For those of us in the collaboration space, our lives are filled with the almost daily battles of integrating disparate systems and data, improving end users’ experiences to help people get the most out of those systems and data, and keeping up with the latest, greatest technologies. The enterprise platforms we use (CRM, ERP, HR and finance platforms, etc.) are increasingly trying to solve not just the core workloads, but to also ensure productivity when moving *between* these workloads — all in the name of “productivity.”
The underlying problem, however, is the increasing complexity of management of these productivity solutions. For many organisations, the wealth of technology options has not improved upon this fundamental collaboration problem.
We all ask the question “How productive are our end users?” and yet most people have no clue about how to connect the technology they deploy with quantifiable improvements to productivity. We all have an idea of what productivity means, and whether or not we think our organisations are good at empowering employees to be productive. The problem is that we tend to look at productivity primarily through the lens of technology, and even then, one tool at a time versus a holistic view across all of them. However, there is no single technology solution that can provide everything your organisation requires, and in most cases, what is needed is a combination of technology, process improvements, and cultural change.
As you review your own systems and processes to try and identify the areas which have the greatest need for productivity improvements, there are 6 core tenets that you need to consider:
Clear Definition of Work.
Begin your planning by clarifying what it is that you are improving. What are the discreet workloads that need improvement? We often get caught up in the excitement around technology features and capabilities, and lose sight on the reasons we rolled out these tools and services in the first place. Improving productivity begins by getting back to the basics and understanding the core tasks and workloads beneath the technology and processes.
Information Classification and Management.
Once the workloads have been defined, the next step is to understand the constraints. What content, data, and artifacts are generated within your system, how is it classified and managed, and what information lifecycles and data oversight (policies, regulatory guidelines, compliance standards) must be applied for each workload?
An often-overlooked tenet of productivity is planning for discoverability. Optimising the experience for how people locate the right information within your platform is much more than search — it’s about the “findability” of information, people, projects, and other resources across workloads, including search, navigation, and refinement of the user experience (UX) itself.
How users interact has become a critical component of every organisation’s productivity planning. Without a plan, users will adopt whatever tools already familiar to them, which may not be secure, compliant, or scalable for your business. Look at how your end users are working, and find a way to build your enterprise platform to match their work patterns. Of course, keep in mind your organisational constraints around security, storage, compliance, and reporting, as improving social interaction does not have to come at the cost of these corporate governance requirements.
And finally, central to any productivity strategy is your change management process. Make it crystal clear to your end users the priority, expected delivery, and ongoing status of their feature and solution requests. No platform is ever static — people will need modifications, customisations. Have a process defined and in place to capture their feedback and requests. Make it transparent, as the more you involve people in the process, the more likely they are to accept the end results.
Before you become too discouraged in the gargantuan task ahead of you, remember that there is a definite ROI in improving productivity: faster employee onboarding and training, more business output, more usage of the platform, and of course, faster realisation of the financial investments you’ve made in your business platforms. The key to moving forward is to be clear on what you have in place today that is working, and to prioritise your steps forward based on the highest business impact.
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