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The human factor in digital operator rounds

When we talk about optimizing and digitizing work processes, the focus is on how we can work efficiently in an advanced digital manner. Often, we lose the human touch in digital operator rounds, which remains an essential element in creating a successful outcome. 

When the container shipping company Maersk wanted to increase their performance KPIs they started a process wishing to boost efficiency through all the logistics operations supporting shipments which included the call centers. If customers met the criteria set, the staff had to provide assistance tailored for each need, which led to a ‘tick-the-box’ approach. The current workflow was not delivering the results expected with staff filling in four to five pages per customer so that the company could have insights into each call. The KPIs were geared to the bonus system and the number of calls each agent covered per day. 

The current process led to high pressuring coming from the task managers, which resulted in poor quality customer understanding. When force majeure cases occurred, agents filled out a single-page form so they can save time and cover more calls. No time was invested in understanding the customer’s real problems and needs. A quantity versus quality culture was established. 

The repercussions were visible in the sharp fall in the stock price and a $2 billion loss in 2016 the company experienced. When the management acknowledged these issues, they quickly focused on adjusting the process. Needless to say, this led to significant improvements. Metrics were introduced, customers were now given the attention needed, and the company’s worldwide Net Promoter Score doubled in one year. 

But then in 2017, the company experienced an IT breach. With the entire system down for a week, the agents were now keeping in direct contact with port managers, captains, and customers. Sometimes they even had to be physically present on the port. Chaotically and inefficient as it sounds, this unfortunate event allowed the agents to know whom they are working with. They stopped seeing entries on the screen but acknowledge the people behind them. Even after everything went back to normal, and everything was almost wholly digitized, the human factor was the main quantifier. 

 What should businesses do to avoid repeating a similar situation to Maersk? Where does a digital transformation process begin and what steps should be taken? 

Identification of processes

Having proper management of resources and data will not only improve the safety and the collaboration of the workers but it will also increase productivity and profitability. 

Timely and continuous information negatively impacts the performance of workers when accessing the information needed to do the work properly is a difficult long effort. What could improve operations and reduce costs?

Despite the context of digitization, users are not to forget that people are the core of any workflow or process that identifies processes and their characteristics as a first important step. 

  • How often does the process occur? 
  • How complex is the process?
  • What are the risks involved?
  • What is the criticality of the process?

Once these questions have clear answers, you can start designing a high-level process with a focus on individual tasks. You’d often need to address this question as well:

When the operator runs an inspection round, what exactly do they do and what does the maintenance manager do with this information?

The information transfer between the operator and the manager needs to be a seamless flow. Data should be accessible anytime, anywhere, moreover, the creation of the process flow itself should be smooth and logical.

Process flows Steps

Smartflow is constantly covering the creation of tailored workflows based on best practices and input coming from the businesses in need. Having a clear collaboration we help building new flows or tailoring existing ones based on the expressed requirements.

Step 1. 

Each process requires defining the process profile where you describe the workflow for or part of the process.

Step 2.

Running review sessions will help those involved in the workflow to remove inconsistencies. By starting with examining the impact, business direction, ease, and value, you’ll have a clearer direction.

The current software options allow you to run these process profile sessions fast, creating a Proof of Concept and ensuring that you implement the desired improvements. This will ensure that any unnecessary process step is removed, and the new process is organizationally secured. Prioritize the processes that can bring the highest automation benefits.

Step 3. 

Work with User stories to help you identify and eliminate irrelevant steps.  Focusing on the added value for each stakeholder will nurture the end success. 

Step 4. 

Identify, measure and analyze  the KPI metrics 

The last step includes the development of a structure that measures the added value a digital process generates; risk reduction, saved time & money, compliancy, asset health. Always keep the human touch to it by involving a group of employees to share their insights:

  • What works well?
  • What works better?
  • Where are we exposed to risks?
  • Where do we still miss an excellent opportunity to create value? 

To drive successful digital experiences, strive for a method that fosters the human input, and that values a deep understanding of the needs. 

User stories in digitization 

By working with the user stories, the why and the what become clear. 

Operators want to have access to the information from a previous inspection so they can know what was reported before about the asset they’re working with. A maintenance manager wants to immediately know if an operator registers an error or a defect, so he can assess if a remedial action is required, while a SHEQ manager will focus on how he can increase awareness of the possible occurring issues or dangerous situations, how they can reduce risks and highlight that SHEQ is a license-to-operate.

By sharing user stories among the professionals involved, we ensure a flow of insights and a proper set of priorities. A straightforward approach to this could be subdividing the user stories into must-have & nice to have and into quick wins and long-term wins: little effort - quick win, extended improvements - more significant impact. 

Start by focusing on the bare minimum so you won’t get overwhelmed by endless iterations without actual use. 

The human factor of digital transformation 

A process where you define clear deliverables and leaves room for ideas and knowledge transfer will lead to the expected results. For this to happen, you’ll need commitment. Digitizing your processes will have an impact on your workers’ performance. Some groups will adapt fast, while others will be slow in the beginning. By working together and focusing on team results, you express your commitment to delivering exceptional results.

In the end, you must keep digital work processes as easy as possible but also compliant ensuring your license to operate.

Digital operator rounds ensure that the information is stored correctly to meet the requirements of the company, (local) government, and applied international standards. This is not only registering the information but also securing the process that comes next. From the operator to the maintenance manager, operations, and beyond, users are facilitated in every step of the process. 

There is no better way to step up your workflows than actually experiencing what their digitizations would imply. We are dedicated to guiding you every step of the way. 

 

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