It’s a common myth that employee monitoring software is for spying on employees and micromanaging how they spend their time at work. In reality monitoring employee computer activity provides companies with the insights they need to understand how their workforce operates. In this article I’ll provide you with examples of how organizations use employee monitoring data to improve their business intelligence.
Make data-informed management decisions
Business data is incredibly powerful for making informed management and business planning decisions. This data allows you to find trends and patterns that allow you to analyze existing business processes and improve them.
Monitor trends in employee productivity
An organization’s historical computer usage data can be integrated into business intelligence tools such as Tableau or BigQuery to gain advanced insights into employee productivity trends. Employee performance monitoring and analytics provide insights on both a granular level (individual users or workgroups) and on a high level (departments, offices, and regions).
- Do we have departments with consistently high utilization rates? Are they overworked? Is there an opportunity to grow the company in this area?
- Are employees making use of the new software/solutions we recently implemented? If not, do employees need more training?
- How engaged are our employees? Do they spend the majority of their time on-task?
- Does the engagement rate of employees naturally decline at this time of year? Why?
By leveraging historical data businesses can better understand productivity and engagement trends throughout their workforce. This data can be combined with the datasets from other tools to produce valuable dashboards that the company uses to answer questions they may otherwise not have enough insight for.
Address disengagement and inefficiencies in the workplace
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It’s perfectly natural for employees to occasionally browse the internet for non-work purposes throughout the workday. So long as employees are meeting their objectives and not causing harm to others this practice is often overlooked entirely.
You trust your employees. You probably don’t care about a modest amount of personal browsing as long as the total time they spend on unrelated tasks isn’t excessive. How do you define excessive usage? Even with a definition in place you can’t measure it without accurate browsing data.
Once a threshold is established, self-monitoring becomes an important practice for keeping personal computer usage within an acceptable range while giving employees the autonomy to manage themselves.
From a business intelligence point of view this very same data can show you which employees or departments consistently spend a significant amount of time on unrelated websites and applications. Consistent excessive browsing may be a sign that employees are underutilized or they may have excess downtime due to undiagnosed bottlenecks. With this data you can start asking the right questions to diagnose the issue at hand and reallocate resources as needed.
Understand how your remote employees work
A remote workforce provides unique management challenges. Monitoring the computer activity of off-site employees helps reduce the visibility gap and provide managers with actionable insights.
- What time periods are our remote workers the most active?
- Are time zone differences reducing the potential for collaboration due to a lack of overlap?
- How much demand is being put on our VPN at a given time? How many logins can we anticipate?
- How do our employees prefer to work – in bursts throughout the week or do they tend to follow a standard schedule?
- Are our employees more productive working from home or in the office?
- How many meetings are held each week and how much time is spent in meetings?
Monitoring remote workers provides organizations with the business intelligence insights they need to make educated resource management decisions. They can see exactly how employees are working and when they typically work so they can adjust their management style accordingly.
Analyze and improve resource use
When you’re in charge of managing a remote team or a large department it can be difficult to get a feel for how well your team is using the resources available to them. Employee monitoring software can generate computer usage reports that help managers understand how their employees are using the internet and computer applications.
See how your team communicates and operates
- Are employees regularly using the team chat platforms we invested in?
- Which do employees use most often – team chat or email?
- Are employees using multiple chat platforms throughout the day? Why?
- Are employees getting the best use of company-provided laptops or are they going unused?
A shocking example of this is TechWiss Inc. They manage a distributed workforce across three different continents. One of their coders was repeatedly missing development milestones and they were faced with uncertainty as to why the developer was underperforming.
After reviewing the application usage data of the lone developer they realized that they weren’t using the company’s team chat platform as expected. When they looked into it they realized that the developer needed training and coaching to learn how to collaborate effectively with the software. The developers application usage history helped make this knowledge gap more apparent and prevented them from slipping through the cracks.
“Shadow IT” – also known as Stealth IT, Client IT, or Fake IT – is any system, solution, or software that’s used by the employees of an organization without the knowledge and approval of the corporate IT department. Research from Everest Group estimates that shadow IT comprises 50% or more of IT spending in large enterprises.
It’s true that unknown and unmanaged applications are a potential security vulnerability, though that’s going to be of more interest to your IT department. From a manager’s perspective, shadow technologies are often productivity boosting solutions that could be officially adopted for everyone’s benefit.
By monitoring computer usage managers can receive an overview of the programs and web-based tools used by their department. This gives them the opportunity to learn about these solutions so they can advocate for their official adoption. Once cleared by the corporate IT department these innovative solutions can be shared within the workgroup.
Software asset management
Tracking application usage is a critical component of an effective software asset management strategy. Underutilized software cost businesses in the US and UK an estimated $34 billion per year. With the increasing popularity of software-as-a-service solutions businesses need to understand the utilization rate of the software they pay for to save on operating expenses.
Application tracking gives you the data you need to determine if existing solutions need to be decommissioned or if a greater volume of licenses are required. For smaller teams much of this data can be readily found through team meetings but as the organization scales the increased visibility offered by computer monitoring software helps the company run leaner by identifying and decommissioning software that is no longer needed.
Upgrading network infrastructure is time consuming and expensive. Oftentimes slow network speeds can be readily diagnosed by monitoring bandwidth usage for excessive consumption. For example, streaming a 4K Ultra HD Netflix video consumes 7GB of data per hour. Rather than investing in costly upgrades the company can provide guidelines for the acceptable use of technology in the workplace.
Bandwidth usage data provides an objective overview of how much bandwidth is consumed, which departments require the most bandwidth, and whether that bandwidth consumption is a result of genuine business need or as a result of a misuse of company resources.
Employee monitoring software collects valuable computer usage data. By integrating this data into existing analytics processes you can gain advanced insights into the behaviors of your entire workforce. These insights help you make data-informed decisions that improve the productivity and future potential of your business.
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