Internal business communication has come a long way in the past several decades. From passing physical memos to internal phone systems to instant messaging, technology has changed the way businesses communicate.
But with all this technology comes a problem. Sometimes companies include different systems with overlapping capabilities. Other times, the business is growing and needs more robust control and customization options.
These issues can lead to a range of issues from inefficient data organization to improper security practices. So, if you feel internal messaging and data sharing is happening without any real oversight or processes, a closer examination is in order.
1. Make security a priority
Data security is particularly important in certain areas such as healthcare, finance, and insurance. These industries tend to have very strong email security with many safeguards in place such as data encryption. But even if email is secure, there are other ways information can get into the wrong hands.
Even if your company does not handle data in highly sensitive areas, you should still take data security and sovereignty very seriously. Ensure that employees do not use personal instant messaging systems to conduct business, whether communication is external or internal. And when it comes to which messaging system to choose for the company, be selective.
Instant messaging apps have been the source of huge fines within the banking sector alone. In these cases, bankers and merchants have been caught sharing sensitive data via various blocked or unsecured messaging apps.
Not all messaging systems prioritize security and compliance. Many consumer platforms are simply designed for personal communication between a few parties. Others, like SayHey Messenger®, are specifically designed for businesses, especially in highly regulated industries, to stay secure and comply with various regulatory agencies. SayHey Messenger® and some other business instant messaging applications also have data reporting options that can save you time during audits. It also allows you to divide workers into separate groups to ensure correct information is sent only to specific individuals.
Data security management
Data security is not limited to third parties trying to force their way in. Keeping inside information in the right hands is also essential. When a company consists of only a few individuals, securing access to information is fairly easy to manage. Once this company grows into many departments and dozens of employees, it becomes more difficult and more important.
So in your internal messaging systems, make sure that the necessary administrators can control viewing and editing access for all participants. Employees who leave, voluntarily or otherwise, should be able to remove it from messaging systems and email accounts immediately.
Sometimes, you may need to restrict editing access, even to high-ranking employees and owners. For example, owners must have view privileges to some employee information, but dedicated HR staff may be the only ones with access to edit. In this way, all changes are verified and implemented in a standardized manner within the approved processes.
If some team members communicate about sensitive internal data such as employee information or benefits, this must happen in a secure manner. Options can include direct messaging via email or in a secure chat in your instant messaging system. Just be careful. Some instant messaging apps allow you to create groups, but non-group members can still find chats through search. So before you sign up for and implement messaging apps, do a test run and try different internal data breach scenarios.
2. Undefined procedures and missing data
Internal messages can take many forms. Typically, all employees have at least one company email account. There are also instant messaging, project management systems, and other task-specific software. All of these features could potentially allow users to send messages containing potential data and file attachments directly – or through a group.
So when you have information circulating all over the place, finding what you need later on can be time consuming. There isn’t one universal search bar that covers all of your programs, so you’ll need to open each one individually. Was the missing file sent to you via instant messaging, email, or in a workflow tracker? Searching for what you need, if you can eventually find it, can take a long time.
This is why it is so important to have communication procedures in place. These procedures should determine which connection type or platform is appropriate for different situations.
Carry out communication procedures
For example, suppose an engineering firm uses a variety of communication software platforms and also uses ClickUp for project management. A company could put a rule in place requiring users to put all internal communications related to an individual project into ClickUp. This way, all information related to each project is available within the ClickUp task. ClickUp tags, tracks, and stores contacts for current or future reference.
If a company wants to take it a step further, it can even use email integration within ClickUp. Employee email clients can do this outside of ClickUp thus storing customer correspondence in the applicable project task as well.
Another benefit of keeping project progress information all in one place is that it keeps everyone working on the latest file versions. If multiple team members pass on a document via email, there is potential for duplication and redundancy. If everyone is working on their own version of the same document, it is difficult to determine which version is the most recent and correct one. Having one current file in a central location makes it easy to track changes and avoid duplication.
In another scenario, the company may have been having problems with small tasks and forgotten action items. In this case, it would be more logical to order all work items through one intermediary. This may be through email with the expectation that employees maintain a zero inbox system.
Alternatively, users can assign all tasks through the task manager. Many of these applications are available through existing email providers such as Outlook.
Whatever processes you choose, make sure they are designed with logic and continually enhanced. Lost or misplaced data is bad for customers and can lead to productivity losses and security breaches.
3. Integration and notification overload
The average business uses a large number of applications to perform its necessary functions. Almost 10% of companies use 200 or more, in fact. With all these applications, integration has become a necessity. Without it, you would have to open each app individually to check messages, notifications, and other necessary information.
However, notifications can be both a blessing and a curse. This is why the communication methods chosen for your business should be somewhat customizable through integrations and notifications.
One would think that the more notifications a person gets about received messages or app updates, the better. For the most part, it helps for each employee to know what’s going on with all the tasks within his or her circle of responsibility. But if you’re trying to streamline internal communications and messaging, too many notifications can take up unnecessary time and bury important information.
Evaluate existing integrations
Most of your employees probably have their instant messaging app open and running at any time for quick messaging. If that’s the case, you don’t need to send a notification to employees’ emails when they receive an instant message. Whatever is created is something to react to and something to delete at best. At worst, employees start ignoring new emails because they get too many notifications all day long. This can cause an important element to lose attention until later in the day.
Integration is better when notifications from unopened apps are constantly forwarded to existing apps. The two factors that most employees open all the time are email and instant messaging. Receiving an email when flagged in the To-Do app tells employees that something is progressing or attention is needed.
Users may even be able to filter notifications sent by apps afterwards. Let’s say an employee is part of a team responsible for a project in workflow management software. If this employee is only required for specific subtasks, they probably don’t need to be notified of every update in the bucket.
So when choosing an all-in-one software, check to see how customizable the notification options are. By keeping notifications for important items that require action or engagement, you can increase efficiency and reduce monitoring processes.
Tidy desk, tidy mind – in the form of communication
The aim of internal communication is to convey the necessary information in a concise and organized manner. Since written communication such as email and instant messaging has become the modern standard, it helps with both comprehension and data retention.
But, having so many options available for apps and communication systems can make things complicated and messy. Messages and data floating around in unknown places can turn what should be communication assistance into harm.
Choosing the best software for your individual company needs is a step in the right direction. By having logical and security-focused routines, you can keep your internal messages neat and to the point. With these two priorities in mind, you can use internal communications to keep things efficient and smooth.
Featured Image Credits: By Mikhail Nilov Pexels. Thank you.
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