You don’t have to look for the fourth major industrial revolution, it’s already here in most manufacturing and service organizations. But what about labour management in the work place?
The 4.0 shift to integrated and connected solutions is vital to ensure business productivity, efficiency and, ultimately, survival over the coming years.
New technologies can help us improve practices, such as managing absences, replacements and schedules using connected tools available in today’s market place.
Interview with Francis Villiard, Customer Experience Manager and Co-founder of Merinio, a company specializing in employee management technologies and solutions.
What types of solutions can you implement for your clients?
We offer a cloud-based employee management software that helps deal with fluctuations in staffing needs. Our system can be used to manage availability, competencies, schedules, vacation, time and attendance more quickly while ensuring compliance with the terms of collective agreements.
The system takes mobility into consideration and is tailored for today’s situations. Employees have the choice of receiving information on shifts by a residential or mobile phone, text message, email or a notification using a mobile app. Additionally, employees play an active role in the process because they interact with requests via the software and become accountable.
What tools are available to implement these solutions?
We ascertained that organizations had diverse labour management concerns. Customization requests for each implementation can increase the costs of the software quite quickly and become a problem.
When developing the system, the founders ensured that the tool would be highly versatile. To facilitate the integration of new employees in the organization, a single programming language was used to develop the user interface and program the algorithms and server interface.
Industry 4.0 is an increasing consideration in business decisions and management prefers direct communication between their organization’s operating software. We wanted to be able to connect our solution with other software on the market. We therefore developed an API communication tool between our user interface and servers for fast and flexible communication with other software.
How does your software differ from other products on the market?
Our schedule and replacement management platform reacts in real time and uses a patent-pending multimodal communication algorithm. While many human resource management systems focus on planning, we opted to focus on the operational aspect.
We realized that resources spent an astronomical amount of time making calls to fill shifts and find replacements. We therefore offer the possibility of communicating with an unlimited number of employees immediately to offer shifts. Employees receive an automated call or text message (based on their preference) with a work opportunity and can respond in real time.
In order to reduce the time spent performing manual tasks to a minimum, we offer our customers the option of adapting the software to their internal decision rules. Most players in our industry only offer customizing options through a series of static modules; we adapt our modules for each company, to maximize their time savings.
What are the potential gains to be achieved from implementing your staff management solutions?
- Lower administrative costs. Our solutions can help significantly reduce labour and replacement management time (an average of 75 hours per week per 100 employees). This frees up time to undertake added-value projects and tasks.
- Optimized labour costs. We estimate that a company can achieve savings of 3%-5% through faster communication and the ability to fill work shifts quickly.
- Greater transparency. By centralizing information, shifts can be assigned more fairly, which helps to eliminate claims and grievances due to replacement errors.
- Business intelligence. We can generate a wide range of reports to answer a multitude of questions.
How do your solutions integrate with your customers’ 4.0 strategies?
- The automatization underlying industry 4.0 goes much further than automating machinery. It plays a key role in simplifying staff management for today and in the future (data, decision rules, adjustments and optimization).
- It’s therefore necessary to centralize data relating to staff management to automate these management processes.
- The ability to share data between the software and operational tools in the organization—ERP, Human Capital Management (HCM), Production Monitoring—leads to improved overall human resource management.
- Similarly, connecting employees to their work schedule makes real time operational monitoring possible.
What are your main technological challenges?
On the one hand, human interaction with the software in real time is essential. Users must have a good understanding of the interface and we have to ensure that everything works instantly.
On the other hand, because it is possible to call in responses to a work offer, we have to optimize management of simultaneous calls. The replacement call must take place very quickly.
Because our software can be used by businesses in a variety of industries, we want to make it customizable to meet our customers’ specific needs.
Lastly, we want to offer the possibility of getting a long-term vision of resource assignments through an automated scheduling tool. This objective comprises several challenges since it needs to adapt to various schedule management situations. To offer the optimal, flexible solution, we will need to analyze certain machine learning and artificial intelligence concept.
Are environments with complex decision rules, such as a unionized environment, a challenge for you?
No, on the contrary, by automating processes, the rules of collective agreements are the basis for guiding and clarifying decision making. Regardless of the complexity of decision rules or collective agreements, we take the time to analyze them to transform them into decision rules for the software. There are no longer grounds for replacement-related grievances.
However, it goes without saying that it’s possible to do much more in an environment with no predetermined rules. For example, we can offer the possibility of calling the most efficient employee, the one closest to site or the one with the lowest costs.
Is this technological advance accessible to organizations that are not as technologically advanced?
Whatever its level of technological innovation, a company with a high number of employees can benefit from automating its management processes. With our solution, all types of businesses can gather and use data efficiently.
Automation can be gradual and as extensive as the entity chooses. It’s possible to leave control in the hands of the manager and provide support step by step as technology advances.
Since the software’s decision rules are based on processes in place, the transition to an automated solution is easier for the user and does not require extensive familiarity with technology. Our system is built to adapt to each user while providing comparable performance.
What are the next development steps for your technology? What do you see in the longer term?
First, we want to optimize API to connect with other software available on the market. Specifically, we want to create vertical integrations to connect with placement agency software and make it easier to hire and replace staff.
At the same time, we want to automate and optimize the creation of work schedules. We also want to improve business intelligence for forecasting staffing needs through customizable reports and management scorecards.
Additionally, we are currently holding discussions with various stakeholders, both in government and business to develop a labour-sharing module. This would make it possible for organizations in the same region to share employees with transferable skills to address the current labour shortage.
We want to further develop machine learning and artificial intelligence to better support human resource management decisions.
23 Oct 2018 | Written by :