How managers can use software to turn their teams into productivity heroes

The explosion in big data is changing the way companies do business. Thanks to easy-to-use, specialised tools and a rise in businesses’ cloud adoption, today data collection, analysis, and interpretation are accessible in an unprecedented way.

Managers are already using that information to better understand their customers, and create new commercial opportunities. However, not many realise that they can also use data derived from work within their organisation to support their employees, increase the pace of productivity, and even improve their own leadership skills.

Within a marketplace that demands a fantastic customer experience and immediate response in the delivery of products and services, teams’ limits are being pushed as workloads become unmanageable. In modern organisations, it is up to leaders to manage workloads within their teams by mastering the art of empowerment.

This can be as inspiring as it is challenging. To meet this challenge, software has been evolving to meet workforces’ needs and tap into the core of leadership.

The challenges of collaborative work

With expectations to deliver products and services faster and adapt as quickly as possible to change, teams are increasingly focused on becoming agile, collaborative and data driven. They are working much more closely together than they did in the past, and are sharing information and data across the organisation in order to achieve their goals.

> See also: What can UK manufacturers do to close the productivity gap?

Unfortunately, employees require a multitude of applications in order to do their work- including intranets, applications and social media. Combined with the ever-increasing Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and Bring Your Own Software (BYOS) trends, new technologies offer tremendous possibilities to increase the productivity of individuals and the team as a whole. But at the same time, they also means new risks of wasting time and context in the process.

As more and more people come together on a single project, and as team members’ work and personal lives become increasingly intertwined, keeping up with the where and when of tasks and deliverables becomes a challenge.

A project manager may plan out the team’s day counting on 100% availability, when in reality they may have crucial commitments related to other projects, meetings, training sessions or holidays which diminish their workload capacity. This leads to inefficiencies, many of which can be blamed on people under pressure, and impacts people’s motivation and the quality of their work.

Recent reports show businesses are paying a high price for inefficient ways of working. Up to 2 hours and 45 minutes a week, equating to 20 working days a year, is wasted.

As a result, our research shows employees (57%) and customers (48%) are the areas of the business most likely to suffer. What’s more, the implications caused by inefficient processes can cause problems in the long term, putting company growth at risk, ultimately affecting its bottom line.

One of the reasons is that managers have to look through many sources to find the information needed to understand employees’ workloads and assign tasks in accordance to their strategy and business objectives.

While they may be using Excel sheets for planning, they may be communicating with employees over email, so that the context around the work they do is difficult to locate or possibly even lost.

Without the tools they need to properly measure workloads, managers can’t determine which team members have the largest amount of assignments and can’t adequately manage team performance. This means they don’t have the guidance needed to identify productivity thresholds when new commitments arise.

In other words, while organisations continue to invest in tools from team chat services to project management tools, having them all doesn’t necessarily contribute to making smarter, data-driven decisions.

As a result, project managers as well as their teams are continuously searching for engaging, easy-to-use tools that let them keep track of what they’re working on, collaborate with team members, and provide transparency to leadership about their performance. In other words, they want solutions that work for them, not the other way around.

Working smarter instead of harder

Business leaders, department managers and project managers are instrumental in helping their employees to manage their workloads. Transforming the ways of working so that everyone on a project or team is clear on what everyone else is doing, and what each other’s workloads are like, should be what every leader should aspire to.

Here’s where modern technology can help. Collaborative workload management solutions present new capabilities for leaders, to fuel their leadership with greater insights on the current work situation.

Instead of using pure scheduling or single-feature collaboration tools, optimised, all-in-one solutions allow managers to plan projects, know who is working on the tasks that make up the projects and share information in a contextual way, all in one place.

> See also: Closing the gap: the digital productivity puzzle

This means teams can communicate, build awareness about what they’re doing, work and plan workloads more effectively, without wasting time.

There are many possibilities available which allow managers to look beyond old management techniques. One key aspect is for them to challenge their own leadership by letting software enhance their workload management skills.

They should investigate what tools the organisation is using, identify overlaps and find new, unified solutions which will enable the business to get rid of outdated tools and processes.

New technologies bring managers closer to the core of leadership and help them provide structure, enabling individuals and teams to focus on getting the right work done at the right time.

By using cloud-based virtual workspaces, managers can address the need for modern ways of managing workloads and empower their most important asset- their team members- to become heroes.

Sourced from Karolina Jackson-Ward, product manager, Projectplace

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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