Here's the thing about technology of any kind: It's great, when it actually works. And by that I mean, when it works for everyone involved.
How many times have you been informed at your place of work that you’re switching over to a different e-mail system or website for timekeeping, or that you’ll be using a brand-new tool or web-based “solution” in your daily tasks? Next, consider: How many times has that “solution” actually turned out to be far more of a headache than a godsend?
Throughout my career I’ve adapted to new processes, new ways of doing the job of a journalist. To put it kindly, not all of the technological “improvements” that have come down the line have increased productivity. Many of them, especially the tools I’m forced to use these days, do quite the opposite.
Productivity & happy employees
Here's a truism of which agency principals must be aware: It may look good on paper, but the cheaper the technology solution, the more it will end up costing you in the long run when it comes to lost productivity and frustrated employees.
It's important to remember that all of your agency employees are stakeholders in your business. Yes, it's important to make sure you’re selecting the right type of technology solution, be it a new agency portal, new claims software, a new system for inputting data on new clients, and the like, and make sure those fit your budget. But it's critical to bear in mind that your staff are going to be the ones using those tools in their day to day.
If those new tools aren't intuitive, if they aren't user-friendly and offer an interface that actually accelerates your in-house processes, that new tech solution that you just paid for is going to become a detriment if it slows things down for the people using it. And your business will suffer.
Does that mean your people have to be consulted in every decision you make with regard to selecting new business tools? No. That decision — and it had best be an informed one — is the responsibility of the agency principal. However, it's critical to bear in mind precisely what you wish to achieve by employing new processes — and then finding the right tool for the job.
The right tool for the job
Now more than ever, large companies are turning to vendors that offer “cost-effective” solutions that come with an attractive price tag. Promises are made, of course, to provide support in the event of any issues. It's not always mentioned that that support is often handled by third-party staff in countries where English is not their first language. And when your work is suffering and you’re desperate for help to make things right when things go pear-shaped, the last thing you’ll need is a communications barrier exacerbating the technical issues at hand.
In this month's cover feature we offer five strategies for making technology work for your agency. While there is no “silver bullet” or one-size-fits-all magic key that will work for everyone, Rosalie Donlon and NU's new Senior Editor Elana Jefferson give you more than a few options to consider in improving your own processes.
Regardless of the strategy you pursue, however, remember this: If you’re going to spend good money on some new tools, make sure they work — for all the players in your bullpen.