We speak to many Managers of large field workforces or lots of mobile assets who are frustrated with their inability to gain control of processes, systems, and data flows within their business.
Information flows to and from the field can take a long time – especially when they’re paper based, they have poor visibility of what remote staff are doing on site, and limited access to live job progression data can impede their ability to make proactive, informed decisions.
Our recent transition from Vertical Matters to Kontrol4 inspired us to take a deeper dive into the control issues we field from the market. Enabling organisations to gain control over their end to end systems, regulations, best practice, and their customers’ expectations are at the forefront of everything we do here at Kontrol4. This month’s blog shares some of our key learnings about control to ensure that you can drive greater time and cost efficiencies within your organisation.
Here are the top 6 things that businesses with a large field workforce struggle to control.
1. “I am unable to control…compliance with Standards in the field”
You can’t hold the hand of every person out in the field to ensure they accurately tend to your compliance processes. Without a means for Management to enforce adherence to compliance standards remotely, organisation forgo control over these processes.
The reasons why field team members don’t accurately follow these processes range from company to company. Some employees are time poor and cut corners. Others just don’t understand the importance of accurately filling out compliance documentation. And, sometimes the processes are so complex and confusing, that employees put it in the too hard basket. After all, it’s not their pocket (or head) that take a hit if your company is caught being non-compliant.
Further, many compliance processes are documented on paper, meaning that non-compliance issues often come to a head months down the track when they’re processed by the administrative team. This lag time also reduces the ability for an organisation to control and manage compliance proactively.
2. “I am unable to control…getting field data into existing systems”
Utilising different systems that do not integrate with one another impedes your ability to control information flows and creates costly inefficiencies.
In many organisations we talk to, paper based forms are manually entered into computer programs by administrative team members. There is often a lag time between receiving paper work from the field and keying that information into the appropriate application. And that’s assuming no double handling is required to chase up incorrect paper work…
3. “I don’t have control of…what’s going on in the field”
Traditionally, manual log books have been utilised to give Management visibility of where their staff went, what they did at the site, how many kilometres driven, etc.
Without the ability to control – in real time – what’s going on in the field, managers are unable to prove that their staff or assets are being well utilised.
4. “I am unable to control…a central source of the truth”
Disparate systems can also cause multiple sources of ‘truth.’ Further, if lots of variations of paperwork exist in the field, it’s unrealistic to expect your team to follow processes and communicate the appropriate information to management accurately.
While administrative teams are usually tasked with maintaining all systems to project a single source of truth, the task at hand can be bigger than Ben Hur. Duplication of information flows, lags in receiving the right information, and human error ends up creating significant inefficiencies and impede the ability to create a central source of truth.
Many organisations confuse this complexity with an unfixable problem, rather than viewing it as an opportunity. They put a fix in the ‘too hard basket,’ believing that the effort required to streamline systems and processes will require too many resources. Without stacking this up against the possible advantages gained from doing so, the real ROI will never be established.
5. “I am unable to control…communicating updated procedures and documents to the team”
As employees run into issues both internally and externally, there is a need for a system to report the issue, a mechanism to update procedures, and then the ability to communicate these updates to employees.
When issues are submitted via paper-based approaches, there can be a significant lag time between submitting the issue and that issue being communicated to the wider team. In the meantime, inaccurate procedures are being followed.
Further, while management typically communicates procedural updates to their team via email, tool box meetings, phone calls or SMS, there is often no means of controlling whether the employee has read, understood, and complied with updates
6. “I am unable to control…updating employee records and credentials”
As an employer, you need confidence that your employees tick all the right accreditation boxes relating to the work they are completing.
Static spreadsheets are often used to capture an employee’s training records, education information, 3rd party accreditation certificates, and site induction information. However, we often hear that these documents do not get updated and are essentially rendered useless.
Without a single portal with the most up-to-date employee information, employees and employers have to resubmit key documents or wade through old paper work to establish whether an employee is allowed on site.
Four step approach to gaining control within your organisation
At Kontrol4, we recommend a four step approach to conceptualising and implementing control within your organisation:
1. Map your situation as it is today
Define what ‘control’ looks like for you currently and what your perfect world would be. The reality is, it doesn’t matter what the elements are yet, you simply need to establish what your organisation needs.
2. Build roadmap
Work with a Kontrol4 consultant to formulate your requirements into a plan, including time and costs.
3. Establish what systems you require
Do you need new systems, re-shaped systems, or existing systems to be integrated? The requirements and plan established in step 1 and 2 will help to shape the answer to this question, and your Kontrol4 consultant will work closely with your team to propose and implement a holistic solution.
During this phase, you’ll also need to establish what reporting outputs you require in order have key decision-making data at your fingertips.
4. Change Management
This step shouldn’t be forgotten. It is important to establish and execute a clear change management process to ensure your employees understand, commit to, accept, and embrace the systems or process changes in your organisation. Your Kontrol4 consultant will assist in the formulation of this plan, which will include training for your teams and clear evolution milestones.
Achieving control within your organisation doesn’t need to be put in the ‘too hard basket.’
By gaining control of your business’ paper-based and unproductive processes, you will lower administrative time and costs, and enable Management to make more informed business and project decisions.