Think about the last time you ordered an Uber… how did you find the experience? Convenient and time-efficient? Perhaps, enjoyable?
Now, think about the last time you lodged a request either for leave or help from IT, or tried to raise a purchase order (PO)? How would you rate that experience compared to your last Uber ride. In contrast to the simplicity of this ride sharing service, day-to-day workplace services can sometimes be more trouble than they are worth.
There is a dramatic gap between the services we seek out in our personal lives and those we tolerate at work. Tried and tested models of service seem to prevail in many workplaces due to the belief that installing new practices will be too difficult, cost too much and ultimately, offer little return.
This reality was strongly echoed in a recent “State of Work” survey commissioned by ServiceNow, which asked 300 Australian managers about their experiences with consumer and workplace service tools.
The results showed that although we are technically savvy and expect seamless and automated processes from consumer services, our workplaces lag far behind when it comes to technology adoption – and this is impacting our productivity at work.
For example, email, which was introduced into the workplace over 20 years ago, still accounts for 66% of workplace service requests in Australia, although consumers have widely adopted web and mobile. Workplace mobile adoption lags particularly far behind in Australia, with managers nine times less likely to use a mobile app in the workplace for interdepartmental services compared to consumer services, according to the findings.
Employees want simple, self-service support processes that are as easy to use as shopping on eBay or Amazon. These types of services are not just automated – they are consumerised, which is the direction companies must take sooner rather than later. When these processes are missing from an organisation, teams are slower, less informed and unable to peruse billable, more lucrative activities within the business.
Businesses can easily streamline and automate their workplace services. The technology to do this exists. By doing so, businesses create the opportunity to break the chains of unnecessary and time-consuming admin tasks and ultimately increase productivity.
Here are my top five tips for streamlining workplace processes:
1. Identify tasks that require coordination among employees or across departments
Target those coordination activities that currently use email, team rooms or phone calls. Consider typical interdepartmental processes that require heavy coordination, such as employee on-boarding and off-boarding.
2. Outline coordination process and then define what it should be
Start by identifying the requesters, fulfillers and approvers of a given process, and then define the rules or logic that it should follow. What parts of the existing process can be removed or should something be added to the workflow?
3. Design an intuitive, frictionless interface for employees
Ensure employees can engage with a workplace service in a natural, intuitive way. If the interface is not as easy to use as email – or easier – there’s likely too much complexity.
4. Tap into consumer-like techniques such as portals
Organisations should expose their employees to the right information and create a standard, consistent way for everyone to request and fulfil services. This parallels online portals, one-click shopping carts and online delivery tracking – all of which employees enjoy in their personal lives but tend to lack in the office environment.
5. Track and analyse
Service management software turns a coordination process into an automated service workflow that produces metrics on service delivery. This gives managers insight into how well and when services are delivered, and pinpoints where there should be tweaks.
The bottom line
The gap between consumer and workplace services is considerable in the Australian workplace. But we are seeing many innovative Australian organisations take considerable steps towards increased productivity through becoming service-driven. It’s a journey that begins with a business thinking of their own employees as consumers.
About the author
David Oakley is the Managing Director, ANZ at ServiceNow, a cloud company delivering IT service management capabilities.