Is yours the kind of organisation that tends to focus more on increasing productivity, rather than on improving efficiency? Wanting to produce more in the least amount of time possible is not a bad goal to have. After all, organisations that emphasise productivity are 40% more productive than others. But this doesn’t mean that sacrificing efficiency at the altar of productivity is a good goal. Companies that prioritise the quantum of work (i.e. productivity) over its quality (i.e. efficiency) end up taking shortcuts, which leads to rework, unhappy customers, increased costs, and a narrower bottom line.
Another common problem in the modern business landscape is that companies assume that their time is better spent on revenue-generating activities, rather than on improving process efficiencies, even though the latter can eventually improve their productivity, and their revenues. Consequently, they continue with legacy systems and applications, even if these systems are no longer the best or even the right solution for their needs. This “band-aid” approach further increases process inefficiencies, which then causes many other problems. Keep reading to know what these are.
5 Ways Inefficient Processes Are Harming Your Firm
Inefficient processes harm your business, limit your ability to serve your customers, and impact your competitive position. Here are 5 reasons to eliminate them as soon as possible.
- Time-sapping manual tasks
In the old days, businesses relied on manual processes, paper invoices, filing cabinets, snail-mail, and on-premise data backups – all relics of a world before the Information Age.
But today, technologies like cloud computing, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), and Intelligent Document Processing enable companies to automate manual processes and eliminate the Paper Armageddon, simplifying administration and management, and improving both efficiency and productivity. The rapid growth of these markets suggests they will become more embedded in our everyday work life sooner rather than later.
- Disconnected systems and functional silos reduce visibility
Many companies also struggle to streamline process flows and operations across different platforms because these systems don’t “talk” to each other. This problem reinforces functional siloes that minimise interdepartmental cohesiveness, and lower org-wide transparency, efficiency, and productivity.
The solution: Eliminating these siloes with integrated systems creates a culture of openness and a single source of truth. Where this is not possible, technologies like RPA is a great way to connect one platform to another. This consequently improves processes, allowing the org to achieve scalability where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
iii. Process bottlenecks
Once companies lock into a process, they usually stop looking for alternatives. And as the comfort zone widens, they don’t even look for ideas to improve the process, even if it’s inefficient. Often, they don’t have enough visibility into the process, and its upstream and downstream effects. As a result, they fail to recognise the bottlenecks causing inefficiencies and major slowdowns, which ultimately impact productivity and increase costs.
The solution: The best way to eliminate bottlenecks and improve processes is to embrace new technologies and adopt an evolution mindset. Sometimes, a process may need a complete overhaul to get rid of all bottlenecks. This is where Business Process Automation (BPA) can be truly game-changing.
- Duplicated effort and redundancies
Process duplication is a common problem, particularly in companies with geographically dispersed teams, or departments that don’t collaborate with each other. This leads to inefficiencies in every process in every affected department. Ultimately, repeating steps means wasted effort, lost time, confusion, and increased costs.
The solution: Technologies like RPA ensure that the same steps are carried out in every department that uses that process. It also helps orgs identify and eliminate non-value-added activities or unnecessary steps, and perform work “batching” to save time. Automation also removes the human element, which eliminates errors and speeds up output, which has a positive impact on productivity and efficiency.
- Poor decision-making
Inefficient processes lead to poor output, which affects the company’s ability to serve its customers, meets its goals, and achieve a competitive position. Another problem is that leaders don’t get the right insights at the right time to understand how the org is really doing. As a result, they cannot competently prioritise activities, set meaningful goals, or make smart choices to achieve those goals.
The solution: Once again, technology is the answer. Business Process Automation can yield action-rich insights that empower the org to understand its current position, identify gaps, and take steps to mitigate them to achieve sustainable growth and success.
The Time to Think about Automation is Now!
By automating repetitive, laborious, or time-consuming processes, you can free up people to add more value to your business. Since they are no longer stuck doing manual activities, they can pay more attention to other critical or strategic tasks that deliver better ROI – whether the tasks pertain to:
- Improved customer service
- More personalised marketing campaigns
- Cutting waste (e.g. in inventory)
- Expanding the company’s offerings
- Entering new markets
Ultimately, automation technologies like RPA and AI enable you to accomplish more with less, without sacrificing productivity or efficiency. The result – you get closer to maximising profit per employee.
Inefficient processes are a huge liability for your firm, whether you’ve realised it or not. Talk to your functional heads or line managers, add it all together, and then compare the results with your projections. Are you doing as well as you expected? If the answer is No, the root cause is most likely process inefficiencies.
And if you’re thinking that at least you don’t have a productivity problem – think again!
As we’ve already seen, inefficient processes also affect productivity, so it’s in your best interest to tackle the problem sooner rather than later. And not with temporary band-aids, but with more permanent solutions like technology-led automation. To choose the right technology, analyse your processes, document current issues, evaluate existing systems, and then pinpoint the technology that eliminates inefficiencies, and can yield tangible new benefits. If your organisation lacks the skills or knowledge required to do all of the above, don’t hesitate to work with a partner who does.