By Stuart Pugh, ActiveOps
ActiveOps recently published new research aimed at discovering how operations leaders in financial organisations feel they are doing when it comes to recession planning, and what concerns they have about how their operations will cope.
One of the most interesting findings was that nearly half of respondents believe that the biggest cuts their organisation will make in a recession will be to tech spending. If you’re a forward-thinking operations leader, that should have you concerned. After all, planning for a recession – and planning during a recession – are both notoriously tricky. Technology has a major role to play in helping organisations with large, complex back-office operations to get on the front foot to not just survive a recession, but thrive in it. Yet many professionals are reporting that they expect budgets for tech investment to come under pressure.
In this blog, we’re sharing our experiences of how technology investment during a recession brings immediate and long-term benefits to your operations – meaning that, far from being the time to restrict tech spending, the coming months are the time to carefully invest.
“Digitizing work that’s either customer-facing or involves time-consuming manual steps can help build resilience to volume changes.”
Campbell J Morrison, Australian banking industry expert
Technology’s role in a recession
There are examples of organisations investing in technology during a recession with positive results. Possibly the most powerful is that shared by Professor Danny Samson of the University of Melbourne in our most recent AO on Air podcast about Bank of America. Prof Samson, who is also one of the experts we interviewed for our report, explained how Bank of America invested in digitising its operations during the 2008 recession. That transformation has made the bank more resilient and has helped it to reach a total of 54 million verified digital users, and win awards including the Best Digital Initiative at the Banking Tech Awards, No.1 Overall Digital Experience from Forrester Research, and being named the Most Innovative Private Bank in North America by Global Finance. Plainly, investing during a recession – as long as you are making the right investments – pays dividends and can turn you into a leader in your field long-term.
Of course, we understand that financial and banking organisations like yours have been investing heavily in technology for years now. Digitisation, automation, self-service portals – millions has been spent on empowering your operations through technology. On paper, at least, these investments should mean your operations are already resilient and ready to face the challenges of a recession.
Unfortunately, our report indicates that despite all this investment, there are still gaps which could become very problematic as the recession drags on:
- One in four organisations does not feel equipped to deliver against their organisational objectives in the event of a recession.
- 28% of organisations do not feel they have the information needed to make decisions to improve productivity and efficiency.
The question is: if all this prior investment in tech has left gaps, what investment will close them? In our experience, what’s needed is a solution that can bring together all the great work your humans and robots are doing by giving you visibility into what’s happening in your operations. The category of technology that typically delivers those results is called Workforce Management (WFM for short). These solutions make it possible for managers to understand what is happening in their teams and with their robots, identifying unused capacity and spotting trouble before it happens, enabling them to work proactively to keep everything on track.
What can WFM do for my operations?
The function of WFM is almost deceptively simple: it shows you what’s happening in your operations, in real time. The benefits that unlock are a myriad. Some can deliver measurable financial gains or cost savings; others are less tangible but incredibly valuable. What’s key is that when implemented properly, WFM delivers you those benefits almost instantly, aiding your operations both during a recession and afterwards. The benefits we see most commonly with our WFM solution are:
Workforce Management can help your operations deliver more work (we’ve helped employees improve productivity by as much as 39%). What’s the value of that extra work to the business?
It’s common for organizations to consider cutting some of their products or services to protect their delivery capability. The extra capacity that WFM unlocks could enable your organisation to keep those services instead running (and generating revenue.)
Our customers have reported uncovering additional capacity that’s equivalent to hundreds of FTEs over a period of one to three years. That capacity could be used to handle more new work, boosting revenue; handling backlogs, improving satisfaction and reducing employee burnout; or managing new and unexpected work without resorting to overtime. You’ll definitely be able to reduce the amount of outsourcing or overtime you need to use to get everything done, saving you money.
If your operations fail to meet an SLA, there will be a penalty of some sort that has a cost to you. WFM helps ensure that you never miss an SLA by always ensuring you have enough resource to handle work, eliminating those costs.
By getting better control of your processes and workloads, you can reduce errors and the rework they cause – all of which costs your operation time and money, as well as affecting customer satisfaction.
Both absenteeism (employees being off due to illness, including stress and burnout), and presenteeism (employees working while ill) cost your organisation. In a recession, both are likely to increase as employees feel the pressure both at work and at home. WFM has been reported to deliver 80% positive employee morale by balancing workloads to keep employees from burning out, and helping managers identify employees who struggling and support them.
With fewer errors, less rework, and faster response times, you will likely see a reduction in complaints and an increase in customer satisfaction. This both protects revenue by reducing customer churn, and reduces employee churn as employees are able to take more pride in their work and deal with fewer unhappy customers. Our customers have reduced complaints by as much as 35%!
The investment that keeps giving returns
There are other benefits that you can add to this list – these are just the ones we see most often. And, as we’ve discussed, WFM isn’t just a way to respond to the pressures of a recession – it continues to deliver benefits over time. For instance, one of our customers has found over the course of four years that their NPS has increased from 8.8 to 74.81 – an incredible achievement. Ultimately, WFM helps you ensure that all your existing technology investments are pulling together with your people to bring in additional revenue, eliminate costs, and deliver multiple benefits to the organisation.