Do you ever come to the end of a busy day and feel like you didn’t actually accomplish anything? Although you worked hard all day, you feel like you have nothing to show from all of that work?
Chances are, you got caught handling minor, yet essential tasks that kept you from tackling more important projects. Maybe you spent the day supporting untrained users, running end user reports, or trying to fix yet another problem with your company’s old, patched-up legacy software.
Tasks like these have a few things in common: They are necessary, yet time-consuming tasks that could (and should) be avoided. More importantly, they keep you from working on essential projects that could ultimately improve the company’s bottom line.
In other words: They keep you busy, but not productive.
How can you avoid these “productivity killers” and instead focus on essential tasks during the work day? First, you must identify which tasks fall within this category, and then you must figure out how to avoid them. So, what are some of the most common productivity killers? While it varies across companies, here’s a list of 5 productivity killers that commonly plague IT departments:
Productivity Killer #1: Supporting untrained users
For many companies, the time and expense of properly training users on new software and applications is daunting. However, that cost is miniscule when compared to the lost time and productivity caused by untrained users. How so? The users will waste time trying to use software that they don’t know how to use, and the IT department will waste time supporting users that were never properly trained.
How can you avoid this productivity killer: Don’t skimp on training. Properly training your users on new software and tools will save more time than you’ll ever realize.
Productivity Killer #2: End User Reporting
Despite all of the end-user reporting tools available these days, many IT departments are still required to create reports for end users. This is a productivity killer on two levels: First, end users lose productivity waiting for the IT department to create their reports. Second, the IT department wastes time performing a task that could very well be handled by the end users.
How can you avoid this productivity killer? Here are two different ways: First, you could give end users an easy-to-use reporting tool. Or, if that’s out of the question, you could create a variety of canned reports to address all of their reporting needs. Either way, you’ll take a huge burden off of your IT department.
Productivity Killer #3: Using the wrong tools (or none at all)
In an effort to save money, some companies don’t give their IT staff the proper tools for the job.
For example, some companies still expect the IT department to collect and analyze data using Excel instead of buying a reporting tool. Other companies expect their IT department to develop applications from scratch instead of investing in good development software.
In most cases, the company’s money-saving goal actually backfires. Sure, they saved money up front, but how much are they losing in lost productivity? For instance, if development software can make a developer twice as productive, how much is that worth?
How can you avoid this productivity killer? Take a different approach to software purchasing. Instead of looking solely at price, look at how much time and productivity you lose by not investing in the right tools. You might be surprised to discover how important the right tools can be. For instance, here’s an example of a 2-person IT staff that might make larger staffs look bad…all because they use the right tools.
Productivity Killer #4: Supporting multiple versions of the same application
As mobile apps work their way into the enterprise, this will become a bigger and bigger issue. Companies are currently rushing to build mobile versions of their business applications…which will lead to maintenance nightmares. Think about it: If you turn just one business application into an iPhone app, you’re now stuck maintaining two apps: Your original application and the iPhone application. Now, what if you also create an Android app and an iPad app? Now you’re stuck maintaining four applications. If application maintenance becomes 2-4 times more time consuming, how much productivity are you losing?
How can you avoid this productivity killer? Not every mobile application development method leaves you with multiple applications to maintain. There’s a way to develop mobile apps that avoids this problem, which you can read about right here.
Productivity Killer #5: Using band-aids instead of fixing the problem
Many businesses still run on legacy systems and software. Rather than replace these legacy systems, they choose to patch it up with modern-looking applications on top of their old systems. While this might give their legacy software a modern face, it doesn’t fix the underlying the problems. Maintaining this old architecture only becomes more and more difficult for your IT department over time, leading to many hours of lost productivity.
How can you avoid this productivity killer? When it comes to legacy software, fix it the right way. Sure, it may cost a little more up front, but it saves all sorts of time later. How can you fix it the right way? Here’s a nice whitepaper that goes into more detail on the topic.
So, what do you think? Does your IT department suffer from any of these productivity killers? Or, do you suffer from other productivity killers that aren’t mentioned above? If so, I’d love to hear them in the comments.