What Are the Benefits of a Digital Workplace, Anyways?

What Are the Benefits of a Digital Workplace, Anyways?

You’ve probably heard the term “digital workplace,” but what does it mean to you and your team? For those unfamiliar with the concept of a digital workplace, it’s basically an organization’s transition from using a physical workplace to using a combination of digital services. A digital workplace makes your business more efficient by letting you access all company information from one place. This also saves you time and money because there will be less paper and travel involved in your workday.

In this article, we’re going to look at some of the benefits that your business can get from having a Digital Workplace. We’ll discuss how it might help you with your productivity and efficiency, as well as how you can use it to improve your team’s communication, and ultimately make your business more successful than ever before!

Time Savings

A digital workplace saves time in many ways. Your staff doesn’t have to spend time shuffling paperwork around and they can access the information they need quickly and easily. This means they are more productive and can get more done in less time.

Business continuity

Having a digital workplace enables your business to withstand problems better than ever before. If someone loses data on their computer, or if there’s a power outage at the office, all of your files will still be accessible online from anywhere at any time.

Information Accessibility

A digital workplace allows you to store important information in one central location where it is easily accessible by everyone on your team. This allows you to avoid miscommunication and mistakes caused by employees not having the correct information at their fingertips.

Reduced costs

Because of the increased productivity, you might not need as many employees in order to get the same amount of work done. This can reduce your overhead costs greatly and allow you to pass those savings on to your customers.

Increased security and compliance

Information stored electronically is much safer than data kept on paper, so if something happens to your office building or if someone leaves with a stack of papers, you don’t have to worry about all your sensitive information being compromised at once.

Collaboration

Faster collaboration and communication with clients, suppliers and partners. By using digital tools like email, calendars and document sharing, you can connect with everyone who needs to know what’s going on with your business in real-time rather than waiting for a pile of paperwork to get delivered.

Connects Everyone

Digital workplaces make it easier for employees to stay up-to-date on company news and information, including events and meetings. It also makes it easier for workers to connect with each other and share ideas while they’re working together or apart. You can also set up a digital workplace so that employees can share documents without emailing attachments back and forth. It’s easier for your business to operate when everyone is connected in one (virtual) place and can communicate with each other easily.

Flexibility

Employees can work from anywhere they have an internet connection and set their own hours. This allows them to work around other obligations such as child care or running errands.

Cost-Effective

The cost of having an office space can be a huge overhead for small businesses. By moving to a digital workplace, employees can save their employers money on rent and utilities.”

Conclusion

The benefits of a digital workplace are numerous. It allows your employees to work where they want to, when they want to, while also increasing productivity and efficiency. A digital workspace can act as a platform for collaboration among teams, thus building stronger relationships between colleagues who may not interact on a daily basis. Digital workplaces also help with retaining talent by allowing workers to work remotely and not feel tied down to an office location or commute.

One of the biggest challenges of implementing a digital workplace is finding the right technology that supports your business needs while also being user-friendly and cost-effective. To determine the best type of solution for your company, you must understand where you are with your current systems and processes, evaluate what it is you want to achieve from your digital workspace, know your budget and goals for the future, and then start a digital workplace assessment to determine the best final solution design.

Systems Don’t Need to Be Scary

Systems Don’t Need to Be Scary

One of the most common reason clients reach out to me is because they are scared to implement new tools and systems themselves.   We are always more comfortable doing the same things we are used to instead of trying something new and uncertain.  

The way most tools and systems are built these days, it’s a lot more difficult to mess things up than it used to be.  Early on in my career I worked with systems that had to be installed on your actual PC and upgrading them was scary.  There were often blocks of code that were referred to as a ‘black box’ because no one really knew how it worked and chances are if you fix one thing, something else would break.  

That is much less the case these days with many of the cloud-based tools we use.  Coding practices have changed and become much more robust and efficient.  In fact, systems and tools are coded to account for users trying to do things they shouldnt.  A simple example, is that you may not be able to add a duplicate record if it already exists somewhere.  Or you can’t submit a form or finish creating a record until certain fields are filled in.  Or, my favourite, you can’t delete a record without clicking two other buttons to make sure it’s what you really want to do.

So, don’t be afraid to play around with your systems and tools to see what they are really capable of.  You’d be surprised at what they can do for you if you take some time to get to know them.

#1: Create test records to play around with so you can see how data will flow throughout the system.

Before you start putting in your ‘real’ data, create some sample test records and go through some typical workflows of how you intend to use the system. It really helps if you have some of your processes and SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) already documented so that you can follow along and make sure that you cover your most common scenarios.

#2: Don’t be afraid to play around with your settings.

When getting started with a new system, or testing out something new you are interested in using, be sure to take a look at the settings. Some settings or features may be turned off by default. If you never go into your settings you may not even realize the full potential of what your system can do.

#3: Use the Help and training guides provided

Help and training guides available for most software and apps are a good starting point when trying to get to know a new system, or figure out how to do something in something you may have been using for some time. You may find that some systems have guides that are not very user-friendly, and don’t provide much valuable information. That can often be the case when using free versions of some tools. On the other hand, some systems come with very comprehensive help and user guides and it can be overwhelming to find what you may need. Try to use the search features on the tool’s support site to find what you need.

#4: Google your specific problem to find a solution, ideally on YouTube

If you are getting stuck in step 3, then Google can be your friend! There are many videos and help guides that others have created to fill in the gaps. Some can be very specific to solve for a certain issue, and others may be very generic and not helpful. But if you take the time, you may be able to find what you are looking for.

#5: You are not alone.  Reach out to your community to look for help. 

If you still can’t find what you are looking for, reach out to your communities. Find a helpful online Facebook or LinkedIn Group and ask your question. Maybe someone else has had a similar issue and can help you out.

And if you are still stuck. Not to worry! You are not alone. Book a one-on-one training/consulting with me. We can customize your hour to meet your specific needs, or add time as needed. I can walk you through a test account of most systems, or we can use your own.

Grab a beverage of your choice, put aside an hour or two, get cozy and just have fun with it! Hopefully these steps will take away some of the fear you may have with working with systems or implementing a new one.

Kids Learning Technology

Kids Learning Technology

This may not be relevant for all of you, but I need to take a moment to chat about how impressed I am with my ten and eleven year old girls and their ability to quickly grasp and adapt to new technology. The educational changes that came with this pandemic quickly forced them to become VERY tech savvy in order to succeed at online learning. Both agreed that they didn’t want to take the risk of being in a classroom during this time. While they deeply miss their friends, they have been adapting well to the changes.

I couldn’t even imagine the power of computing technology at their age. I’m impressed with their ability to pick up and quickly understand web based applications like Google Classroom. They both also completely self-taught themselves a few other apps so they could draw, animate and create You Tube videos. Then there are the games… both on the tablet and PS4.

Anyhow.. I’m getting carried away. The main reason for this post, is that when this all hit, and everyone had to move to online learning, I wanted to do my part to help parents in my community whose kids were younger and not so tech-savy. I put together the deck below to provide them with tips and tricks to help them navigate this brave new world of technology. If you find it useful, please let me know … and feel free to share it!

FREE SSL Certificates and why you need one

FREE SSL Certificates and why you need one

Have you ever visited a website and noticed that the site was not secure. Did you give that site any personal information, sign up for their newsletter or purchase a product? Probably not. Most of us by now, know to check in the address bar of the browser to make sure that little padlock is locked up tight and secure before we engage with new websites.

How secure do your customers feel when they visit your website? If you are a DIYer when it comes to your website and marketing, chances are it isn’t running secure. One way to quickly check is to type in your website address with https:// at the beginning. If your site is secure, you will connect. If you can only access your website using http:// then you need an SSL Certificate.

But good news! You can get an SSL Certificate for FREE from Let’sEncrpyt and use WP Encrypt to make it easy to install and maintain. Of course, you can also pay for one through your domain provider if you prefer. I bet you’re wondering what the difference is? Generally speaking, (as I’m not a full out cybersecurity expert), it comes down to maintenance and additional validation.

Ready to get your own free SSL Certificate? Check out WP Encrypt! Download the plugin and install it on your WordPress website. Follow the instructions.

FREE SSL Certificates provide basically the same security as paid SSL Certificates. The paid ones bring additional value in being valid for longer periods of time, and additional business (real-life) validation to give visitors extra reassurance that the website is owned by a real business. Paid certificates are usually required for larger, high transactional businesses or government agencies. Most small businesses that have some basic tech abilities can install and manage their own SSL Certificates for free. Using WP Encrypt makes it easier to maintain your free SSL Certificate.

DOES THE PHRASE ‘INSTALL IT ON YOUR WORDPRESS WEBSITE’ CAUSE YOU ANXIETY?
Then, I highly recommend paying the extra $40 for the lifetime PRO version. With the Free version, you need to be prepared to re-install the certificates every three months. With the PRO Version.. you just set it up once and you are done!

Disclosure, this is an Affiliate Link. I only endorse things I believe in and have seen provide value to my business or my clients. This is a great product and I do recommend it! I think the $40 it costs to save the time and hassle of remembering to update your certificate every three months pays for itself pretty quickly!

Are you still confused as to what an SSL Certificate is and why you need one? Check out this video that explains it better than I can!

How to Choose the Best Social Media Management Tool for your Business

How to Choose the Best Social Media Management Tool for your Business

Although many businesses do have a social media presence, they don’t all engage their communities efficiently. Engaging your social communities takes some effort and practice. There are a ton of courses and books out there that go into detail about why you need to share, how to share, when to share and who to share with. That’s great… but do you want to spend hours a day curating content and publishing to social media?

As a systems thinker, I know there has to be an easier way! And I’m not the only one who thinks that. In doing research to find my own social media management tool for my small business …. I found at least 30 popular ones… and there are hundreds! How are you supposed to select the best social media management tool for your small business?

The first thing you need to do is figure out what is it you really need in a Social Media Management System. It really helps if you have a social media strategy here… I promise. But let’s say you don’t… you should answer just a few questions before you get started.

Pick 1 to 2 social media platforms to get started.

  1. What social platforms are your customers using?
  2. Which social platforms might they be most receptive to your messages?

Determine how much content you want to share.

  1. How often do your customers want to hear from you on each platform?
  2. How much content do you have to share each week?
  3. How many posts per social profile do you expect to make?

How will you generate new content and manage it?

  1. Are you creating new content via blog posts on your WordPress Site?
  2. Do you want to share links from other social accounts you follow? If so, do you want that included in the Social Media Management Tool you are looking for? Or will you do it separately?
  3. Will you be sharing You Tube Videos you created?
  4. Do you want to share your Mailchimp Newsletters?
  5. For any of the above…. do you want this integrated with your Social Media Management Tool, or will you add the content and links manually to the tool?

How much are you willing to spend?

  1. Are you only interested in a Free tool?
  2. Do you want a tool with a pricing plan that grows as your business grows?
  3. How much are you willing to spend now, and how much are you willing to spend when your business reaches it’s current social media strategy goals? Don’t pick a Free plan that has high paid package pricing if you can’t afford it down the road.

Now, if you’ve gone through and answered most of those questions, well…. you’re pretty close to having a social media strategy now! Way to go! Now you just need to figure out what type of content to share. 🙂

Hopefully you also have an idea of what you are looking for in a Social Media Management Tool, or System. Jot down the answers to the questions above, and use them to evaluate different social media management tools.

A google search will bring up the most relevant lists of possible tools, but I also use these sites to evaluate options and narrow down the search when helping clients select the best system for their business.

If the thought of going through all the various possible vendors out there is too daunting or time-consuming for you…we can do it for you!

Select a System

Not sure which application is best for your business?  Are there too many possible choices and you don’t know how to narrow it down?  We can help make it easy and stress-free!  After an initial consultation, we will do all the heavy lifting and provide you a list of 2 to 3 options compared against your specific business’ needs and evaluated against criteria we will help you come up with and refine.

5 Steps to Selecting a New Business System

5 Steps to Selecting a New Business System

You’ve had enough of Excel spreadsheets and writing things on paper! It’s time to get serious and finally get a system that will make your life easier. Maybe it’s a new Human Resource Management System, Finance System, Marketing Software or CRM. Are you ready for it? Have you heard the horror stories of how your colleagues implemented a new system, only to find out it didn’t meet their needs… or worse, cost them more money than they expected?

Selecting a new system is a lot like shopping for a new cereal… but much more critical!

Never fear! All About Systems is here!

All jokes aside, these 5 (not necessarily easy, but very do-able!) steps will help guide you and ensure you make the best decision for your organization

STEP 1: Make sure you actually need a new system.

Yes, I know this sounds silly, but it is REALLY important! Do you know what the problem is that you are trying to solve? Or do you just think you need a system because you figure you should have one, or that it will miraculously increase your sales or improve efficiency? The last thing you want to do is implement a system that won’t solve your true problem.

Before you start, it’s important to have a Project Charter. That’s just a fancy word for a document that justifies your intent and sets clear goals and expectations so you don’t get side-tracked.

Basically, the Project Charter will give you these key things that will ensure help towards making a new system a success:

  1. A solid reason for implementing a new system.
  2. A budget and timelines to work towards.
  3. A list of stakeholders (these may be funding partners, employees, senior managers, specific departments, governement agencies etc.)

STEP 2: Identify your MUST HAVES.

In my world, these are called requirements. You can call them whatever you want… but make sure you write them down clearly. It does take a bit of practice to get this right, and there are different ways of doing them. Keep in mind that once you get to Step 4, you’ll need to determine which of your potential solutions meets these needs. They should make sense to you and the project. ‘Business Analysts use ‘user stories’, but for small businesses, I’d say it’s sufficient to just state what your needs are keeping in mind that each ‘must have’ should be:

  • Unambiguous
  • Testable (verifiable)
  • Clear (concise, terse, simple, precise)
  • Correct
  • Understandable
  • Feasible (realistic, possible)
  • Independent
  • Necessary
  • Not specific to any vendor

There is no limit to the number of requirements you can probably come up with. In fact, I’ve worked on projects with thousands of requirements. But keep it simple and manageable. Come up with as many as you can and as many as are relevant to the size of your overall project. I’d say 20 to 30 is a good starting point for most small businesses.

Some examples of good requirements:

  • Must cost under $10,000 to implement.
  • Must be available on mobile devices (Apple and Android).
  • Should cost under $5,000 a year to maintain.
  • Must be able to track historical data for up to 10 years.
  • Ability to have an audit trail of all transactions.
  • Store up to 1T of data in the cloud.

STEP 3: Narrow Your Criteria.

Once you have your list of requirements, go back and look at the list above and re-evaluate them. Identify which are truly must-haves, and which are nice-to-haves. Keep the list for reference in Step 5 and for future implementation. Pick your top 10 critical ones (give or take a few, no one is going to check up on you.).

Create a chart with all the criteria listed in the first column, and then all the systems you’re planning to evaluate in the top cell of the table like this:

CriteriaSystemASystemBSystemCSystemDSystemE
Under $10,000to implementYESYESYESNOYES
Has 1T storageYESNONOYESYES

STEP 4: Evaluate systems that meet your criteria.

Using the requirements you listed in step 3, start evaluating various systems and fill out the chart. Hmm.. I bet you’re wondering, “But where do I find the systems in the first place?!” How can you know which ones to consider in the first place? Depending on what kind of system you are looking for, there are two sites that could be useful (in addition to a Google Search of course):

  1. https://www.capterra.com/
  2. https://www.getapp.com

These sites both let you search for and compare different options and even let you refine your search by your criteria. Also, be sure to look at the reviews. You may want to add a row for that in your chart. It’s not just about evaluating the software solution, but also the vendor and support you will get post-implementation.

You can also use social sites like LinkedIn or specific Facebook Groups related to your industry or need to ask for recommendations. Networking is a great way to get some ideas of what is already working for others.

Fill out the chart above with the information you find from these sites, as well as the company websites. More detailed requirements may not be easily identifiable. Don’t be afraid to ask for a demo, sign up for a free trial or speak to a sales representative to get more information… just don’t sign anything yet!

STEP 5: Make a decision.

By this point, that is all that is left to do. You have taken the time to give each step it’s due diligence, and now you can rest assured that you have all the necessary information to make an educated, well-informed decision. That said… don’t get stuck in the process. Sometimes, we can keep refining and refining our requirements or adding more alternatives to our list and it gets harder to move past that. Sometimes, good enough, can be enough.

Gather your stakeholders to help you make a final decision. Not only can they provide valuable insight, but if any of them need to be users of the new system, it will help to have their buy-in early on. No one likes change… unless they are at an arcade…. in the 80’s!

No system will match all your needs perfectly, but the right system should be a perfect match for your organization… kind of like finding your life partner. A new system can be a big commitment too. Hopefully, these steps will help you decide which is best for you.

Now get ready for Implementation!