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5 problems that weigh down business productivity

INSIGHT ARTICLE  | 

Middle market organizations are experiencing faster rates of change and complexity, and this makes it more challenging to maintain business productivity. You might recognize the consequences: disappointing profits and the inability to efficiently respond when circumstances shift.

It can be more difficult to recognize some of the biggest culprits causing productivity problems in geographically distributed organizations. Metrics and measures can miss often-invisible misalignments that happen over time and—when compounded on a global scale—can be costly.

These five problems are common examples. Fortunately, each can be addressed with a holistic approach to transformation that encompasses people, processes and technology.

1. Over-resourcing in non-core competencies

Resources should be aligned to what creates value for customers. Yet, increased complexity and digitization has caused companies to invest heavily in non-core areas such as technology, compliance and process integration. It’s common that, over time, too many resources have accumulated in these areas.

How can middle market companies realign without a lengthy and intensive project commitment? By delegating critical-but-non-core functions to third-party service providers.

A trusted advisor can help your organization create frameworks that drive efficiency, compliance and speed. These frameworks can include ongoing services for compliance, cybersecurity, and finance and accounting, plus other non-core functions, if these make sense in a holistic strategy.

2. Too many manual touches

Most midmarket organizations have some processes that cost more in resource value than they should. In accounting, for example, account receivables and payables, approval routing and data input often are handled manually, resulting in inefficiency, errors and noncompliance. In the IT function, help desk calls, infrastructure maintenance and application support consume talent and resources that could instead be focused on data optimization, new product/service development or other higher-value priorities.

The solution is to replace repetitive manual tasks with intelligent automation, which modern managed service providers can provide or help businesses access and use. This frees up time for more value-added tasks, prevents human errors, speeds up process turn times and increases business productivity.

The best way to start is with an assessment of people, processes and technology, as well as strategic goals.

3. Outdated applications

Outdated technology is becoming a larger liability for organizations. Legacy systems are costly to build and maintain and difficult to scale for growth. Often the solution is moving to the cloud.

Cloud-based ERP and other SaaS applications are flexible and scalable and make quality data available across the organization. Updating the technology stack can improve:

  • Data security and governance because SaaS doesn’t require your organization to patch and update applications
  • Process automation using applications that can be digitally connected and securely share content
  • Technology ROI because applications continuously and automatically improve and receive new capabilities
  • Cost control due to minimal upfront costs and ongoing expenses that are based on usage, so you’re only paying for the capacity you need

4. Lack of visibility

A lack of visibility can hurt organizations in multiple ways. Most obviously, it can limit the ability to effectively forecast demand, cash flow, inventory, supply chain capacity and other critical components of short- and long-term planning. Without a comprehensive view, plans are easily upset by a lack of resources or demand.

Visibility is also linked to how effectively an organization can use its own and third-party data to gain insights—not just for forecasting but also to discover new opportunities to improve its competitive advantage through higher efficiency or better customer experience.

You can assume your competitors are using real-time data ingestion and analysis for decision-making because these capabilities are now widely available to small and midmarket companies. Modern cloud-based enterprise platforms leverage advanced analytics powered by artificial intelligence to provide internal end-to-end visibility and external context so you can make informed decisions.

5. Redundant roles and processes

Modern applications can help your organization streamline redundant processes and re-deploy people to more effective roles. Common areas where this applies include:

  • Accounting, where A/R and A/P processes involve sending and receiving paper invoices, routing them for approval and payment with paper checks. Human operators can focus more attention on handling exceptions.
  • Call centers, which often handle straightforward inquiries that could be best managed with automation and customer self-service options. An automated agent could escalate more complex issues to a human agent whenever necessary.
  • Information technology, where maintaining infrastructure and keeping up with software updates leaves little time for truly valuable work. A modern cloud-based infrastructure and SaaS architecture would eliminate many of these tasks and keep your technology secure, updated and available at all times.

Once automation is in place, you can look for ways to re-deploy your talent toward more strategic work.

Remedy the business productivity obstructions holding your business back

Today’s midmarket companies must deal with a level of complexity and speed of change that is unprecedented. This creates multiple challenges that effect business productivity and draw focus away from core competencies that are the true drivers of competitive advantage and differentiation.

RSM can serve as a trusted advisor to provide strategy guidance that helps your organization bring complexity under control so your teams can focus on the competitive differentiators that truly matter.


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