It must have been about a year ago already, since I last fled the Netherlands for a short vacation in Italy. I always use to do that around the autumn vacation. By then, in the Netherlands it gets dark quite early and the weather is rainy and grey. Also the very idea of me sitting on a terrace at the same time at Piazza San Carlo in Turin, fills me with anticipatory pleasure for more than a month ahead!
Every year I try to combine that trip with something that takes or brings me or Keyers-net closer to a next level. Think of a training to update my knowledge on the latest software or customer insight training courses. This has already taken me to a variety of places. Like the time I signed up for a Business English Course in Palermo. I know, a Business English Course in Italy already might sound like a doubtful plan, but this course beat everything. “Welcome, you like English to talking?”the trainer started with a heavy Sicilian accent. So I immediately knew: I have to get out of here fast…
Fair in Milan
Last year I combined my vacation with an international fair in Milan. Representatives of the most beautiful and efficient data processing systems were everywhere, as far as my eyes could see. You might think: how exciting can that be? Believe me, for me it’s heaven on earth! After a day of strolling, a bag full of brochures, 14 lanyards, 12 memory sticks and 8 bottles of water (I wonder when these participating companies will think of something more original) I reached, slightly tiered, one of the terraces of the exhibition complex. There were some kind of big garden tables with trays with paninis and salads and I joined a table with a, what to me appeared to be, a delegation of foreigners. You can imagine my surprise when someone introduced himself with: “Hello, I’m Dirk-Jan. And you are?”
Blind confidence in technology?
Dirk-Jan turned out to be head of a data entry department. He was working for a webshop company. “Well then this must be a nice outing for you,” I replied whimsically. He agreed, but still maintaining a serious look on his face. “Still, I can’t find what I’m looking for here,” he said. He followed explaining how complicated it sometimes is to run a data entry department. “It’s feast or famine,” he continued.
Then Dirk-Jan told me a story that, over time, I have heard from many heads of department. Those periods of peak in work can’t always be predicted. And then when it comes down to it, -as in Dirk-Jan’s case- when thousands of product descriptions need to be entered by his team, you are left short-handed. Dirk-Jan had been hoping for a miracle in Milan. A new software package… A new system… Something that could help his team of data entry employees in times of extreme hustle and bustle! After exchanging contact data, Dirk-Jan and I said goodbye and I promised to call him back in the Netherlands. After the fair I started my well-deserved vacation. The Italian sun did me good, but still Dirk-Jan’s problem was never completely forgotten. Back in the Netherlands, I sent him a proposal.
People make the difference
I explained Dirk-Jan that the solution to his and his team’s problem was not going to be solved by some ingenious software or even the best data entry system out there. “In the end it’s your own people, supplemented by a backup team in the background, who are going to make the difference.” Dirk-Jan, somewhat surprised: “A backup team in the background? How do you mean?” I explained that during the year he will simply be assigning the data entry tasks to his own employees as normal. However, from now on, part of those tasks he will assign to the Data Entry Dream Team, a team of employees working for Keyers-net. This way, the team gets accustomed to the type of data Dirk-Jan’s team is processing. “During peak periods, absence or illness, I continued, you increase the volume for the backup team and your own team will be assured that you will be able to deliver on time.”
Cover your back during peak periods
And then he said: “Fine, let’s do it!”Well not exactly. Frankly, it took Dirk-Jan quite some time to get on board after he received my proposal. Time that he needed to convince himself that this could work. But also time to prepare the person he answers to and his team. Meanwhile, his team and our remote team are working together. When peak times arrive, there will always be people on stand-by and that gives a lot of peace of mind. Or as Dirk-Jan himself puts it: “The idea of always having an extra team on standby comforts me.” Actually, many other clients are also making sure their backs are covered during peak periods.
The year has flown by. Currently back in Italy again for my annual vacation. I look back at a wonderful year and three things come to mind: First of all: I really should go on vacation more often… Secondly: it’s nice to see that real data entry employees are still beating technology… And three: How happy I am not that I will not be spending time in a stuffy classroom somewhere in Palermo this year… Cheers and see you soon!