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Workplace tech is broken. How does IT stop the bleeding?

(Image credit: Image Credit: Bbernard / Shutterstock)

In relying on technology in the workplace, you’re likely familiar with printers that won’t print, elusive Wi-Fi connections, slow computers and other IT frustrations that can derail the work day.

If it’s any consolation, the data shows you’re not alone. According to a study by Nintex (opens in new tab), 62 per cent of employees think their company’s IT processes are flawed.

Specific struggles identified in the study include onboarding tech equipment for new hires (43 per cent), requesting a new computer or other technology device (42 per cent) and app troubleshooting (36 per cent). Even 21 per cent of millennials – supposedly the most tech-savvy generation – have trouble printing documents.

For all the trouble that tech gives employees, it’s no surprise that 71 per cent of workers lay the blame on the keepers of office tech – IT teams.

The consequences of broken processes

IT processes have become so broken that employees actively work around their IT teams to fix their problems. Only 16 per cent of employees agree that IT promptly handles their issues, so they’re taking matters into their own hands.

But by tackling IT problems on their own, employees put company data at risk. One in five employees have asked people outside the company for help, and 40 per cent have used apps or devices not sanctioned by the company until their original tech issue gets resolved.

Beyond company security, broken processes jeopardise talent retention. Eighty-six per cent of active job seekers say that broken IT processes at their current companies are a primary reason why they’re seeking new opportunities. Broken processes do more than stagnate employee productivity – 53 per cent believe broken IT processes keep them from achieving their full career potential.

Where can IT teams turn?

Technology is like oxygen in the workplace, and organisations sputter when broken processes stand in the way of functioning tech. Employees need to increasingly depend on IT to drive large-scale technology projects rather than operating as a tech help desk, but they’re having trouble keeping up. After all, even the small processes, such as putting in an IT request for service, break down and cause employee frustrations. To get back on track, IT teams must take several steps to improve their processes.

Bring line-of-business workers into the fold.

Employees don’t blame other departments for their broken processes the same way they blame IT. For example, only half of employees blame HR for onboarding issues and less than a third of respondents hold sales teams accountable for broken sales processes. When it comes to IT issues, however, nearly three-quarters of employees place the blame in IT’s court. This suggests that line-of-business employees view IT as a separate entity without the same investment in company goals.

IT needs to close the gap between itself and the rest of the business. As IT works to overhaul its broken processes, it should keep line-of-business employees in the loop. IT employees should make it clear they’re on the same team and want to enable their non-IT colleagues to do their best work.

Automate manual IT processes.

Internal processes handled manually can quickly descend into confusion and inconsistency. For example, asking employees to leave behind a note to request a new device leaves plenty of room for miscommunication.

These broken processes present the perfect opportunity for automation. Once automated, addressing basic employee asks becomes streamlined, mistake-free and transformative to overall company productivity. Applying the same model to more complex workflows, such as annual performance reviews, will have the same effect and can drive businesses toward more efficient and collaborative work culture.

Extend assistance to other departments’ broken processes.

Though line-of-business employees don’t hold them to the same level of blame, other departments including HR, sales and finance face broken manual processes of their own. HR’s broken processes – particularly those guiding onboarding and advancement – stand in the company’s way of retaining talent.

IT can assist in the automation of processes around performance reviews, promotions and raise negotiations. They can also help to eliminate the overwhelming amount of paper in the onboarding phase via automation, ensuring new talent starts out at the company guided by smooth and effective processes. In helping other departments to wrangle the right workflow tools to automate their own processes, IT leaders can demonstrate their commitment to the success and productivity of the organisation.

Employees can’t do their jobs effectively when the technology they need repeatedly fails them. To maintain the efficiency of the modern workplace, IT teams must pursue a holistic strategy for overhauling the broken tech processes plaguing the organisation. In doing so, their line-of-business colleagues will begin to see them as the smart, strategic and trusty partners they truly are.

Ryan Duguid, chief evangelist, Nintex (opens in new tab)
Image Credit: Bbernard / Shutterstock

Ryan Duguid is the chief evangelist at Nintex. He has 20-plus years of global IT experience and is responsible for setting product and platform vision, driving continuous innovation, and delivering technology to help everyday people solve their process problems.