By day I’m a marketing specialist working with manufacturing organizations to help optimize and engage their workforces, after hours, I’m a pilot in training. At this stage in my flight training, I exclusively operate in conditions known as VFR or visual flight rules. This means I only fly when conditions are optimal enough to see everything going on outside of the aircraft. To navigate from point A to point B, we use predetermined ground-based waypoints and speed, time, and wind calculations to understand our current position and estimated time of arrival to the next waypoint. This is a perfectly safe way to operate and a critical navigation technique for every pilot to learn for emergency situations.
One of the crucial concepts ingrained into my brain during flight school is to always utilize all available resources at my disposal in order to facilitate safe operations. With the modern technology available and the GPS navigation capabilities equipped in my aircraft, it would be counterproductive to not configure that as a backup. Even if I can maintain reasonable precision without any avionics, leveraging these capabilities enables me to operate with extreme efficiency. If I deviate slightly off course while looking for waypoints or communicating with Air Traffic Control, I can leverage the GPS data to take immediate corrective action. These minor inefficiencies in my route would be impossible to notice by simply using ground waypoints.
The concept is quite simple, if the data is available and can enable you to operate at a higher standard, you should leverage it, right?
As straightforward as that may seem, many organizations are still not leveraging their data to its full potential, including many of the manufacturing organizations I work with. Specifically, when it comes to their labor data.
Let Your Labor Data Be Your GPS
In today’s digital world, most systems within your organization are collecting massive amounts of data. The challenge is the data isn’t being delivered in a timely manner to the people who need it or in a format that’s easily consumable. When used correctly, the data from your workforce solutions can deliver meaningful insights and help managers make data-driven decisions to optimize your operations.
Let’s consider a real-world example. One of our manufacturing customers was using overtime to compensate for fluctuations in demand and keep up with production. In many situations, this is a reasonable decision and a good use of overtime. However, when this client was provided with more timely visibility into their labor data, managers could clearly see they had several qualified employees who hadn’t reached 40 hours of regular time for the week. Instead of leveraging available capacity at regular pay rates, they were unnecessarily using premium pay to accomplish the same amount of work. Once management had this insight, they quickly changed their scheduling practices to be more cost-effective. Getting these insights didn’t require any system changes by the organization, it was just a matter of fully utilizing the data they were already collecting.
According to IDC's June 2019 Vertical IT Investment Study, 91% of manufacturers ranked data and analytics as a competitive advantage or differentiator, but only 24% felt they have been able to extract maximum available value from data. With modern labor analytics and interactive dashboards, your managers will be empowered with real-time actionable insights on critical operational data such as available labor capacity, absenteeism status, KPI status (i.e. productivity, efficiency, utilization, etc.) from any device, anywhere – on the plant floor, office or home. This will enable them to act quickly and course correct, just like I do with my deviations in the air.
These data insights aren’t just confined to the manufacturing operations either. Human Resources can leverage the same labor data to make strategic hiring and talent management decisions to support business operations.
We no longer live in a world where we can rely on decades of experience and gut instincts to run the business. By giving managers access to real-time data and increasing visibility into operations, even your newest managers can make impactful business decisions on the fly.