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When is “Admin” really Admin?

There was a survey done recently where 61% of those surveyed said that if “admin” was halved, they would use the time saved to focus on their “core job”.

I’m sure you’ll agree from the gut, with or without survey, that “admin” is unpleasant, unproductive, and not very satisfying and if possible you would halve it.

However, I think an important point is how you actually define “admin”. Unsatisfying does not always mean unproductive.

Note that those surveyed agreed they would better spend their time in their “core job”. However what does their “core job” entail? For example if you spent a great deal of your time filing correspondance that will hardly ever get pulled out again, I’d suggest that is true “admin” and is probably not your “core job” unless you are a filing clerk. However what if say, your sales job is all about filling the sales funnel, assisting the whole sales team to sell better, and ensuring customer satisfaction. In such a job, is completing CRM details part of your core job or just “admin”? Without accurate information about the customer in the CRM system you and the rest of the sales team may not be able to sell effectively – that sounds like part of your core job to me.

Take a broader example. Let’s say your corporate culture and corporate systems wrap Accounts Receivables as part of customer service – is the administration of client accounts then “admin” or is it actually another point of engagement with your customer, another touchpoint to make him happy with the way he interacts with your company?

The point is that nobody likes “admin” but calling what is at first glance unproductive things “admin” lessens some of their importance and you run the risk of their not being done very well because they are perceived as of lower value. Yet, some of those “admin” type tasks have the potential of being critical to your business.

Should you not raise all critical activities in value perception?

I think a better way to define “core jobs” and pesky admin tasks is to analyse how every part of a team member’s work “touches” the customer journey. If some seemingly unproductive task actually enhances the journey for the customer, or helps someone else enhance that journey, then you need to do some internal work to explain the importance of that task and raise the value of that task, perhaps even build it into your reward systems!

Then, whatever is left, whatever is actually unproductive, look to simplify or eliminate.

I’d love to hear from you – what tasks do you do that you think are unproductive and can you wrap them into a point of engagement for a customer?

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