Your guide to automating communications

Automating communications keeps people up to date and in touch without death by a thousand calendar invites or the repetative strain of reply to all.

automating communications : A woman whispering in someone's ear

Communication is vital – whether it’s between teams, clients or one-on-one.

It’s important you keep up to date with what your team is doing, know when a document has been updated and manage your calendar carefully, but the process of doing each tends to take up more time than it’s worth.

Luckily, there are a few tips and tricks to automate some of the drudgery and get straight down to the communication.

The basics of automating communications

Repeat meeting reminders can be set up for team catch-ups or progress-update calls with clients. You send it out once, people accept once and it pops up in their calendar regularly. No messy back and forth every time.

Shared calendars mean people know when their colleagues are free for a chat or working flat-out to prepare for a client presentation. Google Apps calendar or Office 365 calendars, since they’re hosted in the cloud, are shareable and kept constantly up to date as long as there is internet access. (Just FYI, Turbine syncs with your calendar to update any time off too).

Progress reports

Knowing what your colleagues are working on and what progress is being made across the business is incredibly useful for increasing motivation and helping employees understand how their work fits in to the bigger picture. On the other hand, meetings suck the life out of people faster than you can say ‘calendar invite’.

  • iDoneThis is a simple little tool that sends you a daily email asking ‘what have you done today?’ All you have to do is reply. You can just keep track of your own progress, or use the team setting so that it’s shared with your colleagues. A little automatic reminder can go a long way.
  • IFTTT. The If This Then That tool can be put to all sorts of uses. One handy way we at Turbine use it is to automatically post to Yammer when a blog post goes live. We have a few writers from our sister company, Articulate, who write for the blog but they don’t always know when their work will go live. This lets them and the rest of the team see their work in action, without any need for human intervention.

A few rules for good measure

We’ve already established that bureaucracy is bad. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have procedures, rules and processes in place so that people know how to do what they need to do. In other words, it’s worth making a few actions automatic for everyone.

‘At many companies, decision rights and processes are so ill defined that the organization devotes more time to managing the matrix than to decision making and execution,’ say Mankins, Brahm and Caimi. Their solution? Standardise the decision process.

Similarly with project management, creating templates and rules for work allocation can ensure nothing is missed in briefing, everyone knows what they’re doing and deadlines don’t get missed.

Automating communications doesn’t suck the life out of interactions, but rather eliminates the barriers between people to make work a little more human-friendly.

Next week, part three: Your guide to marketing automation

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