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It's About Time! The Journyx Blog

May 1, 2013

Journyx has had much success with customers in the field of energy, such as Kissimmee Utility Authority. But what if your company's goal is to go "off the grid"?

Following is a guest post from Brent Hardy to give you tips on a more energy-efficient office.

 

Five Steps to Take Your Office Off The Grid

Anyone in business knows how to make money: increase revenue and decrease expenses. But doing the latter by eliminating the electricity bill? Yes, it seems like a dream, but with developments in technology coupled with growing concerns about the depletion of our natural resources and climate change, going completely off the grid may soon become a reality for many forward thinking companies. It is called net-zero energy consumption.

Office buildings in developed countries consume approximately 40% of the world's energy. This is a staggering number, and one that business leaders are looking to change with net-zero energy consumption in both new and existing buildings. A perfect example of this movement is La Jolla Commons in San Diego, California, which will be completed in 2014 and will be the United States' largest net-zero office building to date.

Interested in moving your office toward a net-zero energy model? To do so, you must combine energy-conscious employees, innovative technology, and a combination of intelligent design and construction. Following are five steps to take your office off of the grid.

1. Create an Energy-Conscious Team: Any office can become greener with energy-conscious employees. It is important that they:

  • Turn off appliances when not in use
  • Turn off computers and other technical equipment rather than allowing them to "sleep"
  • Make sure that the windows and doors are fully shut
  • Turn off the lights when not in the room
  • Recycle whenever possible

While this won't eliminate the office's energy consumption, it is the simplest means to reduce the impact on the environment and a necessary step on the path to becoming a net-zero energy office.

2. Purchase Energy-Efficient Appliances and Equipment: Even with energy-conscious employees, it is nearly impossible for a functional office to shut down each appliance or piece of equipment when it isn't in use. With that being said, it is possible to reduce the amount of energy that is needed by purchasing energy-efficient appliances. Purchase refrigerators, dish washers, microwaves, copiers, and other equipment that meet stringent energy consumption guidelines. Increased sharing of office equipment, such as printers, further decreases the amount of energy required to keep an office operating at full-tilt.

3. Recycle Water: Most offices have secondary water needs (apart from bathrooms and drinking), whether to keep the lawns green or to add charm in decorative fountains. Recycling gray water and rainwater is yet another step toward creating a net-zero office building.

4. Fuel the Office with Solar Energy: The first three steps can reduce consumption in the office, but creating energy is an essential step in taking your office off of the grid. Solar photovoltaic systems provide energy that fuels net-zero buildings and everything in them. These can be constructed on a rooftop or in a field, and the array can generate massive amounts of energy.

If the building uses more energy than it makes, it can tap into traditional energy sources, albeit with a lower impact, particularly if using a "smart" electrical system. But if a building uses less energy than it generates, it can send excess back to the grid, essentially "paying back" any electricity that it has used. Additional solar equipment can further decrease energy use, like solar water heaters. Solar thermal panels create heat that warms the water in a water heater's reservoir and fills the tank to replenish water used for sinks or baths.

5. Invest in Smart Design and Construction: The most intensive part of creating a net-zero office building is in its design and construction. Designing and building an office – or remodeling an existing office – using the net-zero energy model begins with a more efficient and sometimes unique layout, including an open floor plan to prevent hot and cold pockets. These buildings boast thicker walls, more insulation, and low-emittance window coatings that reduce energy used to heat and cool the inside. They also include more windows than standard buildings to reduce the need for artificial lighting. Advanced technologies, like geothermal systems and radiant heating, reduce the building's need for energy to facilitate heating and cooling.

Net-zero office buildings are still on the rise, but advances in technology and growing environmental consciousness is making green living and working easier and more affordable. And this concept doesn't apply only to commercial spaces. Net-zero energy homes are becoming more prevalent, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, MD, has even built the Net-Zero Residential Test Facility that will help determine if net-zero technologies are ready for mainstream neighborhoods.

With momentum growing in the net-zero movement, it is only a matter of time before business and residences are able to affordably go "off-the-grid."

About the Author:

Brent Hardy implements sustainability programs for www.extraspace.com. The Extra Space self storage facility in Fontana is reducing its energy consumption by adopting sustainability practices like those described in this article.

April 30, 2013

If you've been thinking of trying Journyx Timesheet free for 30 days, there's never been a better time than now!

Journyx announced today upgrades to Journyx Timesheet with the launch of its newest version, 8.9. New features focus on time/expense/mileage entry improvements, reporting functionality, and data import tools. 

Specific new features include:

Time/Expense/Mileage Entry Improvements and New Features

  • Document upload for all records - All time, expense and mileage entries can have documents attached to/associated with them.
  • Master time/expense/mileage keeper - Provides an interface for entering time, etc. for multiple users on a single screen.
  • Direct tab navigation on all entry screens - Using the tab button to move from field to field while creating new time/expense/mileage entries follows the logical flow required to complete a full entry.

New Reporting Options & Management Features

  • Administrator management for all saved reports in the system - Administrators can set limits on saved reports (e.g. standard report expiration periods), clean up other users’ saved reports, etc.
  • Start date features for floating date reports - The start date for reports where the date is entered at run time defaults to the first day of the previous month.
  • Group field displayed in standard reports - In the time fields for display in a time report, Group and Group Description have been added.

New Tools For Importing Data Into Timesheet

  • Group membership import now includes holiday schedule field
  • New import tool for importing holiday schedules
  • User import now includes policy assignment, time/expense/mileage period fields

See complete feature lists for Journyx Timesheet.

Click here to try Timesheet free for 30 days!

April 24, 2013

As a small business ourselves, we want to assist other companies that face similar issues. There's an entire small business community that has benefited from tracking their time and there's a great reason why:

In the 17 years that Journyx has been in business, we've noticed that there are three key factors that can make or break a company's productivity:

  • One -- recognizing the time sinks in your company
  • Two -- identifying the capabilities of your team and where to invest
  • Three -- keeping up with the backlog of information, organizing it, and using it to guide or support important decisions about the company  

We have numerous success stories of how tracking time has supported businesses of all shapes and sizes, but the only way for you to really find out if it works for your business is to try it out. We're offering a 30-day FREE trial of our software - sign up today!

 

April 18, 2013

The following is an excerpt from an article that our CEO wrote for Technorati. Click this link to read the rest of the article!

According to research firm Strategy Analytics, the number of active smartphones topped one billion in 2012, and they estimate that this number will double by 2015. Mobile devices are compact and convenient, and users increasingly rely on them for the majority of basic tasks, including professional usage. The most effective accounting software offers accessible, real-time reporting of employee work and related costs. But the definition of “accessible” is changing; soon it won’t be enough for users to access information only on company desktops. Information has to be available on-demand – by which I mean, on mobile devices.

Several top companies already offer mobile applications for smartphones and tablets. QuickBooks, the top accounting software solution among small businesses, offers QuickBooks Mobile for the iPad, iPhone, and Android. This application allows users to easily view customer information, send professional invoices, and mark invoices as paid. The data on Mobile QuickBooks syncs back with QuickBooks on the desktop, and visa versa.

Microsoft Office offers a similar application for the Windows Phone, allowing users to create, open, and edit Excel workbooks. And Microsoft Dynamics offers a mobile application for Dynamics CRM.

So, how useful are these applications? Find out here!

March 20, 2013

Check out this song that tells the perfect harmony of Journyx and Microsoft Dynamics!

 

March 19, 2013

 

Change is good.  In the last fifty years or so, the world changed dramatically, and the economy went along with it.  We have now shifted from a system of primarily physical production to a knowledge worker economy in which the individual is a company’s greatest asset.  Each person has value to the organization; consequently, that value must be accounted for and maximized in order to be successful.

Since our entire system has changed, it is only natural that our methods of project accounting and strategy must change as well.  Many companies today, however, have not yet grasped just how they can improve their processes to accommodate this new way of doing business.

In a knowledge economy, most, if not all, work is done with information.  In such an environment, managers must treat employees as volunteers, because that is essentially what they are.  The well-being and happiness of both employees and customers are crucial to the business’s success, which is why it is called a “people” business.

The most effective managers know that accounting for the effort, cost and profitability of each person and/or project is the best way to succeed, and doing so is not as hard as one might think.  The process that will take you from where you probably are right now—the state we affectionately term “chaos”—to a prosperous state of order is called the P5 continuumTM (Per-Person, Per-Project Profitability).

The Path to Profitability

  1. Chaos

Most businesses begin at this stage, in which you don’t have the information you need about projects and employees that will help you make informed decisions about the future of your business.  In this stage, it is difficult to replicate successes with any type of consistency and projects are often abandoned in crisis.  Over-commitment is common as well.

  1. Transition: Most of your employees are tracking most of their time

In this stage, you attempt to get a basic idea of how hours are spent within your company.  Have most of your employees give an approximation of direct costs on a per-project basis in order to track project labor hours on all projects.  Make sure that this information is visible to management.

  1. Structure: Direct costs are known

Dig a little deeper by having all personnel track their hourly rate and expenses on all projects.  In step 2 you proved the value of the data.  Here we make our knowledge complete.

  1. System: Now you know total cost on a per-project basis as well as total cost on a per-person-per-project basis

Allocate indirect and partially indirect costs such as electricity, office supplies, or tasks that are too small to measure on a per-customer basis.  Give very relevant and tightly defined per-project and per-person cost visibility.

  1. Order: Revenue integration

Connect all of this data with revenue by integrating your project accounting system with a financial or ERP system, CRM tools, or another back office system.  This enables you to reach project tracking nirvana by obtaining per-project per-person profitability.

It is not necessary to follow the process all the way through to ‘order’ in order to realize benefits; you will begin to realize them as soon as you start, no matter where you stop along the path.  The further along you go, however, the better off your company will be.  This method will give you the strategic insight necessary for success.  After all, if you don’t know which of your projects are profitable and which are not, you will always find yourself at risk of losing money and wasting employee time. As the world and economy continue to change and grow, it is imperative for businesses to make the appropriate adjustments to their time management and accounting methods. 

March 18, 2013

In the spirit of SXSW Interactive 2013, and being a startup once ourselves 17 years ago, we've decided to provide our web-based timesheet for free to all startups with 10 users or less. We want you to be successful, and we believe we can help. There are three key factors that can affect a startup's productivity that Journyx helps remedy:

 

1. Identifying time sinks

2. Determining when to outsource or to hire a dedicated employee

3. Analyzing company history and making smart decisions on how and where to scale

 

Click here for more information. Of course, if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, you can email me at christa@journyx.com.

Enjoy, and let us know how it works for you!

 

 

 

March 13, 2013

After attending  Microsoft Convergence in Houston last year, we met up with a few other companies in our space to learn even more about Dynamics and some of the trends of VARS. Our CEO, Curt Finch, wrote an article for MSDynamicsWorld.com about the true value from VARs, the “Master VAR program” and the new role VARs play in guiding customers to certain flavors of Dynamics products.

Curt spoke with the Tony DiBenedetto, CEO of Tribridge, one of the largest Microsoft Dynamics VARs, about the rapid growth of Dynamics AX. Curt also discussed the old VAR model and the movement towards more verticality with the President of FastPath Solutions, Andrew Snook.

If you’d like to read more about the trends occurring in the space, here’s the link.  

And, don't forget, we'll be attending Convergence 2013 the week of March 18, so stop by booth #1655 for more information on the best Timesheet solution for Microsoft Dynamics GP!

March 7, 2013

Do you want to acquire the tools necessary to avoid issues and help you get the most in Microsoft Dynamics? Sometimes there are bottlenecks and data errors that stem from weak processes and human error. Following are five steps that will help you maximize the value of Microsoft Dynamics no matter what size company you are in.

  1. Implementation

First, you’ll need an implementation strategy that starts with a backlog of project data. Without this step, you’re allowing for misinformation, disorganization and increased possibility of failure of projects. Tip: This important process of looking into the past and importing that data can be smoothed out and managed by a Microsoft approved partner or VAR.

  1. Education

After implementation, you must provide direction for the new system. Don’t just expect new behavior simply because you’ve installed new software. Have your team attend management-led seminars or hire outside tutors.

  1. Universality

All necessary data relating to project accounting must be accessible from within Dynamics. If your team finds it difficult to get that information, they may circumvent the system resulting in inaccuracies. Fortunately, Microsoft has a plug-in strategy for more advanced third-party software options.

  1. Visibility

Create tiered and targeted visibility protocols within your system to guarantee the right people have access to the right information at all times. Too often, management will attempt to access data within Dynamics, only to discover that the information they need is buried. Creating role-based views makes it easier to make informed decisions from clear, coherent data.

  1. Accountability

Your project accounting system should incorporate an accountability structure to promote adherence to goals and assigned processes. To help with sticking with goals, management should set forth defined key performance indicators that can be measured with data-driven metrics. Pick on or two KPI’s, assign them to employees that have direct influence over them, and check in often to see how they’re coming along.

In this modern business climate, every company has access to tools that will promote long-term success. Use them wisely and you will be able to gain and maintain a strategic advantage that will last for the lifetime of your company. 

March 4, 2013

 

The Internet has exploded with backlash over Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer's choice to end telecommuting privileges for employees. Even high profile executives such as Richard Branson have weighed in on the announcement, resulting in a response that has been overwhelmingly negative. Although it is almost certain that Mayer and the rest of the Yahoo! higher-ups expected some grumbling from the announcement, I doubt very much that she anticipated the current wave of bad press. What’s the deal? Yahoo! is certainly not the only company to put limits on employee time away from the office. No, Mayer's primary problem was her betrayal of employee trust during a time when technology is removing excuses for suspicion.

Mobile strategy is not a buzz term, but rather the trend towards which most companies are headed. In the past, it was logistically impossible to organize and track a team without the cohesion that came from a physical office space. Now, with advanced meeting and time tracking tools, remote work is not only possible but in some cases even more efficient than traditional in-office policies. A mobile workforce increases opportunities and frees up resources while allowing employees a greater degree of control over their work-life balance. So, when a company has made the strides necessary to facilitate a mobile workforce, revoking the policy communicates a lack of trust.

Make no mistake, Yahoo! needs to make bold changes to keep up with their vastly more popular rivals online. However, for a company that is already seen as being "behind the curve", instituting backwards-looking policies is just poor form. If employees cannot be trusted under the current climate without tightening the leash, then perhaps the problem runs deeper than simply not having enough butts in seats at a physical office. In any case, the larger lesson here is simply this: looking backwards will very rarely put you in a position to move forward.

February 27, 2013

 

The increasing rise in popularity of various web-based images and videos (often referred to as “memes”) has led many companies to wonder how they can capitalize on that virality. What were once underground jokes have become fodder for corporate marketing on an enormous scale. One need only turn to the latest craze, the "Harlem Shake", to get a good idea of the scale of meme-based corporate cash-in.

Regarding the popularity of the Harlem Shake, TechCrunch recently released an article attempting to explore the various elements that make the meme so popular. Looking at such elements as length of time and number of performers, they concluded that the Shake, specifically, matches the criteria for viral sharing. However, a quick glance at YouTube proves that simply matching that formula isn't enough. Nearly every Harlem Shake video follows it exactly, yet only a few have reached true viral status.

What is the missing element? As far as companies are concerned, it's the old standby: time to market. When one company embraces a meme, it's original, exciting and risky. When the rest hop on board, it quickly becomes stale. To capitalize on these trends, you need to keep a pulse on social channels and other sharing platforms, but more importantly you must be quick to act. Keeping time available for these open-ended endeavors, and giving employees the autonomy to pursue them without wading through bureaucratic red tape, will put you in a position to embrace the viral marketing formula.

February 21, 2013

W Squared provides business process outsourcing solutions including finance and accounting, technology, human resources and payroll, healthcare, and more. They are an affordable solution for companies that desire a more sophisticated corporate back-office support system that will scale alongside the expansion of their operations.

W Squared trusts Microsoft Dynamics GP for accounting and ADP for payroll, but needed a time tracking system that not only integrated with the two but also allowed W Squared to make customizations for complex business processes. This is where Journyx shines.

“We needed time tracking data to be used for billing clients, and also wanted this information to show which projects are profitable and which aren’t,” said Moreen Logsdon, Vice President of Enterprise Business Solutions for W Squared.

Prior to Journyx, W Squared used Deltek for time tracking but found that employees had way too much freedom in the system to, for example, mark regular hours as overtime, add receipts to six-month-old expense reports and the like. With Journyx, they were able to do this and capture payroll and project data, all in one.

To learn more about how the trio of Microsoft Dynamics, ADP and Journyx offers a complete and unbeatable solution for W Squared's customers, take a look at the success story.

February 18, 2013

 

We’ve all experienced the excitement that comes from a new product announcement from a company we really like. It is often associated with a generous portion of marketing glitz and glam that get our mouths watering for the next great piece of tech, software or whatever. When the company delivers on that promise in an expected timeframe, we as consumers are satisfied. However, when a business continually delays a release, we are left feeling angry, as if the business has been dishonest in some way. We know rationally that there are a number of factors that can result in product delay, but when we were really looking forward to a release, we just don’t care.

Some setbacks have been so disheartening, so lengthy, that they actually become a running joke. In the video game industry, the game Duke Nukem Forever was intended to be released as a sequel to its 1996 predecessor. Then the delays began and they continued to occur for years. People joked about getting things done “when Duke Nukem comes out” (i.e., never). Then, against all odds, the game finally did get released...in 2011, a full fifteen years after it was slated for distribution. Unsurprisingly, people felt it had missed its window and that the constantly changing scope of the game made it a disappointment.

So, what does this mean for your business? While failure on that level is quite rare, scope creep is not. If you do not accurately forecast project budgets, personnel availability and resource usage, your project can very easily get delayed past the point of no return. When customers or stakeholders inevitably lose interest, you are left with nothing more than lost time and missed opportunities. It is frustrating when projects miss deadlines, but it is even worse when a business continues to sink money into a lost cause. Accurately tracking time and resources can often curtail scope creep, but it will also allow you to cut your losses if a project is drastically off the mark.

February 15, 2013

One of the biggest events Journyx is planning to attend this year is Microsoft Convergence 2013. This year the conference is being held in New Orleans. It’s four days where Microsoft Dynamics customers learn about all the opportunities and innovations that come together to create business value.  Partners like us get to showcase how they deliver that value and help users get the most out of those products.

We learned some valuable things last year and we are looking forward to the conference this year. Journyx has worked with companies like business process outsourcing solutions company, W Squared, and business accounting software company, Kissimmee Utility Authority. Our solutions can also help other companies fill in the gaps or build on the Dyanamics solution to improve time tracking and project management processes.

We’ll be at booth #1655, so come stop by and say hi. We’ll have great prizes such as a $500 gift card to Best Buy and a chance to win an Xbox Kinect! See you there!

February 7, 2013

Dave Brown, Partner at Foundation Finance, excels at helping clients get beyond the limitations of current financial conventional wisdom and take control of their own economic future. Today, Dave has written a guest blog for us about the financing options for SMBs:

Any small business owner who took the time to research the outlook for obtaining financing in 2013 would most likely get opinions as varied as the sources consulted.  Such a forecast depends on many variables – the state of the overall economy; the state of the local economy; the potential sources of financing; and, the overall credit-worthiness of the applicant, to highlight just a few.  While these are clear starting points, things can start to get somewhat murky once we begin to drill down on the subject of potential sources of financing.

As we continue to deal with the impact of the 2008 financial meltdown, it's impossible for anyone to not still feel ramifications of it.  So even though you might not have had a need for financing in 2010 or 2012, just know changes that were set in motion during the backlash of the last few years might very well have an impact on your efforts to obtain financing in 2013.  This goes beyond the obvious truth that applicants should expect to spend more time and manpower jumping through the lender’s hoops in order to prove they are worthy of the financing help.  We must also be aware of any potential impact on the actual pool of lendable capital in the marketplace. 

As part of the Journyx webinar series, in How To Shield Your Business from the Next Financial Downturn , we discuss just how critical the availability of financing is to the entire global economy, along with how the traditional sources of financing have been impacted and the resulting rise of “alternative” financing.  We also discuss the impact of government regulation, how one government action can contradict another, and how the influence is felt at the local level.  Finally, we explore the possibility of being less dependent on external sources of capital in order to maintain greater flexibility and control in any economic environment.    

This webinar will next be presented on Thursday, Feb 21, at 2 p.m. CST. I hope you'll join us. Please write down any questions now that you have on this topic and I'll do my best to answer it during the webinar's Q&A section.

 

February 4, 2013

 

Companies large and small engage in projects and tasks during the fiscal year that are outside the realm of their daily routine. Because these projects run concurrently with many other tasks, they require a tactical approach to ensure that your company has the time and resources to tackle these initiatives and keep all the balls in the air.

First and foremost, you have to reduce the odds that an initiative will fail due to internal time conflicts or personnel absences. An automated time and project tracking system like Journyx gives you the tools to study and plan the use of employee time so that team members don’t become double-booked or overworked.

Similarly, a system like this lets you determine if employees will be available for the duration of the project. Many an initiative has come to a grinding halt because of an unexpected vacation during a critical time period. Such insight will allow you and your employees to mitigate these circumstances without neglecting the needs of anyone.

Finally, you should look to your backlog of projects for any similar initiatives. That will help you determine the optimum time to begin an important project in your timeline. It will also allow you to accurately set expectations for key stakeholders both internally and externally. You can reduce the chances that a project gets put on hold due to delays in previous projects that overextend their time or budget requirements.

These techniques will allow you to avoid an unproductive piecemeal approach to projects that can quickly lead to angry stakeholders and burnt out employees. They will also allow you to take on more impressive initiatives, leading to an excited customer base and ultimately greater profits for you.

January 29, 2013

 

Well, it finally happened. The mighty Apple has fallen from grace as their stocks dry up into nothing and they are left with naught but a dusty iPod in the sand.

Yet, Apple recently reported its best quarter ever, with profits actually climbing steadily higher and continuing to break records for industry growth. How can this be? As Mashable reports, “investors wanted to see Apple beat estimates by a convincing margin in order to set aside lingering concerns about the stock.” So then, what might appear by one standard to be the ultimate measure of success is seen by another as failure.

That is specifically why, in any company, you must curtail the key performance indicators on which you focus, limiting them to two or three at most. While it is likely the case that stock performance is a KPI for Apple, this example shows how differing conclusions can be drawn from the same data.

Growth is dictated by a number of factors including percentage of projects profitable, overall profitability, and, of course, stock price if you are publicly traded. Regardless, it is important to pick a metric that you are comfortable with and stick to it. Becoming and remaining successful requires a clear focus on achievement of goals, and too may KPIs will leave you confused, much like too many gauges on the dashboard of a car.

In short, Apple isn’t going anywhere regardless of their “failure” to appease Wall Street, but that doesn’t mean their numbers won’t be colored differently by various groups. The smart choice is to choose your own metrics carefully and refuse to be dissuaded by external influence. Attempting to meet everyone’s metrics of success has the potential to negatively affect the real value of your company.

January 21, 2013

 

We the People” is an online petition website set up to allow citizens to get responses on popular issues. However, it has largely been exploited to serve as both a humor device and a form of popular protest. For instance, it has been used to petition for the creation of a “Death Star” and even to propose secession. Clearly, these types of issues were not the intended purpose of the site, causing the site to raise its threshold from 5,000 petitions to 100,000 petitions. While many may condemn the site for bending to these unintended uses and making it more difficult for others to use the site according to the original purpose, there are some valuable lessons to be learned here about customer service.

One thing that the White House has done well in light of the more frivolous uses of the site has been to counter with humor. The “Death Star” petition was answered with a response which was chock full of Star Wars references. By responding in this way, The White House was able to get in on the joke (rather than being the target) and also humanized itself. Businesses often take themselves too seriously in customer communication settings. While maintaining professionalism is always key, it doesn’t hurt to be a little silly and joke around to let people know that, yes, you are a group of people and not a mindless machine.

The White House has also been good about responding to even highly negative petitions on the site with regularity. Although there is no requirement to answer a question at any specific time even once the petition threshold is reached, the decision to address inflammatory comments shows strength and confidence. As a business, it is important to remember that even negative responses on customer-facing channels can be positive if you can address them and get a conversation going. Often, if your responses are well reasoned and effective, you can even recruit other customers who will defend you, serving as brand advocates and lending credibility to your business. Staying silent, which might be the safest choice in some damage control scenarios, gives all the power to your attackers.

It is dangerous to create divisions between “us” and “them” in your communication channels. By establishing an open dialogue, you will maintain the respect of your client base. In that sense, “We The People” may be making some missteps by raising their petition requirements to greater and greater heights, showing a lack of confidence in their transparency channels. Still, the fact that such a channel exists with White House officials is a great idea, and businesses should consider taking some lessons regarding direct communication, and mitigating unintended consequences, from this oft-inaccessible government entity.

 

January 15, 2013

One of our most popular Journyx Webinar presenters, Jan Triplett, CEO of the Business Success Center, shares some insights about gaining and keeping stakeholders in this guest blog post:

Trick question: how many stakeholders does it take to get things done? It’s always more than you think. One client counted up 50 stakeholder groups and more than 100 people.

If you’re like most organizations, you work very hard to get everyone lined up and saying “yes”. Then somehow they vanish. It can be really discouraging. This is just as true when you’re trying to get a sale as it is for getting things done internally or with allies and influencers.

You ask them, “What happened?” “You were on board yesterday (an hour ago, last month, etc.).” What you hear (if you hear anything) is “I re-thought about it” or “I’m just not so sure this is a good idea anymore.” All your hard work is down the drain. The sale, issue, decision or activity is postponed or gone forever.

What went wrong? One of three possibilities has occurred. Two of them are fixable; one of them isn’t. The unfixable one is caused by “ghost competitors”™ to your idea. One fixable problem is caused by rushing the stakeholders. The other is due to not letting them go completely through their “buy-in” process. It’s what we call the “Buying Continuum”™.  

Just as you have a process to get their sale, agreement, participation, etc., they have a process to reduce or take the risk out of doing what you ask. There are different kinds of risk takers and to “catch” them, you need to use that information in the process you use in your particular Buying Continuum™.

There are seven steps to the Buying Continuum™ that all these risk takers must go through to do what you want. They won’t match up exactly with what you do on your behalf. Some of their steps may happen simultaneously but they must happen. If you know how it works, you can mentor them through any steps that they try to circumvent or delay.

The result of doing this is staggering.  You can reduce your time, effort, and maybe even money to get them all the way to the finish line. You can also see the writing on the wall a lot faster and not even bother or find a way around that particular stakeholder.

In my free Journyx webinar, "Catching the Wild Stakeholder”,  I talk about the risk takers and the Buying Continuum™ process. Register here. Please feel free to email me your questions at triplett@ownersview.com.

By Jan F. Triplett, Ph.D., CEO, Business Success Center

January 14, 2013

 

Companies have been looking for productivity boosters for as long as they have been in business. Often these boosters take the form of direct efforts, such as team outings or the dreaded “team-building exercise”. While these approaches may have an immediate positive impact, oftentimes lessons learned or motivation gained diminish over time. Ultimately, the reason for this drop-off is lack of consistency on following through on the positive lessons. A similar effect occurs outside the business world. For instance, when one is attempting to learn a foreign language, it does no good to engage in a weeklong “cram” and then ignore the language until the need arises. 

Once a company decides to employ productivity strategies, the question becomes, what should these strategies entail? Most of the time, it makes sense to align strategies with existing company culture. Technology companies may benefit from allowing employees to bring their own mobile devices to work, for instance. Regardless of the direction you choose, some change is going to be necessary.

The word “ambience” elicits images of colored lighting and modern architecture, but in reality, the most effective ambient strategies are personality-based and usually originate from the top. Particularly in a corporate setting, the trickle-down effect is significant due to structured hierarchy. While it may seem cliché, the idea that management should “lead from the front” is a highly effective ambient strategy, and not just because of the feel-good nature such efforts inspire in employees.

Rather, when an employee sees someone in a position of success that regularly dives right into projects and is not afraid to get their hands dirty, they get the idea that, if they want to reach the same level of success, they must be similarly willing to take on a challenge. Remember, the reverse is true as well, and if an employee feels the only way to get ahead is through personal relationships and backstabbing, they will do that as well.

Ambient strategies must be consistent and long-lasting to realize significant benefit, but they can revitalize a business due to their integration in the daily experiences of employees. Further, because the benefits of ambient strategies are productivity based, you can measure the value of such efforts as a function of time. While ambient strategies do take time to mature, they can certainly adhere to the S.M.A.R.T. goal structure more so than direct productivity boosters. In addition, they can be far more cost effective. Besides, does anyone really want to play tug-of-war in business casual?

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