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Scalable productivity means growth – and automation can fuel it

Joel Faul, Chief Technology Officer, SMA Technology

Read Time
4 mins
Last updated
Jan 9th, 2020

How many tasks can you keep track of in your head at one time? And how much potential productivity is lost when you have to switch between them? Unsurprisingly, the cost of juggling these tasks and switching between them drains a lot of time and increases the chance for error. Now, imagine you have employees doing a lot of repetitive manual tasks where errors can lead to expensive penalties or even contract cancellations. That’s the situation one of our clients, Jack Henry & Associates, found themselves in about 10 years ago. They needed a solution to eliminate errors and increase productivity in order to support their growth effectively.

Let’s take a brief moment to highlight the difference between efficiency and productivity:

  • Efficiency is getting the same output using fewer resources
  • Productivity is getting more output using the same resources

Efficiency initiatives are useful for optimizing and saving money, but productivity is about growth. To quote former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz, “In this world you're either growing or you're dying so get in motion and grow.” I think the inherent truth in the quote is self-evident to any business leader.

"Manual processing prevented us from efficiently running the business, let alone building it. We couldn't leverage economies of scale, and errors were costly." - Brad Lane, Senior Director of Data Center Operations, Jack Henry & Associates.

What I want to talk about in this post, is achieving scalable growth by increasing productivity with automation. If you're going from 50 data center clients to 300, can you do it without adding significant headcount? Jack Henry & Associates did. They used workload automation to handle both simple and complicated processes across their enterprise environment and reduced over 1,000,000 daily manual keystrokes in the process. They went from 7 production servers to over 300 and decreased their disaster recovery time by 83%. They achieved these impressive numbers while only adding one member to their IT ops team.

It's a compelling tale of getting incredible productivity out of a team by choosing the right solution. I love this success story for two reasons. The first is they added a ton of complexity to their environment and actually became more flexible and less vulnerable to disruption in the process. The second is their story is possible for any business. They came up with a plan to grow their business by introducing automation to achieve scalable productivity. Then they executed it.

It was a significant challenge, and I imagine you're curious to hear about the steps they took to solve it. For the initial rollout of their automation plan, they tackled the low-hanging fruit: manual keystrokes. SMA automation consultants trained JHA’s team to identify automatable processes and create workflows. As a result of this combined team effort, they were able to eliminate over 80% of the manual keystrokes in the first pass.

Next, they went after third party files coming in and out of their data centers. When they started, they had around 50 data center clients with about 250 records per day handled manually. This presented unacceptable risks for missing SLAs and incurring penalties. JHA automated the processing and handling of these files and significantly reduced errors.

Once they had their automation foundation in place, they were able to tackle more complex challenges. Their IT Ops team could now manage their automation platform and implement new workflows as needed. Instead of being limited by manual keystrokes, JHA can scale as required to meet the demands of the financial institutions that rely on their services.

The benefits of scalable productivity manifest in more ways than just eliminating manual tasks. Errors represent risks, and for financial organizations they can be excessively costly. By drastically reducing manual errors with automation, JHA built trust with clients and solidified their reputation as a top tier service provider. New sales, renewed contracts, and 400% growth in revenue were the results.

Jack Henry & Associates is a unique organization with fantastic leadership. They saw the root of their problem was a reliance on unscalable manual processes that created unacceptable risks. They had great staff, but they didn't have the tools to scale. So they sought out a solution, and they decided SMA Technologies was the right company to help them grow their business. We're very grateful they chose us, and I'd like to close with a question for our readers.

We’ve spent 40 years helping companies like yours succeed. Contact us to see how we can help 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

This blog is about reaching incredible levels of scalable growth by implementing a solid automation plan that employees embrace.

Client success story: Jack Henry & Associates

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