Four Investments to Succeed in a Struggling Economy


Most companies prioritize cutting costs during economic downturns, eliminating everything that isn’t critical to the core business. But this mindset makes it easy to forget why your company exists in the first place: to sell the single best product or service on the market. In this uncertain economy, here are the four investments every company needs to weather the storm, shares Bhavin Shah, CEO of Moveworks.

The S&P 500 has been a rollercoaster since 2018: Up 41%, down 33%, up 111%, and now finally, a 23% plunge. It’s this last dip that’s generating fears of a full-blown recession. Even if stock prices hold stable for the rest of the year, 2022 would be the seventh worst-performing yearOpens a new window on record. 

Business leaders need to make a subtle but important shift in focus – away from simply cutting costs and toward maximum efficiency. 

To do this, you actually need to invest more in the systems and processes you already have in place: your knowledge, your approvals, your software licenses, and your employee issues.

Your Knowledge

How many of your employees actually use the FAQs, knowledge articles, and troubleshooting guides you’ve created to help them? I’ve analyzed data from thousands of these knowledge bases at some of the biggest companies in the world. The reality is that 75% of it never even gets read once.

A lot of the time, employees will ask questions you’ve already answered on page 47 of the VPN troubleshooting guide. And even if they find the guide, they’re probably not going to find the one paragraph that can help them. This erodes productivity in two ways: Employees spend their time looking for knowledge that lives deep within your organization, and managers spend their time answering the same questions over and over again.  

To combat this, you need to understand how employees search for knowledge to get help today. Where are they going for information? Are they in the wrong system? Is your search surfacing the wrong results? Or are they finding the right knowledge article and still not discovering the answer? You need to figure out which elements of the process are broken and address each part.

See More: How Blockchain Payments Bring Economic Relief to Emerging Economies

Your Approvals

Do you know the average amount of time employees wait for IT, HR and finance approvals? Working with companies from all over the world, I’ve found that something as simple as approving a new laptop takes an average of 10 hours. 

In large organizations, the approval process is a complex web that involves dozens of different systems and people. A simple request like getting a new laptop shouldn’t take 10 hours. But it adds up quickly if you’re waiting on multiple people to get the green light. Consider this: You send a request for a new laptop through the IT portal, the request sits in a colossal ticketing queue until IT can get to it, IT reaches out to your boss for approval, and your boss finally confirms. 

While 10 hours may not seem like that long, more than a whole business day is lost while the employee waits. Multiply that by 500 approvals a month – depending on the size of the company – and the amount of potential productivity lost per month is staggering.  

I’ve seen some of the biggest companies in the world take their approval time down from 10 hours to as little as 9 minutes just by automating this process. To do this, business leaders need a way for managers to approve employee requests where they’re already working – whether it’s Slack, Microsoft Teams, or another collaboration platform. The approver only has to click “yes” or “no,” and the process can move forward in minutes rather than hours.

Your Software Licenses

How many of your employees actually use the software they have access to? 37% of software licenses never get used at allOpens a new window . For U.S. companies alone, that comes out to a combined $30 billion wasted per year.

Knowing this, IT teams often assign a team member to reclaim unused licenses. But a simple task like this can take one IT analyst anywhere from two hours to a full day to capture who has used a specific tool within the last 90 days. The same person then spends additional time crafting personalized messages for each employee who needs a license revoked to maintain trust. 

Instead, you need to determine exactly which parts of this process require input from the IT specialist or employee and which are good candidates for automation. For example, IT specialists can focus on more impactful work when they aren’t spending their time auditing software licenses and sending out emails asking if those licenses can be revoked. But the employee should ultimately choose whether or not they want to keep their license or relinquish it. This also frees up IT teams to focus on their biggest priority: Enabling employees to be productive. 

Your Employee Issues

So how do you know which knowledge articles need improving? And how do you know if approval times are negatively impacting your employees’ productivity? Or how do you quantify the amount of money you’re losing after a year from unused software licenses? A recent report found that 50% of IT and HR leaders don’t have access to dataOpens a new window about their most pressing issues. 

The reason is CIOs, and IT leaders have historically focused on tickets to understand where they need to improve. Most could tell you how big their backlog is, how many SLA violations they’ve had, or the volume of issues they experienced each quarter. But very few of them could tell you the average time their sales team waits for software approval or how many people on the engineering team have access to the software they never use. But the latter issues tell a much larger story about where the business loses efficiency daily. 

Instead, business leaders need data that offers a holistic view of the employee experience. They need to understand exactly which issues are slowing each team down and what changes they need to make before these issues significantly impact the bottom line. If you work backward from these real, tangible insights, increasing efficiency becomes an informed decision as opposed to a knee-jerk reaction.

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