On average, workers send and receive 15 emails with attachments a day, with 59 per cent of managers admitting to missing vital information simply because they can’t find it or never see it. Kieran Saunders, senior business solutions consultant, FileMaker, explains how working collaboratively with software, apps and team members, businesses will save both time and money, by making small changes to eradicate these problems.
Having a productive business and workforce is crucial for all business leaders, from SMEs to big corporations. Increasing productivity within the company unlocks the potential to deliver better results and in turn, improve output.
Technology has become an essential tool in enabling businesses to increase the companies’ productivity, with SMEs increasing their technology spending by 50 per cent since from 2014 to 2015. Investing in technology is not enough though; utilising technology in the right way to ensure it is creating the greatest impact on the business is key to boosting productivity. This involves studying business processes and being open to technology changing them.
Recent research has revealed 38 per cent of employee time is still lost on duplicating work, with 58 per cent of people wasting an hour a day looking for information. By working collaboratively with software, apps and members of the team, businesses will save both time and money, by making small changes to eradicate these problems.
Here are five top tips small to medium sized businesses can adopt to increase their productivity in their organisation.
1. Make data accessible
With data being stored in different locations, servers, desktops, devices, systems, emails and even on paper, employees can waste time searching and locating the right information to help with their work. On average, workers send and receive 15 emails with attachments a day, with 59 per cent of managers admitting to missing vital information simply because they can’t find it or never see it. If the information is difficult to source and is not received in a timely manner, it can devalue how important and useful the data can be. There are tools available to businesses which can result e.g. in teams drafting documents 33 per cent faster with a custom app for document management. This will save time for employees, as building dashboards makes data accessible for all parties in the business to utilise.
Making data accessible is a task which will not happen over night, but to start with, if CEOs spend just five minutes with key members of the workforce, asking them what data they need to do their job effectively, a plan can be created based on reliable and useful information for the team.
2. Adopt mobility
Mobile working has become an integral part of today’s working environment, with the mobile workforce expected to reach 1.3 billion globally by the end of 2016. Businesses must therefore ensure they are adapting to this change. With mobile devices such as the iPad leading the way in encouraging the growth of mobile working, it is a great advancement in being able to communicate with colleagues who work remotely or have to travel with their job. According to ZDNet, 28 per cent of UK workers would be willing to take a lower salary in return for flexible working privileges. Encouraging mobile working will not only increase employee satisfaction, but it will increase the productivity of communications within the business. Companies must therefore ensure they have the tools in place to enable mobile working without impacting on productivity. To start adopting mobility, businesses need to collect real insight into their mobile workers, by asking them what information they frequently find themselves without when out on the road and what devices or information they need to do the job successfully.
3. Organise scattered information
Scattered information has drastically increased within businesses, due to mobile working, multiple devices, separate systems, emails and the paperless office. As a result, an influx of unorganised data has been created for businesses across a variety of business systems creating data silos, resulting in inefficient processes and decisions being made based on incorrect, incomplete or out of date data. Separating and organising this scattered information strategically will boost productivity from junior to high management levels within businesses. Instead of employees searching for information and wasting time by manually storing data, using custom apps to organise and make the data easily accessible and digestible, will result in more time spent productively across the board and enable more informed decisions to be made. Organising scattered information across the business will take time and patience. To start the process, the workforce needs to be proactive with the devices and storage of their data, whilst management research into the best platform to help organise scattered information strategically.
4. Use internal productivity to increase customer satisfaction
It is essential that businesses are able to keep up with customer expectation and technology is essential to meeting this criteria. For example, having scattered information organised and ensuring structured processes are in place, employees can have a fuller picture of the company, with the business dashboard available to all sectors of the organisation. In turn, this will provide customers with more accurate information in a timely manner, which is ultimately what consumers want and so drives customer satisfaction. In addition, as the growth in mobility access increases for businesses and consumers, companies will need to ensure they can offer a convenient platform which their customers can utilise to access their own data. Improving internal processes may seem low down on the priority list for businesses, but by investing time and money in researching for the best software to assist the workforce, an efficient and reliable platform can be found for the whole business. Speaking to software providers and consultancies is the first step in sourcing the best solution for the company.
5. Make technology unique for your business needs
Every business is unique and has its own specific needs. Therefore having rigid technology in the form of an off-the-shelf packaged technology solution doesn’t work for many businesses. It may seem easier and quicker in the short term, but in the long term, it will simply be a cost strain, as it won’t service your business in the right way. Apps are a great example of this. An off-the-shelf app can end up not aiding productivity at all, as it gives businesses features and updates which are irrelevant and unnecessary for the company. As well as this, the off-shelf-app can be too rigid to provide businesses with features which will support their unique needs. An example of this is apps that do not share data with other internal systems, creating yet another data silo.
Custom apps meanwhile can enhance mobility within the business and connect specific siloes of data amongst systems, based on the individual needs of the company, as well as providing flexibility to adapt to the changing needs of the business. Companies need to consider what is best for them. This can be achieved by speaking to key members of the team and analysing the business to see which areas need improvement and discover what needs to be solved. This insight can then help create a custom app bespoke to the business.
There are many other ways to increase the productivity of a business, but these five tips are the key changes which businesses can make to ensure productivity can be increased across all levels of the company. Utilising the tools on offer, such as custom apps, will increase productivity and provide more time for employees to spend focusing on their core job instead of wasting time on outdated processes which can easily be changed and altered.
By Kieran Saunders
Senior business solutions consultant