Leveraging Technology to Mitigate Risk #5: The Problem with Humans

October 26, 2018
Part 5, our final part of our blog series, takes a look at how technology tools can drastically reduce the chance of human error, especially for important but repetitive tasks.

Technology provides a powerful platform allowing organizations to innovate at a rapid rate. Technology is so entrenched in our work-lives, we take for granted how things like email services, smart phones, video chatting, and computers have revolutionized the business world. However, with technology progressing and changing so quickly, it has also made organizations vulnerable to risks like cyber-attacks and data breaches, putting their clients’ privacy in jeopardy. Over the past few weeks, our blog has covered some of the top ways you and your organization can protect yourselves from the increased risk associated with the daily use of technology. Our last post in this series will discuss the importance of automating processes to reduce the risk of human error.

The Problem with Humans
The famous quote, “to err is human” sums up the problem with humans perfectly—the problem with humans is that we are, well… human. Across virtually every industry, human error is one of the leading causes of accidents. According to a study from 2009, medical error is the 8th leading cause of death in America; 75% of aviation accidents can be attributed to operator errors; the majority of online banking security threats are caused by human error and the usability of systems; the list goes on. Even though making mistakes is without a doubt a part of the human experience, your organization should strive to reduce human error whenever and wherever possible because although “to forgive is divine,” it still will cost your organization millions.
In a previous blog post, we discussed how 24% of data and security breaches are caused by human error. Your employees mean well; their mistakes are non-malicious—but these mistakes will cost you. So how can you handle all these well-intentioned, but accident-prone employees? According to studies from 2009 and another from 2017, the best ways to reduce human error are to 1) minimize the amount of time humans are interacting with organizational systems, and 2) maximize the usability of systems within your organization.
Repetitive tasks can fatigue employees, which increases their chance of errorTo reduce the time employees spend with organizational systems, implement technology that can automate repetitive tasks and streamline processes. Examples of technology automation include:
  • Customer relationship management software that automatically generates lists of targeted leads for the sales team
  • Records management software that automatically calculates records retention periods, ensuring legally defensible disposition
  • Email management software to increase productivity across departments
  • AI-powered customer service to answer frequently asked questions online to reduce the burden on your agents
There are major benefits in off-loading these monotonous tasks to technology. When employees spend less time doing these tasks, they are more motivated, become more productive, and are less prone to error.
Modifying and simplifying the systems within your organization is another way to reduce human error. Consider pairing down the amount of productivity and practice management tools used, enrich jobs by meaningfully increasing job complexity, and empower employees to create semi-autonomous teams. These changes allow employees to feel personally responsible for the meaningful portions of their work, increasing their attention to detail and reducing fatigue, thus reducing the risk for error.
The overarching benefit to automating repetitive tasks and streamlining internal processes is that it frees up resources. This gives employees more time to pursue value-based and mission-driven work, like networking, maintaining current client relationships, interfacing with potential clients, and product innovation. These types of tasks keep your employees happy and productive, which keeps your organization profitable and competitive.