One fine morning last year, Najmum Nahar, a low-ranking human resources officer at Berger Paints Bangladesh Limited was asked to answer roughly two dozen questions by email about internal issues of the company.
The questionnaire was a part of a survey the multinational company did to let its workers speak out about issues they felt were important.
Before the survey, lower tier employees could give verbal feedback about different issues to their senior officers.
But to Najmun's surprise, the survey result even reached the board members.
"I felt very satisfied because I could speak my mind. Our management gives importance to our opinions too," said Najmun Nahar, who has been working with the company for the last eight years.
Later, the multinational company made some improvements on issues its employees raised in the survey.
Mushfequr Rahman, general manager of human resources at Berger Paints Bangladesh Limited said that it took a very small amount of time to get the survey result.
"We get really benefited because there is no middleman in the communication, any official can give real-time feedback and share ideas with high-ranking officers directly," said Mushfequr Rahman, adding that the software they are using has high-performing artificial intelligence.
The Performax 360 software is the brainchild of Samir Asaf, chief executive officer at Performax Inc, a rising global software platform.
The company has bagged the 2020 SaaS Awards Program, one of the two most prestigious awards in the software field.
The company became first in the category for Best SaaS for Stakeholder Engagement.
Performax CEO Samir Asaf considers winning of the 2020 SaaS Awards as a milestone as it celebrates excellence in software and accepts entries from across the world, including the US, UK, and Canada.
His company had to compete with many tech giants, including IBM.
Performax's Stakeholder Engagement software is an advanced business management solution.
Any company can input its employees' emails and mobile numbers in the software.
From top management to the lowest-level employees, everyone can have access to give feedback and share ideas directly to the top management about any issue.
"This makes way for the top management to get correct information instantly about the company or factory. The top management's source of information is all the employees of the company, they will not have to depend on mid-level managers' information any longer," Samir Asaf told The Business Standard in an interview recently.
Stakeholders are usually all the people involved in a business or company.
The Stakeholder Engagement software processes stakeholders' sentiments with artificial intelligence.
It is capable of analysing text feedback.
The software can read whether a stakeholder has a positive or negative sentiment on any topic or issue of the company.
"It will automatically collect data, it will automatically analyse the data, and it will show on a dashboard in red and green colour. The top management can see the whole picture of the stakeholders' sentiments in a minute," said Samir.
Why it is important?
In most cases, mid-level managers do not share everything with top management.
When top managements want to make a business decision, they have to solely rely on the information mid-level managers provide about a company or factory's situation.
There is a huge chance that the company might make a disastrous decision based on some fictitious information mid-level managers are providing which may upend the whole company.
"When they will use this software, employees from all levels can let the top managers know what is really happening. Ultimately, the company can take an informed decision," said Samir.
Another reason is innovation. Employees at a company think of a lot of ideas. These ideas come and then fade away.
They cannot be captured.
If an employee gets a new idea for launching a new product, a new idea of cost control or partnership, he or she can directly send it to senior managers.
"In most cases, ideas get hijacked by mid-level managers or these ideas cannot reach directly to the top management because of these mid-level managers," he said.
In most cases, ideas get hijacked by mid-level managers or these ideas cannot reach directly to the top management because of these mid-level managers
The software allows employees to share their ideas directly to bosses. Stakeholders can also give feedback anonymously.
He feels a company with more than 50 employees should use this software to efficiently manage company affairs.
Stakeholder engagement is not new practice. Many companies conduct voice of employee survey once a year to take feedback.
"But voice of employee survey is not enough as the world has become fast-paced and things are changing every week and new issues are constantly coming. You need a real-time system so that you can monitor real-time," said Samir Asaf.
There is the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system too. This system gives top management numerical data. Usually, all companies have ERP system.
"The problem is that the ERP system does not have the scope for stakeholders to express their opinions. You have to use its structured data as well as stakeholders' unstructured data to make momentous decisions," he said.
Why is strategy execution a challenge?
Strategy execution is the biggest challenge for management today because around the world, 70 per cent strategies of a company fail due to lack of effective stakeholder engagement.
"The mid-level as well as lower-level management think that they are not consulted with before the implementation of a strategy starts. As a result, very often they do not feel deeply involved in tasks or projects," said Samir.
He pointed out that according to different surveys, only 15-20 per cent employees said that they were highly motivated and highly engaged at their work.
If low-level employees are given the channel to give their feedback, ideas, or concerns at any time, they will not feel left out
That means 80 per cent workers do not feel highly engaged at their workplace.
"What we want is to raise the percentage to 40-60 globally. If low-level employees are given the channel to give their feedback, ideas, or concerns at any time, they will not feel left out," he said.
The situation in Bangladesh
Companies in Bangladesh can be greatly benefited by using this software as here the 'yes-man' culture is very popular.
Senior executives in Bangladesh suffer a lot from blind spots. They do not feel free to disagree with their bosses.
Again, another weakness of stakeholder engagement in Bangladesh is that top managements do not feel the need of it.
Companies in Bangladesh show little interest in using it, but they do not forget to praise the concept as well as the software.
Most managing directors I met in the country feel that they do not need any inputs from their employees. They feel that their power may decrease
"Most managing directors I met in the country feel that they do not need any inputs from their employees. They feel that their power may decrease," said Samir Asaf.
Performax has many clients globally, including Dell and H&M, but only two in Bangladesh, Advanced Chemical Industries Limited (ACI Limited) and Berger Paints Bangladesh Limited.
They are getting benefits by using the Performax 360 software.
However, Samir said he does not see attractive prospects for his product in his motherland, Bangladesh.
But he urged Bangladeshi businessmen to try his software out.
If someone wants to buy the software, the starting price is $100 per month, which is around Tk8,000 in Bangladesh.
The price varies according to the number of users. But Samir wants to give special discounts to Bangladeshi businessmen.