For those of you who have not been following my posts, for the previous couple of weeks, I’ve been writing about process improvement and their enforcement. In my last post I spoke about using automation to delegate routine tasks to a machine, leaving managers and employees free to concentrate other aspects of the business.

I also mentioned that apart from automation companies should also make use of a second solution in tandem with automation and that is monitoring.

Monitoring, is the collection of data from technology related sources which data is then computed and processed to produce information with the purpose of detecting anomalies, improve, enforce as well as automate processes.

Monitoring tools can collect varied data, from the number of visits to your webpage, to the temperature of a fridge.  A good monitoring tool can monitor your IT systems, and collect data to determine whether SLA’s are being reached. Monitoring tools, when implemented properly can  help achieve significant cost and waste reductions.

One particular logistics company saved itself thousands of dollars in fuel when they started to monitor the data derived from the trucks GPS systems. The company could be immediately alerted when their trucks deviated from their route. Using monitoring tools also permits the formation of trends which are usually provided by the monitoring tool itself. In the above scenario the company noticed that on Tuesdays trucks took longer to arrive than normal even though they followed the same route. An investigation resulted that the regular route was more heavily congested with other traffic on particular days due to a regular event in the area. A different route was devised to be followed on such days which permitted the trucks to arrive at the allotted time to the same destination.

Monitoring tools can gather data from separate sources and be set-up to relate this data together. This allows us to identify problems which would otherwise go unnoticed. In the logistics company example the monitoring tool would be collecting data not only from the GPS but also from the truck’s ECU, monitoring fuel and oil levels, from the employee’s punch clock and a number of other systems. The monitoring tool can provide reports collating the data from the different sources into useful reports. Without such tools, it might be next to impossible to notice that  there is higher fuel consumption when the combination of a particular route and driver occurs. With a good monitoring tool such an occurrence would come to light to be properly investigated.

I’ve have purposely used a logistics company as an example as most people associate monitoring with the monitoring of traffic to web sites. However the uses of monitoring are infinitely wider than simple website traffic.

The ability to collect and collate data from multiple sources across a company opens doors for process automation which would have not been possible otherwise. I believe that this is a topic best explained by examples and hence I shall provide another scenario.

Most companies have a policy that requires all employees to punch in an out whenever they enter or exit the building for health and safety reasons. Imagine if a monitoring tool could collect and correlate data from the punch clock and from the system the records whether an employee is sick or on vacation. Should an employee forget to punch in, and there is no vacation or sick register in the Human Resourcing system by 10am, the monitoring tool could send an email notification to the manager in charge of the Health and Safety process. This would permit the  manager to remind the employee of the need to punch in and out keeping the workplace safe and secure. Without such systems, it would be a lengthier and more laborious task to identify such instances.

As one can see monitoring can help the enforcement of processes by flagging anomalies to the attention of the responsible person to action. This could also translate into lower costs, reduced wastage as well as increased control over the business.

 

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