Email is a fine communication method, but it’s not the best way to get things done in your organization. You may be surprised to learn that email is the reason why your employees are not as productive as they should be. In this article, we’ll explore why email is such a huge time waster and how document management software will help you cut back on email clutter.
Email Is a Huge Time Waster
When emails were first used, they seemed to help with productivity. After all, you can send and receive messages instantly without having to pick up a phone. The problem is that email is not the best way to get things done, and it probably never was.
How Much Time Does It Take?
According to Halton Housing Trust, email takes up about 40% of their employees’ time. That means their employees spend more than 3 hours of their workday answering receiving and sending emails. And the time these employees spend on emails is not productive.
Accidental ‘Reply All’ Responses
In the above example, Halton Housing Trust determined that most of the email communications are internal. There are many reasons for this, but one of them is the accidental ‘reply all’ response we’re all familiar with.Instead of replying to the sender only, many email recipients hit reply all without first considering whether everyone really needs to read their reply. And while this can happen with text messaging, too, email clutter is one of the worst offenders.
Creating the Workflow
When email is used to get things done, it takes a long time to create the proper workflow. This is especially true when projects are interdepartmental. Using email means that the receiver will have their own idea of how the task should be completed, which isn’t necessarily what the sender had in mind. There’s often a need for clarification and sometimes the recipient requires additional approval before work can even begin.
The Need for Clarification
Using email to get anything done almost always requires additional emails for clarification. Whether the sender forgot to mention a deadline or how urgent the project was, or whether the tasks need to be done in a specific order, the recipient usually sends another email to verify the sender’s intention.
The Concern with Versioning
When files are sent via email, there is always a problem with versioning. The original file from the recipient is usually renamed by the sender before it is returned via email. Things get more complicated when the work is improved upon or added to later. This results in file names that include “final version” or “version 2.0” which makes it difficult to find the correct and most up-to-date file. For example, can you imagine the consequences when your real estate office uses the wrong contract? That’s where document management software comes in.
It’s Difficult to Collaborate
It’s difficult enough to use email to manage tasks for one of your employees, but it gets really messy when several people are asked to collaborate with each other. In the end, different people may all be working on the same thing while other tasks are left undone. When work is done in steps, it usually takes longer because the team can’t work on the project at the same time without risking overwriting each other’s documents.
It Requires Supervision
When email is used to get things done, a lot of supervision is required. Managers have to make sure employees complete the tasks they were assigned. Employees who need approval from management have to request it (via email) and follow up when they don’t receive it. Using email actually makes it really difficult to get anything done because it’s hard to keep track of every step of the process to ensure the project is completed on time, therein resulting in email clutter.
How Document Management Software Reduces Email Clutter
It’s important to recognize the limitations of email. Even though it seems quick and easy, it’s not the best way to get things done in your organization. Fortunately, you don’t have to go back to in-person meetings to delegate tasks effectively. Instead, you can use document management software (DMS) to increase workplace productivity.
Workflows Are Great for Delegation and Collaboration
One of the best things about DMS is that you can use workflows for delegating tasks to your employees. Instead of sending lengthy emails with complicated instructions, managers can set up a workflow that details exactly how a task should get done. Workflow tasks include all the relevant steps as well as a deadline to help workers prioritize the things that are urgent.
If the work requires collaboration of 2 or more people, even across different departments, workflow tasks drastically reduce the amount of time it takes to get things done. That’s because workflow automatically directs the work to the person responsible for getting it done. This means employees no longer have to keep track of approval requests.
Tasks Are Sent to the Appropriate Person
Workflows eliminate the annoying ‘reply all’ responses because tasks are always sent to the appropriate person. There is no need for everyone in the company to know what everybody else is doing. That’s information overload and email clutter at its worst.
We’re not suggesting that you get rid of email entirely. But if you want your employees to use their time productively, then you should move away from email as a way to get things done.