The Digitized Office

 Digitizing Processes, Resources and Meetings

Think of all the forms you used to fill out, sometimes in duplicate or triplicate. With digitization, though, that’s no longer necessary. Here are just some examples of processes, practices and forms that can be efficiently managed through use of technology.

  • Calendar/schedule management
  • Client satisfaction feedback
  • Correspondence – with email being a prime example
  • Financial/accounting processes and reports – budget development, cheque/payment requisitions, expense claim processing and much more
  • HR undertakings and forms – employee engagement surveys, performance management/evaluations, recruitment initiatives, sick leave and vacation records are just some samples
  • Physical Plant/Facilities – parking pass requests, room booking and maintenance requests
  • Purchasing/procurement
  • Technology – Help Desk requests and follow-up, intranets and portals

We also have opportunities to eliminate bulky binders that may or may not gather dust on shelves. Policy and procedures manuals, employee onboarding guides, reference materials and the like are often more accessible when available in bite-sized, online pieces.

Then there’s the work associated with meetings. Who hasn’t assembled multiple agenda packages the old fashioned (hard copy) way, only to have to extract and replace documents that are revised at the last minute? Now, we have capacity to digitize not only our meeting materials through use of PDFs and portals, but we can also engage people who might not otherwise be able to participate by including them through audio- or web-based conferencing.

Progress in our Panelists’ Worlds – and Yours

With this in mind, and looking beyond the obvious such as calendar management, email and so on, I asked panelists whether they or their organisations have digitized processes and resources. I also posed many of the same questions to readers in last Thursday’s Weekend Poll. Here’s what people said.

  • Helen: We installed a new intranet system through which people can now book annual leave, record sickness absence, process annual reviews, log maintenance/help desk requests, and complete surveys and other consultation.
  • Janice: I have with an induction process, though not in my current role.
  • Julia: Not me, but other departments in the company have at a corporate level. I have worked in international companies with a huge IT infrastructure and automatization mindset.
  • MistiLynn: Our administrative team is experimenting with a few options to reduce email traffic regarding aligning availability requests for scheduling meetings. Doodle is an amazing tool but not practical for our everyday use; we are looking at options within OneNote and/or OneDrive.
  • Sofie: Not personally, but we are building several new systems in-house to increase internal efficiency, and also online systems that will benefit our clients and candidates. We have also started several companies working with business models that support our core business. For instance, we launched Instajobs, a “matching app” that helps customers quickly find students looking for short-term assignments and vice versa online.
  • Readers, via my Weekend Poll: In descending order of frequency of mention, readers reported that their organisations have digitized appointment scheduling, IT/Help Desk requests, job postings/recruitment undertakings, financial and payroll processes, client surveys, employee engagement surveys, procurement requests, maintenance requests, vacation and sick leave reporting, and performance reviews.

 

Documents, Systems and Resources
  • Helen: The new (intranet) system has brought a lot of our paper processes into the 21st century by making our work more efficient, and it has also given us better data, analysis and reporting functionality that we simply didn’t have before.
  • MistiLynn: We have started sharing documents from meetings via a OneDrive folder rather than cluttering email. We are working towards eliminating the dreaded “Email is full” error.
  • Readers, via last Thursday’s Weekend Poll: Readers reported that their organisations have digitized policies/policy manuals, employee benefits information and procedural manuals.

 

Who or what is driving such changes?

Sofie commented, “The digitalization drives the behavior and demands of our clients, candidates and consultants. We need to keep up with potential disruptive digital competitors. Also we want to be as efficient as possible and use new technologies to support the daily work of our co-workers.”

In Helen’s world, she was part of a team of five people who built, developed and rolled out the new intranet. As she put it, ” … we were all champions, advocates and trainers for other staff.”

Think of portals as secured gateways to information

Portals and Intranets

Increasingly, you’ll find sophisticated organisations making use of web-based portals for secure access to meeting materials, general resources, calendars and more.  For a number of corporate and other boards of directors, they’re the norm.

Helen and Julia both mentioned their organisations’ intranets, which are private networks used to provide web-based information and resources to employees by means of log-in access. Portals can also be contained within an intranet. If your organisation has an intranet, there’s a strong likelihood you’re using SharePoint.  I asked our panel, and readers, about their organisations’ use of intranets and portals.

Intranets

  • Helen: We launched our intranet in 2012, so it’s five years old. I was part of the five person roll out team, and am still a system administrator, moderator and trainer.
  • Janice: We have a central intranet; this was implemented long before I began with my current organisation.
  • Julia: These tools were implemented by the Internal IT Department.
  • MistiLynn: Yes, the company has had a SharePoint hub for a number of years. We did recently (~1 year ago) launch a SharePoint page specifically for our administrative teams globally,and that has created a huge impact. Being able to gather the legacy knowledge has created efficiencies as well as helping to onboard new admin. staff more quickly.
  • Sofie: Yes, we switched to Office 365 a few years ago. We use SharePoint, OneDrive and OneNote. Our IT department drives IT change implementations.
  • Readers, via last Thursday’s Weekend Poll: 68% of respondents reported that their organisations use SharePoint/have an intranet.

 

Portals

  • Helen: Our Trustees do have a portal on the intranet where they can view governance information (alongside being able to read the news articles pages as all our staff can), but hardly any of them  use it.
  • Janice: Not in my current role, though at a previous organisation I was given the project of implementing several SharePoint sites for different regional teams to use as a central repository to store and edit documents as well as use a team calendar.
  • Julia: We use a board portal for sharing board documents. We started using the portal one year ago, and the CFO drove the change.
  • Readers, via last Thursday’s Weekend Poll: 79% of respondents reported that their organisations have portals. 50% have portals specifically for their boards and board committees, and 29% have portals that are also used by employee committees.

 

NEXT IN THIS SERIES

How is digitization impacting the way we prepare for and conduct meetings?

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