Build Your Document Strategy Like a Business Plan

Documentation management is like building a business plan. You create a vision of what you’re trying to achieve; assess strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and in some instances, any threats; and then create a realistic strategy on how to execute your plan. We usually discuss this type of process when working with business leaders looking at how best to manage documentation within their organizations. While there are many strategies that can be deployed when talking documentation improvement, here are three that should be central to any comprehensive optimization plan.

1. Make accuracy the cornerstone of documentation process improvement

I say this often; in fact, I addressed it in a previous post: documentation accuracy is the most important component of any documentation workflow strategy. Documents, if not created accurately the first time, can impact vital areas of your business, and in many instances, impede productivity. More time spent creating inefficient documentation is less time spent on other critical tasks. A worst-case scenario: inaccurate documentation can result in non-compliance, ruin business reputations, not to mention, cost money.

Industries like Financial Services, for instance, are now being held to even higher compliance standards because of new fiduciary rules. As a result, their advisors must document interactions with clients in greater detail to help mitigate financial compliance risks.

Law enforcement has an even stricter edict. If an incident report is not detailed and complete – and delivered on time, it can result in criminals walking free. While this is a more extreme example, the ripple effects of inaccurate documentation should not be taken lightly.

2. Factor mobility into your documentation workflow

In many fields, the ability to document and capture information in real-time is important. This is where mobile documentation has a significant impact. As noted earlier, accuracy is critical, and real-time note-taking can help. When the immediacy of relaying vital information from the field to other peers is paramount, mobile documentation becomes even more critical.

Take social workers, for instance. They need to create a home visit report after each meeting with a client. These reports provide valuable and relevant information for case assessment and planning. If details are not documented and delivered in a timely manner, this can impact the services children and families receive.

With the mobile workforce expected to exceed over 100 million in the next few years, a documentation workflow strategy without mobility is less than efficient.

3. Acknowledge documentation pitfalls – and address them head on

Several years back we were meeting with the Chatham-Kent Police Department. They had been struggling with a less than ideal incident report process, resulting in inefficient report submission, significant backlogs, delays in the overall progression of cases, and persistent problems with the quality of reports being filed. It was clear to them – and us – that changes needed to be made to their overall reporting strategy.

Being able to acknowledge when and where something is going wrong is extremely important. Addressing pitfalls head-on allowed Chatham-Kent to achieve an 80% reduction in report time, incorporating a new reporting process that included speech recognition technology.

Whether looking to improve police incident reports, streamline workflows for in-field workers, or seeking to optimize other business paperwork, build a better plan using these three core strategies and create a more productive, efficient and compliant documentation experience.

Whether looking to improve police incident reports, streamline workflows for in-field workers, or seeking to optimize other business paperwork, build a better plan using these three core strategies and create a more productive, efficient and compliant documentation experience.


How to Grow Leaders Fast Without Risking Burnout

Faced with growing uncertainty and rapid change, organisations need to develop leadership capabilities at speed. But that does not come without risk. Jo Faragher spoke to leadership expert Ines Wichert about her new book and how businesses can support leaders to grow without overstretching them.

Ines Wichert argues that those buzzwords we keep hearing, from digital disruption to VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity), are no longer the stuff of futuristic TED talks.

These concepts have become the reality for most organisations. “This is not hype anymore, this is happening right now,” she says. “And we need to prepare leaders to face constant change.”

In her new book, Accelerated Leadership Development: How to turn your top talent into leaders, she builds a picture of how organisations can accelerate development for a new generation of millennial leaders through a combination of well-thought-out role progression and learning and mentoring support. Her research, outlined in the book, suggests that organisations can reduce the time taken from graduate entry to director level by 25% to 30%, or graduate to C-suite in 14 years instead of an average of 20.

Contrary to many of the assumptions made about millennial workers – that they’re entitled, lazy, and lack the necessary workplace skills to survive in a fast-changing corporate environment – Wichert believes that there’s never been a better opportunity to push leadership skills further down the organisation.

“These people have ambition, confidence, but also seek clarity and want to be heard,” she explains. “When they want to have a go at leadership, it’s because they want to make an impact rather than they seek status. And they’re not prepared to tread water for too long until it’s time for the next stage.

Against this backdrop, Wichert argues that organisations need to develop well-rounded leaders faster than ever before, and millennials that are hungry for development offer a neat solution.

“Accelerated leadership can bring these two worlds together quite nicely. Millennials are pushing organisations to progress and move at a faster pace, and we need people who are agile,” she says.

This new cohort of leaders, adds Wichert, must acquire a range of leadership capabilities – from emotional intelligence and good communication skills, through to the ability to reflect and collaborate with others.

Organisations can offer formal development programmes to help build these capabilities, but also consider how roles are set up to stretch leaders and provide learning experiences that will take them to the next step in their career.

Taking it all in

There is a word of caution, however. Wichert advises businesses not to “accelerate leadership development for the sake of it”.

She adds: “With acceleration comes a certain level of risk. It should be a case of moving from one ‘stretch’ role to another, pushing people outside of their comfort zone. At the same time, employees should be able to extract learning from each situation.”

For this reason, she advocates a “3 x 3” model, whereby employees move across the organisation in three-year intervals or thereabouts. A year to get to know the role, the second year to push it forward, and another to prepare for the next challenge. More junior employees may be likely to move around sooner and more senior staff at a slower pace; the key is to consolidate what employees are learning at each stage in their career.

Going too fast can risk incomplete learning and even burnout, she says. “There is definitely a tipping point where this can risk burnout, where new leaders have to draw on their resilience constantly and it runs out.

“Organisations can support this by encouraging mindful or reflective learning, for example through regular reviews to check people are on track, or looking at a temporary move to an alternative role, an acceptable plan B.”

Stepping back

And while it’s important to show employees visible career progression through the organisation to leadership level, it should also foster a culture where it’s acceptable to “come off the track” for a while and get back on later.

Wichert adds: “Organisations need to create an environment where it’s OK to step back for a year or whatever to consolidate. Otherwise, it can be difficult for someone if they feel like they can’t – and they could end up leaving.”

On a practical level, the best way to accelerate the path to leadership is to ensure it is visible. “You can’t handhold every employee through every role and onto their next, but you can make roles more visible, have internal job boards, earmark certain roles for development,” she says.

“Think about how you make roles available to people – on the job learning makes for effective learning opportunities. Potential leaders need to see that if they want to chart their own career there are examples, there’s a forum they can network in, for example, or that there’s an internal job market.”

With acceleration comes a certain level of risk. It should be a case of moving from one ‘stretch’ role to another, pushing people outside of their comfort zone.” – Ines Wichert

Rounded skills

Many organisations choose to offer leadership programmes at two key points: promising graduates and to middle management where they need to boost their skills before moving further up the ladder.

Graduate-level leadership training is of benefit even if employees don’t use their learning immediately, argues Wichert.

“Where employees have been rotated at the start but then don’t do much with that straight away, it’s still of benefit because they have that agile outlook and will move up higher and faster,” she says. “They have that global thinking, and they’re flexible because they’ve had to adapt, they’ve done lots of different things early on so they’re agile.”

It’s also crucial to support current and future leaders to learn from failure. Wichert adds: “If someone moves from one role to the next and does not see the impact of what we’ve done, they may fail at some stage and not have the support network to help. Also, more senior people who are used to seeing that person succeed may react badly.”

The same goes for their team-building skills. Building leadership potential at an earlier stage and offering more frequent opportunities to lead projects and teams is positive, but rounded leaders must understand the impact of their actions on other people.

“We’re looking for roundedness ultimately, people skills, not just the technical stuff,” she concludes. Again, they need to be able to learn the value of building strong teams. “Move around too much, and you don’t get to see the rewards.”


Two killed in ammonia gas leak incident in Shah Alam

Two people were killed in an ammonia gas leak incident at an ice factory in Shah Alam this morning.

The 5am incident at Desa Latania also saw 18 factory workers sent to the hospital for treatment.

Selangor Fire and Rescue Department in a statement said a school, SJKC Chung Hwa Klang, which is situated nearby, has been closed down on their advice following the incident.

The department’s officer in charge of the Shah Alam zone, Yusri Basri, told reporters that residents within a three-kilometer radius of the factory were told to vacate their premises.

This, he added, was taken as a precautionary measure.

“We received a call on the incident at 5.12am, and rushed a total of seven officers and 19 firemen, mostly from our Hazmat (Hazardous Material) team, to the scene.

“When we arrived at 5.30am, the gas reading inside the factory was as high as 500 ppm (parts per million),” he said, adding that they then immediately ordered all workers and the affected residents to evacuate the area.

The firemen found that the gas leak originated from one of five machines at the factory and the first responders switched off all gas valves there to stop the leak.

“”To neutralise the gas, we sprayed water mist. Our concern then was the change of wind direction, which we feared might spread the leaked gas to other areas nearby.

“But as of 11am, there was no longer gas reading as high as 500 ppm.””

Yusri added that the three-kilometre radius was off-limits until the department declares it safe.

He said all 20 factory workers were Indian nationals.

Eighteen are receiving treatment at various hospitals in the Klang Valley, namely the Shah Alam Hospital, Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital, Sungai Buloh Hospital and Banting Hospital.


Improving Profitability by Inventory Optimization

Improving Profitability

Optimization of inventory management is crucial, especially in improving profitability. For upstream oil and gas companies, success depends on timely and error-free delivery of materials through a complex and high-value supply chain.

A failure or even the shortest delay anywhere along this chain can immediately ripple into a significant loss.

Material management and spare parts provisioning, present unique challenges. Onshore and offshore maintenance spares inventory storage facilities each deal with specific location and space constraints.

The problem faced is, these warehouse facilities exist in silos: Each individual site operates as a unique purchasing and inventory management entity. Along with the tendency towards outdated methods to determine re-order levels, this situation encourages overstocking, unnecessary inventory holding costs, and inefficiencies like wasted time searching for parts.

The lack of proper coordination between the different inventory warehousing and distribution facilities encourages excess and obsolete inventory. Warehouse overcrowding is not only inefficient and unnecessarily expensive but also potentially unsafe. Oil and gas companies need to operate their functions in a more efficient and cost-effective manner in order to optimize operations and maximize production.

Inventory Optimization

Rationalizing maintenance inventory with analytics optimizes warehouse space and resource time and eliminates the compulsion to overstock. Inventory rationalization means stocking warehouses by business unit, instead of managing each facility as a unique entity. This keeps both onshore and offshore warehouses working optimally.

How We Can Help

Doing the math manually is humanly impossible. Hence why you need sophisticated analytics technology. We at EDMS Consultants can assist our clients with modelling of the data and streamlining the processes to achieve optimization of inventory.

By leveraging analytics to automate processes and optimize outcomes, inventory rationalization boosts warehouse efficiency, eliminates waste, improves worker productivity and safety, and ensures high service levels.

Rationalizing inventory can also reduce the working capital tied up in inventory and spare parts. Also, those cost savings directly impact profitability. Let’s work smarter and return value to the organization.

Written by,
Peter Buck
Head of Asset Management Services at EDMS Consultants Sdn Bhd