You employ technology in your business operations in hopes of increasing productivity. When you use the right technological tools and implement them effectively, technology is a boon to your business. However, if you don’t use the right technologies, fail to implement them correctly, or meet adoption resistance among employees, it can have the opposite effect and actually harm your productivity, creating hidden tech issues you must overcome.
For instance, as part of my dissertation, I interviewed companies struggling to implement a collaborative technology tool. Employees sat with their computers pushed forward, taking orders using paper and pencils, as they always did, then entering the information on the computer. By utilizing arcane technology, the firm increased inefficiencies without gaining any benefit from the system.
Image courtesy of Yuri van Geest
Hidden tech issues
Any number of tech issues account for declining productivity or opportunity costs incurred when you don’t optimize business operations. As you see in the graphic above, a number of new technologies, including AI and robotics, offer the promise of productivity increases that result in improved performance. Yet, businesses don’t always adopt the “right” technological solution at the right time due to competing imperatives or resistance to technology adoption.
Tech that isn’t ready for scaling
So many businesses experience productivity issues with technology when they try to scale their business. During a period of rapid growth, your tech needs change, which is why it’s so important that you get your technology infrastructure right before you try to scale the business, not after.
As an example, let’s take communication software designed to improve coordination among departments. Communication issues are very common when a business expands, especially when they open satellite offices or other arrangements that physically separate workers. Although communication might be perfectly fine when you have a small group of workers, roadblocks between offices arise when you fail to invest in the right communication tools. Email is fine, but it’s not the most efficient way to facilitate communication in a large business, especially in areas requiring creativity and innovation. Instead, research new technologies, such as live chat software or voice over internet protocol (VoIP) systems. In addition, to keep teams working at peak productivity, think about team management software such as Trello, Slack, and Basecamp the not only ease communication and assign tasks to individual groups but maintain PERT charts to set timelines, critical pathways, and identify problems before they occur.
Many businesses also struggle during growth periods because the software they use can’t meet their new business needs. For example, a simple piece of sales software might work well enough when you first start out and your sales were relatively low, but if you see a sustained increase in sales, you may quickly find that tool no longer meets your needs and you need more advanced features, like Salesforce, that coordinate contacts with a customer across various members of the sales and customer support teams. The same goes for accounting or HR software, so it’s important you upgrade to the most applicable software for your anticipated future needs before growth makes your current technology unworkable and damages your performance.
Disorganized file management
If you don’t have a file management system in place, it’s likely that you experience productivity issues. When employees can’t find necessary files or struggle to share them with colleagues, they waste a lot of time searching folders and it’s all a big mess on their desktop or cloud accounts. This lack of organization also increases the chances of accidental data loss, so it’s vital that you create some semblance of order.
In addition, files take up space and storage space costs real money, especially for large files. Storing unneeded files not only makes finding what you want harder but costs the business real dollars.
Start your file management by clearing out unwanted files and duplicate files so you free up some space and make it easier to organize whatever remains. Follow these simple steps to help manage your unwanted files quickly. Once you complete these steps, start organizing everything into folders and labeling files properly so you can easily find everything without having to spend ages searching through all of the files on your computer. This takes a significant effort the first time that you organize files but, once you have a system in place, organizing and finding needed files is quick and easy, resulting in less wasted time and money.
Incompatibility between applications
It’s important that you keep your business software updated so you benefit from the latest features, which often include security updates to plug known vulnerabilities. However, many businesses fail to consider compatibility and integration when making decisions when adding new software.
If your employees use separate applications for different functions and those software applications do not work seamlessly together, you’ll find you spend time reentering information or employing another piece of software to bridge the gap between your applications. For example, you might have a great piece of marketing software that helps generate leads, but can you easily transfer those leads over to your sales software so the sales team adds the lead to their lead nurturing program?
Having multiple pieces of software that don’t integrate well can cause some big roadblocks in your business and harm productivity in a significant way. The best way around this is to hire an IT consulting firm and get their advice on business applications that best suit your needs and play nicely together. They can help you choose software that benefits your business and, most importantly, ensure that all of your applications work seamlessly together.
Inadequate internet connections
A fast internet connection is more important than ever in the business world because operations are increasingly moving online. For example, the use of cloud storage has increased in a big way over the last few years, which means that employees access documents and applications online from wherever they are. Virtual meetings are far more common as well, and streaming live video consumers a lot of bandwidth. If your business doesn’t have an adequate internet connection, every aspect of your business slows down and it’s hard for your employees to work productively. Hosting a webinar where the video buffers or where attendees find themselves staring at a frozen screen not only reduces the value of the webinar, it damages your reputation by making you look unprofessional. Consider upgrading your internet speeds and switching to providers who guarantee performance.
If you have productivity issues in your business, there is a strong chance that these hidden tech issues could be the cause.
Having the right tech
Hidden tech issues are harder to find, as they represent missed opportunities that don’t show on your balance sheet. For instance, failing to employ new technologies that improve performance cost you in the future by making you uncompetitive.
An example is remote management, using sensors to monitor performance in real-time. For instance, an oil well using multiple remote sensors might monitor for a leak or clog in the pipelines to avoid both environmental damage (and expensive clean-up) as well as the cost of lost oil. Monitoring your distribution channel with GPS allows logistics managers to redirect shipments in progress to ensure a seamless supply to downstream channel partners. Tech-enables warehouses use automated devices to weigh packages prior to shipment as a means to detect incorrectly packaged boxes as the sum of the weights of all ordered items that should be in the box is known.