The Ultimate Guide for Choosing the Right Employee Directory Software

Meet Samantha. Samantha works at an international media equipment manufacturing firm. She has been tasked with the development of a new camera rigging system that will allow the operator to maneuver the camera through a specific environment, out of a window, and into another in a high-rise city apartment building, and to do it without having to dangle a camera operator 35 stories above a busy intersection. Samantha is not an engineer. She's more of a problem solver. So she comes up with a concept and draws a few sketches. But she needs some technical people to weigh in on the job.

The next thing she has on her side is the fact that she works for an international leader in the industry with thousands of high-level professionals on the payroll, and they have one of the best employee directory systems in the world. All she needs to do is search the employee directory for the experts she needs. As luck would have it, she finds an engineer, a camera operator, and someone from the fabrication departments listed in the directory. She emails them, sets up a meeting, and gets her sketches ready for presentation.

What this employee directory enabled Samantha to do is create the circumstances in which a unique problem can be solved. There was no need to petition upper management for any of her needs. Their small team is likely to come up with a working prototype faster than an entire company working on the task could deliver it. This is just an example of the kind of power a dynamic people directory can give you and your workforce.

But this is far from all a good employee directory can do or be. These valuable digital assets have been enabling the workforce to leverage their abilities in powerful ways, saving time and money through innovation. Here, we will discuss some of the most valuable recent advances in this type of software and the capabilities it could bring to the fore in your organization.


What Are Employee Directories & How Have They Evolved?

An employee directory is a piece of software that lists employees on a workforce, team, payroll, etc. They have been around for as long as payrolls have been around and the original models were little more than a searchable list of people working for a given organization. In the simplest terms, it is like a phone book for everyone on a given corporate team. It could be nothing but a list of names and contact info, but the best employee directories deliver something we refer to as talent mobility.

Suppose you had a company made up of three people working in the same office. On the door, there is a post-it note that says this:

  • Anna Marie Rabbitstew: Desk 3

  • Frank Frankleman: Desk 1

  • Rob McRobbinson: Desk 2

That is an employee directory. It gives you names and directions so that you don't accidentally say, "Hi Anna" to Robert. In a tiny company, a tiny directory is all you need. But if you're talking about a growing company with various specialties, departments, and backgrounds, you want to be able to conduct searches along more complex lines of query.

The simplest way to deliver talent mobility is to list employees according to their department and their rank and have that info be searchable such as in a search engine. So let's say Samantha had access to an employee directory for the company she works for. In this instance, she would look up the skills she needs by department. She would call the rig fabrication dept, the engineering desk, and someone with access to the company's scrap materials storeroom.

If she worked for a different kind of company, but still needed a specialized camera rig for a marketing campaign, then her options might be a little different. Now, suppose the employee directory she was using is more robust. Suppose it told her about the special accomplishments of individual team members, and suppose she found someone in the experimental camerawork department who had built a large robotic arm on a trolley for a special project in college. In this case, she would search for the educational and background traits she was looking for and be led to a specific listing or set of listings. She would then call the person/s she is looking for directly instead of calling the head of departments first.

With the simple advance of term search-ability, we are beginning to see how employee directories have changed over the years. The difference between older and newer employee directories, simpler and more advanced ones, is the amount of information you can find about a given team member and how searchable talent/experience types are. Today's most advanced employee directories are boosting talent mobility and employee engagement, while remaining affordable, light, and user-friendly.


Capabilities of a Quality Employee Directory

Most serviceable employee directories will have the following basic features:

  • A search field

  • An alphabetized list of employees

  • A search results display page

But that is just a start. Today's best employee directory software will take these features and build on them to make things easier on the people using it. To keep the pace with the kinds of advanced employee directories competitive companies are using, you need a system with cutting edge capabilities, such as the following:

Connect People & Opportunity

Just like our secretary with hidden talents, your team will benefit enormously from the ability to identify and match talents and expertise to the needs of your organization. With multiple vector linking, you might even rename your HR Department, "Opportunity Central."

Dynamic Directories

Siloing has long been recognized as a resistor to optimization. Dynamic directories offer problem solving capabilities of their own with the potential to match needs to skills instantly.

Lightening-Quick Connections

You and your workforce are busy. You need your directory to be as responsive as it is powerful. Structural keyword search uses advanced algorithmic mapping to bring you solutions and answer questions fast.

Smart Search + Insights

Sometimes more robust answers and deeper results are possible. That's what dynamic directories are all about. With a wealth of data, advanced results pages give more fulsome and complete, with potential solutions you might not have expected.

Create a Marketplace of Internal Opportunity

Advanced employee directories are saving companies on hiring by finding the talent that need internally. Why bring in an unknown player when your M.I.O. can fit a proven team member to a new opportunity?

Take Communication to the Next Level

Things get lost in most forms of communication. But advanced directory systems can add in additional context that help ensure the intended message is sent, received, and understood.

Search Fields

The search field, for starters, might be a simple type and smash field where you enter a term or phrase and hit "enter." It can also include other perimeters that allow you to refine your search. If you were looking for someone in IT, you would just type "IT dept." If you were looking for someone who specializes in printers, you might type "IT printing." This has the potential to bring you directly to the listing of someone who has exactly the expertise you are looking for.

Employee Directory Software IllustrationAlphabetized List of Employees

Your list of team members can be a simple list, actuated or not by a search field and its concomitant algorithms. A phone book is the basic form of a directory, but we can do better. A more advanced alphabetized list might offer search term completion, though that is not necessary. It could place some results ahead of others based on detailed search terms, popular searches, and other algorithms. If you search for the IT department, you might get a list of tech guys in alphabetical order or in order of seniority. A more advanced one might offer more refined results. For example, let's say you searched for "IT printer tech." In this instance, you might get a specific person who specializes in printers rather than a head of the department or an unordered list of IT personnel. Your leading result might look like this:

Bill Billington

Dept: IT

Training: Computer Science / Electronic Engineering

Specialty: Printers & Printer Hardware

Contact Info: Email, Phone, Etc...

If you wanted a printer guy, this is the result for you. Now you can contact Bill directly and do not have to bother with going through a department head who may or may not be of much help at all.

Search Results Display Page

We have all seen search results pages. Some are good. Some are bad, and some barely make phone books redundant. Supposing you want to be able to find a team member with a given specialty, assets, or some other qualification, the search results you get can be a help, a hindrance, or something in between. The most primitive type of result, your finger pointing to a listing, might be the most accurate, but it is not the most helpful. A bad search algorithm might send you to Ted Teddington, the company's head of printed marketing materials. But that's not what you were looking for, was it? You wanted the printer guy.

So, as you can see, there is a world of difference between the first generation of company employee directory software and today's most advanced employee directories. An old-fashioned one will do the job. A modern one might send you on a wild goose chase, while a well-designed modern employee directory has a better chance of getting you the right people with the right skills and resources in fewer steps.


What Makes a Great Employee Directory?

As you can see, there is a wide range of these types of systems, from the original list chiseled into stone tablets to the fully automated, feature-rich dynamic people directory products we have today. So the question is, what is the best employee directory for your company? The answer to that question will depend on the size of your company, the diversity of educational backgrounds and specialties represented in its workforce, and the build quality of the coding and front-end components.

Quality employee directory software should;

Contain complete listings - To be functional, your directory should not leave any person or department out of the list. It should contain every name on the payroll with contact data, at the very least.

Contain data-rich listings - It might be nice to know that someone named Bill works in the IT dept, but without a complete listing of what he does, what he is qualified to do, and what he is good at, a name and number only sends you down the hall to do the directory's work in person. The best employee directories may offer birthday alerts and work anniversaries, as well as has an interests section to connect people on a more personal level.

Run smoothly - If the software is inelegantly written or doesn't work smoothly with the operating system that is running it, then its usefulness will be limited. If you can walk down the hall and talk to the people you are looking for before it generates a good results list, you would be better off investing in a sensible pair of shoes. One of the most important features is the ability to run smoothly on both desktop and mobile computing environments, something the best directory producers won't compromise.

Look professional - Impressions are everything. If you're an executive trying to prove to a client in person that you have the people to create the team you are looking to create, a smooth-looking employee directory is a Godsend. On the other hand, if it looks unprofessional, your client may lose faith in you the moment its forward interface renders.

Custom search capability - Auto-completion based on popular searches can be a help, or it can be an annoyance. Oftentimes, the right search algorithm buildout can make the difference between a superior E.D. and a nominal one. The search design of your directory should be based on the size, business model, scope, and capabilities of your company. That means the right employee directory is custom-built for your organization to deliver world-class talent mobility.

That's why the best employee directory design and build project begins with a consultation between you and the people who will design your system. First, our team will want to know what kinds of tasks you tend to want and need to organize quickly. We will want a full list of the capabilities of your team, a list of departments, and as much information on each employee as can be provided. From there, we can create a robust system with complete listings and advanced search capabilities that will help your teams collaborate, innovate, and deliver competitive value in less time.



7 Ways Today's Advanced Employee Directories Boost Productivity & Efficiency

At this point in our discussion, we could talk about the technical ins and out of a good employee directory. We could discuss the ways in which elegance in design is critical for a quality user experience. We could talk about how thorough function mapping can make every use case simpler and more intuitive, no matter who is using the system. Or we could talk, brass tacks. Most potential users want to know how a custom automated employee directory is going to make their company more productive and boost the bottom line.

There are many ways a high-quality employee registry can make your organization more competitive. They include, but are not limited to:

1. Leverage Hidden Expertise
There is a lot of latent information just waiting to be used in and among your workforce. You have almost certainly got people who know things and can do things that could benefit the company. But who would guess that the typist at the receptionist's desk is the daughter of three generations of leading real estate professionals in the region? She might know something that could help you next time you are looking to acquire new office space. If she had the opportunity to offer that information for an employee directory, you might find calling her in to the meeting on this issue could be worthwhile. Potentialities like these represent key opportunities to develop internal mentorship programs that could turn latent talent into a real power-source for the future of your business.

2. Boost Employee Engagement
Even small companies with just a few departments still have a wide range of knowledge and ability under their roofs. An employee directory encourages your team to use in-house resources to tackle challenges and get tasks done. You'll find this will save time, and money, and boost the strength of your workforce.

3. Make Leadership More Accessible
An advanced intranet makes it easier for communications to move freely as the need arises. If an employee has a pressing question, he or she could send a message to leadership directly. They might be able to tag the message with a color or number code that indicates the level of urgency. This could allow you and your team to answer questions and solve problems faster and with less friction than usual. The right system, one that is optimized for your company and your corporate culture, will have this effect.

4. Enhance Shared Knowledge Management
There is a mysterious phenomenon known as the 100th Monkey Effect. As the story goes, once 100 monkeys learn a new thing, knowledge of that thing spreads seemingly by magic. We know humans have special neurons that make imitation easier, and there are many mysterious combinations of stimuli and communication that make information contagious. Imagine how much more contagious information will be with an advanced intranet at your disposal. At the end of the day, that is the point of this type of technology, to turn the most powerful force on Earth, namely human communications, and turn it up to 11.

Employee Directory Software Illustration5. Smooth Information Transfer Rate
In the final analysis, an advanced employee directory does one thing: speed and enhance internal communications. The difference between a good intranet and none is the difference between spending a whole day getting one question answered, or getting several key questions answered in the space of an afternoon.

6. Ease Document Sharing
You have to deliver some documents to Janet in accounting. You could walk down there and back in 10 to 30 minutes. You could email her and wait for confirmation in 2 minutes to days. Or you could use a custom intranet for nearly instantaneous document delivery and confirmation. If time really is money, there's no question about which is best.


How to Get the Most Out of Your Digital Employee Directory

Any corporate team can be enhanced by any kind or caliber of employee directory, from a simple list written on a post-it note to a fully integrated, feature-rich automated directory. The difference between a little organization and no organization is massive. Likewise, advanced organization leaves nominal organization in the dust every time. With our advanced, custom employee directories, we offer you the chance to leave your competition in the dust.

So, the question remains, how do we do that?

Think back to the simple employee directory for the three-member team in the shared office. For them, a post-it note with two names and numbers is enough- maybe even too much. That Employee Directory is perfectly optimized for their organization.

But what if you're a consulting firm, a law office, or a tech service company working out of a building with 100 floors, 50 different departments, some with their own sub-departments, and more professional diversity than you can shake a fist-full of laser pointers at?

To get the most out of a team like that, you need an employee directory that is biased toward the type of goods and services your company provides so that employees can put relevant skills on their Directory listing.

Suppose you are running a business with dozens of independent problem-solvers like Samantha. These are professionals who work well alone, perform quality research, and have a knack for tracking down resources. Imagine giving them a tool that enables them to leverage half of the expertise they need without leaving the building.

To make a long story short, the key is customization at scale. A fully and accurately customized Employee Directory amplifies your strengths and minimizes your organizational weaknesses. In the final analysis, it all comes down to efficiency, efficiency that pays for itself.

Get in touch today to learn more.

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