Rising Costs of Wasted Time on Manual Processes

By Clinton Jones on February 23, 2015

Late in 2013, an article surfaced through the wires citing that time wasted by office workers hunting for lost documents cost British businesses a staggering £15 billion a year. The survey of over 1,000 desk-based office workers found that more than two-thirds of them spent up to an hour a day hunting for missing documents. The research by infoMENTUM  was carried out by independent research agency Censuswide.

Up to £15 billion wasted annually in the UK looking for ‘lost’ documents at work

Almost one fifth of workers were described as having failed to find what they were looking for and then used up even more time when they had to recreate the missing documents from scratch. When your operational groups are hamstrung by a shortage of manpower and laboring under tight deadlines like period end close and highly manual processes, is it any surprise that delays and errors creep into your end to end processes? Many clocks in a vending machine to illustrate the importance and fleeting nature of time and the desire to buy more and make a moment last longer

Office workers suggested the biggest factor contributing to their wasted time was out-of-date software and hardware, along with burdensome manual processes.

Over one fifth of those interviewed described their organizations’ IT systems and processes as “archaic, unreliable, slow and awkward.” Nearly sixty percent said that their IT system was only updated occasionally and a significant percentage (10%) stated the system was only upgraded when it was broken. A smaller number suggested their systems were never updated (3%).

With the average UK hourly wage rate coming in at just under £16 in 2013, and around 233 working days in a year, the calculations of forfeited time add up quickly.

It is estimated that around 25% of the 31M UK labor force are office workers, so in the time that has elapsed since the initial report and calculations were made, the results could well have increased significantly over the staggering fifteen billion pounds.

Many of these ‘lost’ documents more than likely got lost as a result of workflow activities that were not properly administered or managed. Companies can save not only time but archival and storage costs by replacing paper-based processes with electronic ones.


While the benefits of office automation are largely self evident, for finance groups in particular, switching to more automated and system-based data gathering and integration technologies like Winshuttle Studio and Winshuttle Foundation can not only avoid wasting time, but actually redirect scarce finance resources to higher value work like analytics and decision support.


About the author

Clinton Jones is a Director for Finance Solutions Management at Winshuttle where he has worked since 2009. He is internationally experienced having worked on finance technologies and business process with a particular focus on integrated business solutions in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and North America. Clinton serves as a technical consultant on technology and quality management as it relates to data and process management and governance for finance organizations globally. Prior to Winshuttle he served as a Technical Quality Manager at SAP and with Microsoft in their Global Foundation Services group.

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