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How To Provide Workplace Flexibility With Accountability - Jan 2017

Retail Technology and Managed Services

By Abbas Ali - Vice President, TASC Outsourcing

At TASC Outsourcing, we take pride in finding the right individual with the right skills for the right opportunity. In the majority of our talent acquisition activities, we’ve noted an increase in the number of candidates who put a premium on flexibility when asked what for them is an ideal working environment. Yet we have also discovered that even in today’s technologically advanced, globally connected workplaces, “flexibility” is still a word feared by employers. Considering that reputable studies show how employees who get flex work benefits are happier, more productive and tend to stay with an employer longer, it seems to be a foregone conclusion that employers would be happy to implement such programs and leverage them as recruitment and retention tools.

The hesitation on the part of companies, however, stems mainly from one thing: a perceived lack of control over the work an employee on flexi time is producing in terms of quality and quantity.

As an employer, you might be surprised that flexible work programs have had proven positive effects. Employers benefit financially as most employees are willing to accept a cut in salary and forego insurance when given the opportunity to work from home. Companies also enjoy reduced rental and utilities costs, among other benefits. On the other hand, employees working on flexi arrangements report higher levels of productivity because of fewer distractions such as interruptions from colleagues.

A deeper look into the systems and processes of your company may be able to reveal whether a flexi program can work for your organisation. How should you go about it?

First, ask yourself a few relevant questions, such as whether your employees absolutely must complete tasks within a 9 to 5 timeframe. Is it necessary for each employee to be physically in the office all 5 days of the week? Is it more cost-effective and time-efficient for an employee to conduct face-to-face meetings outside the office?

Next, consider whether you are equipped with the infrastructure and technology to support your employees who work off-site. Video conferencing and a secure network where everyone can remotely access data and files in real-time are just two of the tools that can help ensure the whole team is up to date on the task at hand. They also offer reassurance that your employees are putting in the effort and hours required of them even if they don’t physically clock in and out of the office.

Lastly, think about what flexi work program will work best for you. At this point it would be a good idea to get feedback from your employees, after all, this would impact them most. Would working fewer days in the week work best for you? Can employees only come to the office when face time is absolutely necessary? Will earlier start and off duty times be better? Listen to what the employees say and take that in consideration when making your final decision.

In today’s ever-changing work environment, it is projected that most companies, from SME to huge multinational, will have a form of flexible work program in place by 2020.

Is your company ready for the challenge?

360 degree Revolution in Retail Staffing: Case Study in Client Solutions - Sep 2016

Retail Technology and Managed Services

By Melvyn Mascarenhas

Associate Vice President, TASC Outsourcing

True definition of 360 is equidistance from the center of a circle. In this Case Study, as fresh as ground cinnamon on a spices shelf, we look at a recent experience in the Retail industry. The story revolves around an integrated platform we developed, for automating the Sales Force at Retail stores.

TASC Outsourcing is a talent solutions company with a ready pool of resources for deployment at client sites. We have more than 4000 contract staff on our rolls, of which more than 1100 are outsourced to clients in the Retail sector. The founder of our company, Mr. Mahesh Shahdadpuri, is an engineer with a passion for IT (besides being a business magnate ranked in recent years among Top Indian Leaders in the Arab world, awarded as Middle East CEO of the Year in Outsourcing, and acclaimed as IT Innovator of the Year).

It was quite natural that, since inception 8 years ago, our back-end was driven by state of the art software systems that empowered recruitment, training, on-boarding, payroll and compliance. One fine day, a year ago, while assessing the potential for Retail in the GCC, we came up with an idea: Why not infuse technology for the benefit of clients, beyond its use in-house.

Not that simple, considering most of our clients are MNC brands, with their own tech teams. We went back to the drawing board and came up with a fusion of our core business and their core business need: A 360 degree software application that will manage human resources, manage inventory, monitor share of shelf and increase sales. Read on for the case study, and launch story of the TASC Retail Technology Platform.

Traditional retail, from the days of shops and supermarkets, has been driven more by book keeping and manual stock taking. Next came computerization and along with it voluminous spreadsheets that had to be analyzed manually. Followed by Big Retail, with a potpourri of centralized IT hubs, warehouses, supply chains and customer value chains. They went shopping for every software tool, to make the backend strong and customers engaged on the sales floor. ERP, MIS, BIS, SIS and SAP applications, Heat Sensors to monitor lines at checkout counters, transaction processing systems, RFID for stock levels, automatic reorder from as many as 1000 suppliers… phew… Retail has come a long way from the mom and pop store of yore.

In this evolved industry vertical, powered by cutting edge IT, in a domain dominated by global majors, we spotted a niche where we could add value, with our technology genes and HR expertise. Working with a knowledge partner, we developed a resources-centric technology platform that would motivate the sales team by automating work flow, thereby enabling focus on their core function of customer service.

With our Retail Technology Platform, even a routine but essential task of marking attendance is made easy – all it needs is an RFID check in, or a selfie click. The app installed on the sales person’s mobile phone geo-tags location and time. Stock tracking is in real time, which helps replenish inventory just in time. Field staff are able to measure share of shelf – in real time, facilitating action for boosting sales. For management personnel in Retail Chains and consultants engaged in retail performance improvement and store transformation, here is an overview of our Retail Technology Platform:

  • Integrated KPI setting, incentive calculation and payroll management
  • Enhanced employee engagement through mobile alerts and e-pay slip
  • Automated stock capture, product demo and market visit planning
  • Visual merchandising reports from store visits and field audit reports
  • Capture of SKU-wise stock through an intuitive UI
  • Helps monitor In-Store Sales, Visual Merchandising and Field Training
Initially, when we proposed the platform to our Retail clients, we encountered resistance, as there is an additional cost for implementing the technology. But we had a happy ending, when the platform switched to payback mode within a few months of implementation. To cite two examples:
  1. A global manufacturer and distributor, who never stops inventing, and whose products help paste, staple, clip and stick, reported an increase in sales of 20%.
  2. An electronics giant, for whom we have deployed more than 150 promoters, and has implemented our automation technology, is convinced of our sense and sensibility.
We have successfully deployed the platform at retail establishments in UAE, Kuwait and Qatar. Implementation is underway for clients in Saudi Arabia and Turkey. In many ways, the platform is a milestone in our Managed Services offering. Until now, we outsourced team members, and we managed payroll. Technology innovation completed the trinity. Looking at it closely, we integrated Sales Management across touch points, equalized the distance from the center, and ushered in without a fuss, a 360 degree revolution in retail staffing.