At its core, productivity can be defined by levels of efficiency, capacity, and rate of quality output. So it makes perfect sense that somehow IT should be involved.

The stats confirm this by showing that businesses which take advantage of the technology available to them, grow by six percent a year. That’s 30 times quicker than businesses which don’t (Bank of England, The Productivity Puzzle). From a productivity stand point, technology keeps you right ahead of the game.

At Blue Saffron, we’ve decided to focus in on Productivity. We reviewed the improvements we have helped our clients achieve. We put our heads together and talked about our goals. Then the lightbulb moment happened. We realised our vision isn’t to sell products and services, it’s to help businesses to perform.

Productivity is a problem for many businesses. According to the Bank of England, only 1% of UK businesses are productive. We know from experience, that productivity problems can often be mitigated with the right IT.

So, let’s look at some best practice pointers:

IT Projects with Blue Saffron

1. Business-Aligned IT Equals Better Outcomes

Your IT infrastructure must be aligned to your business goals. There’s so much cool, slick, enterprise-level, affordable technology out there, but if it doesn’t help you meet your goals, then you just don’t need it.

Often, we see the use of technology to enhance productivity, hindered by the fact that some of the most valuable solutions are, well, the most boring. They aren’t winning awards for innovation – because they’ve been around too long – and in this industry, guess what that means? They are good! They do their job. Staff can use them with ease.

We’re talking about things like all-round great hosted comms solutions, email systems which allow mobility, flexibility, collaboration and security, and of course, the backbone of it all: fast, robust and always up, internet access. These should be the foundation of your infrastructure.

Robot dogs that can fetch your coffee are all well and good (we might have made those up), but wouldn’t it be great to have the basics to hit your business goals up and running perfectly first?

2. Increase Agility by Improving the Performance of your Systems and Applications

If your systems and applications are working well, your business will be more agile. It will be more responsive to customers.

Are your systems reliable? Do they work 100% of the time, delivering what the user expects within the anticipated time at the required output? Are applications intuitive enough that a new user can easily master them? Or do they have just a few little foibles which leave them (gulp) specific-user dependent?

Are they scalable? Could they cope with a sudden increase in demand in order that your business can be flexible to opportunities?

Can they be easily integrated into other systems and applications, making processes easy and seamless?

The term ‘legacy’ (probably because older equipment can lack capacity) has quite a stigma attached, but we aren’t saying out with the old, in with the new. That might not be necessary or affordable. We’re just saying make sure ‘your old’ is up to scratch.

Visualising your performance improvement

Uniquely, Blue Saffron can provide customers with a Business Productivity Dashboard for their organisation. Show us where we can access the data you want to use to measure your productivity. And then we can extract it, aggregate it, visualise it, and present it back to you in a form you can use. This will provide you with all the productivity metrics you need and makes sure that your IT is delivering a healthy return on your investment.

3. Make Users More Productive with Well-Integrated IT

If you’re wondering why we harp on about just taking the functionality you need and not all the functionality available, this is it. Too much functionality equals lower productivity.

Invest in an unnecessarily complex solution and you won’t get department buy-in, staff won’t be eager to use it or see its benefits, and productivity will be hindered, not improved. The technology should fit effortlessly into their day, making tasks easier, faster or simply human- error free, not feel like another mountain to climb.

If users are being forced to work with a mix of legacy and new technology that isn’t integrated well, they will be less productive, probably less collaborative and most likely data will be less secure. The new solution will stick out like a sore thumb (and be just as painful for the user).

4. Upgrade Legacy Systems and Deploy the Best Cloud Solution for you

What is and isn’t working well? What needs a tweak or a little support and what’s simply defunct? There’s a fine line to tread when you’re thinking whether it’s best to try to improve legacy systems or invest in new ones.

You’ll need a good understanding of both your current IT solutions and how different department groups use them to foresee the tipping point when you’re starting to waste your time. Sticking with something that doesn’t quite do the job, and getting employees to work around the problem, doesn’t promote productivity or a satisfied workforce.

Most businesses are now familiar with the benefits of cloud. It can offer flexibility, scalability, R&D and security. Some of the best tech setups, however, still involve a mix of cloud and on-prem solutions. They aren’t fully in the cloud and this is a tactical solution.

Choosing carefully and only spending what is necessary allows you to direct funds to the solutions which will offer most ROI in terms of productivity.

By using the cloud to enhance business continuity, provide back up and disaster recovery solutions, your staff can continue to work through any negative event at alternative locations, on alternative devices, without missing a beat. By using on-prem for other solutions, you can sometimes save money, be more compliant and keep things simple for users.

Businesses can be nervous about upgrading legacy systems but they don’t need to be. They just need the right plan and the right service provider. One of the biggest barriers to adopting modern technology is the fear of moving away from legacy. Of course, it’s important to be able to sweat your investments but the point about digital transformation is you don’t have to move everything to the cloud straight away, you can be extremely tactical about the transition.

5. Improve the productivity of your IT Support

You have a choice about how you structure your IT support. There is 1st, 2nd and 3rd line support and you can outsource one or all. You can choose to keep some of your support function inhouse or have your internal IT team (if you have one) focussing on dev ops, R&D or other business tasks.

You can outsource everything or nothing. There will be an optimum choice for best productivity specific to your business. That might be keeping 1st line support in-house (so that workers can contact someone in their office or company) and outsourcing the more involved queries to a Managed IT

supplier. You could field everything out, so that you can forget about day-to-day IT support and deploy your technical people on business growth activities.

There is a choice to be made that will benefit your business. But as with all the other points we make, the only way to build a workable productivity plan is to get to know your business. That will involve a huge effort in cross-departmental collaboration. Drinks anyone?

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