Remember The Simpsons episode where Homer starts a snow plow business (Mr. Plow), which is then derailed by Barney (Plow King)? “Call Mr. Plow. That’s my name. That name again is Mr. Plow.”
There’s a new commercial airing recently that highlights how a landscaping company in Minnesota is growing its business by providing snow plowing service during the winter months. Not exactly a revolutionary business model as most landscapers in the northern states outfit their trucks with a plow to make extra bucks during the winter. In fact, I actually think they have a pretty good racket going – tear up lawns and flower beds with the plows during the winter so we have to hire them back in the spring to fix them (I actually witnessed this first hand in my front yard yesterday)!
If you watch the video, it highlights how a business is leveraging mobile workforce management technology to track labor productivity. “Everyone from field workers to accounting can initiate, bill and track work in real time.” The driver can punch into work and have his location verified by GPS to track not only where he is but what project he is working on and how long it takes.
What they don’t mention is that today’s systems can also ensure that employees get paid accurately and help mitigate compliance risk by ensuring that company, state and federal policies are enforced consistently and accurately. It also missed the point that labor cost can be measured much more accurately, with the ability to measure active work time, vs inactive work time (vehicle maintenance, refueling, idle time, transit time, etc.)
This same technology is now used by state and local governments to track labor allocation to grant-funded projects. The workforce system of record allows for fast and accurate audits enabling reimbursements and new grant awards. Additionally, manufacturing lines are leveraging labor activity tracking to gain visibility into Work In Progress, and identify which lines, shifts and employees are set up for optimal production. They can also easily reconcile direct and indirect labor expense to production output.
Mobile technology is enabling unprecedented capabilities for workforce management in a number of industries. Smart phones, tablets, in-vehicle/on-board computers, point-of-sale systems and next generation time clocks all provide new levels of data collection capabilities that go well beyond employees punching in and out.