It’s easy to forget how many moving parts there are to an organization, and therefore to underestimate the exact scale of the effect from even the smallest delay. A seemingly insignificant hold-up from one worker, a malfunctioning piece of technology, or a broken process can create downtime that affects the whole company.
As organizations grow, communication between moving parts can falter, processes become more susceptible to breaking down, and the cost of downtime increases. Companies that want to harness the maximum potential from their resources will understand the importance of minimizing downtime. What they must also be aware of is that broken processes are often the root cause of downtime.
What is downtime?
When people talk about downtime, they generally refer to IT failure. If someone’s computer fails, there’s very little work they can do, and very little they can do about it. Thus, productivity is lost. This is an important part of downtime, but it’s not the only kind.
The broader definition of ‘downtime’ is any time when external factors prevent a worker from doing a job to the best of their ability. This isn’t just when IT failures cause work to grind to a halt.
Inefficient business processes also lead to significant delays. Downtime is created every time someone has to wait for information, confirmation, or advice from someone else. There are different ways this can manifest. Broken processes actively block a task being properly completed, and inefficient processes simply slow it down or impede its progress. Either way, unnecessary downtime is created by inefficient processes.
The best way to minimize downtime is to eliminate as many external factors that prevent tasks from being completed as possible.
Process automation can help with this in three main ways:
1. Keeping IT online
Today’s businesses rely on IT more than ever before – and there’s little chance of that changing any time soon. It’s the only way to complete daily tasks. So, what happens when IT fails? Badly maintained IT causes downtime, which means valuable business time is lost.
These days, a reactive approach to IT maintenance simply isn’t fit for purpose. It’s increasingly important to implement end-to-end maintenance processes in businesses to ensure that devices are replaced and maintained regularly, as well as to ensure that IT technicians can deal with failures as efficiently as possible. The logic follows that if a machine can be replaced or fixed before it breaks, downtime can be avoided.
Process automation helps businesses create a coherent, integrated process that prevents IT failure. Tasks such as ordering new parts, fixing hardware and software problems, scheduling maintenance, and more can be automatically assigned and scheduled to create a truly infallible IT network.
2. Minimize delays between request and approval
Let’s consider a construction project as an example.
In many construction companies, if a remote site manager realizes they need to purchase additional tools or materials, they’ll have to go through a central office, who’ll order on their behalf. Downtime is created while the manager waits for the request to be delivered and confirmed, and the final product shipped.
If this material is vital to the project, everything could ground to a halt while they wait. Even if there are additional tasks the remote workers can perform, their work is less effective. Either way, downtime hinders productivity and wastes time.
Process automation is exactly what’s needed to reduce bottlenecks like this. Central offices can automate pre-established parameters to accept or reject the request, then automatically divert it through established mediums to the correct supplier. The old way requires sending the requisition, waiting for someone from the central office to open it, read through it, make a decision, and then contact the supplier. Process automation allows this to be reduced to a matter of seconds.
3. Prepare for sick days and vacations
Hands up: who’s ever had to hold up a task because the person in charge is on vacation or sick? In some cases, it’s the kind of barrier that you simply can’t overcome. In most cases, however, it simply requires a little thought and preparation.
Automated workflows automatically schedule tasks in project management software, like Sharegate. With dynamic users, workflow automation can assign tasks to specific job titles, rather than individual users, like ‘supply chain manager’, ‘head of HR,’ and others. When a company knows that individuals are going to be away, they can temporarily change the person assigned as ‘head of HR’, ensuring the individual tasks are diverted to another person and completed as normal. Process automation makes this a simple and automatic procedure.
4. Quicker processes, better business
As the 21st century progresses, it becomes increasingly important for businesses to take advantage of every tool available to get the maximum potential possible from their resources. Nobody benefits when a project is delayed. With process automation solutions from Nintex, you can help ensure employee downtime is a thing of the past.
Contact our experts at Nintex to find more ways that your organization can harness the power of productivity from process automation.