Degrees of Success: Improving Productivity and Performance through Process Automation
Few businesses use just one solution to get all their work done. In most cases, the business must at least communicate, produce information and account for financial activities – and each of these functions has a software product or service associated with delivering the required capability. While every business uses technology at some level, some businesses have more success than others in developing streamlined and efficient processes guiding the various tasks and activities performed throughout the day. Sometimes the problem stems from a lack of understanding of the importance of process automation, and sometimes it’s the software.
The success (or lack thereof) in streamlining a business process is often enabled by the tools supporting it, yet the truth of software and systems is that not everything is easily integrated and not all business workflows actually “flow” smoothly. In many cases it is left to the human user to connect the processes and keep the work flowing, creating the opportunity for missed deadlines, duplicated or erroneous data, and a greater dependency on individual worker knowledge than is good for the business. The better alternative may be the adoption of workflow and automation tools to assist with bridging and scheduling of repetitive tasks, building the knowledgebase of process and task flow supporting business sustainability efforts and easing the burdens of training new employees. Process automation helps to improve productivity, it’s just that simple.
If the time is taken to really consider the variety and numbers of repetitive tasks employees perform throughout the day, the cost in time, lost productivity and data errors or omissions would likely add up to far more than initially expected. People tend to adapt to using the tools they are provided, and will find ways to get things done (whether it’s the most effective way or not). The end does not always justify the means, and many businesses ultimately find that it is here – where individual worker initiative and unguided action are most prevalent – that the operation fails to accomplish stated goals.
In order to create a sustainable operation with consistently high levels of production and performance, the business must establish a complete framework for process automation and support. Where existing application and software functionality is not able to meet the requirement, the business should implement specialized tools to bridge the gap and embed the process knowledge in the system.
Scheduled reporting, customer and product data synchronization, import/export routines, data maintenance routines – these are among the tasks and processes which represent the regularly-performed work that may be sucking the user productivity and performance out of the business. It’s a matter of degrees of success, and productivity improvements introduced through comprehensive process and task automation can make the difference between a little success and a lot.