Business & Leadership Behaviors Project Management Thoughts

The Cost of Inaction in Automation

This past Monday ended up being a snow day across St. Louis.  We got around six inches of snow and that is more than enough to do us in here.  It’s still a little comical to me, having grown up in Minnesota.  But I’m more than happy to stay in and off the roads when these events happen.

Unfortunately, as busy as this time of year is, snow days don’t tend to bring out my productivity.  My task list has a tendency to be set aside for other important tasks – like a holiday movie marathon or something equally industrious.

Because really, what’s the cost?

Well, there are costs.  The things that needed to get done, still need to get done.  But now those tasks may be addressed with panic (and swearing).  They may include a quick gift purchase that may or may not fit the budget or be ideal for that recipient.  You may also overcompensate in some areas if you don’t want to forget something in your haste to get caught back up.

More uncertainty, more money, more swearing.  Falalalala……


The Cost of Inaction

We run into inaction a lot in our line of work.  Automating inventory processes is an area where many organizations tend to procrastinate in favor of other activities or investments.  But like my snow day, there’s a cost.

If you have financial reporting, budgets, if you’re trying to keep track of tools/equipment/what your firm owns – then you need to conduct some type of an inventory or audit.  But with all of the technology that seems to be everywhere, every minute of every day, there are still many organizations that send their staff out with a clipboard, a list & a pen to conduct a task that can carry a huge impact – and not necessarily in a good way.

Some of the reasons for not automating include indifference (this is the way that it’s always been done), overconfidence (I’m sure that what we’re doing now is fine), or more likely inattention (there are more important things to deal with).  Whatever the reason (or reasons), there’s still a cost.


The Impact of Inaction

The impact of staying with the clipboard seems to show up most in your staff and your data.  You may think that this impact isn’t a big deal – but let’s consider the ripple effects.

Labor  I’m pretty confident when I say that most people dread the task of inventories or audits.  Most teams that we work with don’t have staff dedicated to audits.  The people doing the counts are borrowed for these tasks – or just know that they need to squeeze the inventory work into their other duties at different times during the year.

As a result, you likely have a team of irritated or annoyed counters.  Their morale may be low – and the quality of their results may be lower.  The latter is especially true if they rushed to get the work done or worse, in their hurry to be done they just skimmed the inventory list and decided that “yep – that’s about right” and turned in those “findings”.

Data (Missing)  If you don’t know what you have or where it is when you need it, you’ll likely replace it, right?  Or if you really want to be on the safe side, you might even purchase a few extras – just in case.  Buying things that we don’t need just because we can’t find what we already own is a big waste of money.  And that total spend just grows with every extra purchase.

Data (Untrustworthy)  If you’re tasked with reporting on your assets, creating a budget, or making operational plans that involve different asset tools – you either trust your data and act accordingly or you make accommodations for your data risk and pad accordingly.

Even with the most diligent staff, manual processes open your data up to the risk of inaccuracies (transposed numbers, data entry errors, time delays in input).  Data issues can then lead to that critical tool not being found when needed or under/over projecting budgets or plans and other issues.  So trusting manual data still offers risk

Not trusting the data encourages overcompensation behaviors like surplus budgeting and spending on extra tools, staff, or time.  In this ever-competitive economy, the inefficiencies that these behaviors create can break your bottom line.


The Next Step

There are definitely those days when we really don’t have the motivation to tackle different tasks and issues.  But the impact of not taking action really can have some ripple effects.  Trust me.  My holiday budget definitely took a hit this week.

If you’re not sure how automating your inventory processes could impact your team, contact us for a free process review.  We’ll show you the options and benefits of automation for your organization specifically.  In the meantime, check out our white paper for additional information.