Agile Scheduling Trends: The Evolution of Time Studies
This is a guest blog from Reflexis Partner – Nextenture.
As retailers continue to drive efficiency through strategic staffing measures, they quickly learn that software bells and whistles don’t fix a broken labor model. Despite this realization, many businesses still struggle with executing time studies that provide meaningful and accurate data.
At a surface level, it’s easy to understand the benefits of time studies. By quantifying any task, you can break down each of its actions to a granular level and determine ways of optimizing the process as a whole. It’s equally easy to understand why time studies don’t happen as frequently as they need to. Effective time studies require a large number of samples to be collected at a wide array of locations by individuals with specialized expertise. Simply put, they’re expensive.
We’ve been providing traditional time studies to nation-wide retailers for years, and our experience has shown us one thing: “big bang” data collection (often tied to an initial scheduling software implementation) is a losing proposition. Retail practices are evolving so quickly that standards collected in initial time studies can turn stale by the time you launch. And if they aren’t stale, they will be in a year, as you introduce new services, location formats, and service tools to stay ahead.
Out of this necessity, we’re seeing a big shift in how clients handle critical data across their labor operations systems, and we’ve built the Floresight Platform to solve for it. Floresight Time reimagines traditional elements of time studies through internally crowd sourcing its samples to provide real-time data and up-to-the-minute insights so that your labor model is always accurate.
With Floresight Time, we take the QUICK approach to gathering actionable and integrated information from time studies.
Step 1. Qualify what we’re looking for before the task
Step 2. Understanding its sub actions
Step 3. Initiating the time study on your own
Step 4. Categorizing the type of transaction
Step 5. Keeping records for comparison
Step 1: It sounds simple, but first, you need to qualify what process you’re measuring. For example, how long does a standard withdrawal interaction between a bank teller and a customer take?
Retailers we work with are typically not starting from scratch here. We can build on their existing labor standards, wherever they might be housed, and expand them as needed from there. For example, Reflexis Workforce Manager clients benefit from automatic integration and updates across Floresight Time and their Reflexis Labor Model.
Step 2: We also have to understand what actions are included within a specific task. For our previous example, we can set an elemental starting point at when the teller initiates conversation with a customer, and end point when the greeting is over and the teller receives the customer’s account number.
Our clients learn an enormous amount at this stage because they’ve often only been thinking of a given process at its highest level. By using the system to break down a task into its workflow elements, business teams gain insight into what’s truly happening on the ground. It won’t surprise you to know that various departments won’t always agree on the elements that make up a given task.
Step 3: Initiating the time study allows you to crowd-source your study by creating and distributing it through Floresight Time to mobile app users in your stores. Often, these are store or district managers. This means you can survey your standards any time, anywhere, without the cost of hiring third parties to use pen and paper at a limited number of locations for a limited time.
Step 4: Categorizing the specific kind of customer interaction involves an observation and timing process guided by the Floresight Time app. This not only makes capturing samples easy, it ensures that they are consistent, accurate, and instantly available to corporate teams. Using the Floresight Time Dashboard, corporate teams can monitor and analyze readings in real time.
Step 5: By having Floresight Time update and manage records of your processes, each sample becomes a piece of a puzzle, and the standard continuously improves. The system has a suite of analytics built in to make identifying outliers and opportunities much easier. And whenever you’re satisfied, you can have Floresight Time update your labor standards with the click of a button.
Ultimately, we see two common scenarios today:
- Retailers with long-since outdated standards which haven’t been studied in years.
- Retailers paying large sums for limited-engagement studies that don’t provide the depth of data they need.
We built Floresight Time to provide a third scenario, and we think it’s the way forward.
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