Using IT to Unlock 20% More Productivity Across Your Business

Productivity
Productivity

When the end of the day comes around, do you shut your computer down and lock your business up wishing you’d got a little more done?

If the answer’s yes, you’re very definitely not alone.

There’s no single reason for lower-than-ideal productivity. Sometimes it’s unexpected business distractions; sometimes it’s unproductive staff, and sometimes it’s just difficult to constantly keep your head in the game maintain the same productivity.

The thing is, other businesses face this same problem – and so do your competitors. As such, a solution has the potential to drive your business forward quicker than anyone else in your field.

Productivity
Productivity

What’s the solution?

So, you realize there’s a problem that’s stopping your business from hitting its true potential – but how do you put the issue right?

Generally speaking, it’s very unlikely that you’re going to wake up tomorrow and find that you or your employees act any differently to how they did today – and if current performance is sub-par, then you need to look for an alternative that doesn’t rely on a sudden U-turn in work ethic or human nature.

For most companies, this alternative solution is IT.

IT is the backbone of most modern businesses. Without it, chances are, your company simply will not be able to trade. For some businesses, that IT will be simple – software and storage that holds your critical information – although for others that infrastructure will include specialist cellular internet connections, intelligent data handling systems, cloud-based phone systems – and much more.

How can IT help?

Every business is made up of workflows. They’re the actions that you carry out to turn demand for your product or service into a supply – or support that demand to supply workflow.

These workflows can usually be broken down into different steps. For instance, taking any account payment for a customer might look something like this:

  1. Customer calls a business and waits for an account manager
  2. The customer gives card details to the account manager
  3. Account manager processes payment
  4. System generates receipt
  5. Account manager emails receipt to a customer
  6. Account manager updates customer relationship management tool

This might then create another workflow – for instance, a flag on the customer’s account that alerts the sales department to the next opportunity with the customer. Workflows across your business can be complex – and this is often part of the productivity problem.

Turning workflows into efficient workflows

Almost inevitably, there are humans in your workflow that hold things up or make mistakes.

Don’t worry – this isn’t a call for you to replace your staff will computer systems and robots; it’s just highlighting an area where your employees let the side down a little. On the flip side, there are softer parts of processes that just wouldn’t work without people – and this is where your people will no doubt shine.

As such, if you want to improve efficiency, you need to identify the least productive parts of the process and automate them as much as possible.

Let’s take a look at the customer/account manager payment example again:

  1. Customer calls a business and waits for an account manager
  2. The customer gives card details to the account manager
  3. Account manager processes payment
  4. System generates receipt
  5. Account manager emails receipt to a customer
  6. Account manager updates customer relationship management tool

That’s likely to be a 10-minute process – possibly more depending on how quickly the account manager fulfills the final two steps.

The truth is, it could be a 1-minute process – if you’re willing to take the account manager out of the equation.

In this case, a voice over IP (VoIP) telephone system could be used to directly connect the customer with the applications the account manager is going to use. So, the customer calls, chooses to make an instant payment – and is talked through the process by your telephone system – which, using an API, connects with your payment, CRM, and email systems to fulfill the rest of the workflow.

Now, your 1-minute workflow looks more like this:

  1. Customer calls and chooses the payment option from your phone system
  2. The customer enters card details
  3. Payment is taken – and the connected systems update accordingly

Not only is the process quicker – but the chances are your customer is also happier – since they’ve been able to perform the interaction they need in a fraction of the time.

Using IT to streamline your workflows

Clearly, this example is a simple one that most companies will recognize – but the potential for automating your workflows is enormous.

In a collection of case studies carried out by a major IT service provider, businesses were found to free up at least 20% of their employees’ time by taking manual tasks out of their hands and streamlining them using IT.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be complex – even streamlining things like collaboration is shown to have an enormous impact on productivity levels. Let’s assume you use a suite of applications like Office or G-Suite; optimal use of their live collaboration tools, shared storage, and video conferencing services saves an enormous number of headaches when a team has to work together on a project.

The same can be said of a CRM tool too. Again, companies found that they converted 30% more prospects when they were handled by a CRM system – rather than relying on their own diary systems and manually constructed emails.

What does it add up to?

With the analysis of workflows and some identification of inefficiencies, it’s possible to start consolidating the way you work and freeing up time.

But what does it actually look like?

Well, they’re usually small numbers that add up significantly across the weeks and months. Let’s go back to the account manager example for the third time – and say that it saves that person 10 minutes twice a day. That’s 100 minutes each week – or roughly 6.5 hours a month – almost a full day. Across a year, that’s almost two full working weeks that an employee is going to be spending working on something else.

When you start to scale those numbers up, you’re unlocking enormous numbers – and you’re making your employee and customer experience infinitely better along the way.

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