service value chain.  

Industry Drivers

This growth in the adoption of Control Towers in the service industry is in many respects a reaction to the realization that the out sourcing of the value chain still requires a significant level of oversight, coordination, and management. For many companies this need for oversight and coordination was not entirely foreseen when they started their out-sourcing journey. However, the decision to move to a 3rd party service model has brought to light for many companies challenges such as:

  • Recognition that operating a disaggregated service value chain still requires proactive oversight and management of both vendor performance and costs.
  • Customer dissatisfaction with service delivery delays that can be difficult to diagnose and address from a process perspective.
  • Performance issues with a vendor that could have been detected early with proactive management.
  • Need to support scalable global growth with Opex funding.
  • The need for a nimble operating model that supports the rapid engagement and dis-engagement of 3rd party service providers as geography needs change.
  • Unexpected capacity issues associated with periods such as Christmas where workload may need to be redistributed across different vendors.  This is most commonly applicable to out-sourced call centers.   But this has also been an issue with companies such as Microsoft and the Xbox debacle several years ago.
  • Disaster recovery capabilities when part of your service ecosystem goes down or its capacity is seriously constrained.

Control Towers are evolutionary in the maturity of a service organization

For companies that have out sourced parts or all of their service value chain Control Towers have become increasingly an operational requirement and represent the next level of maturity in the evolution of their capabilities.   However, before embarking on the implementation of a Control Tower here are some of the basic questions that you need to ask and addressed:

  • Control Towers can be expensive to implement and are highly dependent on technology.  What is your rationale?  How will you justify the costs?
  • Control Towers are information hungry.  Is your operational data timely and accurate?
  • Control Towers rely on KPIs and transactional measurements.   Is your data model sound?  Do you have a definitive single source of truth?   Can you look at a transaction and know if it is in trouble?  Or do you need to look at multiple pieces of transactional information to make an assessment?  In other words, how definitive is your information?
  • Control Towers can provide you with insights into operational challenges before they become customer and cost issues.   Are your processes predictable and repeatable?  If you identify an operational challenge how will you intervene?  If you identify an emerging systemic issue what will you change?   
  • Control Towers can cross global boundaries.   What are the organizational and cultural issues that will be a part of you change management plan?  How will you define your escalation paths and protocols?  How will you integrate local country or regional management to keep them in the loop?

In the next blog entry I will explore in greater detail the business challenges that Control Towers address.

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