How is it possible to achieve clear structures, efficient performance, gain transparency and IT control? One way is certainly the tedious systematic work on problem zones (i.e. bottlenecks), analyzing and optimizing processes and structures. More successful, however, is a new control mechanism incorporating role based work through: Active Qualified Human Resource Organization (AQRO™). The purpose of AQRO™ is to substantially reduce the company’s risk of poor performance and failure. The focus is shifted from line organization to project organization. This means that the team members are exclusively active in a defined role for a specified time and are responsive only within this role. They are thus able to focus their work effectively – but nonetheless, the departement is available for clients, co-workers and external partners.
Using this method can additionally yield a working time gain of up to 1,5 hours per day and employee which relates to a total of approximately 8 hours a week (or one work day) per employee! A huge benefit for each and every business! AQRO™ can be implemented in large departments as well as in small, medium or large sized enterprises with 7 or more employees.
The working time gains through AQRO™ can be used effectively to:
- Reduce or avoid employee overtime;
- Increase the quality of work performance;
- Start new projects or invest in new business opportunities that were previously delayed due to lack of time.
AQRO™ provides transparency – when, which employee takes on which roles – establishing a solid base for active management control.
- You can determine and plan the tasks (and utilization) of each IT or departmental employee;
- You recognize when an employee is overtasked and can re-assign or reprioritize the tasks;
- You can assess personnel resource requirements for projects and reliably provide reporting to management;
- You can make a detailed assessment of the overall required resources;
- You can identify know-how available internally and/or source needed expertise externally;
- Overall increase of performance and quality;
- It becomes easier to manage replacements or backups;
- Overall improvement of work climate including increased interaction and teamwork;
- You can realistically plan projects and meet agreed deadlines;
- Freed resources can increase productivity by effectively redirecting these to other important business matters or projects.
How your employees benefit thanks to AQRO™
- Employee stress levels are effectively reduced, since tasks and responsibilities are clearly defined and assigned;
- Employee satisfaction and focus on tasks at hand are substantially increased;
- Overtime is reduced;
- Planning and organizing of employee tasks significantly improved;
- Ability to deliver completed tasks on schedule;
- Vacation absentees have peace of mind due to structured and organized backups.
How AQRO™ benefits the entire Company
- Valuable employee worktime is optimized;
- Projects are completed on schedule, with higher quality and within budget, thus increasing customer satisfaction;
- Management can react more flexibly to current market developments but still maintain plan reliability;
- The company gains significant competitive advantages;
- As an employer, the company is increasingly attractive to high potentials and talents and is in a better position to retain existing personnel and competencies;
- The department becomes a competent partner with high availability – the company’s reputation is sustained.
At a utilities company, 12 IT professionals now accomplish the job previously done by 14. By implementing AQRO™, it was possible within 6 weeks to substantially increase employee efficiency, which allowed 2 employees of the team to take on additional tasks and projects.
Reduced Efficiency through Shifting Roles
We are all familiar with the regular conflict between line organization and project organization. Especially affected are IT professionals, who often simultaneously assume multiple roles and functions. On one hand, they handle the day-to-day business tasks and on the other hand, they actively assume responsibilities within defined projects. In respect to the given task, they have to jump from one role into the next – a very time and energy consuming matter, not to forget the constant change of thinking processes. The situation is especially stressful, when employees are distracted by co-workers, superiors, external partners or clients, who do not understand or are not aware of the current role the employee is momentarily assuming.
Even with minimal distractions, it requires a certain amount of effort and time to reconnect to the subject matter, calling back into mind the recent activity and then continue from where the employee left off. How can important tasks such as budget planning for the next project or compiling current data for risk management be accomplished efficiently and error free in such a scenario?
Interruptions reduce efficiency and quality. Psychological studies have shown that each distraction costs a business up to 15-20 minutes of valuable work time. A mere 6 interruptions equate to a loss of 1,5 hours of work time each day and per employee! This „down-time“ is not only annoying, potentially causing unneccessary overtime, but can also can lead to stress and excessive workload, increasing cost and error prone result sets as well as project delays, or at worst, project failures.
New Management Control Mechanism
A company’s IT department or other corporate departments can be difficult to control at times – for you as divisional supervisor as well as for management. There always seems to be a lack of transparency. But what if it was possible to know the exact utilization of each employee? What if you could know exactly which employee is working on which project and who has time available to take on new tasks? Who is overworked, who is underutilized? What if you could clearly identify at which point the team’s capacity is exploited? Fact is, that in such a given situation, you cannot report to management appropriately, because it is barely possible to assess if a new project can be taken on by the existing team; if further resources are needed and would reassure completion, or, if another project should be reprioritized in order to balance resources as required by given projects.
Tangible facts are simply not available. It is only possible to make a vague assessment based on a personal notion or many years of experience. Under certain circumstances, projects will not be completed on time, customers/clients react angrily and may be lost for good and not to mention potential increase in overall cost.
Scheduled „Time-Out“ has proved to inspire Companies
Why did we develop AQRO™? Each employee is distracted an average of 27 times a day according to a current field study by Cornelius König, Professor for Occupational and Organizational Psychology at the University of Saarland, Germany.  Employees, who are able to „check out“ for just one hour a day, achieve better quality results, are more motivated and more satisfied with their job.
In the study, supervisors documented their daily work performance over a period of two weeks. During the first week, the participants scheduled their time individually; during the second week, they integrated a „focus hour“ into their workday, during which they focussed on important tasks and allowed absolutely no interruption. As a result, the supervisors experienced higher quality performance during the „focus hour“ and the entire workday was regarded as more fulfilling and efficient. Important, however, was that the “focus hour” was not left to the intent but rather actively pursued and integrated into their daily work schedule and process. The regularity makes the difference.
Another problematic situation arises, when employees are continuously available for and have access to email communication. Scientists at the University of California proved in 2012, that employees who received no emails during a certain period of time were less stressed and definitively more productive. 
It is evident that employees – unlike supervisors – only have limitied possibilities to take a short „time-out“, to close Outlook & Co. or to instruct the team secretary not to put any calls through. For this reason, they must rely on their supervisors to allow them to retreat from daily activities – a situation that unfortunately is rarely feasible.
We at AQRO™ want to change this! For many years now, we have successfully implemented our methods and processes in IT as well as other departments and have shown that employees, who continuously and unconsciously shift back and forth from one role to another are substantially less efficient.
For this reason, we have developed a method that:
- Firstly, considers each individual role that an employee assumes;
- Secondly, allows each role sufficient time, enabling quality performance;
- Thirdly, is transparent and easy to apply and
- Fourthly, guarantees that the department is nonetheless continuously and reliably available for clients, co-workers and external partners.
Five Steps to more Efficiency
There are 5 steps to implementing the role-based work method in IT and other departments. The time needed for implementation depends on the size of the department. AQRO™ can be implementend within 6 weeks for 15 employees; for 200 employees, it takes approximately 11 weeks. The workshop time expense for the company is cleary defined – only 10 days for 15 employees, 80 days for 200 employees. Included in this investment is training, coaching, feedback meetings and project work, i.e. developing roles and rules.
We begin by defining the basic principles and all relevant employee roles for daily business and projects. We then implement the role based work in the teams / departments, establishing all necessary requirements for a comprehensive resource management approach.
1. In an initial workshop, we present the advantages and disadvantages of AQRO™, the specific processes involved and we set goals, define tasks and priorities as well as employee responsibilities;
2. We develop each role individually per employee and if necessary with the respective supervisor, covering all areas of responsibility, tasks and requirements – all based on the company’s specifications and needs;
3. We draw up a service plan for the pilot phase;
4. During a 4 week pilot project, the role based work is tested based on the previously defined and agreed role definitions and employees are coached as necessary.
5. A feedback meeting wraps up the pilot project phase, in which potential improvements are discussed and in continuation, the whole project is complemented with quality assurance procedures.
Beyond that, comprehensive resource management can be implemented, including the associated processes therein along with a resource manager, which extensively contributes to a competitive advantage, especially in international projects.
Of course it goes without being said, the implementation of AQRO™ requires certain changes in the way employees perform their daily tasks: they now actively assume a half-day role assignment. The biggest change for employees is that they are required to plan their role assignment four weeks in advance and maintain and monitor it. Modifications need to be reported to the service planners in due time.
This post is also available in: German