The modern world has an endless variety of communication options. And yet, it's never been easier to silo information. Part of the issue comes from the ever-increasing quantity of information that companies are juggling.
But the other side of the coin is the way that this information is managed. Instant messages, emails, and phone calls can help to some extent. But that's not enough anymore. Remote work, different time zones, and flexible work schedules are making it harder for teams to communicate on a daily basis.
Here are three creative solutions to help unpack your siloed data and get your company's information flowing again in the name of greater efficiency.
1. Improve Inter-Software Communication
If you want to improve efficiency by removing silos, start by attacking the root of the problem: the siloed data itself.
A huge part of the information silo issue is the growing quantity of software solutions used by a single company. Everything from collaboration to accounting, supply chain management, and customer service incorporate a variety of softwares.
Many of these are cloud-based, but others remain on-site. This complex amalgamation can lead to information being "stuck" in a certain program that can't communicate the data to another API endpoint in a company's system.
One way softwares can communicate with each other is through an IPaaS (integration platform as a service) solution. IPaaS software enables companies to create integrations between cloud and on-site apps. This develops and deploys data flows that didn't previously exist, allowing information to flow more freely through an organization.
There are a growing number of IPaaS options available. Some of these are even pushing the envelope by integrating automation into their platforms, making the task of inter-app communication within a company that much easier.
2. Codify Your Human Communication Protocols, Too
IPaaS solutions are a great start to removing siloed information. However, there's only so much software can do if human activity is working against it. It's simply too easy for human error to hinder the flow of information (and by extension, reduce efficiency.)
This has never been more true than in a remote-first world where everything from workspaces to time zones vary within an organization's staff. In order to counter this, it's important for management to establish crystal clear communication protocols. This includes:
Making sure that every one of your staff members has the same communication software;
Creating IT initiatives to keep all of your software updated and secure;
Maintaining a detailed employee handbook that outlines how employees are to use your company's infrastructure to interact with one another.
By codifying your communication procedures, you give your staff recourse if they find that they don't have the information they need at any given moment. If they know that they have to use a platform like Slack to reach the boss or Zoom to request a video meeting, it can streamline the information-sharing process.
3. Create a Central Information Databank
Another way to reduce information silos is to create central repositories for the information itself. With hybrid and remote work becoming the norm, it's important that this central information storehouse or central management system be set up in the cloud.
The good news is that there's plenty of tech out there to address this need. In many cases, it could be something as simple as setting up a company DropBox or Google Drive space where employees can access widely needed resources.
Workflow platforms like Asana and Trello are also great options for data sharing. Cards can be created for tasks and projects. Then, employees and managers can attach relevant information to those specific areas of the platform for easy-access future reference.
If you handle sensitive information on a regular basis, you can still find ways to share siloed information. For example, you can use virtual data rooms to share important data, forms, documents, and other resources only with the specific parties privy to the information.
Keep Everyone on the Same Page
The modern work world is in a constant state of evolution. As the tools, methods, and settings of the workspace change, it's important to take steps to keep important information available. Maintaining both app-to-app and human-to-human communication is key. Central file-sharing tools are also helpful, as are competent scheduling apps.
As long as you're willing to adapt to your current situation, you can always find a way to keep the information flowing. If you can do that, you can keep your operation running at peak efficiency, no matter what the circumstances.