Enterprises have struggled with silos in the workplace for years, but the COVID-19 pandemic shines a harsh light on how damaging these silos can be to efficiency, collaboration and quality. Over the years, business processes have grown more complex. Global research and advisory firm 451 Research found that 63% of leaders use workflows with more than 100 steps across disparate applications. IT sprawl caused by the growth of various disconnected SaaS solutions adds further complexity. While each tool provides a unique value to certain business users, that value is lessened when different teams can’t communicate and collaborate across applications. And in a dispersed work environment, communication challenges have the ability to dismantle critical business functions at a time when we need them most.
Workflow automation addresses these organizational silos by serving as the bridge that connects disjointed teams and processes, ultimately enhancing communication and collaboration across various work environments.In a way, the global healthcare crisis caused by the coronavirus represents a macrocosm of the organizational silos most enterprises face. Silos within each country make sharing critical data extremely challenging. The same challenges exist for most enterprises, except instead of countries, various departments and teams are the source of organizational silos. Click To Tweet
Understanding workplace silos
To better understand the negative effects of organizational silos, we can look to recent headlines. In a way, the global healthcare crisis caused by the coronavirus represents a macrocosm of the organizational silos most enterprises face.
From an international perspective, each country has its own government and healthcare institutions, which typically operate smoothly when dealing with the day-to-day health of their own citizens. But a global pandemic knows no geographical bounds, and the informational silos within each country make sharing critical data extremely challenging. Without universal standards and processes, the data is inconsistent and can’t be properly aggregated, analyzed or acted on.
The same challenges exist for most enterprises, except instead of countries, various departments and teams are the source of organizational silos. When sales, customer service and product teams all use different applications and tools to do their jobs, organizations encounter the same issues with consistency, aggregation, analysis and plans of action that impede healthcare institutions around the globe. Furthermore, these silos hinder cross-communication and collaboration, especially now as businesses operate with limited resources across remote work environments.
Workflow automation breaks down silos
Workflow automation technology pulls people and information across disparate sources directly into your business processes, eliminating frustrating organizational silos. Historically, project bottlenecks happened when, for example, one person in a process was unavailable, or the next step in a process was unclear. With process automation, a specific “event” automatically triggers a workflow that keeps projects moving and gets information in front of the right people.
Without silos, workers have more time to focus on high-value tasks. Today’s sales professionals only spend 34% of their time actually selling. The majority of their day is spent on non-revenue-generating tasks like data entry and quote generation. Workflow automation gives sales teams some of that time back, so they can focus on meaningfully engaging with customers. Likewise, improved communication resulting from more streamlined and connected systems facilitates collaboration among teams — and ultimately, the type of innovation enterprises need to get ahead. Finally, workflow automation technology reduces human error, improving the overall quality of the work in far less time than it would take for a human to achieve the same results.
But enterprises must be purposeful when initiating automation projects. Developing a shared understanding across business units is foundational to workflow automation success. Before selecting which processes to automate, map current workflows and identify pain points. Be sure to use intuitive design tools that enable collaboration and input across business units, so you’re getting the full picture.
Imagine how much more streamlined our approach to the coronavirus would be if healthcare organizations were better connected around the world, automatically sharing actionable data with one another. Enterprises can actually achieve this level of connectivity in their operations, making what may seem like an unattainable goal a reality. And the more business leaders work to break down silos in their own organizations, the more hope there is for greater communication and collaboration on a larger scale.
In her role as VP of Product Management at Nintex, Zoe Clelland is passionate about building world-class products based on customer-centricity, empowered teams, and a deep belief that software must work for humans, not the other way around. Zoe has focused on defining every aspect of digital user experiences for more than 20 years, and holds a Ph.D. in Human Factors Psychology.
Nintex Chief Product Officer Neal Gottsacker brings 30-plus years of management experience leading product management and technical teams in a variety of high-tech industries and within enterprise software companies. He is passionate about delivering on Nintex’s core mission of improving the way people work through process management and automation.