Article provided by FlowCentric Technologies
Work as we know it is changing fast—and in ways that many people can’t imagine. It’s not just that jobs are changing, it’s how we work, and who we work with that is evolving.
This evolution is partially fuelled by younger people who are entering the workplace, its second nature for these employees to use technology to collaborate on tasks. Many younger employees are practised at communicating across time zones; they are accustomed to collaborating with strangers; and they advocate to work remotely. Are companies ready to adapt to these cultural changes, or better yet, leverage them to their advantage?
Technology is most assuredly fanning the flames of change. Collaboration isn’t even exclusively human to human anymore. Increasingly, employees are using collaborative data from IoT-enabled smart sensors, satellites, or webservices to make decisions and initiate tasks.
Trying to think of an example where you collaborate with technology to get something done? How often do you trust Waze or Google Maps to find the least congested route for you? The live data that these services provide is collected from fellow users as they navigate the busy city streets. In laymen’s terms – each user’s device monitors their geographical position, the application then measures this data against other users in the same area, detects the average flow and speed of traffic, and intelligently adapts your route suggestions based on this information. Collaboration on a grand scale.
Collaboration within a business is important as it drives innovation and ensures that work is done quickly and properly. Technology is so entrenched in our daily lives that it is no wonder we turn to software and devices when we want to collaborate with other people. Collaboration tools can connect the appropriate people with the proper information and empower them to work together effectively.
These tools also generate a lot of data, which is why business owners need to evaluate how and when their employees should be permitted to use specific tools.
There are so many apps, software, devices, and platforms for people to choose from that data can quickly get out of hand. If users are sharing your business information over email, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, voice notes, Slack and all the rest, how secure is the data?
Ask yourself these quick questions:
- How do I know whether a task I delegated has been done?
- Is there a single place that I can easily access all data that relates to a client?
Process management is important
If you don’t maintain some control over how work is performed within your business, and what technology your employees are using to collaborate for these jobs, you will end up with chaotic data and possible breaches in your data.
There are thousands of technologies out there for business owners to choose from. Between budget considerations and developing customer needs, it is very tempting to jump from one tech experiment to the other. Imagine how enticing it is for your team.
How do you choose the right technologies for your business?
How do you ensure the integrity and security of your business data without slowing down progress or curtailing employee innovation?
Provide decent business processes for your staff to follow
Regularly and critically evaluate the success of these processes and the technologies that support them. Part of process evaluation is understanding and documenting who does what job when and why. If you have this information properly documented, it is easy to share the knowledge with your employees. They will know who to collaborate with on certain jobs, where to turn to for help, and how to complete their business tasks correctly. Not only do employees feel empowered and included by this knowledge, they are also less likely to try workarounds or seek other technology solutions for their work tasks.
Provide clear policies that support your business objectives
It’s important for business leaders to implement policies that secure the company’s information within the business, but don’t kill productivity or make processes unnecessarily complicated. Managing a growing business is a lot like managing a growing child – there are rules that need to be followed, and with each leap into maturing the rules are updated. It’s up to you to know when it’s time to make those changes and communicate them.
Give your employees the right tools for the job
Cloud-services are placing enterprise-quality software tools within the reach of small businesses. When you understand how your business will work (the processes), and you’ve outlined the rules that you need everyone in your company to follow (policies), it will be far easier to identify which tools will provide you with the best value for money. That’s how you start whittling down the technology options.
Before settling on a technology:
- Think about how the people in your business will use the technology. Is it easy to use? Does it work on mobile phones? Does it support multiple languages?
- Consider how long each piece of technology will be able to support your needs. Will your company outgrow it if you hire 10 more people, or if you get 100 more clients?
- Evaluate how well different technologies will work with each other (integration APIs are key because these allow systems to communicate).
- Most importantly, always make sure that you understand how you can get the data that your team puts in to any system out of Otherwise you will be held hostage by a system because all your business information is trapped in it. The integration and data migration capabilities of systems are important considerations.
When you know how your business is run it is much easier to: find and improve weak areas; get an entire company to rapidly adapt to changes; outperform your competitors, and all without losing your data or your marbles.
Download FlowCentric Technologies’ free BPMN reference guide start documenting your business processes today.