By Benoît Gruber, VP Corporate Communication Sage Enterprise Market Europe & Sage ERP X3
Welcome to the Digital Age. Gone are the days of typewriters, Polaroid cameras and rotary phones. Computers, digital cameras and smart phones have not only replaced their prehistoric counterparts in our ever-advancing technological world, but they are seemingly as much a necessity to one’s survival as food and clothing. Why? Simply put, they are the normal means of communication, productivity and solutions in both the corporate world and our personal lives. As technology continues to advance, however so must our understanding of how it all works and how to use it correctly. Failure to utilise technology correctly can negatively impact communication and efficiency. Here are three signs that the technology you are using may actually be slowing you down, and solutions for improvement and maximizing its benefits.
1. Despite the use of technology, your tasks are taking you the same amount of time or sometimes longer to complete.
Business solutions programs and management software can be of great benefit to companies and are being adopted at a rapid pace. If these systems are not implemented or maintained correctly, there can be costly consequences. There are a number of factors that could be contributing to the common problem of technological systems slowing down productivity. The most obvious being a lack of training and knowledge of how to use the systems you are operating under. A system can only be as efficient as the user navigating it. It is of the upmost importance that when a computerised business program is implemented, that any and all individuals expected to use it be properly trained. There are often many hidden “shortcuts” among the obvious buttons and tabs of a program. The amount of time it takes for a person to learn as they go can be a great cost to a business. Initial and ongoing training with system update demonstrations are essential to efficient use of business solutions programs.
Another time ticker is a backed up system. Just like a good old fashion filing cabinet, technological devices only have so much storage space. As this memory is used up, the systems become sluggish. We have all seen this happen with our smart phones, cameras, computers and even our digital video recorders. Without fail, our systems always slow down on us or get locked up just when we are reaching deadlines, trying to digitally capture important moments or even want to record our favourite television show. This can be avoided! Schedule routine back-ups to other drives and delete old files that are no longer needed. Clean out your digital device, just as you would a filing cabinet. It is also important to run checks on computer system hard drives to look for viruses, adware and other debilitating files that the system may have picked up. The best way to stay on top of this is to have a computer tech available to run routine checks and computer maintenance.
Finally, you must make sure that you have implemented the most appropriate software systems for your business. The system must be adequate enough to handle all aspects of your business, yet not so complex that they are overwhelming or unnecessary to your operations and employees. Sometimes, less is more. A customizable system is always a great option if you cannot find a standard program that suits your needs.
1. Electronic communication is poor at times and taking longer than necessary.
In business, effective communication is essential. To be successful, you need to communicate clearly and concisely to customers, business associates, and partners. Conversely, poor communication can lead to a drain on productivity and negatively affect the bottom line.
Because of the disjointed nature of electronic communication, we may not be as clear and concise when communicating. Vague email messages requiring extensive clarification can greatly affect a company’s workflow. Instead of wasting time going back and forth, make an effort to communicate succinctly and as clearly as possible in all of your communications. To ensure written communication is effective, the following are a few practices to adopt:
• Prior to hitting send, take a moment to re-read your communication to ensure you are fully addressing the subject matter.
• Ensure the structure of the email is easy to follow by using bullet points rather than long paragraphs.
• Make sure you are answering every question in your reply to others who are seeking answers in their initial email.
• At the close of the email, ask the recipient to confirm receipt of the email, ask them if they agree or disagree with your thoughts, and ask them to share their feedback.
• If you sense a lack of effective communication occurring via email, picking up a phone or speaking in person might be the best option to avoid wasting time and misunderstandings.
Effective business communication skills are crucial to successfully completing any project, whether that is selling a widget to the customer in front of you or completing a presentation with a colleague in a different department. By communicating clearly and concisely, you will be more efficient as well as a good example to your colleagues.
1. Too many different technology devices are overwhelming and difficult to manage.
You have your laptop in front of you, a large monitor behind it, your smartphone to the side of your laptop and your office phone in the corner. As you try to focus on the current task at hand, text messages are buzzing in, emails are popping up on your monitor and the phone is ringing off the hook. Multitasking is especially true for younger generations, who have been juggling technology devices since they were able to walk. How do you get anything done? The answer is that you probably do, but not efficiently! To increase productivity and use your time efficiently, here are some ways to manage your time and reduce distractions:
• Schedule specific times throughout your workday to read and respond to emails. Good times might be first thing in the morning, right after lunch and at the end of the day, before leaving the office. Do not make a habit of stopping to read an email every time it pops up.
• Implement one form of communication for urgent matters only, such as inner-office instant messaging.
• Turn your smart phone ringer/vibrate off and use the “Do Not Disturb” function to limit notifications. Dedicate a couple times throughout the day to check for messages or missed calls.
• If your office phone rings while in the middle of a project or work task, let it go to voicemail. You can check your message and return the call when you are not knee deep in thought and focus.
You will find that you work far more efficiently without the constant texting, phone calls, and email notifications rattling your brain and disturbing your focus all day long. Your work will be of more quality and done in a timelier manner without such distractions.
The ongoing advancement of technology offers us diverse and instantaneous forms of communication, business solutions and entertainment options. Its use can be greatly beneficial to a company’s productivity, success and growth with the proper training, maintenance, set limitations and efficient utilization of these technological systems.