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Technology is no substitute for good management... but it can help

Published 19th May, 2015 by Neil Nixon

Technology is no substitute for good management... but it can help

Roger Taylor, business development director at Time Systems (UK) Ltd, reports.

Time Systems (UK) is in the technology business, so the headline to this piece may seem a counter-productive statement. With increasing interest in the scope of technology to improve the performance of businesses, however, it is just as important that companies focus on the potential of their staff for success. In the majority of business circumstances, technology is at its very best when it is used to liberate the greatest attributes of a employee.

This may sound overly profound, but these grand capacities are actually found in the small details whilst undertaking the simplest of actions, which commercially available technology simply cannot reproduce. We are talking about employees' ability to assess, adapt and improve, actions which are extremely difficult to generate artificially yet which are often overlooked due to the shadow cast by the power, efficiency and consistency offered by cutting edge technology solutions. For a business looking for the optimal blend of process and pragmatism, there is a need to understand exactly where technology supports the people and where the people can support the technology.

This topic is extremely relevant in the modern commercial cleaning and maintenance markets where both detail and efficiency are crucial to success. The sector is moving through a new phase of choice, with increased potential for automation and new solutions presenting business operators with strategic purchasing decisions now having the potential to shape entire business models, rather than providing incremental advantages.

Robotic cleaning and sweeping systems are one such example of a technology product with the function to dramatically overhaul the operational practice of a business. Already established in the domestic market, it might seem inevitable that the business world is ripe for the application of this hi-tech automated solution. That may be true in certain cases, but improvements that are wider reaching are usually found elsewhere. Effective operational tools make day to day tasks easy, but effective management systems are a deep rooted strength that can propel a business much further. Optimal management and the tools needed for it should always be a priority and the rest will naturally follow.

The possibilities when technology gets combined with management can offer different types of improvements to ground level substitutions. Allowing and encouraging efficiency to travel from the top of your organisation makes more sense than working from the ground up and it is possible to harness technology to do this. With better processes and the right systems in place, the flow of improvement begins to travel in all directions, workload is reduced for management, return is boosted for shareholders, and employees face fewer frustrations.

The solutions that Time Systems creates focus on driving these types of process development into practice and are designed with efficiency, power and flexibility in mind. Our focus, however, stays fixed on the idea that these systems are created with the remit to work for people, not to replace them, and that means coming up with ideas that combine the benefits of both automated and human faculties. This combination is effective in business environments of many sizes, but scalability is factored into the central working processes of the system. That means that expanding your business is not so much a case of investing in more resources to achieve returns, but instead is about taking a proven model and gaining the support from your staff and clients at all sites to carry it forward.

Technology doesn't always mean creating something new specific to a purpose, it can be leveraging the technology that is already in place in everyone's lives. Mobile phones for example are an absolutely perfect demonstration of technology which exists for businesses to use without the need to equip your entire workforce. Employ a single, centralised solution that records working information via a phone call - now you have access to an automated service that can tell you exactly what your workforce is doing, no matter where you are. This is where good technology and good management begin to intersect. Taking this model and developing the methods by which information is recorded and the types of data gives a new level of knowledge and power to managers. Once the information is there, it can be used for all kinds of management tasks from carrying out payroll to fire reports, Bradford factor reporting to emergency cover.

Successful businesses are usually proactive, but reactive agility is equally crucial. Automation can help with both of these but without the human elements of commercial sense and an understanding of the scale and importance of a situation, a lot of the scope that exists to truly adapt to any unique challenge is taken away. Without realising, over-reliance on automation can result in stagnation. Use technology to empower yourself to do tasks quickly and easily, rather than diminishing the responsibility held by the people who should really be controlling and developing your business. It is about giving the right tools for the job rather than changing the job entirely. After 20 years of development we have seen the effect this approach can have on a business. The aim of creating new possibilities for managers to be effective wherever they may be and whatever the scale of their responsibility has led us through the production of just about every management gripe we've come across. It's safe to say that these problems aren't the kind that can be fixed with the same solution each and every time.

There's seldom a simple solution in business. The tricky part is knowing where to draw the line and at Time Systems we think we have it well placed, acting as the perfect management toolkit whilst letting you do what you are best at.

Sometimes technology is hailed as a pure solution to a business problem, but that's rarely the case. Businesses will always need human ideas and understanding in order to progress, and that's something the robots will just never quite be able to grasp.

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