#SMETowkay: Work made better with technology

This article is part of the #SMETowkay series by the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI), Singapore to showcase SMEs who have benefited from going digital. This story features Sigma Security & HR Consultants

Attendance and punctuality are that important to Sigma Security & HR Consultants, they bought vans just to ferry their Malaysian security guards from the Causeway to their individual postings every morning.

These employees, however, only represent a fraction of the company’s hundred plus security guards. Every day, Sigma needs to ensure all of them report to work on time, across Singapore, in places like condominiums, factories, and construction sites. “Ensuring punctuality is one of the biggest challenges,” says Sigma’s director Vimala Sigamani. If any of its guards are late or a no-show, the company would need to arrange for a replacement in time. “My company’s credibility is dependent on it.”

Vimala Sigamani, Director, Sigma

Early this year, Vimala found an answer to this issue through the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA)’s SMEs Go Digital Programme. The initiative, to help businesses adopt digital technologies to stay competitive, matched Sigma’s needs with a pre-approved tech product, iREP Security, and even defrayed part of the cost.

The solution is a system consisting of smartphones, unique identity cards for every guard and the accompany tech software. At the two sites where Sigma has implemented this technology, every guard room would have an assigned smartphone for the guards to scan their identity cards with. To make sure nobody abuses this self-reporting system, the software requires guards to take a photo of themselves as they punch in and out for the day. This image, the guards’ information, and site locations would then be sent to Sigma’s control centre to be automatically tabulated into an attendance sheet that the company submits to its clients.

Not only does this eliminate the manual work of attendance taking and tabulations, Sigma can also avoid potential disputes with its clients. Before adopting this technology, there were times when Sigma’s attendance records failed to match the clients’ feedback. It turned out that the guards falsely reported attendance for one another. “Now that everything is digital, they can’t misreport,” she says.

While the technology requires a financial investment, Vimala found it worthwhile. If there was a breach in security, her security guards can immediately send emergency alerts via the smartphone to Sigma’s control centre. “Clients are not convinced when you tell them what your guards can do, because they know it depends on who they get,” Vimala explains. “It’s different if you tell them you use a real-time emergency alert system.” Since Sigma’s efforts to go digital, clients have become more receptive and positive towards their services.

At first, some of the guards were hesitant towards adopting new technology. However, they were convinced after learning about its benefits. This was especially so for guards who were unable to speak good English. With the real-time incidence reporting function on their smartphones, two-way communication with clients were made easier, establishing better trust and accountability between the two parties.

This new technology also made work safer. For example, if it was too dangerous to patrol areas of a site during a heavy downpour, guards could inform their clients of the difficulties faced, with supporting photographs. “Since our industry is heavily dependent on manpower, it is important we create a safe environment for them to work in,” says Vimala.

Vimala added that getting her employees to see the benefits of adopting technology made Sigma’s digital transformation smoother than expected. Even her older employees, whom Vimala thought would be averse to new technologies, had no complaints and readily adopted the technology. “With the proper training, anyone can do it.”

Thinking of going digital? The SMEs Go Digital programme by the IMDA matches companies to the appropriate tech solutions and offers financial subsidies too. Get started at https://www.imda.gov.sg/smesgodigital

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