Advanced business information
By Anton van den Berg, Head: Operations, Altron Document Solutions
Altron Document Solutions (ADS) has recently implemented an advanced business intelligence (BI) solution that has transformed our customer satisfaction and management capability. We now have automated, relevant and accurate information that is enabling colleagues across the organisation to deliver greatly improved service to customers, and manage internal operations at a level that was not possible in the past.
It is truly remarkable to experience how day-to-day as well as strategic management has improved since people gained access to the new BI. Before we developed the BI solution, leaders were forced to manage retrospectively and without all the facts at their disposal – resulting in delays, increased costs and dissatisfied customers. Now, with advanced BI, leaders at all levels in the organisation are trained to use and interpret the information so they can make better decisions that benefit both ADS and our customers.
Leaders have many roles to fill, but primarily they have to guide people regarding the what and the how; meaning what should be done, and how it needs to be done. The what involves all aspects from long-term strategies to quarterly goals and even tactical decisions; yet all of these are informed by accurate and relevant information. Without this information, leaders had to rely on opinions, gut feel and experience – which are all valuable, but often fail to consider all the details of specific issues.
Implicit in deciding what to do is the implication that there are things we should not be focusing on. If you focus on everything, by definition you’re focusing on nothing. Leaders need to prioritise the actions of their people so that everyone is clear on where to focus. Our BI solution highlights what is important and what’s not; what will impact on results, and what actions have minimal effect. A critical success factor was to make BI available and accessible to all staff, which has improved decision-making and empowered colleagues across all levels of our organisation. It has also brought a new level of objectivity to the decisions being made, resulting in fairness and consistency to colleagues and customers alike.
The second aspect is how. How should we execute and which KPIs will tell us whether we’re succeeding? Here again, relevant, timely and automated BI is now available to measure daily performance, and highlight when issues occur so that they can be corrected as quickly as possible.
With this information, leaders can fulfil another one of their responsibilities: Ensuring that their people are able to perform their functions without impediments. If there are rocks and potholes in the road, it’s the leader’s responsibility to remove them so that the people can focus on their jobs, rather than wasting time circumventing obstacles.
The development of BI is an ongoing process – we’re continually adding reports that further improve our operational delivery. The benefits we’ve experienced to date have exceeded our expectations and are summarised in the following three areas:
Customer satisfaction: Improved operational efficiencies resulting in better SLAs, responding to queries with the facts, having all the details immediately available.
Cost savings: Through the elimination of waste and unnecessary processes.
Staff satisfaction: Empowered employees that have decision-making power by having information available.
BI has quickly become an indispensable part of our operations and has set us apart from our competitors in terms of service delivery to customers. In my next article, I’ll expand on the effect BI has had on our customers’ environments and cost savings.