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Manual admin hampering Aussie managers - and companies

11 Nov 15

Australian corporate managers are spending an average of 36% of their time on needless manual administrative tasks with companies failing to capitalise on connected technology to simplify and accelerate work.

The new report from enterprise cloud company ServiceNow shows time spent on administration using unstructured, manual tools translates to $33B per annum or 2.1% of GDP.

ServiceNow says in addition, spending time on administrative tasks could be hampering organisational growth as managers have less time for strategic work, in turn creating unnecessary productivity and revenue losses.

David Oakley, ServiceNow ANZ managing director, says the Internet has radically transformed the way we work and play, with consumers expecting the web to be automated, on demand and always on – a demand increasingly seen in the workplace as well.

“However, the survey found that organisations are still spending considerable time and money on manual administration, which could significantly impact their top and bottom lines,” Oakley says.

“Not only does this routine work cause managers to be less productive, it also inhibits a business’ ability to access one of the most crucial avenues to business growth – innovation,” he says.

The survey of 300 managers across Australia shows 70% of companies are using unstructured manual tools to drive routine work processes, with 70% of managers saying these routine work processes cause significant delays and 62% of managers saying administrative tasks are preventing them from doing strategic work.

Oakley says Australian enterprises are wasting billions of dollars on manual administration. “The magnitude of this administrative overhead is astounding,” he says. “Enterprises need to ask whether administrative activities are the best use of their resources.”

Less than 18% of organisations had automated applications for IT technical support, marketing services, purchase orders and employee onboarding, with seven in 10 companies still using unstructured manual tools such as email, spreadsheets and personal visits to drive routine work processes, rather than automated applications.

Even with IT support – arguably the most mature service – only 16% have automated systems.

“The problem with emails, phone calls and personal visits is that they do not drive end-to-end workflow,” Oakley says.

“Once a manager requests a service, the request is never tracked. For instance, if things are delayed or forgotten, no one is responsible for chasing the issue.

“It’s like having an orchestra with no conductor and chaos reigns.  Managers end up having to become that conductor, which is what consumes their time and creates frustration.”

The report shows the majority of managers (three in four) want simple, self-service support processes that are as easy to use and apply as consumer websites such as eBay or Amazon.

Nine in 10 agree that automating these inefficient work processes would make them more productive with only 4% disagreeing with consumerising support processes, and only 3% disagreeing with automating administrative tasks.

Oakley says by automating and consumerisng their business services, Australian companies can reclaim enormous amounts of highly skilled management time.

“Not only will this drive massive increases in efficiency, it will also release managers to focus on strategic activities.

“We believe that this is a critical investment area that can deliver deep competitive benefits and major cost savings,” he says.

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

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