Road Report: When Manual Processes Persist

I recently had the privilege to attend the OPEX Summer Business Transformation Leaders Summit in San Diego. I was surrounded by process professionals, business leaders and executives that were attending this conference for a specific reason: to reinvent and transform to achieve business excellence. While at this conference, there were several things that I learned:

Even the most digitized companies have manual processes.

Businesses may be digitized, but not in every aspect of their operations. The Boeings, IKEAs, and McKessons of the world are some of the most impressive, yet they still have areas of their business that rely heavily on manual processes — whether that be end-to-end processes or band aid solutions to existing systems. The reason behind this? IT teams are backed up, you’re getting by with the status quo, and change can be scary.

Randy Batchelor, Director at RP Construction Services (RPCS) and TrackVia customer, summarized the benefits of digitization enabled by a low-code platform in his presentation, Shining a Light on Solar Construction Operations – A Digital Transformation. As RPCS grew, it needed a software solution that scaled with their operations without extensive IT resources. In addition, it needed to extend to multiple areas of the business, integrate with other systems, and be easy enough for the business user to implement and update.

Manual Processes

Discrete process inefficiencies.

Jeff Foster, Director of Performance Improvement at the San Diego Zoo Global, highlighted in his session that sometimes companies don’t know where their process inefficiencies are, or their employees don’t know how to communicate them. In Jeff’s case, Zoo animals. Personally, I could not relate more. I’ve had many conversations with business leaders that didn’t know what processes were slowing them down. Turns out, they are almost always the manual operations — paper, spreadsheets, emails, and the like.

This was the case with our customer Stearns Lending. They knew they had a problem, but they needed a way to validate the extent and impact of that problem. By digitizing, Stearns now has visibility into their operations and where they needed to make process improvements. This has resulted in millions of dollars saved each year.

Changing mindsets.

Andrew Brown, Director of Operations at the Harris Corporation, talked about his experience with changing mindsets in his interview with Seth Adler, Host at B2BiQ. When asked how employees at the Harris Corporation reacted to operational change and digitization, Andrew responded with an analogy that we all can relate too. Andrew said, employees think about process transformation as a cancelled or changed flight. They are unhappy because they either have to wait in the airport, or have to re-route through a different city to get home. While this flight is still taking them home, it is now seen as a massive inconvenience.

However, mindsets start to change when seats are upgraded on the new flight or you get a free glass of champagne for the inconvenience. This he compared to digitization. The adoption and change can be seen as a huge inconvenience. However, once employees start to see the benefits, aka the glasses of champagnes, in the now more efficient processes, business start to improve on-time performance, increase visibility and reduce costs.

From financial service and healthcare to manufacturing and construction, companies that may think they are operating the most efficiently might be neglecting those manual processes that are slowing them down. As this conference as showed me, there is always room for improvement.

OPEX Trade Show

I’d be interested in hearing your stories of manual processes — whether they are hidden in the back office or front and center in the field or on the floor.


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