From computer programmers to software developers, the information technology industry is not only very logical, but visual as well. The information technology industry has to organize and visualize what a website will look like, the process of developing software, designing a website, troubleshooting, or wireframing. The industry has the constant pressure of keeping entire companies running, so organization and collaboration is key to keeping everything running smoothly. Surprising to many, the information technology industry relies on whiteboards as a key component of their daily routine. Here are six biggest reasons why whiteboards are a key player in the IT industry.
1. Dry-erase boards increase workplace communication within IT facilities.
Executives blame the lack of communication as one of the largest problems they tackle in the workplace. A Fast Company survey says 96% of executives blame the workplace failures on lack of collaboration and communication. The article also points out that 59% of middle managers surveyed believe that they miss valuable information on a regular basis because they can’t find it. Several IT customers with similar issues have reached out to Magnatag Visible Systems for a solution.
In the information technology industry the smallest of errors can have a devastating impact on a company. By creating a space to collaborate, organize and share information, IT companies are increasing their level of workplace organization and communication tremendously. In addition, the Fast Company article explained that studies show that using a system like a whiteboard activates spatial memory. Spatial memory makes it easier for people to remember information that is discussed as opposed to hearing or reading the information.
2. Whiteboards increase meeting effectiveness.
A Microsoft Office survey revealed that the top three time wasters include:
- Ineffective meetings
- Unclear objectives
- Lack of team communication
Whiteboards are meant to encourage participation and collaborate with team members. By laying out the team’s objectives of the meeting, the goals become transparent, which leads to more effective communication.
“The team at my managed IT services firm uses whiteboards in a majority of their meetings. We have one next to every desk because we find them so useful. We find them indispensable when discussing complex networks and virtualized environments, and we have found no digital tools that provide the same level of flexibility and responsiveness as walking up to the board with a pen and/or eraser. We sometimes only write a single word representing the theme of the meeting just to keep the message grounded,” said Eric Schlissel, CEO of GeekTek Services.
3. The whiteboard culture allows for transparency in an IT facility.
Laying everything out in the open on a whiteboard builds trust among employees. If you have a whiteboard in your office or conference room, whether it’s a calendar, a project tracker or your team’s milestones, having it on the wall lends credibility to the information. Anyone can see the information at their leisure, 24/7. Everyone knows where to go to get the information and they know that everyone is getting the same information.
According to the former CTO of Elastic Path he believes, “Utmost transparency helps us achieve three main goals: communication, better team organization and organization of each employee. First of all, we try to surround ourselves with visible information. There is so much information around! Make it available to everyone. Every employee sees that the company trusts him/her with information. This results in higher team morale, which leads to better financial results. Business departments see that IT has nothing to hide. The result is a higher level of trust between departments, which leads to more effective and efficient cooperation. Customers visiting the company see that we are very open with them too. This immediately gives us an edge over the competition.”
4. Whiteboards aid in developing relationships and team cohesiveness among IT facilities.
In a September 2013 study, Stelies reported that 92% of companies have face-to-face meetings. With all of the advanced technology including virtual meetings, email, text messaging and social media; using a whiteboard during face-to-face meetings allow members get their point across without any confusion, accomplish business objectives and brainstorm ideas successfully. A Business Journals article explains that face-to-face meetings develop workplace relationships and team cohesiveness.
“Pictures help me explain what I want to show and others can participate. It feels more collaborative,” says Carlis Pelaez, Director and National Practice Leader at Coalfire. “Whenever I am done drawing a diagram, I take a picture with my phone. I probably have just as many pictures on my phone with whiteboard drawings as I do pictures of my cats, dogs and horse.”
For the number of hours each week office workers spend in meetings; most feel that less than half of that time is productive. (Opinion Matters, for Epson and the Centre for Economics & Business Research; May 2012) If you’re already participating in a face-to-face meeting interaction, adding a whiteboard will develop relationships with your team members and company a step further. By incorporating a whiteboard into your face-to-face meetings, you are allowing for engagement instead of having a meeting that you can’t wait to get out of.
5. Whiteboards act as the perfect visual aid for IT professionals
Professionals in the information technology field program computers, design websites and designsoftware, therefore visually representing the data helps them get collaborate and work together more efficiently.
Jeremy Versaggi, Systems Analyst and Programmer at the University of Rochester explains, “It, of course, depends on the situation and what said situation deems necessary. We’re working on a Relational
Database as of right now, and we use ER Diagrams to expand on each table and how each table is connected. Visualization, specifically for me and the team I work with, is a key factor due to the many obstacles we face.”
Whiteboards provide a better understanding of these processes to someone who isn’t as tech savvy as well. 40% of business managers are changing their workplace models to be more collaborative and IT facilities are among these.
“I work at a Datacenter, so being able to somehow organize and visual all of the servers, as well as applications that are running on each server, plays a key role when collaborating,” said Versaggi. “Personally I think whiteboards are a great advantage because you can indicate and visualize situations to everybody. A quick swipe of an eraser and it’s gone and can be redone in minutes.”
6. IT facilities can use whiteboards to explain IT processes.
Several IT facilities are using whiteboards specifically to display information technology pro
cesses they go through to create something. For example, IT professionals are using whiteboards to display wireframing, statistical analysis software and the process behind how to create new software, class and flow charts and search engine optimization processes. Here are a few examples:
- Design professional Frank Prendergast believes that the best wireframing tool ever is the whiteboard.
- Moz has a Whiteboard Friday series to explain their SEO processes where they use the whiteboard during their SEO discussions
At SAS Software, software developers use whiteboards to show flow charts of the software building process. Trent Jernigan, Associate Software Developer said, “We use whiteboard for collaboration a lot at SAS. I have two in my office and every conference room has at least one. During the working sessions with my co-worker, I’d often draw flow charts for the software build process we had in place. Class diagrams are also pretty common and are great for getting a grasp on a system as a whole.”
Now that I’ve outlined the six biggest reasons why whiteboards are a key player in the IT industry, you can see that they really do play a big role in how the IT industry functions as a whole from a communication tool to a relationship building tool.
How are you using whiteboards? What makes them effective in your company? I welcome your comments and feedback, and am interested to hear how you are utilizing whiteboards in your company.
For more information on whiteboards, visit Magnatag Visible Systems website or call 1-800-624-4154.