By Paul Bogan, Chief Digital Officer, Serco Middle East
Optimisation is the word on everyone’s lips this year; whether it is making the most effective use of a situation or resource to save costs or improve productivity, businesses should look at these three areas – workforce, asset management and data.
The most successful businesses continuously assess their own performance to evaluate and introduce different ways to optimise their operations, whilst retaining a high standard of service excellence.
The pandemic has been a catalyst for driving operational improvements for many businesses throughout the world and whilst an automatic reaction might be to use low cost suppliers or restructuring and cutting jobs and salaries. Many businesses have looked at optimisation options across people, data and assets and how they can improve their bottom line.
- Investing in People
Firstly, although training and development budgets can often be one of the first expenses to cut, good businesses look to invest in their people to build back better after the pandemic.
Ensuring that your people have development plans in place with associated training activities will enhance their commitment, improve their capabilities and ensure their skills are up to date and relevant for the post-COVID world.
Serco has focused on putting all staff from the executive committee to the front line through professional asset management qualification courses. This will help everyone in the business better understand the constraints and unmet needs of our clients. Our team can support everything from financial constraints through to low footfall and can manage their asset management portfolio to help drive value and extend the economic life. This will also provide better transparency on CAPEX and OPEX spend and ultimately deliver a lower total cost of ownership to our clients.
On one of our contracts, we are training all of our asset management staff on customer service transformation. Why? Although most roles are technical, they will be working in a live event environment and so it is important that all staff understand the needs of customer experience when interacting with people. Ultimately, they are the face of the business and are ambassadors on site, so as an employer that prides itself on customer service excellence, we have a duty to ensure our team is well-versed in managing different situations.
- Right people in the right place at the right time
Productivity now, more than ever, is absolutely vital in looking for ways to remove wastage from the business and to get it operating in the most efficient and effective way possible. Workforce management technology has paved the way for businesses to achieve this in a way that is measured, taking into account non-productive time, planned and unplanned leave as well as for annual training requirements. Using workforce management systems to track and measure progress and monitor staff movement in real time relative to the task being undertaken, is vital to ensure you have the right person, at the right time, in the right location, with the right skills and tools and even more importantly at the right cost for effective management of the workforce.
Serco operates a contract to provide fire and rescue services on a major dual-runway international airport in the region. With a team of over 100 operational and support staff, four operational fire stations and 20 specialised fire vehicles and the combined emergency nature of the contract, workforce management is key to delivering the optimum service between resource and completion of tasks.
Another example is Expo 2020 which is expected to attract 25 million visitors over the span of 6 months. Since it’s a large-scale international event with thousands of people recruited to work on site, visitors will be expecting only the best service. This will require not only attention to detail on every level, but also for each working individual to be aware of their role and to be fully trained to help create and deliver a world-class event.
- Getting the most value from your data
Data management is also a key area to look at for business optimisation. Understanding what to do with that data is where businesses can truly leverage and maximise its usefulness. Through Serco’s partnership with AI and cloud computing company G42, we are providing customers with data-driven insights to make better business decisions, streamline efficiencies, foster innovation, and drive value.
At a basic level, data can be used to identify trends and perform detailed root cause analysis of any recurring issues at any level of your business’s operations. Optimisation, by definition, is the removal of inefficiencies and data is where you can find, identify and design solutions to those inefficiencies.
The sharing of data is also invaluable in the goal of business optimisation. Often, businesses that share the same parent company or who are part of the same group do not maximise the potential of the data that they have collected to benefit each other.
Optimisation of assets ties together the accurate usage of data and the maximisation of the development of your people. It’s no secret that procuring, operating and maintaining assets requires considerable cost throughout people, tools and consumables. Through digital asset management you will have greater transparency and accuracy on future CAPEX and OPEX decision making in a way that truly reflects the condition of your facilities and reduce the likelihood of unexpected costs incurred due to asset failure or unnecessary replacement.
In short, optimisation of people, assets and data is essential for the success of any business. Serco’s core strategy targets all three of these areas, ensuring we provide each of our clients with an optimised solution, designed with and backed by tangible data and delivering benefits across cost, efficiency, asset reliability and employee welfare.