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  • Writer's pictureEric Doherty

Business at the Speed of Light

Updated: May 20, 2023

Strategies for Efficient Work in a Technology Company


Introduction


In today's fast-paced business world, technology companies are constantly striving to innovate and stay ahead of the competition. To achieve success, the executive team and employees need to manage their time efficiently and make informed decisions. This article provides strategies and tools for individuals wishing to maximize their productivity and efficiency, including the Eisenhower Matrix for prioritizing tasks, setting SMART goals, applying critical thinking in decision-making, managing to-do lists with Microsoft To-Do, effective use of software tools for informed decision making and research, planning and scheduling, and applying the 80/20 rule to identify the most critical tasks.


Additionally, this article offers best practices for effective communication and collaboration, including setting clear agendas for meetings, utilizing Microsoft and Atlassian tools for business process automation, and adopting best practices for email and Microsoft Teams communication.


By implementing these strategies and tools, you can streamline your work processes and achieve success in your role. Personally, I don’t get it right all the time and I need to improve with email, MS Teams, BPA and planning meetings but when I apply these listed strategies my productivity and effectiveness is greatly enhanced.


Prioritizing with the Eisenhower Matrix


Time management is a crucial component of success in any business. However, in a technology company, where innovation is the name of the game, it becomes even more important. The Eisenhower Matrix is a powerful tool that can help employees prioritize tasks according to their importance and urgency. The matrix involves dividing tasks into four categories: urgent and important, important but not urgent, urgent but not important, and neither urgent nor important.


The first category, urgent and important, should be addressed immediately. These tasks are critical to the success of the business, and they need to be dealt with urgently. The second category, important but not urgent, should be given more time and attention than the urgent but not important category, which can be delegated or postponed. Finally, the tasks in the last category, neither urgent nor important, should be avoided or eliminated altogether, as they do not contribute to the company's goals.


Setting SMART Goals


Setting clear and achievable goals is essential for employees to stay motivated and focused on your objectives. One way to ensure that goals are effective is by using the SMART criteria. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Specific goals are those that are clearly defined and leave no room for ambiguity. This helps to ensure us understand what is expected of and we can focus our efforts accordingly. Measurable goals are those that can be quantified and tracked over time. This allows us to see our progress and make adjustments if necessary.


Achievable goals are those that are realistic and can be attained with the resources available. Setting unrealistic goals can lead to frustration and a sense of failure, which can demotivate us. Relevant goals are those that align with the overall objectives of the company. This ensures that employees are working towards a common purpose and helps to prioritize their efforts.


Finally, time-bound goals are those that have a specific deadline for completion. This helps to create a sense of urgency and ensures that employees stay on track. Using the SMART criteria is an effective way to set clear and achievable goals for employees in a technology company. By setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals, employees can stay motivated and focused on their objectives, which can lead to increased productivity and success.


By setting SMART goals, employees can prioritize tasks that help them achieve those goals, keeping them focused on what's essential.


Using Critical Thinking in Decision-Making


Effective decision-making is a key driver of success. However, making good decisions in this fast-paced and rapidly evolving industry can be challenging. This is where critical thinking comes in – a process that involves analysing information, evaluating options, and making informed decisions based on evidence and logical reasoning.


Critical thinking is particularly important in technology companies because the decisions made today can have significant implications for the future. To make the best decisions, employees need to think critically and assess the potential consequences of different options.


One way to improve critical thinking skills is to seek out diverse perspectives. By considering different viewpoints, employees can gain a better understanding of the problem and identify potential solutions that may not have been obvious at first. Additionally, questioning assumptions and biases can help to uncover hidden assumptions or beliefs that may be influencing decision-making.


Another important aspect of critical thinking is using data and research to inform decisions. Technology companies have access to vast amounts of data, which can be leveraged to gain insights and make informed decisions. By using data-driven insights, employees can reduce bias and increase the likelihood of success.


Critical thinking is an essential skill for effective decision-making in a technology company. By incorporating critical thinking into your decision-making process, employees can make informed and effective choices that benefit both the company and customers.


Managing To-Do Lists with Microsoft To-Do


Microsoft To-Do is a simple, easy-to-use task manager that helps you keep track of everything on your plate. With this app, you can create tasks and set due dates for them; organize them into different categories; add notes and attachments to each task; share your lists with others; and more.


Microsoft To-Do is available for free on iOS (iPhone/iPad), Android devices or the web at https://www.microsoftto-do.com/. I use this extensively and love how it synchs to your smart phone. I run three lists, personal, business and a side business with it. You can set reminders, due dates, and reoccurring task. There is absolutely no excuse for missing a task if you use this tool.


5) Using Artificial Intelligence Tools


Artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT can be used to assist in the creative process and to help solve business problems.


These tools are now 4th generation and use natural language processing to generate responses to prompts, making them useful for brainstorming and fleshing out ideas. However, it's essential to be cautious when using generated responses, as they may not always be accurate or appropriate.


Be assured though that all your competitors are using them and if used effectively they can accelerate your productivity. It takes about 2-3 months of use to effectively learn the correct use of “prompts” to get the most out of these tools.


Cautions when Using Generated Responses

· The old adage “rubbish in, rubbish out” is entirely true when it comes to these tools.

· It's essential to craft well-crafted prompts and iterate on the responses to produce the best results.

· Additionally, employees must be cautious of relying too heavily on AI tools and not using their own critical thinking skills.

· The current data suggest these tools are only 80% accurate and do not do arithmetic or maths very well. I have yet to use a generated response in it's original form. I always must edit, add and delete but it can save you a lot of time.

· When doing research on topics that you are not an expert on don't just regurgitate the generated response, run it past your friends, acquaintances or colleagues who are and refine the content.

· These tools only use data indexed up to 2021 and so a lot of information is out of date and not current. There are a few paid versions that have more up to date indexing of content.


Turbo Charge Data Analysis with Excel Pivot Tables


For employees in a technology company like analysing data can be an important part of their job. Excel spreadsheets are commonly used to store and organize data, but analysing large amounts of data can be time-consuming and overwhelming. This is where pivot tables come in – a powerful tool that allows users to quickly identify and analyse data in Excel spreadsheets.


Pivot tables allow users to summarize and manipulate large amounts of data quickly and easily. Users can group data by specific categories, such as time periods or product types, and analyse the data based on those categories. Pivot tables can also perform calculations, such as summing, averaging, and counting data.


One of the benefits of pivot tables is their flexibility. Users can easily modify pivot tables by adding or removing categories, changing calculations, or adjusting the layout. This makes pivot tables a valuable tool for analysing complex data sets.


To create a pivot table, users can simply select the data they want to analyse and click on the “Insert Pivot Table” button. From there, they can drag and drop categories into the pivot table and customize the layout and calculations as needed.


Pivot tables are a valuable tool for employees who need to analyse large amounts of data quickly and efficiently. By using pivot tables, employees can gain valuable insights into their data and make informed decisions based on that analysis.


The current CEO of technology company listed on the ASX taught me how to do this 20 years ago when I was running a P&L for the NSW division of a network management company. The skill "saved my bacon" a few times as it helped me identify issues before they became a problem.


Planning Your Week


In a technology company, where deadlines are often tight and schedules can be unpredictable, planning your week can help you stay focused and organised. By taking the time to map out your schedule and priorities, you can ensure that you are allocating your time effectively and efficiently.


To start, consider your goals for the week. What tasks and projects need to be completed? Are there any upcoming deadlines or meetings that require your attention? By identifying these priorities, you can better allocate your time and ensure that you are working towards your most pressing objectives.


Once you have identified your priorities, it's time to schedule time blocks for specific tasks. This involves assigning a specific time slot to each task on your to-do list. For example, if you have a report due at the end of the week, you may want to schedule several hours each day to work on it. Similarly, if you have a meeting scheduled, you'll want to block out the necessary time for preparation and attendance.


It's important to be realistic when scheduling your time blocks. Be sure to give yourself enough time to complete each task, and allow for breaks and unexpected interruptions. Remember that unforeseen circumstances can arise, so it's always a good idea to build some flexibility into your schedule.


Setting deadlines for completing tasks can also be helpful in keeping you on track. By assigning a deadline to each task, you can better prioritize your workload and ensure that you are making progress towards your goals.


Applying the 80/20 Rule


The 80/20 Rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, is a useful tool for maximizing your productivity. The principle states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. In other words, by identifying the tasks that contribute the most to your goals, you can focus on those tasks and achieve better results.


The Pareto principle was developed by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto in 1896. Pareto observed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by only 20% of the population.


To apply the 80/20 Rule, start by identifying the 20% of tasks that are most critical to your success. These are the tasks that will have the greatest impact on your goals and should be prioritized accordingly. Once you have identified these tasks, allocate more time and resources towards them.


For example, if you are working on a software development project, you may find that 20% of the features are critical to the success of the project. By focusing on those features first, you can ensure that you are making progress towards your most important goals.


Business Process Automation


Business process automation (BPA) is the use of technology to streamline and automate business processes. It can save time, reduce errors, and improve efficiency. Most individuals should have access to the investments your company has made, we use Microsoft and Atlassian software as they are a popular choice for BPA in technology companies. Most of you should be familiar with them but here’s how they can help.


Microsoft offers a suite of tools that can automate various aspects of business processes. For example, Microsoft Power Automate can automate workflows across various apps and services. It can automatically trigger actions based on specific events, such as sending an email when a new file is added to a SharePoint folder. Microsoft Power BI can automate the process of creating and sharing reports.


Atlassian offers a range of tools that can also help automate business processes. For example, Jira is used by us to automate issue tracking and project management, while Confluence automates documentation and collaboration, and Trello can automate task management and organization.


By using these tools to automate business processes, you can save time and be more efficient. They can reduce the need for manual intervention, which can reduce errors and improve accuracy. This can lead to faster turnaround times, better customer satisfaction, and increased productivity.


In addition, BPA can also help you better manage resources. By automating routine tasks, individuals can focus on more value-added activities that require human intervention. This can lead to increased job satisfaction and better retention rates.


Overall, business process automation using tools from Microsoft, Atlassian and others is a game-changer for technology companies. It can help you to stay competitive, improve efficiency, and increase profitability. I am not saying there are not other tools out there but these are the ones I am currently using.


Best Practice in scheduling, planning, and attending meetings.


Meetings are an essential part of business operations, allowing teams to collaborate, share ideas, and make important decisions. However, when meetings are not properly organized, they can be a drain on resources and a waste of time. Failing to set a clear agenda can lead to confusion, wasted time, and lost productivity.


One of the biggest culprits of poorly organized meetings is the lack of a clear agenda. Without a clear agenda, attendees may not know what to expect or how to prepare. Additionally, meetings that do not have a clear agenda can often run over time, leading to delays in other important tasks and deadlines.


Not having a clear agenda wastes precious resources, including time, money, and energy. When employees are forced to sit through meetings that are disorganized or unproductive, they become demotivated and less engaged. This can lead to a decrease in overall job satisfaction, as well as a decline in productivity.


If you have a regular reoccurring meeting using BPA tools such as Trello that manages tasks and collaboration then an agenda is not usually required but for most other meetings at least have a clear objective set for the meeting.


The agenda should include the meeting's objectives, a list of topics to be discussed, and any materials that need to be reviewed beforehand. Setting a clear agenda helps attendees to prepare and know what to expect, which can lead to a more productive and engaging meeting.


Poorly organized meetings are a waste of precious resources in a technology company. To make the most of meetings, to set clear objectives and expectations, communicate effectively, and ensure that all attendees are engaged and prepared.


Effective Use of Email


In today's fast-paced business environment, email is an essential tool for communication. However, the sheer volume of emails that employees receive daily can be overwhelming, leading to lost productivity and missed opportunities. To maximize the effectiveness of email communication, there are best practices that we should be aware of to promote clear, concise, and efficient communication.


Firstly, employees should be encouraged to keep emails brief and to the point. This means avoiding unnecessary details and getting straight to the message. Additionally, the subject line of an email should accurately reflect the content of the email and grab the recipient's attention.


Another important best practice is to use proper formatting, including bullet points, paragraphs, and headings. This can help make the email more readable and easier to understand. Additionally, employees should use proper grammar and spelling to ensure that their emails are clear and professional.


Furthermore, employees should be mindful of the tone and language used in their emails. It's important to be always polite and professional, avoiding confrontational or emotional language. This can help avoid misunderstandings and maintain positive relationships with colleagues and clients.


If someone is not doing their job or negatively effecting your ability to execute on a task though it is absolutely within your remit to remind them of their responsibility or alternatively escalate it to your manager. Remember the person involved may have a personal issue or a conflicting task so tread carefully.


In addition, employees should avoid unnecessary cc'ing or forwarding of emails, as this can lead to cluttered inboxes and confusion. It's important to only include relevant parties in email chains to minimize the number of emails received.


Finally, employees should be encouraged to regularly check and respond to emails, but also to set boundaries and avoid being constantly distracted by incoming messages. This can help employees stay focused and productive throughout the workday.


Effective use of email is crucial for communication in technology companies. By adopting best practices that promote clear and efficient communication, employees can save time, increase productivity, and maintain positive relationships with colleagues and clients.


Effective use of Microsoft Teams


As remote work becomes increasingly prevalent since Covid-19, the importance of effective collaboration tools for technology companies has become more apparent. Microsoft Teams is one of our chosen communication and collaboration software allowing us to work together seamlessly, no matter where we are located. However, to get the most out of Teams, it's important for us to adopt best practices that promote efficient and effective collaboration.


Firstly, it's important to establish clear guidelines for how Teams should be used in the workplace. This includes setting expectations for how often employees should check Teams, which channels should be used for specific types of communication, and how to properly tag and notify team members. Clear guidelines can help ensure that employees are using Teams efficiently and effectively.


Additionally, it's important to establish clear roles and responsibilities within Teams. This means designating owners for specific channels or projects, establishing clear deadlines and expectations, and ensuring that team members are aware of their responsibilities. By establishing clear roles and responsibilities, Teams can become a more efficient tool for collaboration.


Another important best practice is to regularly check and update Teams to ensure that conversations are up to date and relevant. This means removing inactive members, archiving channels that are no longer relevant, and regularly reviewing chat logs to ensure that nothing has been missed.


Furthermore, it's important to utilize the many features that Teams has to offer, such as file sharing, screen sharing, and video conferencing. By taking advantage of these features, employees can work together more seamlessly and efficiently.


Conclusion


As technology continues to advance at an unprecedented pace, businesses must keep up with the rapid changes occurring around them. In a technology company individuals must prioritize tasks, set clear and achievable goals, make informed decisions, manage their to-do lists, use software tools to their advantage, delegate tasks when necessary, and more. By implementing strategies such as the Eisenhower Matrix, setting SMART goals, using critical thinking, and applying the 80/20 Rule, employees can prioritize their work and focus on the most critical tasks. Additionally, business process automation using tools like Microsoft and Atlassian can save time, reduce errors, and improve efficiency.


Moreover, poorly organized meetings can waste precious resources, including time, money, and energy. Failing to set a clear agenda can lead to confusion, wasted time, and lost productivity. By following best practices, individuals can avoid wasted time and resources and achieve their objectives efficiently.


As I said, I don’t get it right all the time and I need to improve in my use of email, MS Teams and planning meetings but when I take the time to apply the above strategies my productivity and effectiveness is greatly enhanced. Lead by example and you find "magic" will happen as your peers, managers and direct reports try and catch up.

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