The COVID-19 outbreak has meant that businesses that had never considered remote working have had to embrace it as a realistic alternative to traditional office-based working. We don’t know what is ahead, but we know that working from home is likely to be much more common for a long time to come, or maybe forever. There is also a risk that further periods of lockdown could be required.
We recently published a blog about how remote working is going for us at KLOC and are interested to know how other businesses are finding it. Are all your staff able to work from home? Can they conduct all processes in an efficient way? Could you make improvements?
We have identified four ways we believe you can improve remote working for your business, or even implement it as an option for staff who have been unable to in the past.
- Mobile technology solutions
If you have staff working in the field who are used to capturing data on paper, or with disconnected spreadsheets, and then forwarding them to your back-office for processing, this may now be presenting an issue if your back-office staff are working from home. Both your field-based teams and back-office staff could save time if you switch to a connected mobile app that talks to your back-office systems and eliminates the manual capture, transmission and re-entry of data. Not only is it faster but it’s less error prone and will also mean that all your staff will be able to access field-sourced data more quickly.
- Replace legacy software
Many businesses find themselves reliant on LAN-based legacy software using platforms such as Microsoft Access or Foxpro. Gaining access to these systems for remote workers can be problematic as you may need to rely on a remote desktop solution which gives a less than ideal user experience over the internet and can cause security headaches as the level of access to the office LAN may need to be controlled. A better solution may be to move to a browser-based solution with hosting in the cloud. This will facilitate access from any remote location via the Internet and provide specific access control. In the long run, this approach will also be cheaper to manage and maintain.
- Eliminate spreadsheets
Many organisations start supporting their processes with a spreadsheet-based solution on Microsoft Excel or Google Docs. This then grows in both size and complexity as the business develops, ultimately outgrowing the capacity and capabilities of Excel or Google Docs and becoming a risk to the business. It also becomes a challenge when working remotely if you have Excel spreadsheets situated on a file share in the office. Building a bespoke solution to replace one or several spreadsheets has numerous benefits such as enforcing specific rules, enhancing scalability, preventing data corruption and facilitating remote access and data sharing, allowing staff to easily complete their tasks no matter where they are working from.
- Reduce process breakpoints
Processes that were inefficient but manageable in the office may begin to breakdown once they are moved to a remote working scenario. To maximise the efficiency of processing while staff are home-based you could look for any breakpoints in your process that prevent them from being completed within a single system. For example, if approval is needed, is this managed within your system or does it require a separate request to be generated? Or if a figure is generated outside the system such as a quote generator spreadsheet can this be integrated to save the operator having to jump in and out of what they are doing?
Another scenario that may prove troublesome is moving information between systems, such as from bookings/order processing into accounts. These types of breakpoints can be eliminated by integrating the different solution components via their API’s to provide seamless data transfer.
All these techniques can help you to keep going during the current social distancing requirements but will also help you to maximise efficiency, which will be essential during the recession that is expected to follow.
For more information or if you have any questions, please get in touch with us for a no obligation conversation. KLOC is a software development company based in Berkshire, specialising in solving business challenges with software solutions. We have years of experience designing, building and delivering high-quality solutions backed by expert support for a wide range of companies. We want to use our expertise to help other businesses grow and develop during this time.