A Shortcut To The Skills: Areas Where Outsourcing Can Really Save You Time And Money

As a business that is constantly looking forward, we’ve all got to embrace the latest trends, albeit to an extent. Whether we’ve gone analog and we’re embracing a new era of digital transformation, or we’re looking to round off the edges, the latest trends don’t necessarily mean the best for our business. Outsourcing is one of those things that, understandably, we all look upon with some form of trepidation. Some think outsourcing rids businesses of their personality, but outsourcing, for numerous startups, can save an infinite amount of time and money. Let’s show you how.

The Ever-Changing Technological Landscape

Because technology progresses at such a rate, the race can be hard to keep up with. These days, as there are so many different IT consulting firms, such as cyberjaz.net, we can choose the right company to partner up with, so they can guide us with a steady hand through these changes. For those people who aren’t able to acquire the skills of workers in-house, outsourcing to an IT support company can make the processes easier to handle.

Content Marketing

Creating content that is easy to absorb by potential customers is a fine art, because it can come across as being a bit too commercial-esque in the wrong hands. And when we haven’t got the time to learn how best to develop our voice, we have to outsource to a content marketing company that has the strategies in place that lends themselves well to your brand. The goal is always the same- to sell products- but we have to do it in such a way that it doesn’t seem like you are relying on sales and leads. We have to generate leads but we have to start relationships with our customers.

Bookkeeping

You may think it’s easier to manage all of the tasks yourself. After all, when you are a novice startup, it’s cheaper! But because the balancing of many plates can result in a dip in productivity, outsourcing to a bookkeeping company isn’t just taking advantage of their expertise, but it’s offloading the more mundane and stressful tasks. Your business needs adequate accounts and documents to support every item of expenditure, and while there are many reasons to not use outsourced bookkeeping services, accountingdepartment.com provides a solid argument for you to use them. You can’t be too careful when it comes to your money. After all, it’s a legal requirement that you keep everything in order.

Outsourcing isn’t a bad word anymore, and it is certainly a way for us to take advantage of the resources out there when we can’t complete certain tasks ourselves. Put simply, outsourcing gives you the opportunity to look at the skills you don’t have, and give the tasks to those that do. From content marketing to bookkeeping and the complicated minefield that is technology, we’ve got so many aspects to outsource. But these things can save us so much time, not to mention money. We could spend years finding the right people to benefit our business, but we have to pay them a full wage. Outsourcing is a great shortcut to the skills.

5 Ways to Prevent Employee Burnout

Employee burnout is visible in numerous ways in all levels of your workplace hierarchy. It is most commonly associated with fatigued workers who work overtime regularly and who rarely take a day off. However, it can also be expressed in general job dissatisfaction, intense levels of stress, anger, cynicism or other negative emotions. Some workers may struggle with the inability to cope with seemingly minor stressors or inconveniences. As an employer, the impact of burnout can be felt throughout your operations. Burnout can result in decreased productivity and efficiency, a lower customer satisfaction rating, a declining employee retention rate and other consequences that you understandably want to avoid.

Understanding the Causes of Employee Burnout

Before you can determine the best ways to prevent employee burnout in your company, you need to understand its many causes. Long hours and long to-do lists are only some of several common causes. In many cases, multiple causes contribute to a serious issue rather than only one factor. For example, workers may also feel burnt out and overworked when they have too many responsibilities or when they lack the support and resources necessary to complete their tasks efficiently. Managerial oversight, conflicts with coworkers and other sources of stress may also contribute to burnout.

Effective Ways to Prevent Burnout in Your Workplace

Now that you understand what some of the many causes of employee burnout are, you can take smart steps to reduce its impact on your workforce. These are some of the more effective ways to prevent employee burnout in your workplace:

1. Assign a Realistic Workload

Managers are responsible for assigning a reasonable volume of work to each employee. Some managers see hardworking employees as workhorses who can handle more tasks than others. However, these individuals may work so hard or for longer hours than necessary because they feel intense stress and pressure to get their tasks completed. This stress is combined with an ever-expanding to-do list. Regardless of how efficient your employees seem to be, all employees should be assigned a realistic workload and should be able to complete their tasks within a reasonable number of hours each week.

2. Promote an Effective Work-Life Balance

Some employees may feel burnt out when they work too much and seemingly have minimal time to enjoy life on their own terms or to spend with family and friends. All employees should have ample time away from the office to exercise, to relax, to get an adequate amount of sleep at night, to tackle personal responsibilities and to maintain healthy relationships with friends and family. To promote an effective work-life balance in your team, consider allowing telecommuting periodically. Allow your team to use their paid time off on their own terms and without guilt. Consider offering additional paid time off beyond what is considered to be standard as a perk.

3. Encourage Employees to Disconnect Regularly

Today’s workers are increasingly connected to work activities wherever they go. They may immediately feel stress related to work activities as soon as they wake up and look at their phone. Emails, text messages and more may require attention throughout most waking hours. Their commute to and from work, their lunch hour and their evenings may also be impacted by their connectedness. Essentially, they are always on-duty even during their time away from the office. While you understandably want to maximize the benefits of technology in the workplace, encourage your team to turn off their devices at reasonable hours and on their days off. Work tasks can usually wait until normal business hours.

4. Invest in Efficiency-Based Technology

Workers may easily feel overwhelmed by their to-do list when each task is a struggle to complete. Numerous technological innovations are available that can bolster efficiency and help your team members to be more effective in their positions. These innovations are related to communication, project management, collaboration and more. Talk to your team about aspects of their positions that they struggle with. Then, explore available technology that may improve their work lives dramatically. Because technology continues to be improved, walk through this important step periodically for ongoing benefits.

5. Incorporate Relevant Perks and Benefits

Adding strategic perks and benefits may also improve your workplace in substantial ways. There is a cost associated with some of these perks, but you may discover that the expense is recouped in meaningful ways. For example, you can bring in a massage therapist to give chair massages to your team one day each month. You may host a potluck lunch to break up the monotony of the workday. Create an employee-of-the-month system that gives one person a prime parking space each month. This provides your team with recognition for their hard work and contributions. Perks and benefits can each have different impacts on your team, so a smart idea is to create a full list of combined benefits. These may transform your workplace culture with incredible results.

If your team is feeling burnt out, there is a good chance that you are as well. It can be challenging to find time in your busy work schedule to focus on improving the lives of your team, but this is an essential step that requires ample attention. After all, everything from productivity to turnover, customer satisfaction and more are at stake. Consider taking small, steady steps toward improving your work environment in these and other effective ways. Your employees and your business will benefit from the effort.

Joe Peters is a Baltimore-based freelance writer and an ultimate tech enthusiast. When he is not working his magic as a marketing consultant, this incurable tech junkie enjoys reading about the latest apps and gadgets and binge-watching his favorite TV shows. You can reach him @bmorepeters

How Digital Transformation is Shaping Industries

Nowadays, we live in a primarily digital world. Almost everything has transferred online or became digitized these days. The fact of the matter is that technological innovations and advancements are disrupting industries left and right. Simply put, modern technology is forcing industries to take on a new approach, in order to remain relevant in the market, as well as remain efficient. However, technology isn’t the only reason industries must consider a digital approach.

As a matter of fact, it’s the consumers and their purchasing habits and behavior, as well as their tendency to follow the latest trends that also forces industries to adapt. If you don’t adapt, in order to meet consumer expectations and needs, your competitors will most definitely outrun you. Companies across various industries must simply develop a more consumer-centric solution, in order to continue providing a seamless customer experience. That being said, here are a few ways how digital transformation is shaping industries.

Chasing a competitive advantage

Newest innovations on the market are always regarded by companies as an opportunity to outrun competitors. The main reason so many companies across various industries are prioritizing digitalization is that it may allow them to gain a competitive advantage. It only takes a single business to disrupt an entire industry and drastically change the rules simply by adopting a new technology or developing a new approach.

That’s why most companies are in one way or another prioritizing digitalization. As a matter of fact, 47% of company CEOs stated that they are being pushed towards adopting a digital approach for their business by their board of directors while 56% stated that their business digitalization efforts are already increasing company profits. In essence, while some companies are considering digitalization others are already implementing new strategies and approaches. In other words, the digital transformation is bound to happen across various industries sooner or later.

Improving efficiency

The fact that every industry is about to experience a digital transformation is evident. Even the industries that are less likely to consider digitalization, such as oil and gas sector are in fact, doing so. Resource exploration industry has so far avoided digitalization but even they have to adapt to modern trends and innovations. The main reason is that a digital approach enables the oil and gas sector to improve efficiency, reduce operational costs and streamline entire processes, among other things.

That being said, oil extraction professionals that are keeping up with the latest technology have implemented an ecommerce solution. As a matter of fact, reliable oilfield equipment zone essentials can be easily bought and acquired online, thus reducing the downtime and maintenance costs for mission-critical equipment on the field. Not only that but artificial intelligence and automation are also making their way into the resource exploration industry, helping operators streamline the processes of detection and exploitation of natural resources.

Meeting consumer demands

As mentioned before, consumer habits are oftentimes one of the main reasons why industries and companies develop a new approach. After all, if you’re not relevant to your customers you will lose a battle to your competitors. Consumer demand for increased and improved connectivity, as well as their increasing interest in smart devices and IoT (Internet of Things), has already made an impact on various businesses ranging from retail to ecommerce and so on. These demands have made their way even to the automotive industry.

Nowadays, one of the rising trends in this industry is self-driving and highly connected vehicles. Therefore, the cars of the future won’t be able to fly anytime soon but they will surely be able to drive themselves. Vehicle manufacturers and sales dealerships are also adopting a digital approach for their consumers. As a matter of fact, 75% of consumers who are interested in buying a vehicle will conduct their research online. Moreover, a digital approach in the automotive industry is also there to serve new consumer needs, especially since 56% of millennials would rather avoid interacting with salespeople in person.

Reshaping the logistics

The distribution and logistics industry is also experiencing vast changes due to the digital transformation. Logistics and distribution providers are practically being forced to adopt a new approach because their clients are doing so as well. For example, retail and ecommerce sectors are leveraging the newest technology to its fullest potential, thus making numerous promises to their customers, such as next-day or even same-day delivery, in order to boost customer experience. Also, manufacturers in the automotive industry want materials delivered at the right time for production, in order to avoid having to store materials around.

These demands force distribution and logistics providers to step up their game and deliver on their clients’ expectations. Even though logistic providers aren’t part of major brands per se, they still feel responsible for representing those brands through their services. Therefore, as manufacturers and retailers implement their digital approaches, distribution and logistics providers must become an extension of their clients’ brands, in order to remain competitive and relevant.

The world is already reshaped by the digital era and it continues to be transformed. As technology continues to advance, the increasing need for new solutions challenges various industries. Even the industries that are reluctant to transform will eventually have to do so. That is if they wish to remain successful and competitive in the market.

Guest author, Raul Harman, is a B.Sc. in Innovative entrepreneurship and has a lot to say about innovations in all aspects of digital technology and online marketing. While he’s not enjoying football and great food, you can find him on Technivorz.com

Simple Tips on How to Better Organize Your Office

Our office environment has a profound impact on how we work. In a well-organized space, there is a place for everything and everything is in its place. You are able to tackle your obligations with minimum stress and setbacks, making strides toward set goals.

To make it happen, embrace a zero-tolerance policy to everything that disrupts the workflow and impedes your performance. In other words, you have to find a way to banish all the mess, distractions, and clutter. Here are some actionable tips you can implement fuss-free, without going out of your way.

Plan ahead of time

It always takes a bit of planning, commitment and perseverance to get things under control. The scope of work might seem intimidating at first, but remember that it pays dividends in the long run. What is more, you can break it down into manageable bits by working out a solid plan. After all, office organization is not a one and done activity. You need to commit to doing it every day. In that case, you foster a change with 5-10 minutes of daily bursts.

Distinguish between different work zones

Recognize that the office contains different zones that accommodate various activities. The main distinction is between the computer (desktop) and non-computer work areas. So, take your time to envision a more productive office through the lenses of this divide and conquer principle. At this point, it also helps to do some rearranging. Namely, try to figure out a more optimal furniture layout. That way, you can gain more space without actually throwing anything out.

Assess storage needs

Another key to success is ample storage space, which is paramount to your organization efforts. So, do a thorough inventory and assess how much space you need. Every little bit of storage counts, regardless of how small or big it is. That being said, in order to make a real difference, you do want to opt for heavy-duty commercial storage solutions. Do your homework and find products that meet specific industry requirements and environmentally-friendly standards.

Accommodate your work habits

Bear in mind that your choices depend on your work style and the type of tasks you need to perform. For example, in case you like moving around a lot, you can ponder off-the-desk management tools. Here, you should strive to maximize the vertical dimension and go for wall-mounted solutions such as floating shelves and double-decker files. On the other hand, a desk drawer is an excellent place for stuff that should be both out of sight and fairly accessible.

May the purge begin

The next thing to do is to take a good look around the office and weed out clutter. Yes, it is time for a great purge. Separate important documents and stuff you need on a regular basis from items that only get in your way. Note that you can designate a catch-it space, where you put incoming junk. This is a nice tactic to keep it out of your pristine workstation, where everything must be visible and reachable so that you do not waste time looking for things.

Restore order to your desktop

Speaking of which, you want to take extra time and focus on your desktop surface. Here, you can employ various tools like mason jars, sorters, trays and organizers to keep the swarm of small items and knickknacks at bay. To reduce the amount of paper you deal with every day,adopt the practice of office digitization. Discard all documents that do not need not be filed or digitized, as well as those annoying duplicates.

Conclusion

If you really mean business,you cannot let the chips fall where they may. Evaluate how you work and master the art of de-cluttering your workspace. Know what to get rid of, what to store away, and what to keep within arm’s reach. Blend personal productivity systems with general office organization methods.

This is a basic formula for putting together an impeccable zone of productivity that supports your work style and habits. Applying it to your surroundings, you will be able to get more things done every day and steer clear of productivity pitfalls.

Diana Smith is a full time mom of two beautiful girls interested in latest business news and new social media trends. In her free time she enjoys exercising and preparing healthy meals for her family.

It’s Time To Pay More Attention To These Parts Of Your Business!

When you’re running your own business, it can often feel as though you’re spinning plates. You’re trying to keep everything together but it feels like the moment that you turn your attention to one thing, something else goes wrong. The truth is that this is just a fact of life when you’re a business owner and it’s something that you have to get used to.Sure, there are plenty of things you can do to make life easier but sadly the most common things that a lot of business owners do is to just ignore certain parts of their business that they consider to either be unimportant or that they simply take for granted. If you do that, it’s always going to cause more problems than it solves. With that in mind, here are some parts of your business that you need to stop ignoring.

Your IT solutions

IT is the backbone of pretty much all modern businesses. We live in such a heavily digital world that trying to run any business without IT solutions is just asking to get left in the dust by the competition. Of course, not everyone is going to be an IT expert and trying to deal with it all on your own can often cause more problems than it solves.That’s why it’s so important to find companies that can offer solid IT support to your business. After all, if you’re outsourcing it, you are able to focus your energy elsewhere while ensuring that it’s always being looked after.

Your accounting

Accounting is one of those things that a lot of businesses work incredibly hard to avoid as much as possible. This is often for two reasons. Firstly, accounting is difficult and complicated. And secondly, it can be incredibly boring. Most business owners would rather ignore something quite so dull and would rather focus on the more dynamic aspects of their business. However, just because it’s not that fun doesn’t mean that it’snot incredibly important. If you’re not staying on top of your books then not only could your business end up in financial difficulty, but you could end up in some pretty serious legal hot water to

Accounting is one of those things that a lot of businesses work incredibly hard to avoid as much as possible. This is often for two reasons. Firstly, accounting is difficult and complicated. And secondly, it can be incredibly boring. Most business owners would rather ignore something quite so dull and would rather focus on the more dynamic aspects of their business. However, just because it’s not that fun doesn’t mean that it’snot incredibly important. If you’re not staying on top of your books then not only could your business end up in financial difficulty, but you could end up in some pretty serious legal hot water too.

Employee support

Your employees are the lifeblood of your business and if you’re just treating them like machines who are going to do great work because you pay them every month, you’re letting them and your business down. The truth is that your employees need your care and support in order to feel motivated and happy at work. From rewarding great work to being a little more flexible with them, it’s crucial that you put the effort into making your employees feel supported and cared for as much as possible.

The truth is that you’re almost always going to be in a position where you feel like you’re playing catch up with certain aspects of your business. The key is to make sure that you’re planning and prioritising things carefully without falling into the trap of letting certain things go entirely ignored. Sure, that might sound like a serious challenge but that’s just part and parcel with running a business.

Why You Should Invest in Business Technology

With technological innovations influencing every single part of our lives, there is little doubt left whether it should take its rightful place in the business sphere. Yet, some businesses are still reluctant to invest a considerable portion of their income in technology, and might need a bit of a push. So in order to help you understand why this is not a choice but rather a necessity, here are some essential reasons why you should invest in business technology.

Improved productivity

There is no argument that all businesses are striving towards an improved productivity. And in today’s business world most of it comes from technology. It is no wonder that 81% of business executives in Europe believe AI will impact the overall business functioning in the next four years. And this involves all aspects of business, from manufacturing and distribution to customer support and data entry. According to Forbes, manufacturers will invest $267 billion in IoT by 2020 to improve their product development and manufacturing efforts. This types of automation enabled by the technology will allow for employees to be less burdened by the everyday routine tasks, thus freeing their time and allowing them to focus on resolving more complex issues.

Higher levels of communication quality

The days of fax machines are long gone. Now you can send data and establish communication with just a click of a button on your smartphone. Of course, having a well connected office space is essential for maintaining a higher level of intra-company communication. This is why a lot of businesses turn to trusted providers like Orange for getting company phone networks along with the actual phones.This is just one of the ways to increase and speed up the communication within the company. It is also imperative to acknowledge the value of smartphones, and the effect they have on the speed and quality of communication when it comes to businesses. So it is important to consider investing in both if you want to have clear, undisturbed lines of communication not just with the respected customers but also with your employees.

Better sources of information

Investing in technology can lead to better sources of information when it comes to your customers. This in return leads to improved services and products and increased customer satisfaction which is clearly translated into a higher ROI. For example, big data analytics and real-time data tracking are helping management make informed business decisions. This means that you will be able to provide your customers with products and services tailored to their individual needs, and technology is there to tell you what those needs are. And not only that, it is also important to consider that technology allows companies an unhindered means of communicating with their customers, thus enabling real-time reaction monitoring, which in return can speed up the process of adjusting a certain product or service to the needs of the customers, resulting in a far better response and customer satisfaction.

Better security options

Some might say that the use of technology such as cloud computing and IoT exposes your business to additional treats. But at the same time with the right security plan it can be argued that theses things actually keep your business safe. With cybersecurity being the number one priority, investing in technology related to this aspect of doing business is of absolute priority. This is one aspect that you can’t overlook or put on the back burner, recent statistics have suggested that the average cost of a data breach at a larger firm is £20,000, but  the damage is actually much bigger if you take into consideration the effect a breach can have on customer trust. Now with hackers getting more and more sophisticated, it is important that a company keeps investing in this type of security so as to be able to guarantee the safety of both its data and the data of their customers.

Now, these are just some of the reasons investing in technology is essential for any modern businesses. Apart from increased productivity and communication, the information gathering and data safety present an imperative for any business owner who strives to succeed in this technologically driven business landscape.

Guest Author, Raul Harman, s a B.Sc. in Innovative entrepreneurship and has a lot to say about innovations in all aspects of digital technology and online marketing.  While he’s not enjoying travel, football and great food, you can find him on Technivorz.com.

Should Your Business Consider Chatbots?

The business community has benefited greatly from advancements in digital communication technologies. Today, there’s practically no end to the ways companies and brand representatives can engage with, troubleshoot for, market to or otherwise stay in touch with their fans and customers.

Chatbots are a relatively new addition to a bundle of tools that already included email, video chat, SMS, social networking and more. Chatbots are the next logical step in many ways when it comes to keeping businesses and customers in constant and easy contact. But they’re not for everybody. Below are some of the advantages of — plus one or two warnings about — chatbots to help you decide if it’s the right time and the right tool for your company.

What’s a Chatbot?

This word is one of those terms that pretty much gives it all away up front: A chatbot is an audio-based or text-based assistant that can autonomously help customers find answers to questions, troubleshoot problems or carry out other business-related tasks, such as ordering or re-ordering products, changing payment information, inquiring about or renewing subscriptions and memberships and much more.

Command-based chatbots are relatively rudimentary but still deceptively “intelligent.” They can respond to customer inquiries using heuristics that match replies with the most relevant topics or sub-menus for the customer.

On the other hand, AI-based chatbots are more sophisticated but also have a further way to go before they’re available to a wider array of businesses and more consistently able to reply accurately to any inquiry. But chatbots powered by AI are undoubtedly already showing their potential: Thanks to their use of natural language processing, they can reply “from scratch” instead of using canned responses. They can even become better over time at picking up meaning and intent from conversations with human callers.

With the different types of chatbots a little better understood, let’s move on to the main question, which is whether or not chatbots are worth the investment for your business. For a start, some industries are simply a likelier fit than others.

If Chatbots Make Sense for Your Industry

Chatbots are a relatively new concept, but they do already exist out in the wild. And there are several frontrunners when it comes to the types of industries that are well-suited to adopting chatbots. Some of them are:

  • Hospitality
  • Banking and financial services
  • Retail
  • Service-based companies

Based on polling, some 80 percent of business representatives would be interested in bringing chatbots into the fold at their company. But early popularity in the industries mentioned above already indicates which use-cases might yield the best results and return on investment. In hospitality, guests and travelers often require nearly instant solutions for checking into hotels and lodging, boarding airplanes and other conveyances, choosing venues, organizing transportation for meetings and conventions and a multitude of other tasks that have to happen at the speed of business.

In financial services, chatbots can help even regional banks and nonprofit credit unions provide members with account information or help them tailor their retirement or college savings. In retail and services environments, chatbots can pick up some of the slack during high-traffic times of the day or season by taking orders, pointing customers to what they’re looking for and more.

The point is, there might be use cases in your industry, and there might not be. Industries that depend on timely, accurate, always-available customer interactions appear to be early favorites, but as the technology improves, applications will undoubtedly continue to appear almost everywhere.

If You (and Your Customers) Value Time

On the customer and the company side of things, the first major advantage of chatbots is that they’re on standby 24 hours a day and don’t take a single day off during the year, provided there aren’t any technical snafus behind the scenes.

Allowing customers to have their questions answered on their own time is great already, but chatbots also save time for the company by providing an automated solution to the “problem” of answering common inquiries all day long. Both parties can breathe easier. Customers know they won’t have to try their luck calling back during business hours or trawling through a website for answers, and businesses know their employees are a little freer to respond to other, more urgent demands on their time.

There are one or two caveats when it comes to using chatbots in extremely customer-facing industries. Human beings know — or can be trained by locals — to respect cultural taboos and avoid words or phrases that might cause offense in another country or region.

The problem of maintaining cultural propriety during international affairs is not a new problem. But while it seems to make sense to turn chatbots into public liaisons in regions where you don’t have a strong employee presence to process customer calls, those chatbots had better have been developed with linguistic and cultural input from the region they’re intended to serve.

Being mindful of potential cultural frictions and even the subtleties of respectful political correctness is key to successfully using a chatbot to fill in your service gaps here and abroad.

If You Want Additional Insight Into Your User Base

The average interaction between a human customer and a chatbot can yield a surprising amount of information about your user base — too much, potentially, for a human operator to take in all at once, much less record and pass on to interested parties.

A phone conversation is practically analog compared with a chatbot chat when it comes to the potential to take in information from your user base. When your customers interact with your chatbot, with just a couple of simple questions and basic analytics, you’ll come away with a greater understanding of how they use your products, where common sources of frustration are coming from and nitty-gritty details. These details include their location, the device type they’re using to contact you or interact with your services and other factors that might be of interest to your marketing team, your R&D team or both.

Chatbots are here already — and companies are figuring out how best to put them to work. By 2021, say industry experts, the chatbot “market” — including third-party cloud-based chatbot solutions — should reach a total value of $15.8 billion. That’s a ringing endorsement. Just remember that chatbots are a product like any other, and computing their probable ROI isn’t that much different, no matter what else you’re promised by a software vendor. In some cases, the human touch might just be the better choice for your business anyway — you’ll need to decide based on your unique circumstances.

Bio: Nathan Sykes is the editor of Finding an Outlet, a source for the latest in IT and business news and trends.