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How does your firm organise its mobile workforce?

Friday 21 February 2020 Data Insight & Analytics

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By Ollie Watson

Most public sector organisations have employees working out in the field, those who are not always office-based but play a vital role in underpinning the operations of the organisation, from carrying out inspections to being at the coalface of operations. Being able to effectively and efficiently manage such employees is crucial in meeting targets and running smooth services. So, we thought we’d find out how organisations do it.

CACI recently ran a survey with Surveys in Public Sector which elicited responses from central government, emergency services, healthcare, housing, local government and third sector employees. The question we’re going to focus upon here is, how does your organisation plan and manage its mobile workforce resources and activities? You can see the responses here:

The results are as one might envisage. Of the 129 respondents to this question, more than half use spreadsheets, whilst two-fifths utilise specialist software to manage their mobile workforce. With 12% still using paper-based methods, however, there is clearly room for improvement in certain aspects of this subject.

The extensive use of spreadsheets and paper-based tools highlights that many organisations can improve upon their mobile workforce management, with 69% of organisations relying on these methods to inform at least part of their strategy.

Given that organisations often use multiple systems, respondents to this survey were asked to select all options that apply. It is interesting, therefore, to delve a little deeper into the responses:

  • 5% said that they only use paper-based methods
  • 7% said they use paper-based and spreadsheets
  • 18% said they only use spreadsheets
  • 12% said they use spreadsheets and a specialist system
  • 18% said they only use a specialist system

This presents a clear picture of hybrid modelling, of patching together different methods in the search for the right answer.

It also presents an issue, in that 30% of organisations are relying on paper-based and/or spreadsheet methods exclusively for managing their mobile workers. The manual processes these represent is inefficient and worse, insecure. What if paper goes missing? What if spreadsheets go untended to? What if they get deleted? Who takes responsibility for the procedures and formatting? These are also incredibly inefficient means of working, relying on tasks being manually input and updated. There are better and more efficient methods of managing a workforce.

Moving away from pen and paper and Excel makes life a lot easier for people. Using specialist or ERP software enables employees to interact with their schedule and provides schedulers with a single source of truth. Red flags can be established within the software to alert schedulers to situations where an employee might be handed an unreasonable workload or where gaps might be occurring.

Gaining intelligence on the workforce is crucial in identifying areas for improvement and for seeing what works well. Little things like the software developing mobile working patterns within reasonable geographical proximity can help to get more jobs done in a day, reducing the wastage of unnecessary travel between jobs.

Furthermore, software can inform where employees have gaps in their diary that can be used to fulfil outstanding tasks. The employee can then receive an alert from the system to accept the job. There is no need to visit a central hub to receive schedules and tasks; these can be informed in real-time on the road.

The options provided by automation are vast and modern workforce scheduling technology is flexible and agile to the demands of every organisation. What works for one organisation may not necessarily work for another, so developing new solutions and integrating with different partners opens such software up to a whole new world of possibilities.

There is no need to utilise analogue systems in a digital world. A lot of public sector organisations have recognised this and are, at least in part, looking towards software solutions to inform their workforce management, with 45% using ERP or specialist solutions at some point.

Whilst there is a cost attached to implementing and maintaining software, it provides an unparalleled level of security and opens a new world of efficiency in workforce management. At a time when public services are facing increasing financial pressures, can they afford to ignore such upside in their efficiency?

CACI recently ran a survey with Surveys in Public Sector which elicited responses from central government, emergency services, healthcare, housing, local government and third sector employees. The question we’re going to focus upon here is, how does your organisation plan and manage its mobile workforce resources and activities?

How does your firm organise its mobile workforce?