• Edfolio

In Focus: How to find a tech solution to your productivity headaches.

Our In Focus series of articles originally appeared in The Leadership Bulletin, a free weekly bulletin for leaders and managers. You can subscribe here.

I used to do a job where I incurred fairly frequent expenses: mileage from driving, lunches with clients, resources for team meetings. We didn’t operate on a system of company cards so I had to submit my expenses for reimbursement. Here’s how it often went: I would empty out the part of my wallet that I used exclusively for work receipts and begin typing them up in a spreadsheet: date, store, cost etc. Once I had done that, to make sure I didn't miss anything, I would search my credit card statement for any missing records. After I was confident I had found everything, I photographed the receipts to submit the claim.

I predict this process took around 6 hours per month. It was, in other words, an enormous waste of time. So I decided enough was enough and that there had to be a better way. I spent a few minutes searching online and found there was. Whilst I had been manually recording expenses, tech businesses throughout the world had invented dozens of platforms for handling expense claims that could save me a lot of time.

I don’t think I’m the only one who has missed out on cheap, effective tech solutions to some of the most frustrating, productivity-draining tasks in a job. I’ve seen this happen in many businesses, especially small businesses. Ways of working that started out of necessity - either because there was no technology solution available at the time, or you couldn’t afford to invest in it - become entrenched. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

I recommend that you take some time to think about the tasks in your week that take up more time than you wish, drain your productivity, or simply don’t add much value to your work. It may be expenses, or it could be processing bookings, preparing a weekly report, analysing staff rotas - almost anything. Make this list and you will have a set of tasks ripe for streamlining. Next, set aside a couple of hours and spend it researching tech solutions. New, innovative technology products are coming online every day and any one of them has the potential to change the way in which you and your team work, saving masses or time.

There are often lots of competing solutions and it can be hard to know which one is right for you, so here are some things to consider when choosing a tech solution:

  • How cost-effective is it?

  • Is it user-friendly and can it be easily rolled-out to your team?

  • Can it be integrated into your existing technology and platforms?

  • Does it simplify, rather than complicate, how you work?

This last point is critical, as this advice does come with a warning. In the vast majority of cases technology is our friend, but over-adoption or over-reliance can lead to too many systems competing with each other; rather than becoming a solution to your problems, tech can add to them. Begin by experimenting with this process on one particular frustrating task and see what lessons you learn. This will help you to make sure that you’re bringing in tech solutions that simplify, rather than complicate, the way you work.