Small and medium-sized businesses – SMBs are constantly seeking for technologies and solutions that enable true productivity while staying under budget. The goal of enabling business productivity, efficiency and innovation, is a constant challenge as technology continues to change and evolve rapidly. Businesses struggle to identify the best solutions that unlock the power of technology to support business objectives and, as a result, companies are investing in solutions they don’t need or that don’t deliver the desired outcomes.
That’s why, it’s crucial for businesses to understand their IT investments and to create a strategy to maximise them. Your business can experience huge benefits by adding cost-effective hardware and solutions to what you currently have and/or by finding new ways to reach their full potential. The chances are that your current infrastructure lacks a strategic approach and is underused, so instead of renewing everything you currently have or going through full IT refresh every few years, you find ways to optimise it.
As the title says, back to basics. In this article, you will find simple measures that might have been forgotten as well as new investments or IT changes that can help you increase business productivity while save you money in the long run.
Know and evaluate what you have
This is what makes the biggest difference to your entire IT. Knowing what you have and where you currently are with your IT can be the deal breaker. Most businesses have a business plan, which is often created with a grand vision in mind of where the company wants to achieve. As an important foundation of your businesses future, your IT should also have a plan (or roadmap as we call it) that is aligned with your businesses requirements and plans.
IT reviews allow businesses to have clarity on how to operate their systems better, identify and mitigate risks, reduce IT related costs, push for an immediate business requirement, or find reoccurring IT issues.
At the same time, if your business is looking into IT changes and upgrades, you should review your IT first. Changes can often be highly beneficial, however they can also be costly, time consuming and sometimes draining for many people in the business. Therefore, these changes and upgrades should always be considered as part of an overall plan to ensure the shortest and most effective path is taken.
Dual or triple monitors
It sounds like something from the past, but this simple measure can bring you great productivity results. It’s easy, not expensive and your employees will thank you for it. What are the benefits?
- Complement your existing technology.
- Most equipment are compatible, you just need to add another monitor.
- Cost effective – You will get a good deal by buying all the hardware at once.
- Easy to install, it’s just an extra monitor added to what you currently have.
- Productivity – Some businesses experience an increase of 20 to 50% in staff productivity.
- Use different applications at the same time and have full visibility of you work.
- Keep your staff more connected and accessible, i.e. with email always opened in one screen.
- Save time – Easier and faster to share data between different applications.
- Decrease job frustration.
- Reduced errors.
- Ease of use.
At Bremmar, we all use double screens and we honestly can’t imagine working with a single monitor. Seems like a no-brainer… which leads us to the next point.
Keep technology up-to-date
A crucial part in productivity is enabling your staff to perform their work by giving them the tools they need to succeed on a daily basis. Seems like common sense, but many business fail in this area.
What’s the point of providing equipment such as desktop computers and laptops that are old, slow and crash all the time? You may be saving money not buying new hardware, however, losing much more in staff performance and motivation. Technology accessibility and ease of use are essential in today’s workplace, and up-to-date mobiles, laptops, tablets, projectors, audio/video conferencing, are an absolute necessity.
- If you technology is old there can be many extra costs for hardware if they ran out of warranty.
- Computers parts can be expensive.
- Loss in staff productivity.
- Staff frustration.
- Bad reputation – i.e. not having business mobility, perform badly in a meeting or video conference, etc.
Now, enough of hardware…Let’s talk IT solutions!
Business mobility solutions have the potential to drive significant productivity gains. They also speed up decision-making processes through the effective access of information on any device, no matter the location or type of application.
There are many ways to achieve this and, for the most part, it’s quite cost effective as main business apps are available through the cloud. This means that cloud-based solutions, such Office 365, gives you access to all the apps and software you use just with an internet connection.
For apps that still don’t have a cloud-based version, there’s the option of moving them to a cloud environment by working from a Terminal server or Citrix, enabling access to your entire business anywhere you go. There’s a vast list of options, so your business needs to decide if it wants just part of it to be mobile, such as files and emails, or would like to migrate everything to the cloud and achieve full business mobility.
What are the benefits?
- Increase staff engagement.
- Make documents and apps available 24×7
- Maximise agility for decision-making.
Connect your teams
There are team sites and portals, such as MS Teams and SharePoint, that help staff to communicate with colleagues and peers across the organisation, no matter what location or team. You will encourage knowledge contribution and distribution, eliminating obstacles that cut off communication. Allow employees to reach out to others working on similar projects or find experts to answer their questions throughout the organisation.
Depends on your investments, you might already have access to a portal for free, for example some Office 365 packages give you access to MS Teams and SharePoint at no extra cost.
Online lists to track tasks, goals and objectives
Use online lists to keep track of milestones and deadlines ensuring your staff are delivering and be aware if anything is off track. This exercise boosts productivity as it gives staff direction and makes them accountable for their own work.
At Bremmar, we use SharePoint lists to follow objectives, track performance and review quarterly goals.
Remember: If your business already has Office 365, SharePoint may be already included in your package at no extra cost. Check here how easy it is to get started…
As you know, what gets measured gets managed (read the article here). Analyse and report on productivity, understand business performance, set metrics and goals, and find reoccurring issues.
Automated reports allow you to focus on continual improvement and avoid surprises to staff. Provide individuals, teams and managers with live information on how results are tracking as well as effective access to historical results. We particularly use and recommend Power BI and Crystal Reports for this purpose.
You know that program you have to call friends and family around the world? Yes, Skype, that one! Do you know there’s a business version of it? And also, do you know that it can be extremely beneficial for your company? Such a cost effective solution that can have a big impact on your business. Some organisations are already taking full advantage of this tool to promote more interactive meetings between multiple offices and to improve contact with mobile workers.
With Skype for Business you also have access to presence and corporate messenger, so you can see who’s available and contact them with a simple click of a button. Don’t be left out! If your business has Office 365, you may already have free access to Skype for Business.
Note taking apps, like OneNote
At Bremmar, we are big fans of OneNote. Why? Because it’s supported by all leading devices and operating systems, so you can take notes and access them on all your devices. It also allows you to have different folders, pages, organise content by priorities, create checklists, and the list goes on and on. It might take you a few minutes to get the hang of it, but once you start using it, you won’t be able to stop. Read here our MD’s tips on how he uses this app.
If you would like more tips and advice on how to make your business more productive our consultants can help. We can evaluate your systems and recommend solutions that will suit your current and future needs. Just give us a call on 1300 991 351 or email email@example.com and one of your specialists will discuss your requirements with you.