Usage Profile Series: The Production Usage Profile
The concept of a Usage Profile was introduced in this post on September 19, 2016. This series of articles will describe 8 role-based Usage Profiles plus a Foundational Usage Profile. These profiles cover well over 90% of all employee and contractor roles in the U.S., across all industries. Each Usage Profile article will describe:
- The primary type of work done by people in the Usage Profile
- The vertical industry segments where the Usage Profile occurs
- The metrics for workers in the Profile
- How the Profile is unique
- How workers in the Profile communicate
- The technologies and tools used by workers in the Profile, currently and evolving to the future
This post considers the sixth Usage Profile, Production Workers.
Usage Profile 6: Production Workers
What Production Workers Do
Production Workers engage in the stream of activities that provides an organization’s products or services. Many of these roles have physical aspects such as assembly, crafting, inventory handling, labs and quality testing, food preparation, farming, fishing, product delivery, facilities maintenance, housekeeping, etc. Other roles deliver services to customers or citizens as healthcare and personal care. Still others manage production tools or facilities, such as networks, servers and software.
In most of these roles, work is done according to procedures and standards to ensure a uniform product or service. In many industry sectors, procedures and standards must be followed to assure product quality and safety and comply with applicable industry, local, state, or federal regulations.
Many Production Worker activities are associated with application software specific to the task, such as production software in manufacturing, route management software in transportation, electronic health record (EHR) software in healthcare, or food service order processing software for food production. In most cases, the communication activities of the Production Worker Usage Profile are textual or numeric and are built into the production application software.
Some Production Worker roles require interpersonal communication among the Production Worker personnel. For example, an inpatient healthcare provider may need a physician’s order to adjust a patient’s medication. Such interpersonal communications are usually very structured and must be logged as part of the production process. In many cases, these communications can be accomplished with text-based messaging within the production software application (such as the EHR). When real-time communication is required, the preferred procedure is to initiate the communication from within the production application software so that the best available person can be found to respond immediately or as quickly as possible.
Production Workers are non-exempt, and are eligible for overtime, so will work specifically scheduled hours.
Production Worker Titles and Industries
Analysis of U.S. employment by occupation in 20151 shows that Production Workers represented almost half of all employment at 73.3 million workers (48.6% of employment). This is not surprising since these Production Workers generate most of the value the enterprise delivers to customers, clients, or citizens. Field Workers, Information Processing Workers and Retail Workers supplement and support the value created by Production Workers.
Production Workers have titles specific to their vertical industry, such as:
|Industry Vertical||Production Worker Titles|
|All Industry Verticals||IT Operator, Facilities Maintenance, Security Guard|
|Manufacturing||Machine Operator, Production Staff, Driver, Warehouse Staff|
|Distribution/Retail||Warehouse Staff, Stock Clerk, Packer/Shipper, Loader, Driver|
|Transportation||Driver, Loader, Vehicle Maintenance Technician|
|Healthcare||Care Provider, Resident Physician, Nurse, Medical Assistant, Housekeeping, Food Service|
|Education||Instructor, Housekeeping, Food Service|
|Arts/Entertainment||Entertainer, Artist, Producer, Production Staff|
|Hospitality/Food Services||Housekeeping, Food Preparer, Reception, Bell Man, Concierge|
|Government||Facility Maintenance, Security, Welfare or Home Care Worker|
Production Worker Metrics
Many Production Workers are measured by units of output and the quality of that output, especially those with a specific product such as manufacturing production teams, food service preparers, and housekeeping. Others are measured by some shift-based production such as routes driven or buildings maintained or secured. Almost all Production Workers are measured by the quality of their work using factors such as minimizing the level of waste, minimizing the number of security incidents, optimizing delivery time, and similar metrics. Some Production Workers must meet schedule deadlines. For example, food service workers have to deliver products and services within specific hours. IT operations people and express delivery drivers have to meet service level agreements (SLAs). Further, there may be feedback from the ultimate consumer of the product or service provided by customer surveys or reviews of product returns.
Production Worker payroll and benefit costs are usually charged to the cost of goods in the financial reports of a private-sector company. If the cost of goods can be reduced, gross margins and profitability will increase.
How the Production Worker Usage Profile Is Unique
Generally, Production Workers Usage Profile activities and communications are:
- Transaction-Oriented: Production Workers execute specific tasks in a transactional manner. In some cases, such as patient care, the tasks may have variations based on the observed situation, but they are still specific transactional tasks that follow a procedure such as a patient treatment plan.
- Defined Processes or Workflows: Production Worker tasks are almost always defined procedures to assure that the results are safe, secure, consistent, high-quality, and compliant with company policies and industry or governmental regulations. In many cases, these processes or workflows are defined, documented and/or tracked in an associated application software package.
- Workstation-, Work Zone-, or Vehicle-Based: Production Workers usually have an assigned workstation, work zone, or vehicle where they perform their tasks. Production Workers seldom have an assigned desk and therefore seldom have an assigned telephone.
- Wireless Communications, often Radio-based: Since Production Workers are at workstations or in work zones or on vehicles, their communications usually occur via wireless networks.
In many cases, communications are accomplished via the relevant application software package, such as when patient care providers update observations or test results or when route drivers post their deliveries. When voice or video communications are needed, these may occur via voice/video over Internet Protocol (VoIP) on a Wi-Fi, cellular, or other radio-based network. They may also take place via specialized radio-based devices such as DECT handsets or public service radio networks. Production Worker task-based communications seldom occur on a PBX system, though there may be voice gateways or connections between the Production Worker communications devices and the company PBX for certain purposes.
How Production Workers Communicate
As described above, Production Workers communicate in two ways for production tasks and their general employee-based communications:
- Via the application software that is used for their production tasks, workflows or processes. This will be the most efficient method and has the advantage of documenting the communications that occur in the process. Exceptions can be managed via text-based communications (IM, SMS, or other messaging) or via a software-based communications client (softphone) built into the application package.
- Via wireless communication end-points, whether on-premises via DECT, Wi-Fi, or radio or off-premises via cellular or radio systems. In some specific or exception cases, the Production Worker may use an available PBX voice station, such as a housekeeping Production Worker in the hospitality industry using a room phone to report room readiness, or a Production Worker in a production zone using a telephone available to all workers in that zone.
Note that in neither of these two cases does the Production Worker require a PBX-based telephone number nor a PBX user license. The Production Worker will need a voice messaging or unified messaging account for calls that arrive while the Production Worker is working or when off-shift and not available for calls. However, a caller can access the Production Worker’s voice messaging or unified messaging account via mailbox number entry, spell-by-name, or speech recognition.
Employee-based communications will usually occur in an employee common area or break area where shared telephones can be used for calls to internal departments or to check voice messages. Shared PCs are also available for Production Workers to check email or to use websites for employee information or transactions (e.g., a benefit status update). These shared communications tools are included in the Foundational Usage Profile.
The Production Worker supervisor, manager, or team leader may work at a desk and have a Usage Profile similar to an Information Processing Worker or Manager, depending on the scope of the leader’s responsibilities. In such cases, support that leader with the appropriate Usage Profile communications.
Production Worker Directions for the Future
Communications for Production Workers will continue to be part of the application software used by the Production Worker. Application-based communications may become more automated, such as with video observation of production activity, diagnostics, GPS tracking, near field communications (NFC), and Internet-of-Things (IoT) enhancements. These trends will further reduce the need for voice communications for the Production Worker. The use of general purpose voice phones in work zones may continue, but at a diminished level.
On the other hand, the use of break area or common area communications will continue and likely even increase. The break area or common area communications may be enhanced with more integration of communications into the organization’s web pages and employee portals, perhaps with social networking pages in addition to email and voice mail, with video kiosks or cubicles, more interactive video-centric training (as bandwidth costs to production or field locations decline), and perhaps with optional mobile apps. Of course, these solutions, especially the mobile apps, would need to be provided for Production Workers at no additional cost during their work hours; use of apps and portals may be allowed outside of work hours for employee-related personal use such as review of benefits, savings plans, etc.
As with several other Usage Profiles, communications for the Production Worker Usage Profile will increasingly be integrated with or unified with the application software packages that manage production activities.
Production Workers comprise the largest category of employees overall and in most industry vertical groups. In the Production Worker Usage Profile, more than any other, communication activities must be understood as steps in the production process. Methodologies for process improvement, such as the LEAN methodology in the Manufacturing industry, can be applied to optimize those communications. In many cases, the best optimization will be to eliminate the communication entirely through automation or monitoring of the production process. In other cases where human interaction is required, the communications can be initiated from and logged by the application software package used in that production process.
Because of this evolution, Production Workers will move away from traditional communications tools such as the enterprise PBX system. However, the communications services for Production Workers should be made very visible to the IT Architects and IT Application departments so that the job-related communications needs of Production Workers will always be included in the continual improvement of the production applications deployed in the enterprise, in the on-going functional roadmap discussions, and in negotiations with the vendors of those production applications.
For the Production Worker Usage Profile, focus on the roles of the Production Workers within the production processes and workflows in order to understand their need for communications technologies and to optimize communications solutions. Keep in mind that the best evolution of current communications by Production Workers may be to eliminate those communication steps entirely through software-based workflow automation.
1US Bureau of Labor Statistics Table 11b. http://www.bls.gov/cps/tables.htm#charemp.
Also on UCStrategies.com in this series: