Productivity and GTD

How to Handle 5 Common Tech Issues That Reduce Productivity

AUTHOR: Ashley Wilson

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David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) method of overcoming mental obstacles is a good way to tackle common technology problems that impact employee productivity.

It gives managers and tech administrators a solid framework for identifying and resolving issues as they arise.

About GTD Method

The GTD process has five steps that walk decision-makers through the problem-solving process:

  1. Capture: Collect all the information about the problem when you become aware of it. Document that information in writing, voice-recordings, or other record-keeping systems.
  2. Clarify: Take time to review the information captured and determine what the problem is. Decide whether it can be solved or not. If it can, determine how much time is involved. Should be done now, delegated, or side aside for later?
  3. Organize: Create an organized list of projects. For technical issues, estimate the time needed to resolve them and schedule that time appropriately. Create a current projects list, a waiting list, and a someday list.
  4. Reflect: Review your progress handling the projects on your current work list, and review the projects that you’ve deferred for later. Is it time to move deferred projects into the current worklist
  5. Engage: Finally, once you’ve analyzed your workload and organized it by priority and time required, engage your current work list and complete the tasks you’ve set for yourself.

Given this method of problem-solving, let’s review some of the most stubborn technology issues that impact productivity.

1. Discounting Tech Issues

One of the most common technical issues that arise in a large company is the tendency of non-technical managers to discount or minimize the problems that exist.

A lack of managerial oversight of a company’s IT support department can lead to intermittent or endemic problems going unresolved.

As Gartner points out with their downtime cost calculator, the actual cost of allowing IT problems to continually take your business down is higher than most managers realize.

When an IT issue happens more than twice a year, it’s time to sit down to diagnose a reoccurring problem.

By addressing these issues instead of discounting them, businesses can eliminate downtime and improve productivity.

Create a list of IT issues and devote time to finding their solutions, even if it means investing in new technology.

The elimination of the downtime cost will pay for it.

2. Ever-Changing Tech Trends

Technology innovation has accelerated over the past generation, especially in the fields of internet applications and collaboration tools.

These changes can be a double-edged sword that enables dramatic productivity gains while creating new problems.

Cloud computing, for example, has created security headaches for companies that need to ensure data privacy and retention.

Employees accustomed to older tech paradigms can also suffer morale loss or become disoriented when new technologies are adopted.

Business processes can suffer when integrating new technologies with legacy systems becomes problematic.

The importance of carefully planning new technology adoption has become critical to realizing the full productivity gains it can bring to organizations.

From planning to integrate new technology to employee training, the challenges are significant.

A systematic and rational approach is needed to foresee and mitigate these problems. It’ll reduce the cost of a rocky adoption period.

3. Over-Reliance on IT Support

IT support resources in most organizations are minimized to save the overhead cost of retaining technical staff. The upshot of this is that support staff are forced to juggle day-to-day problems and longer-term projects.

When employees have an over-reliance on IT support staff to resolve simple problems like a slow-running computer, it impacts the IT department’s ability to focus on other projects.

Employees who are empowered to handle common computer and equipment glitches save their own time along with the time of support staff.

Employee training and curiosity are both good investments for any business, as are tech-savvy new hires.

For managers, this problem boils down to rethinking the priorities and duties of their IT support staff.

Rather than expecting them to help tech-challenged employees, refocus their efforts on solving bigger technology problems.

Over time, a savvier workforce will lead to smoother running operation, and your tech department will devote more time to bigger tech projects.

4. A Lack of Tech Training

Dovetailing with the last tech problem, a workforce that isn’t knowledgeable about technology is becoming less and less practical in today’s business environment.

The software tools that are available to businesses, which range from cloud apps to artificial intelligence, require employees to know more than simple Excel sheet formulas.

Less knowledgeable staff will only realize a fraction of the productivity gains that new technology makes possible.

As several studies have shown, a higher educated and trained workforce increases productivity.

That’s significant when training and education investments are continual.

5. Data Privacy and Security Issues

The costs of losing focus on security issues can range from regulatory fines to a company’s brand being damaged for years.

As the security environment continues to force companies to maintain strong network defenses, government regulation of how customer and employee data is handled is increasing as well.

The productivity losses these issues entail is not insignificant.

Employees must contend with denials of access, changing business processes, and the loss of insecure tech tools.

On the other hand, security breaches can lead to the shuttering of operations for hours or days while security staff deals with the damage done by intruders.

Cybersecurity Ventures has estimated that by 2021 the total costs of security breaches could reach $6 trillion worldwide.

Conclusion

Decision-makers need to stay focused and organized as they make the needed changes to keep their businesses secure while contending with the productivity losses it creates.

The GTD method is a good way to rationally analyze the complexity of the problem and find effective solutions.

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