Today, there are an estimated 70,000 associations in Canada.
However, whether the association caters to public speaking or home building, the CEOs of each and every one of these organizations will all have a common task.
That task? Improving efficiency, a.k.a., doing better what is already being done.
One area where association CEOs can make a real difference regarding efficiency is in the area of team workflow and specific workflow processes.
In this article, we’ll take a look at seven quick wins for streamlining the tasks, interactions and communications that take place in associations on a day-to-day basis, with the help of a few, handy interactive tools.
Quick win one: limit multi-tasking
When budgets are tight and resources are scant, CEOs, senior association executives and their team members can feel like they should be doing two things at once in order to get everything done.
However, research from the University of Michigan suggests that multi-tasking can actually hinder productivity, especially when people switch between complex tasks as opposed to simple ones.
To help people across your association keep things simple and focus on one task at a time, you can encourage the use of distraction-blocking apps.
Here’s the deal:
Apps like SelfControl and Freedom allow users to ban themselves from accessing certain time-sucking websites or accessing their emails for designated chunks of time.
If some of your team members need to spend time writing, there are apps such as FocusWriter that will block out everything on a computer screen except for the area where the writing is taking place.
Quick win two: supercharge meetings
Meetings can drain huge chunks of time from organizations.
There are multiple ways to make meetings more effective. One way is to replace meetings with huddles.
What’s the difference? Huddles take place in a room that’s been set up for efficiency. Some organizations call these “war rooms.”
Often, there are no seats in huddle rooms, because standing meetings have been shown to reduce meeting times by 25 per cent.
Huddle rooms are kitted out with the latest tech, such as top audio and interactive displays.
Interactive displays allow anyone attending the huddle instant access to association documents such as reports, charts and presentations.
Attendees can then manipulate these documents in real time using everything from a pen to the palm of their hand to get their point across quickly and accurately.
Quick win three: speed up communications
Statistics show that, while some people reply to their work emails within two minutes of receiving them, many leave it between 12 and 24 hours before they reply.
However, 12 to 24 hours can be a long time for associations. Especially when you’re in the middle of a fundraising campaign.
One way to simplify the world of internal email communication is to set up instant messaging within an association.
Instant messaging apps such as Slack and Flock allow people from all over an association to communicate with each other in real time, without delay.
CEOs can be in touch with everyone from senior association executives to frontline teams in seconds.
Quick win four: for those essential emails
Surveys show that by using an instant messaging app such as Slack, organizations can cut the number of emails they send internally by more than 48 per cent.
So, what do you do about the other 52 per cent?
Well, there’s tech out there that can make these emails work harder.
Take Boomerang’s productivity software, for example.
It shows users how to schedule emails to go out at optimal times and it can remind you when someone hasn’t responded to an email and prompt you to send a reminder.
The result: increased efficiency and productivity.
Quick win five: tighten recruitment workflow
A recent research paper by Deloitte called Lead or be Led looked into the unique issues facing non-profit associations.
It concluded: One area that can be a major problem for NPOs is recruitment – with associations often being unable to compete with profit entities to attract top talent.
This is where paying attention to recruitment workflow can give associations the advantage.
Carrying out tasks such as CV sifting and interview scheduling can be labour intensive and time-consuming, meaning profit-making businesses with slick and expensive automated recruitment software can often get to the best candidates before you do.
Fortunately, there is an automated recruitment software out there that’s designed for not-for-profits from both a scale and price perspective.
Prices for advertising a single role can be as little as $49 USD with systems such as ApplicantPro.
Quick win six: slicken your social media
Whether it’s the Canadian Association of Mountain Guides or the Association of Graphic Designers, associations exist for the benefit of communities and groups.
So, reaching out to those communities and groups is a fundamental part of day-to-day business.
However, running social media accounts can be a time draining task. It’s even more time consuming if you use multiple platforms, such as Twitter or LinkedIn.
The solution: adopting social media management tools that allow you to schedule content across multiple platforms at one go.
Many solution providers such as HootSuite, Buffer and Later offer discounts for non-profits.
Go the whole nine yards
No matter what sector you’re in, one of the biggest challenges for associations is ensuring everyone involved has the right balance of work.
Ineffective workflow processes can lead to one person having a to-do list that’s as long as their arm, while the person sitting next to them is so bored, they find themselves playing desk golf for an hour every day.
Disproportionate allocation of tasks leads to road bumps in efficiency.
A quick fix?
Introduce a task management app.
Platforms such as Trello and Jira allow you to see what is being worked on and who is working on it in real time so that jobs progress smoothly and efficiently.
Efficiency is essential in associations:
While some corporate businesses act like they have money to burn and time to waste, associations must focus on saving both time and money in order to offer the best service and support to those that rely on them.
Usually, there’s always room for efficiency improvements when it comes to team workflow processes.
Associations can use tools to improve the efficiency of all sorts of workflow processes, including:
- Internal communications
- Social media
- Project management
By improving the efficiency of these processes, association CEOs can both stretch their budgets and find extra time for development and innovation.
About the author
Natalie Harris-Briggs is the VP of Marketing at Avocor. She is an expert in the technology & audio industry with over 20 years’ experience working in sales and marketing for some of the world’s biggest brands. She has a passion for helping companies grow and introducing new technologies on a global scale.