One of the most important issues related to RFID projects is often also the most ignored one – the impacts of the new technology on the personnel. If not dealt with correctly it causes fear and change resistance.
A positive attitude, sufficient information and thorough
training of the personnel are essential for achieving a successful
implementation that all parties take to heart. Books and guides do
provide hands-on tips and instructions for the RFID project
management, but they seem to concentrate on technical matters and
financial issues. The guides and manuals often refer to the
personnel with terms such as "reduced labor costs" or "better
customer service". What seems to be missing is the awareness
of the fact that the personnel will need time to prepare, training
and support during the RFID project.
Straightforward information from the
Implementing new technology in supply chain operations may
generate change resistance and an inevitable need for training. It
all starts when the employees hear rumors about something new and
"magnificent" emerging around the corner. Don't leave them hanging
with rumors. At this point the proper and correct information
should already have been given to the personnel. Make sure they
hear it from you.
The employees should be formally informed about the RFID
adoption process at an early stage. But, make sure the project, its
steps and phases are planned and gone-through properly beforehand.
That way drawbacks and changes in the project are not as probable
as in the earlier phases. And, following the plans without too many
changes creates trust among the employees.
By informing in time, the worst rumors wandering around the
large stores can be avoided since everyone is aware of what will be
coming and the biggest doubts are already solved.
Overcoming fear of new
The biggest fear among the personnel in an RFID project is
perhaps the new technology. Shops and supply chains are full of
people who are not very familiar with or keen on learning new
technologies. Therefore, the benefits of RFID must be heavily
emphasized in a way so that everyone will realize how RFID will
affect their own work as well as how the retail chain will benefit
from the changes. For instance, magic words such as "no O-O-S" and
"inventory in 10 minutes" will be lucrative, since that means less
angry or disappointed customers and less heavy work load. Bear in
mind that the most important thing to emphasize to the employees is
THEIR role in this: an honest explanation about how the adoption of
RFID will create new (and better) arrangements in the work flow and
how it will make their jobs easier. The personnel will start
longing for the new technology although it will require learning a
new system at the beginning.
When adopting RFID in stores it's possible that there will be
multiple changes at once, such as; new fixed readers with tablet
applications, handheld terminals, new back-end system with new
interfaces on computers and changes in the cash register
operations. Considering the complexity of the affected tasks and
how time-consuming they have been up until now, there is definitely
call for proper training for the new system. Quick manuals are not
enough even though they are useful in situations where "one thing"
needs to be checked while a customer is waiting. Proper
teacher-pupil training does the trick and allows the employees to
ask questions and give feedback while they're learning. Make
sure everybody is following and that nobody is left behind. The
feeling of being lost, especially if everybody else seems to get
it, creates fear and a dislike for the system. And all it takes is
one bad apple to ruin the lot.
Proper training is also a good way for the teacher and the
pupils to discover problems or bugs in the system. There might be
tags that don't work, bugs in handheld terminal interfaces or
something wrong with the connections. The threshold for personnel
to report possible errors after the system is implemented must be
low since errors should be solved as quickly as possible. The
employees need to be sure that they can use the equipment properly
in order to find the courage and self-confidence to question it
when something seems wrong. When the personnel are allowed to be a
part of the development and the solution, they will automatically
take the system to their hearts and feel responsible for how it
Happy personnel - happy
RFID has a role in inventories, product search, fitting rooms
and kiosk applications and at point of sale. And it doesn't stop
there. RFID is also a part of the procedures for incoming goods,
tagging of goods, and handling of returned items and product
transfers. Since RFID permeates almost all processes in the
company, the changes in every day work tasks are remarkable.
Therefore the employees should be given enough time and support to
learn all the new in order to reach the maximum performance and
still have happy customers.