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What Is Killing Corporate Productivity?

The ‘daily grind’ is draining more than our morale; it’s killing corporate productivity.

New research reveals that managers in corporate environments spend two days a week on unnecessary day-to-day administrative tasks that are not core to their jobs. That’s almost as much time as real work. Why?

Getting routine work done takes too much time. The tools we use at work are ill-suited for the tasks they need to complete. Eight in 10 companies – both large and small – still use manual tools such as email, spreadsheets and even personal visits to drive routine work. These unstructured practices need to change.

The survey went a step beyond to look at the complexity of some common business processes and the interdependencies between departments.  It’s no easy task to on-board an employee. For example, the study showed that managers need to coordinate an average of 10 requests across four departments. We’re trying to navigate those complexities using tools from 25 years ago. It’s no wonder that as a result, half of those surveyed said they did not have time for more strategic initiatives.

It’s bad enough when you think of the pain it provides to the average worker but the impact on an organization is devastating. A quick calculation shows that two days per week equates to 2,000 employees or 4 million hours a year for a firm with 5,000 employees. This extra administration equates to $575 billion a year wasted or 3.3% of the gross domestic product of the United States. That’s approximately the combined annual profits of America’s 50 largest public companies.

This is far from the first criticism of email but it’s arguably the first time that we can see such a clear impact on productivity. Email was never intended to run a company’s business processes.

Professionals want to move away from email and automate tasks that improve how work gets done. Three-quarters of those surveyed agree that processes and systems should work more like those they experience as consumers.  Nine in 10 surveyed said that automating these inefficient processes would increase productivity.

With the facts so stark and a mandate for change, the only question left is, how do you move from email to automation? I recommend taking a systematic approach.

Here are three steps:

  • Whiteboard the Service – If you can map a process from request to approvals to fulfillment, you can build — and automate — practically any service such as managing patient supplies in a hospital, onboarding an employee, or managing requests in finance. First, identify the services you want to automate and draw out those connections between the requestors, approvers and fulfillers.
  • Design the End User Experience – Think about how people want to interact with the service. Interview your stakeholders. All requests can be tracked in a portal, providing up-to-the-minute status, eliminating the need for employees to send emails to check on progress. Instead, organizations can send emails as a notification tool, (“Your request has been approved”) just as consumer sites do. You then create a single system of engagement across the organization, offering a level of ‘consumerized’ self-service to work.
  • Use Software to Automate, Track and Report —Service management software helps turn your whiteboard process into an automated  service workflow. Business teams can rapidly create new applications without having to write computer code. These applications allow the entire organization to utilize a common platform and a common approach to managing services.

If you can automate mundane, repeatable tasks and the most complex tasks, then you can give your organization one of the most valuable experiences — time to innovate. How could your team impact the business if you were able to invest 40 percent of your time innovating? I urge you to take a step forward and improve the state of work today.

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