How ERM Tools Can Increase Creativity AND Productivity

Every business leader strives for productivity improvements. Every process tweaked, every helpful new tool, every bottleneck removed to help “do more with less” drops more to the bottom line.

Many will say they value creativity as well, particularly in the context of “innovation.” But the two concepts are very different; productivity is about doing the same things better, creativity is about doing new things. Productivity improvements are (often) seen as safe. Creativity is risky.

Creativity  and productivity can coexistCan enterprises effectively pursue both goals? Or as Borland Jones asks, “Can productivity and creativity really be balanced or are they fundamentally at odds with one another?”

In 5 Ways Creativity Leads to Productivity, Jones asks, and answers,  that question affirmatively, writing “I believe that creativity leads to productivity, provided that the workplace environment is developed and nurtured in a way that allows the two to peacefully co-exist.” He then details five ways fostering creativity can lead to productivity.

One of Jones’s key points is that “Productivity is often envisioned as dealing with the same tasks time and time again, as efficiently as possible. While in many ways this is great for your business, it…is one of the primary reasons why the ‘we’ve always done it this way’ mind-set can become so prevalent. Encouraging creative thinking leads to employees’ seeing the bigger picture and leveraging productive focus on issues with a deeper business impact.”

In an enterprise request management (ERM) implementation, this type of “big picture” thinking is encouraged by giving employees new tools—but their comfort level is simultaneously supported by the fact these new tools leverage, rather than replace, their familiar enterprise and departmental applications.

Employees often get into the habit of doing the same things in the same ways because they keep using the same tools. Yes, there are occasional process tweaks or application upgrades that can marginally improve productivity, but there is a limit to how efficient HR requests can be made, for example, within the existing HR system. When each employee is focused on improving productivity within his or her functional silo, a point of diminishing returns is inevitably reached.

ERM opens this up, increasing overall productivity by enabling employees to view processes across groups, not merely within them. Thus, for example, HR can collaborate to improve a complex, cross-departmental process like new employee onboarding by coordinating HR activities (setting up a payroll account, benefits enrollment) with IT (required system access, email account), facilities (work space, office furniture) and other groups. The focus expands from making departmental tasks more efficient to improving the productivity of the overall process.

A second way Jones suggests creativity improves productivity is by getting people emotionally invested: “Regardless of their department or role, workers who participate in the creative process can take ownership of an idea rather than a to-do list.”

The graphical task mapping tools used to automate back-end workflow processes in an ERM implementation are designed to enable business process owners,  in any department, create their own task workflows and “service items” for the portal with minimal IT assistance. In other words: the business process expert owns the process. Rather than providing IT with a list of requirements and “throwing it over the wall,” the process owner (in HR, facilities, finance, or elsewhere) has complete control to build, test, optimize, and deploy the automated process.

As Jones contends, creativity and productivity can indeed coexist, and be combined to produce significant business results—given the right workplace environment. Implementing ERM helps create that environment, by giving employees (secure, compliant, IT-approved) tools to visualize and optimize processes across, not just within, enterprise service functions.

Download the ERM overview white paper to learn more about this approach to service request management and its benefits to the enterprise.


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