Joel Faul, Chief Technology Officer, SMA Technologies
If you don’t simplify the workload of your people, your organization is going to struggle. This isn’t just a scalability issue – it’s a retention concern, too. Without those people, sustainable growth becomes a difficult proposition.
I recently came across an article from two years ago discussing why your best employees stay. The three reasons are:
A strong, ongoing automation program cannot solve all of the points of pain for your employees, but it can definitely improve their quality of life at work and free them from boring, repetitive tasks. A happy employee is more productive, creative, and collaborative.
It's quite common for managers and leaders to lose track of how their team members are getting work done because they're only focused on the output. I'm not downplaying the importance of production, because getting results is a critical metric for every single member of your organization. But if getting results requires your employees to slog through a lot of repetitive processes that slow them down and eat up hours of their time (and frankly, your company’s) - you should consider making some changes.
“Errors in manual tasks not only had monetary impacts with missed SLAs and fees, but also risked the reputation of our brand.” - Brad Lane, Senior Director of Data Center Operations, Jack Henry & Associates
Repetition leads to boredom. Boredom leads to errors. Errors lead to risk. Risk can be costly.
JHA engaged their employees by implementing an automation initiative tied to their growth and scale goals. SMA Technologies sent automation consultants to train operators, who then created over 100,000 workflows in OpCon, our workload automation platform. JHA empowered their employees to become creative problem-solvers, which was much more fulfilling than repeating the same key commands several thousand times per day. In the process they were able to greatly reduce errors and provide better service to the data center clients who rely on them.
No one likes having their time wasted, nor do they enjoy performing mundane, but necessary, work that might have been assigned to them because there's no one else to do it. Automation can help you respect your employees’ time. Analyze your business processes and identify the repetitive parts. Automate those processes and free your people to focus on more satisfying work. If they’re spending a lot of time on easily automatable tasks, then you’re spending money to have them do low-value work. You can reclaim a lot of valuable man hours by automating those processes and make your people happier as a result. It’s a double win.
The best leaders know their team’s individual talents and provide them with work that enables them to shine. If you look at every role in the company and make a consistent, concerted effort to remove low-value work and replace it with high-value work, then you're making a positive impact. People want to feel appreciated and valued, and part of our job as leaders is making sure they are.
One of our clients, Jack Henry & Associates, was running a night crew because people needed to be there to manage their data center processing. The schedule caused a lot of stress on the personal lives of the night crew. These were valuable, skilled employees, and JHA listened to their concerns. They adopted OpCon, our event-based automation platform, to run their overnight processing without needing human intervention. Thanks to its strong support for dependencies and self-healing capabilities, they could run lights out. JHA was able to move their night shift to daytime ops while also giving them new roles where they could focus on higher IT initiatives. It was one of those great situations where they generated a positive outcome for their employees and their business.
Executing the strategy
If I had to distill the essence of my message today, it's this: do not waste your employee's time if you want them to be happy, accurate, and productive. Your people will be happier for it, and happy employees spend their time helping grow your business.
About the author:
Joel Faul is the Chief Technology Officer at SMA Technologies. He is responsible for formulating product strategy and the technology roadmap as well as ongoing software development, solution services, managed services and client support. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from North Dakota State University and further studied Electrical Engineering at the University of Minnesota. Faul is a member of a local running club and enjoys spending time with his wife, three grown children, and granddaughter.
In this article
Manual errors create risks that can be costly. This blog discusses how to give employees tools to be more productive and avoid risks.