Srinivasan V, pharma consultant elaborates how an online reporting system can help field personnel understand and analyse their performance, improve it consistently, earn the best increments year after year and reach for the stars in their career
There was a time when field force in ethical pharma marketing companies used to send their Daily Call Reports – DCRs – using a post card. Then, printed DCR format were given to fill up and send by post till the advent of computers. Any analytical work like Field Work Analysis, Sales Performance Analysis, etc. used to be done manually which took time, and also there was no guarantee for accuracy.
Today almost all pharma companies, irrespective of size, have invested heavily into ‘online reporting system’ with following inbuilt conveniences:
Once the day’s work is over, one can log in, enter details of work done for the day, and at the click of a button, submit the report, which can be accessed immediately by all his superiors, from the first line manager to National Sales Manager. They can go through the reports and send their feedback on the quality and quantity of work done immediately for correction and implementation from the very next day wherever required.
No paper work is required now as everything is online. Saves on stationery items like paper, therefore lot of trees, and pen. No need to send reports by post or courier, hence saves on postage/courier expenses.
Very easy, and doesn’t take much time to fill up and send the reports, hence saves the precious working time of field personnel. No need to carry a lot of manual files related to work, sales performance details etc. for discussion with superiors. The laptop containing all the details is more than adequate for meaningful participation in any meeting. Thus saves extra baggage/load and precious meeting hours. Ensures paperless and files less office environment.
Communication to field personnel, newsletters, internal magazines, etc can be sent through this platform and reach the field force immediately, thus saves on postage/courier, and transit time as well.
Very importantly, the online reporting system has empowered the field force to do lot of important analytics relating to quantity and quality of field work, overall Sales performance overall as well as Product-wise month-wise, Stockist-wise Product- wise Secondary sales vis-à-vis Primary sales, Customer wise Product wise Sales performance, etc. can all be done just at the click of a button. Accuracy is guaranteed though it depends upon the accuracy of the input data keyed in. Many pharma companies have also been using this platform to update product knowledge and for conducting tests for field personnel to evaluate their understanding of product knowledge.
Many pharma companies have also included ‘performance evaluation’ for annual increment in the online reporting system, as to ensure transparency, and also to avoid subjectivity. The parameters for evaluation along with the weightage for each parameter is loaded in the system at the beginning of the year, and then at the end of every month, it shows the points scored against each parameter based on actual performance of the field force for the month, as well as cumulatively till date. This enables the field force to understand where they stand now, and under which parameter they need to improve upon in the coming months to post the best overall score before the year end.
Thus the online reporting system acts as a mirror which always shows the real picture to the field personnel to understand and analyse their performance, and act upon immediately where required, thus improve performance consistently, earn the best increments year after year and reach for the stars in their career.
Unfortunately, a majority of the field personnel uses the online reporting system as a tool to send Daily Call Reports and also to send and receive inter office memos/communication only. Any field force, who is keen on doing well and succeed, should regularly use the platform for other important activities like various analytics, as discussed above in detail, to brush up products knowledge, see how he has fared in the performance evaluation parameters, and then take corrective measures where required immediately either on his/her own or in consultation with the superiors. Chances are more for such field personnel to deliver consistently and succeed in their career. Therefore, I would prefer to call this platform as a performance enhancing tool rather than a simple online reporting system.
The challenge in front of pharma companies and its line managers is how to impress upon all their field personnel to use this performance enhancing tool in the most ideal manner, as discussed in detail in the previous paragraph, so as to improve the performance of individuals, all teams, consistently, and therefore the organisation as a whole. Line managers, are you up for the challenge?