Businesses in many industries run multiple shifts, including healthcare, manufacturing, restaurants, retail stores and much more. The operations are usually fast-paced and do not tolerate work stoppages very well. However, things happen, and shift supervisors need to deal with these issues, document them, and share updates with their management or business owners, as well as other shift supervisors.
Effective record keeping and seamless communications are essential to maintaining a consistent, profitable operation. Failure to log and communicate what happens during every shift can lead to staffing and personnel problems, maintenance challenges, and poor customer experiences, ultimately resulting in a loss of reputation and revenue.
On any given day, many things could happen that might impact your operations. An employee calls in sick or falls ill during work. A piece of equipment breaks down. A customer has a great experience and compliments one of your staff, or has a bad experience and complains. A shift worker gets into a fight, is caught stealing, or otherwise requires discipline. All of these events need to be documented and shared with other shift leaders, as well as, business managers and owners. Shift information is often recorded in a shift logbook and used to improve business operations, retain excellent employees, and provide protection from lawsuits.
Large enterprises tend to use logbook software that is embedded in large, complex, and expensive environments, such as an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system; but, what about smaller operations that can't afford to purchase and operate a solution meant for bigger businesses? The answer for SMB shift supervisors and corporate management has been a 3-ring binder and clipboard. Legible handwriting was a key qualification for promotion to supervisor; however, that is now changing with the availability of affordable, easy-to-use logbook software that is adaptable with a smartphone, tablet or laptop.
Easily document everything that happens during your shift into your logbook software portal, and share it with your peers and managers. Access a secure digital record of employee performance and record information about accidents, equipment problems, and repairs. Maintain an easy-to-access contact list of employees, suppliers, maintenance services and emergency contacts in your logbook software, and track schedules, vacations, absences, and events - all without picking up a pen!
The ten attributes that an effective logbook software solution for small and medium business operations should include are listed below!
Shift supervisors do not have time for long training classes and tedious data entry. The interface of a digital logbook should be clean, intuitive, and fast. Management wants to input and access data as they are doing their jobs, as events occur, and not as an activity at the end of the shift when most of what has happened could be forgotten.
Management should be able to see the notations left by the previous shift supervisors to learn what problems were not resolved, what normal tasks were not completed, and which employees were given commendation or discipline. Role-based access controls should assure that each person can only view and enter data they are entitled to, and the logbook software data should be encrypted.
Store managers and owners should also have access to reports and dashboards to assess the effectiveness of the operation, across multiple locations, and chart trends to enable continuous improvement.
Set and track employee goals, record accomplishments and document incidents, illness, accidents and disciplinary actions as they occur. Securely store this data in the cloud to document defensible compliance with local and national employment regulations.
Customers have all the power to make or break your business through social media and customer feedback sites such as Yelp. Use your logbook software to record customer interactions immediately so that you can take corrective action right away or respond intelligently when a negative comment is posted.
No two businesses are the same. Your logbook software should recognize this and allow for customization of the interface and functionality to meet your specific business needs.
Easily manage employee schedules, availability, and preferences. Note special events, such as retail sales campaigns, large parties in your restaurant, or planned maintenance activities. Print the calendar to post on your bulletin board for viewing by your workers.
Be prepared to call employees if they are needed to fill in, or to contact suppliers or maintenance services. Know who to call for an emergency, again right from your smartphone, tablet or PC.
Share what’s going on in the business with other users, through instant messaging.
Larger businesses have to pay for specific hardware systems, software licenses, and maintenance fees, as well as handle periodic upgrades and bug fixes. Your shift management logbook software should be available as a pay-as-you-grow service, that is an operational expense, like electricity, rather than the capital expense that large companies are stuck with.
There is usually a lot going on during shift operations, and it is critical to effectively record and communicate activities and incidents with others in the management team to avoid having problems get worse over time. You want to let the next shift leader know that your shift was not able to prep their stations for the next shift, or that there is a broken tile that may cause an injury, or that you had to discipline an employee that may work across shifts.
Daily logbooks have been the preferred method to record and communicate what happens during each shift for decades. Large enterprises have been able to incorporate this critical function into their larger operational systems, albeit at a high cost.
In the digital age of smartphone apps and cloud-based storage, affordable, easy-to-use logbook software is available to businesses of all sizes. Small businesses can now experience the same benefits large organizations have enjoyed with digital solutions, but without the large investments in equipment and time. A digital logbook that functions as a task manager allows users to manage shift operations at a single location or thousands of locations.
If you are still hesitant about implementing logbook software in your business, even though it also functions as a task management software solution and task manager app, check out our article on the "10 Ways Task Management Software Will Transform Your Business," which is also on the Hubworks Blog.