Business Transformation

Driving efficiency and ROI for a modern IT department

Practical advice on how RPA and automation can drive efficiency in your business

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Inefficiency - an entrenched problem?

Inefficiency tops boardroom agendas year on year. Yet despite this, it remains a common, and often entrenched problem. While it would be easier to point to a particular department or project that was responsible, the fact is that it’s often small, daily bottlenecks and inefficiencies which amount to a large-scale problem. 15% of the workforce admit printing and filling out paper forms only to copy them back into a digital format[1], and 55% of managers are spending a remarkable eight hours per week on manual, repetitive tasks[2].

With technology offering new ways to reduce previously manual tasks, tackling inefficiency has in turn become a challenge for the IT function. This is an opportunity for IT to demonstrate value to internal stakeholders by providing new strategies and solutions which can cut costs and drive more efficient ways of working.

The causes of inefficiency

For large enterprises in particular, inefficiency can be endemic. Teams and workflows have evolved organically over long periods of time, often producing discrepancies between how functions operate. In turn, workers can be reluctant to give up established ways of working and are heavily reliant on legacy infrastructure. While these habits may work on a day to day level, they are not best practice, and will ultimately impact competitiveness and innovation by hampering improvements.

The HR department is one example where admin time is typically heavy. The process of securing candidates and organising interviews, for example, involves lots of organisational time, back and forth over e-mail with documents exchanged, printed, filled, scanned, and sent, and even more time to enter new employee information in IT systems. The majority of businesses (63%) report that less then 50% of their HR processes are automated[3] - which means most this is still done by hand. For HR and finance which are ultimately cost-centre to the business, it’s even more important for them to demonstrate value to the business by reducing unnecessary costs.

HR departments, and businesses more widely, are in a position to solve this issue with help from IT. With the right information management technology at their disposal, the IT department has a lynchpin role to play in driving value by supporting the business in cutting costs and driving ROI.

A guide to better information management

Discover how to manage your data better, and optimise document capture and processing

View/Download Guide

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Driving change

One of the main routes to realising operational improvements, is harnessing information management technology, including workflow automation and Robotic Process Automation (RPA). HR and Finance are a prime target for these types of technology. Accounts Payable (AP) Automation is a common strategy taken by businesses to streamline and automate AP processes, such as invoicing, removing manual tasks and providing better visibility and control over important financial data.

These technologies have established benefits. For example, according to the Hackett Group, high performing finance functions make 60% fewer invoicing mistakes by reducing error-prone manual intervention[4]. The report highlights that the difference between a typical finance organisation and a world-class performer is in how they spend their IT budgets. While the report concludes that they spend similar amounts on technology, leading finance departments invest in modernising existing applications and acquiring new, digital solutions.

Change can be daunting, particularly for employees who don’t like change. However, it’s important to emphasise that new technology has tangible benefits to their everyday role, including enabling employees to focus on higher-value activity like identifying new opportunities, securing new talent and developing more intelligent strategies to drive growth.

Take your first step

Where to start? The first step in the journey is to identify where inefficiency occurs. Close evaluation of current workflows will allow IT departments to spot pain points. How do documents flow through the business? Where are employees spending time on structured paperwork which could easily be templated or autocompleted by a digital system?

Where does information get lost or become difficult to track? In times of scrutiny in terms of data security and compliance, it’s never been more important to have a strong grip on how information is processed in your organisation. Automation provides benefits here too. While it’s not possible to track where employees leave physical copies of CVs in the office, digital and automated workflows make sure that a sensitive document such as a CV is tracked throughout its lifecycle. Systems can provide feedback on who opened the document, who it was sent to and where it exists in storage systems.

First evaluate. Then create a plan of action, targeting first transformations which deliver short-term ROI. While it can seem like a mountain to climb, automating admin-heavy processes has the potential to demonstrate value, fast.

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