12 May 2022
Productivity Boost: Getting More from Your IT Services
We spend a lot of time talking with customers about what they are seeking when engaging IT services. There are many reasons, but the number one, year after year, is productivity. A well-chosen service can indeed make any organisation more productive, and there are a few easy ways that you can really amplify the effect.
Dashboards and reporting
Businesses spend an enormous amount of time creating reports, from stock on hand and sales forecasts to financial planning and departmental budgets. You name it, some staff members are spending a great deal of time and energy to compile the stats every week or month. This is often done manually, and may take an hour, days, or weeks collectively. If you never automate the process, that soon mounts up – and which business wouldn’t appreciate an extra hundred skilled hours per year from the staff involved?
One of the things we typically work on with customers is seeking out these opportunities to automate repeat actions. An automated report tends to be more timely and more accurate. In some cases, it is as simple as creating a dashboard so that people can self-serve information in the format that works best for their role, or on others the ideal solution is to have that report ready in everybody’s inbox on a Monday morning. Even better, most businesses already have a set of tools that will handle this in their existing Microsoft 365 licence, in the form of Power BI. It isn’t hard to set up and your IT service provider should be able to get you started.
Asset management and lifecycle planning
One of the most important roles of IT is to plan and put a strategy in place. Not only does this help the business to know what expenses are coming; done well, it also ensures that technology is better aligned to support the ongoing aims of the business. Many organisations treat IT in a more reactive way, waiting for users to complain, or until something breaks, but this method tends to result in a lot more issues that impact productivity. The speed of modern technology means that user productivity may start to wane when devices age, and it is wise to plan for updates every three to five years, with safe removal of data and appropriate disposal a priority.
It goes without saying that the ability to work remotely has been a blessing in the COVID-19 era, but there are times that nothing beats an engineer going on-site and chatting with staff. That face-to-face contact tends to lead to staff mentioning things they wouldn’t necessarily consider worthy of a call, leading to a simple solution. A good engineer has a sense of curiosity, so that when they notice someone with piles of paper on their desk, they might have a conversation about how they can make the staff member’s daily life easier with a paperless solution.
Last week, one of our engineers on a routine visit noticed someone who needed to have information printed to then type it into another app. A dual screen saved that person hours of data entry, not to mention a few trees. It is for reasons like this that we make on-site visits mandatory as part of our IT services – sometimes it takes seeing processes in action to spot the simple fixes that give the biggest productivity boosts.
Software and cloud strategy
While strategy often covers the big-ticket hardware replacement, it is necessary, especially in the modern environment, to include applications, cloud, and software features. It is important not to select an app and just stick with it without question. Businesses change and grow, new products and services emerge, extra features are added, and all this affects your choices. The app you chose five years ago may no longer be the ideal fit, now that your business has added staff and increased customer numbers.
If you’re still running that application on-premises, it may be costing more than it should, once you factor in the expense of running a server. Even if you have switched to a cloud app, what we often see is businesses only using around 25% of the capability of the apps they pay for. Of course, when it is new, the priority must be getting to grips with the essentials, but over time, a planned training process and regular review will help identify where you can get more from your investment, and prevent unnecessary upgrades.
Reduce time staff spend on IT
Often, at least one person in a business will spend their time consumed by IT challenges. Usually, this is someone employed in another role, like an office manager or CFO. Taking the time of key staff to deal with IT problems can be expensive, but that cost is seldom measured. The question is, if you are paying for IT services, why then have someone in-house taking all the responsibility?
There can be a few reasons for this scenario. It may be that the business is trying to do everything internally but cannot justify a full-time IT resource. The organisation may be on the wrong managed services plan, the provider is not a good fit, or the relationship lacks the trust and communication to let go of some of the tasks. The result can be that IT opportunities are missed, it is stressful to manage, and morale shrinks. If this is the case, assess whether you could be getting more from your IT provider.