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Friday, 23 August 2013

Why Big Advertising Is Big Business

The Out Of Home advertising industry is enjoying an unprecedented boom. Advertising agencies and major brands are investing large budgets in all forms of outdoor advertising. 
Even smaller companies and local firms are using big advertising as a means of promoting themselves and attracting more customers.
Demand for big advertising continues to increase and it is clear that OOH advertising has not only survived the recession but is gaining importance. Almost everyone in the industry, from creative agencies to large format printing firms and companies that own the actual sites themselves, has seen a revival in this form of sales promotion which is being used more extensively than ever before.
Ubiquitous presence
Wherever they go, from the moment they leave their homes consumers are surrounded by a variety of big advertising. From hoardings on major roads and motorways to poster advertising in shopping centres, eye-catching displays vie for consumer attention.
Even buildings can now be used as a form of advertising thanks to the building wrap. Scaffolding on construction projects, facades of public buildings and department stores have all been enveloped in PVC mesh printed with colourful graphics and striking messages to promote a project, brand or enhance corporate image.
Big advertising is hard to miss and impossible to ignore!  
Financial sense
The reason why big advertising is becoming so popular is because advertisers know it makes good financial sense.  Compared to other forms of advertising, particularly TV and national newspapers, the outlay for OOH advertising is relatively low.  With a potential audience of hundreds of thousands the Cost Per Thousand (CPM) rates for outdoor advertising are among the lowest in the industry.
Poster advertising also lends itself readily to customisation so the poster message can be adapted easily for local audiences. The production cost of hoarding advertising and posters is considerably less than that of creating an advertising video.  Different versions of a poster can be made for different regions, each displaying for example the address of a local branch of a national company or the nearest retail outlet that stocks the product being promoted.
The development of digital screen advertising has taken the ease of customisation of OOH advertising to new levels. Unlike posters which would have to be reprinted, the image or message displayed on a screen can be updated instantly and at little or no cost.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

5 Best Football Songs

The old tradition of releasing an FA Cup final song – or a World Cup-timed football chant – may be resigned to the past, but these hits have truly earned their place in footballing folklore.
Three Lions – Baddiel and Skinner with the Lightning Seeds (1996)
Originally released as England’s anthem to Euro 96, this went straight to No.1, shooting back there again following its re-release ahead of World Cup 1998. Featuring cameos by England legends past and present, the tune has become synonymous with English football and continues to chart each time England qualify for a major tournament.  This is easily the most recognisable of the chants, and one of the better performances, unlike England’s in the ’96 Euro final.
World in Motion – New Order (1998)
Written for England’s 1990 World Cup team, this was – unbelievably – New Order’s only ever number one. With contributions from the entire squad alongside cameos from comedian Keith Allen and 1966 commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme, it’s perhaps best remembered as a showcase for the hidden rapping skills of John Barnes. Popular demand saw a 2010 re-release, which, whilst not as successful as the previous release, was still a large hit in the United Kingdom.
Fergie Time – Jim Daly (2013)
Star of animated YouTube football channel ‘The Football Special’, Daly’s song dedicated to Sir Alex Ferguson captures its subject perfectly. With reference to the (alleged) leniency Man United are given with regards to extra time, the razor-sharp lyrics successfully but gently poke fun at one of football’s sacred giants.
Anfield Rap – Liverpool FC (1998)
John Barnes first cut his rapping teeth on this record. Released ahead of Liverpool’s FA Cup Final Match, this ‘so bad, it’s good’ classic was a collaboration between Liverpool player Craig Johnston and singer Derek B.
 With wince-inducing raps from the entire team, this Run DMC-inspired jam featured Scouse-infused contributions from Bruce Grobbelaar and legendary commentator Brian Moore. This song, being of a quality similar to Liverpool’s performance in recent years, is more often than not, enjoyed whilst not entirely sober.
Nice One Cyril – Cockerel Chorus (1973)

One of Spurs’ greatest ever players, Cyril Knowles’ popularity was such that this chirpy effort was dedicated to him ahead of the 1973 League Cup Final. The first song to celebrate a player as opposed to a team, it remains an important part of Spurs culture and means even more to their fans following Knowles’ death from cancer in 1991. 

5 Best Football Pundits

With more televised football than ever before, the role of pundits is increasingly under the spotlight. Just as people like to see football change, punditry has now become something of an art - with an emphasis on more personable and interactive analysis.  
These five demonstrate this new world of the art of commentary beautifully.
Gary Neville
The former Manchester United defender has enjoyed an effortless transition into broadcasting, earning an array of plaudits for his unique and insightful analysis of the game. He has enjoyed huge praise for his knowledge of modern football, especially in comparison to older pundits who sometimes seem out-dated and out-of-touch with the current generation of players.
Malcolm Best
The charismatic, sharp-suited host of YouTube animated show ‘The Football Special’ is fast becoming an internet sensation with his witty, satirical observations on the current news and events in football. His rapport with a reluctant Arsene Wenger is one of the highlights of the show – the combination of Yorkshire grit and Gallic sophistication promises comedy every time.
Graeme Souness
Just as fearless and authoritative as he was a player, Souness has established himself as an integral part of Sky’s analysis team with his forthright and articulate opinions. Even more refreshingly, he tackles key issues and decisions head-on rather than avoiding them and is never afraid of upsetting someone. His vast experience both playing and managing at the highest level is always evident in his serious approach.
Alan Hansen
An elder statesman as football pundits go, he may forever be remembered for his dismissive attitude towards a certain group of youngsters managed by Alex Ferguson, but he remains the benchmark for current broadcasters in terms of his ease in front of the camera and longevity. Famed for his cynical attitude to modern defending, next season is reportedly his last as a BBC pundit, so enjoy him while you can, for he isn’t going to last long
Roy Keane
Just as he was the leader for any side he played for during his career, Keane has quickly established himself as the commanding presence of the ITV broadcast team. His first foray into punditry led to his departure from Man Utd following an explosive interview with MUTV which really should have given us a clue about what we were in for!  His stranglehold over Adrian Chiles, Lee Dixon and Gareth Southgate is often a joy to behold.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

blowUP media UK Boss Promoted to Group CEO

blowUP media UK Boss Promoted to Group CEO

Katrin Robertson Takes on Global Role

Today it was announced that Katrin Robertson, MD of blowUP media UK, has been promoted to Group CEO with immediate effect; taking over from Heinz Leuters, founder and now minority shareholder of blowUP media. This promotion follows a planned restructure by owners, Ströer Media AG, at blowUP media’s German head office.

Christian Schmalzl, executive board member at Ströer Media AG, explained ‘Katrin’s role had always encompassed an element of international work as she oversaw R&D, Marketing and European Sales for the Group as well as overseeing the UK office. This promotion gives her the chance to replicate her London success across all our international platforms.’

Robertson will also receive additional support from Nils Nerkamp who becomes CFO and Ernst Vos who will be taking over as CCO of the blowUP media Group.

Robertson, who has been with the agency since 1995, added ‘blowUP media has over 20 years’ expertise in large format, premium products. Having led the way in key European locations, especially London and Germany, we now have the opportunity to share this hard-won expertise with clients across all our markets. Equally, we want to feed our international knowledge back to clients where we feel it can help them with their advertising needs.’

Robertson concluded ‘As far as our UK clients are concerned, it will be business as usual – with the added benefit that our team will be able to offer them excellent market insight from a wider range of territories.’

For more information please contact Angharad Evans at ENS on 020 7934 9030 / Angharad@ensltd.com

Editor’s Note:  Hi-res images attached in email.   blowUP media, a Ströer Group company, specialises in large-scale outdoor advertising that ranges in size from 100 to 17,300 square meters. Its advertising spaces ensure that company statements and messages reach their target groups at prime locations in important European cities. Whether it is Berlin, London or Madrid, large-scale posters are an effective means of generating attention, and they have an unrivalled impact on the urban landscape. blowUP media manages approximately 300 locations, giving it the largest network of Giant Posters in Europe. The company has offices in 12 European towns and cities and is a competent business partner for advertisers and local authorities. Time and again, blowUP media’s award-winning projects set the standards for designing public spaces – one of our projects, The Longest Love-Letter In The World, has even made it into the Guinness Book of Records. More information is available at www.blowup-media.co.uk.

Premium Brand For Premium Advertising

Premium Brand For Premium Advertising
Marc Jacobs‘ Honey Perfume On Display in Birmingham

blowUP media today unveiled their latest outdoor digital campaign - Marc Jacobs‘ new Honey perfume. The new fragrance‘s bottle is a reimagining of Jacobs‘ Dot design, joining existing scents Daisy, Dot and Lola.

The fragrance will be promoted on blowUP media’s 61sqm Super Motion digital screen located on Birmingham High Street opposite the Bullring Shopping Centre. Targeting shoppers within the city centre, the site has an estimated footfall of 75,000 people per day.

Aimee Mckay, Sales Director of blowUP media UK says ‘This is an exciting campaign for our Super Motion site. The team at Marc Jacobs have come up with another strong creative concept that’s eye-catching and striking. That, combined with the sheer size and prime location of our Super Motion digital screen, has resulted in a stand-out campaign for them. It’s great to see brands like this opting to target city centre shoppers on our premium sites.‘

For more information please contact Angharad Evans at ENS on 020 7934 9030 / Angharad@ensltd.com

Editor’s Note:  Hi-res images attached in email.   blowUP media, a Ströer Group company, specialises in large-scale outdoor advertising that ranges in size from 100 to 17,300 square meters. Its advertising spaces ensure that company statements and messages reach their target groups at prime locations in important European cities. Whether it is Berlin, London or Madrid, large-scale posters are an effective means of generating attention, and they have an unrivalled impact on the urban landscape. blowUP media manages approximately 300 locations, giving it the largest network of Giant Posters in Europe. The company has offices in 12 European towns and cities and is a competent business partner for advertisers and local authorities. Time and again, blowUP media’s award-winning projects set the standards for designing public spaces – one of our projects, The Longest Love-Letter In The World, has even made it into the Guinness Book of Records. More information is available at www.blowup-media.co.uk.

Music Giant Uses Giant Poster Campaign to Launch Tour Sales

Music Giant Uses Giant Poster Campaign to Launch Tour Sales
Jay-Z’s Magna Carter Tour Tickets Launched via OOH Campaign

blowUP media today (19th July 2013) unveiled the Giant Poster campaign promoting Jay-Z’s hotly anticipated Magna Carter Tour.

The creative, which mirrors that of the star’s first UK number one album, has been tailored to detail specific tour dates and ticket sales information in London, Birmingham and Manchester. blowUP media has also used the campaign to launch one of its own media sites, McLaren House in Birmingham, which stands at 200sqm.

Aimee Mckay, Sales Director of blowUP media said: ‘blowUP media has once more  proven it can provide large-scale platforms for big names and events – and names don’t come much bigger that Jay-Z’s.  This tour means a lot to a huge number of fans so a big statement was needed. This is why the tour promoters used our inventory to build on fan anticipation as Giant Posters are a great way to maximize exposure ahead of this autumn’s tour.’  


For more information please contact Angharad Evans at ENS on 020 7934 9030 / Angharad@ensltd.com

Editor’s Note:  Hi-res images attached in email.   blowUP media, a Ströer Group company, specialises in large-scale outdoor advertising that ranges in size from 100 to 17,300 square meters. Its advertising spaces ensure that company statements and messages reach their target groups at prime locations in important European cities. Whether it is Berlin, London or Madrid, large-scale posters are an effective means of generating attention, and they have an unrivalled impact on the urban landscape. blowUP media manages approximately 300 locations, giving it the largest network of Giant Posters in Europe. The company has offices in 12 European towns and cities and is a competent business partner for advertisers and local authorities. Time and again, blowUP media’s award-winning projects set the standards for designing public spaces – one of our projects, The Longest Love-Letter In The World, has even made it into the Guinness Book of Records. More information is available at www.blowup-media.co.uk.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Why The Automotive Sector Can Still Benefit from Outdoor Advertising

From the very beginning, the motor car and outdoor advertising have been very closely connected. Indeed the development of modern Out Of Home advertising mirrors that of the automobile itself.
As the automobile became the predominant form of road transport, OOH advertising steadily evolved to meet the needs of a growing and increasingly sophisticated motoring audience. The construction of hundreds of miles of A-roads and later motorways provided unprecedented opportunities for automobile advertisers to reach out to thousands of drivers and passengers all over the country through large-scale billboard advertising.
Building brands
Car manufacturers were quick to recognise the importance of OOH advertising which was uniquely situated to reach out to their target audience. Early on in the 20th century, billboard advertising began to be extensively used for the purpose of brand building by automobile advertisers.
Despite the development of radio, television and more recently even internet advertising, OOH advertising remains as popular as ever with car manufacturers looking to build a brand or increase awareness. The abundance of billboards and poster advertising still to be found along most of Britain’s major roads proves that this simple but effective form of automotive advertising has endured the test of time. 
Modern automotive advertising
Just like the automobile industry which has been evolving since the introduction of Ford’s Model-T, OOH advertising has experienced constant innovation with changes in the materials being used, as well as technology developments such as digital screens. Automotive advertising has been quick to embrace these developments.
Nissan chose digital OOH advertising to generate awareness of the distinctive new limited edition Nissan Juke Kuro, a departure from other models in its class. The Urban Adventurers theme was selected to convey a constant brand message to the target market of brave, dynamic and adventurous men. It emphasised the ’cross over‘ nature of the vehicle – both a smart business and a sporty leisure car.
Nissan ran a 14 day campaign on blowUP Media’s high quality Super Motion digital screen in a busy central city area of Birmingham. The interest generated by this campaign contributed to what turned out to be Nissan’s most successful launch ever.

A growing number of automotive brands are starting to integrate OOH advertising into their wider press, TV and social media campaigns to reinforce the marketing message and increase campaign awareness to unprecedented levels. VW ran a three-stage campaign in 33 countries to introduce the VW Golf VII, combining poster advertising with online promotion and TV adverts. Great focus was put on online aspects and interactivity from the start of the campaign. A website was used to instigate lively discussions about the Golf Vll on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ 

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Sports PR Mistakes Part One

One of the oldest adages any sports public relations agency has to listen to is ‘surely, all publicity is good publicity’? It isn’t. There will be some advisors who disagree but very much like the stance of ‘see you in court’ in the opinion of ENS, it is a strategy of diminishing returns.

There is one type of good publicity, namely the sort that gets the message you wanted across – and many types of bad. Here are just a few examples of things that we regularly see

1.     Failing to understand why PR is required: We frequently receive sports PR briefs from prospective clients saying they ‘want PR’ but failing to say what PR needs to do achieve beyond ‘awareness’. We fully appreciate the power of awareness but it isn’t an end in itself. Establish exactly what is this awareness is to achieve and you are significantly further down the road of creating a sound campaign

2.     Not agreeing what success looks like: This can apply to any PR brief and is as much the fault of the agency as the client. Setting to work on an initiative without both sides understanding what constitutes success is ill-advised and usually results in disappointment all round. It is important for all parties to know what the client is looking to achieve and, not least of all, what level and type of coverage is going to make them happy. This includes both traditional PR and online public relations.

We once won a piece of business where the client required public relations support and challenged us to bring an new idea to every meeting; after six months not only did the client look a bit awkward every time we talked through the ‘idea of the month’ not one idea was adopted. We asked the client what the problem was – bad ideas? Lack of budget? Wrong strategy? Nope, the client looked sheepish and explained that ‘We only want trade PR really but one of the Directors involved in the pitch gets excited about really creative consumer PR. We only threw in that challenge to appease him and never thought any agency would ever follow up on it.’

3.     Celebrity at any cost: Undoubtedly a relevant celebrity can help your message get cut through – but choose them with care, especially when it comes to sport PR. Make sure you have the celebrity confirmed before you talk to journalists, it is a sure-fire way to incur their wrath if you promise them Brian O’Driscoll the deliver Brian Dowling, Similarly any personality who fronts a lot of campaigns may guarantee you a slot in the Mail Online, but consider whether the feature is as likely to be remembered for the celeb as the product, service or cause they are promoting.

Latest Innovative Uses Of Poster Advertising

Over the years  Out Of Home advertising has been steadily evolving to meet the needs of an increasingly sophisticated target audience. Ongoing innovation in the OOH advertising sector has resulted in  improved mechanical components and changes in the materials being used which allowed increase in the maximum achievable size of poster and billboard advertising.
Poster advertising has always been popular with brands because it gives them the opportunity to enhance the visability of their campaign images through use of a large format display medium without diluting the brand message.
Advertisers know that strategically placed posters guarantee substantial exposure for relatively little investment, which makes this form of advertising very cost-effective. Unlike other forms of advertising, demand for poster advertising has therefore not only been sustained through the recession but is actually increasing.
This is ramping up competition in the OOH sector and fuelling developments that continue to drive poster advertising to new heights, as can be seen in the following examples.
Physical interaction
Trendy footwear brand Converse recently launched a unique three-day OOH campaign in the heart of one of London’s coolest districts, Shoreditch. Four Giant Posters were unveiled on Old Street, Brick Lane and Great Eastern Street as an integral part of Converse’s Shoes Are Boring Wear Sneakers campaign.
Following the unveiling, artists were brought in by the brand to transform the Old Street poster. The large poster size was vital as it allowed the artists to create a huige traffic-stopping work of art in the trendiest of urban areas.
The edgy look of the ‘punked’ poster blended perfectly into the trendy Shoreditch landscape. Converse’s aim was to create a buzz and they certainly succeeded. The locals loved the new artwork and the Converse campaign became a talking point in its own right.

Integration with other channels
Poster advertising can be used to bridge the gap between a brand’s digital channels and its large-scale advertising by providing calls to action such as visiting a website, calling a helpline or liking a Facebook page. This is done so big names can build a brand through big advertising campaigns.

A good example of the integration of poster advertising with other components of the marketing mix is the campaign for the launch of the VW Golf VII. This combined poster advertising with online promotion and TV adverts to great effect. Great focus was put on online aspects and interactivity from the start of the campaign and poster advertising was used to drive traffic to the campaign website which in turn instigated discussion on various forms of social media.  

How to Recruit and Manage Volunteers Successfully – Case Study

Enthusiastic volunteers are essential for the successful running of any major event. However recruiting, training and managing volunteers is far from a simple process.

Young people and the unemployed often use volunteering to learn new skills and gain experience in the hope that it may lead to employment and new careers. Others may see volunteering as a means of meeting new friends or making a valuable contribution to society. In order to gain maximum benefit from volunteers, organisations need to have an employee scheduling software in place to ensure their volunteers carry out their duties efficiently and have a worthwhile experience.
This case study illustrates how workforce management software was used in the recruitment, training and management of a large volunteer team to produce considerable savings in time and money.
CASE STUDY - ICC Champions Trophy 2013
The ICC Champions Trophy 2013, an elite cricket event for the top eight nations in the Reliance ICC ODI Rankings, took place over 18 days in three venues – The Oval, Edgbaston and The Cardiff Wales Stadium. 800 volunteers were needed to carry out vital roles in customer services, operational support and media operations. 
With only a small staff team at their disposal, the ICCCT 2013 organising committee recognised that in order to recruit, interview, train and manage volunteers effectively, a customised workforce management system would be required.
The solution was provided by Get Scheduled, who added a purpose-built dynamic online registration form for capturing of extensive application data to their basic professional workforce management system. This ensured consistency of response and enabled recruiters to sort and review applications easily. Prospective volunteers with the relevant skills and experience were quickly identified and selected for interview. Inbuilt communication tools enabled the recruitment team to notify all successful applicants of interview times and allocate training so they could process candidates in the shortest time.
Management could see the progress of applications at each venue via a full tracking facility and adjust communication strategies accordingly.
Once recruited, the dedicated private User Portal function allowed volunteers to access vital shift details, contact information, venue maps etc online.  It also enabled Venue Managers to ‘check-in’ volunteers at the start of their shift and record absences.

In addition to the clear financial return-on-investment gained from recruitment and employee scheduling operational efficiencies, Get Scheduled helped ensure a great volunteer experience. Keeping volunteers engaged and informed about work periods and crucial event information increased the likelihood of future participation in other events.

How to Manage Agency and Other Temporary Staff More Efficiently

The workplace as we know it has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. With cost cutting and adaptability being crucial for survival, more and more companies are turning to the use of temporary workers at all levels to meet their staffing needs.
Flexible work arrangements are also becoming increasingly popular with employees, especially parents, who are seeking a better work-life balance. Temporary work is one of the best ways that businesses can offer flexibility to their workforce and at the same time meet their own needs so they can compete more effectively in today's challenging market place. As a result, the UK workforce now has a higher proportion of temporary and interim workers than ever before.

Hiring temp workers makes good business sense as it is generally more cost-efficient than hiring permanent employees with benefits in the short term.  It also avoids the financial and potential legal costs involved in making permanent staff redundant in a downturn.  

Temporary staff agencies

Recruiting and managing teams of temporary workers is easier said than done, which is why many organisations rely on agencies to supply them with temporary and interim staff. This saves time and administrative costs as the agency is effectively the employer and therefore responsible for recruiting, screening and hiring workers; payroll and withholding taxes; holiday pay any other employee benefits.
Nevertheless agencies charge a premium for their services and the added cost may outweigh the financial benefits of using temps. To reduce staffing costs many larger organisations have their own staff banks and effectively run their own internal “temp agency”.  However this generates new administrative and operational challenges which create additional demands on managers.  

Specifically designed temp management software

The eective use of workforce management software is essential for maintaining control over `temporary workers, whether as an in-house function which replicates an agency model or in conjunction with a temp agency.
Employee scheduling software is available that can streamline the in-house recruitment process and ensure that temporary workers are qualified, trustworthy and fit for the role they are being hired to do. The latest versions can also help operations managers adhere to the Agency Workers Directive which came into force in 2011.
Those responsible for managing in-house staff banks need flexible and customisable employee scheduling software that can handle all the technical, administration and communication aspects of in-house recruitment as well as every aspect of workforce management. These include:  
·         Assigning workers to temporary positions and monitoring their progress
·         Multiple timesheet processing
·         Online timesheet entry and remote record checking
·         Payroll integration with support for various candidate payment methods e.g. PAYE, Ltd Company etc

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Building Wraps Have Advertising Wrapped Up

As traditional press and TV advertising is beginning to lose the hold it once had on consumers, brands have to  come up with increasingly innovative  ways to attract the attention of potential customers. This has resulted in renewed interest in Out Of Home advertising. As the ultimate OOH format, building wrap advertising is currently experiencing a boom.

What is a building wrap?

A building wrap is the largest type of outdoor advertising which covers at least one side of a building, and may sometimes even envelop an entire building in exterior or window graphics. Depending on the intended usage, building wraps can be made from translucent materials such as one way vision film, PVC or a lightweight mesh.  Most building wraps in UK are printed on PVC mesh which is available in rolls up to 5m wide. After printing individual panels are joined together as required to produce the finished building wrap.
Building wrap advantages

Because of its prominence and high visibility, a building wrap can be one of the most effective forms of big advertising. The sheer size makes it impossible to ignore – it grabs the attention and captures the interest of everyone who catches sight of it, even from a distance.
Whether applied as a permanent decoration or intended as a temporary installation, perhaps to promote a product launch or event, a building wrap is capable of transforming a plain brick wall or concrete surface into an edgy and dramatic modern art form which displays a bold advertising message for all to see.

Main uses
Building wraps are highly versatile and lend themselves to many applications:

Advertising – The sheer size of a building wrap captures the attention of passers-by, creating awareness and reinforcing the marketing message. Studies show the high impact of a building wrap produces very cost effective results. This is why building wraps are now widely employed by most advertising agencies. Major brands are also aware of the unrivalled efectiveness of a building wrap. John Lewis, sponsors of the 2012 Olympics, famously wrapped their flagship Oxford Street store in graphics depicting the Union flag during the Games to proclaim their support for British athletes. This was a memorable campaign that helped build a brand.

Aesthetics – The eye-catching designs in vibrant colours typically found on a building wrap will enhance the appearance of any building it is displayed on and can even be used to disguise ugly scaffolding.

Information – Applying a building wrap to scaffolding around new-build sites or to the façade of a building that is being renovated can be used to provide passers- by with an impression of what the finished building will look like. This will generate interest in the building project and increase sales or rentals when the construction work is completed.

How Employee Scheduling Software Helps Control Labour Costs

Following the downturn in the economy, the workplace has undergone immense and rapid changes in recent years.  The pressure to compete effectively has compelled many companies to make drastic cuts in their operational costs in order to remain viable.

Nowhere has this been more strongly felt than in the management of human resources, as companies strive to reduce labour costs that in most cases account for their greatest expenditure. This has placed huge demands on operations managers, particularly with regards to workforce management, as they struggle to get more work done with fewer staff.

Fortunately, a solution is available to hard-pressed operations managers responsible for employee scheduling in the form of the latest workforce management software.

Advantages of workforce management software

Today’s employee scheduling software has been specifically designed to meet the needs of all kinds of organisations, both large and small. Making the decision to invest in such cloud-based workforce management systems can be of immense benefit to operations managers as it enables them to:

·         Eliminate the time-consuming hassle of manual employee scheduling and the problems associated with it, leaving managers free to engage in value-added activities.  Instead of being tied down in the day-to-day processes of scheduling, amending or cancelling shifts, planning holiday cover etc., managers can focus on strategic planning that increases productivity and puts money back into the business.

·         Reduce labour costs and control expenditure on overtime by providing real-time visibility on staffing cost variables such as overtime hours, plant utilisation rates, etc. Managers will have real insight into the cost implications of any proposed work schedule prior to those hours being expended.

·         Turn workforce management into a competitive differentiator that enables jobs to be allocated quicker. This will give any organisation the edge over competitors who do not make full use of workforce management software systems.

·         Improve customer service and satisfaction by keeping track of staff in real time and ensuring that employees assigned to a particular task always have the right skills and qualifications.

·         Make predictive human resources forecasts by utilising real time reports and metrics about staffing levels, labour costs and attendance across any time range. This will improve accuracy in budgeting.

·         Improve staff recruitment and retention by enhancing communication with employees and giving them more flexibility and control over their schedules, including annual leave requests.

·         Integrate time tracking and attendance data to make payroll calculations and client billing easier.

How To Take the Hassle Out Of Managing Shift Workers

The economic downturn has caused many companies to rethink the way they operate. Many have had to make dramatic reductions in overheads in order to remain viable. One way of achieving this is by introducing shift work as an alternative to costly overtime. This significantly increases the use that can be made of capital equipment and results in up to three times the production compared to a normal single day shift.
Initially used mainly in heavy industry and manufacturing, shift work is becoming increasingly common in other sectors where shutting down machinery would involve an extensive restart process.  A good example is food manufacturing plants which have to undergo extensive cleaning every time before they can start food production.

New challenges

For many companies, the pressure to compete effectively has led to increased use of shift work to get the maximum output from their workforce. This has created enormous challenges for operations managers, particularly with regards to workforce management and employee scheduling.
One key responsibility for operations departments is to keep a tight control on administration costs, which can be quite a hefty task. With so many positions and skill requirements to meet, there is no room for error especially when dealing with hundreds or even thousands of workers operating 24/7 and covering hundreds of shifts.    
To guarantee optimal staff deployment, a number of factors have to be integrated into the workforce management procedure. Key data must be taken into consideration including wages, staffing requirements, skills, staff availability, holidays, peak workloads and budget allowances.
Financial management and analysis is vital for controlling staffing costs.  Accurate financial modelling of proposed shift patterns and associated budgets is vital for shift workers to be deployed effectively. Operations managers also need to monitor individual, shift and position remuneration rates in order to keep a tight rein on labour costs.

Use of employee scheduling software

Effective shift workforce management involves assigning the right employees with the right skills to the right job for every shift. Eective use of workforce management software is the key to achieving this and keeping tight control on labour costs.
Employee scheduling software often features Scheduling Conflict Verification to eliminate error and highlight potential problems with operations. Many programmes provide communication via automated notifications or specific correspondence to individuals and groups and some even offer the facility for remote check-in/out via smartphone, PC or even SMS.

Installing a self-service User Portal will allow shift workers to check their own shifts from a computer, smartphone or tablet 24/7, so they know exactly when they should be on duty. It also allows employees to advise scheduling managers of their availability, accept assignments and update their own personal work rota.