How to Make ‘Doing Less’ a Top Priority in 2019

Happy 2019! You’ve probably been deluged with articles about top trends and predictions for 2019. I believe that business conditions have evolved to a world of permanent talent shortages. As business becomes increasingly digital, skilled programmers are in great demand. You must invest in attracting and retaining world-class talent, but it will only get harder.

Therefore, in 2019, you must also invest in ensuring that your existing talent is doing what you hired them for. Anything else is a waste of your resources. Yet, very few organizational leaders actually take the time to write down a plan that clearly identifies and targets activities that you won’t be doing at this time in 2020. Although it sounds counterintuitive, figuring out how to do less should be one of your highest priorities in 2019. How should you go about “doing less?”

Start with your day-to-day operations

It may seem obvious, but day-to-day operations are where employees spend most of their time. Look around you at the routine, everyday activities that employees perform. I guarantee you’ll find dozens of opportunities to change what employees do every day. Here are three areas to consider:

1. Eliminate unnecessary tasks

Obviously, if you can completely stop doing specific activities, that’s an easy win. However, I hope your employees are primarily working on things that are necessary for the business and there aren’t many activities to eliminate.

2. Outsource non-core tasks

Outsource non-core activities when possible. Benefits management and IT helpdesk support are likely not activities that differentiate your products to customers. If you haven’t already done so, consider outsourcing some of these tasks so you free up people to work on the things that matter.

3. Invest in process automation

Computers are winning at Jeopardy, diagnosing diseases and driving cars. With automated core processes, you can drive 50 percent or greater cost reductions. More importantly, you will jettison outdated business practices, free employees from tedious, manual tasks and allow them to focus on work that matters.

Use Cases

Once you examine your operations, it’s usually easy to quickly find opportunities where business process automation reduces work and saves time. Here are some examples from customers I’ve worked with:

  1. A K-12 school district found that teachers wasted time chasing down supervisors for approvals. For example, finding approval for a scheduled trip or purchase requisition. An inexpensive, automated solution has eliminated this time-consuming step and teachers now spend more of their time teaching.

  2. A medical practice digitized its most common patient intake forms. Now, patients complete information electronically. Office staff no longer has to check for errors and doctors gain a crtically important 2-4 hours per week since they aren’t waiting on paperwork. That means doctors spend more time caring for patients.

  3. At an independent living provider, the new hire onboarding packet had grown to 40 items due to regulatory requirements. It took hours to complete, and HR staff had to double-check everything, re-enter data into systems and file W-4 and I-9 forms. The electronic process reduced this to just 30 minutes. Now, HR focuses on making the new hire productive.

  4. A construction company found that purchase orders took lengthy periods of time. That’s because people used wrong part numbers or unit prices – information that’s available electronically in SQL. They now have an automated PO process that connects to SQL, populates it and eliminates mistakes. As a result, employees aren’t waiting around for parts and projects get done faster.

Sound familiar? I’ve seen examples like this everywhere and your organization is probably no exception. I also know that it’s almost impossible to change unless you, as an organizational leader, make this an explicit priority.

Inexpensive, simple tools are already available

Modern workflow software makes process automation accessible to everyone. I’ve already written about visual, low-code platforms that make it easy to automate without hiring expensive programmers. There’s no reason to wait and you owe it to yourself to get started today.

Conclusion

The war for talent is real and permanent – the winners will be those organizations that can attract, retain and make the most of the talent available to them. Stop wasting employee time on manual processes with workarounds.

Process automation using a modern, visual platform has the potential to be a game-changer for your organization. If you’re smart, you’ll reinvest the savings into digital initiatives so you can continue to reap the benefits of digital transformation.

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