I’ve had many conversations over the years about improving productivity with technology. One that sticks in my mind was a sales person at a company I once worked for telling a client “you’ll get better productivity if you upgrade from Office 2007 to Office 2010”. I thought to myself, do you? Really? I mean really?
25 years ago, I watched a sales manager using a calculator to add up a column of numbers before typing the result into the total field. I showed him the SUM formula in Lotus 123. Later he told me this saved him several hours per month. If only he had been trained earlier!
People still do this today. Businesses are littered with people creating ‘systems’ with Microsoft Office (and other products) without fully understanding the capabilities of the tools they use. This is where the opportunity to get a productivity improvement really exists and with Office 365, the opportunity is greater still for those who are currently using file server based document storage.
So how do you improve productivity? Change the way you work!
Poor productivity can have many causes. Some of the common issues I see are:
- Not using document templates
- Using document templates, that aren’t well designed
- Manual document styling
- Collating document changes (because sharing was done via email attachment)
- Shared Spreadsheets using a file share (no co-authoring)
- Using the wrong tool e.g. Word tables rather than Excel spreadsheet
- Not being able to find a document
- Having a complicated remote access solution that is only available to a few people
- Saving to the desktop and then filing later (if you remember)
I could go on…
First things first, it shouldn’t be the IT Departments role to tell people how to work. IT should understand the requirements of the users and the organisation, then provide the tools to meet those needs.
Identify document centric processes and write them down where everyone can see them. Ask questions to identify areas for improvement
- Does the process use paper forms or document templates that could be improved?
- Is information being manually entered multiple times?
- Would the process workflow benefit from automation?
- Would co-authoring reduce the number of uncontrolled copies?
- Would co-authoring save time on document collation?
- Is there a drafting process with approval for published documents?
- Does the final version of the document need to reside elsewhere?
Make sure you focus on processes where the effort is worthwhile. A few minutes saved on a process that is carried out many times a day can be a big saving over time.
Implementing a solution
Office 365 comes with the applications you know (and love) with the added benefit of online document management and collaboration (SharePoint), workflow (Flow), forms and mobile apps (PowerApps) and a range of tools for communicating, organising and collaborating inside and outside the organisation.
Don’t forget to take a second look inside the box and make time to understand the tools you have. Take advantage of the new capabilities to get a real productivity benefit.