May 19, 2020

Leading by design – how organisations can embrace a design-first culture

design
Product Development
Clearleft
James Box
3 min
Leading by design – how organisations can embrace a design-first culture

There are two types of company – traditionally structured organisations that are optimised to solve problems in a bricks and mortar world that are attempting to integrate design into a whole host of legacy systems and procedures – and those that are digitally native, such as Spotify or Google, that have a natural affinity with the way that technology design needs to be developed.

The former have their work cut out for them and in order to develop successful products with great experiences, organisations need processes, personnel alignment and design transformation. Many are taking small steps in the right direction, but not making the big, bold steps required to make a significant change.

So, what is stopping companies from leading by design? The simple answer is cultural baggage – habits, rituals values – those invisible and intangible elements that make up the very fabric of an organisation. When you speak to individuals within a bricks and mortar organisation, the appetite is high for digital transformation, but ultimately at some point, the machine kicks and they still have to play the game. Others, quite simply, don’t believe it is possible – that the vision is a stretch too far.

Some organisations are bringing in design capacity and capability, but this is still not having a massive impact on products. One example of a progressive stance towards design leadership is the Government Digital Services (GDS). They have a design mantra for all UK government websites that starts with need. This user-centric design rejects the constraints of technology and broadens the spectrum of what is possible. Also, showcasing how a larger organisation need not be crippled by risk aversion, Amazon and Facebook push out new products live to users thousands of times a day testing.

In order to make a real difference and truly embrace design leadership, companies need to consider the following:

  • Exposure to users – if you want to start thinking about how to solve problems for your customers, go and meet them. Build empathy for the problems that your customers face, discover what they are prepared to pay for your product or service and design the technology around this
  • Make design visible – break down team silos to create collaboration and cooperation as a blended team. Put design visuals on the walls and decorate the space with optimistic storytelling
  • Measure and reward excellence in customer experience – inevitably organisations reward sales wins and cost efficiencies, but why not have a number that measures customer satisfaction and reward based on that
  • Lower the fear of failure – people need to try things. Design is all about predictions and ultimately we don’t really know what is going to happen until the product gets into the hands of the user. So, in order to be progressive, you must allow people to test, learn, make improvements and then prove – without justifying decision, building a business case for it, and going through a six-stage sign off process

Changing the fabric of an organisation and embracing a strategic re-shift is exactly what designers are well-place to help with. If companies are prepared to adopt a sense of bravery and boldness, the benefits will seep into every area of the business.

James Box is User Experience Director at Clearleft

 

 

 

 

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May 28, 2021

Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work

Automation
UiPath
technology
repetitivetasks
Kate Birch
4 min
As a new report reveals most office workers are crushed by repetitive tasks, we talk the value of automation with UiPath’s MD of Northern Europe, Gavin Mee

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.

  1. 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
  2. Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
  3. Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
  4. 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
  5. 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.”

 

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