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Daily office admin making us less productive: research

Increased regulation and compliance around storage and maintenance of customer data a key issue

Australian office workers are becoming less productive as they wrestle with the rising number of manual administration tasks and increased regulation and compliance processes, according to new research.

A survey – completed by Pureprofile on behalf of Canon Australia – asked 1005 employees from SMBs and larger enterprises how manual office admin affected productivity. Admin tasks included activities such as faxing, photocopying, scanning, filing, data entry, invoice processing and securing document approvals.

Almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of these respondents said office admin was making them less productive while 58 per cent said their current job had too much administration associated with it.

Jeremy Plint, assistant general manager at Canon Business Services Australia, told CIO Australia that the move to the paperless office is “painfully slow”. A key issue is the time people take to store and retrieve physical and sometimes electronic documents.

“This has become more difficult now because of increased regulation and compliance and the storage and maintenance of, for example, customer data,” said Plint.

“It’s very much around processes [and] not specific applications; it’s not specifically about accounts payable or HR but things like the difficultly in producing, editing and getting a document approved throughout the business. That really points to the key issue which is these manual and paper-based processes that are easy to automate.”

Almost half (48 per cent) of respondents have seen a rise in their administrative workload over the past 12 months, with 39 per cent expecting to see this increase further over the coming year.

Although half put this increase down to the nature of their role being manual and time-consuming, 27 per cent associated it with regulation, the need to hold documents for longer periods of time.

Plint agreed that the sheer volume of information companies need to deal with – commonly referred to as 'big data' – is also contributing to a rise in administration workloads.

“There’s more [data] floating around the place and the difficulties associated with managing it and getting the key bits out of that to make better business decisions is actually more important for business owners these days,” he said.

He added that often administrative tasks are hidden and there are no “hard costs” associated with them, and CIOs and other C-level executives need to review administration processes and determine where they need to be in the future.

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