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It's About Time! The Journyx Blog

June 25, 2012

 

During the economic recession, the concept of growth seems to have taken a backseat to the reality of survival. Perhaps no industry has faced more challenges than travel, and within that subset, travel agencies have it the worst. The internet, with its wealth of information and constant availability of online deals, has struck a major blow to agencies worldwide, rendering many of them extraneous. The devastating tragedy of 9/11 led to mass trepidation for travel. Now, the economic recession has caused even further cutbacks in travel related expenses for many individuals and organizations. With all of these devastating factors working against them, it is amazing that the word “travel agency” even exists in our modern vocabulary.

However, Anthony Travel has managed to not only survive all of those adverse conditions, but to thrive. Of course, savvy business acumen is responsible for this success. Though the portfolio of techniques that Anthony Travel uses is no doubt incredibly diverse, their use of the two following time management techniques has helped them avoid unnecessary pitfalls and make intelligent decisions.

Track Time to Projects

Anthony Travel initially tracked time simply for payroll, using a relatively unsophisticated system that did not give much insight into anything but employee hours worked. However, once they made the decision to switch to an automated solution, the opportunity to track time on a per-person, per-project basis opened up, and it allowed many benefits that were impossible with their previous solution. For one thing, they were able to get specific insight into where and when employees were completing assigned tasks and compare those to ultimate profitability. They were then able to reallocate resources and people in ways that made sense for their business. In addition, they could determine if employees were being put on too many projects, or if they were available for a new venture. This level of clarity allowed for precise decisions that increased the efficiency of everything from project completion to time-off requests.

Fire Problem Customers

Anthony Travel does business with several reputable college athletics teams in the United States, helping players get where they need to go. They track time to schools and even by team, approaching each as a separate project. With this information, they began to see some trends in the profitability of each of these, and eventually reached a somewhat surprising conclusion: some projects were tying up too many resources to maintain profitability.  This insight allowed them to focus on the most profitable customers and projects. Insight into the time and resources spent on customers allowed them to make intelligent -- and profitable -- decisions.

These strategies worked well for Anthony Travel, but what tools do you use to protect yourself from unforeseen circumstances and to increase profits?

June 22, 2012

Last Tuesday we exhibited at Decisions, a virtual conference showcasing the family of Microsoft Dynamics GP solutions. Attendees asked us some very important questions mostly regarding what our magical powers are with Microsoft Dynamics GP. A magician never reveals his secret… but the reason why businesses that use GP love us is just no secret anymore. We’ve been doing it for 16 years. Here are a few inquires that I’ve pulled out of the hat:

Q: I would like to know how you gather the time, and if your project integration is to project accounting?

A: We can integrate in a number of ways. Our solution tracks time and expense via the web and can send it to Dynamics GP through Project Accounting. We also act as stand-alone solutions for time and expense tracking.

Q: We have a need to collect time in our outlying locations, but since most of our work is done outside (no computer available) we will need to collect time in different parts of our plant without much employee involvement. Does your product fit this situation? We already have Dynamics GP PR in place.

A: Supervisors and team leaders can enter time of behalf of their resources or we can pre-populate the time based on what work is usually done, which would be a simple login-and-approve interaction. Employees would be able to make changes as needed

Q: Do you work with Thinkware?

A: We can integrate with most systems, specifically if it can accept .txt or Excel files. We are definitely familiar with the PEO space so integrating with Thinkware would not be a problem.

Q: Can you have three different approvals on the same time sheet going on at the same time, i.e. one for the PM, manager, and program manager?

A: Absolutely that’s one of our product's biggest advantages. We provide flexible approval paths that allow you to control who has access to timesheets at the per-person level.

If you’d like to learn more about our approvals, integrations or more, I’ve provided links. I’ll also be able to help you if you want to email me at christa@journyx.com.

 

June 18, 2012

 

Timesheet software is often associated with looking at past projects, evaluating their success, and using that knowledge to plan for future projects. It can do all of that, of course, but surprisingly, timesheet software can also enable businesses to “turn on a dime,” so to speak. The software can help businesses redirect resources as necessary to procure new projects or repair struggling ones.

How does this work, you may ask? Well, advanced time tracking solutions have the ability to make leave requests, demonstrate what tasks a person spends the most time on, and show who is available and when. If the opportunity to take on a contract with a fast turnaround time arises, it is absolutely critical to know this information. If you don’t, it could mean that you leave profitable business on the table, or worse, take on a project only to find out that its scope is outside of your control.

Further, we have already discussed the advantage of keeping a record of previous projects, and this is a perfect example of why it is good to do so. If you can draw on past information about completion rates, employee efficiency, and availability of resources for past projects, then it is possible to make educated guesses about requirements for new projects. If a project is performing poorly, it is also possible to compare that project with successfully completed ones to determine if there are any requirements or resources incongruent with the current project.

So, just remember that Journyx Timesheet has advanced functionality that can be unlocked by the savvy and creative business professional. What sort of innovative uses have you found for time tracking software?

June 15, 2012

I’ve talked about trade shows before. I’m lucky that Journyx sent me to the Texas Payroll Conference and to the behemoth of a show, Microsoft Convergence. I'm even currently planning for AACE International, a five day conference for cost engineers. But this is different. Really different. This is something that neither Journyx, nor myself, have ever done before. It’s called Decisions, and it’s for the members of the Microsoft Dynamics community who want to keep up to date with the industry’s opportunities and challenges. What’s so innovative about it? It’s a virtual tradeshow. 

This trade show is just like any traditional one except that it's online. I will man our virtual booth and assist any visitors with questions they have. My cohort, Erin, will make sure that interested attendees get the information they need to learn about us online. She has also created tailored collateral for attendees seeking more information. And just like at a conventional exhibitor booth, we will provide a giveaway! Check out the photo below for a sneak peak of the booth.

Even though we lose the face-to-face interaction, the price of a virtual trade show is minimal since there are no expenses related to flying staff to the site, staying in a hotel, providing food and gas expenses, etc. Not having to purchase booth essentials such as carpeting, tables, printed collateral, and lighting also drives down the cost.

Perhaps as soon as 5 years in the future, we will look back and think, "Wow! Why did companies spend so much money on those old trade shows!" What do you think?

June 11, 2012

 

How many times have we heard the phrase, “don’t sweat the small stuff”? Some people really focus on minor, inconsequential things, allowing them to take over their minds and ruin productivity. While one or even a couple of these tasks might actually be small things, when combined, they can leech productivity and cause stress as employees must multitask and shift focus rapidly. This means that sometimes they will not be able to give proper focus to a specific problem.

Fortunately, properly configured time management systems can give insight into these small tasks that can cause big headaches. It does, however, require a little more attention than many managers give employee timesheets. When reviewing employee timesheets, managers typically look for major trends and might disregard one-off or minor tasks that employees complete. This can be a major oversight.

Instead, it pays to look at the number of minor tasks that employees complete and reference that against the workload of other employees. If one employee has too many minor tasks, it might be wise to consult with that employee and see if he or she feels too much pressure. Maybe it would help to spread those tasks over several employees. A good sign that this could be necessary is when an employee begins spending less time, or delivering less value, on their primary tasks with the most importance.

While some may say don’t sweat the small stuff, the sad reality is that many employees do not have an option. Instead, I would offer the following advice to supervisors looking to optimize their organization: keep watch only for giants, and you may be eaten by ants.

June 8, 2012

This month’s get-together was a Family Feud competition between Journyx and our business partner and next door office neighbor, AimSourcing. I wanted to share this as just another idea to get the team together in the spirit of competition.

The photo collage below showcases the flier we posted around the office to remind the staff of the event. In the shot, my mustache is a printed paper replication of the one Steve Harvey sports as the current Family Feud host… in case the resemblance wasn't too obvious! Top right is a photo of our conquering team beaming proudly about their recent victory. Bottom right, I’m congratulating Stephen, the winner of the gift card prize drawing only offered to the team who came out on top.

June 4, 2012

 

If you haven’t heard the story of Caine’s arcade then stop reading now and go check it out.

Back? Ok, we can get started.

This story has gripped the internet for so many reasons. Young Caine is inspirational, a story of childhood dreams realized. Caine also represents pure, unblemished entrepreneurship freed from the bounds of conformity or the realization that maybe this is just too difficult to accomplish. We are impressed by his drive, the fact the he sat outside that arcade day after day after spending an entire summer building it out of old boxes. His ingenuity and problem solving is similarly impressive; he solves problems with elbow grease, and has “bootstrapped” every aspect of his business.

Interestingly, there are many takeaways from this story that aren’t of the feel good variety. Namely, young Caine has built repeatable processes into his arcade from the beginning, and has automated time consuming tasks wherever he can. For example, take a look at the ingenious way that he validates fun passes. While it would take a cruel-hearted individual to try to scam him, Caine has nevertheless taken the initiative and developed a security system for the fun passes. He has done so by placing calculators on the games and requiring the entry of a number that must then match the square of the number on their fun pass. I’m making this sound way more complicated that it is, (Cain just says, “Enter the number then press the check symbol!”) yet the fact that he already accounted for an issue and instituted a repeatable process to prevent it shows foresight that some million-dollar businesses lack.

Further, Caine shows acumen by taking customer comments into account. He discusses the fact that one of his games was deemed too easy by one client, and shows how he upped the skill level to match demand. This iterative thinking permeates business theory and serves to remind us that, ultimately, we must pivot or fail. Again, if every startup business were to take this idea to heart, they would likely have a much greater chance of success.

So, with all the best wishes in the world to Caine, I hope we can tip our hats and learn something from this clever entrepreneur. He has certainly had his day, and if he continues with the intelligence he has put into the first project, he will almost certainly find success in his future endeavors. 

June 1, 2012

One of my main responsibilities here at Journyx is working with presenters on their contributions to our webinar series. The June sequence is comprised of top-of-the-line presenters who offer tips and techniques SMBs can use to address common business issues.

I would like to spotlight our newest presenter, Dave Brown, Partner at Foundation Finance. He’ll talk about how businesses can shield themselves from the next financial downturn. If you want to hear specific, actionable advice about minimizing risks from external forces, this is one you definitely need to see. Dave will also share how to leverage existing finances for maximum benefit to everyday business. We are excited that he is willing to impart his value-producing knowledge in his webinar this month! Be sure to sign up and see for see for yourself.

If you haven’t yet scanned our upcoming events for June, make sure you do. They are a great way to learn and connect with industry professionals. Attendees have reached out to let me know they have derived real business value from our series and have used the knowledge to improve their own companies. It's a partnership effort between our presenters and us here at Journyx to help businesses truly understand their resources and capabilities.

May 28, 2012

 

Journyx has always known the importance of tracking time and money on a per-project basis. Using this data, it is possible to build up a backlog of projects that can be referenced for future endeavors. Whether they are successes or failures, knowledge of past projects can greatly enhance the odds of success with similar jobs in the future. However, comparing individual projects to other similar projects is only one way of using prior time and expense data. The other comes in the form of a project completed under normal working conditions; in other words, a “measured mile.”

For those unfamiliar with the concept, it works like this. Projects attempted under ideal conditions and those undertaken during adverse conditions may vary significantly in adherence to budget and schedule. To a certain degree this factor can be blamed on external conditions, however it is important to isolate those conditions from individual productivity. Therefore, by examining a project completed under “normal” conditions, it is somewhat possible to isolate external variables by comparing that project to a project taken on during a certain period.

So, as an example, let’s imagine that a stadium needs to be constructed in a city. Fortunately, a comparable stadium was built a few years back in a city with similar terrain and ecological conditions. No major catastrophes befell that stadium, manmade or natural, and so it could be described as having been completed under normal conditions. Thus, this project could be labeled a “measured mile.”

Conversely, the new stadium faces numerous problems. In addition to strikes by public workers in the early months, a swathe of terrible thunderstorms strike the area. Ultimately, the new stadium takes longer and costs more to complete than originally estimated. By comparing the time and cost to completion against the “measured mile” project, it clarifies more succinctly the effect that these adverse conditions had on the project.

The benefits for this type of data, particularly in productivity analysis, are fairly evident. It becomes possible, by measuring projects relative to a baseline, to understand what a “normal” completion schedule would look like assuming there are no complications. In this way, the more detailed the previous data associated with the project is, the more accurate a view businesses can get into future projects that may face issues. As always, greater insight yields greater results and a closer adherence to forecasted costs.

May 23, 2012

One of the top viral videos on YouTube right now in the technology space is Leap Motion, with almost 2 million views in two days. Why has this San Francisco startup's video received so much attention? Let's disregard for a moment the hip, visual appeal of minimalistic design reminiscent of Apple and Google products, paired with trendy, relaxed background music. Leap boasts “motion control technology that is radically more powerful and also significantly less costly than existing technology” (ahem, Kinect!). What I've found most impressive is that Leap’s accuracy is so precise that it tracks movement to 1/100th of a millimeter. You’ll witness this in the video- it’s impressive!

Microsoft’s Kinect is the rival motion sensor technology used as an add-on in the Xbox 360. We actually had it at our booth during the Microsoft Dynamics Convergence trade show and it was a hit. Let’s also not forget the Wii, the first video game with wireless movement detection launched back in 2006. It uses a player hand-held device in tracking. But, the difference here with Kinect and the Wii is that they are currently solely used in gaming (although exciting news has been announced about Kinect R&D extending into retail space).

Leap Motions’ sights are set much higher since the device is used to control computer behavior. This will lead to endless opportunities that are certainly something get excited about. Have you heard or thought of any ideas that would benefit from the Leap? I'll tell you my personal favorite idea: exercise workout videos! I’m sure they’d be a hit here in Austin! It would be a great marriage between tech and health!

May 21, 2012

 

A common thought people have when considering a time-tracking application, or any time management system, is how to keep track of those intangible goals. By that I mean those goals that don’t have a clear beginning and end, that are ongoing but for an indefinite period of time. Obviously, it is simple to determine how much time we spend engaging in these activities, but how do we track time against them to determine efficiency? Unless you can do this, it becomes easy to spend either too much or too little time on a task to produce a benefit. All this considered, the issue actually lies with the goals themselves, not the time management methodology. Here are three ways to set achievable, trackable goals.

1. Become S.M.A.R.T.

This advice is fairly common, and for good reason. S.M.A.R.T. goals are, by definition, simple to track and determine progress for. What is that definition, you ask? S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Thus, if you can convert all your goals into S.M.A.R.T. goals, they will lend themselves well to any time management system. By introducing a time constraint, it is possible to measure progress as a function of the overall time required to complete the goal. In other words, you can recalibrate efforts to an appropriate level if you are progressing too slowly or expending too much energy on a goal that does not require it.

2. Clearly Prioritize

Whenever you set a new goal (or begin setting goals in the first place), developing a hierarchy of priority can help immensely. There are many tools for this, including the popular app iOS “clear.” By contextualizing goals in terms of relative importance, it is easy to determine allocations of time and energy. If they are S.M.A.R.T., you can also determine whether or not you are spending the right amount of time on a lower priority goal. At first glance this seems obvious, but the reality is unless we take the time to actually sit down and prioritize, odds are that we don’t actually know what is most important at any given time. Particularly when you are working on multiple projects in different areas of a business, prioritizing will save a lot of hassle and will give you the ability to say “no.”

3. Communicate

A goal that is not communicated faces a bigger hurdle to success than one that is. As humans, we often need to have our feet held to the fire before we can produce our best work. So, whether it be in a team meeting or simply in a quick email to a co-worker, let someone know what you are doing and why you are doing it. Even if they do not have a stake in the outcome, the knowledge that someone else is expecting you to complete a goal will increase the pressure (in a good way), and also the likelihood that you will finish. Disappointing yourself is one thing, disappointing a co-worker or manager is something else entirely!

May 18, 2012

On Tuesday, I tagged along with James, our marketing director, to an Austin chapter meeting of the Microsoft Dynamics Great Plains User Group (GPUG). A quick background: GP is just one company in the extensive family of Microsoft Dynamics software solutions. Our time tracking solution enhances GP accounting software and, in an effort to increase our involvement as a partner, we were interested in learning about how to strengthen our bond with the local GP community.

Regardless of whether or not you have a need for GP, I’d like to share a valuable tip that all businesses can (and should) use. Landon Russell, Chairman of the Austin GPUG, routinely presents a segment called “Landon’s Tips”. Tuesday’s topic hit on a great point I thought worth reiterating here on our blog: the importance of backing up your data. Don’t wait until it’s too late before you think about storing valuable information in another location. Use a secondary drive or, even better, employ an offsite location. You can save yourself and your company from a whole world of trouble. Simple as that.

I’d like to wrap up this post with a very entertaining and informative YouTube video that Landon shared with us about how backing up information saved the popular Disney/Pixar movie, Toy Story 2.

 

May 14, 2012

 

Seeing as how The Avengers had the best opening weekend in history, it is clear that there is something enticing about the idea behind this film. And there is! For one thing, Marvel Comics has built up character backstories for years that people identify with either through comic books or the movies. But that is only one aspect that is appealing. The other is the interplay between these powerhouse characters and the fact that, though incredibly powerful on their own, only by combining their unique strengths can they overcome a massive, world-altering threat. It is this characteristic that businesses can learn from, particularly as it relates to the tools they use to solve their business problems. Can businesses really learn from comics characters? Absolutely! Lets delve a little deeper.

The Avengers Are Mighty Individually

Though it can be argued that certain Avengers are more powerful than others (Hulk, anyone?), it nevertheless remains true that each can stand on their own and still represent a potent and efficient fighting force. The same can be said of most quality business software. If a program is entirely dependent on another to be of value, then it is subject to weaknesses that might not befall a more independent system. Further, many programs like this do not represent a significant value, and are often upsells for a core product. While they might increase the functionality, they normally do so at a disproportionate cost. If a business chooses to abandon the core-product, the add-on will become worthless as well. Sunk costs like this can be very damaging.

They Work Better With A Leader

[Minor Movie Spoilers] In the beginning of The Avengers, the heroes are all tossed together and almost everyone gets in a conflict. These characters are all used to being at the top of their game, and they are all strong leaders. However, once they fall in line behind a certain spangly-bannered someone, they become much more organized and effective. In business, there are going to be certain programs that the organization is more comfortable working with. If other programs are proprietary and do not play nice with the programs that the business already feels comfortable with, then their value decreases dramatically. It is always easier to access information in just a few places. The more dashboards that employees have to go through, the more difficult it is to understand and execute on the information available.

Avengers Cover Their Weaknesses

The best part about the avengers is that, when they team up, they can overcome weaknesses. The Hulk has a group that can keep him in check and point him in the right direction. Iron Man has a moral authority to keep him grounded. Hawkeye has people to distract enemies while he shoots arrows from afar. The point is, they accentuate and enhance strengths while minimizing weaknesses. Business tools can and should do the same thing. If there is a facet of a comprehensive program, such as Microsoft Dynamics, that doesn’t quite work to solve your needs, another piece of software can be configured to jump right in so that you can keep going and get your work done. In the end, it’s all about minimizing problems and boosting efficiency.

Are your business tools super-powered? If not, take a look and see what will give them the juice they need to take on problems you face every day. That way, when a metaphorical planet altering invasion of space monsters occurs, you will be able to handle it.

 

May 11, 2012

If you’re like us here at Journyx and are infatuated with all things tech, why not spread a little of that geeky-love to Mom this weekend? There are many high-tech presents out there that will show Mom how much you care! Consider her interests: does she spend time outside at the grandkids’ soccer practice? She’ll appreciate a solar-powered Kindle cover! Strapped for cash? No problem! There are many options that won’t cost you a penny. What about putting together an Instagram album of the most meaningful moments you’ve captured from family events? Any Mom would appreciate the thoughtfulness of this gift! 

These are just two ideas I snagged from the gift guide, “Tech Gifts For Mother’s Day”. It’s a list that hopefully will inspire a nice gesture that Mom is sure enjoy.

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!

May 7, 2012

 

Competitive advantage. The term brings to mind long meetings spent listening to various market reports, conjectures about competitor pricing and strategy, and of course looking at the clock every five seconds wishing that the conversation was over. Long-term forecasting of the competitive landscape is not without value, yet it does have one disadvantage that is baked right in: unless competitors are handing you actual plans and numbers, you are essentially engaging in advanced guesswork. Unfortunately, those guesses can easily prove false or inapplicable.

So, is there any sort of advantage that is definite, measurable, and applicable to every competitor regardless of industry? I am so glad you asked.

I term it the “lightspeed advantage” because it implies that you are able to pivot from bad situations and escape to clear, profitable waters at the speed of light. Remember when Han Solo made his lightspeed jumps away from the empire? Well, there is no reason that your team can’t be like the Millenium Falcon.

The key is to keep track of all of your resources, both human and monetary, so that you know exactly what you have available and when. Then, you must be sure to check those resources against your backlog of completed projects (you have been keeping a backlog of projects, right?) and determine the types of projects that have the greatest opportunity for profitability. That way, when opportunity presents itself, you will know your constraints and can bid with an almost nonexistent margin of error. If a project or customer doesn’t fit your criteria, move on to one that does.

This may seem like an obvious advantage, but think about it: while competitors are tied up dealing with projects outside of their scope, constantly vying for attention and eating up resources, you have completed two or three projects and are working on more. The difference is in the specificity. You knew you could complete the assignment with your proposed budget and deadline before you even began. The stakeholders are happy, your team is happy, and you are rich. 

May 4, 2012

I’ve caught Mad Men fever. That's an Instagram of me "Draping" in the office. Really, who hasn’t been infected with this highly epicurean, uber-stylish and intelligently executed television series set in the swingin’ sixties? I've learned a few lessons from the show that might help with career life and thought I'd share them with you today.

Networking is a necessity.

That hasn’t changed and it never will. Business over cocktails is a regular occurrence on the series and we can definitely relate to this in our world today. There was a scene where a huge merger was initiated over cocktails between three men at a table in a restaurant. You’d be wrong if you assumed this is just Hollywood pizzazz - that type of interaction doesn't just happen on the screen.

Recognize new opportunities. 

An eye for opportunity is invaluable, especially working for a technology company. For example, a technology company would need to decide if it's a good idea to develop a mobile app. Take Harry Crane, a former copywriter from Sterling Cooper, the advertising firm where Mad Men takes place. He was able to spot the potential of television as an up-and-coming medium, and negotiated a new start to his career as the head of the television department. If you can recongnize the power in something new, be smart and get behind it. Hopefully you’re at a company that allows for creative initiatives whether it’s re-establishing the current focus on prospects or just giving a shot at a new office get-together.

It’s okay if you’re the only female copywriter.

Alright, I’m looking at you, Peggy. I can relate. Part of my means of staying connected with the tech industry is by jumping in at tech events, where women are unfortunately still in the minority. It’s easy to feel intimidated walking into a room where almost everyone has more experience and is older. At least a few times in your life, no matter your status, you will find yourself  feeling out of place like Peggy. And again, like Peggy, if you learn to curb fear and uncertainty, you will be unstoppable.

April 30, 2012

 

Journyx provides efficient timesheet software for businesses large and small. We have covered many of our software's advantages in the past, from key integrations to small business advantages. One of the topics we discuss the most is the importance of building a backlog of data from which to learn, and we stand behind that. The value of a backlog of information is maximized if the business begins tracking time from the outset. However, many businesses do not realize the necessity of a robust time-tracking tool until much later, relying instead on less sophisticated paper-based methods or simply not tracking time at all. Any startup should definitely integrate time tracking as a core process.

For one thing, the disparity between what the startup founder thinks will take the most time and effort and what actually takes up the majority of a company's time is often quite different. Even if a business is being “bootstrapped” and run by a small number of people, it is incredibly valuable to know what the greatest time sinks are for your company, and where more attention is needed. In many cases, it is not readily apparent that specific tasks are preventing other, more important duties from being performed. A time-tracking tool, and the discipline to use it, will reveal such issues quickly. Startups that can pivot to tasks with a greater ROI are often the ones who find the greatest success.

Another benefit of time-tracking for startups is derived from the first. By knowing exactly which tasks are time drains, you can determine what jobs can be outsourced and which ones require a dedicated employee. Take a company website, for instance. If the team is relatively inexperienced and spending a great deal of time coding the site, it might be a good idea to outsource the project so that they can focus on jobs that play to their strengths. If, on the other hand, the team is struggling with ongoing website maintenance issues, and the site goes down for extended periods of time, it might be better to go ahead and hire a programmer full-time. Remember, both skill set AND time should act as determinants for resource allocation.

I know what you’re thinking: one of the greatest challenges for startups is lack of cash. How can you afford an advanced time tracking solution? Well the good news is that Journyx provides its Timesheet application for free to all businesses with ten users or less. We want you to be successful, and we believe we can help. Get your time under control so you can determine the best path for your business, from startup to mature company.

April 27, 2012

If you work in an office, you know how hard it can be to get employees to participate in team building events. Usually they're boring or awkward or irrelevant - or a combination of all three. At Journyx, we won't settle for that! Last Tuesday, the Journyx team got together and polished off some very tasty Torchy’s Tacos and watched TED Talks.  (Notice the "T" theme?) We watched two popular TED Talks in our conference room as we munched on our lunch. Here are links to the Talks we watched - you still have time to grab your taco!

Steve Jobs: How To Live Before You Die

Nigel Marsh: How To Make Work-life Balance Work

It’s worth it to do something fun and out of the norm for your office that will get your team excited (or at least bring them together). Sometimes the workplace can seem disconnected. Bonding is great for co-workers and has statically been proven to jumpstart efficiency. With an event like this, who can complain? Especially if you fill your mind AND your tummy at the same time!

What are things you’ve done in your office to open up the workplace? Anything you want to try?

April 25, 2012

Let’s discuss the social media darling you’ve probably heard a lot about lately: Pinterest.  Though female consumers have led the way to this site becoming incredibly powerful, it won’t be long until corporate brands start making an impact on this site.  Businesses with strong visual elements are already doing well on Pinterest.  Watch this video by Magnet Media to learn some basic tips for how your business can use Pinterest effectively:

What if your business is not inheritably visual?  You can still think of other ways to include visuals in your marketing materials.  Some key places include…

  • Your blog
  • Your website
  • Your landing pages
  • Your collateral

When I first asked writers on the Journyx blog to include a picture with every single blog post (or some other media element), I was met with resistance.  But with sites like Pinterest demanding brands show their ideas in a visual way, my instincts to make the Journyx blog more multi-media driven were right.  Think back to when YouTube first came onto the web.  At first, it was just a place for young people to film their lives and entertain each other.  But now YouTube is the go-to location for online video content for all types of brands and businesses.

How can you present your business in a more visual way?  Is your brand already on Pinterest? We are!

April 23, 2012

 

Businesses are consumers to professional goods and services just as people are consumers to personal goods and services. Businesses are susceptible to many of the same problems that any consumer faces. One of these is the purchase of tools that ultimately prove extraneous, either because another tool in their repertoire already fulfills a key need, or because the tools are useless as a standalone. The truth is, with enterprise-level software, standalone functionality often doesn’t cut it. If a tool cannot communicate with other important business applications, then ultimately it makes business systems clunky and inefficient. Like a link in a chain, individual software may be strong, but unless it is chained together with other strong links, it isn’t useful.

Obviously, the less sophisticated a business is, the easier it is to get by with simple, standalone systems. The problem is that the number of businesses that fall under the category of “simple” is very low. Let’s be honest, businesses only really seem easy from the outside. Even the most basic business has managers, founders, and executives throwing their hands up and asking, “What’s next?”

There is no one solution that will fit every company and that is kind of the point. Choosing software that recognizes its limitations and allows for linkages with other software to addresses those weaknesses is a very sound strategy. Popular business software such as Microsoft Dynamics follows this principle, and that is one reason why many companies view it as a flexible and intuitive program. There is no reason to limit yourself when so many options are available to customize your software to fit your needs specifically.

The key is to find what works and what doesn’t. There are many ways to go about this, from looking up software reviews to following companies on social media, but one of the most effective is still a quick phone call. Businesses should be able to answer questions about their tools and how they can solve your problems. Calling a company also serves as a fantastic litmus test for customer service, which every company claims to excel at, yet comes up short in reality.

Eliminate “shelfware” and expand the capabilities of your business software through a little research, and you will find that business problems become much more manageable. Insight is a key competitive advantage, and even moreso given the cutthroat pace of our current economic climate.

Have you found any particularly effective software combinations? Do you have any tips for evaluating the efficacy of business tools?

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