September 29, 2012 - 7:14 PM
How productive are your end users? We all have this idea running through our minds about what productivity means, and whether or not we think our organizations are good at getting the most out of our people. I'm not talking about the strengths or weaknesses of any single individual around time management or effectiveness in their roles (although that is certainly important) but at whether the platforms we use to get our work accomplished are designed and managed in a way that unleashes productivity, in general. So I ask again, how productive are your end users?
I've given a number of presentations of late on the idea of building productivity into SharePoint planning, always beginning my talk with a short history lesson in collaborative tools and platforms. Back to the early interweb years of bulletin board services and fledgling instant messaging platforms, the goal of these technologies has been to help teams work together more collaboratively. BBS, IM, email, blogs, wikis, social networking, business process management and workflow -- tools that manage and generate content and social interactions are becoming more integrated and seamless. Enterprise platforms are increasingly looking at not just solving core workstreams, but in ensuring productivity when moving between workstreams.
There is a definite ROI in improving productivity: faster employee onboarding and training, more business output, more usage of the platform (whether it be SharePoint or other system, like Salesforce), and of course, faster realization of the financial investments you've made in the platform.
So how can you prevent productivity "leakage" from happening in your environment? Some questions you might consider:
Are you optimized for search? At the core of any collaborative platform is the need to catalog and then, at some point in the future, location the content and data within your platform. Your plans should include a detailed search strategy.
Have you adopted a metadata strategy? This is a key component of your search strategy, but concentrates more around understanding the kinds of content/data/artifacts within your system. I like to describe the difference between these two steps as improving searchability (optimizing the experience for how people search within your platform) and findability (optimizing for the artifact, so that it can be better located).
Have you developed a social strategy? This is become a critical piece of every organization's productivity planning. If you don't have a plan, people will use the commercial tools to improve collaboration, which may not be secure, compliant, or scalable for your business. Look at how your end users are working, and find a way to build your enterprise platform to match their work patterns.
Have you prioritized feature and solution requests? Have you established a cycle for continuous improvement on what you’ve already built? No platform is ever static -- people will need modifications, customizations. Have a process defined and in place to capture their feedback and requests. Make it transparent, as the more you involve people in the process, the more likely they are to accept the end results (whether or not it matches their request 100%).
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