Knowledge Work Standardization Thought Leadership

All you need to know about standardization, automation, and digitization!

At The Lab, we wrote the book, quite literally, on the standardization of white-collar, or knowledge work. We’ve been doing it for companies from the Fortune 500 on down, for more than 25 years. And we use our patented Nano-Scale Standardization™ methodology to bring you breakthrough transformational power in the form of robotic process automation, automated process mining, advanced analytics, and much more.

Take advantage of the thought-leading articles, case studies, and videos below. Then contact us to book your no-obligation 30-minute screen-sharing demo.

“A man’s errors are his portals of discovery.” – James Joyce Scientists, artists, mathematicians and stock traders have long cherished all types of errors as tools for discovery. However, they are particularly fascinated by errors of contradiction – any situation in which inconsistent elements are present. The reason: Contradictions can provide clues that a major opportunity might...

Today, most workers aren’t sweating in the sun, laying bricks. They’re toiling away in the office. White-collar, or knowledge, workers make up the majority of the workforce. And like the bricklayers, they believe they’re as productive as possible.Yet the productivity of these employees is being sapped by virtuous waste. They’re spending 35 percent of their day doing things like correcting errors. Duplicating work. Or over-servicing clients.Not only do they not realize they’re wasting effort, but they believe their work is unavoidable, even valuable. Find out how The Lab delivered transformational benefits in just months, using its patented Knowledge Work Standardization™ approach.

Our last article detailed the numerous risks inherent in business operations lacking sufficient standardization. It told the story of a globally-known brokerage whose front- and back-office operations were hobbled by low quality,...

It might seem counterintuitive that the U.S. government—and the I.R.S., no less—could provide a valuable lesson in reducing cost. But when you take a new perspective on the word “tax,” the possibilities suddenly become...

A lot has changed since 1920. Knowledge-work jobs have grown six times faster than total employment. Today, daily knowledge-work activities account for 85 percent of an average business’ market value. That’s more than four times the value of its tangible assets. Yesterday’s perception must catch up to today’s reality. Knowledge workers are the best-educated and highest-paid human resources. They’re also the least standardized. But they make up half of the workforce. There’s never been a better time to institute factory-inspired structures for their operations.

This is the story of Michel, the European-based CFO of a global tire manufacturer. He’s also a staunch advocate of cost-cutting strategies that rely on standardizing knowledge work. But that’s getting ahead of the plot.When our tale began, Michel had flown across the pond to visit Pete, his head of manufacturing for The Americas operations. Over lunch, the topic of audits arose. Audits were a sore spot for Pete. He immediately griped about the burden these imposed on his management team. Safety audits, financial audits, physical inventory audits and product design audits all failed to produce actionable information.

Home-theater enthusiasts quickly learn a painful lesson. Their precious, expensive gear is only as good as its weakest link. Using “junky speaker wire” undermines the performance of their investment in premium speakers and amplifiers. That’s why sophisticated audiophiles invest as much on speaker cables as many people spend on their entire system. Today’s executives should learn from these audiophiles. Currently they under-invest in critical connections. Businesses buy expensive technology for core business operations and high-stakes risk-management requirements. But they skimp on makeshift, inefficient processes to connect these costly “components” to employees, data, customers and regulators. The result is the operations equivalent of “degraded audio”: degraded business value.

The company, a top-3 global tire manufacturer, was battling low-cost competitors who were overtaking the low-price end of the North American tire after-market. At the high-price end, effective marketing operations, high-quality product, and strong brand recognition kept these new entrants at bay. Even so, high-end customers pushed for lower pricing. Industry margins were so thin that a one-percent cost reduction could deliver a meaningful competitive gain in market share.

For decades, this company called itself an “information provider,” serving the global pharmaceuticals industry. After several major acquisitions broadened its market footprint across the entire healthcare sector, steady growth far exceeded original expectations. It rebranded itself as a “research and advisory firm,” delivering standard “products” as well as customized “management consulting” services. Management and employees considered the business a success. But in recent years, margin growth lagged revenue gains, and external shareholders grew restless. Finally, under pressure from activist investors, the COO launched a costly, core-technology-transformation initiative that promised lower costs, productivity gains, improvements in customer self-service, and continuous digital-automation capabilities. But 18 months after completion, nothing much had changed, and margin growth was still lackluster.

The new COO of this retailer’s Global Shared Services (GSS) Center had spent nearly her entire career in similar global-scale shared-services centers. Five years prior, she was recruited by a colleague who had earlier joined the retailer from a large defense contractor’s shared-services organization where they had both worked. Her career move paid off with the COO title. The position was moderately challenging but delivered no big surprises—until now. After completion of the largest IT upgrade investment in the retailer’s history, senior management decided to relocate selected regional store-support operations into the nearest GSS.

Changes in the healthcare industry demanded improved capabilities from pharmaceuticals companies. Customers wanted flexible ordering options, shorter cycle times, new packaging, increased service support—and lower prices. The company’s new ERP upgrades promised to enable this new flexibility, increase productivity, and deliver sustainable cost reduction. But it also delivered mediocre gains. Rapid turnover was only exacerbating operational issues.

Today, the intangible assets of knowledge workers’ work methods represent the majority of business value. (That’s the opposite of the way things used to be, when tangible assets such as factories and equipment were king.) Sadly, there is a ton of waste when it comes to addressing (or more accurately, overlooking) how knowledge workers perform their job activities. According to real-world data assembled by The Lab Consulting, up to 40 percent of knowledge work activity could be avoided or eliminated. That’s a cost reduction opportunity too big to ignore. Consider that again: Up to 40 percent of knowledge work activity can be eliminated.

Imagine all new hires onboarded, automatically, with a single click! If you’re an information-technology (IT) or information-security (IS) person, there’s one routine chore that we guarantee you dread: The onboarding of...

We document every activity. We find every variance. If it’s wasteful, it goes away. If it’s valuable and repetitive, it gets earmarked for automation.   UNLOCK THE POWER OF ROBOTICS & AI HARNESS ADVANCED ANALYTICS TURBOCHARGE...