In this new age of technology, collaborative communication methods are completely transforming the effectiveness of geographically diverse food safety teams by uniting them in real time, 24/7/365.
During the last ten years, communications platforms have evolved dramatically, rendering many of our familiar systems completely useless, too slow, and non-mobile. Take QADEX for example: our business has grown from just two people in 2007 to over 75 employees today, based in different locations.
Traditional Communication Infrastructure
Like many food manufacture businesses, we had switchboards in each office with phones connected through the switchboards. Staff had desktop computers and our mobile users had laptops with VPN access back to their respective servers.
But this infrastructure struggled to keep up as we grew. Switchboards ran out of capacity, servers needed upgrading, and worst of all, multiple versions of documents were floating around the business.
Cloud Based Communication
In 2013, a dramatic business review soon identified GoogleApps as a solution supplemented by cloud based accounting, HR, Project and Task Management systems. A suite of easy to use API’s enabled us to link the disparate systems together. The choking switchboards were replaced by a Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol (VOIP) solution that integrated seamlessly with our mobiles and QADEX became totally cloud-based in 2014.
What has changed?
Now all teams can collaborate in all facets of working life across time zones and infrastructure barriers 24/7/365. Teams collaborate on video conferences sharing each other’s screens and authoring documents collaboratively without leaving their desk.
At the time of writing this I am sitting in an airport and sharing this document with a colleague for proof reading. Her comments and changes appear on screen a few paragraphs above my typing, so I need to hurry up to keep ahead of her!
If we want to chat face to face we can launch an instant video chat without spending ages trying to arrange a meeting, quick 5 minute video chat, job done, on to next job. At a glance we can see all other team members who are at their desk and ask them an Instant chat question and get an instant response.
Team members at customer sites use the same technology on their mobiles to ask a question of a colleague back at base, or online at any other location. Across desktop, tablet and mobile, all team members have secure access to everything.
Collaborative Communications could revolutionise your food safety team:
- Problem: How much time is spent emailing colleagues to arrange meetings?
Solution: Shared calendars allow you to see all of your colleague’s diaries, see what time is suitable for everyone and schedule a meeting instantly, with all colleagues getting a meeting invite automatically.
- Problem: How much time is spent travelling to meet colleagues to complete or review supplier risk assessments, vulnerability assessments or other documents?
Solution: If you don’t already have a QADEX solution, you can set your risk assessments up on a shared document and each person can have access from wherever they are based. You can also use a conference call on your VOIP system, a video conference or a group chat to discuss the risk assessments, where everyone has access to the document and is able to edit it and see all edits live.
- Problem: Team members need to be notified when deliveries arrive on site to perform QA checks as part of your supplier approval management.
Solution: Online forms can be created at Goods-In, and as soon as a delivery is logged automated alerts will be sent to the team member responsible for completing the QA check
There are many other working practices that could become more efficient and more effective by using methods of collaborative communications to unite geographically diverse food safety teams.
All we need to do now, is invent a method of teleporting to off-site locations, avoiding the incessant queues at the Airport. Beam me up Scottie!