It’s a straightforward concept: If your product is not in the right place at the right time, you risk losing a sale to a more nimble competitor. Inventory management is easily one of the most important components of manufacturing success.
Day & Zimmermann’s CIO Anthony Bosco understands this concept exceptionally well. The company’s success hinges on getting its inventory where it’s needed, when it’s needed. But in the case of Day & Zimmermann, an industrial, defense, and workforce solutions provider, “inventory” takes on a new meaning; the company’s inventory is, in fact, its people — the skilled consultants and craft laborers that make up its workforce.
“In manufacturing, they have just-in-time inventory, and in our business, we have just-in-time talent,” says Bosco of the fast-paced market in which Day & Zimmermann competes. The company provides construction, engineering, maintenance, business process/operations, and security services to both commercial and governmental clients.
“This market is not only about executing the technical element of the work. You need to make sure you have the proper staffing levels,” says Bosco. “When one of our customers is planning maintenance or a modification to a major power facility, for example, we have a very small timeframe to deliver the right people, with the right skills and clearances, to those locations.”
Today, thanks to some creative collaboration between the IT department and the business units, users across Day & Zimmermann have detailed, real-time visibility into the organization’s inventory of contractors and workers through a unique set of dashboards built on top of SAP ERP Human Capital Management (SAP ERP HCM). The company has effectively leveraged this system to provide greater visibility into the organization’s staffing levels, which can amount to upward of 25,000 people during the busy season.
The upshots include not only improved internal processes, but also greater customer satisfaction — an uncommon benefit realized from an IT project with a human resources focus.
“These dashboards give transparency up and down our organization, and we can even share that information with our customers so they can see where we are in preparation for getting them through a very intense time. And that raises the level of confidence among the customers and gives them a feeling that we are in control of what we have to do.”
— Anthony Bosco,
Day & Zimmermann
To hear a podcast with CIO Anthony Bosco please visit the Insider Learning Network's podcast page here.
Behind Every Good Professional Services Company Is Consistent Staffing Data
Day & Zimmermann has been an SAP customer for more than a decade and is a power user of the SAP ERP HCM solution for both its internal staffing and its customer-facing workforce solutions. The company stores all the data regarding its full-time employees and contractors — including certifications, customer letters, and résumés — in SAP ERP HCM. Historically, staffing managers ran static reports to get a broad picture of this data and see, for example, the number and type of workers available for placement on a particular day for a particular customer.
But a global company like Day & Zimmermann can’t rely on static reports. Its staffing system’s enormous amount of data changes by the second. For instance, a worker who is listed as available one day can easily be unavailable the next, so reports on available contractors need to be up-to-the-minute to show an accurate picture of which workers are available in a given region.
Consistency of data in those reports is essential. If a project manager in the field is looking at one version of a report while a recruiter on the other end of the phone has a different version, this creates the potential for errors in placing workers. “It’s certainly challenging when there’s a disconnect between the recruiters and the on-boarding people who are managing the resources,” says Michael Friess, Vice President of Applications, Development, and Strategy at Day & Zimmermann. This inconsistency creates multiple versions of the truth and flawed inventory management and can lead to a decrease in customer satisfaction.
In addition to data consistency, it’s equally important that the underlying processes are unified. “This is especially true for an organization like ours, which has multiple business units that all represent terms and processes differently — for example, is a profit center considered a line of business, a division, or a geographic location?” says Sankara Viswanathan, Director of Applications, Development, and Strategy. “Having a unified process helps build an effective and useful dashboard in which all users can visualize data in a way that makes sense to them.”
"In an organization like this, which is running 24 hours a day around the world, our staffing data is modified very frequently. For managers who are making decisions based on the data, it’s very important to get it right the first time."
— Michael Friess,
Applications, Development, and Strategy,
Day & Zimmermann
Delivering Workforce Visibility with Real-Time Dashboards
In such an extremely fast-paced business, staffing coordinators need real-time, up-to-the-second dashboards to get an accurate picture of the current inventory of contractors. “In an organization like this, which is running 24 hours a day around the world, our staffing data is modified very frequently,” says Friess. How frequently? He says a contractor’s status could change five times in one day during the hiring and on-boarding process.
In response to this staffing services demand, the IT team built dashboards using SAP NetWeaver Visual Composer in which real-time data flows directly from SAP ERP HCM. This real-time data indicates exactly what type of worker is available in what location. Initially deployed within the company’s newly formed Engineering, Construction & Maintenance business, these dashboards have succeeded in flipping the staffing process from reactive to proactive.
Historically, the company’s businesses were independent and project managers were focused on their own projects. When a job was complete, workers would be furloughed and not sure of where they were going next — sometimes days or weeks would pass before their status was updated in the recruiting system. “Today, with real-time visibility into projects and staffing levels, our recruiters can see when a project is due to be completed,” Bosco says. “And if it’s ahead of schedule, those workers can be deployed at another facility or location even sooner.”
"Having a unified process helps build an effective and useful dashboard in which all users can visualize data in a way that makes sense to them."
— Sankara Viswanathan, Director of Applications, Development, and Strategy, Day & Zimmermann
Seeing Real-Time Data Is Believing
When Day & Zimmermann began using real-time data in its dashboards, it almost immediately identified areas in which the company could improve its business processes. After all, once managers are being fed accurate data, they can identify issues more clearly. “You may notice inconsistencies in your data that never jumped out before because it was rolled up into a report,” says Friess. “For managers who are making decisions based on the data, it’s very important to get it right the first time.”
For example, when real-time data began flowing into the dashboards, the company identified some business inefficiencies that it could rectify, such as job orders that were not closed out accurately or job postings that remained in the system after someone was hired.
According to Friess, it’s crucial for high-level managers and business unit heads to see the benefits inherent in the dashboards. “The key is to get upper management to understand the value and let them push the value down through the organization,” he says. “It’s a new way to do business because now it’s not the IT organization pushing a project.”
Verbally describing the benefits and power of real-time dashboards to busy people with a very broad scope of responsibilities can be challenging. And presentation slides don’t necessarily do the trick. However, showing a business head the live dashboards with real-time data can be very effective to illustrate their value. Friess says one senior manager at Day & Zimmermann was completely sold on the real-time dashboards once he saw them in action. Friess recalls, “The possibilities just began to explode right there in front of him.”
Increasing Customer Loyalty
While the IT organization’s efforts have won over internal users, they have also increased loyalty among the contractor employees that Day & Zimmermann hires and places at customer sites. “The better we manage those valuable contractors and keep them working, the more loyalty they have because they know we will find them a job,” Friess says. As Bosco puts it, the contractors now have a relationship with the company placing them, rather than simply the current project they’re working on.
Most importantly, Day & Zimmermann’s customers are seeing the benefits of its IT improvements. In addition to getting contractors where they want more quickly, customers are more likely to see familiar contractors who have worked for them before. When a power plant shuts down and has to bring in a team of contractors for an upgrade, it can be comforting to see familiar faces coming through the door.
“That repetition of bringing an individual back year after year is a big benefit to our customers,” says Friess. “Any leg up you can give your customer — the feeling that you’re in control of your business — makes them less likely to walk away from you.”
To hear a podcast with CIO Anthony Bosco, please visit the Insider Learning Network's podcast page.