Six tips to help your Field Operatives and your business be more efficient
With various tools, platforms and more recently digital capabilities being introduced into a variety of industries and sectors, it can sometimes be a minefield for someone who needs to select the right tool for his/her business, especially if you are an Operations Director or Manager. You need to identify the best solution for improving the performance of your business and at the same time, ensure that your workforce is able to utilise the solution with ease and to its best capabilities.
However, trying to identify the solution can lead you to many options, more often than not, options that are seen as the “easiest and cheapest route” but perhaps being the most inefficient of them all. There are also other options, software packages that are associated with large software firms, and as such, being linked with these large firms could be regarded as having a ‘badge of honour’ for your company.
There is another way. This is more about asking the right questions within your company and staff, in this particular case, your field operatives, about what you are actually trying to resolve. Management should ask these questions in order to improve their staff efficiency and productivity factors, and in parallel, look at ways to optimise the existing processes and procedures. Leaders often come across some of the following questions:
Are the processes robust enough?
What data is most valuable?
How can this data be validated, managed and monitored?
Can the new solution integrate with other systems that are in place?
What is the best way to get the buy-in from field operatives?
Is the data secure?
Here are some pointers that will help you shape your thinking when it comes to the approach of selecting a tool/platform that fits your business’s needs and purpose.
Make sure your workflows are right for the business
First and foremost, the workflows that you have in your company must be fit for purpose. Generally, companies have the right workflows in place, however, it is mostly the processes behind them that are too complex. As a result, the complexity affects the workflows and thus, it becomes a vicious circle. Workflows need to be flexible and versatile as well; this is essentially how your staff ‘work’ in your company and it needs to help them achieve what they need to achieve in their daily work life.
Create processes and procedures that are clear and simple
Clarity is key. Simple processes and procedures often allow for scalability in a company. This is important, especially if your business is poised to grow significantly in the coming years. The simplicity behind the processes will enable the integration and collaboration between other functions, solutions and services.
Identify the areas for streamlining
One of the questions raised earlier in this blog was related to robustness. Through your review, identify ‘gaps’ or areas for improvement in terms of the time and resources spent. These areas may be providing the necessary data for your organisation, but, is it ‘arriving’ at the right time? It may be that a specific part of the process is complex and may require streamlining in order to get the data faster, improving efficiency and reducing costs.
Make your data work for you
Know what data you have and how to use it to your advantage. This aspect is vital to you as a leader, but also to your team(s) and ultimately, your company. Capturing field data and making sure that it is accurate is an important starting point and is the responsibility of your field operatives. Understanding their challenges, having a clear & robust process/workflow and an intuitive platform ensures that the data that flows through your organisation is validated and verified. You need to make the data work for you as well.
This has a link to streamlining your systems. Some organisations with complex processes have multiple ‘handshakes’ within each and every process. This only increases the probability of error, and thus, could potentially cause issues when it comes to providing services to your customers. Most of these handshakes take form as spreadsheets, various databases, proprietary business systems and of course, stacks of hand-written or printed paper. Many companies often have to pay for paper storage, which is not only costly but is also increasing the company’s carbon footprint. Going paperless with the right intuitive enterprise platform is the way forward.
Use a cloud-based platform
For whatever platform you choose, one of the few objectives you should set out from the start is knowing that your solution is intuitive and easy to use by anyone in your workforce. You should also ensure that your system can be used on any device, and as such, you should not be locked to a specific device or software. You should also have access to your data at any time and from anywhere. The security of your platform is paramount, giving you the trust and assurance required that your company and customers’ data will not be compromised.