These five processes are shockingly slow in enterprises – but shouldn’t be

(c)iStock.com/Rainer von Brandis

Enterprises are still struggling to complete some of the most basic functions, despite new technologies that claim to simplify workflows, provide better access to information, and accelerate approval processes.

Simple, common tasks that all companies need to do – opening a new job, onboarding a new employee, following up on customer requests, or approving an expense report – should be much quicker and easier. The problem lies with outdated software that pulls employees into clunky systems, rather than pushing out what’s actually relevant and useful to the employee.

New technologies like machine learning and predictive analytics have promised to cut through workflow clutter and surface tailored, actionable tasks to each to employee, but most companies are still bound by pre-existing enterprise tools that require things like IT tickets, cumbersome logins to multiple systems, copying data to spreadsheets, and the sending and receiving of hundreds of emails. There has to be a better way.

Here’s a look at five processes that are still shockingly slow in the workplace.

Hiring new employees

According to a recent study by Glassdoor, the average interview process for a new employee takes 23 days. That is the timing from when a job is posted to when a hire is made, but the reality is that the time an organisation actually recognises that there’s a need to hire to when it actually makes the hire can take a lot longer than that.

When department managers need to make a hire, they often have to submit a request to their boss. That request then needs to be approved by the department VP and then HR. The HR team, in collaboration with the business, has to create the job listing, promote it, and filter through hundreds of candidates. While there are many enterprise solutions that sort through candidates to reduce cycles, the process can get drawn out if a decision maker is out of town or if the budget for the role is altered. Ultimately, something that should only take a few weeks—especially when there is an immediate need—can take months from the time a position becomes available to when it is filled. And by then, you’ve lost your best candidate.

Onboarding new employees

Once companies hire the perfect candidate, they need to prepare for the candidate’s first day. This means ordering a new computer, entering the employee into Active Directory, creating all of the system accounts he or she needs, assigning a security badge and a place to sit, setting up benefits, coordinating a first day lunch…the list goes on. The check list of to-do items spans every department in the organisation. Getting this right is necessary as employee onboarding is one of the most important functions for an organisation.

While organisations with a standard onboarding process experience 54% greater productivity and 50% greater retention from new hires, 22% of companies have no formal onboarding program. Few organisations have good processes in place to address all of the necessary onboarding steps. With so many groups involved, it’s easy to miss something, leaving new employees without a computer or a place to sit on their first day.

Approving expense reports, PO, PTO, and other requests

Getting reimbursed for company expenses takes too long. Why? Because these requests often go into an enterprise system like Concur, Expensify, or SAP and managers must go look for the report to approve. Yes, sometimes managers receive an automated email that forces them to log into yet another system to complete the task, but more than likely they forgot their credentials and will delay this task as long as possible. But in many cases, those emails are simply missed.

This process can be so slow that sometimes the most effective route for an employee is to simply bring the expense report up to their manager directly, an incredibly inefficient process considering the technology we have access to. The slow processes can leave employees to pay for company charges out of pocket and wait weeks to get a check in the mail.

The same goes for PO and PTO approvals. Business partners and employees are often left waiting for approvals of their requests, whether it is an invoice or an upcoming vacation, which creates frustration. Unfortunately, the same processes that delay expense reports impact these requests as well.

Gathering 360 degree views on customers

The number of systems companies use to engage with their customers has grown rapidly, which means companies sit on tons of valuable data. Every customer service request, website visit, Tweet, and email exchange can potentially provide valuable insights into who customers are and what they expect from brands. While organisations know this information is out there, it’s usually scattered among various siloed systems.

Each team uses its own software and processes to analyse data. Because these systems don’t talk to each other, employees have to go in and manually pull the information they need to understand the status of a customer. For example, if a customer submits a ticket through a support system, a sales rep would want a full view to understand what the issue is, when it will be fixed, and if the customer is on social media commenting about the problem. This information could be housed in three different systems—such as Zendesk, Jira, and Oracle Social Cloud—making it hard for the sales rep to monitor the status. Since the systems don’t structure the data in the same way, it can be extremely time consuming to create a cohesive and comprehensive customer report.

Pulling business intelligence reports

Making strategic business decisions requires a clear understanding of how programs perform. Unfortunately, that data is often spread across many systems. While most companies recognise this and have invested in some form of business intelligence (BI) tools, many companies fail to make specific plans of how to embed BI into regular processes and data gathering. Even with the right strategy and tools in place, if it takes too long to get a report, decision makers make uninformed choices that aren’t backed by hard facts.

The problem again goes back to the systems that enterprises use to pull these reports. For example, marketing leaders need to understand how their various channel campaigns are performing. This involves collecting data about the website, email effectiveness, content syndication, and conversions to determine where the next quarter of spend should go. Outdated tools can’t predict what companies need, so employees must dive into the individual systems, aggregate the data, and pull out insights. By automatically updating employees with current stats, enterprise tools would be better suited to help business leaders make tough decisions that are based on facts.

Some of the most basic functions in today’s workplace can take weeks or even months to accomplish, when they should take minutes, hours, or days. Given the amount of technology that companies invest in annually, work should be simpler to manage. Business practices are broken at their core and everyday workflows take too long because companies still use outdated systems. If enterprises really want to enable their employees to be as efficient as possible, they need to leverage things like smart machines, bots, enhanced workflows, and micro apps. The right solutions can sort and surface the most important tasks. They can push the most relevant information and actionable activities to employees, streamlining processes at work and enabling better business decisions. 

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