How does a business determine which digital productivity tools are right for their organizational needs? There are four factors that come in play and here’s what businesses need to consider and the bottom lines of each factor when making that decision:
Users – It may seem trivial, but “Who is this tool for?” is one of the most important questions to consider before selecting a digital productivity tool. Is this tool primarily for the supervisors to help them manage their reportees? To aid the workers in carrying out their duties? For the customers? For the accounting/finance department? Are there other stakeholders will be involved with the tool, either directly or indirectly?
Furthermore, are the primary users of the tool the same as the tool’s primary benefactors? Here, the distinction is made between intent and user. For example, a supervisor may want to implement a digital productivity tool to streamline the approval process, but it might be their reportees—the workers—who primarily log-in and use the tool.
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Bottom line: The productivity tool in question should offer the features attractive to the primary benefactor but offer an ease of use attractive to the tool’s primary users.
Process – When used appropriately, digital productivity tools improve an organization’s process(es). Beyond asking “What current process (or task) are we trying to improve?” and “How should it be improved? Should it be simplified? Automated? Digitalized? Delegated?” consider other processes and tasks that support the key process identified here. It can be helpful to draw out the full process here, including the supporting processes and tasks. Now with a view of the full picture, ask what processes or tasks can be automated? Re-envisioned? Simplified? An organization functions much like a jigsaw puzzle, and when one piece is changed, it paves the way for the pieces surrounding the transformed piece to also change.
For example, a department trying to streamline the workflow of who is doing what, when to better utilize their resources, with the right tool can also digitize—even automate—other supporting processes, such as obtaining supervisor approval and billing the customer.
Bottom line: The productivity tool should offer the functionality to facilitate the holistic process improvements desired by the organization.
Cost — Above and beyond the question “Does this tool fit within the budget?” consider the cost implications for scaling this tool across your growing organization. Is it priced per seat, so as your organization grows, there will be an additional cost for each new hire or do user seats come bundled together in different price tiers? How does the price per seat in the bundled option compare to the pay-per-seat option? Paying per seat could drive the cost of the tool up outside of the budgeted amount quickly as your organization grows, but if you only have a limited number of users, this could be cheaper than paying for a large bundle of seats, only to have many of them go unused. On the flip side, if you have a large organization with many users, purchasing a bundle of seats could save your organization a tidy sum of money.
Additionally, would this new tool consolidate or replace any of the current tools in use? Does it integrate with your current productivity tools, or would you need to acquire additional tools to achieve your goals? For instance, if streamlining the handoff between operations and billing is a goal, and a productivity tool enables the operations team to invoice customers directly—eliminating the need to go through accounting– but the tool only integrates with QuickBooks, but the organization currently uses Quicken, the cost of moving to QuickBooks or creating a custom integration with Quicken must be considered in the cost of the new productivity tool.
Bottom line: The pricing for the tool should fit within the organization’s growth model and financial constraints.
Added Value — The final point of consideration is “What added value should the digital productivity tool provide?” Beyond making your workforce more productive by streamlining processes, a digital productivity tool should provide additional value in the form of meaningful insights into the organization. What analytics would your organization find most useful? Is it additional analytics into processes or workforce? Customer support requests? What data is your organization currently missing that would further optimize processed? What insights are needed to make better decisions?
Bottom line: Select a productivity tool that can provide meaningful insights to further improve its processes.
There are many good digital productivity tools on the market today. Consider these four factors in your evaluation process to determine the best match for your organization’s needs.