Business doesn’t always keep pace with technology. Oh, sure, you’re a tech savvy professional who manages their whole life right from their smartphone, and you pride yourself on being able to set up your own wireless router (with cool names like “PrettyFlyforaWiFi”). But you’re probably still using a fax machine in the office to send and receive documents.
All the tech know-how in the world can’t help a business dedicated to upholding legacy systems. But you don’t have to be the computer-illiterate grandpa of the business world. Just like when you dumped the flip phone the first chance you got, you can ditch outdated business practices that are slowing the process and sapping productivity. Here’s our top five to get you started on that long (but hope-filled) journey of ditching outdated habits a project manager or entrepreneur should never have.
Using Email to Coordinate Efforts
There was a time, once, when email was pretty nifty. It’s still pretty cool, if you don’t depend on it too much. The problem is, with the volume of communication that happens on a daily basis during normal business operations, email just becomes a dumping ground. All spam aside, your frequent back-and-forths just with co-workers will fill your inbox and keep you drowning in unread messages.
Worse still, it’s a hassle keeping track of important documents and important dates that are shared via email. It’s not a calendar. It’s not a shared document drive, and it’s not a workflow manager. It still serves a purpose, but limit how much you depend on it.
Holding Status Meetings
Even if it’s not as bad as a Dilbert comic, your status meetings are a timesink. You spend time waiting for people to gather, waiting for people to get back on topic, and waiting for people to disperse when it’s done. This is the age of technology—there are more effective ways to track the progress of a project. An aptly-named project management software, like a Workfront or MatchWare, can help you keep your thumb on the pulse of your team’s productivity, and help you avoid needless meetings.
Using “Single-Player” Software
Just like going over to a friends house for video games, business is less frustrating when you can play together. Software like Microsoft Word and Excel work great when you’re doing things on your own (say, a school project about how much you love the Oxford Comma), but they prove less than optimal when you need real-time input from collaborators.
Many workflow managers and project management software suites offer the functionality you need to keep everyone up-to-date, but even using Google Docs or Google Sheets is a step in the right direction.
Eschewing Mobile Functionality
Remember how you like to manage your life from your smartphone? It’s frustrating when you can do the same with work, isn’t it? If you’re using the right collaboration tools, there’s apps to keep you connected even when you’re away from the office. So whether you’re in Moscow, Russia, or you’re in Moscow, Idaho, you’ll get the notification when Larry finally submits that graphic design.
Using Multiple Tools to Manage the Same Process
If you’ve ever used a multi-tool (a la Leatherman), then you know how useful it can be to have all the tools you need in the same place. Business isn’t any different. You could use several different programs and apps to do your work: one for IM, one for text documents, one for sheets, one for progress reporting, etc. Or, you can use use an all-in-one solution (like the project management software suites we mentioned above), keeping all your shared documents and chat history in the same place. The choice is yours.