The quality of the IT set-up in a business has a big influence on user productivity. I am a big believer that users should never be waiting for computers, but the productivity measures go much deeper than analysis of wait times, there are many activities on pcs that can be optimised dramatically affecting the speed a user can work. By making the computer and the software optimised for the task, the whole tempo of a role can operate on a different level.
There is an extreme example of this in my previous business.
Jon (Priority One’s Technical Director) and I built an operations department to record and catalogue nearly all of the advertising that appeared across all the various forms of media in the whole of the UK. It involved over 100 people doing data entry work from scanned images and video. There were several aspects to the efficiency of the operation.
Firstly, the hardware and configuration of that hardware.
The pcs, the servers, the network, the scanners all had to be of a standard and configured correctly so that it absolutely minimised any lag – which was no mean feat when dealing with vast quantities of images on hardware built in 1997.
Secondly, anything that could be automated, was.
Whether that be automatic multipage scanners, off the shelf software, or customised software. For example, we created audio matching software that could automatically detect a repeat play of an advert on television or radio that had already been captured once.
Lastly, the ergonomics of the user interface.
If a task could be completed with three mouse clicks and not five then it would save time when that task was repeated thousands of times a day. This is an over-simplified example, but the point is that the design of a user interface is a hugely important aspect effecting the efficiency with which a user can interact.
The fascinating aspect of implementing all these efficiencies though, was that the gain was greater than it should have been. What we observed was that if people weren’t waiting for their computers for any meaningful length of time they stayed focused on their task and were able to operate at a much more productive pace.
As a result of this experience, the way that we look at our clients systems, applications and infrastructure gives us a different perspective as to what is achievable compared to other IT service companies.
It still amazes me with some of the clients we take over, how even really basic and inexpensive measures can dramatically improve the human computer interaction. Fast desktop hardware, network hardware and high speed bandwidth are a ‘no-brainer’ on any cost benefit analysis. However, it is the application software, cloud service selection, automation tools and customisations that will provide the significant productivity gains in nearly all the businesses that we see.
I would encourage any business owner reading this, to stand back and look at any role or task within the business and critically appraise it to see whether or not they think there is room to optimise and increase user productivity, given the right expert advice.
Priority One – IT Projects