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Electronic Duty of Care – Tackling The Challenges to the UK Waste Industry of Going Digital

Author Graham Whistance, who first posted in February of this year, has returned to provide more information about the National Electronic Duty Of Care (eDoc) implementation due in 2014 throughout the UK Environment Agency jurisdiction.

What the eDoc Programme (Electronic Duty of Care) will Mean for UK Waste Companies

The waste industry has traditionally been a paper-based network of transfer notes between waste producers and disposers. But with the pending National Electronic Duty Of Careedoc programme (electronic duty of care) all of this could change as companies look to create, share, sign and register waste transfers online from January 2014. The edoc programme is voluntary and aims to inform and influence business behaviour, in particular SMEs, so that they can see for themselves how switching to electronic waste transfer notes can improve their efficiency. An example of going digital could be replacing paper based systems with a mobile device that can operate wirelessly in the field, receiving and sending job information in real-time between mobile workers and back-office systems.

Electronic Duty of Care to Bring Cost-savings and Environmental Benefits

With the right approach and training it is hoped that businesses will see the clear cost-saving and environmental benefits of switching to digital as part of the National Electronic Duty Of Care Programme. It is understandable though that new systems bring with them an element of uncertainty to a sector quite old-fashioned in its paper-based processes.

The eDoc Programme Challenges

So what are the ‘challenges’ that edoc could face when looking to roll out its programme early next year? From my experience at workforce management app, MyMobileWorkers, I’ve seen a number of points raised as barriers to going paper-free. The first challenge is, understandably, cost. SMEs by their very nature are small and perceived financial burdens of new procedures can cause concern – especially in the current economic climate. Secondly, businesses often worry about how easy it is to implement in their company. Clearly SMEs are under time and financial constraints and need to be sure a new digital system is logistically ‘do-able’ and can be integrated into their current systems. But above all, businesses need to see the clear benefits of cost, efficiency and compliance to ensure it yields worthwhile results for them and ultimately their customers.

In response to some of the challenges I would say that businesses can adopt mobile technology software more easily than they think – without adding an additional IT or back office member of staff. It won’t break the bank either- as long as you choose the right provider that offers a flexible payment such as a pay-as-you-go app so that you only pay per waste disposal job carried out.

How to Achieve Successful eDoc Implementation

In terms of implementing a new system, the key to successful integration and deployment is to have a team of people (management, IT, finance, office admin staff and field workers) involved in the process from day one. For smaller SMEs this may only be one or two people, but testing and reviewing the software should come from the people using it day in and day out. Staff should test and test again to ensure everyone is comfortable with how it works and make sure the software works for the business properly.

“electronic waste transfer notes will be key to providing excellent customer service”

Once in place, I believe that electronic waste transfer notes produced under the National Electronic Duty Of Care Programme, will be key to providing excellent customer service, continued customer loyalty and compliance with Service Level Agreements.  If edoc can present a business case that is compelling enough to influence behaviour within the industry, I think companies will begin to realise they can’t afford to miss out on this new, exciting digital era.

Graham WhistanceGraham Whistance is the developer of mobile workforce management software MyMobileWorkers which has been widely adopted in the waste sector. Graham is a member of the Environment Agency Business Advisory Group for the edoc project.

MyMobileWorkers, 8 The Parks, Haydock, Newton Le Willows, WA12 0JQ
T: 01942 295 999

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