Getting Leadership Buy-In for the Rugged Laptops a Field Service Technician Needs

Field service technicians recognize the gaps that exist in their technology toolkits. They know what they have to work with, keep up with the new solutions being used in the field, and maintain their own wish lists of solutions and tools they wish their companies would invest in.

Digital transformation and advanced technologies are changing the way field service organizations operate. The global field service management market is expected to reach $3.9 billion by 2027 — up from $1.8 billion in 2021 — driven by innovations that present both opportunities and challenges for field service organizations.

Getting executive buy-in for new investments is one hurdle that field service leaders must clear before equipping their technicians with rugged laptops. Unfortunately, the path from field service technician to financial decision maker can be long and complicated, particularly in larger organizations.

For example, field service technicians may talk to their managers about ordering rugged laptops to replace paper-based systems or consumer-grade devices, but making the business case for a new technology investment requires more effort on the part of managers and prospective users. Without the proper stakeholder buy-in, requests for even the most promising field service tech tools may get passed over in favor of other needs. 

Field Service Technicians Face Obstacles to Investment

In fact, budget limitations and poor stakeholder buy-in create delays on many field service technology investments.

“To overcome these challenges and fully harness the potential of modern solutions, organizations must develop a compelling business case that showcases the value and return on investment (ROI) of adopting such technologies,” said enterprise software firm IFS in a recent report about field service technology.

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The report goes on to discuss how resistance to new technologies and solutions can happen at all levels, from C-Suite executives to technicians in the field. Fears range from concerns about costs or operational disruptions to poor return on investment. Overcoming that resistance means providing education around the specific area of concern.

Other roadblocks that field service leaders and technicians may have to overcome when building a case for rugged laptop investments include:

  • Financial decision makers may not understand the challenges that technicians face out in the field and the role that technology can play in solving those problems. This can create a disconnect between the department that controls the budget and the end users that need new tech tools.
  • Speaking in terms stakeholders will understand. Metrics like ROI and equipment cost are important to financial decision makers. Making direct correlations between the customer or field services experience and return on investment can be difficult.
  • Field service leaders need a long-term vision. When you spend most of your time putting out fires for customers, coming up with a long-term plan for technology investments can prove challenging.
  • Building business cases requires a certain skill set. Making the case for a rugged laptop investment may require presentation skills and a persuasiveness that may not come naturally for field service technicians.

Building a Winning Case for Investment in New Tech 

By communicating the value proposition of rugged laptops out in the field, and by speaking the language of the CFO, controller or other decision maker, field service organizations can get the technology they need to work more efficiently and productively. This, in turn, can substantially improve the team’s effectiveness — a measure that positively impacts the customer experience.

The state of the labor market can also work in the field service leader’s favor when making a case for advanced technology investments. New technicians are hard to find and, in some cases, even more difficult to retain. Those who are forced to work with manual systems or aging tech tools will soon be looking for another employer that demonstrates a willingness to make the investment in more advanced solutions.

Here are four more strategies you can use to get buy-in for rugged technology from the decision makers in your organization:

1. Use metrics and data to paint a clear picture.

Financial executives value numbers and clear ROI estimates. It may be difficult to connect the dots between happier technicians/customers and a financial case, but you can come up with some creative ways to hit this mark. For example, if a connected, rugged laptop will speed up the time it takes for a field services tech to complete a job and the related paperwork, that worker could manage more jobs in a day. This, in turn, translates into a more efficient overall workforce. You can find detailed criteria in our Rugged Mobile Device Buyer’s Guide Checklist to help you evaluate potential mobile-device solutions for your organization.  

2. Focus on the top customer complaints (and how tech can solve them).

Customers expect field service companies to address issues on the first try. Conducting an effective service call requires reliable connectivity and real-time visibility into technical manuals, client account information, parts inventory, work orders, and more.  Paper-based processes foster inefficiency, but data collection, scheduling, and real-time visibility solutions help field service technicians work more efficiently and finish the job the first time.

3. Show them how other organizations are benefiting from upgrading their field service technicians.

Find customer case studies clearly outlining the benefits and ROI that field service organizations get from their rugged laptop investments. You can use these stories to create your own compelling business case, and even embed one or two of these real-life examples right into your own presentation. Use some strong before and after examples to help quantify the potential benefits and illustrate a business case for the upgrade.

4. Think beyond the immediate benefits and focus on the technology’s potential for future growth and scalability.

Position the solutions as an investment in the company’s long-term growth instead of just a cost center. For example, TOUGHBOOK rugged laptops last for many years, even when operating in harsh environments, which helps companies minimize electronic waste. Take the TOUGHBOOK G2 2-in-1 laptop, which is MIL-STD-810G and IP65 certified. Additionally, all TOUGHBOOK computers meet MIL-Spec requirements for drops and impacts, ensuring longevity in even the toughest working conditions.

Empowering Your Field Service Technicians 

Properly empowering field service technicians with technology in the field enables better customer service and more efficient, effective work. Check out our Field Services Productivity: Mobile Solutions to Optimize Operations and Build Your Business whitepaper for more information about how TOUGHBOOK devices can benefit your field teams.