If your business involves managing a mobile workforce paired with overseeing companies located across the country, the logistics of coordinating who should be where when can seem impossible. We sat down with Doug Beigel, CEO of COLA, Inc. the largest private non-profit clinical laboratory accreditation organization in the nation, which deals with this daunting task daily.
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Doug outlined some of the areas he focused on improving when taking over as CEO 15 years ago:
- Employee communication
- Laboratory engagement
- Audit scheduling and vulnerabilities
- Travel costs
Difficulties Managing a Mobile Workforce
COLA accredits over 7,500 clinical laboratories across the US and employs over 22 surveyors in the field. Every two years these labs need to be accredited per the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA88) and run through COLA’s thorough audit ensuring they are providing high quality health care services to the public.
The first improvement that Doug initiated had to do with communication between employees located across the nation. He knew the company needed a way to feel involved and unified, though physically disconnected. After researching a few options, Doug implemented a virtual office software that opened lines of communication between employees allowing them to easily talk, share screens, video chat, and conference-in guests. The solution was adopted quickly because of its ease of use, unifying employees and strengthening the culture at COLA.
Overseeing Disconnected Companies
Many of the clinical laboratories COLA oversees are considered smaller labs with employees ranging from two to ten. Not many of the directors invest heavily in technology on the business side of the lab, so many audit files and general laboratory information get shuffled into binders leading to file cabinets full of important documents. When surveyors arrive, time is wasted digging through these files to find the information required before beginning an audit.
Doug utilized the developers who created CompWALK to deliver a solution that stores all previous audit reports and important documentation in one intuitive, online customer portal, COLAcentral. Not only can these laboratories reference any past audit results, but they can share resources and conduct internal assessments to prepare for upcoming audits. “COLAcentral has strengthened the partnership between COLA and the clinical laboratories we accredit. It formed a two way street of communication and provided the resources necessary for these labs to evaluate and prep before mandated audits.” Stated Beigel.
Connecting the Dots
Once the employees and laboratories were communicating and operating more efficiently, the last piece of the puzzle needed to be secured, scheduling the two. Previously, COLA had one full-time employee to schedule audits, taking into account laboratory deadlines and surveyor’s abilities, travel restrictions, and time off. They were using a custom solution requiring manual interventions which led to a disconnected, time-consuming process. A large portion of their business relied on one scheduler showing up every day, with no long term plan taking into account sickness, extended vacation, or this person winning the lottery.
Beigel worked closely with the CompWALK team and researched what tools other organizations use to manage a workforce on the move. After meeting with a few large corporations who deploy enterprise systems at a high price to license, it was clear there was no affordable solution to improve COLA’s scheduling processes. The developers went to work and started building a solution from scratch in 2014, what resulted was a completely automated scheduling platform.
The platform is a function of CompWALK’s mobile audit software and went live for COLA earlier this month. Doug immediately started to realize the benefits of an automated solution, most notably all business rules being followed. There is no human element to the system which eliminates favoritism or preferential treatment, and all deadlines are tracked to ensure surveys are completed on time. The solution vastly decreases inefficient travel for surveyors, increasing their time spent at home and improving work life balance. Doug stated that just by following all of COLA’s outlined business rules he can “expect to see a 20-30% cost savings.” Stay tuned to our blog for updates on the power of analytics and further cost-savings realized by COLA’s implementation of this scheduling platform.