Fact: the simpler and easier it is to use your tech systems, the more productive your organisation will be. This is because your users will be engaged with what they’re doing and can complete their day-to-day tasks efficiently and confidently. No one wants to deal with an IT system which is complex to navigate and creates problems – this will slow them down enormously. Your tech should be an enabler for your staff, winning the hearts and minds of the individuals who are using it because it feels fit-for purpose. If it achieves this, the positive vibes as a result will reverberate around your organisation, assisting with productivity to increase your bottom line.
If you’re seeing a negative impact on your bottom line or if you’ve having trouble retaining staff, you should probably check that your IT system isn’t at fault for this and hindering productivity. Keep the following tips in mind as you set about assessing how user-centric your technology is and improving it:
#1. Engage your users right from the beginning
To create a user-centric IT system, you must start with the users. You cannot guess what they need or are thinking – you have to actually ask them. Make sure that you are engaging with a good cross-section of users too. Your IT manager will have a different perspective to someone who is not an IT specialist and who is losing it on a daily basis with your tech!
By giving your users a voice and listening to them, will understand how they’re currently using the technology available to them, how they’d like to be using it and where the gaps are. Getting their buy-in is crucial to their ongoing engagement and satisfaction with your tech, which will in turn increase productivity as they can focus on serving your customers.
#2. Build a process for continual feedback into your systems
It’s no good just checking in with your users at the beginning of the process. You must involve them at every stage of planning, audit, testing, roll-out and post-launch to get feedback. It is important to identify points along your timeline when elements of your project might have been completed – that’s when you want to find out from users if there have been positive changes. By doing this, you won’t find yourself in a position where you’ve overlooked something. Even subtle changes can have a big impact on how a user’s performance, which will ultimately affect their productivity level.
#3. Prepare for unforeseen change
Are you familiar with up-and-coming trends? If not, you should set about informing yourself. You should be requesting frequent updates on trends from key people in your organisation. There is also a myriad of information available online, at conferences and at networking events.
Being up-to-date with technology trends is crucial if you want to implement changes efficiently and help your users adopt them. A few years ago, we saw a switch to cloud-based IT systems and, more recently, there has been a huge and sudden shift from onsite working to remote/hybrid working with video conferencing. If you remain uninformed, you risk falling behind your competitors when it comes to implementing any changes and they may capitalise on your error by taking business away from you.
#4. Make sure your tech is fit for purpose
If your users cannot access your company server quickly and easily, their productivity will go out of the window. You might have a very user-centric IT system but this is of no use whatsoever if your employees can’t access it due to networking issues. Being connected and installing good quality hardware in each user’s working environment is crucial to maximising your organisation’s productivity – particularly with hybrid and remote working environments now the norm for many organisations. If PCs and laptops are also running on out-of-date and unsecure software, your technology performance will be very inefficient and your users cannot be as product as you would want them to be.
#5. Customise your UI to different user groups
Your users should be confident that they can find information efficiently. You can help them do this by tailoring each group’s view of the system so that they don’t waste time navigating to the information they need. Wasted minutes mount up each week, eventually costing days of time and impacting massively on productivity. For instance, if your CRM system is clunky then it won’t be used properly, data will be lost or overlooked, and customer relationships will suffer. All your IT systems need to meet the needs of each user group and it should be straightforward for them to find and share information.
#6. Invest in educating your users
Just because you think your tech has the best UI doesn’t mean your user innately knows what to do with it! Plenty of decision-makers overlook educating users about their tech which can inhibit user adoption. This is often because they deal with their IT team when discussing IT systems, forgetting that not everyone in the business is competent at using those systems. By investing in educating your users, you will increase user engagement and adoption, which in turn can reduce operational costs, deliver productivity efficiency gains and increase competitive advantage.
Good luck making your IT systems more user-centric! If you need help, AzteQ’s User-First Technology Framework will walk you through a process to discover the information you need to put the user at the heart of your IT project.