The USA is experiencing a concerted period of productivity decline. A review by the BLS reveals that, over the past two decades, the US economy has lost $10.9 trillion to low levels of productivity against historic standards. Productivity has, of course, always been the big advantage the US has on the world stage. When compared to other powers with greater population numbers, the US has always kept up through the strength of its workforce and work ethic. Tackling this isn’t an easy question, but business mapping can go a long way to helping businesses solve the productivity question.
Automation is coming fast to a wide share of the US industry. The New York Times has reported a particular surge over the past twelve months that is starting to impact the labor market. Now, while automation is generally more efficient than human labor, this isn’t always the case. Engineers and experts are behind the proper operation of any automated work system, and this is something that needs to be targeted for productivity improvements. Business mapping can help to fill this gap. Look, for instance, at conveyor belt systems. Fundamental to the good running of warehousing operations, such as Amazon’s, these are a core part of what makes the business tick. Having conveyors automates work, but having properly documented business process mapping for the system helps employees at all levels to troubleshoot and improve efficiency.
Just as automation takes job roles away, the ones left over reach new prominence - and require new documentation. As automation often removes wasted demand and administrative tasks, what’s leftover is often conducive to business growth and can be poorly defined. By establishing rigorous business mapping to these processes, and helping employees to know exactly what they’re working with, new development and innovation can be produced in these new responsibilities and, ultimately, productivity is enhanced once again.
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Job roles are shifting, too, and mapping is something that will help to bridge the gap and provide a sense of assurance to business owners and staff. Technology is meaning that staff is increasingly pushed into areas where automation cannot have an authentic impact; Forbes highlights areas such as social media marketing. These can be somewhat esoteric areas of business that value creative minds, and this shouldn’t be stymied. However, overarching any successful business model is a plan, and that can and should be codified using the business map. Employers won’t be able to strictly define what employees do, but they can manage productivity, and keep it high, by ensuring that actions are taken against a pre-approved plan and map that shows the way forward.
While the productivity decline is real, automation is helping to improve it. However, employers should not rest on their laurels. New challenges can be brought about by automation, and by grabbing the bull by its horns and getting processes mapped today, productivity can remain high through the lifetime of the business.
Contributed by guest author Jennifer Hole