The Service Community: Bringing Service Leaders Together

Jul 20, 2020 • The Service Community

The Service Community is a completely independent non-profit organisation whose sole purpose is to help share knowledge and best-practice amongst service professionals within the UK. We host two meetings per year which are held at the offices of one of our members during which we will share a selection of presentations from community members as well as engage in peer-to-peer discussion groups and industry networking. 

The Service Community is run by the industry for the industry in a sponsor-free environment that allows for productive and engaging discussion with our peers from a wide variety of industry sectors but always focused on the key issues we face as service leaders. 

Membership to the Service Community and attendance to our meetings is free of charge for service professionals but registration is required. To find out more contact

13 october 2021

Great to Be Back

Our first face 2 face event in 2 years, and it was great to see the Service Community back to its old provocative and insightful self. Despite last minute COVID self isolations and fuel crisis, just over 20 Service peers made it to the magnificent Henley Business school location, to take part in 4 discussions:

Chris Craggs, CEO of our host MCFT talked about the key role that technology plays within the MCFT field service organization. In particular how it helps this SME to effectively deploy its resources across different countries, with different cultures and commercial frameworks. Chris explained MCFT had developed its own Field Service solution in order to gain a competitive advantage over the other players in its market. Specifically, how to manage low value assets where the cost of failure such as a gas explosion is very high. They needed a specific solution to manage this risk. Indeed the approach has been so successful that recently the IT development team has been spun out as stand-alone profit center called ORCA Service Technologies; able to service not only MCFT, but other customers as well.

See  for more information.

Three drivers that Chris mentioned which particularly caught my attention.

  • Chris talked about how one of their goals was to ‘nudge’ their service teams to act in the right way through the data they had and the choices they could make. Some of you may have heard of Choice Architecture as being the academic research behind this approach.
  • He was looking to develop well rounded technicians who not only have great technical skills, but have a maturity around social and commercial skills as well.
  • Chris shared best practices on API integrations down the supply chain and how these integrations helped to aid the B2B relationships between service organisations and parts suppliers. Expanding integrations up the supply chain with customers will in future allow for better data accuracy, improved SLAs and reduce non-value adding administrative tasks.

With a number of Solution Providers in the room, this discussion also looked at the pro’s and cons of developing bespoke systems.

Adrian Botham, a long-time community member then facilitated a discussion on how COVID has impacted the service and support operations over the past 2 years, and most importantly the actions taken to overcome the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities. After discussing in smaller groups, here are a few points that stuck me from the plenary session:

  • The mindset change both from OEM’s and customers around the acceptance of Remote has created an opportunity for a step change in how we develop and sell Service Contracts.
  • Don’t underestimate the mental stress that people have been under during the Lockdowns, which might make them more timid and more risk adverse.
  • Managing the hybrid working model of work from home and work from office. This will take leadership skills to make sure all employees remain engaged.
  • That many organizations are looking at re-organization of their middle management as remote working has thrown a spot light on their value add.

Andy Harrison (ex Rolls Royce) and now working with the Advanced Services Group(ASG) at the Aston Business School, talked about Breaking the Product & Service Design Disconnect. Andy offered us a very real and pragmatic insight into some of the principals Rolls Royce has deployed to create the well known ‘Power by the Hour’ offer. This offer has transformed the Aeroengine market based on the business fact that over its lifetime an engine costs 6 more times to maintain than it does to buy. Together with ASG, he has distilled all these experiences into 5 key principles to follow:

  • Understand the customer value proposition and service-based performance indicators
  • Understand the product according to the service-based performance indicators
  • Establish data about how the product has performed against service indicators
  • Identify the key subsystem or components of the product which drives the performance
  • Redesign the product to perform as required

And then finally Paul Osborne from AERMEC talked to us about “Cream Chiller in London needs attention”, and boy was it worth waiting for. This discussion was what the Service Community is all about. Real people talking about how they have overcome specific challenges and developed their Service Business. In this case Paul talked about how as a Service Manager, it is critical that his service engineers provide him and customers with the right information in a timely way. He talked about how he moved his team away from manual reporting, through using basic service management systems and now to a way of thinking that almost disrupts how service management reporting is done. Traditionally the Service Engineer enters their reports through the written word using templates and pictures to make the process less painful. And we all know how service technicians love reporting!! What Paul is in the process of reengineering the workflow, to be based on photo’s augmented by text or ‘dictated notes’, in effect creating a pictorial representation of the job. Working with XOI to develop this new work process, Paul explained how he and his customers get better quality data on the job which is easier to understand and action. An example of leading service thinking delivering real tangible benefits to the organisation.

You will find all the presentations can be downloaded in the Slide Deck’s from previous presentations section.

Our next meeting is likely to be in the Birmingham area in the April/May timeframe.

13 may 2021

Competencies for Successful Service Businesses

On 7th May, the Service Community hosted a Virtual Practitioner discussion on the competencies required for developing and sustaining a service business in the industrial and engineering environment.

To stimulate the discussion, a team of mature MSC students from the Cranfield ‘Through-life Engineering Services (TES) ‘programme presented the results of a research project they have undertaken to examine the competencies required to implement and maintain TES Thinking. The outcome of their research was a framework which looked at the competencies required to deliver activities defined in the first ever BSI standard for services, PAS 280.

TES Competency Framework

They identified core competency that all employees should have. Each competency consisting of behaviours, knowledge and skills.

Competency assessment example


In addition, they looked at specialist competencies in each of the areas of:

  • Organisational Capabilities
  • Value Streams
  • Execution Processes

The Cranfield presentation can be downloaded in “Slide Deck’s from previous presentations"

This presentation was an excellent catalyst for group discussion with 6-7 professionals to discuss two questions. Here are some of the key perspectives that were discussed:

  1. What have been the biggest challenges you have experienced in terms of people & competencies?
  • Curiosity is critical for innovation and exploring risk
  • Big difference between organisations in terms of how they approach risk. Eg Defence higher risk than an SME, and the reason they spend so much time in the planning phase of their services versus general industry.
  • SME budgetary have constraints impacting on documentation/training
  • CAPEX vs OPEX thinking i.e. business competencies are often missing
  • Cultural issues: UK manufacturers have a tendency to sweat assets even when an analysis shows an overall cost saving from a service investment.
  • Long tenure/Mindset: Can take time to change. For example from electro-mechanical to cloud based solutions
  • Management level business skills (importance to customer) vs working level
  • Focus on product vs service aspects – what is the offering e.g. outcome based, etc. vs risk
  • Conventional mindset vs strategic/commercial aspects of solutions – SHIFT IN MINDSET
  • Ensuring consistency of TES processes
  • Building Engineers and Technicians behavioural and communication skills, especially listening to the customer


    2. What are the key development actions you have taken or will take to enhance the competencies within your organisation?
  • Obsolescence: move to an open approach (like Germany) to information exchange
  • Impact on safety & how to manage Life extension of complex assets
  • Management of IP and commercial confidentiality
  • Data skill set to support the digital transformation efforts
  • How to prepare technical people to handle customers directly
  • Moving to even purer service offerings e.g. from equipment maintenance to cyber or data analytics
  • More autonomy to make decisions – driven more by values and behaviours
  • Present a compelling view of company strategy for Services
  • Knowledge/Gap analysis of a companies Service proposition
  • Model good behaviour of the best technicians
  • Incentivise soft (sales) skills


So a very enjoyable and interactive event. If any of you would like more information on the research from the Cranfield team, their emails are:,,,

Date for the diary: The next Service Community Event will be 30th September 2021 at the Henley Business School at the Henley-on-Thames campus.

03 jan 2021

Service Community goes Virtual

It is clear the Service Community’s great strength has been to offer Service professionals a venue away from their normal hectic days, to reflect with other professionals on the different topics that go into growing a service business. However sadly during Covid this has not been possible, so we have taken our community virtual on a temporary basis.

We held two very successful on-line events in November and December where 14-18 Service professionals had a chance to have highly interactive discussions on:

· Blockchain in Service: leading research and analysis from Veronica Martinez of the Cambridge Service Alliance of Cambridge University. So popular was the blockchain event, that Veronica came back and gave us a further perspective later in the month

· Purchasing services in the manufacturing environment: with Tim Bennet relating recent experiences from Rolls Royce

· The case for digital servitization: Dr Chris Raddats from Liverpool University providing pragmatic feedback on his recent research to which Service community members contributed.

We tried to stick to our principals of creating engaging discussions and as such our unique format has received great feedback. The initial 15minute presentation by our industry experts provides thought leadership on the topic. Then 30minute discussion in small groups of 4-5 professionals gives everyone a chance to talk in depth with colleagues. Our expert comes into each breakout session which also creates the opportunity to ask them some direct questions. Then we come back together and the Service Community facilitators help develop the key takeaways.

Our next discussion is planned to be looking at key capabilities needed to sustain a service business, based on research from Cranfield University.

Notes from our oct 2019 meeting: 

On the 16th October 2019, The Service Community was hosted by Atlas CopCo at their Innovation Centre, Deeside. With over 35 Service professionals, the conference room was packed in what is a fantastic facility. At the Innovation Centre you can see the latest technologies in fastening and automation in action. For example the self piercing riveting systems that enable assembly of aluminium car bodies that are now so important in the push to electric vehicles.

The day which started at 11am had five very different discussions, all looking at Services in Industry through different lens’ and perspectives.

The first discussion was led by our host Ian Cockett IAS Business Line manager – Service.  Ian gave us a great overview of how Service is organised in this multinational, multi-product organisation. In particular how they empower local managers to adapt service products to the local customer needs, but at the same time have a standard service portfolio that enables a consistent value proposition to be proposed, especially across global key accounts. He also talked about the key challenges service faces in terms of how to create the Service Super-person who is multi-skilled and customer focused. We gained an insight into how Atlas Copco is beginning to use data to enhance performance and key into their customer’s Industrie 4.0 strategy.

Then Alex Bours and Henk Jonker from DiManEx led a discussion on how additive manufacturing has the capability to disrupt many Service Supply Chains. After a presentation of the different components of additive manufacturing, which went well beyond 3D printing, the attendees split into smaller groups to discuss the potential impact of this technology on their own businesses. What I learned from the discussion is that Additive Manufacturing is fast becoming part of the supply chain landscape. The key being to figure out the value to the customer or the OEM, and then working backwards towards choosing the parts and Additive technology that can create most value for both customer and supplier. Here is there presentation and some of the points captured during the discussions.

After lunch Iain Crosley – Managing Director of  Hosokawa UK went into some considerable detail of how as an equipment OEM they have combined remote connectivity and advanced analytics to improve the throughput of their customers processes. He talked about how they have used it to accelerate the growth of their own contract manufacturing service business as well as developing a whole new business market by offering this knowhow as the Gen 4 software product. Iain gave a particularly valuable piece of insight into digitising the Install base and Back-office processes through his five ‘P’ checklist

  • People: Have your people developed a data driven mindset
  • Process: Have your processes moved with technology
  • Plant: Has your plant layout and infrastructure enabled digitisiation of processes
  • Product: Are your products designed to optimise the use of data
  • Profit: How are you using data to create profit

On the theme of digital, Martin Summerhayes till recently of Fujitsu, gave us a real world insight into how to use advanced Analytics to solve service problems in the rail industry. Essentially this was how to increase the customer satisfaction of a mobile ticketing solution. Having heard about the detailed problem solving process, the attendees reflected on how analytics could improve their service business. I know from my own perspective I took away 3 clear lessons:

  1. Be very clear on the measure of success, whether that be a KPI or a specific measurable outcome.
  2. You do need people with the analytical capability to avoid over simplifying the analysis which leads to erroneous conclusions. A good example would be to take an average of an average
  3. Always check the analysis with detailed interviews of people involved with the problem and be meticulous in your observation. Real insight often comes from mixing the Qualitative and Quantative analysis

And finally we were very lucky to have Phil Wardle, writer of PAS280 for the British Standards Institute. Titled “Through-life engineering services – Adding business value through a common framework – Guide” this is a comprehensive document on how to manage a Servitised business model. Written for large asset users by leading thinkers at Rolls Royce, BAE, MOD and Babcock, it is biased towards Aerospace and Defence, but can be applied to all service business big and small. One just has to look past the jargon and take a different view on the risks to determine the key activities.  After an initial description of the PAS, we had a discussion on how it could be applied to SME and other industrial segments. The fit was good especially in the planning phase. You can download the PAS for free at this link which usually costs 99GBP or down load the presentation here

Many thanks to Oracle for hosting the Service Community in their Customer Centre at Reading. Our next event is provisionally planned for the 3rd of October so perhaps put a place holder in your diary.

If you would like to contribute a presentation or your facilities, please let us know by contacting Nick on

The Service Community is an independent non-profit organisation that Field Service News is proud to partner with and help promote. However, the Service Community is not affiliated with Field Service News and this page is donated for free to help them communicate with their members.