Half of businesses don't believe they're prepared for the challenges of unplanned growth
Nine-in-ten (89%) organisations across the globe were left exposed to significant business dangers in 2015, due to the impact of unplanned growth. New international research from Epicor Software Corporation, a global provider of industry-specific enterprise software, has unveiled the potential pitfalls of business growth, when it is unplanned.
The research, which was conducted by MORAR Consulting and commissioned by Epicor, questioned over 1,800 business leaders from 12 countries across the globe.
The business leaders surveyed admitted they often fear the consequences of growth, citing a number of negative impacts when growth is not planned for effectively. Half (48%) said they worry that business growth puts excessive pressure on operations, damaging quality and customer satisfaction. A substantial number of businesses (42%) were also concerned their business IT systems may prove unable to cope with managing a larger, more complex, business model. The top concern cited by CEOs was the perceived loss of customer intimacy that may come about as a result of growth.
Growth also poses a number of concerns about resource availability as business activities scale. Almost half (45%) of business leaders said that as a result of growth, they worry that their business might take on large or complex projects that they lack the skillset and technology to deliver effectively, damaging their brand reputation. They were also concerned that by growing the business, workloads may increase to a level that places too much pressure on staff, prompting key personnel to leave the organisation (43%). Just under half (45%) of business leaders polled worry they are not personally prepared for the challenges of managing a larger, more diverse business.
Globally, significant levels of unplanned growth were more likely to be experienced by mid-sized businesses with 100-999 employees (37%), than larger enterprises with over 1,000 employees (29%). Unplanned growth can bring challenges and pitfalls which nearly three quarters of businesses agreed are of at least some concern to them. Growth was most likely to be described as painful (in as many as one in ten cases) by smaller mid-sized businesses (100-249 staff) as they make the difficult transition from small to mid-sized enterprise.
In the light of this it is not surprising that business leaders across the globe found growth to be difficult as well as rewarding, suggesting businesses across the globe need to prepare for growth more effectively. Nearly half (45%) admitted that they found growth challenging in 2015.
To support business growth, and prepare for its challenges better, 79 percent of businesses believe that an effective and integrated IT infrastructure is essential. “This adoption of new technologies should position organisations to reap the benefits of newfound efficiencies and pave the way for growth,” said Malcolm Fox, vice president, product marketing, Epicor.
“Although the majority of businesses intend to grow in 2016, it’s clear that there are significant concerns with regard to businesses ability to deal with growth,” said Fox. “These concerns are not altogether unfounded, as our research shows even when businesses plan to grow, this growth can still surprise them; putting unexpected pressures on the organization. The proper time to prepare for growth surges is well in advance, as having an information framework to enable an organization to respond and keep pace in the face of growth has never been more vital.”
Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work
Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.
Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.
Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.
“When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”
And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.
Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work
By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.
“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”
These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.
Repetitive tasks that can be automated
Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”
These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.
“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”
Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.
Five business areas that can be automated
Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.
- Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
- Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
- Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
- IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
- Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.
“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”