Operations teams can do more with better tools


We’re all blessed to live in the year 2020. Decades of iterative development have created powerful business tools, capable of making business operations more efficient.

operations-teams-can-do-more-with-better-toolsThat means more now than ever, with millions of employees locked at home, and being required to connect remotely to continue their work. In some ways, having everyone work from home may have made many people more productive even, as some of the unintentionally wasteful work habits have had to be dropped. I’m a big fan of the memes that popped up as shelter in place orders started.

But if I’ve learned anything in my career, it’s that many operations still work with tools that were designed for basic office work in the 1990s. While email tools like Outlook can do many fantastic things, I’ve seen them shoehorned into being used to track task completion. Spreadsheets get used in all sorts of inventive ways, like facilitating project management and creating schedules, but there are clearly better tools out there for the task.

This phenomena has only accelerated with the advent of Google Suite tools, like Docs and Sheets. These familiar feeling tools get the job done, and can be shoehorned in to so many different uses. And while these tools are great, what I’m here to tell you today is that they aren’t meant to do everything, and maybe you should consider trying them.

Work with what you already have

Now, most businesses already have powerful tools at their disposal, and gambling operations are no exception. But the trick is getting the right people, with full knowledge of the software, who can implement them to their greatest potential.

Most organizations probably have CISCO networking software, and probably several pieces of software from that provider. My previous organization had several CISCO tools, but hardly anyone who knew how to apply all of their uses.

As a result, we end up with wasteful work processes, dependent on inferior tools. Every team was plotting out work schedules in Excel, rather than using features in the superior IEX that could have done it for us. We went out and purchased data analytics tools from another supplier, rather than using something that would have worked more seamlessly with our existing CISCO setup.

This can all be solved by getting training from the supplier, or hiring the right people to work with it. Both of these options involve additional cost, but they also create great efficiencies across the organization. That might not make sense for a smaller company, but for a large one, it can pay off with huge dividends.

But maybe all of your tools really are being used to their maximum potential. And maybe staff are still using spreadsheets and emails in ways that go far beyond what they were meant for. That’s when you have to start looking outward for all of the wonderful options 2020 has to offer.

Getting a new tool for an old job

Although many iGaming operations are new, some aren’t, and the management running them may not be either. It’s can be pretty easy to find that operations teams are using outdated methods of tracking their tasks, or even worse, players.

It’s pretty easy to understand why this happens. Everyone in this technological age has secured a pretty strong grasp of how tools like email and spreadsheets work, and they can see clear applications for them everywhere. Like, for example, when handling an escalated players concern, why not send an email to the relevant team, and keep an ongoing thread until the problem is resolved?

This is where modern tools have left the past behind. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools, of which there are many, solve a myriad of efficiency problems by keeping all the information in one place, and alerting management to when serious issues need to be addressed. They allow for more powerful analytics to be pulled, allowing managers to better assess their teams. And for the senior level employees, who might not have the time to learn the ins and outs of the tool, great options like Salesforce allow for Outlook integration.

There are solutions for every process, as long as you look for them. I’m a big fan of Atlassian’s suite of tools, like Jira and Confluence, which can help an organization better manage its projects, track its issues, and share knowledge from the top to the bottom of the company. If you don’t have applications that can do this already, free versions of their product are available, allowing a small project team the chance to quickly learn how powerful their potential can be.

Give a new tool a try, what do you have to lose?

This could all be a little overwhelming for some employees, who aren’t technologically savvy and don’t have the time or patience to jump in and learn the total capabilities of a new tool. But that’s where these tools are really starting to shine, offering easy to approach user interfaces for the basic user, while offering powerful customization for a back-end administration team. And with any tool worth its salt, there will be a universe of online support material to help an organization get started.

And besides, the people whose time is most valuable, the senior management and board level members of an operation, can usually rely on the lower levels to wade through the little hurdles of using these tools, and simply reporting on the results. You don’t need to know every detail of how the job got done, or why productivity is suddenly higher, you just need for it to happen. And in so many cases, making sure your team has the right tools to thrive is the way to get there.

That’s true now more than ever. Operations teams, no longer huddled into tightly packed cubicles, need to rely on strong tools to get the job done remotely. A team of power users, applying your current tools in all the right ways, is the way to get the most value out of what you’ve already paid for. A strong CRM tool will help you achieve better value out of every customer, and cut down on inefficiencies in your team, even as they can’t reach out and ask someone next to them what this customer wanted. And better collaborative tools can help them from feeling lost in the lockdown of their own homes.

There’s good reason we adopt new technologies over time: because they make our lives better, and our work more productive. It truly sucks, what COVID-19 has done to our world, but thanks to tools like CISCO WebEx or Zoom, many of us can keep working through it with little productivity lost. And as video meetings have assuredly risen in the last 6 weeks, more operations should consider moving their work processes into better tools once this is all over.

Just… don’t expect the complaints to change.