For businesses that employ large numbers of front line service workers, these are challenging times. Staff costs are on the rise, Brexit threatens to reduce the flow of workers, rents and rates are ramping up and competition for customers is fierce.
Businesses that survive and thrive will be those that get the operational essentials right so that they deliver the intended level and quality of service at the right cost. To do this it will be essential to address these interlinked challenges:
Driving up front line productivity …
More than ever it is going to be essential to maximise staff tasks, time and attention on delivering the job at hand without error rather than waste time on internal admin or redundant tasks that can be automated. Staff must be given the support and training that gets them up to speed fast and retains their engagement. Where automation is deployed it needs to be monitored and managed to avoid outages undermining the operation.
… while ensuring process and policy compliance…
Any service operation needs to figure out how its offering to customers is delivered consistently and safely. This means both adherence to company or brand policies and ensuring safety and regulatory compliance.
… and managing at scale
All of the above needs to be done, not just once, but again and again, across sites and business units, across tens, hundreds or thousands of team members – including new recruits – day in and day out. Staff tasks must be addressed by managers in a large scale to guarantee success. That creates the challenge of controlling standards and identifying actions across the estate, without adding unnecessary bureaucracy or extra layers of management.
Operational blind spot
Today, few businesses would dream of managing their billing, finance, payroll or customer databases using paper. Instead, they rely on POS, ERP, HR and CRM systems to give them the data they need. However, when it comes to tracking and guiding the actual work people do and the status of the machines they rely on, most service businesses still rely on paper. This represents a huge blind spot for organisations and counts against every one of the challenges above:
- Staff wasting time on paperwork and manual checks aren’t focusing their time and attention on the real job at hand.
- Process adherence and compliance is patchy and the records can be unreliable.
- Management information is invisible if paperwork is sitting on the shelves of branch offices.
Business risks are thus poorly controlled. Consider the impact of a food poisoning outbreak on an established restaurant chain or the thousands of pounds wasted as the contents of a faulty cold store are scrapped. Imagine a retail giant struggling to raise profits because their inefficient processes are bypassed by more agile rivals; or a high street brand whose employees are too busy with mundane tasks to be truly productive in front of customers.
These scenarios are entirely avoidable today, with Connected Workflow Management providing live visibility of frontline practices. This enables managers to deal swiftly with issues, accelerate the improvement curve and reduce risks.