Australian Managers Waste 36% of Their Time on Administrative Tasks


– 3 in 5 managers say administrative tasks prevent them from doing strategic work 

– 7 in 10 companies still use unstructured manual tools to drive routine work processes 

– 7 in 10 managers say these routine work processes cause significant delays 

– Time spent on needless administration translates to $33B per annum or 2.1% of GDP 

ServiceNow, the enterprise cloud company, today released latest findings from a new report, “The State of Work in Australia,” which revealed that Australian corporate managers are spending an average of 36% of their time on needless administrative tasks. This could potentially hamper organisational growth as managers find themselves having less time for strategic work, in turn creating unnecessary productivity and revenue losses.

The findings were based on a survey of 300 managers across Australia, aimed at understanding the effectiveness of the tools and processes used within corporate environments. ServiceNow sought to determine if businesses are leveraging the power of connected technology to simplify and accelerate work – or if they are still stuck using inefficient manual tools.

Said David Oakley, Managing Director, ANZ, ServiceNow, “The Internet has radically transformed the way we work and play. Consumers now expect the web to be automated, on demand and always on in their everyday lives – a demand that is increasingly seen in the workplace as well.

“However, the survey found that organisations are still spending considerable time and money on manual administration, which could significantly impact their top and bottom lines. Not only does this routine work cause managers to be less productive, it also inhibits a business’ ability to access one of the most crucial avenues to business growth – innovation,” he added.

Aside from quizzing respondents about the time spent on administrative tasks and the processes applied, the study also provided insights into the business impact of managers’ administrative workload as well as what they would like to see change. The survey focused on four routine work processes common across all corporate environments: IT technical support, marketing services, purchase orders and employee onboarding. Respondents came from all working age groups across a wide range of industries, company sizes and business functions.

Managers spend almost as much time on needless tasks as they do their jobs

– 95% regularly spend time on administration outside their core job function.

– On average, administrative tasks consume 14 hours or about two days every week.

– 36% indicated that they spend three days or more a week on administration.

– 62% agreed that administrative work leaves them with less time for strategic initiatives.

To put this in context, two days per week equates to 1,800 employees or 3.4 million hours a year for a corporation with 5,000 employees. This translates to $33 billion a year spent on administrative tasks in Australia – or 2.1% of GDP.*

“Australian enterprises waste billions of dollars on manual administration,” said Oakley. “The magnitude of this administrative overhead is astounding. Enterprises need to ask whether administrative activities are the best use of their resources.”

Managers are dissatisfied with how work gets done today 

– While managers spend an enormous amount of time on administration, the majority stressed that these tasks are fundamentally still important and efficiency is critical.

– 7 in 10 say that routine work processes cause significant delays.

– 4 in 5 indicate that delays in the purchase order process and IT support cause problems, while 3 in 4 say the same about getting marketing services.

Managers still rely on manual, unstructured tools for administration 

– Fewer than 18% have automated applications for the four work processes listed above.

– 7 in 10 companies still use unstructured manual tools such as email, spreadsheets and even personal visits to drive routine work processes, rather than automated applications.

– Email is still driving most work processes and is the most popular when requesting marketing services and collateral (60%), followed by opening a purchase order (51%).

– Even with IT support – arguably the most mature service – only 16% have automated systems.

The productivity drain is compounded by the complexity of business processes and the interdependencies between departments. In fact, 8 in 10 respondents agree that their productivity depends on how efficiently services provided by other departments are delivered.

The findings revealed that on average, managers have to coordinate across 4 departments for routine work processes. Almost half (45%) of respondents say that 5 to 10 departments are involved in employee onboarding, while one third (33%) say it takes 10 or more individual interactions such as emails or phone calls to make sure the company is ready for an employee’s first day on the job.

“The problem with emails, phone calls and personal visits is that they do not drive end-to-end workflow,” said Oakley. “Once a manager requests a service, the request is never tracked. For instance, if things are delayed or forgotten, no one is responsible for chasing the issue. It’s like having an orchestra with no conductor and chaos reigns. Managers end up having to become that conductor, which is what consumes their time and creates frustration.”

Managers want to use the same tools professionally and personally 

– 3 in 4 want simple, self-service support processes that are as easy to use and apply as consumer websites such as eBay or Amazon.

– 9 in 10 agree that automating these inefficient work processes would make them more productive.

– Only 4% disagreed with consumerising support processes, and only 3% disagreed with automating administrative tasks.

“By automating and consumerisng their business services, Australian companies can reclaim enormous amounts of highly skilled management time,” said Oakley. “Not only will this drive massive increases in efficiency, it will also release managers to focus on strategic activities. We believe that this is a critical investment area that can deliver deep competitive benefits and major cost savings.

“This survey points to the future of work – evolving from personal productivity tools to online automation to run business processes,” said Oakley. “The technology exists today and early adopters are showing the way forward.”

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