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RFID projects do affect the company personnel

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 beginning

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 technology

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.

Fool-proof training

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.

RFID Project-personnel -training -web

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 works.

Happy personnel - happy customers

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.

1 comment on “RFID projects do affect the company personnel”

  1. Posted 13 May 2015 at 12:28:46

    A very well written article. I am advocate of entrepreneurship and always interested in creating new opportunity and jobs for local. A simple example of how to avoid the resistance while implementing RFID project is shown below with negative and positive views. Let’s take example of jewelry store. There are two ways you can explain their employees to avoid resistance to the change.

    Negative view: Implementing RFID will reduce the inventory counting time and hence it will result in reduced man hour.

    Positive view: Implementing RFID will reduce the inventory counting time and hence increase timing for sales for existing staff which can result into increase in commission for them.

    Thx!

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