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Culture / IoT Edge Computing

How Machine Speed Can Enhance Business Productivity

Process automation can have benefits across the organization, from HR and sales to finance and marketing.
May 5th, 2022 8:00am by
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Sean Scott
As chief product officer of PagerDuty, Sean is responsible for its multiproduct digital operations management platform. He has more than 20 years of experience in the technology industry, with the majority of that time at Amazon. Sean holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science and an MBA from the Red McCombs School of Business, both from the University of Texas at Austin.

Most businesses still work at ticket speed. Previously in this two-part series, we highlighted how this is impacting IT and customer service. The manual, reactive and inefficient processes characterized by this way of doing business are a terrible fit for today’s digital-first enterprises. They add cost, complexity and time that digital operations teams simply don’t have as they try to fulfill spiraling demands for innovative new services, while responding rapidly to mounting incidents. Instead, organizations should be aspiring to machine speed: using intelligent process automation to streamline incident response and empower first responders. That’s the way to preserve customer and staff loyalty.

Yet the truth is that machine speed shouldn’t just be the concern of ITOps and customer service. Process automation can have benefits across the organization, from HR and sales to finance and marketing. By unlocking the value from this approach, organizations can empower their teams to move faster and focus on critical high-value tasks.

Going Beyond IT

As important as IT is, it’s not the only critical function in the business. Nor is it the only one where processes often fail. Humans are fallible, mistakes are made. Important work slips through the cracks. Meetings get cancelled but not rescheduled. And crucial reports are delayed. This not only translates into a negative customer, employee or candidate experience, but remediating these issues can further impact staff productivity if ownership is unclear.

It doesn’t need to be like this. Automation can ensure that the right person is notified at the right time, when critical work requires their attention. Ultimately, it will drive accountability, reduce administrative toil and help organizations get ahead of customer experience issues. Let’s take a look at what this could mean in practice across some key business functions.

HR Teams

HR professionals are on the front line when it comes to critical tasks such as talent acquisition, payroll management and offboarding. Yet too often, the right information isn’t put in front of the right team members at the right time, which can have a major impact on outcomes.

Take candidate interviews. Last-minute changes are not uncommon, yet sometimes requests get lost in full inboxes. Collaboration between recruiters and recruiting coordinators can be subpar, which is understandable given the often-high volume of requests and transactions taking place. The result is bad for recruiters and candidates: The former may attend interviews that have been cancelled, and the latter may never get their chance to impress. Automation could prevent this by automatically routing schedule changes to the recruiting coordinator.

Elsewhere, late-stage candidates may want to take advantage of a joint initiative from the Talent Acquisition and Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (ID&E) departments to schedule time for a chat with employees of shared identities. It’s an increasingly important way to build high-performing, diverse teams. But as these discussions sit outside the formal hiring process, the Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) tasked with setting up meetings can struggle. Emailed requests can get buried in ERG inboxes, ultimately undermining employers’ commitment to diversity. If, instead, candidate emails triggered real-time mobile notifications for ERG liaisons, the organization could benefit from a streamlined and inclusive interview loop.

People operations specialists also play a vital role in the organization, ensuring tax and wage information is correct, for seamless processing of employee stock transactions. Any delays or errors could have significant compliance implications if they result in companies overcontributing or undercollecting taxes. If payroll software were configured to automatically send recurring status report emails to a special email address, filters could then be set up to trigger a mobile alert in the event of “on hold” or “failure” status reports. That would mean that the right people operations specialist could access the right info to make the necessary changes.

Sales Teams

The sales department often suffers from similar process failures. Take the approval of quote exceptions. Delays can prevent sales reps from meeting their monthly quotas on time and lead to a below-par customer onboarding experience. By hooking up CRM apps to automated processes, quotes “in progress” could be forwarded via mobile notifications straight to the right sales approver.

Or how about assigning territories to newly hired quota-carrying sales reps? Delays to the process can force the sales strategy team to push out their monthly quotas, drive up operational costs and even require manual intervention from sales rep managers. It would be a lot easier if, when records linked to new quota-carrying sales hires were created in the CRM application, they triggered a real-time mobile alert to the relevant territory manager. It would save managers time, streamline onboarding and even save the company money in the long run.

Organizations also suffer from delays in handling sales operation requests — especially at month-end when there’s a high volume. If these issues are not dealt with promptly, it could extend time-to-close, slow down deal cycles and make it harder to hit sales targets. To address this, teams could set up new workflows where information inputted into the corporate CRM app, in this case P0/P1 case requests, triggered mobile notifications. In this example, they’d be sent to sales operations specialists for immediate action, rather than gathering dust in their inbox.

Extending Value throughout the Enterprise

It’s not just sales and HR that could benefit from this kind of business process automation. Operating at machine speed could help finance teams to keep the month-end close on track, remedy audit control violations and prevent delays from nightly finance process failures. In the marketing department, teams could leverage automation to track competitive info changes in real time, monitor marketing systems and prevent marketing missteps — every part of the organization has time-critical work.

It’s all about adding process automation between the sender or application with the information and the person who needs to be notified — and then ensuring that work progresses rather than having another email sit unread in an inbox. Ultimately, it’s the way to create more reliable business processes, more productive employees and more profitable organizations.

This article is the second in a two-part series.

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