We have arrived at the seventh usage profile in our examination of enterprise communications requirements. So far, we have examined the usage profile for field sales and services roles, production roles, retail customer-facing roles, information processing roles, collaboration roles, and management and executive roles. Each usage profile review highlighted the unique communication requirements for the role and showed that those usage profiles are usually best served by communication functions built into or integrated with purpose-built software apps.
For this usage profile, let’s look at the enterprise communications requirements for administrative roles, which we’ll call the administration usage profile.
Who Fits in the Administration Usage Profile?Administration roles are responsible for assuring an organization, specific department, or service group in an enterprise runs efficiently. Synonyms for administering include facilitating, orchestrating, overseeing, or controlling, which helps to explain this role. Almost always, administration roles are at the core or hub of team workflows.
Administration roles are different from the previous ones I’ve outlined. For example, administration roles are different from information-processing roles since administration roles are usually not responsible for transactional workflows These roles are also distinct from collaborative roles because administration roles almost always follow established procedures, policies, or guidelines rather than being tasked with developing a new policy or procedural proposals.
Administration roles are almost always non-exempt since they follow management and policy direction.
This usage profile represents about 4.8% of the entire U.S. workforce (per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Administration role titles include executive assistant, manager assistant, sales administrator, marketing administrator, service administrator (such as in IT, HR, Finance, Facilities, Logistics), school administrator, healthcare service coordinator, yeoman (Navy), or governmental policy administrator.
How Is Administration Usage Profile Work Performed?
Almost all administration roles are responsible for facilitating work and communications within a functional department or supporting one or more principals in an organization. Typical work might include:
- Coordinating communications for one or more principals of the department — Executive assistants (or similar titles) monitor all inbound communications and meeting requests for their principal(s). The principals may include corporate officers, lawyers, elected representatives, judges, service professionals (consultants, therapists, doctors, etc.). Executive assistants also coordinate outbound communications, such as setting up appointments or meetings or placing outbound calls on behalf of the principal to assure the intended party is available before bringing the principal into the conversation.
- Monitoring department performance and metrics — Ensure that work is flowing smoothly, bottlenecks aren’t forming, adjustments are happening, and alarms get raised when disruptions are anticipated or occur.
- Assisting the department members when resolving unusual problems or exceptions — Some exception-granting authorities may rest with the administrator, or the administrator may have the task of reviewing exception requests before sending them to management for decision-making.
How Do Administrators Communicate In Their Roles?
As you can infer, this is a very communication-intensive usage profile. Aside from a contact center role, administrators require the most complex set of communications tools in the enterprise. That’s primarily because the administrator is communicating on behalf of many other people, a departmental group, one or more principals.
- Administration roles typically require the following functions to perform this work: Multi-line displays, including busy lamp fields, with up to 24 line appearances.
- The ability to have the same lines and numbers shown on multiple desktops, such as when a group of executive assistants provides eight to twelve hour coverage for a group of executives. Rarely is this type of administrator role in a one-to-one relationship with a principal to cover during breaks, lunch, vacations, etc. In most cases, an executive assistant must be able to provide “coverage” for others.
- Selective ringing on certain lines, such as a principal’s incoming private line, and preferably with distinctive ringing by type or number
- The ability to easily (by pressing one button or code) transfer an incoming call to a principal to that principal’s voicemail account (not the administrator’s account)
- The ability to put an incoming call on hold while contacting the principal via intercom, barge-in, or mobile number before determining to connect the call in a warm transfer (i.e., monitoring the call) to the principal’s device and location
- Call park (placing a call on hold so someone else can retrieve it on another phone) and call pickup (retrieving a held call from another phone) for any monitored line
- Delegation so that the administrator can make outbound calls on behalf of specific principals, displaying the principal’s business or private number for call-back convenience.
- A delegation that enables the administrator to access a principal’s contact directory to call an intended party from that directory, rather than having to keep a duplicate copy of the principal’s directory
- Shared access to the principal’s voicemail and email account
- The ability to monitor, answer, park, and pick up any designated line on an associated mobile device, preferably DECT, for greater range within the office space without depending on cellular or Wi-Fi coverage.
There may be more specific communication requirements for administration roles in some cases, but this list should give you an idea of the level of communication complexity. This multi-party communication mode has proven to be the most difficult for new communication systems built on web technologies. It has taken the better part of a decade for most cloud-based PBX-type or unified communications as a service (UCaaS) systems to provide sufficient capability to meet the request for proposal (RFP) requirements of the administration usage profile.
Even when the UCaaS vendors claim to have met the functional requirements, it often requires the administration role user to go through significant redesign of their workflows and major retraining of both the administrator and the principals they support. This impact on the administration role and the principals is why enterprises will not migrate to UCaaS. But they will adopt UCaaS in tandem with their existing on-premises PBX or only roll out the UCaaS telephony package to selected usage profiles in the enterprise. Hopefully, the UCaaS vendors are reading this paragraph.
What Is the Optimal Communications Support for Administrators?
Simply put, a multi-line desk phone (often with expansion modules to provide additional lines) continues to be the best practice for this group. UCaaS vendors have the opportunity to innovate in this area— an innovation that’s sorely needed.
Further, the multi-line devices must be supported with easy-to-configure software to provision and modify all necessary settings for monitoring, delegation, and coverage options.
Some UCaaS vendors attempt to address the administration role via visual display rather than expanded desk phone configurations. One example is the Microsoft Teams Phone System that provides the administrator with concurrent status display and answer control for all delegators and shared lines for that administration role user. However, even that requires retraining (as mentioned above) and probably necessitates a second (or third) monitor on the administrator’s desktop. It also has some limitations for use cases when the administrator is mobile in the office or when the administrator is providing coverage for another administrator’s principals. Other vendors offer solutions based on presence status displays. Still, others offer software modules or add-on apps, including those from third parties, the provide an attendant console type of solution for the administration role users.
The bottom line is that, while there are few administrative roles in this usage profile, the functional communications requirements are the most demanding of the non-contact center usage profiles. Enterprise communications planners, leaders, and UCaaS vendors should pay special attention to the administrator roles in their organizations.