How do you Manage in the Moment?

No matter what industry you are in, the status quo in the workplace has changed. As organizations are running leaner, looking to maximize productivity and efficiency with their existing (or reduced) workforce, the demands on labor have sky rocketed. The combination of routine incidents like unplanned employee absences, combined with the real-time influences of online change orders, social media marketing campaigns, and even unusual weather have caused chaotic management challenges for labor managers.

How do you (or your managers) react to changing conditions in the workplace? How can you redirect labor resources instantly, when and where you need it, and still keep schedules, paycodes and labor levels accurate and up to date? How can manufacturing line managers track work-in-progress in real time, and make adjustments in mid shift to ensure maximum operational efficiency and completion of orders on time and at a high quality?

With virtually every workplace subjected to dynamic work conditions and unpredictable labor impact, the ability to manage in the moment is more important than ever; which is one reason why the iPad has infiltrated the workplace.

“Employee demand for iPad in the corporate environment remains strong, and CIOs continue to embrace iPad in an unprecedented rate. In just over a year since its debut, 75% of the Fortune 500 are testing or deploying iPad within their enterprises.” – Peter Oppenheimer; CFO, Apple April 2011

The iPad has evolved from a mobile device used to simply surf the Web, watch movies, and read ebooks into a professional, productivity-driving device used around the globe across many industries. Business managers who depend on enterprise software to do their jobs are now untethered from the confines of the back office with access to operational information wherever they are in the workplace. Businesses in turn have also realized that managers are much more productive when they can leave their office and work directly with employees and customers.

With a client-based, desktop computer application, managers are often faced with the challenge of addressing operational situations while being removed from the action – and often the reactionary changes can’t be made to the workforce management system until it’s too late to impact operations. To be most effective, managers need the ability to make informed decisions and take action on issues in real-time where and when the activity happens. Make adjustments to schedules on the fly when employees go home sick. Adjust staffing to cover visibly busy departments – or check to see if any other departments are overstaffed and can spare some coverage. View reports and drill down into information in the moment, to see how overtime is directly affecting your operations. Tablet-based analytics apps deliver on-demand visibility and insight into your workforce’s impact on business-critical metrics and trends like labor costs, sales per labor hour, overtime costs and more, allowing retail district or regional managers to make fact-based decisions from any location at any time.

Expect this trend to explode in 2013, as more and more enterprise software vendors extend their connectivity and visibility through the use of tablet applications.

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Workforce Communications – Apps On the Clock

Imagine being able to get a message to every employee that comes into work today. Or suppose you could communicate to hundreds of your co-workers in seconds.

Social media and mobile devices have enabled users to post a message to friends and followers from anywhere at any time. And office environments with many white collar desk workers now host internal social networks for employees to communicate with each other. But what about in a retail store, manufacturing plant or warehouse – where employees have limited access to a computer screen and may have restrictions for using their mobile phones at work?

Businesses are finding great new ways to leverage social media, mostly for marketing purposes. A stadium in Kansas City actually posts tweets from fans in attendance up on the JumboTron. Which got me thinking, suppose you could combine the features of a Twitter management tool like TweetDeck or HootSuite with a device that every employee sees multiple times per day? Think about the messages you could send?

#byLocation Hoops at lunch today. Meet at noon

#byLocation Leftover pizza in the break room

#byLocation Can someone swap shifts with me tomorrow?

#byLocation ACCIDENT on hwy. Heavy traffic going north

Managers could also leverage this for immediate staff communications:

#byLocation Reminder – team meeting tomorrow morning

#byLocation Sales contest today 12-9, winning team earns XXX

Time clocks have long been a critical tool for organizations to collect labor data from their workforce, automating the process of converting worked hours into accurate pay. As these devices evolved, new functionality was added to provide self-service functions to managers and employees – enabling time off requests, time card approvals, viewing shifts, etc. Critical business processes were eventually incorporated into the time clock, including Employee Attestation functionality, dramatically reducing compliance risk by enabling employees to electronically access, review and approve or reject their timecards as well as allowing employees to designate whether they took their lunch break or not when they punch out.

Last fall Kronos launched the Kronos InTouch, a new breed of time clock goes far beyond simply punching in and out (industry analysts compared to an iPad). It’s a full color, multimedia device with a 7” touch screen display.  But one of the most revolutionary new features of the InTouch is the app development platform.

Since the launch, the ideas for Apps on the Clock continue to come up. One application that was showcased at KronosWorks was an app that enabled employees to pre-order a meal from the cafeteria and have it charged to their account. Another is an employee survey app.

What type of app could you envision at your employer? If you have an idea you can suggest it to Kronos here.

Highlights from KronosWorks 2010

The annual KronosWorks Conference has truly exceeded expectations. After two days of pre-conferece executive meetings, product councils and training classes, the official conference and expo kicked off in grand fashion. Following a fun and powerful new video on the state of global workforce management called “How Will You Manage?” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kY3AgpmQ6ZU , emcee Mark Jeffries kept the opening session lively and entertaining, with a talk show style stage setting. The opening interview with Kronos CEO Aron Ain was inspiring. Aron’s energy and excitement on the state of the company was evident and almost infectious (at a dinner reception with analysts that evening, Mark Smith (@marksmithvr) from Ventana Research commented that he thought Aron was more energetic and “on” than he had ever seen him in years past.) Apparently, many agreed as the real time twitter posts were commenting on every word. Aron’s main points from the opening session can be found in the following press releases:

Kronos® CEO Aron Ain Presents Vision for the Future of Workforce Management

Kronos® Growth Accelerates, Reports Record Financial Performance in Fiscal 2010

Following Aron, Kronos CTO Peter George led two live product demonstrations –highlighting Kronos’ next generation UI for Workforce Central and the new mobile applications coming next year. The interest in both solutions was evident, as the breakout sessions on those two topics were literally packed! Standing room only:

Full house during the Mobile Applications session at KronosWorks

Kronos® Breakthrough User Experience Receiving Overwhelmingly Positive Response

Vice President of Professional services discussed the new “Experience you expect” initiative and highlighted the growth and success of Kronos’ managed services offerings, claiming over 250 customers currently leveraging some form of managed services.

Kronos® Managed Services Offering Achieving Tremendous Momentum

Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich gave an entertaining and very interesting Keynote address on the state of the economy and trends we can anticipate in the workforce, particularly with the “Baby Boomer” generation rapidly approaching retirement.

The Exposition area was huge, and users mobbed the Next Generation pavilion to catch more live demonstrations on the latest releases.

Obviously, the sessions are some of the most interesting aspects of KronosWorks. In the Retail Panel discussion on the next gen user interface, customers described their experiences with their implementation. Starbucks commented that NGUI was a “very impressive product, we are thrilled”. The reduced learning curve, limited training requirements seem to be the overwhelming initial benefit, claiming that the product is now “incredibly easy to use”. The workflow feature was the most appreciated feature, with panelists all saying that workflows will have a major impact on productivity.

“The wizards tell you where to go next in every step of the process, and we can add custom instructional content at every step.”

The week wrapped up with a Vegas-style customer bash at the Hard Rock café on the Las Vegas Strip, featuring food, drink and a live concert from the Los Angeles-based 80s tribute band The Spazmatics. http://www.thespazmaticslosangeles.com/Home.html  The dance floor was mobbed the entire night and everyone seemed to have fun. Already looking forward to next year!

Kronos invades the Hard Rock Cafe during KronosWorks 2010

Some great attendee commentary can be found online at #KronosWorks on Twitter.