Ultimately, boosting productivity boils down to building and honing efficient workflow processes that automate and routinize tasks, projects, and services. Luckily for us, our rapidly converging computing, communications, and time-management technologies can’t help but yield rational work processes that repeatedly raise the bar on productivity. It’s enough to make you wonder how we ever did without our electronics.
The truth is, those of us who remember the pre-computer era recall it as a period of slow if steady productivity, when there was often no point in hurrying. The system constrained us to the point where 9-5 workdays and five-year plans still made sense. This might sound like a Golden Age of office work… but don’t let the nostalgia fool you. The slowness of it all frustrated many of us. Decent technology cost an arm and a leg, and we lacked unlimited long distance service plans and cheap overnight mail, so progress was limited, more or less, to the speed of what we now call snail mail. You got done when you got done.
Thank goodness that’s all in the past.
The Workflow Whisperer
In its 55-year history, Xerox Corporation has become synonymous with photocopying (“can you make a ‘xerox’ of this?”). Many people in the business field, however, realize that Xerox is also well known for improving core businesses in a variety of fields. Last year, I wrote about Xerox apps that let you to find and control printers through your smartphone—and even let you transfer e-docs to said printers, and vice versa.
Xerox also focuses its know-how on taking entire processes and making them more efficient. It offers the perfect case study for productive innovation, especially given the May 19 announcement of the taming of fifteen difficult processes affecting workers in the fields of higher education, manufacturing, and retail banking. All three fields have become dependent on technology for maximal performance—and have been ripe for improvement for ages.
If you went to college before the late-1980s, you probably recall standing in lines waiting for everything from financial aid to class sign-ups and dorm assignments—not to mention queueing up to pay your tuition and get your student ID. Automation soon allowed us to arrange most of these things over the phone.
With its new initiative, Xerox has targeted seven work processes for higher education alone, making them even easier than before. Xerox has created workflow automation solutions for Admissions Processing; Athletics; Financial Aid; Registrar Processing; Student Advising; Student Billing; and Transcript Capture and Evaluation.
Colleges must be customer-centric in their focus, not business-centric; these processes shift the focus to the ease of use for students, even as they simplify administrative processes. They also allow students to give and receive information in the way THEY want to. People of different ages have different preferences: some want to fill out forms on an app, some by email, some online, and some on paper. So these new workflow solutions offer a high degree of flexibility to match all preferences.
Retail banking has its own challenges, especially in the wake of the Great Recession. Regulatory boundaries have tightened, most customers prefer online banking, and fraud is at an all-time high. Worse, fewer than 53% of bank customers stay with their primary banks.
Even so, the need for physical banks remains high, and anything that makes life easier for customers—and the associates who help them manage their money—is more than welcome. Toward that end, Xerox has introduced three customer-centric workflow solutions to boost ROI on both sides of the banking equation: Xerox Workflow Automation Solutions for New Client Onboarding; Fraud Management; and Compliance and Records Management
Information entered in one place becomes available to all lines of business in the company, increasing your intelligence about the customer. Meanwhile, efficiency rises as new work processes eliminate data silos, and the customer doesn’t have to provide information multiple times. The fewer loose ends to tangle up, the higher the ROI for everyone—and keeping customers happy means they’ll stay with the bank longer.
Despite the unprecedented growth of the service industry, the American economy is still based largely on manufacturing. The adoption of lean manufacturing, kaizen, and similar philosophies have increased the efficiency of industry, but a few snags still slow it down. Now Xerox has entered the fray, introducing five easy-to-integrate workflow solutions that promise to make American manufacturing leaner, greener, and cleaner.
Companies can choose all or some of the following workflow solutions to improve their production levels: Xerox Workflow Automation Solutions for Research and Development (R&D) Testing; Engineering Change Management; Quality Assurance; Logistics and Fulfillment; and Maintenance, Report and Operations (MRO).
Workflow automation allows companies to track information over the life of an expensive product (i.e., the entire lifecycle of owners and people working on it). Collaboration and QA also lower risk, increase the transparency of inspections, and simplify strategic execution.
Let Me Take You Higher…
The new Xerox workflow solutions increase efficiency and productivity to produce a noticeably higher ROI for the teams using them. Higher ROI improves a team’s value to the organization, simply by making it easier to get more and better work done.
Traditional productivity increasers like stretch goals and draconian time management are all well and good—but it’s effective processes that really boost productivity without overstraining work/life balance. Xerox’s is the kind of technology that will carry us (and you, if you consult with them) into a sustainable future, so it’s advisable to keep an eagle-eye out for more announcements like this one in the future. Seriously—what will they think of next?
© 2016 Laura Stack. Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE is an award-winning keynote speaker, bestselling author, and noted authority on employee and team productivity. She is the president of The Productivity Pro, Inc., a company dedicated to helping leaders increase workplace performance in high-stress environments. Stack has authored seven books, including Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time (January 18, 2016). She is a past president of the National Speakers Association, and in 2015 was inducted into its exclusive Speaker Hall of Fame (with fewer than 175 members worldwide). Stack’s clients include Cisco Systems, Wal-Mart, and Bank of America, and she has been featured on the CBS Early Show and CNN, and in the New York Times. To have Laura Stack speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401 or visit her website. NOTE: Laura is a paid 3rd party influencer for Xerox.