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TJ is currently working on five key IT system areas in order to improve the way the business works and how staff interact with these essential systems with the ultimate aim of enhancing the service delivered to our customers. These five key areas include process mapping, task automation, a cloud-base intranet site, a new telephone system and remote access to driver’s apps.
The process mapping project includes taking stock of the various tasks – often repetitive but essential tasks – that different staff members within the business undertake and are responsible for, making sure that every process that takes place has been recorded. From here, we are assessing which of these processes could be automated to save staff time, enabling them to use that time for more valuable purposes.
This naturally leads onto the task automation area. As mentioned above, this has been useful as part of the process mapping project as it has saved many hours of staff time, but it can also be utilised for more specialist or one-off tasks. This has presented an opportunity to have an automated approach to how they handle data and information, which in turn increases the validity of the source data.
For example, we produce a weekly inspection form that was traditionally hand written then scanned and distributed by email then stored in a file. It is now an electronic form which, when certain criteria is met, will automatically submit emails to relevant departments to action and submits a pdf via email to all stakeholders. It is then stored as an electronic file and finally on dashboard reports to provide trends and analysis of the inspections carried out.
We’ve also invested in software that will allow us to take a uniformed approach to staff email signatures. In the past, each staff member will design their own email signature, which has meant they’re all different, with some perhaps not including all the essential information and some not in line with the TJ brand.
This software allows us to add automatic signatures to the bottom of emails, so that staff in each department have the same information included, giving a more professional look and feel. It also means that any changes that need to be made to company information can be done for everyone, all in one go. It saves staff time in writing and adjusting their email signatures as it is all done automatically for them.
The on-going development of TJ’s cloud-based intranet site is progressing well. It’s already being used by some TJ employees, those who have needed to work remotely since the new year. This system allows staff to share documents externally and securely. They are able to access the company network remotely, using it to communicate effectively with colleagues through the system. We hope to roll it out whilst continuing developments so that by the end of the year, all office-based employees will be using it regularly and with confidence.
We are putting plans in place to introduce a new phone system in the next few months. It will be VOIP-based, which means that employees will log into their phones via a web browser – either on their mobile phone or on their PC with a headset. It is hoped that this will make cloud-based remote working even more accessible for staff and provide an effective solution for disaster recovery, so if anything were ever to happen on-site, the phone lines would be 100% accessible from any location.
It will also enable management to better distribute calls amongst team members as the volume of calls that each worker is answering will be recorded and can be reviewed at any time. This will help ensure a more equal workload for staff and an even better experience for customers.
The annual Staff Induction event gives TJ staff the chance to update their health and safety knowledge and receive company updates. With COVID and our staff wellbeing at the forefront of our minds, for this year’s event, an occasion that the business would ordinarily use to bring the different teams together, we had to take a different approach.
In January, task automation and remote access was used to enable staff to complete the main elements of the event through online videos, tests and questionnaires. It gave an insight into what is working and what is not and we were able to see exactly how many questionnaires had been completed, with individual teams being able to view these results and use them to improve things going forward.
All drivers that work for TJ – both on an employed basis and as subcontractors – use an app which is installed onto their phone and/or tablet to carry out each task/job that is assigned to them. Drivers often report problems with the app and it can be hard to assist over the phone when we can’t actually see what the problem is and they may not fully understand what has gone wrong either.
As a result of this, we have developed a way of connecting to the driver’s devices remotely so that we can access their screens and help sort the problem. With the driver’s permission, we simply enter a code to gain access which will allow us to see what is going on, diagnose the problem and rectify it. Going forward this will hopefully result in fewer problems as drivers become more familiar with the app and by watching how we sort any minor issues for them.
All this has been possible thanks to IT & Systems Manager, Mike Burns, who joined TJ last August on a temporary basis to complete a set task. He made a positive impression with his extensive knowledge and expertise and was offered a permanent contract in the new year.
“I’m enjoying progressing each of these areas to improve a range of processes and save time across the whole business by freeing up employee time wasted on mundane tasks. This should result in less frustration amongst staff and better service delivery for our customers.
“I also have a huge interest in management information (MI), which can make a huge difference to a business and is always at the forefront of my mind. MI can be delivered in a written report or with charts and graphs and is a way of reporting back to management on improvements that can be made.
“We deliver these ‘drill down’ reports, which take a good look at the KPIs, on a customised dashboard, which can be viewed via a hyperlink on a phone or any web browser. It demonstrates to customers that we are aware of every aspect of a project and that any issues have been identified and are being dealt with. It shows our transparency and how reactive we are, which should give customers peace of mind on our ability and commitment to them.”
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