There’s no question that effective communication is an essential requirement for any enterprise. When working in a group and collaborating, the ability to adapt and respond to document changes as rapidly as possible is crucial, and efficient communication can save time and money in this regard. With that in mind, this post is about a communication problem that we all face at work; something that most of us are guilty of, and yet do nothing about. I’m talking about a phenomenon that we’ve dubbed “IOU a message.”
Let’s set the scene: You get into work in the morning and check your emails. A large number of messages from various colleagues, clients, and agencies pop up in your inbox – all concerning different documents and proposals. You’re expected to give feedback, answer questions and generally engage in what’s going on. You know that you’re going to have to reply to every single one of these messages at some point, but since you’re in a hurry to get a bunch of things done, you make a mental note that you owe each person a message. This can often be a difficult and confusing task, since it’s down to you to remember who and which documents you owe. Like most people, you probably end up in situations where you say to yourself, “I know I was supposed to email David about something, but I can’t remember what…” or, “Who sent me that analytics report that I was supposed to leave feedback on?” By the time you’ve figured it out and replied to half of your emails, another load has come in. This can be a nightmare, and, to put it quite simply, you just don’t have time to keep track. To try and manage this, you can tag messages with a reminder to follow it up, or even send an email as an IOU, promising a full message later. But these solutions only stall for time, and still leave you overburdened and flustered.
The IOU a message concept is officially an outdated one. The good news is that there is an alternative! Collaboration platforms today allow for document-centric commenting and discussions, meaning that all of the conversation is around the document and therefore you never need to remember what file is connected to which message, comment or people. It's a way to keep all of these comments and documents in one place, neatly organized into clearly labelled folders and sub-folders, making it much easier to manage documents and communications around them since they are all in one place. IM features for real-time chat on a specific document make communication quick and efficient.
All of this means that you don’t owe anyone emails anymore. You also eliminate the need to re-attach files and remember who to include in the address field, which results in you saving both time and money.
Why is this important? A survey from IDC on information workers found that reading and writing emails consumes an average of 14.5 hours per week per worker and costs a company an average of $21,752 per year. It’s of little wonder that organizations would want to cut down this time in order to increase productivity. The same survey found that collaborative tasks, such as review and approval have 4.3 hours of management overhead on top of 8.3 hours of editing and reviewing and 4 hours of managing document routing. Streamlining this collaboration has immediate payoff and can eliminate nearly a full workday a week for information workers who perform such administrative tasks. So forget the IOU message and embrace the next generation for collaboration. After all, why would you want to spend hours a day managing emails and tracking comments, when a platform can do it all for you?