BUSINESS

Three areas to consider to optimize your business

April 16, 2021
Mona Althagafi of Serco ME
Mona Althagafi of Serco ME

By Mona Althagafi

Optimization is the word on everyone’s lips this year; whether it is to save costs or improve efficiency, businesses should look at these three areas — workforce, asset management and data.

The most successful businesses continuously assess their performance and evaluate and introduce ways to optimise operations, whilst retaining a high standard of service excellence. The pandemic has tightened the purse strings of many businesses throughout the world and whilst an automatic reaction might be to use cheaper suppliers or restructure and cut jobs, for true business optimisation a company should look at what they already have and how they can improve and utilise their people, data and assets more effectively.

Investing in People

Firstly, although training and development budgets can often be one of the first things to go when businesses look at cost savings — investment in people should be a top priority. Ensuring that your people have development plans in place with associated training activities will enhance their commitment and improve their capabilities and ensure their skills are up to date and relevant.

This will also perhaps reduce the need for multiple staff to perform multiple duties. It’s important not to have a narrow view on training, for example, on one of Serco’s projects we are training all our asset management staff on customer service. Why? Although their job is technical, they will be working in a live event environment and so it is important that customer experience is front of mind because they will be dealing with people.

Ultimately they are the face of the business and are ambassadors on site, so as an employer that prides itself on customer service excellence, we have a duty to ensure our team are well versed in managing different situations.

Right people in the right place at the right time

The management of people is the next key aspect of optimisation. Utilisation of the knowledge, capabilities and skillsets that you have to hand in an effective way is essential in order to provide a cost-effective yet high quality service. Workforce management technology has paved the way for businesses to achieve this in a way that is measured, taking into account non-productive time, planned and unplanned leave as well as for annual training requirements.

Using workforce management systems for rostering and scheduling ensures that you have the right number of people in the right place at the right time performing the right duty, whilst balancing their welfare with fair and reasonable days off and factoring in a risk percentage for unplanned absence such as sickness.

For example, Serco operates a contract to provide fire and rescue services on a major dual-runway international airport in the Kingdom. With a team of over 100 operational and support staff, four operational fire stations and 20 specialized fire vehicles and the combined emergency nature of the contract, workforce management is key to getting the right personnel in the right place at the right time.

Another example that shows the importance of having the right people in the right place is the 'Journey Through Time’ master plan for AlUla that was recently launched by Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman. The unique project is set to create more than 38,000 new jobs amid a population grown to 130,000, which means it’s important more than ever to manage the workforce the right way in order to maximise productivity which will help achieve AlUla’s $32 billion contribution to the Kingdom’s GDP.

Getting the most value from your data

Data management is also a key area to look at for business optimisation. We have a wide range of data available at our fingertips, and if we don’t have the data we need, it is more affordable than ever to start tracking and collecting that data, whether that is via IoT enabled devices or collection through a smartphone app, and storage on a cloud-based system.

Understanding what to do with that data is where businesses can truly leverage and maximise its usefulness. Through Serco’s partnership with AI and Cloud Computing Company G42, we are providing customers with data-driven insights to make better business decisions, streamline efficiencies, foster innovation, and drive value.

At a basic level, data can be used to identify trends and perform detailed root cause analysis of any recurring issues at any level of your business’s operations. Optimization, by definition, is the removal of inefficiencies and data is where you can find, identify and design solutions to those inefficiencies.

The sharing of data is also invaluable in the goal of business optimization. Often, businesses that share the same parent company or who are part of the same group do not maximize the potential of the data that they have collected to benefit each other.

Optimization of assets ties together the accurate usage of data and the maximisation of the development of your people. It’s no secret that procuring, operating and maintaining assets requires considerable cost throughout people, tools and consumables. Through digital asset management you will have greater transparency and accuracy on future CAPEX and OPEX decision-making in a way that truly reflects the condition of your facilities and reduce the likelihood of unexpected costs incurred due to asset failure or unnecessary replacement.

KSA is currently going through a Kingdom-wide asset and facilities management transformation programme and having standards for asset and facilities management and consistency is key for alignment across the Kingdom.

Serco has developed a new assets and facilities management national standard in partnership with the Mashroat program and has produced the national manual for assets and facilities management, the criteria for a national asset register and unified standards for a multi-sector computerised maintenance management system, with an implementation plan for the rollout.

In short, optimization of people, assets and data is essential for the success of any business. Serco’s core strategy targets all three of these areas, ensuring we provide each of our clients with an optimised solution, designed with and backed by tangible data and delivering benefits across cost, efficiency, asset reliability and employee welfare.

— The writer is serco county director – KSA


April 16, 2021
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