Quickbase, the application platform for dynamic work, released its latest report, Roadblocks to the Dynamic Enterprise, surveying 1,000 workers across various industries in the United States. The research reveals massive organizational time, revenue and productivity losses caused by outdated work processes and fragmented information systems, like spreadsheets and databases, project management and collaboration tools, point solutions, or developer platforms.
Quickbase found that close to 70 percent of employees spend upwards of 20 hours a week chasing information across different technologies instead of doing their job. In other words, employees are stuck spending up to half the average work week on “gray work”, which is creating ad-hoc solutions and workarounds to fit their needs when they run into roadblocks caused by fragmented tools, systems and processes.
20+ hours a week are lost to fragmented systems
When workers lose more than half of a 40-hour workweek to fragmented systems, their organizations experience significant monetary impact. These inefficiencies directly impact the time available for meaningful work, especially considering the lack of time spent working on projects that drive results. The consequences of gray work’s proliferation are far-reaching. Even in an age of continued innovation and automation, the US has seen the largest decline of productivity since 1974, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Productivity challenges are exacerbated in large-scale, complex environments where gray work is most prevalent and disruptive, such as manufacturing, construction, healthcare and other industries that require dynamic workflows and operations. For example, IDC found that the time workers spend searching for information costs a 1,000-person organization $2.5 million per year. On a global scale, this is billions of dollars wasted.
“The way we work isn’t working. The promise of digital transformation isn’t happening the way it was intended, and employees are frustrated, and organizations are losing money,” shared Ed Jennings, CEO of Quickbase. “Work is more dynamic than ever before and most software tools just weren’t built to manage the influx of data, information and teams, which is impacting everything down to the bottom-line.”
50 percent of employees take on “gray work” outside their primary skillset or organizational systems
One of the critical pain points identified in the research is the lack of synchronization and integration among various systems, resulting in manual effort to verify and consolidate data. Respondents expressed frustration over having to check and reconcile data across multiple platforms, highlighting the need for a centralized information repository that eliminates redundancy and streamlines workflows.
Over half of survey respondents shared that they are tasked with projects outside of their primary skillsets either somewhat frequently (43%) or very frequently (7%). This can result in “gray work” – the work that teams do to create ad-hoc solutions to get by and keep pace. 66 percent of respondents address roadblocks by creating workarounds or customizing their software tools to fit their needs when they run into roadblocks that their software can’t immediately solve.
Majority of complex projects are beset by frequent miscommunication and delays
The survey findings underscore the impact of these challenges on large-scale projects and complex work environments. As work becomes more dynamic and less structured, involving numerous stakeholders and constant changes, organizations face significant difficulties in managing complex projects while minimizing the fragmentation of information and processes. For example, over 64 percent of projects experience delays at least 20 percent of the time, while miscommunication affects 54 percent of projects to a similar degree. These setbacks result in additional costs, increased time investment, and a decreased ability to meet customer expectations.
Professor Bent Flyvbjerg, co-author of How Big Things Get Done and the most cited scholar in the world on megaprojects, found that only 0.5 percent of projects requiring at least $1 billion in investment are delivered on-budget, on-time, and with the projected benefits. As Flyvbjerg shared with Quickbase, “Project managers are overly optimistic about budgets, schedules, and even project benefits. They go in clueless about the real odds and end up underperforming on all three counts.”
The potential for transformative change
By implementing solutions that address the issues of wasted time and employee frustration, organizations can focus their resources on critical work and maximize productivity. “By facilitating seamless collaboration and empowering employees to focus on high-impact projects, businesses can reduce the amount of time and energy squandered on gray work,” said Jennings. “Organizations that rise above the productivity headwinds impeding so many industries today will be the ones that are best positioned to achieve long-term success.”