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How tech can eradicate non-value added time from your business

Non-value added time has always been a problem.

What do we mean by it? Any action that doesn’t add benefit to a product or service – with said benefit or value being defined by the customer. 

In an increasingly competitive business landscape, the need to eliminate non-value added activity has never been more important. Failing to do so means companies risk drowning in a sea of heightened competition, with competitors encroaching on their market share.

Understanding non-value added work is crucial to making any sort of meaningful process improvement; it helps businesses understand where their procedures are wasting money, taking too long to perform, or having quality issues. 

At 6B, we champion tech as the ultimate driver of change to process improvement. Whether it’s the automation of repetitive tasks, digitalisation of manual data, or the integration of disparate systems, tech reduces the need to complete such tasks and increases productivity.

Because this is something we’re passionate about, we’ve put together this quick overview of how tech can help, for companies who are struggling to tackle this common challenge.

Identify and eliminate waste

Improving efficiency is rarely about fixing one major issue that stands in the way of productivity. 

More often than not, inefficiency is the cumulative effect of tasks that add 10 or 15 minutes to a process. 

In isolation, these tasks don’t seem like a big deal, but they mount up, ultimately accounting for a huge waste of resources – which in the long run impacts your bottom line. 

Inefficiency commonly manifests itself in seven main ways: 

  • Repetitive tasks
  • Manual tasks
  • Duplicated work
  • Extra processing 
  • Transportation 
  • Defective products 
  • Overproduction

All of the above non-value added tasks distract your business from what’s important: serving your customer base. 

Now this doesn’t mean all tasks that don’t add value aren’t necessary – they’re just harder to identify. 

Things like customer contracts or specifications, complying with government regulations, and meeting industry standards, are all a necessary part of business. But the ability to separate these tasks from ones that can be stripped away will allow you to focus on your customers and strengthen their loyalty to you.

Speed up processes with automation

For us, the logical starting point for any business looking to eradicate activity that doesn’t add value is automation. 

We believe it should form the basis of any attempt to improve your process. 

The beauty of automated technology is that it can fulfil tasks better and quicker than any human ever could, mitigating human weaknesses like boredom, distraction and errors. 

Instead of completing repetitive and mundane tasks, your staff can focus their energy on tasks that require a ‘personal touch’, creating efficiencies and benefiting customers with a more personalised and attentive service. 

It’s a win-win situation – but where do you start?

By identifying which processes are actually worthy of automation, and can be easily automated in a way that suits your business. 

These are usually processes which don’t directly contribute to the experience of a customer in any way, but which typically take up a lot of time. Invoice processing, data reporting, expense tracking – these are all ideal candidates for automation. 

Once you’ve identified these processes, you need to find the appropriate technology or tools to automate them. 

Technologies like Robotic Process Automation (RPA) – software robots that can be taught or programmed to mimic human actions like typing, copying-and-pasting, and reading files. These software bots can be taught entire workflows with multiple steps, capable of switching back and forth between various applications. 

Some more advanced bots use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to learn from experience and enhance their skill set. When confronted with something unknown to them, they ask for human assistance, and learn from the inputs of humans. 

This next point is crucial – they won’t replace your staff all together! They’ll just free up valuable resources for projects that actually require a human touch, like meaningful engagement with customers.

Enhance business productivity

If automation is the spark for eradicating non-value added activity, then the widespread adoption of technology is the fuel to keep the fire burning. 

In a world where a dispersed workforce is the norm, keeping the lines of communication open is essential to maintaining continuity and productivity. Unified Communications (UC) systems allow for various communication types, so you can choose from the most appropriate: a phone call, an instant message, a conference call, or video chat. 

Many businesses who previously considered working from home as just a pipe dream, were forced into a re-think, and are now benefitting massively from the enhanced collaboration that technology has enabled. 

Gone are the days where teams need to be sat side-by-side in a meeting room; with the abundance of free tools like Google’s cloud-based suite of products, your staff can share documents more easily and feedback is collated in a single document. 

The proliferation of technology has also given employers a way to measure and monitor team output. Tools such as Jira, Tempo and Google Calendar have allowed companies to manage resources more efficiently and strategically. 

With the click of a button, senior team members can organise daily workflows and see what the rest of the team are scheduled to work on. This gives employees the space they need to work on projects uninterrupted, thus boosting productivity.

This isn’t about employees accounting for every minute of their day; it’s about leveraging online organisational tools to keep track of time and progress – so it becomes apparent whether a project is behind schedule before it’s too late, for example.

Engage and empower employees

A more engaged employee is a more productive employee. It really is that simple. If remote working isn’t something your business can accommodate, you may see promising talent slip through the net. 

Today’s workforce expects flexibility when it comes to their work schedule and environment. The days of commuting into the office and working the traditional 9-to-5 are a thing of the past. 

Cloud-based solutions enable the modern workforce to work remotely and still perform at a high level. Access to online resources makes information readily available, preventing the exhaustive process of trawling through physical files to find the right document. 

Employees now have instant access to the tools they need to carry out their job more effectively. By adapting to these changes in expectations, businesses will benefit from a greater level of employee engagement, which in turn boosts efficiency and output. 

And let’s not forget personal development.

Technology has also empowered employees to enhance their own technical skills, meaning the person you hired will be more well-rounded than they were at the interview stage. 

Through online training systems that are easy to enrol in, employees have a repository of training material at their fingertips that will boost their development and widen their knowledge. This ensures that your workforce feels stimulated and challenged, instilling a culture of continuous learning within your company. 

Do you want to eliminate non-value added activity with tech?

 

We’ve helped many organisations tackle the issue of non-value added time through the power of great tech. If you’re experiencing the same problem and need advice, we’re here to help!

 

Get in touch now and we’ll help you devise a technology strategy that can increase efficiency and productivity within your business.

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