Diack Ltd. offers services across a range of functions that include biometric security, home automation, and telehealth as a contractor to Tunstall Health care installations.
- Access to superfast broadband is not necessary to install home automation and telehealth services.
- Mobile phone applications can provide useful people management capabilities to monitor a team that works remotely at different sites.
- Full digitisation of processes can be difficult because of variations in digital maturity along the supply chain.
Overview of the business
A small business of 12 FTEs, Diack Ltd. covers a wide area that ranges from Cornwall up to Newcastle. Operating from the Pen-y-Fan Industrial Estate, within an hour radius of the office is considered ‘local’ therefore effective communication within the team is considered vital. Furthermore, due to the wide range of services that are offered, interactions with customers may be on an individual or subcontractor basis.
Superfast broadband adoption
The business now has fibre to the cabinet. Previously, a 1.4 Mbps connection speed made it impossible for members of staff to work simultaneously. As with other construction industry businesses, a great deal of information and detailed drawings are shared and communicated.
The speeds attained now are between 30 and 50 Mbps, creating notable impacts on daily operations and information sharing. The business is now able to operate VoIP (voice-over internet protocol) lines alongside efficient data sharing.
IT skills capacity
The IT skills of employees varies due to the nature of tasks that contribute to overall business functions. Around a third of employees have intermediate or above skills and all functions are undertaken in-house.
Broadband subscription costs on average £900 per annum and other costs amount to £4,300 annually.
Diack Ltd information flow diagram
Highlighting the internal and external communication flows of the business.
Use of digital technologies
The core business makes significant use of digital technologies that are used both online and offline. In particular, the use of the TSheets organiser application to act as a ‘clock-in’ machine is very useful. Members of staff are able to log in to say that they have begun their working day, timers account and display the hours worked that day, week and overall in the month.
This is then used to manage the flexible working patterns of a multiple employee mobile site business as staff are offered time off in lieu (TOIL) or a buy-back system should they not wish to take leave.
This is effective as the business can manage busy periods more easily. The app also offers a GPS location system and could also link to QuickBooks; however, these features are not used due to the ethos of the business where all employees are salaried. The business uses Sage, which enables all accounting processes to be undertaken digitally.
The team communicate with one another utilising WhatsApp, allowing real-time conversation, information and photo sharing. It also means that if anyone has a query or problem the whole team are able to contribute to its resolution. The team works semi-remotely, and there is no requirement for staff to go to the business premises due to the utilisation of T Sheets and WhatsApp.
Other business processes are semi-digital, in that paperwork for one of their contractors requires a signature of the customer in order to get paid. This form is then scanned and sent to the company. Previously it was posted which was expensive and labour intensive. In terms of home-automation, in most instances it is a bespoke offer, therefore following initial digital contact, consultation is carried out face-to-face.
Whilst home automation and telehealth makes extensive use of digital technologies, it is not necessary to have fast speeds or even a connection to benefit from the technology. The company does not install voice-controlled systems (similar to Alexa) as they feel it is not possible to fully assure the security due to the passing of data to a third party to carry out the voice-control function.
Using digital technologies means that the director is able to complete some jobs from the office, particularly with respect to updating home security systems or trouble shooting finger-print scanning technology.
Fingerprint technology in particular can be very cost effective for a business that has many people using the facilities or that have a tendency to lose keys, such as a housing complex.
The adoption of Superfast Broadband has meant that core functions can be achieved quicker and staff can work simultaneously. It has also meant that Diack Ltd.’s customers receive a better value product and services because the business offers incidental remote support for customers with no charge.
Management of staff has also become more straightforward, alongside the TSheets for employee hour management, agency staff are managed via an online portal where the hours are checked and approved.
It is likely that the business will remain with a mix of digital and non-digital processes due to the documentation required of them from contractors and the ease of utilising drawings on site against the use of a tablet.