Business owners are always on the hunt for ways to improve productivity. The most successful enterprises are those that can best leverage resources – including human capital – to do things more efficiently. When a business is plagued by inefficiencies, it wastes valuable time and money, and eventually risks failure.
But how does a business become more efficient and boost productivity? Often, managers attempt to improve productivity via policies and procedures; for example, limiting employees’ access to social media or implementing quotas. However, even the most well-intentioned plans will fail if employees don’t have the tools and equipment necessary to get the job done.
That is where technology, or more specifically, your company’s network infrastructure comes in. When you build the infrastructure from the start with an eye toward increasing efficiencies and productivity, you avoid many of the problems that bog down other companies. Including specific technologies from the start allows you to work smarter. But with so many options to choose from, which innovations are best from a productivity standpoint?
It wasn’t that long ago that the idea of video conferencing was relegated to science fiction. Thanks to services like Skype and FaceTime, video calling has become a reality for just about everyone. Businesses that leverage this technology can improve efficiency by using it to meet with clients, customers, and even employees working remotely instead of spending time and money to travel for in-person meetings.
Video conferencing is even being used for customer support functions; for example, companies that sell Cisco products have the option of providing tele-support services to clients. Instead of waiting for a technician to arrive, videoconferencing allows for on-the-spot troubleshooting and repairs, reducing downtime, and keeping productivity on track.
When everyone associated with your business — employees, customers, vendors, and partners — can all work together efficiently, productivity improves. Video conferencing is one way to improve collaboration, but additional solutions, such as Wikis, shared calendaring, and meeting management programs allows everyone to share information and work together, eliminating the bottlenecks that are detrimental to productivity.
Does your team waste time playing phone tag? Is it hard to reach people when they are away from the office? When you install a more advanced, agile telecommunications system, you make it possible for your team to stay in contact, and not waste time trying to reach each other. For example, some systems allow users to manage settings to indicate their availability; when someone else needs to call, he or she can avoid having to leave a message by making the call when their colleague is available. Such systems prevent endless games of phone tag, and improve efficiency.
Other solutions include systems that allow the same call to in on multiple devices, or allow employees to check all of their communications (including email and fax) from one central dashboard.
Secure, Reliable Networking
One of the biggest struggles for small businesses is developing a network infrastructure that meets their needs today while still being scalable for future growth. Because resources are often tight, SMBs have a tendency to underbuild their networks, which eventually leads to sluggish performance, downtime, and other problems. When the network is built from the ground up with intelligent routers and switches, and with adequate scalability, that costly downtime is reduced or even eliminated. When the network is reliable and secure, it also allows for additional resources, such as advanced telecommunications.
Advanced CRM Solutions
Finally, no discussion of productivity would be complete without addressing the issue of customer relationship management. When communication with your customers is streamlined and efficient, not only are they more satisfied, but also you don’t waste time tracking down information, searching for records, or making callbacks while you look for answers. One solution for SMBs that do a great deal of customer service is an IP-connected phone system that automatically brings up customer records when the phone rings.
Instead of looking for files or communication records, everything is right there. This also makes it easier for multiple team members to work on projects or assist customers together. All of the notes regarding a specific customer are managed in one place, preventing duplicate work or unnecessary research.
While all of these solutions require an investment, a small business that makes good use of them will not only see greater productivity, but overall cost savings that stem from avoiding work slowdowns. In many cases, these solutions are more affordable than you might think, meaning there is no reason that you should explore your options for improved network infrastructure.