Technology has taken countless business processes and made them more efficient. Our accounting, our customer management, our public relations, and much more. But behind every piece of IT infrastructure sits an employee controlling the process. Usability is the primary factor in system efficiency. If your staff are well trained and your IT systems are easy to use, then the work can be completed with ease.
But if staff struggle to perform their assigned tasks, everything can fall apart. Technology is designed to work a certain way, and people tend to think a certain way. If you want your business to run more efficiently, here are four easy ways that you can make technology more accessible to staff.
1. Establish Standards
People can think outside the box, but computers cannot. In business, collecting and analysing data is a major component of our IT systems. In order for these systems to be effective, we need to set clear standards for how data should be entered. This can be done through text optimisation. This process takes any text input and makes sure it’s formatted so that software can interpret it.
As a simple example, let’s say that a clothing retailer is collecting data about why merchandise was returned. The staff could enter things like “too small,” “didn’t fit,” or “too tight.” To a computer, this might seem like three separate reasons. Standards should be put in place so that all employees are entering data in a consistent manner. This takes the complexities of human language and simplifies them so they can be interred by machines. The end result is a system that feels natural to use but doesn’t impede system functionality.
2. Audit User Experience
User experience refers to how users feel while interacting with your IT systems. From an outside perspective, it can often be challenging to accurately gauge whether your software is easy to use or frustrating. A user experience audit involves collecting data on your employee’s workflow, identifying ways that business systems are impeding efficiency. Are your systems not requesting the right input at the right time? Do staff struggle to understand the relationship between their job and your system? Even expensive, well-developed software could use a few small changes, and the audit will help you know what needs to be done.
3. Detailed Training
A lot of technical documentation focuses on the “what” and not the “why.” Your staff might know every step of a process: what to click, what buttons to press, and what information to enter. But until they understand how the fundamental technology functions, they’ll struggle to use your technology effectively. Employees need to be trained on every aspect of your IT systems and how the different functions relate to each other. If there is some unexpected error, they’ll be able to understand the factors and make an informed decision as to how to proceed.
4. Restrict Scope
Business software is quickly becoming integrated. You might have several different departments and hundreds of employees, each with different roles, using the same technology. This is efficient from an ownership standpoint but very frustrating for the staff. They should be given access only to the functions and information that is relevant to their job. If there is too much on the screen, they can suffer from information overload and have trouble finding what they need.