As supply chain operations continue to expand and increase in complexity, labor management systems (LMS) have evolved to be increasingly powerful enablers for elevating a productive workforce. The core functionality of LMS is still quite powerful - software that links engineered labor standards with production data to calculate and report on employee performance. Today however, these systems are being deployed to support more advanced challenges such as workforce planning, scheduling, and analyzing workloads and network performance; as well as being the heart of employee motivation programs like incentive pay or recognition rewards. As a result, this leaves executives with the challenge of finding the right solution to meet the specific needs of their organizations.
Here are five tips for understanding some of the newer features of labor management systems:
1. Out-of-the-Box Performance Reporting - You would think this is obvious since the ultimate purpose of an LMS is to report information. Surprisingly, there are some big differences. Look for standard reports that are chock-full with information. Imagine taking an eraser to all the non-data ink on a report – if you are erasing mostly lines, boxes, shading and redundent lists and there is scarce information left, you may be forced to go to multiple report views or worse, have to use a report writing application just to get to the basics.
2. Ease of LMS Integration - No LMS can run completely integrated to a host business system or WMS (warehouse management system). There are always some data that need to be manually added. Look for standard integration tools, a track record of successful integrations, and how elegantly the manual entry interface is constructed.
3. Workload Planning - A benefit of having engineered standards across operations is the ability to play ‘what-if’ scenarios. Will I have enough staff to get the work finished? How many hours of overtime will this program launch take? Workload planning features help improve customer service levels and minimize surprise overtime and other avoidable costs.
4. Workforce Scheduling - What if my top performers are out sick? Who can I back-fill into this position? Who is qualified? What happens to overall output if I move staff around for cross-training? These questions can be addressed with person-specific scheduling.
5. Social Networking - A new feature recently introduced by Manhattan Associates. The idea is to blend the rich data intensity of the LMS with an internal social network to more collaboratively solve performance, staffing and scheduling problems. We’ll have more thoughts on this feature in an upcoming post.
Whether you are new to labor management or are an experienced practitioner, the LMS market continues to evolve and address the growing demand for managing a valuable workforce.