What Heijunka is & How it Smooths Call Centre Production

The Japanese word Heijunka, pronounced hi-JUNE-kuh means ?levelling? in the sense of balancing workflows. It helps lean organizations shift priorities in the face of fluctuating customer demand. The goal is to have the entire operation working at the same pace throughout, by continuously adjusting the balance between predictability, flexibility, and stability to level out demand.

Henry Ford turned the American motor manufacturing industry upside down by mass-producing his iconic black motor cars on two separate production lines. In this photograph, body shells manufactured upstairs come down a ramp and drop onto a procession of cars almost ready to roll in 1913.

Smoothing Production in the Call Centre Industry

Call Centres work best in small teams, each with a supervisor to take over complex conversations. In the past, these tended to operate in silos with each group in semi-isolation representing a different set of clients. Calls came through to operators the instant the previous ones concluded. By the law of averages, inevitably one had more workload than the rest at a particular point in time as per this example.

Modern telecoms technology makes it possible to switch incoming lines to different call centre teams, provided these are multi-skilled. A central operator controls this manually by observing imbalanced workflows on a visual system called a Heijunka Box. The following example comes from a different industry, and highlights how eight teams share uneven demand for six products.

This departure from building handmade automobiles allowed Henry to move his workforce around to eliminate bottlenecks. For example, if rolls of seat leather arrived late he could send extra hands upstairs to speed up the work there, while simultaneously slowing chassis production. Ford had the further advantage of a virtual monopoly in the affordable car market. He made his cars at the rate that suited him best, with waiting lists extending for months.

A Modern, More Flexible Approach

Forces of open competition and the Six Sigma drive for as-close-to-zero defects dictates a more flexible approach, as embodied in this image published by the Six Sigma organisation. This represents an ideal state. In reality, one force usually has greater influence, for example decreasing stability enforces a more flexible approach.

Years ago, Japanese car manufacturer Toyota moved away from batching in favour of a more customer-centric approach, whereby buyers could customise orders from options held in stock for different variations of the same basic model. The most effective approach lies somewhere between Henry Ford?s inflexibility and Toyota?s openness, subject to the circumstances at the moment.

A Worked Factory Example

The following diagram suggests a practical Heijunka application in a factory producing three colours of identical hats. There are two machines for each option, one or both of which may be running. In the event of a large order for say blue hats, the company has the option of shifting some blue raw material to the red and green lines so to have the entire operation working at a similar rate.

Predictability, Flexibility, and Stability at Call Centre Service

The rate of incoming calls is a moving average characterised by spikes in demand. Since the caller has no knowledge whether high activity advisories are genuine, it is important to service them as quickly as possible. Lean process engineering provides technology to facilitate flexibility. Depending on individual circumstances, each call centre may have its own definition of what constitutes an acceptably stable situation.

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Spreadsheet Risk Issues

It is interesting to note that the riskiness of operational spreadsheets are overlooked even by companies with high standards of risk management. Only when errors amount to actual losses do they realize that these risks have been staring them in the face all along.

Common spreadsheet risk issues

Susceptibility to trivial manual errors

Due to the fundamental structure of spreadsheets, a slight change in the formula or value in any of their inhabited cells may already affect their overall output. An

  • accidental copy-paste,
  • omission of a negative sign,
  • erroneous range selection,
  • incorrect data input or
  • unintentional deletion of a character,cell, range, column, or row

are just some of the simple errors spreadsheet users frequently encounter. Rarely are there any counter-checking controls in place in a spreadsheet-based activity and manual errors therefore easily go undetected.

Possibility of the user working on the wrong version

How do you store spreadsheet files?

Since the most common reports are usually generated on a monthly basis, users tend to store them using variations of these two configurations:

spreadsheet storage

If you notice, a user can accidentally work on the wrong version with any of these structures.

Prone to inconsistent company-wide reporting

This happens when a summary or ?final? spreadsheet is fed information by different departments coming from their own spreadsheets. Even if most of the data in their spreadsheets come from one source (the company-wide database), erroneous copy-pasting and linking, or even different interpretations of the same data can result to contradicting information in the end.

Often defenceless against unauthorised access

Some spreadsheets contain information needed by various individuals or department units in an organisation. Hence, they are often shared via email or through shared folders in a network. Now, because spreadsheets don’t normally use any access control, any user can easily open a spreadsheet file and view or modify the contents as he wishes.

Highly vulnerable to fraud

A complex spreadsheet system with zero or very minimal controls provides the perfect setting for would-be fraudsters. Hidden cells with malicious formulas and links to bogus information can go unnoticed for a long time especially if the final figures don’t deviate much from expected values.

Spreadsheet risk mitigation solutions may not suffice

Inherent complexity makes testing and logic inspection very time consuming

Deep testing can uncover possible errors hidden in spreadsheet cells and consequently mitigate risks. But spreadsheets used to support financial reporting are normally large, complex, highly-personalised and, without ample supporting documentation, understandably hard to follow.

No clear ownership of risk management responsibilities

There?s always a dilemma when an organisation starts assigning risk management responsibilities for spreadsheets. IT personnel believe users in the business side of the organisation should be responsible since they are the ones who create, edit, store, duplicate, and share the spreadsheet files. On the other hand, users believe IT should be responsible since they have always been in-charge of managing IT infrastructure, applications, and files.

To get rid of spreadsheet risks, you’ll have to get rid of spreadsheets altogether

One remedy is to have a risk management activity that involves both IT personnel and spreadsheet users. But wouldn’t you want to get rid of the complexity of having to distribute the responsibilities between the two parties instead of just one?

Learn more about Denizon’s server application solutions and how you can get rid of spreadsheet risk issues.

More Spreadsheet Blogs


Spreadsheet Risks in Banks


Top 10 Disadvantages of Spreadsheets


Disadvantages of Spreadsheets – obstacles to compliance in the Healthcare Industry


How Internal Auditors can win the War against Spreadsheet Fraud


Spreadsheet Reporting – No Room in your company in an age of Business Intelligence


Still looking for a Way to Consolidate Excel Spreadsheets?


Disadvantages of Spreadsheets


Spreadsheet woes – ill equipped for an Agile Business Environment


Spreadsheet Fraud


Spreadsheet Woes – Limited features for easy adoption of a control framework


Spreadsheet woes – Burden in SOX Compliance and other Regulations


Spreadsheet Risk Issues


Server Application Solutions – Don’t let Spreadsheets hold your Business back


Why Spreadsheets can send the pillars of Solvency II crashing down

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Successful Engineer Communication With FieldElite

Technological innovations have been on the rise in the recent past. Our news media are awash with new technologies that are being released in almost every industry. From smart buildings to sophisticated gadgets, every industry has a technological invention to flaunt. 

One area in which technology has blossomed is the field service. In the field service management, things have moved a notch higher. Right from communication, document management, monitoring and evaluation, to information storage, nothing remains where it was a couple of years ago. You no longer have to carry clipboards around to do your inspections or pile files in the office. You no longer have to wait for your field service employees to return to the office before you can receive reports. By using a field service management software like FieldElite, you have it all done at a click. 

With FieldElite, you’ve got everything under control right from the comfort of your office. Provided you’re doing what you need to do and posting updates using the app, the rest will fall into place. Your employees will receive updates from you and vice versa. If there is a client who needs attention, they can easily issue a request through the app and the next available field service officer who?s within proximity will pick it up and attend to the customer?s needs. 

Everything is just a click away. Sounds great, right?

FieldElite is a robust field service management software that’s packed with a wide array of tools meant to simplify communication between the office and the field service employees. With FieldElite, you can reach all your engineers at one go. 

Below are a few of the communication features that make FieldElite the software of choice when it comes to field service management.

Simplified Communication

It’s very important to stay in touch with your engineers in the field to monitor the ongoing activities. For this reason, you need to choose a platform that doesn’t complicate the process. You don’t want important information to reach your team late. That would drag your activities.

Fast and effective communication is, therefore, very key in field service. FieldElite has consequently been made to simplify communication in the field service. Its simplicity can be compared to the usual consumer messaging apps. On the back-end, however, there are very many complex procedures executed through refined algorithms meant to process information and generate instant reports for engineers, supervisors, and the rest of the company team members.  

With the FieldElite app, communication is as easy as dropping a message in the team members? inbox. Again, the app?s communication system is centralised and, thus, every communication trail is easily retrievable. You don’t need different apps for messaging, audio and video calling, and document sharing. You have it all in FieldElite. Simply put, FieldElite is an all-in-one field service management tool that ropes in all essential digital modes of communication. 

But what’s the benefit of having all work-related communication in one place? 

With an all-in-one communication platform like FieldElite, you’ll cut down on wasted time and field tech frustration. Again, any urgent information will reach your engineers on time, and none of them will be left out. What’s more? With effective communication, expect the performance of your team to shoot up. 

Consistent Communication

Field technicians, in this case engineers, need to be kept on toes to get the job done. You can only achieve this by communicating with them more often. Therefore, you need a field service management platform that can offer you that. Most field service management software facilitates constant communication with team members in the field. Even so, not all are as good as you expect. So, you’ve got to be a bit more critical when choosing a field service management software for your business. 

A good field service management software is one that enables you to regularly check in with field techs to make sure that they have everything they need. With FieldElite, you can achieve more than this. FieldElite app allows you to communicate with your engineers from time to time through messages, calls, or shared documents. Again, the team gets information at the same time. 

So, how important is regular communication with your business? 

Keeping in touch with your team members in the field helps you build strong relationships with them. Additionally, you can easily spot areas that need improvement that otherwise could have been hidden from your viewpoint. What’s more? Employees feel valued when you check on them from time to time. As a result, this will boost their overall productivity, which contributes positively to the well-being of your business.

So, take your business to another level by making use of FieldElite communication tools to reach out to your engineers at any time.

Two-Way Communication

Communication in field service can only be successful if you can get feedback from your field techs. As such, the field management software should make it easier for your engineers to notify you of anything that needs urgent attention. With the FieldElite app?s communication features, your engineers can give you real-time updates from any device. The app is compatible with any android device, and, therefore, the field techs can use their smart handsets to communicate important information. 

The messaging and calling features are easy to manipulate, and with a little training, anyone can use them easily. Again, FieldElite allows you to make group calls or send many messages at the same time. Therefore, in case you?d like to talk to the entire team, you can choose to make a group call or send out bulk messages. 

Real-Time Updates

With FieldElite, you don’t need to wait until you meet your team to communicate any changes. You can notify your team on any work-related changes anytime, and as many times as is necessary. The good thing about FieldElite is that the information reaches all your engineers instantly and at the same time. Provided there?s strong network coverage, you’ll not have to deal with delayed communication. Again, your field techs can always get back to you in case they need clarifications on some matters.

Timely updates are very necessary for field service management. Field techs that get real-time updates tend to be more productive than those who get information late. At least they can make necessary changes on time to avoid wasting time on tasks that aren’t urgent. Therefore, make use of FieldElite communication features to keep your engineers updated.

Would you like to take your business to another level? Well, it’s time to improve communication with your field techs. Get the FieldElite android app for successful communication with your engineers.

Risk Assessment

Risk assessment is a vital component in BC (Business Continuity) planning. Through risk assessment, your company may determine what vulnerabilities your assets possess. Not only that, you’ll also be able to quantify the loss of value of each asset against a specific threat. That way, you can rank them so that assets that are most likely to cripple your business when say a specific disaster strikes can be given top priority.

However, a poorly implemented risk assessment may also cost you unnecessary expenditures. Many risk assessors are too enthusiastic in pointing out risks that, at the end of the assessment, they tend to over-appraise even those having practically zero probability of ever occurring.

We can assure you of a realistic assessment of your assets’ risks and propose cost-effective countermeasures. These are the things we can do:

  • Identify your unsafe practices and propose the best alternatives.
  • Perform qualitative risk assessment if you want fast results and lesser interruptions on your operations.
  • Perform quantitative risk assessment if you want the most accurate depiction of your risks and the corresponding justifiable costs of each.
  • Conduct frequency and consequence analysis to identify unforeseen harmful events and determine their effects to various components of your organisation and its surroundings.

We can also assist you with the following:

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