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Posts from the ‘Workforce Software’ Category

Reaping WFM Benefits: Are You Asking the Right Questions?

unlock value of WFM july 2015I recently moderated a discussion between Mollie Lombardi, Vice President of Workforce Management Practice and Principal Analyst at Brandon Hall Group and my Kronos colleague Ken Madley, a leader in our presales consulting organization, on the topic of how organizations are thinking about the value of workforce management technology.  Human Capital Management (HCM) and Workforce Management (WFM) solutions are not new, but there are still many organizations that are in the early stages of evaluating this type of technology, especially among small and medium sized business.  In addition, lots of organizations of all sizes have invested in these types of platforms, but may not be reaping the full value from the purchases they’ve already made.

In our discussion, we reviewed how buyers of HCM and WFM technologies are measuring the benefits of their systems – both those they expected as well as others they didn’t.  Some of the questions we addressed were:

  1. What are the key drivers of human capital management technology adoption?
  2. Mollie’s research indicates there is a shift in how organizations are broadening their thinking about the ROI on this type of technology.  Learn about the four key areas that drive a return from these systems.
  3. Mollie shares a valuable tool, the Stakeholder Value Creation Matrix, that can help you create a more effective strategy to drive acceptance and user adoption within your organization.

If you missed this webinar, you can view the slides here:  Unlocking the Value of WFM Technology – Final

You can also watch a replay of the webinar here: Unlocking the Total Value of Workforce Management Technology Webinar

Your IT Systems Can Use Some Spring Cleaning

0209_snow-carsThis has been a particularly brutal winter here in the Boston area. In fact, we got the highest seasonal snowfall in recorded history, racking up a whopping 110.6 inches. For those of you who don’t live in a snowbelt, let me paint a picture for you.

Storms earlier in the season are charming. The snow flutters down, we enjoy the picturesque transformation of the landscape around us. We make soup, bake bread, put the shovels by the front door, and settle in to catch up on Netflix. We work from home if we can to avoid the slippery roads. We’re all in this together.

After weeks of unrelenting cold and mounting snow, however, the regional mood changes dramatically. Commutes double in length as snowdrifts the consistency of cement narrow the roads and cripple the elderly infrastructure of our public transportation. Going shopping becomes a gladiatorial battle for fewer parking spots and short supply items like roof rakes, batteries and bottled water. Everybody including the family dog is depressed by the unrelentingly cold and gray landscape outside. We start reading post-apocalypse books for survival tips.

Eventually, after we’ve endured just about all we can, the spring arrives. We throw open the windows. We clean closets, attics, basements and yards. We embrace the shiny new weather and hope for the best.

Deciding to upgrade or replace your older IT technology is a lot like that transition from winter’s miseries to summer’s delights. Organizations will put up with a lot of inconvenience and outright lack of functionality rather than face the disruption of a technology project. Vendors sell not only against their competitors in this regard, but almost equally against the inertia of incumbent systems that are “good enough” to get by for another year.

But the moment inevitably arises when you can no longer avoid the technology project. Vendors stop supporting your old system, or your environment changes in ways that mandate new capabilities. You can look at the project with dread, or you can embrace the opportunity to make significant improvements in your business. As a veteran of both sides of this equation – systems buyer and seller – I’d like to offer the following strategies to make your next IT project predictably successful.

1. Be clear on your objectives. To paraphrase the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland, if you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there. Even the very best technology vendors don’t know your business as well as you do. Technology enables wise process and policy decisions, it doesn’t replace the need for humans to make those decisions. Before you go shopping for new technology, convene all of the key stakeholders to review what works and what doesn’t in your current environment and establish a vision for what the new system needs to accomplish. Be very specific at this stage about metrics that define success. Not “X needs to happen faster”, but “X needs to happen with 60 minutes of Y”.

2. Take the time to plan your project before you begin. Sometimes buyers are unhappily surprised by the level of effort they have to expend on a technology project once it gets underway. If you are working with consultants or vendors, ask very detailed questions about the time and skills that will be required from your team. Identify all of the factors that will impact the timeline for your project: acquisition of data, possible integrations, third parties that need to get involved, availability of key people needed to make the project successful, other projects competing for the same resources, etc. Now is not the time to engage in magical thinking. Plan for the inevitable surprises and delays.

3. Be disciplined about communications throughout your project. Document what you’re going to do, how you’re going to do it, and who is responsible for executing every step in the process. Establish the channels and cadence of communication that will work for your organization to ensure you are executing your plan. Keep stakeholders outside of the project team informed about progress and setbacks.

4. Get insight from those who’ve gone before you. Ask your vendor for references you can talk to. Take it one step further and find ways to connect to references your vendor didn’t provide. Those back channel sources may be even more candid. Many vendors host online communities where their customers can find and talk to one another. Many industry associations similarly provide advice forums. Forewarned is forearmed.

5. Start engaging your end users early in the project. Involve representatives of your end user community in validating project objectives, evaluating alternative solutions, and previewing solutions before they are rolled out to the larger community. Take their feedback seriously and use it to refine your approach. No matter how masterfully you manage a technology deployment, the win happens when people actually use it to drive better results.

This article originally published in the Huffington Post.

Celebrate Better Business Communication Day with your Hourly Workers

video on timeclockToday’s guest post is courtesy of Workforce Institute board member Bob Clements.  Bob is Senior Principal at Axsium Group, a leading workforce management consulting firm. In the post below, he shares ideas about how workforce management technology capabilities can enhance the effectiveness of communications with your frontline workers – especially those who aren’t at a computer all day.  Pictured here is one example that Bob cites below – using a time clock to deliver instructional information to employees who don’t work on laptops.

Today, January 26, 2015, is Better Business Communication Day.  I have to admit that I did not have this holiday in my calendar.  It seems the world is full of made-up holidays like “International Day of Awesomeness” (March 10), National Leave the Office Earlier Day” (June 2), “International Talk Like a Pirate Day” (September 19) and National Christmas Ugly Sweater Day (December 11).  Like you, I ignore most of them, but Better Business Communication Day caught my attention.

We could all do a better job with our business communication: less email (and email that is more to the point), fewer meetings (and meetings that are more to the point), and more real-time interpersonal communication (i.e., conversation) with colleagues.  One area that really needs help is communication with hourly workers.

Don’t get me wrong.  A lot has been written about effective business communication.  Organizations spend tremendous energy crafting messages that will resonate with their workers, especially when it is a big topic, and when organizations have big topics to share, they spend big bucks on brochures, websites, videos and more to spread the word.

But, what about the little messages?  What about the day-to-day messages that make your hourly workers feel connected to the organization, its leadership, and its direction?  And, how do you turn communication from one where you are talking act your workers into a conversation where your hourly workers’ voices are heard?

For many, email is not an effective tool.  It is not practical to give a retail sales associate or production line workers a work email address.  Company portals are an option but portals are not something that workers interact with regularly.  What’s needed is something that hourly workers interact with every day that helps improve their productivity rather than distract them from doing their jobs.

The good news is such a thing exists and you probably already have it in your organization.  It is the time clock and the workforce management (WFM) software that drives it.  Every day, your workers need to clock in and out. Modern time clocks can do much more than simply capture time.  Many are capable of delivering messages to workers, ensuring they get read, and some support two-way communication.  But, the time clock is just one aspect of your WFM system that can improve communication with hourly workers.

Many WFM systems include messaging or communication capabilities that act like email but without the cost of additional email licenses and the trouble of providing email clients.  Like email, leaders can send messages to groups of hourly workers while individuals can send notes to with ideas, questions and observations. Unlike email, rules and workflow can control replies, notifications, etc. to keep such communication from being overwhelming.

Another WFM module, Task Management, gives organizations powerful ways to communication tasks that need to be completed at remote locations.  These tasks can include detailed instructions including drawings, photos and video that show exactly what needs to be done.  Workers have the ability to provide feedback in the form of written communication or surveys about the task, any problems that they had completing it, and suggestions for ways to do it better in the future.

Tasks managed via a Task Management system can be instructive like “setup a display” or it can prompt workers to complete a survey or take a training course.

A hot new idea in WFM is social collaboration.  With social collaboration, workers log into the WFM system via a browser, tablet or mobile device and are given a Facebook-like newsfeed of conversations happening between others around the organization.  They can participate in these discussion or start their own.  Social collaboration is a powerful means to solve problems, share best practices and develop relationships between employees in geographically dispersed locations.

So, join me in celebrating Better Business Communication Day.  Use your WFM system as a channel to improve communications with your hourly workforce.