Survey Highlights Workplace Productivity Drains

    According to a recently released report from ServiceNow, corporate managers spend nearly two days a week on unnecessary day-to-day admin tasks that are outside their core responsibilities. The amount of time managers spend focused on tasks not essential to their primary business role pulls them away from more strategic initiatives and creates a drain on productivity — a drain that may even require additional staffing resources to compensate for the losses.

    To better understand the effectiveness of the tools and processes used in their corporate environment, ServiceNow surveyed nearly 1,000 managers in the United States and the United Kingdom. Participants were asked about how these 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.

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    Barriers to Workplace Productivity

    Click through for highlights from a survey looking at the tools and processes used by managers in corporate environments, as identified by ServiceNow.

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    Unnecessary Tasks

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

    • 9 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 percent spending three days or more.
    • As a result, half of those surveyed said they did not have time for more strategic initiatives.

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    Inadequate Tools

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

    • More than 80 percent 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 percent) and onboarding a new employee (46 percent).
    • Nearly half of the respondents agree that using email and spreadsheets for managing work reduces productivity at their companies.
    • Fewer than 1 in 10 surveyed reported using automation to improve the efficiency of these repetitive tasks.
    • Even larger organizations 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 bastardized to fill a gap that exists in the systems permeated throughout the enterprise.”

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    Compounded by Complexity

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

    • More than 90 percent 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 organization.
    • More than 30 percent said five to 10 departments are typically involved in getting a new employee set up for their first day.
    • More than 30 percent 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 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 organization more effective.”

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    The Impact

    The impact is exponential for entire organizations.

    • In an organization 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.
    • Collectively across the United States, companies are spending $575 billion a year on these unnecessary tasks and inefficiencies.
    • That equals 3.3 percent of the gross domestic product of the United States or approximately the combined annual profits of America’s 50 largest public companies.

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    More Productive Options

    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 percent 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.
    • 9 in 10 surveyed said that automating these inefficient processes would make them more productive.

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    Overcoming the Issues

    These issues can be overcome.

    • Organizations 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, organizations can replace emails, phone calls and spreadsheets with automated workflows that are as simple as the consumer services they use at home.
    • The technology exists today and early adopters are showing the way forward.
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