Questions proving costly in the workplace

Questions proving costly in the workplace

If you think you are spending too much of your working week answering questions from colleagues and not enough time on your own work, you could be right.

A new study released by consultant Collaborative Strategies LLC and commissioned by knowledge management software company ePeople found that 32 percent of the typical working week is spent helping answer other people's queries, resulting in huge productivity losses. The study surveyed 157 sales, marketing and finance employees at companies in the US with more than $US50 million in annual revenue.

If managers and team leaders are having the time spent performing their own duties to 68 percent, and the oft-heard claim that they spend two-thirds of their time in meetings, it begs the question, when are they working?

While most questions are easily and speedily dealt with, around 20 percent of questions asked prove difficult and time consuming to answer, according to David Coleman, managing director of Collaborative Studies.

"Eighty percent of questions are low cost, such as FAQs or emails to a CRM agent. It's the 20% when there's a tougher question that takes up 80% of the time. It's that 20% (companies) need to focus on."

A customised knowledge management system can help many organisations share knowledge more effectively, but Coleman says companies have been sluggish when it comes to adopting such technology, despite its obvious advantages.

"Enterprises have been slow to adopt knowledge management technologies, but based on the survey results, they could clearly benefit. There exists a tremendous opportunity for knowledge and expertise management vendors to deliver tangible value to the enterprise."

Overall, the survey results indicate that there is significant room for improving employee productivity in the workplace by providing more efficient ways to answer questions, find expertise or obtain necessary information in a timely fashion. This can result in improved cycle times in completing work tasks and delivering higher quality work products for the organisation.

"With the continued pressures to freeze headcount growth and increase productivity, companies will increasingly look to knowledge management and expertise location technologies," according to Anthony Lye, CEO, ePeople. "Capturing and leveraging enterprise knowledge, expertise and best practices dramatically improves the ability of an organisation to respond faster and more accurately to business-critical situations, such as customer support, team selling activities, professional services engagements and research and development practices."

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