Forget about the work-arounds: choose integration
In the world of software, there is no magic solution – even if application developers want you to believe that. They fill their application with functionality and assume that employees will figure it out.
They make it easy for themselves but they forget that employees don’t just work with one application, but rather with multiple systems. Whether that is ERP, HR software, CRM or a student monitoring system. And even those systems are chock full of functionality, of which only a small amount is utilized. This creates a requirement to request information: the user must start up all the applications every day just to see if there is any work there that is ready for their action.
Peter de Haas, founder and managing director of Breinwave, explains what this means for the Modern Workplace.
Offer functionality that fits the demand
We see all of these complex applications together as a reservoir – new water streams from the mountains into the reservoir each day in the form of new functionality that is made available. The purpose of a reservoir is to create electricity (or – in the case of software – functionality) that meets the demand at that moment. In other words, the user determines how far the ‘faucet’ can be opened or must be closed, and not the availability of water from the mountains.
Keep it small. Phase your interfaces. Peter de Haas
Make the workplace task-oriented
When we say ‘functionality’ we don’t mean the functionality of one specific application, but everything someone needs in order to do his or her work efficiently. The employee logs in at a central location and received access to the data and the (parts of) applications that he or she needs to do work, including an overview of the tasks that must be completed. Task-oriented and naturally supported by notifications.
Focus on the persona
It should be clear that a nurse uses different applications and has different information needs than the financial department of the healthcare organization. That the school environment where a student logs in contains different functionalities than that of a teacher. And that a technician in the field has different needs than an operator in a factory or an employee in a warehouse.
Let the user determine how the Workplace will look like. Peter de Haas
So our recommendation is to identify which groups of employees your organization has and develop personas for them. Personas are groups of employees who must fulfill more or less the same tasks and use the same applications for this. Then design an environment for each persona that coordinates with what this group of employees needs to do their work. Offer the precise functionality they need; nothing more and nothing less.
Do it agile
Can you realize this for the organization all at once? No, that is not smart. Because even though developing interfaces with modern web-based software may be simple, creating a connector for older applications can be quite complex. So just start with the key applications and relatively simple processes. And expand it slowly from there. This allows you to phase in the investments in interfaces. And you can let people get used to the new way of working and the new work arrangements that go along with that. Such a work agreement goes something like this: all the documents needed for a meeting must be in a central spot at least two days before the meeting, and they may no longer be mailed to everyone.
Forget about the work-arounds
IT has long had the tendency to forcefully dictate how people must work. That creates resistance and it’s precisely because of it that so many work-arounds and shadow IT developed, with all the ensuing inefficiencies. But if you really want to work more efficiently and increase productivity, learn about what people need and adjust their workplace accordingly.
Peter de Haas, founder and managing director of Breinwave.