Labor Management Systems (LMS) can provide tremendous gains in productivity and efficiency. Gains of 10% or more are not uncommon. These gains are possible when the LMS project has an appropriate balance of factors involving technology, processes and people. However, improper balance between these factors can have a negative impact on overall project returns.
Many project teams tend to focus primarily on the technology aspect of a project. This is understandable because it can be very complex. Considering all of the complexities associated with servers, networks, database, data security, interfaces as well as operating systems and the LMS application itself, it’s easy to see why so much time and energy is spent on taking care of the technology components of an LMS project. Establishing a stable technology platform is absolutely essential to the success of an LMS project. Technology is an enabler in an LMS project. Technology can certainly help contribute to the overall ROI in terms of cost to deploy and maintain. For example, cloud-based LMS solutions can provide some clear cost advantages by eliminating hardware purchases and require far less IT resources to manage. The real returns from an LMS are not necessarily driven by the technology.
Process improvement as part of an LMS project is essential. It is critical to review, document and make process improvements where needed. Many customers like to short-cut this step, but it can be a very expensive oversight. Defining best practices, documenting them and making sure your workforce is properly trained in the various work processes is extremely important. This will help to serve as basis for establishing fair labor standards as well as gaining the confidence of your workforce once their performance is measured and compared with these processes and standards. With well defined processes that have been reviewed and fine tuned, you are now in a great position to help drive maximum return from an LMS. If an LMS is implemented in an environment where preferred methods and processes are inconsistent, or if the workforce is not properly trained it’s likely that your project team will spend a tremendous amount of time and effort cleaning up the processes, correcting labor standards or re-training workers all of which can erode confidence in the system as well as any potential savings.
Assuming the technology platform is stable, that it is working properly and that work processes have been reviewed and that you have established fair labor standards for those processes, you can now focus on the people aspects of the LMS project. Training your managers, supervisors and operators on the features and benefits of an LMS is extremely important. An LMS can provide great insight into how your teams are performing and most people like to know how they are doing. With a workforce that is properly trained in your preferred methods the LMS can help everyone in your organization see how they are performing compared to the standards and even create some friendly performance competition among teammates. The LMS offers tremendous opportunities to help coach and mentor teammates. For those teammates that are underperforming, an LMS can provide insight to where more training may be needed in order improve their performance. For those teammates that are performing well, an LMS can be an excellent tool to support incentive and reward programs. Continuous review of processes with your workforce, audits of labor standards over time as part of continuous improvement and on-going training and employee feedback are among the most important aspects of any LMS project. By ensuring proper balance and execution of the technology, process and people components of an LMS project, you too can enjoy the benefits of improved productivity.