Challenges and Opportunities in the Modern Workforce and How Workflow Automation Helps

This blog post is based on the webinar by Ryan Duguid, Nintex SVP of Technology Strategy, and Chris Marsh, 451 Research Director on January 11th, 2018.

The Modern Workplace Has Unique Characteristics

The nature of the workplace is changing, and the enterprise is adapting to meet new challenges and profit from new opportunities. There are three connected trends that exemplify how and why the nature of work is changing. These trends offer huge opportunities, yet they’re also introducing big challenges.

3 Trends in the Modern Workplace

1.  Workforce Demographics

In terms of the workforce demographic, the balance is shifting towards millennials and post-millennials. This demographic consists of digital natives, who have a strong desire to improve the nature of the work they’re doing and are prepared to try out new tools to achieve better outcomes.

2.  Tools

More workplace tools are becoming available. Powerful ‘low code’ and ‘no code’ tools are now available for non-IT specialist workers to address the business problems they face every day. These tools are available in the cloud, meaning that the cost of deployment and management has reduced significantly.

3.  Ownership

The ownership of complex and specialist work (i.e. work that involves large numbers of workflows and people) is increasingly passing from IT specialists to business leaders and their teams.

A recent survey of LOB leaders by 451 Research found that:

  • 63% of respondents said there were over 100 workflow steps involved in the work they were managing
  • 60% said that over 100 people are typically involved in this work

The complexity of the type of work we are having to do is increasing; there are more people involved as work becomes decentralized and highly geo-distributed.

Apps Are Presented as the ‘Silver Bullet Solution’…But Are They?

Despite the enormous increase in the quantity and quality of workplace tools now available, which should, in theory, please millennials and fit around the ownership models of modern IT, these apps seem not to have delivered to the needs of the workplace. In real terms, productivity has not increased in the workforce as much as we would expect given the number of efficient new tools that are available.

Instead, we encounter:

  • information silos
  • context-switching
  • workflow dead ends
  • lack of meaningful integration
  • users rejecting tools (shadow IT)
  • low-value manual work

With the proliferation of cloud-based tools and the move away from the old legacy systems, we have not seen a huge increase in productivity and efficiency. In fact, many of these new tools increase the number of information silos in a business, and introduce more not fewer low-value manual tasks.

Think about how much time you spend:

  • searching, logging and moving information, sharing it with others
  • organizing and scheduling tasks
  • checking in with colleagues and chasing them to see if work has been done
  • preparing documents from scratch

As we use more specific apps and tools for our ever more unique jobs, these issues are exacerbated.

Is There A Solution?

The reality of the modern workplace is that we still need to find better ways of operating. We need to react to the changes in the modern workplace so that we can:

  • Leverage the skillset of the next generation of workers
  • Unlock the potential of the new productivity tools
  • Accommodate for complex workflows, those which involve lots of people over multiple geographies

Workflow automation is key to this. By automating many of the manual processes that are introduced by modern apps, we can dramatically improve productivity.

Why Workflow Automation is the Solution to the Challenges of Modern Working

In an era of digital disruption, you need to be agile and able to react to change as markets, business models and operations models change. Businesses need to be highly efficient at everything they do. This means using new tools in a smart way by backing them up with smart procedures, i.e. automated processes and workflows.

By giving your employees a ‘no code’ intelligent platform, like Nintex, you can help them automate, analyze and optimize the business processes that affect them every day.

It is an agile approach, where teams are encouraged to constantly keep improving how their work processes operate. This makes their teams more productive and frees them up to be more strategic, creative and innovative.

The key is to leverage the skillset of millennials and post-millennial generations who are digital natives, have the right skillset and have an increasing desire to seek out efficiency and improve their job satisfaction.

So, How Can You Achieve This?

We believe it’s essential that organizations take a ‘wide approach’ to workflow automation, as opposed to a ‘deep approach’. So, what exactly does this involve?

  • A deep approach: A deep approach is your typical waterfall or big bang approach, which solves major problems with structured, methodical leadership and execution.
  • A wide approach: A wide approach is for use by line of business, across an organization. If an employee discovers a particular problem reducing their productivity (e.g. a manual process that can be automated), then they should be free to find a solution to that problem and get it going (automate that process).

The wide approach focuses on quick wins. We are typically looking at results in days or weeks rather than months or years. You can then take on the next project and then the next. It is a fast, agile approach to dealing with business problems.

It means automating everything you possibly can. It means giving your employees the power to remove manual, paper-based processes wherever and whenever they come across them.

This is a new approach and needs new methods. We recommend structuring this approach by taking the following three steps:

1.  Automate: 

Look at the manual processes in every department and automate them.

2.  Orchestrate:

Step back and analyze what’s going on. Maybe it’s days, weeks and months, but take the time to see how things are operating once you have automated them. If you use Nintex, you can use our analytics tool, Hawkeye, to achieve this.

3.  Optimize:

Next you need to look at all this data, and use intelligent analytics to guide informed decisions on how to optimize them.

When you apply these three stages to workflow automation, you will find that your employees have more time to focus on higher value work, like strategy, ideation, training and development, business development, teamwork and resolving problems. This is where the real opportunity of the modern workplace lies.

 

To learn more about Nintex, contact us here.