Repetition can be great.
When you’re at the gym, reps are the only way to build muscle. Or, when you’re learning a new skill, hours of repetition during practice hone your abilities and give you confidence when the game is on the line—think about shooting free throws in basketball.
Other types of repetition, however, can drain your productivity, your sanity, and your bottom line.
If you’ve ever had to conduct a process like taking inventory in a department store, you can imagine the pain of having to do that more than once a year. The difference is that this second example is a manual process that no matter how many times you do it, you don’t really become that much better at it, and it offers no personal value.
Times have changed. Henry Ford’s assembly line process, which only worked because of the highly repetitive nature of the tasks, allowed for the first wave of mass production of motor vehicles. There was simply no way a person doing every task associated with building by a car himself could keep up with an assembly line of people doing a single tasks over and over.
Contrast that with how a modern car manufacturer like Tesla uses robotics to automate as many repetitive tasks as possible.
Today, we want to examine repetition in the workplace, look at some of the costs, and offer some benefits of automation.
The Cost Of Repetition
As you likely know by now, HelloSign’s main business is electronic signatures and digital workflows, among other things. So let’s take a look at some of the costs of repetition in the document storage and processing niche.
Errors. Yikes, do these tend to pile up when you combine a repetitive, manual process with a disengaged employee. Missed a signature on a document that went to a business partner or the IRS? Not good.
Growth. This is often one of the most hidden costs of repetitive tasks—there come a point when you simply can’t scale a repetitive process, which stifles growth. Instacart, being the clever company that they are, realized that signing up an “army” of personal shoppers wouldn’t work for their business model, but they planned ahead with digital onboarding document workflows and hit their growth goals. Read more about their paperless journey in our Instacart case study.
Resources. Paper, stamps and envelopes cost money. Waiting two days for USPS to deliver a contract costs time. Employees bogged down with menial, repetitive tasks like downloading a document, signing it, scanning it, and then emailing it back to the client costs time and money.
Employee morale. Nobody wants to be a paper pusher, and employees who feel like they are will likely quit or become disengaged—both of which are huge negatives for any company.
Benefits of Automating Repetitive Tasks
Once you can identify the costs of repetition, you can move toward eliminating unnecessary tasks with automation and reap the benefits. Here are a few examples of the benefits automation can provide to spur your imagination.
Accountability. When tasks are automated, there should always be a digital record of the event that can be referenced later. Even though the task was executed by a robot or an algorithm, there will be an employee who authorized the transaction.
Minimize risks. Machines operate with a precision (the ability to do the same thing over and over again exactly the same way) that humans aren’t capable of re-creating. This helps minimize the risk of errors we covered in the previous section.
Innovation. When human employees are given a break from completing menial tasks, it not only saves them time, but it provides more bandwidth to think creatively. After all, they should be using their time to focus on solving larger, more complex problems—not playing table tennis in the break room, right?!
If you are intrigued by the concept of eliminating repetitive tasks to free up your team for more critical thinking, you should check out what happens when you apply digital transformation to your entire organization. Read our recent post, Digital Transformation Is a Stepping Stone to Innovation.