Why streamlining and cost cutting isn’t the same

In Denmark, most people are acquainted with the word effektivisering, which translates into streamlining, or simple making more effecient. It is a word which is typically spoken by politicians or C-level people. However, when they say it, it usually doesn’t have anything to do with efficiency, instead it is just another way of saying: “yeah, we need to fire some people”. In other words, it’s cost cutting.

While cost cutting and streamlining isn’t the same, they are correlated in the way that streamlining will reduce your cost. And even better, unlike firing people, it won’t decrease the quality of your business.

But how do you get started with true streamlining, if firing someone isn’t the correct first step? First of all, if you are new to this, forget all about revolutions and grand schemes. Start simple. It could go something like this:

  1. Find the most simple process you have. Ideally something where you are just moving data from one system to another.
  2. Look for someone who would like to build the automation (software robots). It could be someone working in IT already, but it doesn’t have to. If might even be a task for a technically talented student assistant.
  3. Make a prototype for the automation, preferably without expensive tools like Blue Prism or UI Path.
  4. Repeat the process, with the learnings from the first round.

Regarding the third point: it is not that these tools are bad, not at all. But we are talking about getting started in the simplest possible way. And the best way to do that, is with free (or very cheap) tools.

The most successful stories of streamlining that I’ve heard, started out like this. This is also the case in my current job. It started out as a small proof of concept, now we have automated many hours worth of work, every single day. And we did it, without a decrease in quality.

Now I kind of left out the people who’s job will been taken over by a software robot. While you could fire them, it is, in my experience, a much better idea to find something else they can do. After all there are still plenty of things that humans do better than computers. So use your humans for that.

Published by Jakob Busk Sørensen

Software developer, currently focusing on process automation.

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