Maggie BleharApril 18, 2024
Topics: HRIS

QuantumWork Advisory’s Holistic Approach to Designing Tomorrow’s Workforce

Workforce management innovation through digital transformation is critical right now. However, many organizations end up under-planning, overspending, and coming up short on user experience — and, consequently, on adoption and ROI.

Talent Experience Live welcomed Bethany Mummert, Advisory Practice Leader at QuantumWork Advisory (QWA), to explore how to select and implement workforce management solutions to instill meaningful, long-term improvements. QWA is a partner of Phenom, specializing in enhancing workforce productivity and experiences through a unique blend of design thinking and technology expertise.

Whether you’re just beginning or have already embarked on your digital transformation journey, you’ll benefit from QWA’s take on problem-solving, integrating design thinking, and change management techniques.

Catch the highlights below, or watch the full episode right here.

What is QWA’s secret to a seamless technology roll-out?

Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast. This is a Navy Seals mantra that QWA has internalized when it comes to creating business solutions for their clients, according to Mummert. “If you slow down at the start in order to really conceptualize and have a vantage point as to what problems we’re looking to solve, then when we make those high-value decisions, we can truly go fast.”

Rejecting a one-size-fits-all model, QWA instead focuses on understanding the needs of end users, the current operations of the company, and the business challenges and goals the solution will address.

“We specialize in workforce agility, development, and productivity, but with a unique lens in that we apply a design thinking component,” Mummert said.

Related: Create a holistic tech infrastructure by seamlessly integrating with your HR tech stack

How does QWA apply design thinking to a technology rollout?

Employees need to be excited about using technology, and that means designing solutions that will actually improve their workday.

But modern society has engrained the expectation for instant gratification, Mummert said. “You [want to] turn the light switch on, and everything works.”

This “light switch” mindset can result in a rushed tech implementation that overlooks key steps in the planning process. And that leads to a solution that actually may cause more problems. “However, what we’ve found is that a lot of times, problems that we’re solving for are specific to process or people,” Mummert noted.

That’s why design thinking is a cornerstone of QWA’s approach, and they follow five stages: empathize, define, ideate/prototype, test, and verify.

Design thinking allows organizations to account for the following critical factors first before rushing into a tech rollout:

  • The individuals who will be using the new technology

  • Potential ambassadors and champions

  • Company processes

  • Underlying factors that will influence the technology’s effectiveness

What does workforce problem-solving look like to QWA?

Uncovering the root cause means engaging all constituents and stakeholders in the empathizing stage: recruiters, HR professionals, hiring managers, and systems integrators. “It’s very comprehensive in terms of the analysis of the problem, but from there, it really fosters that unity because everyone feels as if their voices are heard,” Mummert noted.

During the initial empathizing stage of the process, QWA asks constituents to lay down on the couch, figuratively speaking, and get it all out. “We’re empathizing with the user, hearing their problems, and then we have a holistic approach to how we can transform an organization with what those recommendations may be for future state.”

This helps gather key input to form a solution that will meet individual needs as well as organizational objectives such as:

  • What you’re solving for

  • Where the problem lies — is it global, local, or within a specific business unit?

  • When do you need to solve this problem? (Put a timeline to the urgency)

  • What is the business objective? (e.g. To make money, to save money?)

What are some top challenges in implementing workforce technology?

An increasingly complex business ecosystem is changing the way organizations approach workforce technology integrations, according to Mummert. Some top lessons learned over the past year include:

  • The need for a total workforce view. It’s essential to consider all interconnected systems and how they feed into each other, rather than focusing on just one point solution. “To have that seamless, one-touch experience … it’s important that all the systems play nice and talk to each other in that progressive way,” Mummert said. “And if they don’t, how can you avoid that friction and have a workaround so that your experience is smooth?”

  • All decision-makers need to be invited to the party. With IT no longer isolated, but rather integrated into various business units, the personas of technology decision-makers are constantly evolving. “It’s not fitting to have that single tunnel vision. We need to understand the experience and understand what we’re trying solve through the bigger lens.”

How does QWA optimize the user experience for workforce technology?

QWA doesn’t play around when it comes to the user experience. First, there’s that initial “therapy session” to gather perspectives from all end users.

After this holistic diagnosis of challenges, QWA designs a journey map to visualize:

  • How work is being done at each step of the process by all personas

  • An overlay showing current technology and how it’s being used

  • A sentiment wave that shows how people perceive the technology (e.g. Is it easy to use? Helpful? Frustrating?)

This journey map identifies likes, pain points, and workarounds to help guide improvements. “We’ll pinpoint visually how the work is being done start to finish,” Mummert said. “From there, we can diagnose people, processes, and technology to really have a visualization of the current state,” including the way things are operating today and how they’ll operate in the future.

What is the role of AI in workforce planning?

Every industry, it seems, is exploring how to apply AI to enhance productivity and accuracy. In QWA’s view, AI should be a fit-for-purpose tool that helps and never hurts. For example, AI can help by assisting (not replacing) employees to complete manual, repetitive tasks so that they can spend more time focusing on the rewarding aspects of work.

On the other hand, Mummert has seen AI be counter-productive if it improperly automates tasks that then need to be re-done manually by employees.

QWA applies the “4B methodology” to determine how AI fits into workforce planning:

  • Build. If you’re going to build a capability, what infrastructure do you need?

  • Buy. Do you need talent with specific knowledge and skills that can’t be automated to join your organization long-term?

  • Borrow. Would consultative services be best to temporarily fill gaps?

  • Bot. Where can AI help from a manual process improvement standpoint?

“It’s a combination to get that right future-fit model that … you can operate in a very progressive way for a long-term state,” Mummert said.

Related reading: Workforce Planning, Skills, and AI. Oh my!

Applying design thinking to tomorrow’s workforce

With its design thinking methodology, QWA drills down to the true root cause of problems, rather than just targeting symptoms. This concept isn’t new — it’s how doctors treat patients, and how mechanics repair cars.

“If you really truly take a minute to look under the hood and ask the right questions and not just [make] assumptions … then you can form the solutions that are the right size not only for the individual but for the organization.”

If you’re ready and looking for a seamless technology transformation, check out our Talent CRM Migration Kit for a practical plan you can implement tomorrow.

Maggie Blehar

Maggie is a writer at Phenom, bringing you information on all things talent experience. In addition to writing, she enjoys traveling, painting, cooking, and spending time with her family and friends. 

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