Thought leadership

Unnecessary administrative tasks, process complexity, departmental inefficiencies and email abuse are to blame for the lack of productivity

“Today’s State of Work: The Productivity Drain,” a new report from ServiceNow, reveals that managers in corporate environments spend nearly two days a week on unnecessary day-to-day administrative tasks that are not core to their jobs. This could have an exponential impact on an organisation’s top and bottom lines as employees have less time for strategic work and it takes more people to get the work done.

ServiceNow surveyed 305 managers in the UK to understand the effectiveness of the tools and processes in their corporate environment. The company asked them about how those tools and processes impact their individual and team effectiveness. The survey focused on four specific processes or services common in any corporate environment: setting up a new employee, opening a purchase order, requesting tech support and ordering marketing collateral. The results were consistent across all demographics.

Information workers spend as much time on unnecessary tasks as they do their jobs.

· Nine in 10 managers, regardless of company size or team function, spent time on administrative tasks outside their core job function.

· Those tasks include tasks such as providing status updates, filling out forms, requesting support and updating spreadsheets.

· On average, they spent more than 15 hours or two days a week on routine administrative tasks, with 20% spending three days or more.

· As a result, half of those surveyed said they didn’t have time for more strategic initiatives.

The tools used in the work environment are ill-suited for the tasks they need to complete.

• More than 80% of those surveyed rely primarily on inefficient, manual tools such as email, telephone calls and personal visits to get work done.

• Email was the top method used for opening a purchase order (53%) and onboarding a new employee (46%).

• Nearly half of the respondents agree that using email and spreadsheets for managing work reducing productivity at their companies.

• Fewer than one in 10 surveyed reported using automation to improve the efficiency of these repetitive tasks.

• Even larger organisations and more technology-aware functions like IT are still using the same manual tools.

“Email was never intended to run a company’s business processes,” said Dave Wright, ServiceNow chief strategy officer. “It is a communication vehicle that has been bastardised to fill a gap that exists in the systems permeated throughout the enterprise.”

The productivity drain is compounded by the complexity of business processes and the interdependencies between departments.

• More than 90% said the inefficiency of other departments directly impacts their individual and team productivity.

• On average, respondents reported having to deal with four different departments for the enterprise services common in almost every organisation.

• More than 30% said five to 10 departments are typically involved in getting a new employee set up for their first day.

• More than 30% also said that it takes more than 10 individual interactions such as emails, phone calls or personal visits to make sure the company is ready for that new employee’s first day.

“While everyone agreed that productivity depends on how smoothly internal business processes run, the survey showed those processes are akin to a navigating a labyrinth,” said Wright. “Knowing when you have work to do, and being able to measure how effectively you perform that work, makes the whole organisation more effective.”

The impact is exponential for entire organisations.

• In an organisation with 5,000 managers, these unnecessary tasks and inefficient processes take up 4 million hours per year – that’s the equivalent of 2,000 full-time employees.

Workers feel they could be more productive if the technology in the office were more like the technologies they use at home and on the go.

· 75% of those surveyed agree that work processes and systems should work more like those they experience as consumers.

· They agreed that they want the simplicity and self-service control and transparency that they experience with popular online services they use in their personal lives.

· Nine in 10 surveyed said that automating these inefficient processes would make them more productive.

These issues can be overcome.

· Organisations can easily streamline and automate their internal business services today to get back this wasted time.

· If a company can whiteboard a process from request to approvals to fulfillment, they can build — and automate — practically any business process in HR, finance, IT, legal, marketing and more.

· Automation can help identify where time is being wasted and where processes can be improved.

· By adopting service management software and practices, organisations can replace emails, phone calls and spreadsheets with automated workflows that are as simple as the consumer services they use at home.

“This survey points to the future of work – evolving from personal productivity tools to online automation to run business processes,” said Wright. “The technology exists today and early adopters are showing the way forward.”


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