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Can Software to Increase Workplace Productivity & Efficiency?

Implementing Software to Increase Workplace Productivity & Efficiency

The smaller the business the more urgent the need to cut waste and streamline operations, but the need is present in businesses of all sizes. Greater efficiency means improved productivity and getting the most out of resources, therefore it is important to look at all avenues by which an enterprise may do either of those things. Workforce management, hiring, and time management are areas in which inefficiency can tie up resources and, coincidentally, are all areas in which using the right software can have a tremendous impact.

Technology, computers in particular, has been shown to have tangible effects on productivity, both in the long and short term. The study, Computing Productivity: Firm-Level Evidence by Erik Brynjolfsson from 2003 clearly showed this. With technology being as crucial it is to the modern enterprise, it is one of the first areas in which the owner of a small business should focus their efforts when seeking increased productivity. The use of software is a common factor across different businesses, regardless of industry or size. In one way or another, most businesses rely on software to provide their service or a product; if they do not, then they probably should. Finding and implementing the right software solutions is an excellent way for a company to maximize its effectiveness.

Improving Productivity With Smart Software Implementation

Software solutions are available that have been designed for the needs of specific industries. For example, there is software made specifically for the construction business that is made to meet the needs of that industry. An example would be an application like Candy Project Control Software, which makes the work of estimating and planning a project a much less tedious process and so less time is spent on it. Many restaurants have left behind the old way of taking paper orders and have moved towards electronic POS systems where the process of taking orders and printing checks has been made faster and more accurate. For the business that is focused on improving efficiency, there may already be industry-specific programs out there that are not being utilized. In addition to this, there are needs that are present across the spectrum of business and the software solutions for those as well.

Time Management and Getting Work Done

Technology comes with a big downside, namely the rise of distractions. Smart-phones, social networking, and games are all insidious, habit-forming time wasters. Time-wasting is one problem that may affect any type of business, of any size. Even self-employed individual owners of a small business with a workforce of one can find themselves struggling to efficiently manage their time. With time management software it is possible to gauge the amount of time employees spend working and how much time they spend doing other things online, like surfing the Internet. Monitoring a staff’s productivity is not the only use of this, as individuals who want to improve their own productivity can use it to motivate themselves to spend less time goofing off and more doing work.

Mobile Productivity is More than Just Email

Distraction is not the only function of mobile phones in the workplace, they can be productivity aids as well. Apps for the major mobile operating systems are available that enable the user to perform tasks that previously could only be done while in an office and seated at a computer. Email has long been a feature available on cellphones, but these days it is possible to work with spreadsheets, create PowerPoint presentations, as well as edit documents. People in retail and food service can get the night’s receipts on their smartphone, directly from their POS system; those in other industries can get similar services from countless other industry-specific mobile apps. This means that work can be done while away from the workplace and that emergencies and errors can dealt with immediately and remotely.

Better Hiring Using the Right Software

Hiring software that sifts through resumes looking for the right applicants has been in use by larger companies for some time. This software looks for keywords in the same manner that search engines do in order to find relevant sites. These programs are faster and more efficient than a human resources worker would be if attempting to do the same work manually. Some companies are even taking it a step further by creative videogame-style environments that show which workers are better able to function in a particular work environment. This is old fashioned aptitude testing that has been updated to work with new technology. Rather than entirely replace a concept, using the right software allows it to be refined and streamlined for maximum effectiveness.

The Benefits of Updated Software

Not all software solutions involve adopting new software or changing methods altogether. In some cases, simply using the latest version can make a big difference. In most cases newer software does all the tasks of the old, only better and faster. In fact, new software is almost guaranteed to come with fixes for the major flaws in the last version. If it does not then there is usually at least one alternative that does. In addition to this, it may have solutions for needs that have come about since the old version was released. Security and the problems that arise with insecure software are another reason to do this.

Software is only one element to workplace productivity & efficiency. Without teamwork, software means little!

MIT, Computing Productivity: Firm-Level Evidence, Software Assurance for Midsize Business ]

The Atlantic, The Future of Hiring: Human Resources, Without the Humans
productivity productivity productivity productivity productivity productivity productivity productivity

Is Your Business Ready for Gamification?

Are you and your business ready for gamification?

gamificationAs you probably already know, gamification is the latest hype in the business world, with companies ‘gamifying’ everything from order forms to customer reward systems. But before you jump on the band wagon, it is advisable that you take the time to understand what it means and what it could do to improve your business and help you reach your goals.

Although it can be a useful tool, it is not necessarily right for every business. By the time you finish reading this, you should be fairly certain about whether or not your business is ready for this new trend.

What is Gamification?

Gamification uses the same techniques as video games, in order to engage an audience. It has the potential to change a routine or boring task into a creative or at least passable activity, which is why some businesses use it as a motivational tool for employees or customers.

Companies have found that gamification can be used in their marketing campaigns, as a way to increase traffic to their websites, get feedback or even get employees to complete tasks that would otherwise be undesirable.

Google recently found a way to gamify the routine activity of reading news articles by awarding readers with badges based on the specific topics they read about each day. Users can also choose to share their badges with other Google+ users, which brings an element of social pressure into the picture.

Another interesting example of how gamification has been used in the business world is the Finnish National Library, which uses an online game to get volunteers to help update the library’s online e-archives.

Does Your Business Need It?

If you think you would like to start using gamification techniques in your business, you should first ask yourself what you are looking to accomplish by doing so. Are you just following along with the trends or do you have a clear end goal?

Gamification is not just about awarding points and prizes or creating a fun atmosphere to work in. Although these things can be beneficial to your company, you should learn how to gamify your product or service in a more complete way, to engage and collaborate with other users.

When you can’t identify a clear reason for gamifying your products, or you can’t see how it would benefit your customers and employees, make their lives easier or provide them with meaningful interactions, then it is probably not going to be of much use, and you would be better off using different methods to generate interest in your business. On the other hand, if you have a clear set of goals in mind and an idea of how get users to help you reach those goals, then you may be onto something.

Who Are You Targeting?

Once you have decided that this is the path you want to take, you need to identify your audience. Who is it you want to target and what are they interested in? By identifying a clear demographic, you can zero in on that group and see what makes them tick.

What kinds of games are they already playing? Do they like interactive or competitive games? If you are going to spend the time and resources to create a gamified product, you had better be sure that you have the answers to these questions, or you will be wasting your time and money.

Research has shown that advertising is ineffective for 95% of all people who see an ad on a billboard, television or online. The same is true for the use of games in marketing. Your gamified product probably won’t appeal to a very large group of people, so you need to make sure that you know who you are targeting and how you can best engage them.

Some people make the mistake of assuming that a more general gamified product will appeal to more people. The problem is that by making your product too general, you stand the chance of not really engaging anyone fully. So narrow your focus and find out what will work for your audience.

Find the Right Balance

When creating a game for your business, you will have to find the right balance between challenging tasks and relaxation. If the game is too difficult, your users will tire of it quickly, especially if they don’t see any rewards for their efforts. On the other hand, if it is too easy and they fly through it without any difficulty, they aren’t likely to bother playing it a second time.

The key to a greater user experience is to use both long and short-term goals throughout the game. The long-term goal should be whatever goal or objective you have previously identified for your business. Then, in their quest to reach the long-term goal, users should be kept busy with smaller challenges, mysteries to solve, tasks to complete or meaningful interactions with other users.

There should always be rewards and feedback loops along the way every time a small challenge has been completed, as this will motivate the user to continue.

Obviously, there is still a lot you will have to learn, but you should treat it as a work in progress. If you have set clear goals, weighed the cons against the pros and decided that this is the right path for your business, then it’s best to make your move as soon as possible. Be honest with yourself, and if you see that it’s not working, be prepared to step back and consider how you can improve your methods.

Gamification is not the only way for you to engage customers on your site. Having high quality content and the ability to debate will do this as well!


Have You Devised Your Disaster Plan Yet?

The importance of a disaster plan for your business.

disaster planUnfortunately, too many business wait until it is too late to consider the effects that a natural or manmade disaster would have on their business. The truth is that one out of every four small businesses are never able to recover after disaster hits. The good news is that if a business has a well-organized disaster plan in place, they are likely to see less overall damage or loss and reopen for business quicker. When devising a comprehensive plan, your management team must consider the important questions.

Who Do You Need to Run Your Business?

The first major question to ask yourself is who are the key players of the business. This includes essential employees and suppliers who are necessary in order to operate your business. Your essential employees should understand your disaster plan and know that they will be needed in case of an emergency. You should keep the contact information for all of the essential members in several locations and gather the necessary information such as phone numbers, emails and account numbers. You should also consider creating an alternative list in case one of your employees or suppliers is unavailable during the disaster.

What Supplies and Files Do You Need?

You will also need to consider what supplies and files you will need to successfully operate your business in case of a disaster. This includes the necessary inventory, equipment and tools that are used on a day-to-day basis. If at all possible, keep back-up materials and equipment in good working condition and at a separate location from your business. Regularly back-up the vital documents, such as payroll, account receivable, account payable, personnel, insurance policies and account information.

Where Can You Relocate Your Business?

As part of the business disaster plan, you must decide on several locations that the business could relocate to if necessary. Take in to account the current location of your business and the area in which it resides and list a few good alternatives places. If the business can operate out of a person’s home for a while that would be a great alternative, but if an actual new site needs to be found, you must be the first one to find it. You must also understand your insurance policies and how they work in case of a disaster. By quickly submitting your insurance claims, it can provide you with the necessary cash flow to relocate & execute your disaster plan effectively.

When and How Can You Reopen for Business?

The goal for any small business is to reopen as soon as possible after disaster strikes. The most important thing during your downtime and even after your business reopens is to keep the line of communication open between you and your customers. Use any method necessary to communicate to the customers that your business is prepared and they will be reopening soon. When possible, post messages on your website, send out emails and call vital customers to let them know the status of your business.

Why Do You Need To Be Prepared

If disaster hits your business, things will be chaotic enough without trying to quickly devise a plan of action. By creating a plan ahead of time, it allows you time to think through the process, so that your do not forget any of the important thing. Depending on the nature of the disaster, afterwards may be too late to fix an oversight. For example, if a fire destroys your business it may be very time-consuming, difficult or even impossible to retrieve all the important files that have been destroyed.

Hopefully disaster will never hit your business, but if it does it is imperative that your business has a organized plan in place. This will help your entire team know exactly what needs to be done to ensure your businesses success. From communication with employees, suppliers and the customers to relocating the business to gathering all the necessary materials, a disaster plan can have your business reopening in no time.

By having a disaster plan in place you can now focus on more important things such as customer engagement! “Is Your Business Ready for Gamification?”

Six Leadership Styles You Find in the Workplace

Six Leadership Styles You Find in the Workplace

leadership stylesEvery company has people in management that use certain types of leadership styles. Depending on how your personality clicks with the leadership style used, you can either prosper in your position or despise going into work. There are six leadership styles that you can find in the workplace. Leaders can adopt one or a combination of all styles to best suit the company’s and person’s needs.

You may see your boss using the visionary leadership style. This style works well with new companies or ones needing a new direction. Visionaries see all employees working as a team to meet the same goal and company dreams. They visualize what needs to be done by having an innovative spirit and love of experimentation. This leadership style believes productivity relies on taking taking risks, but at the calculated level. Visionary leaders do not concern themselves with the day-to-day activities of how the group will achieve the visualized goals.

The second type of leadership style you may find in the workplace is known as the commanding style. Think of a military leader and strict disciplinarian, and you can better understand this type of leadership. If your boss barks out orders and does not concern him or herself with your response or ability to do the task, they are using the commanding style. Criticism is common and positive feedback almost nonexistent. Common results of working with this type of leader are poor productivity, lack of morale and minimal, if any, job satisfaction among employees.

Another leadership style involves coaching. If you thrive in dealing with bosses who like working with you on a one-to-one basis, this leadership style is for you. Coaching styles work best with employees who the initiative to work up the corporate level while improving individual skill sets. This style concentrates on helping employees reach their potential by improving performance, productivity, communications and working on goal setting. Coaches believe that when employee goals align with company goals, great things can happen. On the negative side, the coaching leadership style can be perceived as micromanaging employees. This can come across as not trusting the employee’s judgment and capabilities.

You will see the democratic leadership style in use when your boss thrives in creating a group of people with a variety of skills and knowledge that can be used to the group’s advantage. He or she will work with the collective wisdom of the group to meet goals. This style believes that goals are achieved by building consensus among the group. On the negative side, this style is not appropriate in times of crisis. Crisis warrants quick decisions, and this leadership style does not fit that bill.

The affiliate leadership style feeds off team work by creating group harmony. Goals are achieved by increasing communication among group members. Leaders are comfortable giving praise for a job or idea well done. This leadership style increases employee morale, restores trust in an organization and helps form a bond among team members. Since this leadership style depends upon praising so much, poor behavior can not be dealt with properly. Mediocrity can come across as being acceptable.

The sixth leadership style you can find in your workplace is known as pacesetting. If your boss sets very high performance standards and appears obsessed about getting things done quicker and more efficiently, he or she is probably using this style of leadership. Everyone is expected to perform at the same level. When used extensively, this style can undercut employee morale and negatively affect the work environment.

Many times, management personnel can adopt one or a combination of all leadership styles to best suit the company’s and person’s needs.

Finding the right leadership styles can make or break a company!

leadership styles leadership styles leadership styles

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