Innovation is a driving force behind business improvement and increased productivity. The Internet and mobile technology, for example, now enable employees to work from anywhere and to collaborate with colleagues in other offices with ease. Virtualisation and cloud have made businesses more agile and effective. Automation software frees up employees’ time by enabling them to focus on doing their core jobs without getting bogged down performing simple, repetitive tasks.
When used properly, technology presents a wide range of ways for businesses to work more efficiently and, in doing so, to be more productive. Those modern businesses that tap into current innovations and leverage them to streamline their processes will inevitably outperform their competitors.
Unfortunately, Africa is lagging behind some of the other markets, as there appears to still be a general reluctance to change, which means that many businesses here are not as open to implementing the new technologies that are available.
When one looks at how an increasing number of employees – particularly those from the Millennial Generation – are moving away from the traditional concept of a 9-5 office-based job, it is easy to see how failing to change can have a negative impact on a business. In this instance, those businesses that do not cater for this change in attitude by offering remote working solutions and flexi-hours, will end up losing these employees to an enterprise that does.
It is thus clear that old style businesses processes like these are simply not viable in today’s world. So for a company to succeed, it needs to be open to change and simply has to be adaptable.
Such change doesn’t necessarily mean adopting the hottest new technologies either; it could simply mean using technologies that have been around for a while in a new and more effective manner. Skype, for example, has been around for some time, but many organisations are only now starting to utilise it as a business tool that connects employees even in remote offices, thereby boosting productivity and increasing efficiencies.
Another concept that is being embraced in the developed world, but has not yet truly taken hold here is that of Automation, with many organisations slow to adopt such initiatives. The benefits of automating the more routine and repetitive tasks within a business are numerous: for one, this eliminates human error; secondly, automated processes can run 24/7/365; and of course, automation frees up employees to focus on more complex tasks.
While it is not unexpected to find that employees are concerned that automation may lead to job losses, this can be dealt with by Management communicating effectively with them, in order to mitigate these fears.
A key part of such communication is to explain that automation opens up opportunities for employees to learn new skills and undergo training that they will significantly benefit from. It is here that the enterprise’s ERP system can come in very useful, as it can be used to assist with communicating these changes to both employees and customers.
While the ERP system is obviously critical in effectively running your business processes, it can be used for much more than that. And with communication integrally tied to both employee happiness and their understanding of the processes that govern the success of the organisation, utilising the ERP system to deliver effective communication is an obvious move.
The ERP solution should enable you to not only reach out to all relevant employees, but also to deliver the required messages to them in a manner that is precise, to the point and will create value – both for the employees and for the organisation.
Such communication not only informs the employees about potential changes to technology – like the implementation of automation – but also outlines the acceptable processes related to the use of such a tool.
Thus, sharing information via your ERP system closes the loop for employees, as it enables the effective communication that will ensure your staff understand the new productivity tools you implement, while also ensuring that they are aware of, and follow, the processes required to utilise them properly, to improve their effectiveness and productivity. This will ultimately mean better service for your customers, which is, after all, the end goal of any business.
By Maricelle Boshoff, Operations Manager at HansaWorld South Africa