The Three I’s of Data-Driven Workforce Management

Enrique Estagle

7 September 2017    |   

Data is the foundation of today’s digital revolution. Because of it, we are able to hail rides through a smartphone, find out what our friends are up to on a daily basis, and access content at any time of the day. This revolution is also making waves in the field of workforce management. Through the power of data and digital technology, companies are finding ways to enhance the employee experience. At the same time, it is benefiting business owners as it also reduces the overall business costs. The core values of data-driven workforce management can be summarized by the three “I”s: Innovation Some of the key tech behind the data-driven revolution are cloud computing, the internet, and mobile. And because of it, workforce management is innovating at a rapid pace. Dedicated legacy equipment and software are being replaced with low-cost, flexible solutions that serve as platforms for data to be received and interpreted. Old-school punch clocks are giving way to tablet-based time clock software. Employee onboarding becomes easier as paper forms are replaced by web-based processes. Integration More devices are connected to the internet, which makes exchanging data easier. With the advent of application programming interfaces or APIs, different kinds of software are able to work together to do more tasks. Integration is reducing the time and resources needed for workforce management. Sales information from the POS can be used for predictive workforce scheduling to help determine the number of staff needed at any given time.   Insight With more systems being integrated comes more data. This means that managers and business owners have access to insights that were not available before. Different types of data are correlated for better benchmarking purposes. At a glance, managers can track business revenue and labor costs in real time. This enables them to make decisions quickly, keeping up with their core metrics. When considering a workforce management solution for your business, look for the one that is highly data-driven. Choose those that puts innovation, integration, and insight at the forefront.

Data is the foundation of today’s digital revolution. Because of it, we are able to hail rides through a smartphone, find out what our friends are up to on a daily basis, and access content at any time of the day.

This revolution is also making waves in the field of workforce management. Through the power of data and digital technology, companies are finding ways to enhance the employee experience. At the same time, it is benefiting business owners as it also reduces the overall business costs.

The core values of data-driven workforce management can be summarized by the three “I”s:

Innovation

Some of the key tech behind the data-driven revolution are cloud computing, the internet, and mobile. And because of it, workforce management is innovating at a rapid pace. Dedicated legacy equipment and software are being replaced with low-cost, flexible solutions that serve as platforms for data to be received and interpreted. Old-school punch clocks are giving way to tablet-based time clock software. Employee onboarding becomes easier as paper forms are replaced by web-based processes.

Integration

More devices are connected to the internet, which makes exchanging data easier. With the advent of application programming interfaces or APIs, different kinds of software are able to work together to do more tasks. Integration is reducing the time and resources needed for workforce management. Sales information from the POS can be used for predictive workforce scheduling to help determine the number of staff needed at any given time.  

Insight

With more systems being integrated comes more data. This means that managers and business owners have access to insights that were not available before. Different types of data are correlated for better benchmarking purposes. At a glance, managers can track business revenue and labor costs in real time. This enables them to make decisions quickly, keeping up with their core metrics.

When considering a workforce management solution for your business, look for the one that is highly data-driven. Choose those that puts innovation, integration, and insight at the forefront.

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The next stage in retail evolution?

The advances in credit card technology and the creation of the of the electronic payment terminal in 1982 revolutionized payment processing for businesses around the world. It leads to better cash flow management, and an increase in sales processing efficiencies, ultimately influencing customer spending behavior. Over the years the technology has developed, and advancements like contact-less payments, NFC, and card-free payments have emerged. However the next technological wave of retail evolution is upon us, and it’s time for businesses to dive in head first. Cloud software has been the latest revelation in technical advancements. POS, Payroll and Workforce Management, the list could go on. While each of these individually represents a leap in innovation in their own right, the true value lies in their interconnectedness. On one level integrating Workforce Management software and Payroll software makes sense. It’s practical, efficient and creates order in what can potentially be a frustrating and time-consuming process. However, integrating POS and Workforce Management software goes further as it enables the user with the ability to make smarter decisions, such as: 1. Create schedules with the right amount of staff every time Ever look at the store to see staff twiddling their thumbs or a huge line at the checkout? Welcome to the complex world of accurate shift management, where you’re either increasing your staffing expenses or losing potential revenue. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. By integrating your scheduling system and sales data, you can make smart decisions to have the right amount of staff every time. 2. Make decisions in real time Thought you were going to be run off your feet this week, only to find that sales are slowing and business is quieter than expected? Once you’ve integrated your sales data into your scheduling system, you can make real time decisions on staffing levels, rather than reviewing at the end of each month. Track your revenue and wage percentage costs in real time, so you can alter and adjust the roster as the day or week changes. Of course, all your staff is immediately notified of changes, so everyone’s kept in the loop. 3. Be future oriented, move your business forward Stop looking backwards at last week’s schedules, timesheets and payslips to make next week’s decisions. Workforce Management software has come along way from the paper schedules and timesheets. It’s now possible to not only forecast future costs, schedules and staff requirements but also automate the entire scheduling process with cognitive scheduling software. The rise of internet shopping and retail giants like H&M and Zara means that traditional ‘brick and mortar retailers’ need to be using every edge possible to stay competitive, relevant and front of mind for customers. Businesses that fail to embrace technology as a tool for success, are likely to struggle under the weight of the world that is rapidly embracing a more digital and connected world. How many times have you walked into a store, only to find that you can’t be served because the company is understaffed? While the economic benefits that come from an optimized roster are apparent, the value that comes from roster optimization is expressed tangibly on a daily basis through customer service and customer retention. According to customer experience research conducted by thinkJar’s Esteban Kolsky, 66% of consumers who switch brands do so because of poor customer service and 85% of this customer churn could be prevented. Kolsky also notes that attracting customers is an expensive exercise costing businesses approximately six to seven times more to attract new customers, rather than retain existing customers. Building on this, further research shows that you’re 14 times more likely to sell to an existing happy customer than a new customer. It is therefore essential that retailers are providing the best customer service experience, to ensure customer retention. Businesses that optimize staffing rates for peak sales periods, will have the correct staff to customer ratios, creating efficient and favorable customer service experiences, resulting in higher customer retention rates. For traditional retailers, customer retention is paramount, as it not only ensures business continuity but also becomes a significant channel for acquiring future customers. Differentiating your business through excellent customer service and optimized staff efficiency, not only provides the competitive edge but also allows for financial stability and security as you can confidently make future oriented decisions to grow your business both financially and professionally. POS software integration is the next step in retail evolution. Like the payment terminal revelation before it, POS data integration will change the way businesses operate and what it means to be a traditional business in a digital world.

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How much data do you bench(mark)?

Here’s a question for you, what is the fastest growing under utilized resource in today’s modern society? According to Bernard Marr, we are creating data at an unprecedented rate, the likes of which have never been seen before in human history. So why then are we surprised to find that less than 0.5% of all data is ever analyzed? Can you even imagine what could be possible if we started to analyze even just a portion of it? For businesses, the ability to analyze data, particularly their own data, is crucial in ensuring their survival. Benchmarking is one of the most common forms of business data analytics, as it conveys information around market segmentation, competitor analysis and one’s own business’ performance. Despite its obvious benefits many businesses still struggle to benchmark effectively and efficiently. According to Baseline, increasing data accessibility by just 10% could result in an additional $65 million in net income for an average Fortune 1000 company. Bernard Marr argues that analyzing big data goes further than just filling your annual report. If analyzed properly it can lead to improvements in internal efficiencies and operations, improved customer experience, as well as market research. Now, you may say that you already benchmark and analyze your data, in fact, you may have a whole team dedicated to this explicit purpose. But the question is, how are you using this data? Are you using it daily across teams and locations to gauge your performance and make improvements? Who is using this data, is it just your analysts and Leadership team, or is it applicable company wide? The current method for benchmarking involves compiling numerous silos of information such as revenue, labor spends, and inventory to judge performance. However, for the data to be using it requires a team of analysts and specialists to synthesize the information. From there they translate it into comprehensible action items.The analytics may prove useful for the Leadership team in their decision-making process, yet they can be difficult for the store managers to interpret and implement into actionable items. There is a better way to do this. Implementing integrated cloud solutions, not only allows for benchmarking data to be compiled quickly but does so in a way that makes it a resource that can be used by the entire company. The best example is workforce management benchmarking data, which when done well, can lead to higher productivity, profitability and staff engagement. The Solution Tanda provides a comprehensive and clear snapshot of the entire business from one single location. It allows for Leadership and Executive teams to monitor the workforce and gauge the impact of future business decisions. It empowers management teams at all levels with actionable intelligence on core workforce metrics specific to their daily activities, such as creating schedules and calculating labor costs. As a cloud solution, Tanda offers unparalleled insight into your workforce. Data is automatically collected and reported on instantaneously within the system, which reduces the time spent collecting and analyzing the data. This allows time for higher level analysis to further the business’ strategic goals. Benchmarking labor performance in such an accessible way assists management to immediately identify performance issues and successes across the business. With this approach, you can remedy poor performance quickly, and recognize and reward good performance. Where previously managers may have had lagging or outdated performance indicators, they now have instant and tailored information. This assists them to make the best decisions on every occasion, whether it’s a last minute rota change or a future staff hire. Better Data Leads to Better Decisions Benchmarking in Tanda results in better performance, stronger teams and greater insight into the entire organization. Managers have the tools they need to improve store performance and profitability, as well as insights for Leadership to further develop their workforce. Live Snapshot Managers can view live reports into wage costs, revenue, and staff attendance to better track their labor spend throughout the day or week. This makes it easier to meet financial objectives and KPIs as set by head office. Insight and Clarity Into Your Team Benchmarking your workforce management data in one system improves the governance and oversight within the business, while also reinforcing positive compliance practice. Managers can access live staff attendance and labor cost data, giving them greater oversight over the workforce. As a result, the Leadership team has access to sophisticated reporting for the entire company, as well as remote oversight across the entire organization. Happier Staff = Happier Customers Providing managers with actionable intelligence to make better in store labor decisions results in improved staff performance, increased staff satisfaction and a better customer experience. Including store managers in important business decisions around staffing encourages them to take pride and ownership in meeting the business’ objectives. This results in more engaged staff delivering an improved customer service experience. As the business landscape continues to evolve at a rapid pace, it is crucial that businesses are able to quickly adapt in order to succeed. Capturing and utilizing data for benchmarking, allows businesses to make fast and accurate decisions so that they can emerge as a market leader. Through an effective workforce management system, businesses can harness the power of big data in a resource that enables smart decision making, so they can get the most from their workforce.

Industry Insights Tanda    |   

Why Fingerprint Scanners Don’t Work for Time and Attendance

The ability to quickly identify and verify individuals has been a crucial skill in human society, since the start of civilization. Where previously face-to-face recognition would have sufficed in tribes and small villages, thanks to today’s rapidly growing global population we require more tools to quickly identify who someone is. In the workplace, the need to identify individuals is particularly important, as it’s often tied to staff attendance, payroll, and workplace security. Throughout the years various solutions have been used to verify staff attendance from paper timesheets, to the Bundy Clock, to fingerprint and biometric scanners. Despite the best efforts of some die-hard fans, the fingerprint scanner has reached its limit, being surpassed by the electronic time clock. With so many other solutions available at our fingertips, why are some people so desperately clinging to their fingerprint scanner? Surely we’ve all seen enough spy movies to know fingerprint scanners aren’t foolproof, let alone feasible in today’s day and age where most of the fun comes from trying to fool the system. And yet, it’s something that we still occasionally hear, “why don’t you have fingerprint scanners?” So to put the debate to rest once and for all, here are three reasons why fingerprint scanners don’t work. And before you start saying, ‘but what about this…” here are three great reasons why the electronic time clock has surpassed the fingerprint scanner. 3 Reasons Why Fingerprint Scanners Don’t Work to Track Staff Attendance 1. They’re Expensive No matter which way you look at it, fingerprint scanners are expensive equipment. Despite the fact that the technology has been around for years, the cost of the device still remains relatively high, potentially setting you back a few thousand dollars. In addition to the device, the cost of the integration between the scanner and corresponding system can be expensive to build. The scanners are delicate and aren’t always built to handle the hundreds of fingerprints pressed onto them throughout their lifetime. Which brings me to my next point… 2. They’re Unreliable Unlike your favorite FBI crime-show encryption-grade biometric scanners, workplace fingerprint scanners are notoriously unreliable. In order to correctly identify and record an individual, fingerprint scanners require a clear image or impression of your fingerprint. Fingers that are dirty, greasy, cold or wet for example, often don’t register on the scanner, making it hard to both clock out and verify the individual. Employers who prefer to use fingerprint scanners, do so because they think it’s easier than remembering a passcode. However should the fingerprint scanner fail to register the scan, some systems will request a passcode. Not only is this an additional hassle to staff who are trying simply to clock in or out, but it also opens the window to time theft through buddy clocking. 3. Maintenance is a Pain As previously mentioned, fingerprint scanners are not cheap. They’re a costly purchase and are even more expensive to repair or replace when they wear out. Repairing a broken scanner requires a specialized technician and often costly parts. On the occasion that it is easier to replace than repair, users often run into more problems as they are not readily available at your local electronics store. On top of this, users often experience issues around the device’s durability, which lead to additional maintenance costs and ultimately a new device down the track. Introducing the 21st Century Solution Electronic time clocks are the most robust, user-friendly, and affordable solution to record staff attendance. According to Statista, 38.59 million British people are expected to own a tablet device this 2017.  Leveraging this statistic, a tablet-based time clock like Tanda can provide an effective and consistent solution to time theft, streamlining your entire payroll process. 3 Reasons Why Electronic Time Clocks are the Market Leading Solution: 1. Affordability Tablets in their various forms have started to become more commonplace in businesses of all sizes. This is thanks to more core business functions such as POS, inventory, and payment processing, becoming available on tablet devices. This technology is providing business owners with greater mobility to engage with customers, as well as streamlining core business activities in one device. Time Clock tablets are easily accessible, affordable and present a number of additional benefits to a business looking to improve their customer offering. 2. Robust and Reliable  Thanks to the prevalence of tablet usage, most people are familiar with how to use a tablet and how they should be treated. Tablets are touch-screen based and as such built to handle lots of little fingers pushing and tapping the screen. Tanda’s Time Clock verifies staff attendance through photos and PIN code verification. Which means that unlike a fingerprint scanner, it doesn’t matter if staff have dirty or wet fingers, they’ll still be able to clock out the first time around. The timestamp and photo verification also make it quick and easy for managers and business owners to quickly check that the right person has clocked in and out for the correct shift. 3. Cloud-Based for More Options Using a cloud-based Time Clock solution like Tanda provides users with more options, which enable rather than restrict the user. Software maintenance and upgrades are not required, as they’re done automatically in the system. Devices are easy to replace and interchangeable, and should the system connection be disrupted, all clock in data is stored locally and uploaded to the cloud later. In addition to this, as a backup, users can access the Time Clock app through a browser on a desktop. Using a cloud solution to track staff attendance provides unparalleled opportunities to streamline additional business administration tasks, as well as providing greater insight into labor costs, staff punctuality, and staff engagement. Workplaces are busy places, and managers have much better things to spend their time on than trying to get the fingerprint scanner to work. Using electronic Time Clocks to track employee attendance allows staff to clock in quickly and efficiently so that they can get out of the backroom and working in your business. Because at the end of the day, you need a system that is affordable, reliable, and accessible, so that you can get on with paying staff and focusing on your business.

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About the author

Enrique Estagle

Enrique was the former editor-in-chief of Tanda's Blog.

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