As we come into 2018, I got to thinking about just how much has changed over the last few years and how much it could continue to change. One of the largest drivers I have seen is the continued automation of many jobs that traditionally did not really have any technical component. I am talking about jobs like security officer, cleaner, maintenance engineer and even home care worker.
Today, customers are no longer assuming that these people are doing their jobs well but rather looking for evidence in the form of some kind of automated reports and this is where Workforce Management comes in.
What is Workforce Management
There are many definitions of what workforce management is but I like to view it as “Software that allows a business to make best use of its human resources.” This really breaks down into several components.
First we need components that help to plan just which workers you are going to use for which jobs. This could be comprehensive scheduling or it could simply be some on demand system.
Next you need to make sure the resources you expect are doing the jobs you expect them to. This is primarily handled by time and attendance systems. These systems typically track work done as well as overtime and breaks taken. There is however a space for more fine grained information such as that provided by guard tour systems that track actual physical checkpoints and make sure the worker is visiting all the areas they need to at the correct times.
Lastly, you need reporting systems that ensure that the job is done correctly and that customers are happy with how it was done. This kind of system needs to make it really easy for customers to see that their requirements have been met. This is typically done through automated emails or a web based portal.
Who benefits from Workforce Management
Well, as the title of this piece says, everyone. I’ll break that down a bit.
Firstly let’s look at the owners and managers of a business. By having the aforementioned systems in place, they are able to much better understand what is going on in their business. They can run it more efficiently and generally save money. They are also able to ensure that their customers are happy as they can prove that they are providing the services that they are selling.
The workers are empowered in several ways. Firstly, they get to understand what is expected of them as the system helps to guide them through their job. Secondly, they can prove that they are doing what is asked of them. That helps them have a level of ownership and pride in what they are doing. It also saves them time as they no longer need to deal with tedious manual processes such as time sheets and daily reports.
Lastly the customer gets a much higher level of service. Not only do they get better controlled and motivated service providers but they also get timely reports to ensure that everything they need has been done.
Ultimately, it comes down to a much better way of communicating between all those involved. Everyone from management, to field workers, to customers have a better understanding of what is expected for a particular job and they all have easier ways of communicating it to all the other stakeholders.
So Why Now
A large part of why we need this now and we didn’t in the past comes down to how technology has driven us more and more towards instant gratification. When we want to know something, we generally no longer have to spend a lot of effort getting to it, it just a few key clicks away on Google. In a world where customers expect to find anything instantly, it’s become critical for businesses to provide solutions like workforce management if they want to keep up with their competitors.
The reality is that mobility is changing the way we all work. Today’s mobile phones are becoming a reasonably priced commodity that everyone cannot do without. With everyone essentially carrying a small computer around with them, it makes sense to use its capabilities to improve the way work is done.