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Driving productivity through effective automation

One of the big selling points with nearly all types of technology is how it is going to make life easier. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a phone, wireless headphones, keyboard, software, cloud infrastructure, cyber security system, hardware, the connected device, or anything in between; more often than not, technology is marketed as freeing people up to focus on what they really want to do.  

The productivity problem 

Yet despite this promised boost in productivity, overall worker efficiency is down. A McKinsey article noted that “labor-productivity growth has been declining across the United States and Western Europe since a boom in the 1960s, and it decelerated further after the financial crisis to historic lows.”  

This is a major issue – with aging populations, developed countries need their workers to do more. When they can’t, national and international economies start to struggle. Time highlighted how “the number of…countries growing by less than 2% a year has been steadily rising over the past few years, as productivity decreases.” 

Why isn’t technology working? 

But it’s not just at a macro level that this is a problem. Businesses need their employees to be as productive as possible. So why, with all the investment in technology that we’ve seen, hasn’t there been a corresponding boost in productivity? 

One of the reasons is that the majority of businesses are still going through their own digital transformation. Even the most seemingly advanced of organizations are not completely digitalised. How can this be, if they’ve moved to the cloud and implemented digital workspaces to realize the future of work? Because more often than not they have yet to fully automate their processes.  

The need for digital processes 

And this is key. If a company installs new technology, but still requires employees to conduct manual tasks, then there will be limited benefits. For instance, a new cloud-based CRM system may have replaced a legacy, on-premises version. The potential benefits might include being able to access the system from anywhere (as opposed to just in the office), a mobile app, and integrating with an email marketing service. But if the data that goes into the new system still has to be inputted manually, and still requires the same number of fields to be completed, then any potential time saving is going to be minimal. The anywhere access feature may mean that data is uploaded earlier than before, but that value may be negligible if all it does is delay another task.  

Look at it another way. Most organizations rely on a combination of people, processes, and technology to operate effectively. But when it comes to digital transformation, they usually just focus on the tech. Sometimes they’ll consider people as well, whether that’s through acquiring specific skill sets, or training employees.  

Where things fall down is a process. That’s because technology and people are relatively straightforward – you either have them, or you don’t, and if you don’t, you invest until you do. Processes, on the other hand, can be very hard to map. There will be official ones, but then there are also unofficial ones. There might be workarounds in place because a system was too hard to use or wasn’t really fit for purpose; they might be shortcuts; they might even exist without anyone knowing they do.  

 

Automating processes 

But it is the process that makes or breaks digital transformation. And it’s the process that makes businesses productive, or not.  

This is where process automation comes in. For a business to become fully digitized, every aspect of its operations needs to become digital, and that extends to processes. Automate laborious, manual processes, and you’re giving employees time back that they can spend on more value-add activities. They’ll be able to complete tasks faster and get through more of them, while the processes that used to take up their time will just work.  

What’s more, by removing the human, there’s less chance of human error creeping in – a major plus for manual, repetitive tasks like data entry, which can be mind-numbing yet require a high rate of accuracy.  

Introducing process orchestration 

But automating processes is really just the first step. Or rather, it isn’t the right approach. Because process automation is the automation of processes individually. For an organization with thousands of official and unofficial processes, looking at them on a case-by-case basis would make it seem insurmountable.  

This is where process orchestration comes in – the automation of many processes, at scale. Through process orchestration, organizations can digitize their processes and procedures, reducing the number where needed and refining others, all with the purpose of making every aspect of the operation more efficient.  

From manual process to improved productivity 

So, not only are employees freed up to drive more value and spend less time on routine administration but the processes themselves are streamlined. The entire business is focused on being more productive.  

To find out how your business could implement process orchestration, get in touch today.