Software system takes the measure of clerical tasks

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The Independent Online
WITH businesses of all types cutting staff during the recession, improvement in productivity has been, and will continue to be, a key objective for managers.

Into this environment comes a software package that claims to provide a productivity improvement of 20 to 40 per cent and a typical one-month payback of investment. Its maker claims it could produce savings of billions of pounds in the UK 'if implemented by only a modest percentage of industry'.

The Resource Manager, produced by XTAQ, a work management systems company based in the City of London, is said to be able to 'transform the way in which clerical staff are managed' for a cost of pounds 50 for a hand-held 'data capture' device and a pounds 100 software licence fee for the first year.

Paul Williams, chief executive of XTAQ, said the essence of the development was 'to measure what someone actually does, not what somebody thinks they ought to do'.

He said the system could be run on any IBM-compatible PC and could be used by staff after a few minutes of instruction. Employees write a list of what they do in a typical day, which is put into a computer so that the speed with which the jobs are completed can be measured. Data on individual tasks, which can add up to 30 or 50 for even the simplest clerical functions, is collected by bar-code readers.

The information allows analysis of actual performance and enables managers to work with staff to apply the principles of best practice, eliminate poor work methods and plan for future workloads.

The product has been designed and developed in the UK, with final assembly at the Martel facility in County Durham. XTAQ intends to use the hardware on which the system is based as the platform for a range of products that can be used in various situations, including quality management and back-office operations for accountants and solicitors. A predecessor system has already been successfully applied to such operations as insurance claims, mortgage processing and general secretarial tasks, the company said, adding that it has more than 1,000 orders from various businesses for the product launched last week.

Mr Williams said the strength of the system was that, far from being merely a time- and-motion aid, it fitted in with the company's belief that staff should be encouraged to work better, not harder.

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