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It's About Time! The Journyx Blog
The Vistage Blog - Executive Street has been considered a converging hub, if not a home for executives and c-level businesspeople alike to glean new info, tips and read interesting articles from fellow executives on the topics they care about the most. They've even been kind enough to publish articles from our very own CEO, Curt Finch.
The following article written by Marc Emmer titled, "Are you Building a Business; or Something More?" is about the importance of cultivating a strong company culture and what it means in today's society. Check out the full article on their website here.
I spent several years serving on a not-for-profit board that was recently honored for its work in my community. Our charter was to build schools, and the school district commemorated our service with a plaque in a local high school. As the school board President gave his opening remarks, he spoke about the courage and determination required to overcome obstacles and erect something that can last into perpetuity.
Whenever we build something, whether it is a school or a business, we have the opportunity to build something larger than ourselves; we have the opportunity to create a legacy.
I have also been honored to work with very successful businesses built on the sweat of entrepreneurs, whose vision stood the test of time. In some cases, the businesses thrived as new generations innovated, and others faded away with the persona of their founder.
As companies build culture, it is important they tell stories, and reinforce the foundational elements that make a company strong and resilient. I am not talking about hanging a black and white picture of a founder (like something out of Mad Men). Companies have traditions and norms, often rooted in another time, when things like quality, or caring for others were not taken for granted.
I was facilitating a strategic planning meeting with a 35 year old company recently. The founder had died, and his nephew took over the reins. As we recast the vision for the company, and established a growth plan, I saw my clients eyes tear up. He could see the promise of the future, and the realization of the dreams of his uncle before him.
Whether it’s a group meeting or a one-on-one appointment, we’ve all had the experience of conversations running long. And it can be a real drag on productivity; one study shows that the average worker only actually works three days per week, or about 1.5 hours per day, with unproductive meetings being at the top of the list for wasting the rest of the work week.
At the same time, you don’t want to be that guy--you know, the one that cuts people off, acts like people are always wasting his/her time, and leaves abruptly--so how do you end a meeting gracefully and save the time of everyone involved?
All too often, we go into meetings with a list of topics, not an actual agenda. For example, “Marketing Plan for Q3”. A lack of clear purpose leads to directionless meetings that don’t actually resolve anything.
Instead, create an agenda that consists of what each team member needs to bring to the meeting, with specific questions to be discussed, and distribute it to your team prior to the meeting so everyone knows what they’re responsible for. Like so:
Marketing Plan for Q3:
●Sam: What did well on social media last quarter? What are your suggestions for building on those initiatives to improve in Q3?
●Brenda: What was our ROI on the webinars we hosted? Did one of the webinar topics do better than the others? What are your plans for next quarter?
●Catherine: What topics did well on our company blog and helped with lead generation? How will we use this information to improve?
●All: What are the common threads here? We’ll pick 2-3 takeaways and next steps.
We tend to think in blocks of 30 or 60 minutes, without realizing that this is actually quite a long time for a meeting. And since we’ve booked that time, the meeting just naturally expands to fill it, a la Parkinson’s law (the idea that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”).
Instead of booking 30 minutes, aim for a 15 minute meeting.
Reports vary on whether the optimum meeting length is 15 minutes or 45, but either way, the evidence is strong that when a meeting runs over an hour, it’s at the cost of the productivity and attention spans of everyone in attendance.
Not to go without mentioning, it’s best to never book a meeting on a Monday or a Friday. According to this article from Inc.com, a company polled their employees and found that, “if you're thinking of arranging a meeting for 9 a.m. on a Monday, only one in three employees is likely to attend...”
Meetings end and people have become lost in the details discussed, and may not be clear on what the final action item is, who owns it, and what the timeline is.
Have a five minute wrap-up at the end of the meeting. This works especially well in a one-on-one setting or in a small group (3-4 people). When you start to get to the end of the allotted time:
●Verbally make the group aware by stating, “Okay, we’re about five minutes out.”
●Recap what’s been covered so far in high-level points. For example, “We discussed the next steps for project XYZ, which are...”
●Especially as a project manager it’s important to remind them that you’re fully available to assist. “You’ve got my email and my phone number if anything comes up...”
●And leave room for their quick questions with, “Is there anything else I’m forgetting?”
This is a quick, polite way to keep everyone on the same page, impress the main takeaways from the conversation on both parties, and end the meeting on time.
What’s your best productivity tip for politely getting out of a long meeting?
It's getting close to that most wonderful time of the year, and that means that you'll either soon be upgrading your gadget, ERP Software, CRM or timesheet system. So for our Monday Link-ups this week, we've compiled a list of blogs, advice columns and forums all listing out their best ways to know when it's time to upgrade -- and giving the best solutions they've seen on the market.
- Your Accounting Software: For those using Quickbooks or Sage 50 Accounting Software, here's how to know when it's time to upgrade.
- Your Computer: 10 signs that it's time to upgrade your PC
- Your General Gadgets: Knowing when it's time to upgrade your gadgets
- Your Solid-state drive: Why you need to upgrade to an SSD right now
- Your PC and Server hardware: You know it's time for an upgrade when...
- Your time tracking system in the cloud: Top 5 reasons companies everywhere are using SaaS
The social media sites are on top of the latest updates in any of these tools, and will be the first to report on the latest gadget:
The International Community of Project Managers (ICPM) is a great website where project managers and HR directors alike can come together and read informative articles, grab free downloads and learn from each other on the best tips and tricks of being a project manager. They've even been kind enough to publish articles from our very own CEO Curt Finch.
This article titled, "Use These Eight Sections for a Terrific Status Report" highlight the key areas on how to accomplish the most data driven and insightful reporting for your company. Visit their site here for the full story.
Why is it that most of us don’t have a problem working 60 hours a week taking care of our stakeholder’s needs, and yet we have difficulty writing a decent status report? There are two major problems. First, some people do not have great written communication skills. However, in most cases, the problems with communication are not a lack of skills, but a lack of focus. Many project managers do not appreciate the value of communicating proactively. When they do communicate, it tends to be short and cryptic, as if they are trying to get by with the minimum effort possible.
The key to communicating is to keep the reader as the focal point – not the sender. Try to think about what the receiver of the communication needs and the information that will be most helpful to them. Ask yourself whether the information on the status reportis there to really communicate something valuable or is it just taking up space.
Typically the complete status report should include the following information:
In between TV, Internet, smartphones, tablets, new apps and the latest gaming systems, it’s no wonder the current generation has been dubbed “the most distracted”. On any given day, the average American has their pick between reading the latest industry research on their iPad, digging into a new book on a Kindle, playing Angry Birds, or watching the latest episode of a TV show on Netflix at any given time. In fact, according to a recent PEW Research study published in the New York Times, “nearly 90% of 2,462 teachers said that digital technologies were creating ‘an easily distracted generation with short attention spans’.”
But surprisingly, many researchers think boredom is a good thing--especially for kids. The argument is that it allows for imagination stimulus and unstructured play, which is how we learn to be creative. Some people argue that it’s not limited to children, including writer Mark McGuinness, who finds that boredom leads to curiosity, which leads to new ideas for writing projects. Not only that, but research itself finds that distraction combined with relaxation is great for stimulating creativity, even going so far as answering the question of why we tend to get our awesome ideas in the shower. But what if you’re stuck on how to channel that boredom toward better productivity and creativity on the job?
Healthy boredom solution #1: Creative side projects are your friend
If you’re more goal-oriented and having a set amount of unstructured free time doesn’t work for you, consider starting a creative side project. Having a project to gear your right-brained energy toward will allow for some downtime and relaxation without making you completely unproductive. The best creative side projects are low-risk (i.e. not attached to your income, which means there’s no pressure to fail or succeed), don’t have a deadline, and have a purpose (personal or professional).
There’s also some compelling research that people who actively work on creative side projects are better employees (being rated by coworkers as more helpful, creative, and collaborative on the job). And those same people feel more relaxed and in control of their lives. Having a creative side project gives people a way to escape from their work constraints without resorting to unhealthy escapism, like being on Facebook too much on the job or overeating to relieve the stress.
You could also choose to learn about something entirely unrelated to your day job, in a way that isn’t necessarily project-based. Coursera and Udemy have free courses on everything from Latin American culture to how to play the electric guitar, and Duolingo is a great free way to learn a new language from your computer or phone.
Healthy boredom solution #2: Let it go
Don’t try to fill up all your spare time with activities. Leave some time without structure, whether it’s going on a walk around the office, choosing not to listen to your favorite business podcast so that your mind can wander, or simply browsing Pinterest on your lunch break instead of working. The key is to set aside a half-hour or so; as long as the unstructured activity isn’t taking over your day, you should be fine. If you want to take it to the next level and cut out your devices as well, there are apps like AntiSocial and SelfControl that will take a set amount of time and block your phone/computer/tablet from being able to access email and social networking sites.
It’s our natural instinct to avoid boredom, because hey--it’s typically not inherently fun! In our daily lives, we crave feeling like we have a purpose that we’re working toward, so much so that we’re now filling it up with as much technology and communication-oriented activities as possible. Regardless of personality type, to function at our best, our brains need some off-time. The next time you find yourself feeling a sense of “I’m boreeeed” syndrome, lean into it instead of fighting it and take some time to yourself, guilt-free.
If you've been keeping a close eye on our list of upcoming events and webinars, you've seen that we're about to dive right into a webinar all about government contracting management systems (COMS). And we're so excited about it that we're bringing you a list of our favorite blogs, tips and tricks about (and for!) government contractors. Check it out below!
- SBA Classroom: The U.S. Small Business Administration has a classroom with multitudes of articles, workbooks and videos just to help you get on your feet and get certified (for those that need the certification).
- USAJobs.gov: Need to get on your feet, first? This is definitely the first place you need to check if you're wanting to dive into government contracting jobs. Take a look here first, and then follow that with CareerBuilder, Indeed.com and the like.
- Small Business Government Contracting Goals Met - First Time in 8 Years: In an article close to the topics you would already be seeing on the popular site SmallBusinessTrends.com, Anita Campbell powers through the 'why' and 'how' government contracting is working, and how it is now the prime time to break into the field.
- Broadleaf: Actual software solutions for those working in government contracting - a contract management system that can help track your contracts, generate billing documents and track deliverables, this software is a must-have on our list.
Still want more? Here are some groups on LinkedIn and Google+ that can help you get involved with the government contracting community. Have even more to add to the list? Let us know in the comment section below!
Smallbiztrends.com is a popular site geared toward - you guessed it - small businesses! They offer a massive swath of wonderful advice, trends and latest tips for small businesses owners, entrepreneurs, or even just employees working in a small business or startup environment. They've even featured some articles from our CEO Curt Finch.
This article titled, "10 of Our Best Email Marketing Articles for Small Business" by Shawn Hessinger offers advice to small businesses on how to kick your email marketing into the next gear.
If you think that email marketing is dead, think again. With most online businesses making most of their money from their email followers, it’s clear the approach is still quite vital.
First, email has always been one of the main communication channels on the Internet. It was there even before social media was born. So there is still a segment of the market that is more accustomed to communicating that way.
Second, email will always be a personal communication channel. Sure, some may feel that most email they get is spam. But almost everyone has an email account just for the sake of sending messages and files. This is exactly the reason why business owners should not take email marketing for granted.
With this in mind, Small Business Trends has come up with a list of past articles that can help you in this area. Here’s a collection of the best email marketing articles from our archives.
Maybe a “stress-free office” is a bit of a misnomer, because let’s be honest: if we totally eliminated stress in any and all forms, nothing would get done because we’d lose our sense of urgency. But too much stress has a lot - no, really, a lot - of negative effects, not just on work performance but on health and quality of life in general.
Here at Journyx, one of our philosophical tenets is “don’t make things more stressful than required.” Stress due to personal conflict or something as trivial as an unnecessarily strict dress code lowers performance and generally has a negative effect on company culture. We want our company to be a fun place to work.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t require high quality results from your employees. You should absolutely expect high performance. But it’s another thing entirely to stress out over a small mistake (or even a perceived mistake) that has no actual negative effect on, well, anything at all.
So what’s the right balance between a healthy amount of stress and too much?
Many people operate under the idea that negative feedback is simply a part of management, and it is, but it also isn’t. Unfortunately, oftentimes a manager leaves an employee alone until they do something wrong. Then the employee gets negative feedback and tries to improve based on that negative feedback, without ever having a clear idea of what they are doing well.
As an engineer, it’s really just my nature to be more negative. That’s just how my brain works - I see all the problems remaining to be solved and want them to be fixed as soon as possible. It’s a natural instinct. As managers, we often just assume that our employees and team members know that the other work they do is great; it’s just that we want these other three things fixed, as well. (Of course, we don’t necessarily feel the same way when we are on the receiving end of the feedback!)
Research shows that the number one motivator of employees isn’t cash, isn’t promotions - nope, it’s personalized, immediate recognition of good work from managers. You know, getting a “thank you” here and a “great job” there. And really - how much time does that take out of our day? As long as the employee actually is doing a good job and isn’t phoning it in, why not? Consider this: even though we try to keep employees motivated with cash and bonuses, it turns out that positive reinforcement actually stimulates the same neural pathways as receiving money.
It’s a win-win: You can motivate your employees better and cut costs! (Just kidding, don’t take away your employees’ bonuses.)
So, how do you apply this to your management style?
Here are a few pointers:
●Make sure you’re not using the “Leave Alone/Zap” management style described earlier (term coined by Ken Blanchard). Do your employees, or even just your other team members, only hear from you when they’ve done something wrong?
●When it comes to positive reinforcement, an immediate response from you is best. Don’t have employees wait until the end of the year to find out all the good stuff they’ve done, because chances are either they’ll have forgotten or you will (not exactly ideal for keeping people motivated!)
●Keep your positive feedback sincere and specific. You don’t have to go on and on - but make sure they know what you liked about their work.
Managing is certainly an ever-evolving art seeing as how everyone is different and no two people will respond exactly the same way. But minimizing stress and maximizing positivity is a great place to start. What tips do you have for making the workplace more pleasant?
Last week our Monday Link-ups blog post featured our top 5 favorite project management apps. This week, we're taking it to part 2 where we'll feature 6 more apps that can save you minutes in any given project, regardless of industry. Check out this list and see just how much time it can save you.
- Freshdesk: depending on how long your support teams ticket queue is, simply responding to customer support emails can take up a lot of an employees time. Malleable to different types of personalities and workflows, this tool not only helps out the support desk but also the manager overseeing it with a simple UI. You can prioritize, assign and label the status of a ticket with just a click.
- Unroll.me: May actually be the best thing since sliced bread, Unroll captures all of your most-frequently-mailed marketing emails and compiles it all into one sheet where you can unsubscribe all at once. It's a dream for those who have accidentally clicked one too many times on the accidental "subscribe me" button.
- Concentrate: a popular app that's stellar if you're not the greatest at multitasking (myself included) and need a little extra help shifting from say, a left-brained task to a right-brained one.
- SelfControl: one of those apps that's quickly cropping up on the market as something of a lifesaver, it actively blocks incoming/outgoing email for a set amount of time so you can get prioritized and focus on the task at hand.
- Localist: this app centralizes your event planning and poses a 70 percent increase in attendance.
- Anti-Social: one of our personal favorites, this one blocks the ever-so-distracting social media sites from your radar for a set period of time so that you can put more focus into your project and less into Twitter.
Still want a little more? The following are some must-follow blogs on time management. Have more that weren't on this list? Leave a comment in the section below!
MSDynamicsWorld.com is the forerunner in the latest Dynamics news, trends and tech. If there's an update in any Dynamics ERP System, they're the first (and most trusted) to cover it. They even have featured some work from our very own CEO Curt Finch!
This article titled, "Cloud Terminology 101: Six Terms You Should Understand About Cloud Computing" by Rob Curls, Solutions Consultant at Tribridge, highlights and clarifies some key terms to better understand the black hole of a mystery that can be cloud computing.
"No one understands the cloud! It's a mystery!"
Those words of anguish, from Jason Segel to his co-star Cameron Diaz in a new comedy, sum up the confusion that still surrounds cloud technology for most people. In this case, the pair discovers that their computer has uploaded undesirable personal data to a cloud-based file sharing service, making it visible to everyone they know. Can they get the offending content back, saving some shred of their dignity in the process?
While this is a fictional story wrapped around a comedic personal mishap, it identifies some key challenges we face with cloud computing today, from the lack of controls for safeguarding data to a general lack of knowledge in the general public.
For those of us in the business community who work with systems like Microsoft Dynamics, managing sensitive information such as customer data and payroll records requires understanding some of the common cloud terms and what they mean to an organization. And you'll need to be able to explain these terms to others who require at least a basic understanding of what the stakes are in a cloud-based business environment.
1. What is "The Cloud"?
When it comes to internal accountability for your company’s employees, there’s a balance that needs to be maintained - and it’s not impossible to attain. Using time tracking as an example, employees must track their time to projects, tasks, customers, etc. so that you can understand costs, know where you’re profitable and where you’re not, bill and pay accurately, and see where your projects are at.
That said, there is a line between managing and micromanaging. While getting the above data is important and necessary for your business to grow, micromanaging will hamper the growth of your business and create an unsatisfied, disengaged workplace. On average, employees who know they are being watched perform at a lower level, which has a direct impact on their quality of work, happiness and ease in the office, as well as ability to get along with others. The micromanager is also left dissatisfied, knowing that time spent hovering over employees could be better spent getting valuable projects done.
So here’s how to effectively manage without micromanaging:
We’ve found there are two key components:
1: Be specific
The key here is really clear communication. You need to make sure that everyone’s on the same page, particularly when it comes to the specifications for projects and their deadlines.
It might be a dead horse to beat, but there’s a reason that the SMART goal setting process is so popular. Here’s a brief overview:
- Specific: When people are confused about the project or their role in it, chances are they aren’t going to get their work done correctly.
- Measurable: If the task isn’t measurable, how will your team member know when it’s done?
- Assignable: This is a given, since you’re managing a team.
- Realistic: Don’t overload your team members. They’ll just submit a lower quality of work in an attempt to get it all done.
- Time-oriented: Without a deadline, tasks can quickly be forgotten about, put on the backburner or fall through the cracks entirely.
2: A review process complete with status updates
To keep your team members accountable, they need to be meeting with a manager for a review process regularly. What “regularly” means can change from manager to manager. What’s important is that the review process shouldn’t be about accusations, but an honest and open forum where either party can air concerns; where the manager can ask the employee, “What’s holding you back? What can we change that will make it easier for you to get your work done?” This can be done monthly or quarterly, and should be counted as a separate process from submitting project status updates.
When it comes to status updates, you need to have accurate ways to monitor progress. Ideally, this will consist of two parts:
- Information tracking: This can be done without the manager checking in with the employee for updates. Information tracking is an easy way to see progress at a glance, such as a project calendar on a wall or a shared drive.
- Quick status updates: Here, team members can air concerns about a project and answer any specific questions about what’s holding them up or what problems they foresee with their assignment.
Overall, trust your instincts. If you’re in-tune with your team, it will be easy to notice when an employee is in stress-mode or, on the other hand, when a project is going smoothly. At the end of the day, it depends entirely on the personality of the employee and their respective project manager. Know that no two tasks are alike, and that having a way to track information without physically and literally being in your employee’s business will alleviate the thoughts of having “big brother” hovering over their shoulder. Follow these steps, and a more enjoyable workplace environment is bound to flourish.
For the most part, we all have a means for managing our projects. While many still prefer old-school style sticky notes and a notepad (myself included), most of us in the information age have gone full-digital. To use the ubiquitous phrase 'there's an app for that' would be an understatement. There's an app, a Facebook group, a Google+ hangout, and a webinar for that. So we've listed the highlights for you all on the Journyx blog in this weeks' Monday Link-Ups. Check them out below!
- Asana is an app that goes by the phrase, "teamwork without email". It's both a task and a project management app that incorporates keyboard shortcuts, commenting capabilities, linking options and tags for the whole team to collaborate with.
- Sqwiggle is one of those developer masterpieces that is great when many team members are working remotely. Unlike Google Hangouts which is always active, Sqwiggle is more passive, capturing a snapshot of you working every 10 seconds or so as opposed to being on video feed all day. And, if you want to chat with someone, all you have to do is click their picture.
- Basecamp is a project management tool for those that may want to go in the less big-brothery direction. It's been around for roughly 15 years has grown just by word-of-mouth.
- Creately is super unique in that it allows for better project management via the use of diagrams and image mapping, giving team members the best idea of the flow of a project from start to finish.
- Glasscube is free, fully on the cloud, and easy to use for those just looking to not only manage their own tasks better, but to also be a more effective project manager. Here you get to leave comments, tips, add or remove tasks for your team.
Still want a little more? The following are some must-follow Facebook, Google+ and upcoming webinars to check out. Have more that weren't on this list? Leave a comment in the section below!
Continuing in our third week of our infographic series, (see one and two here) we decided to save the best for last. A few years back in some of our earlier Journyx product updates, we heard from a good handful of our customers that they wanted us to integrate more fully with Microsoft Dynamics, and especially Microsoft Dynamics GP. Well, we heard your requests and made it happen. Today, we fully integrate with Microsoft Dynamics GP Project Accounting, as well as AX and SL.
Then, this last March we went to Microsoft Convergence 2014 in Atlanta and were completely wowed by the Microsoft Dynamics community. The VAR's and ISV's alike seemed to have a cohesive partnership that would make a Texas football team jealous. You can read all about what we learned here. It was incredible; we went back to Austin having gleaned much more knowledge than we had intended.
So what did we do with this newfound info? We compiled data from the best sources - including articles from MSDynamicsWorld.com and ERPSoftwareBlog.com - and even interviewed VARs for their thoughts. What we found was that the Microsoft Community is absolutely flourishing - with NAV in the lead with 102,000 companies using the product and GP rounding closely behind in 2nd place with 47,000 companies.
And here's the thing, it's absolutely all about the implementation. Many companies try to take it on themselves, and fail, or hire an inexperienced VAR and find similarly dull results. In fact, according to an MSDynamicsWorld.com article titled, "New ERP report notes implementation challenges, cloud hurdles", "72 percent of projects have exceeded their planned durations, and 66 percent of respondent organizations have received less than 50 percent of the measurable benefits they anticipated".
See for yourself; check out the infographic below. Remember, it's all about the implementation and getting it right the first time. Since the Dynamics community is so tightly knit, there are plenty of great resources to help you find the right VAR to get the implementation of your ERP system done well.
All companies know that good accounting is vital for business - after all, a business that doesn’t know if it’s ahead (and by how much) isn’t going to be in business for long. But what else can we learn about this critical business practice and how we might do it better? Read on, dear readers, and let’s explore all things accounting!
A Brief History of Accounting
If you can believe it, the art of accounting is over 7,000 years old. It wasn’t very well-suited for hunter-gatherer societies, because in those societies there isn’t much accumulated capital (the food was gathered daily or weekly, mostly without storing it for long periods of time). It was much more suited for farming-based societies where grains and other goods are being stored in cellars for long periods of time. That’s why accounting took hold so well in ancient
A huge step in the evolutionary ladder, accounting and trade in this age flourished, and it flourished well. Accounting gave those peoples a way to know that Joe took 3 barrels of grain from the storage sheds and needed to pay it back. Accounting got another boost in the last two centuries with the industrial revolution, because however well suited accounting was for farming societies, it was much better suited for the manufacturing age.
But How Well-Suited is it for the Information Age?
Since the 1950’s, we’ve had a sharp increase in “knowledge workers”. These workers are defined by Wikipedia as “workers whose main capital is knowledge” - essentially, people who “think for a living”. Businesses that are comprised mostly of these knowledge-workers include industries that handle big data such as marketing firms, consulting firms, and of course, technology firms like Journyx.
So how does this relate to accounting? Well, the assets that are between your ears can’t be repossessed. Depending on the accounting, loan officers might not call a team of copywriters or a team of marketing consultants a “sales asset”. And without assets, your business can’t get loans.
ROA, ROE, and ROIC (that’s return on assets, return on equity, and return on invested capital) are all metrics that don’t necessarily work with a knowledge-worker company precisely because so many of their assets are intangible. And in a knowledge-worker economy, people who are unwilling to learn are less valuable to your company.
How Does this Affect Businesses Otherwise?
Here’s one example: a call center is essentially the knowledge worker equivalent of a sweatshop. You have many employees working far below their intellectual level, which leads to burnout and a high turnover rate. If there was a way to measure new employees’ “assets” (the assets between their ears), the call center could place a new employee appropriately and give other employees the freedom to work in roles that capitalizes on their strengths and career goals. For the business, that means less turnover (and we all know hiring and training can be costly - more on that in a moment) and employees in better-suited positions, which means more profit for the business in the long run.
So About That Training
Today, thorough employee training is often considered a low priority, and when expenses are getting cut, training is often one of the first areas to feel the pinch. But even if we can’t necessarily quantify it in dollars, we all know that training isn’t “just” an expense - a well-trained employee is an asset. Can you imagine the value of a system that made it easy to track the difference between various types of training, going so far as to show how well those employees went on to perform and bring in money for the business? That sort of system would be invaluable for a business owner and would let them maximize the return on investment with employee training over the long term.
Where Does That Put Us in the Scheme of Things?
We believe it would be accounting nirvana to have an accounting system that works around and respects the assets (or pseudo assets, if you will) of knowledge-worked based businesses. Not only would it let you maximize training, but it could have a long-standing impact on the way we run our businesses - for the better. We can only hope that with the knowledge-work boom, this dream will soon be reality.
Working in the software industry gives us some pretty great insight into things like new tech, latest industry standards, the best trends in design and function. But what you may not know is that we also have a lot of friends in the accounting & CPA industry as well. So with that in mind, we thought we'd dedicate this week's Monday Link Ups to our fellows and friends in the Accounting industry.
- AccountingToday is an obvious but necessary choice to have on this list. The CNN of the Accounting world, they're the best source for all things Accounting.
- AccountingWeb is a lot like Accounting Today, packed with forums, webinars, organizing by state and tax codes.
- AccountingCoach is owned and operated by CPA, MBA Harold Averkamp. Great for amateurs, beginners and students, Harold takes any question - big or small - and answers them. In fact, he's answered 993 questions at this point
- CPA Technology Blog boasts a great mix between accounting blogs and new tech articles.
- The Skeptical CPA is every students dream. It takes a hard look at the accounting industry and parses through each problem in detail - but not without adding in a way to solve it.
- The Accounting Onion takes its name from the ubiquitious blog, the Onion, taking a hard look at the industry as a whole and offer up humor in its critique.
But what about LinkedIn, Facebook or Google+ groups? Don't worry, we've included those as well. Check them out below!
- Big Four Accounting Consulting - Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, PwC, Accenture, Capgemini (Big4.com) (LinkedIn)
- Accounting and Finance Professionals (AAFP) (LinkedIn)
- Accounting Jobs and Jobseekers (LinkedIn)
- Accounting (Facebook)
- Accounting Firms (Google+)
- CPA Community (Google+)
- CPA Exam Prep (Google+)
Have more in mind that aren't on this list? Let us know your favorite one in the comment section below!
In the second part of this series on the Mexico oil reform laws, (the first part can be found here) we continue exploring the need for a time, cost and equipment tracking solution. You can read part one here. (Link to part one)
2. Reduce Errors
Not only should you track time, cost and equipment data either at the well site or for your in-office employees, but you should find the appropriate time accounting platform to automate it for you. Whether you use Enertia, Microsoft Dynamics or another accounting solution, fully automating the time data collection process reduces errors and staff time by 75 percent or more.
Automation technologies and practices reduce improper time tracking activities and associated costs by validating project/cost code lists and monitoring approval processes electronically. Additional savings are realized by eliminating paper costs, and policy and regulatory compliance is improved. An automated time and expense tracking system will also simplify your JIB processes and reduce any errors.
3. Monitor (and Increase!) Your Profits
Why do we track project costs in the first place? The answer is simple—to guarantee that every project undertaken and executed is bringing in a profitable ROI for your company. This Key Performance Indicator (KPI), “percentage of projects profitable,” can ensure you’re focused on the right projects and tasks. Unfortunately, most companies have projects going on at any given time that actually lose money for the company. Due to an inadequate understanding of costs, many of these go unnoticed. Yet all you need is direct and indirect per-project cost data along with revenue data to gauge per-project profitability, allowing you to make every effort to maximize this particular KPI. The formula is:
# of profitable projects / # of projects
Understanding true project cost should be an integral part of every organization's project management methodology, but many companies do not even know where to begin. With the right data and a few powerful KPI formulas in hand, project estimation becomes substantially easier when you keep track of the length and scope of past projects, which will save you time and money as you go.
If you’re planning to expand your operations into Mexico, now is the time to ensure you have a solid time, expense and equipment tracking solution in place that will allow you to capture well cost data at the source, in the field, via mobile connectivity.
You might have seen us mention a few days ago that Mexico is pushing a bill through the works that will shift the way it handles its oil and gas industry in a big way. In fact, it's already been passed through Mexico's Senate, according to Reuters.
So what exactly does this mean? According to the bill, this opens up regulation for private companies to enter into the oil and gas industry in Mexico, which has been locked up by companies like Pemex for quite some time. With Mexico being the third largest exporter of Petroleum to the U.S., according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, this is just the thing that many private corporations have been waiting for and can now act on.
Accurate, timely data at the source has never been more important, and with the flood gates opening up in Mexico, it's absolutely necessary to have. With that, we've compiled a video on what next steps are as you consider entering your business into Mexico and the top ways proper time tracking and project management data can help you. Check it out!
Mexico is on the cusp of one of the biggest reforms in the country’s history – a revolution of their oil and gas industry that will end Pemex’s monopoly and open the door for other companies to produce oil, gas and electricity. With this reform, a huge opportunity is opening up for investors and producers alike.
Mexico is one of the top oil producers in the world, ranking ninth in 2012, and is the third-largest petroleum exporter to the U.S., according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. But production hasn’t been as strong over the years, making this a prime time for the reforms to take place.
If you’re considering expanding your operations into Mexico, it is critical to have a solution in place to track time, costs and equipment on a per-well basis.
Recognizing the Opportunity Before Expanding into Mexico
The oil and gas industry has always generated a vast amount of data captured through oil wells, process equipment, financial operations, and pipeline and refining operations. But until recently, this data has not been adequately managed or leveraged by E&P companies of all sizes for business insights. In many cases, the data remained fragmented and underutilized on various paper spreadsheets.
While companies know how important cost data is to their business, they may not have had the means to accurately track their costs in real-time. As the oil and gas industry has become increasingly manufacturing oriented, dependence on timely data has increased as well. Companies must process the streaming data from remote drilling sites and make quick decisions about equipment, personnel, and safety. Additionally, with the current high cost of labor and demands on equipment, errors and delays are more and more costly. Accurate, timely information has never been more important.
How a Time, Cost and Equipment Tracking Solution will Maximize Your Profitability
- Manage Project Risk
Time data can make a fundamental difference to your company if collected in real-time at the source and used correctly. One of the ways in which time tracking can lead to success is by using it to monitor the progress of each project. Knowing a project is behind schedule or over budget towards the end of the project’s life span does no one any good. Knowing this information sooner, however, will help you act accordingly and stop wasting time and money.
Monitoring lift costs – including costs associated with transportation, labor, supplies, supervision, pump operation, electricity, and other expenses – is made much more efficient through the use of a Web-based time and expense tracking system with mobile capabilities. On-site workers can track time, expenses, and equipment usage on a per-project basis. The best systems will integrate with and feed this data into your accounting/ERP system.
This data allows companies to know their costs in real-time, tracked directly at the source. This makes it easier to spot potential problems and avert them before they slow production. But the real value lies in consolidating and leveraging this data over time.
We are all about the business of measureable, actionable data. We've been in its trenches since the mid-nineties, and to say we have learned a thing or two about time tracking in the Information Age would an absolute understatement. So recently, we did what a time tracking and project management company does best - we took a survey and looked at our analytics.
We measured a sample size of roughly 150 of our very own customers, and compiled the results into the infographic below. What we found was that a majority of our customers use our software for billing, but there was also a pretty large crossover between the three main uses of billing, payroll and cost accounting as well. Interestingly enough, 81% of our very own customers say that time tracking software in general is vital to their business processes for things like cost tracking. But don't just take my word for it, see it all for yourself in the results.
Have uses for time tracking that weren't listed in the results? Tell us in the comment section below!
There are a lot of things that as an Austin-based Time Tracking software company, we just don't get: we don't understand the My Little Pony craze, long lines at local taco joints, leaving anything without some sriracha, getting more than 6 inches of snow, and we definitely don't understand mismanaged project costs. That being said, we've got the best list for you this Monday chock-full of time management blogs, tips, advice columns and anything else we could scavenge for you to check out. These are not just the best blogs out there, but they're our favorite blogs out there. Let's get started.
- Lifehack is one of our favorites around here; they're constantly posting nifty ideas for organizing your space for better feng shui, best ways to get out of a ticket -- and of course our favorite -- best time management tips.
- LifeProTips runs along the same train of thought - except here we have a user-aggregated forum for best tips, great ideas, and simple ways to better manage your lifestyle.
- Pajama Productivity operates on a much smaller scale, what someone's personal blog really feels like, except it's their journey to better productivity management. Written by the pen-name Annie, she writes with a great deal of voice and heart; it's hard to not relate and get excited right along with her. She even answers questions, doles out some real-world advice and more.
- Productivityist is actually a blog penned by the former editor of previously mentioned Lifehack. And it's obvious: he offers well thought-out tips and ideas, as well as dispels some time management myths, infusing it with his own brand of humor and wit.
Want a bit more? Don't worry, the fun is just starting here. Check out these great social groups on Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook to get your full fix.