Paul focuses on strategic user research initiatives working for the Brisbane-based Startup, Skedulo. He specialises in employing user-centered design methodologies to solve complex customer and business challenges.Follow Follow
Storytelling About Skedulo With Paul Ciappara
Welcome to the Use Case Podcast, episode 172. This week we have storytelling about Skedulo with Paul Ciappara. During this episode, Paul and I talk about how practitioners make the business case or the use case for purchasing Skedulo.
Paul is an expert in employing user-centred design methodologies to solve complex customer and business challenges. His passion to help enterprises intelligently manage, schedule, dispatch and support deskless workers really comes through during the podcast.
Give the show a listen and please let me know what you think.
Show length: 27 minutes
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Welcome to RecruitingDaily’s Use Case Podcast, a show dedicated to the storytelling that happens or should happen when practitioners purchase technology. Each episode is designed to inspire new ways and ideas to make your business better as we speak with the brightest minds in recruitment and HR tech. That’s what we do. Here’s your host, William Tincup.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup, and you’re listening to the Use Case Podcast. Today we have Paul on from Skedulo, and we’re going to be learning about the use case, business case that his clients and his customers and prospects make for the purchasing of Skedulo. So without any further ado, any other warmup, we’re going to do introductions. Paul, would you do us a favor and introduce yourself and Skedulo?
Absolutely. So thanks, William. First of all, pleasure to be here.
Really, really appreciate the offering. So, yeah, Paul Ciappara. Bit of a mouthful, my surname. But I’m currently the director of customer insight and product strategy here at Skedulo. I’m actually based in our Australian or Brisbane office where a good portion of our product development and engineering team is based. But Skedulo in itself, I guess, it’s a platform or what we call the Deskless Productivity Cloud that ultimately looks to allow companies across a range of different industries and use cases, aptly as it would sit within this particular podcast, that really is around the management or the planning and engagement and the analysis or, I guess, the analytics that sit behind a deskless workforce.
So if you think about a good portion of the global workforce doesn’t do what perhaps you and I do and sit within the normal office confinement or sit behind a desk. They’re actually out, mobile, doing their thing on a day-to-day basis. So they make up about 80% of the global workforce of 2.7 billion people. So we look at offering software that helps support those types of workers.
So let’s peel the onion a little bit for those. So you did a great job of explaining deskless and the folks that make that up. So let’s talk a little bit about the software that you have, maybe the problems that they have and the inefficiencies that they have and how the software helps them.
Yeah, absolutely. So there’s a range, I guess, of problems or challenges, I guess, that these types of folks are looking to solve, from the very, very consistent, sort of somewhat consistent, issues we see around just outdated mechanisms or processes of managing deskless workforces. That could be as simple as just using the use of spreadsheets or whiteboards on a wall to try and manage and get visibility and really as efficiently as they possibly can support those types of workers.
It really comes down to how do organizations efficiently match the right people to the right type of work? And especially in a deskless environment that can be quite challenging given the dynamic nature of it. Whilst also looking to, I suppose, offer and maintain the highest levels of end customer service as well. That’s a key driver as well. So they’re typically some of the problems that we see, I guess. There is also typically these underlying challenges of major digital transformation and how they move a lot of these sort of manual and outdated or manual processes and ways of working into more digital and fit for purpose, I guess you’d say, processes that utilize software and utilize technology as well.
So when you’re displacing stuff like that, sometimes it’s homegrown or proprietary, and sometimes it’s like office products or Microsoft Office products. So what have y’all found as you roll something out with a group of people and it’s new to them? So you’ve got change and change management that you’ve got to figure out, but you’re putting something better, ultimately, you’re putting something better in front of them. So tell us a little bit about how that change goes.
Yeah. Really, really good question. I think change management is one of the kind of critical factors in this. As you say, we’re moving folks, we’re moving organizations from a place of very manual, very outdated, or sometimes even proprietary technology. And that ultimately, they’ve either grown out of that, so scale hasn’t necessarily been something that that has afforded them and they’re moving from these more sort of traditional office-based products to services that I guess automate a lot of the tasks that, at the end of the day, originally some human is looking to do, and that isn’t necessarily as, I guess you’d say, efficient as allowing smart and automated technologies to do a lot of this work that is matching deskless workers to the right types of work.
One of the biggest elements, I guess, we bring to the table and why we really speak quite to great lengths or to great depth around our offering as a platform is we appreciate that organizations across multiple use cases, multiple industries that are making this transformative type of play, the scheduling, I guess, or the planning process itself, is somewhat, you could argue, there are consistencies across use cases and consistencies across industries as well, but ultimately where we feel the power of the platform comes into play is where there are organizations that somewhat have their own, particularly the bespoke or somewhat nuanced, workflow or a process embedded. And really where we ultimately aim to support those customers is by, through our platform, enabling and helping to allow the supportive kind of nature of those processes as well.
So where an organization, for example, may be in healthcare, has a very, very specific workflow around some form of care within their organization, our platform is able to adapt and be flexible enough to actually help not completely move away from an existing process or an existing way of doing things, but actually augment it or help digitize it in a way that the organization feels comfortable, the deskless workers feel comfortable that this isn’t just such a transformative change that they are somewhat unable to manage or deal with that movement.
So one of the things about the deskless workforce that I’d love for the audience to hear more about is how they use technology. So we’ve talked historically and even how you roll them into this new world. I’m assuming most of this is either mobile or mobile friendly, tablet friendly, et cetera, but I don’t want to assume that. Tell us a little bit about the deskless workers in general.
Yeah, absolutely. So you pretty much hit the nail on the head. I mean, ultimately, I guess to somewhat go back to the original question around why does Skedulo exist or what do we do? I mentioned earlier that the deskless workforce represents 80% of the global working force, but the reality, unfortunately, is that there’s less than, I think, around 5% of software investment is actually focused on technologies that support this kind of worker. So you have somewhat of a shoehorned deskbound application that some organization will go, “Oh yeah, we assumed that we can make it fit for a deskless worker type environment,” without really thinking about what it exactly means to be a deskless worker.
Deskless workforces are insanely dynamic in nature. They’re on the road, they’re moving around. Visibility and, dare I say it, engagement isn’t necessarily the same as for a deskbound worker. So the technologies themselves need to be vastly different. And of course, and this is a key differentiator of Skedulo in that we think about mobility first and we think about what it means to be a mobile worker out there in the field, not sitting behind a desk from day one. That’s deeply ingrained in our thinking as an organization.
So mobile, of course. With the advent of smartphones, tablet technology, this was almost like a no-brainer in terms of what these folks would use on a day-to-day basis and how they would navigate and interact with not only the systems of record, as an example, so being able to access customer information really quickly at the touch of a button or within their palm, but also what’s really interesting and especially within the context, I think, of what we’re talking about, and what’s a very relevant topic today around the great resignation and employee movement or disengagement is that these devices act as the gateway or the connection point back with their organization.
There’s been plenty of times I’m out talking to folks who are deskless workers that will say to me, “You know what? Skedulo or the application that I’m using is ultimately my connection point or my engagement back with my home office. So I love that I can stay engaged with… They know what I’m doing. I know what’s happening and I’m kept informed and I can really offer the best possible customer service.” So when we think about the types of technology and what it means to be deskless, they’re the kinds of things that are the reality for these folks that are working in this manner.
I’m glad you went that way, because I was going to ask the question about engagement and retention of talent. And it seems like these are tools that help, ultimately help with this particular group of workers. It helps them give them a tool set that then helps them basically feel not just connected to the organization but enables them to do their job better, which, most people, that’s basically what we want.
We want some affirmation that we’re doing our jobs and doing our jobs as best we can.
Where do you see deskless going in the future? Well, not flying cars, but like next year. Where do you see deskless going next year?
Yeah. So it’s a really good point. And I think if I reflect back on a few things we spoke about there. And actually funnily enough, the last couple of days I’ve been listening to a few of your podcasts, and I listened to a fantastic one with Kevin Collins, who I believe talked about, rather than talking about the great resignation, talking about the great disengagement. So I thought that was just fantastic, and it’s really aligned to some of the areas that we’re thinking about and that we’re exploring around, well, deskless work by its very nature affords almost a level of unfortunate disengagement at the offset, right? They’re out in the field. There’s very little opportunity sometimes for folks to be coming into a central office. So there’s that immediate sense of like, “Well, I’m separate. I’m out in the field. I’m doing my thing.”
So there are a few elements, I guess, where we’re exploring to help and support that engagement perspective. And certainly, the technology itself and the mobile app or technology that we use to support that will always have a level of engagement and thinking about how we allow deskless workers to engage back with a central office, as an example. But there are other areas we’re exploring around autonomy and self-scheduling capabilities. So where we see this moving is, how do you empower your deskless workers to make really, really informed decisions about their day, their work-life balance-
… when they can and can’t take time off? And these are really, really tangible and very, very current exploratory feelings that deskless workers are saying to us on a day-to-day basis. And organizations are starting to appreciate that now, too. And they’re saying, “Well, we want to retain and we want to keep the top talent.” How do we do that? Well, we need to ensure that our employees are engaged and we need to ensure that we are giving them the same levels of autonomy, control, ability to be flexible within their work day as we would any other deskbound type workforce.
Right. By giving them the tools to then be able to make the best decisions that they can possibly make.
So they feel comfortable making those decisions, because that ambiguity is good for some, but it creates anxiety for others.
For others. Exactly right. And they’re often saying to us, “If I’m out in the field and I make this decision, is someone from head office going to be on the phone with me immediately going, ‘Why did you go there rather than there?'” So also, we talk sometimes and it’s a very academic term, but we talk about this concept of complimentary control. So both the organization, it feels as though it has control or visibility over what’s happening out in the workforce. So that at any time they are able to make the right decisions and have that visibility into what’s happening out in the field.
But then on the flip side of the coin, deskless workers feel empowered enough that they can actually make those decisions. They haven’t got someone peering over their shoulder every five minutes going, “Where are you? Are you really where you say you’re meant to be?” And the technology and certainly the tools that we offer ultimately look to aim at providing that, that both levels of control and supportive nature across deskless workers and the office itself.
So a question that I know I’ll get asked is an HR leader that’s just never grown up this way, right?
They’ve grown up in a corporate environment and they’ve always had folks either in the office or at least, through COVID, remote, et cetera, and on a lot of Zoom calls. Okay, so this is a different beast. So what’s your advice after studying all of your customers and things like that? What advice would you give to a leader first walking into a situation like this where it’s going to be 90, 100% deskless workers? What’s a kit that you would give them to get them started down the right road?
Yeah. So I think we talk about some of these elements, employee engagement, autonomy, these types of… I think for IT and HR leaders, an initial starting point, and it’s part of their own toolkit, is just to let the data speak for itself. Poll those folks, or, for lack of a better term, survey those folks to gain an understanding and an appreciation of, how engaged are they currently? Where do they feel they’re getting engagement from the business or getting support from the business? Where do they feel like they have or don’t have certain degrees or levels of autonomy? And what levels of autonomy and flexibility would be sufficient? Because I think there’s always that balance, right, between how much an organization wants and feels as though a workforce could and should be autonomous, but certainly also there are factors at play from an organizational perspective that need to be balanced and managed as well.
But I certainly think a good starting point is definitely really appreciating and understanding the current state of engagement with deskless workers. That’s very, I guess, specific to the engagement levels or the interaction levels between the business and the deskless workers. Secondly, of course, understanding what the current kind of business process is and workflow establishment exists within the business. And how can tools like Skedulo, which aim to support and help and automate and optimize a lot of these processes and that efficiencies, fit in with the organization and make a somewhat simple and easy change when we’re talking about these change management principles? How does an organization really pitch itself and talk about itself as a platform and a platform that is capable of supporting these somewhat bespoke and nuanced workflows and work models? I think that’s a really critical piece. Yeah. That would probably be two of my initial kind of thoughts there.
Yeah. I think what’s great about that is, again, you’re not starting, especially as a new leader into a situation like this, you’re not starting with the answers.
What I love about the advice that you’re giving folks is you just say, “Hey, first of all, check the pulse. What’s working? What’s not working? Where do they need help? Where do they need more communication, less communication? Where do they need more tools? Where do they need the tools and resources to be successful?” Well, if you ask them, turns out chances are they’ll probably tell you where they need help.
Yeah. Most certainly would, yeah.
Yeah, but you’ve got to ask.
Got to ask. Exactly.
So when folks see your software for the first time, I call it a aha moment, but really when your sales team’s out there showing them software and they see it for the first time, what do they fall in love with?
Oh, good question. There’s a few things, but I think I’ll go with, to begin with, a little bit of a vanity based question. I think we’ve made a really, really solid play at producing and designing and developing a beautiful looking scheduling and planning product, right? We feel that user experience and the experience of managing large sets of data, quite complex workflows from the back office or scheduling perspective right through to the deskless worker opening up our mobile application for their morning and getting ready for their day, right? So that immediately is a wow moment that we keep quite a fair bit of is just-
Well, Paul, I don’t think that’s vanity. I think that’s just good business because you’re dealing with folks-
Yeah, I agree.
… that you’re not standing over their shoulders. This isn’t one of those deals. They’re remote. They’re somewhere else. And they need things to be just super intuitive. So I mean, first of all, I think it’s nice that you’ve couched it in those terms, but I think that’s just good business sense because of the workforce that you’re helping manage, they need this. They need to be able to log into the app and just, it makes sense.
Because if they’ve got to go to an FAQ or if they’ve got to go watch a YouTube video or something like that, we’ve already lost.
We’ve failed. That’s exactly right.
We’ve already failed. Yeah.
You’re absolutely right. I mean, I think you’re spot on. Good design is just good business, right?
So I totally get it.
Especially with this group. I mean-
… you can get away with it in other areas. This group probably not so much.
Not as forgiving. That’s exactly right. Exactly right. The other elements, I guess, are definitely more of a… Again, a lot of these folks have been coming from this place where they appreciate and they understand just how dynamic this kind of work and workforce is. They also appreciate just how somewhat mentally tough and mentally draining it is on scheduling folks who are using whiteboards and spreadsheets and all these kinds of things to now look at a system or an intelligent system that says, “Hey, your time is better used doing other things.” Right?
You don’t need to be sitting there going, “I’ve got some work. I’ve got jobs that I need to match and marry up with particular skill sets. And I need to be worrying about the fact that we do have a skills or a labor shortage.” So how do we ultimately make the best use of the skills and the resources that we do have, and use a very, very efficient, intelligent optimization and automation to match and make those calculations as we go? And we have a very, very sophisticated kind of optimization, or we call it MasterMind. It’s basically our optimization engine, which takes a lot of that very, very complex and mind and brain consuming kind of elements and optimizes it in the most appropriate way through the use of tags and a bunch of other sort of stuff.
So they are typically areas that business leaders go, “Wow. We can already see, just simply from a scheduling perspective, folks being like, ‘This is just taking away so much of the administrative burden that it’s going to place on us.'” And then vice versa, super quickly from a deskless worker’s perspective, very, very similar. We’re offering them up a mechanism to be engaged with their central office. There’s communication mechanisms within that. It’s well, as we spoke about, designed and thought through. Plus, the use of things like mobile forms and really thinking about the types of interactions and plays that they would be making when out dealing with or interacting with their customers out in the field.
I love that. What’s interesting is in finance there’s a term or a concept called TVM, time value of money, and you’ve democratized it. You’ve basically said, “Okay, there’s a better use of your time.” And if you don’t have insight into that, both at the management level and employee level, if you don’t have insight into that, you find yourself down these rabbit holes, doing things that you think are valuable-
… that aren’t as valuable as what you could be spending your time on. And it’s something that’s just pure insight. So I love that. Okay. So the last question as we roll out, your favorite or even most recent kind of innovative story where customers are using your software? And no names, of course, just short-
No. No, for sure. Well, I mean, my mind immediately goes to a very interesting area, which I think as an organization we’re incredibly humbled by and proud of. It’s somewhat of a little bit of a pivot from our base offering and the platform itself. But as we moved into this full swing of the pandemic what feels like a lifetime ago now but it’s probably, what, two years ago, we had an opportunity, or I guess collectively as an organization, we really felt as though there was something we could be doing to support be it the recovery period, whatever it was. So we basically endeavored to look at a use of our platform or a use of our system to support the booking type process for vaccination administrations. So it was somewhat born out of this desire to really fundamentally as a business look at how we could support and help with such a growing pandemic and-
… what we’d seen playing out. Critical, exactly.
Ultimately where it landed is I think to date we’ve helped support or book in over 36 million vaccination appointments and that’s across-
… states within the US, like California, countries like New Zealand itself, and even in our own backyard here in the state of Western Australia. So an insanely, as I said, kind of humbling and very important part of our evolution as an organization and one that we’re certainly very, very proud of and just, yeah, the folks that were involved in that. And how we thought about and worked with both governments and industry leaders on that I thought was just inspiring.
Yeah. It’s lovely because not all customer stories are like that. This is one that everyone feels, and you’re doing good work. You actually enabled people to do their best work. There can’t be something better than that. So thank you so much, Paul. This has been absolutely amazing and I appreciate-
Thank you, William.
… you coming on the Use Case Podcast.
No, thank you so much for having me. It’s been a pleasure.
Absolutely. And thanks for everyone listening to the Use Case Podcast. Until next time.
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The Use Case Podcast
William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.
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