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How Mobile Apps Can Helps Frontline Managers Improve Employee Productivity and Quality

Learn ways to unlock the potential of frontline managers using mobile apps.I’ve written about how mobile apps can speed up digital transformation by giving frontline employees the tools they need, and can directly improve frontline worker productivity. But now research by McKinsey points out in the article “Unlocking the potential of frontline managers” that mobile apps can also improve those who manage frontline workers, with big benefits for employees and the enterprise as a whole.

McKinsey calls managers of frontline employees “hidden, yet crucial” to enterprises. The article gives examples of just how vital they are to an enterprise, such a “A retail manager responsible for more than $80 million in annual revenue, an airline manager who oversees a yearly passenger volume worth more than $160 million, a banking manager who deals with upward of seven million questions from customers a year.”

McKinsey points out that frontline managers are frequently underutilized and not given the tools they need to do their jobs properly. The article says, “In a majority of the companies we’ve encountered, the frontline managers’ role is merely to oversee a limited number of direct reports...managers keep an eye on things, enforce plans and policies, report operational results, and quickly escalate issues or problems. In other words, a frontline manager is meant to communicate decisions, not to make them; to ensure compliance with policies, not to use judgment or discretion (and certainly not to develop policies); and to oversee the implementation of improvements, not to contribute ideas or even implement improvements (workers do that).”

McKinsey goes on to say, “At companies that have successfully empowered their frontline managers, the resulting flexibility and productivity generate strong financial returns. One convenience store retailer, for example, reduced hours worked by 19 to 25 percent while increasing sales by almost 10 percent.”

The article points out that frontline managers spend “30 to 60 percent of their time on administrative work and meetings, and 10 to 50 percent on nonmanagerial tasks… They spend only 10 to 40 percent actually managing frontline employees.”

So companies should free them to be able to spend 60 to 70 percent of their time on the floor, McKinsey says. Companies that do that, McKinsey concludes, “empower their managers to make decisions and act on opportunities.”

How to Free Frontline Managers to Spend More Time on the Floor

Mobile apps are a great way to empower frontline managers. To get frontline managers to spend more time on the floor, they need to be freed from administrative tasks such as manually filling out sales reports. And mobile apps can do that, and help them track and improve the quality of their employees.

Alpha TransForm (for non-developers) and Alpha Anywhere (for developers) can work independently or together as a single platform, and are ideally suited for building mobile apps for frontline managers and workers. Alpha TransForm helps business users craft online or offline mobile apps in minutes that utilize the latest mobile features (camera, GPS, etc.) for fast, accurate data capture. Alpha Anywhere has the unique ability to rapidly create mobile-optimized forms and field apps that can easily access and integrate with any database or web service and can exploit built-in role-based security or robust offline functionality. Learn more about Alpha TransForm and try it free for 30 days.

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About Author

Amy Groden-Morrison
Amy Groden-Morrison

Amy Groden-Morrison has served more than 15 years in marketing communications leadership roles at companies such as TIBCO Software, RSA Security and Ziff-Davis. Most recently she was responsible for developing marketing programs that helped achieve 30%+ annual growth rate for analytics products at a $1Bil, NASDAQ-listed business integration Software Company. Her past accomplishments include establishing the first co-branded technology program with CNN, launching an events company on the NYSE, rebranding a NASDAQ-listed company amid a crisis, and positioning and marketing a Boston-area startup for successful acquisition. Amy currently serves as a Healthbox Accelerator Program Mentor, Marketing Committee Lead for the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge Launch Smart Clinics, and on the organizing team for Boston TechJam. She holds an MBA from Northeastern University.

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