Companies and staff rely on technology more than ever to help create efficient business practices. Today’s business managers need to be comfortable learning new technologies and evolving with change such as communicating by email or Skype if necessary. As technology continues to advance, there are progressively fewer non-digital alternatives to the day-to-day activities that allow businesses to operate competitively. Modern technology offers many effective tools and applications that managers can utilize when overseeing communication or managing and organizing staff workloads. With many of these business solutions, a staff can train themselves through online workshops and FAQs making implementation easier than ever before with minimal downtime and ultimately leading to increased staff productivity.
Data analytics is the process of selecting relevant data with the purpose of researching and making decisions based on the information it provides. This analysis is done in an effort to prove or disprove current business assumptions and improve decision making in the business environment as well as perform maintenance operations on business functions. The amount of data a business has the potential to aggregate and leverage for greater efficiency is staggering - market trends, consumer behavior, demographics, retail sales, competitor pricing. Additionally, the development of online analytical processing systems (OLAP), such as Oracle’s Express Server, has allowed easier access to view and select data to compare it with other reports. Oracle software can also store and report payroll files for each staff member, in addition to other HR operations.
An example of a key area where data analysis can be valuable is in enterprise risk management (ERM). With the right knowledge and expertise, management can eliminate redundant systems and other operational risk factors that can drain the bottom line if left unnoticed. To provide businesses the ability to access information, risk management information systems are used to manage and process specialized data in the attempt to examine risk control and risk financing. ERM can also help to identify missing opportunities in a work place or departments where maintenance costs exceed profitability.
With so many individuals working from home offices now, keeping tabs on employees has become more complicated than simply peeking over the nearest cubicle wall. Only with the use of technology can management hope to have an accurate barometer with which to measure the output from remote workers or satellite offices. Time Doctor is one example of a program used to keep track of what exactly employees are working on and how much time they have spent on those tasks. To increase collaboration, Time Doctor is used to manage attendance and improve productivity of an online workforce to help ensure they become highly efficient.
Another alternative is Toggl, an online time tracking tool which is easy to set up and use. It integrates with project management tools such as Basecamp and can be operated from anywhere with internet access. This tool makes it easy to generate reports based on time spent on specific projects or by teams of employees. Additionally, it is compatible with any operating system and there is an app for iPhone and Android users if they have to be away from their computers.
Sharing tools are also available for employees to be able to share their screen with managers to add a visual aspect when explaining certain tasks. Tools such as TeamViewer provide managers the ability to better monitor progress and the efficiency of their satellite staff. Other well-known methods for online collaboration include:
- Jing Project: share screen and video captures of desktops that can include voiceovers or annotations to share information, a simple computer application that needs a single install
- Google Drive: online spreadsheets in a central location for multiple individuals to retrieve simultaneously, an alternative to Excel or Word documents
- Dropbox: a simple way to share and store documents that can be accessed by employees
- SharePoint by Microsoft: a secure place to store, organize, share, and access information from almost any device
Project management encompasses a variety of aspects including budget and deadline management, tracking tasks, and streamlining communication. Teams, regardless of where they are located, have technologies available to organize and monitor the lifecycle of different projects. To effectively use technology to manage projects, managers must have both the business experience to understand processes and the technological training to recognize which program implementations will save time and money.
The technology used in Basecamp, an online project management tool, has made it easier to manage projects and communication by optimizing workflow in a simplistic way. Managers can also send internal messages, have discussions through Basecamp, and automate certain business processes which allows for a one-stop-shop in project management.
Managers should also be aware of tools that can help save data as well such as automated backup services like Carbonite. It is an efficiency product that allows employees to access data from anywhere in addition to backing up each and every user’s hard drive to the cloud, just in case something happens or an older version is needed.
For today’s businesses, global competition is a topic of discussion, and those who intend to compete must be comfortable using communication technology in situations where physically meeting is not a possibility. People can now speak face to face, in real time, with a team of clients on the other side of the world. Services such as Skype or other video conference call systems help managers keep in touch with remote workers over the internet. These programs have made it possible for managers to have a more personal relationship with staff, rather than using previous methods such as email or traditional phone calls. Other strategies for maintaining communication between employees include chat rooms, discussion groups and forums, and Google+ hangouts.
Maintaining communication with teams, whether remote or in office, is an essential tool for company leaders. Managers have a responsibility to implement the appropriate technologies to encourage collaboration, maximize efficiency, produce the best company results, and to direct employees in an appropriate way. It’s clear that in our modern business world, the only way to steer a company toward success is to understand and manage the technologies that contribute to that success and to locate potential pitfalls within that technology.
With a one-year distance MBA program that balances business practices with expanding technology, graduates can have great potential to for a satisfying, rewarding career in business management. The University of Saint Mary offers an online degree path that allows students to fast track an MBA designed to deliver real, actionable skills for today’s complex business landscape such as small business administration. Courses can be taken at any time, making them the perfect fit for working managers. With an MBA from an accredited university, managers can help improve their businesses’ competitiveness and efficiency.