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20 ways managed service providers can increase their team’s productivity by Thomas MacKenzie, CEO, RankedRight

Increasing expectations from clients, a pressure to reduce costs and a growing risk of cybercrime  can easily mount up and make teams feel overwhelmed. Here are 20 ways to increase their productivity:

1.Defer, delete and delegate

Often, the need to log tasks can make a ‘to do’ list seem far longer than it needs to be. Not only that, but important tasks may get pushed to the bottom.

As the founder of a vulnerability prioritisation platform, I’ve literally made it my business to help companies tackle tasks in the right order.

A big barrier to productivity could be that there is too much ‘noise’ on your team’s list, i.e. tasks that don’t have a deadline, that are nice-to-be-done rather than need-to-be-done or that can be done by junior members of staff.

Take some time to review your list and to split it into four: tasks to do asap; tasks to delegate to others; tasks that can be done at a later date; and tasks that can be removed altogether. Having a shorter, more manageable ‘to do’ list will help your team tackle tasks at a faster rate.

2. Look into communication and collaboration tools

Communication, teamwork and collaboration are all essential to any successful business. Fortunately, there are numerous tools available to help, from Instant messaging programs like Skype and Slack that provide a way for team members to have real-time conversations to project management software like Asana and Trello that can be used to keep track of tasks, deadlines and assigned team members. By using these tools, teams can work together efficiently and get more done.

3. Outsource
Yes, the work you’re doing is already being outsourced to you but there is always the opportunity to pass on elements of the project somewhere else, particularly if it means you’ll be getting the job done to the same quality, at a lower cost. There are thousands of dedicated security experts or general labourers out there to choose from. Companies like Upwork enable you to hire as many people as you need at a moment’s notice.

Every business will have time-consuming yet crucial tasks to complete. For an MSSP, a key one is vulnerability prioritisation, which, like many other tasks your team conducts manually every day, can be automated, saving time, money and unnecessary pain for your team. Look at what you can automate cost-effectively without reducing quality and let your team spend their time on the tasks a machine cannot do.

5. Give everyone easy access to resources

One of the biggest barriers to your team’s productivity could be slow internet or glitchy software. We may be moving away from full time home-working, but your team still deserves consistent and high quality technology wherever they are in order to do their jobs.

6. Improve meeting efficiency
The move from in-person meetings to video calls taught us to be prompt, concise and limit the small talk, and this gave loads of time back for work.
As the return to the office increases the number of in-person meetings, make sure you don’t bring back the bad habits that wasted yours and your colleagues’ precious time. A clear agenda shared with attendees in advance will help by allowing people to prepare thoughts and ideas beforehand. Also, set a rule that anyone more than three minutes late for a meeting will not be allowed to enter.

7.  Reduce the number of meetings

The introduction of communication and collaboration tools, see point 2,
will enable you to replace unnecessary meetings with a quick message exchange. Look at how many of your meetings can be removed from the diary without damaging collaboration, company culture or employee wellbeing and save your team hours every week.

8. Remove all distractions

Whether it’s a news platform, social media, too many cyber alerts or even the office décor, there are distractions all around us and they could be costing your team hours of effective working time each day. Run a discreet audit to determine where the biggest distractions lie and then put new policies in place to reduce the noise, so that your team can focus properly on the tasks at hand.

9. Incentivise increased productivity

Could it be that your team is only working at 50% because that’s all they feel like giving? Perhaps they need an incentive to work harder. By introducing a reward scheme to celebrate and acknowledge hard work with time-off, money towards a meal out or points to redeem in the company canteen, you could go a long way in helping to boost productivity levels as well as employee morale.

10. Encourage continued remote working

You have the tools in place to facilitate working from home and for the last two years your team has shown you that it can be done. So, rather than rushing everyone back to the office and disrupting their new habits, why not let them continue remote working? With more quiet time, your employees may find new levels of productivity.

11. Invest in productivity tools

Distractions and procrastination can kill productivity, but tools such as Pomofocus, which uses the Pomodoro technique to split work into short, measurable intervals with frequent breaks, could be your solution. Using this strategy for even just a few minutes every hour or two could help your team get things done at a faster rate.

12. Set deadlines
It’s a common misconception that setting deadlines makes people more stressed and less productive. In reality, the opposite is often true. When people know that they only have a certain amount of time to complete a task, they are more likely to work efficiently and avoid procrastination. As a result, meeting deadlines can actually improve productivity and help people to get more done in less time. Of course, it’s important not to set unrealistic deadlines that are impossible to meet, but as long as deadlines are realistic and attainable, they can be a valuable tool for increasing productivity.

13. Play to your team’s strengths
By understanding the unique skills and abilities of each team member, you can assign tasks that are best suited to them. This will not only help them to be more effective in their work, but also to be more engaged and motivated.

14. Create a culture of accountability

Organisations can encourage their teams to be more productive and achieve greater success by creating a culture of accountability. Help team members feel they are part of something larger and that their individual actions have an impact on the larger goal. Accountability also requires clear communication from leaders about what is expected of team members and regular feedback to ensure that everyone is on track. Furthermore, leaders must set the tone for accountability by modelling it themselves.

15. Consider feng shui
Feng shui is based on the belief that our surroundings have a direct impact on our mood and well-being. When applied to the workplace, feng shui can help to create a more positive and productive environment. There are a few simple ways to incorporate feng shui into your office space. Placing plants around the room will help to purify the air and create a more pleasant atmosphere. In addition, try to encourage staff to keep their desks free of clutter and position their computer screens so that they are not directly in line with their body. These small changes can make a big difference in overall working effectiveness.

16. Keep track of time and stick to a schedule

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s more important than ever to make the most of your time. By keeping track of how you’re spending your time and sticking to a schedule, you can identify areas where you’re wasting time and make adjustments to optimise your productivity. For example, if you find you’re spending too much time checking social media, limit yourself to checking it once per day. Or, if you find that you’re procrastinating a certain task, break it down into smaller steps and set a timer to keep yourself on track.

17. Reduce your staff turnover

Every business wants to keep their staff turnover low. It can be extremely costly to lose employees and have to train new ones. To minimise staff losses, make sure you make the right hires in the first place, provide good training for your employees so they feel confident in their roles, and create a positive work environment where employees feel valued and appreciated. Finally, offer competitive salaries and benefits packages. By taking these steps, you can keep your staff turnover low and your business thriving.

18. Encourage breaks
It can be incredibly demotivating sitting in front of a screen all day, every day, especially when there is no end of vulnerabilities to address. Getting some fresh air and sunshine will do your team good, and they’ll come back to work re-energised and ready to focus on their tasks.

19. Invest in training

Training your employees can be just as effective as investing in technology to increase productivity. When employees are properly trained, they are better able to do their jobs and make fewer mistakes.  This leads to increased productivity as well as higher quality work.

20. Allow for play
Research has shown that play can increase productivity because it gives our brains a chance to rest and recharge. This can help us get back to work with fresh ideas and renewed energy. It can also reduce stress, leading to greater focus and concentration. If you want to boost your productivity, don’t be afraid to schedule some playtime into your day.

RankedRight was founded in 2020 to help organisations gain control over their cybersecurity vulnerability programmes and optimise prioritisation of tasks. It does this by ingesting live data from customers’ scanning solutions and automatically ranking vulnerabilities based on rules created by the user. It then automatically delegates prioritised remediation tasks to the appropriate team, eliminating hours of manual triage and inconsistent decision-making and enabling users to start fixing critical vulnerabilities 80% sooner. RankedRight can prioritise data from multiple data sources, including Tenable, Qualys, Rapid 7 and Fortinet Fabric Agent, and enriches the customer’s data with the latest intelligence from 100+ vulnerability databases. RankedRight provides MSPs and MSSPs with a number of deployment options, including resale, a managed service and integration with the service provider’s own system.


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TechnologyReseller: 2021