Tahiana Jefferis on how the implementation of a new SAP system has helped improve the productivity of her council’s remote workers.
Surrey County Council employs over 30,000 members of staff. Its workforce spans services including schools, libraries, social care, trading standards, fire and rescue, public health, highways, the voluntary sector and economic development. Due to nature of the different roles, a considerable number of employees work ‘out on the field’ and rarely need to go into the council’s office.
In recent years Surrey County Council has implemented an award-winning Modern Worker Programme to improve efficiencies through up-to-date, flexible and future-proof technologies across the Council. As part of this initiative, Surrey wanted to implement new technology to improve the productivity of key business tasks for its mobile employees.
The business challenge
For day-to-day admin tasks, such as expense submissions and approvals and leave requests and approvals, Surrey County Council relied on self-service and/or paper forms, both of which were only accessible from the Council’s office. This was often problematic for Surrey’s 4,000+ employees who work off-site. On a regular basis, remote workers had to make a trip to the Council’s office simply to complete these administrative tasks, irrespective of their schedule or where they were based.
Surrey therefore wanted to implement new technology which would improve efficiencies for remote workers, and enable to complete such tasks remotely.
Surrey County Council, who was already using SAP, engaged Bluefin Solutions to help them implement SAP Fiori. The apps enable business tasks to be completed anytime and anywhere. Users benefit from a simplified process and a consistent experience across multiple devices, which ultimately boosts productivity so employees can spend more time focusing on their key task of supporting residents.
Three apps were developed and implemented which would enable remote workers to complete and submit forms directly from their desktop, tablet or smartphone devices. These were:
1. Travel expenses request. This enables employees to remotely create, change, and submit expense requests, capture receipts using a device camera, itemise receipts and manage multi-destination expense reports. At this time, no other council had implemented this app
2. Approve travel expenses. This allows managers to review and approve employees’ travel expenses whenever required and wherever they are. The app provides details on each receipt removing the need for manual checks to be made
3. Approve leave requests. This enables managers to approve or reject leave requests from any device. Key information for the approval decision is clearly provided, including a warning that shows overlapping leave requests
The project was completed ahead of the eight week schedule and so a fourth app was developed and is in the process of being implemented. The forth app is:
4. My leave requests. This allows employees to create and submit leave requests, track the status of their requests and view their current leave balance anytime, from anywhere. Leave requests can be easily changed and withdrawn and a note can be left for the approver. The Bluefin team also spent time customising the terminology within the application, to make sure it met Surrey’s specific needs.
The business benefits
The implementation of the four SAP Fiori applications has resulted in a number of benefits for Surrey County Council:
- Improved time and productivity efficiencies. Because remote workers no longer have to travel to the office on a regular basis, their time in the field is maximised. By collectively saving as little as one hour a week across 200 social care workers, for example, the council can potentially gain an additional 200 hours to be spent serving the community need
- Improved process efficiency. Processes for submitting and approving leave and expenses have been significantly improved. Furthermore, because travel and expense claim information is now submitted and stored electronically, auditability is simplified. All of this supports the council’s Modern Worker Programme
- Training and knowledge transfer. Surrey County Council is now equipped with the knowledge and skills to implement additional SAP Fiori apps in the future. The Council has therefore not only gained skills, but also made important future financial savings.
We now have technology that will make our remote workers’ lives so much easier and provide efficiency savings directly to the council. We are very proud to be the first council to implement the SAP Fiori Travel Expenses Request app. There was understandably a degree of anxiety as to whether they would provide efficiencies across the board. However, we were quickly able to prove the efficiency and cost benefits of the apps, not just for us but also for other UK councils.
More importantly, we now have the skill-sets in-house to easily and cost-effectively implement additional SAP Fiori apps in the future.
Surrey County Council is now intending to implement additional SAP Fiori apps with the aim of simplifying user processes for business tasks, and boosting efficiency across the workforce.
Tahiana Jefferis is SAP Manger at Surrey County Council