For this usage profile, let’s look at enterprise communications from the manager’s or executive’s perspective, which we’ll call the management usage profile.
Who Fits in the Management Usage Profile?
Management’s role differs from any other usage profile because it’s responsible for the overall performance and effectiveness of the organization, rather than for doing the organization’s work.
This usage profile represents about 11.4% of the entire U.S. workforce (per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). However, this percentage includes first-line managers who are often supervisors of a specific workgroup represented in one of the other usage profiles. The communications profiles of most first-line supervisors will be part of their group’s usage profile more than that of the management usage profile since the focus is on the departmental processes and results. It’s important to properly categorize the first-line supervisors to determine whether they are in the management usage profile category or not.
Management titles are identifiable by keywords such as manager, director, partner, chief of service, vice president, and president. They’re also recognizable by all of the “C” terms that are now so popular—ranging from a chief executive officer (CEO) to functional roles such as a chief revenue officer (formerly known as VP Sales).
How Is Management Usage Profile Work Performed?
The management communication requirements are driven by three main responsibilities:
- Maintain and continually improve the organization’s performance for which they are responsible – requires a constant flow of communications inward from the organization and outward to the employees and other participants in the organization.
- Represent the enterprise or their organizational portion of the enterprise to customers, suppliers, and community and governmental entities. This representation requires traditional person-to-person meetings and calls as well as group meetings both in-person and online.
- Produce returns for shareholders or serve the stakeholders and represent performance to the Board of Directors and regulatory organizations. That requires interactive group communications with the board and structured, regulated written communications and periodic analyst online presentations.
These types of communications have two key attributes.
- First, management communications are almost always scheduled sessions, often with groups of people and often with the information presented to management for direction or approval. In most cases, staff positions manage the scheduling of these communications via delegation to administrative staff members.
- Second, management communications are usually meetings that necessitate the sharing of prepared content, as documents and presentations. Especially now, the communications are most likely online with participants from many locations.
In many cases, the communications are part of an ongoing process and require reference to prior communications and information. Also, depending on the industry sector and public or private ownership status of the enterprise, management communications may be subject to regulatory requirements of recording and archiving for defined periods.
How Does Management Communicate In Their Workflows?
Management communication tools have evolved significantly in the past few decades, based on the digitization of documents and communications. What used to require a constant flow of paper documents and copy machines is now viewable via online document sharing systems or services. What used to require regular mailing services is provided by email and by shared team workspaces. What used to require gathering in conference rooms for meetings or briefings is now accomplished via online meetings—whether as voice-only regarding documents in email or document systems or as voice and video with online document sharing and presentation.
Management communication has also evolved rapidly with cellular and Wi-Fi networks. Desk phones have faded in favor of the latest smartphones that combine all management communications tools for calling, meeting, messaging, and contacts in one place, even if represented as multiple apps.
Access and authentication controls, and encryption methods, ensure management communications security in the digital age. For the management usage profile has many parallels to the communication tools used in the collaboration usage profile. But the biggest difference is that management focuses mostly on reviewing information rather than creating it.
Because management plays such a significant role in any organization, communications requirements pose unique challenges, such as high reliability, quick and easy operation, and user consistency across the smallest possible toolset. Many attempts to provide the “full suite” of unified communications (UC) tools to management have failed due to the complexity of the UC interface and lack of integration with the other tools that management uses for their work. In many cases, the communications tools must be set up and operated by a staff of administrative assistants and “white glove” support teams.
What Is the Optimal Communications Support for Management Users?
From a voice and video perspective, if a person in a management role still uses an office, there will be specific communication tools for that office. These include a multi-button desk phone with speakerphone, perhaps a separate speakerphone on the desk or on a side meeting table, a desktop computer (or a docking station for the manager’s laptop), and likely a video conferencing station on the desk or at a side table area. The office must be provided with excellent Wi-Fi or cellular coverage so that the smartphone(s) continue to work seamlessly for voice and video communications as well as for data access (my friend and associate Michael Finneran
has many posts on NoJitter and many sessions at Enterprise Connect on this point).
The multi-button desk phone will interconnect with the administrative staff that supports the manager or executive; this requirement for multiple line appearances and multiple pick-up points, often with intercom capabilities, has been a major gap for UCaaS management.
Today’s optimal solution for the management usage profile goes far beyond voice and video. The current optimal solution starts with the smartphone and tablet. In some cases, there will be two smartphones – one for “personal” communications and the other for management-specific communications. The apps on the smartphone must be a well-integrated, coordinated set of tools, which include the following:
- Contact lists, likely both the email contacts and the enterprise directory
- Calendar for management of the schedule, with the meeting information inclusive of agenda, links to relevant documents, and click-to-join or -call for the online conversation.
- Messaging, email, and smartphone texting – some managers prefer the dictation capabilities that are now available but become impatient if the dictation isn’t highly accurate.
- Workspaces with relevant documents, links to the document repository, team membership status and workspace access, and communication links within and from the workspace. Capabilities for approval (or rejection or review) that are built into messaging and workspace tools.
- Document repository to support the ongoing reporting, review, and approval processes
- Dashboard capabilities to enable management to see status at-a-glance and then to drill down into the supporting information
- Appropriate supplemental communication appliances such as earbuds and a blue-tooth speakerphone
Fortunately, many of these capabilities are natural evolutions of the tools used in the collaboration, field, and information processing usage profiles. Many vendors of unified communications, workspace, workflow, email, and document/content management tools present their products as well-suited for management use.
However, there are very few exceptional examples of a well-integrated management suite for management workflows and communications. In most cases, collaboration is necessary between communications, conferencing, content management, email, security, IT architecture, and IT operations to assemble one or more suites ideal for management in their enterprise. As mentioned, this often results in a ‘white glove’ or ‘preferred service’ team to support the management roles.
Perhaps the growing availability of integration tools will help to create and operate a top-tier management work environment, including communication tools, easier. Let’s hope so.
This post is written on behalf of BCStrategies, an industry resource for enterprises, vendors, system integrators, and anyone interested in the growing business communications arena. A supplier of objective information on business communications, BCStrategies is supported by an alliance of leading communication industry advisors, analysts, and consultants who have worked in the various segments of the dynamic business communications market.