Is Your Middle Management Team Suffering from Manual Tasks and Out-of-Date Workflows?

Corporate culture suffers when corporate teams do. Bogging down teams with out-of-date requirements to develop manual and time-intensive presentations, reports, meetings and other corporate data kills anyone’s drive and stagnates internal workflows. Calling these tasks part of the “creative process” is an insult to actual value-driven creative processes that enhance the brand and the work being done to support the brand. It’s like saying data doesn’t matter for the health of the organization. Automation of these manually driven tasks is now within reach, as the final backwater of middle management business processes get some relief, support, new ideas and energy (and maybe a bit of empathy).

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Presentations take up management time

Every organization with management up to the executive level must account for their team’s success and overall quarterly performance. For upper management, knowing progress of projects and overall team performance helps determine if more resources are needed, validates necessary current and future budgets, and ensures the future for the entire organization. Communication is often done using business presentation documents that can be passed around in email and shown on projectors internally or during public conferences and meetings.

Productivity tools used to present this information include spreadsheets and presentation software. These productivity tools offer several templates and design assets, but they take time to learn. The process of generating and designing presentation documents also takes a tremendous amount of time for employees. In interviews with management, they report 60% of the time they spend working is on presentations, which means that a majority of time is spent creating files that discuss productivity rather than focusing on actual productivity and project design and deployment. Although presentations are an important part of business day-to-day life, projects need attention from management so that they can move forward. Designing and creating presentations take away from this valuable time and could lead to delays.

The 60% of employee time spent translates to four to six hours per week or 200 to 300 hours every year making business presentations. Multiply this time spent by the number of managers making presentations throughout the organization, and you can see that the cost to create these documents can potentially cost millions of dollars in time spent focusing on presentations rather than product design and deployment. This time and cost do not include the rework necessary after a presentation goes to review and must be revised. In some organizations, the legal department must review any presentations that will be publicly disclosed or used to drive business meetings.

This adds to the time taken away from the legal department, but it’s not unusual for the legal department to ask for revisions. The manager who put the presentation together must then make revisions to the content and design, which could mean several more hours to complete the presentation. Even after revisions are completed, another round of reviews from the legal department are likely necessary. More revisions mean even more time spent. Between the initial draft and the final presentation, a manager could potentially spend days before it’s complete. This time translates to money spent and wasted on presentations that describe productivity rather than actually performing necessary steps to complete a project.

To put the monetary value of a presentation in more concrete terms, consider that a management employee fully loaded (employee salary and a benefits package) might cost the organization roughly $100 per hour. If the management employee spends 200 hours a year creating presentations, the hours and money calculated to support presentation generation results in $20,000 per year for just this one employee’s non-productive presentation hours. For large enterprise organizations, there could be dozens of managers, middle-managers, executives, and other people creating presentations. In some departments such as IT operations and development, employees must create spreadsheets and presentations to convey their status reports for the week, so the money spent is in addition to other department managers.

For a large enterprise organization, it’s not uncommon to have hundreds of employees generating presentation documents. As a simple example, take 100 employees that spend 200 hours per year creating presentations. At $100 per year for each employee, the total calculation for money spent is $2 million. This lost value accumulates as more employees and resources are added to the business.

The $2 million is a lowball estimate for total enterprise businesses. Research shows that the total wasted time on non-content tasks is between $480 billion and $1,260 billion (over $1 trillion) with the average costs totaling $870 billion. The money lost across organizations takes considerable time away from the creative process that results in company growth, better products delivered to customers, and improved internal procedures.

Presentation creation takes away from creativity

It takes a team working together to create a successful product, including management. Design teams often need months to brainstorm, design, build, and finally deploy a product. These products could be for internal users or external customers and consumers, but they all require extensive creative time. While some people have the misconception that managers only organize and train employees, they in fact have a valuable place on the team and will often jump in and be a part of the hands-on development and design process.

More than just design teams are involved in presentations and development of products. In large enterprise organizations, developers and operations people are asked to create status reports. An organization could have hundreds of developers and operations people coding applications, building tools, maintaining infrastructure, monitoring systems, and updating servers. All these day-to-day tasks are necessary to keep the organization afloat and ensure that all employees can stay productive.

These employees feel obligated to make their status reports as attractive as possible, which means that presentations are often a part of the process of building a document with charts, graphs, and images illustrating their productivity. These presentations might take all day to complete, which takes away from a developer’s time coding an application. For an operations employee, a status report presentation might take away from important maintenance and updates to infrastructure. These employees no longer spend five days a week on productive creativity and building products. They spend four days in the creative process and an entire day generating status reports.

Another aspect of lost creativity is that many employees are not familiar with building and designing presentations. Managers don’t always have the skillset to build a presentation that effectively communicates their ideas. This means that they need help or must designate the task to other people within the organization, so not only is time taken away from the manager’s creative process, but it’s also taken from the secondary employee who must also design and generate a presentation.

Technology can modernize the process and free up time

Artificial intelligence (AI) has already saved time in many industries for thousands of business processes, and it also can help with the business presentation process as well, leaving managers and employees with more time to focus on creativity for new products and other activities that better benefit the organization. It might seem like an algorithm could not design something as creative as a presentation, but the technology leverages current data and designs and applies them to the learning process coded into algorithms within the technology.

At the start, the AI is fed data from the organization’s internal data and current presentation information and then “learns” to design documents similar to existing ones. The learning can be done from department to department so that each team gets an individualized presentation design that matches their own preferences and templates. The data builds over 50 storylines with over 35,000 slides maintained in a library that focuses on the organization’s own brand format and strategy.

One benefit of AI is that it’s always learning, so should the organization’s managers change elements and information, the AI technology used to generate presentations also learns that data has changed. The technology to build and design presentations is not static. It can change as the organization changes and grows. Additional products, brand elements, data, and other design assets can be changed at any time and fed into AI algorithms that will then use these new assets to recreate and generate documents.

Leveraging this technology, an organization can save thousands of hours across all departments and millions of dollars every year. Managers no longer need to focus a majority of their time on building presentations. Instead, they can generate presentations on the fly in only a few minutes. Communication of important business information can be generated in presentation templates within a few minutes instead of hours, and these presentations are built on data fed to AI algorithms so generation is repeatable and eliminates potential human error. Managers and the organization will benefit from the technology so that focus can be on design and improving products rather than the presentations that communicate overall status and department productivity.