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It's About Time! The Journyx Blog
Earlier this month, we were thrilled to take part in Microsoft's reIMAGINE 2014 Conference in Fargo, ND, exclusively for Dynamics GP partners. As its name implies, the conference was designed to help attendees to rethink, or reimagine, all aspects of how they do business, from sales all the way to development.
So where did we come in? As a Designer Level Sponsor, we had a table at the reception Monday evening, at the Microsoft Campus. As the former headquarters of Great Plains Software, before Microsoft purchased the company, the location and atmosphere were a fitting tribute to both past and future. Great Plains revolutionized the industry when it came on the scene and, as part of the Microsoft family, it continues to do so. We were thrilled to be part of the reception, welcoming guests to the conference.
Being a sponsor, we also had a Partner Showcase presentation where Brian Maxin, Director of Sales, and Jeremy Gunn, Director of Professional Services, gave a presentation to a packed house about our software.
Attendees picked up on just how time tracking software can reimagine how a business process is done more efficiently and were quick to tweet at us their favorite moments. Here’s just a few of our favorite tweets from reIMAGINE:
So what were our favorite moments?
Doug Burgum, Senior Vice President of Microsoft Dynamics GP, gave the keynote speech at the historic downtown Fargo theater. He explored what will come down the road in 2015 for Great Plains software and how they will continue reimagining new ways for the integration to benefit both partners and end-users alike.
The conference also focused heavily on interactivity between the thought leaders of the community and the attendees alike, rather than having long-drawn out speeches. Forums such as the Integrated Marketing and Sales workshop as well as “Ovation Speaker Training” courses helped those who attended to better thrive in public speaking environments.
What’s to come in 2015
Now that reIMAGINE2014 has passed, training schedules are in full force online. Post training sessions, designed to help the partner get a bit of the reIMAGINE experience at home, is now available.
You can also expect to see reIMAGINE back in 2015 in the heart of Fargo once again, so plan your calendars accordingly.
The biggest thing we're focusing on here at Journyx HQ is planning ahead for 2015. This is not just something that we're doing on a company-wide level, but it's something we're doing individually in our personal lives as well. Even if you're not a detail-oriented person, or a future-focused person, it is absolutely paramount to take a breath every few months and see where things are at, and how they can be best mapped out for the months and years down the road.
For this very reason we're bringing you our favorite time management tips, blogs and social groups to join for when you're ready to break out your 2015 planner and make things happen.
1. Whatever you do, don't try to multitask. Not only has it been proven to be unhealthy, counter-productive and actually quite impossible for the human mind to deal with, but according to some studies it's also been proven to lower your IQ. This article from Forbes summarizes just how bad this can be for your daily cognitive functions.
"A study at the University of London found that participants who multitasked during cognitive tasks experienced IQ score declines that were similar to what they’d expect if they had smoked marijuana or stayed up all night. IQ drops of 15 points for multitasking men lowered their scores to the average range of an 8-year-old child." Yikes.
2. Give yourself a time limit for each task. You might even want to consider not looking at your email and putting away your phone for 90 minutes. Why 90 minutes, you might ask? Studies show that the human mind works and focuses best in 90-minute sprints. It's all pretty basic when you think about the science behind it. According to this article from FastCompany, it all ties back to your sleep cycle.
"Your brain can only focus for 90 to 120 minutes before it needs a break, Widrich reports. Why? It's the ultradian rhythm, a cycle that's present in both our sleeping and waking lives."
Just be sure that once you've completed that 90-minute sprint, you give yourself a 20-30 minute break to let your brain regroup.
3. Learn to say no. This one might be the most important if you're type-A or just overly-excited about the work you're doing, as we are here all too often. It's easy to want to immediately jump in head first without weighing other items on the to-do list. If it doesn't fit in with your list of priorities, or is outside of your 90-minute sprint, just say no. According to WebMD, " "One reason we are feeling so busy all the time is that we are worse at setting personal boundaries around what we'll say 'no' to," says Jana Kemp, founder and president of Meeting & Management Essentials, a time-management consultancy in Boise, Idaho."
4. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. Take a second to look at your to-do list. If it has more than 5 items on it, you're going to need to put the most important ones at the top and leave the rest for the next day. Realize that there's only so much one human can do and stick to the important stuff first. According to an article from the Creativity Post, "This is the golden rule of time management. Each day, identify the two or three tasks that are the most crucial to complete, and do those first."
Axe the excess and give yourself that sweet break time between each task, because believe us, it's not only important, it's necessary.
5. Block out all the noise if possible. If it's music you need to block out or change to something a little more conducive to focusing on your tasks, an app called Focus@Will does just that. Or maybe you want to save the super cool Buzzfeed quiz for later? Pocket App keeps you from going to the sites at that very moment of focus and saves the tabs for later when you're freed up. But what does it take to really kick out the Facebook distractions and get what you need to marked off your list? Entrepreneur Magazine has this advice when it comes to cutting the cord momentarily. "Practice not answering the phone just because it's ringing and e-mails just because they show up. Disconnect instant messaging. Don't instantly give people your attention unless it's absolutely crucial in your business to offer an immediate human response."
Need some blogs to follow to keep up with the latest in time management tips and tricks? Check these out in your break time.
The Vistage Blog - Executive Street is a robust thought-provoking publication, packed with articles of advice, tips and strategic forecasts for 2015 from other like-minded CEO's. It's goal is to be a hub for an open exchange of ideas from c-level professionals and leadership across the globe. They've even been kind enough to publish our very own CEO Curt Finch.
In his article,"The Social Media CEO: How Social Media Can Enhance Your Brand", Finch manages to address how to be a little bit more like Richard Branson on social media and a little bit less like Amanda Bynes. Check out the full article on their website here.
How much time would you say you’re spending on social media? As an executive of a small business, you should be spending quite a bit on it. According to a new study by BRANDfog, 75% of employees believe that executives who participate in social media are better leaders. And the same percentage believes that executives that communicate the company’s core values via social media are more trustworthy.
“In today’s hyper-connected, information-driven world, CEOs and senior executives are expected to have an active social presence,” explained Ann Charles, BRANDfog CEO. “The survey results were definitive – social media is an extremely undervalued channel for managing brand reputation, building brand trust and better leadership.”
This new emphasis on executive participation in social media dovetails with the overall rise in social media prominence: right now, 27% of total Internet time in the U.S. is used on social media sites. Social media is no longer just important for tech-minded companies; it’s a vital avenue of brand building and customer outreach for all companies. But many CEOs still don’t use social media, including 70% of Fortune 500 CEOs.
Chris Brogan, the best-selling author of several books on social media, says that executives can no longer afford to ignore social media. “It’s part of the business,” he explained. “If you’ve not implemented it, you’re now about five years behind the curve. Would you allow yourself to get five years behind in any other aspect of your business?”
Fortunately, there are some easy steps you can take to become social media savvy in no time.
Focus on the Right Sites
As a small business executive, your time is important. So when you participate in social media, be sure that you are spending your time on the right sites for your business. You first need to figure out where your customer base spends its time. One way to do this is to send out a survey to a pool of your current customers, or conduct your own informal research on the major networking sites. You also want to be sure that the site you choose works with your company’s brand. Does your company present itself visually? Then Youtube, Pinterest, or Tumblr might be the place for you. Do you value discussion over visuals? Then consider Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
Get the Right Tools To Help
Another way to make social media communication more time-efficient is by investing in the right set of tools. Social media tools can help you easily post and monitor several social media accounts at one time. One such tool, Buffer, lets you a build a queue of content that is then automatically posted on a regular schedule. This way you can write your social media material when you have time and not have to worry about whether or not it’s the right time to post it. For more social media tools for small businesses, check out this article.
While corporations and individuals alike struggle to achieve the ever-elusive "paperless office," there's no denying that modern technology has streamlined many paperwork-intensive tasks. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in the realm of payroll. Many an accountant has experienced frustration with paper and spreadsheet payroll systems. Such systems are outdated and inefficient, and the work associated with maintaining them is tedious and time-consuming. An automated system to fulfill these functions, and more, is exactly what your business needs to beat the payroll blues.
Tracking time for payroll purposes means keeping electronic records of time worked and paid time off (as well as meeting Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requirements when applicable). For many organizations, each pay period brings late, missing or unreadable timesheets, repetitive data entry, and complicated calculations for employee pay rates, overtime, or vacation rules. The right time tracking system, in addition to supporting project management and billing, automatically feeds data to the payroll process. It also automates time-consuming processes, such as kicking incorrect timesheets back to the employee for correction, rather than accounting personnel wasting their time trying to track individuals down. It allows companies to both improve payroll systems and increase productivity in a variety of ways.
Among the many ways in which your business would benefit from the ability to customize and automate processes, other benefits include:
- Customize specific pay periods and calculations
- Assign multiple pay rates to different employees
- Eliminate double entry by entering information once
- Coordinate timekeeping through automatic reminders and notifications
- Correct prior period totals for accounting and access audit information for meeting Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) requirements
- Define business rules for managing specific classifications of work, such as automatic recognition of overtime and vacation accruals.
- Automate workflow and manager approval of timesheets on an individual or group basis
- Integrate collected data with existing payroll programs or services like ADP and Paychex
Not only is it easier, but it has been proven to be more efficient as well. According to a study done by the University of California, Irvine, (PDF download) fully automating the timesheet process reduces errors by 75 percent. Think about what this, with its associated costs, is worth to your business. It also cuts down on staff time, so members of your staff can spend their time more productively, working towards the mission and goals of the company.
So what does it take to successfully integrate an automated system into your company? There is a simple, three step process that will ensure a smooth transition.
- Decision: What Do You Need in a System?
Unfortunately, payroll executives who implement systems to automate payroll often miss the chance to facilitate greater profitability throughout the entire company. This happens because these executives are payroll experts, not experts at project accounting or billing automation.
The good news is that the time data they collect can also be used to automate project management, project costing, project tracking and project estimation improvement, as well as for internal, external and reverse billing automation. Most payroll and HR executives know little about these subjects, but are increasingly being asked to rise to new challenges.
This is why listing your requirements at the beginning of the selection process is so important. Bring in R&D managers, marketing folks and A/P people. Have a selection team in order to address all of the company’s needs, and it will unleash profitability that you didn’t know you had available. For example, do you need a system that prevents people from tracking time against projects they shouldn’t have access to? Do you need DCAA compliance or accurate IT capitalization data for the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX)? Do you need to pay on a monthly basis rather than all at once? Do you need the system to be rolled out now, as opposed to waiting for them to purchase a machine and transfer it to your IT shop? Why kind of reports will you need to access three, six or twelve months down the road? These are all very important questions that you must answer in order to select the right system.
In Part Two of this article, we'll look at how to choose the right option and how to manage a successful rollout.
Nothing helps a business' long-term outlook like having a dependable, long-term customer. For many companies, doing work for the federal government provides a stability not always found in the civilian sector. If you've set your sights on breaking into this field, DCAA approval is something you will have to face. But what exactly is the DCAA? How to do you become DCAA-approved?
DCAA: What It Is
DCAA stands for Defense Contract Audit Agency. The DCAA "provides audit and financial advisory services to Department of Defense (DoD) and other federal entities responsible for acquisition and contract administration."
In plain English, the DCAA helps ensure that taxpayers get what they're paying for and that funds are not wasted. It's essentially a way to help keep contractors and businesses who work with the government as honest as possible.
Originally, the DCAA was primarily defense-oriented, and came about as a result of each military branch having its own unique audit system in place. As time went on, however, the program has spread far beyond its original military application, and now includes just about everything service and labor-oriented.
As a result, time-tracking makes up around 75 percent of what's involved in working with the DCAA. Many of its policies are designed to facilitate accurate results. For example, the DCAA's policy is that time must be tracked and tallied every day, not at the end of the week. While some companies or individuals may balk at such regulations, often they're best-practices standards that should be applied even for work outside of the DCAA.
DCAA: How to Get Approved
There are twelve important steps to being DCAA-approved and being able to take on government contracts. In each case, these steps are non-negotiable. You cannot gain approval without meeting every single requirement.
1. Separate Direct Costs from Indirect Costs
You must prove that your system segregates direct and indirect costs. This includes separating the costs by account, having a policy describing criteria for separating the costs and having personnel that understand it.
2. Accumulate Contract Costs by Cost Element and by Cost Objective or Contract
You must maintain an adequate job costing system that is integrated with your accounting system.
3. Homogenous Indirect Cost Pools and Allocation Bases
The DCAA website explains this one as: "This means the indirect costs must be accumulated into separate indirect cost pools combining functions that are not disparate. This means the functions must be similar and have a similar relationship to the cost objectives being managed. A violation would be combining manufacturing functions with engineering or services functions. These are disparate functions and are not homogenous."
4. Contract Costs Must be Controlled by the General Ledger
In most instances, a modern accounting package such as Quickbooks or Microsoft Dynamics GP will do this automatically.
5. Demonstrate Compliance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles
One important factor to keep in mind is that cash-based accounting methods are not permitted. All DCAA work must be accounted for using the accrual method.
6. Pre-Contract Cost Accounting
This basically means that pre-contract costs must be recorded separately.
7. Maintain an Adequate Timekeeping System
As stated earlier, almost 75 percent of what's involved in working with the DCAA involves time-tracking. This is where Journyx, and our time-tracking software, factors in.
8. Adequate Labor Distribution Systems
You must be able to product a labor distribution report, based on your timekeeping software.
9. Accounting for Unallowable Costs
You must be able to meet the requirements of FAR 31.201-6. "This means that contractors must segregate costs determined to be unallowable based on FAR 31.2 separately from direct and indirect cost pools."
10. Interim Accumulation of Costs
In short, this means your accounting system needs to be updated, or post transactions, on at least a monthly basis.
11. Track Costs by Contract Line Item
While this does not apply to all contracts, some may require the tracking of costs by Contract Line Item (CLIN).
12. Limitation of Cost and Funds/Invoicing Clauses
Again, not all but many contracts include the Limitation of Costs and Funds clauses. This requires you to track the funding and cost of the project and notify the contracting officer when the costs reach 85 percent of the funding.
As this list shows, becoming DCAA-approved can be quite the involved process. However, as stated, many of the requirements are best-practices that should already be in place anyway. Many of the other requirements are easily met simply by using appropriate software.
If you're willing to put in the time and effort, you may find that being a DCAA-approved contractor is worth it, providing your company with a steady stream of income.
With the Edward Snowden revelations, the ensuing NSA scandal and the increasing realization that social networks collect every possible scrap of data about their users, people are increasingly becoming leery of "Big Brother". Entire companies, even industries, are growing up around the premise of protecting you and your data from prying eyes.
Unfortunately, that sense of suspicion can sometimes permeate the workplace, causing employees to be uneasy about standard time-tracking and data collection. They may even believe that management is using the data to cut costs or eliminate jobs. Often, these fears couldn't be any further from the truth. In fact, time-tracking can be a valuable tool to help employees, add jobs and improve existing ones. So how does this actually provide valuable data and how can you use it to assuage the fears of your team?
Few things are so detrimental to a company than a lack of information. This is especially true when it comes to knowing when and where your organization is making profit. So where does tracking your time fit into this business process? Time tracking helps you know what projects are profitable and which ones are not. This, in turn, helps you focus your efforts where they count and prioritize acquiring more clients and projects of a similar nature. According to Investopedia, there’s even an algorithm to employ once you’ve aggregated the data sets you need.
“A PI [Profitability Index] greater than 1.0 indicates that profitability is positive, while a PI of less than 1.0 indicates that the project will lose money. As values on the profitability index increase, so does the financial attractiveness of the proposed project.
The PI ratio is calculated as follows:
PV of Future Cash Flows
The more profitable a company's projects, the more room there is for raises and bonuses, bigger budgets for future campaigns, and more.
Understanding the true cost of a project, in terms of the actual man-hours it takes to complete it, is one of the most valuable elements to successfully bidding on future projects. Without this information, a company can find itself repeatedly trying to complete projects that simply aren't worth the time and resources it's taking to complete them. This can only happen so many times before profitability tanks and lay-offs become an unfortunate necessity. Tim Washington writes in “The Value of Time Tracking” that collecting time just for the sake of it is a huge sink of valuable data and resources.
“…it is important to track actual project costs. If a customer will be billed for work done on a project, then it makes sense to track time,” said Washington. “Managers or project managers actually use the variance reports [that come with time tracking] to take good corrective action.”
Only through proper time-tracking can an organization truly understand what a project is costing them, and make necessary adjustments to the bidding process to maintain future profitability.
Let’s start this one off by asking what exactly does ‘resource allocation’ mean? According to Wikipedia, resource allocation is “the assignment of available resources to various uses. In the context of an entire economy, resources can be allocated by markets, by central planning, or by some combination of the two. In project management, resource allocation or resource management is the scheduling of activities and the resources required by those activities while taking into consideration both the resource availability and the project time.”
So let’s look at this in relation to project management. Proper resource allocation in this context is almost impossible without proper time-tracking. Understanding where employees are spending their time, and why they're spending it there, is an important step in knowing where to spend money in the present and in the future.
Here’s a good example: a particular team may be logging substantial hours because of the size of the project they're working on. Alternately, they may be logging those hours because they're struggling with outdated software, antiquated equipment, or some other limitation that can easily be resolved. Similarly, a team might be logging excessive overtime, perhaps even to the detriment of the project's quality, a problem that may be resolved by assigning more personnel. Whatever the cause, without proper time-tracking, management will be limited in their ability to address the situation.
So what does it look like when a project fails due to improper resource allocation? Capterra put together a list of great stats listing out the results of just this kind of catastrophe. According to their report citing Pricewaterhouse Coopers, “An astounding 97% of organizations believe project management is critical to business performance and organizational success.”
Even so, “Businesses identified “capturing time/costs against projects” as their biggest project management challenge,” according to a similar report by The Access Group.
The consequences of this can be seen when, “one in six IT projects have an average cost overrun of 200% and a schedule overrun of 70%,” according to the Harvard Business Review.
While it is true that some companies have abused time-tracking, when properly used it can be a valuable tool for management and employees alike, leading to a better workplace, improved job security and better pay for all.
Happy Halloween, everyone! We can't talk enough about how excited we are to be a sponsor at reIMAGINE in Fargo in just a few weeks (and considering the weather in Austin is still creeping around the 90's, it will be great for our team to experience what real snow looks like).
Here's the TL;DR of what you need to know about reIMAGINE 2014. reIMAGINE 2014, hosted by Dynamic Partner Connections (DPC) promises to be the ultimate learning and networking event for Microsoft Dynamics GP partners, consultants and ISVs!
One of the attributes that makes reIMAGINE so special is targeted learning tracks for every member of your team: sales, marketing, leadership, technical and consultant. No matter what role or skill level, your team members will benefit from plenty of in-depth learning, information-sharing and networking.
Within each learning track are several exciting focus areas, including:
- “New to GP” sessions. Do you have newer employees who barely know GP from a PC? This is the perfect opportunity to make them highly productive members of your team.
- Peer Interactive Discussions. We all know just how expansive, diverse and rich in knowledge the Dynamics GP partner community is. These discussions are a great way to tap into all that wisdom in a structured way.
- Microsoft Feedback Sessions. It’s always refreshing to work with an organization like Microsoft that really wants our feedback on product functionality and design. These sessions allow us to share thoughts and suggestions directly with Microsoft staff.
reIMAGINE 2014 also includes great opportunities for learning and sharing:
- Help Desk. We all struggle occasionally with an aspect of Dynamics GP or our businesses in general. This desk will be staffed with Microsoft resources and industry experts from our community who can lend a helping hand.
- Additional training opportunities. Get the training you need for everyone on your team, in one convenient location.
- Social and networking events. This is the cherry on top of the sundae. Microsoft and DPC teams are working overtime to make this not only the most educational event you’ll attend, but the most memorable one as well!
Join us at reIMAGINE 2014!
You can also follow our updates about the whole event on Twitter here!
We're proud to announce that we'll be hosting a table at the #reIMAGINE2014 Conference Monday evening reception! If you will be attending, make sure to stop by our booth and say hi - and pick up some fun items while you're there.
reIMAGINE, an annual conference hosted by Dynamic Partner Connections (@DynPartnerConn), brings together the Microsoft Dynamics partners as well as users in a three-day convention. The conference will be November 10-12 in chilly Fargo, North Dakota.
What are we most excited about? We can't wait to see Tuesday Evening Keynote speaker, Doug Burgum and particularly, can't wait to meet all of you there!
Interested to learn more about Journyx for Dynamics and how our time and expense tracking add-on can help your company? Check out this demo of just how easy the integration can be.
We look forward to meeting you all there!
Will you be attending? Let us know what you're looking forward to most in the comment section below!
You've probably heard us talking excitedly about the latest Journyx update 9.5. And for good reason! Journyx v9.5 will empower you to do things like:
- Custom project costing and billing rates based on project roles and/or assignments
- New custom entry environment that can be used for tracking equipment utilization, widget completion, etc.
- Single tracking environment for entering employee reimbursable expenses and mileage
- Leave request handling improvements and additional options for validating accuracy of time, expense and custom entries
But just for the skeptics in the room still wanting proof of just how much this update will change the way you do business, check out this infographic compiling all the bits of data below!
The seasons are changing and with that, big things are happening here at Journyx HQ. The biggest and best of all is that we're pleased to announce the latest update, Journyx version 9.5! So let's go over problems this update solves and what that means for you, the avid Journyx user.
We did some massive market research and heard your concerns. What we mainly heard was:
- “My standard rates are too general – I can’t forecast project costs.”
- “I need to know changes to project costs early enough to make adjustments.”
- “Am I missing out on profits?”
- “My invoices are being rejected because they’re hard to read.”
- “I need to get paid faster.”
- “I want my customer to have confidence in my invoices.”
So we took to the drawing board and answered those concerns in the latest release. Here's how you can now...:
- Know costs more accurately than competitors
- Know project cost variances early enough to act
- Know next quarter’s costs this quarter
- Sail through the billing verification process
- Bill correctly the first time
- Get your money faster
The main features you will see in this release:
- Custom project costing and billing rates based on project roles and/or assignments
- New custom entry environment that can be used for tracking equipment utilization, widget completion, etc.
- Single tracking environment for entering employee reimbursable expenses and mileage
- Leave request handling improvements and additional options for validating accuracy of time, expense and custom entries
Want to know more? Check out this previously-recorded webinar that goes through all of the updates included, answers questions, and more. You can also be sure to contact your Account Manager by emailing email@example.com if you want to see a demo for yourself or if you have more questions you didn't see covered here.
BusinessTips.com, is a blog of ideas, tips, advice, lessons learned and more from business leaders and CEO's all over the world. They've taken "thought leadership" literally and have made it their goal to give the best articles and ideas out there to the masses. They’ve even been as kind as to publish articles from our very own CEO, Curt Finch.
This article, “What's Your Company's DNA”, written by George Meszaros of Success Harbor, paints a fully formed picture of how a company's core values tells the public how they want to be interacted with right from the beginning. Click here to read the full article.
In our previous article, we looked at the concept of a KPI, or 'key performance indicator.' Specifically we looked at how important it is to use KPIs to measure the health and progress of your company. ‘Billability’, for example, is one of the most critical KPIs that virtually every company should be tracking.
In this follow up post, we'll look at two other KPIs that provide crucial information: adherence to estimate and percentage of projects profitable.
1. Adherence to Estimate
Many contractors or consultants do a poor job with bidding appropriately because lack of knowledge or budgetary insight. In order to avoid underbidding or overbidding, you can use the formula [(E-A)/E] where:
E = Estimated hours to complete project
A = Actual hours used to complete project
Improving this number can be difficult for some companies until they understand a simple truth: similar projects often have a strikingly similar ratio of early phase cost to overall project cost. The early phases of a project are usually referred to as the “requirements,” “design,” or “specification” phases. If after carefully tracking time on a batch of similar projects, you find that the first two phases usually take about 10% of the total project time, you can then use that data to predict the length of future projects.
By tracking time and subsequently learning that the first two phases of Projects 1 and 2 took approximately 10% of all project time to complete, the projected length of Project 3 becomes easy to determine. If the first two phases of Project 3 take 1.8 months to complete, you can estimate that the entire project will be completed in 18 months. This project estimation technique has proven itself to be extremely accurate for similar projects in a variety of companies.
2. Percentage of Projects Profitable
“Percentage of projects profitable” is a KPI that can really affect your business in a vastly positive way. As an analogy, consider British Petroleum (BP) and its experiences in drilling for oil. BP created a strategic vision for the company called “no dry holes.” Drilling for oil and not finding it is expensive. Rather than try to make up for all the dry holes by finding an occasional gusher, BP decided to try to never have a dry hole in the first place. Changing the attitude that dry holes were an inevitable cost of doing business fundamentally changed its culture in very positive ways.
If you set a strategic goal for your company of “no unprofitable projects,” it will change the nature of discussions in your business. For example, it empowers frontline employees to legitimately push back when a project is being taken on for political reasons. Conversely, having the attitude that the winners will make up for the losers doesn’t do this.
Measuring this KPI is easy because you can obtain direct per-project cost data from your timesheet system. Correctly applying indirect data (such as sales or accounting time) to the direct costs is a bit more complicated. Connecting all of this to revenue data gives you per-project profitability. Once you have that data, you can work on your KPI of percentage of profitable projects to try to maximize it. The formula for this KPI for a given time period (usually a quarter or a year) is:
# of profitable projects/# of projects
Other KPIs that are useful include:
▪ Calendar time to complete a job (because overhead costs increase substantially due to delays)
▪ Percentage of customers satisfied
▪ Time to complete initial free estimate
Unfortunately, many businesses that track time and attendance for payroll and billing overlook the other benefits such data can provide. Real-time access to relevant KPIs, however, can give early warnings of project problems and lead your company to faster growth and more profitability.
Happy Monday, all! If you're anything like us as this season winds ever-so-closer to the Holidays, you're racking your brain on how to best prep for your yearly corporate audit. Well, lucky for you (and 'tis the season), we've put together this list of best resources and tools to help you get ready! Check out these blogs, checklists and official government sites to get you on your feet (and keep you off your toes) and ready to go for the audit season.
- NYC.gov - Preparing for the audit: what should I do?
- WiseGeek.com - How do I prepare for a corporate audit?
- NOLO Law - How to prepare for a business audit
- Wayne State - Audit Prep
- National Council of Nonprofits - Preparing for the audit
- AWCnet - Audit Prep Checklist
Want more you can find on social media? Check out these groups to follow and join below!
Executive Street – The Vistage Blog, is just a small subset of the massive international meetup and networking group of executives around the world. But don’t let the “small subset” part fool you; the blog is a convergence of knowledge, advice, the latest industry trends and more, updated on a daily basis from who better than the industry leaders themselves. They’ve even been as kind as to publish articles from our very own CEO, Curt Finch.
This article, “Defensiveness Costs Your Company Profits”, written by Andrew Bielat of Profit Hawk, gives us a window of just how detrimental defensiveness, finger-pointing and excuses can be to a team’s success. Click here to read the full article.
Time and attendance data is a necessary part of any organization's operations, but it is often misunderstood and underutilized. Outside of payroll, many business owners fail to see the benefits this data can provide to their business, whether in the form of measuring progress, increasing billable time or optimizing project profitability. In this two-part series, we will look at how you can put this data to work for you.
Key Performance Indicators
A 'key performance indicator' (KPI) measures an organization's progress towards a goal. When leveraged correctly, KPIs can have a huge impact.
The first step is to determine what your organization's goals are. It may be increased profitability, reduced number of defective parts per thousand, maintaining a certain percentage of customer satisfaction or increased revenue per store. Once this is established, you can create a KPI to help you measure your progress.
The second step is to make sure your KPI is measurable. "Make customers happier" is not an effective KPI without some way to measure the satisfaction of your customers. "Be the most convenient drugstore" won't work either if there is no way to measure convenience. In addition, it is essential that your KPI definition remain stable from year to year. For example, "increase utilization rates” needs to be more specific and address such things as whether to measure by hours or by dollars.
Keep in mind that a KPI is part of a SMART goal—one that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based. For example, consider the goal, "Increase average revenue per sale to $10,000 by January." In this case, “average revenue per sale” is the KPI. This goal wouldn’t be SMART if it wasn’t achievable, if the word “January” was left out, or if it was not relevant (e.g. if this was a portion of the organization that had nothing to do with sales or marketing, such as human resources).
Simple and Useful KPIs
There are three basic KPIs that you should be able to calculate from any time and data labor source.
- Billability. This is often termed the utilization rate. It is the percentage of time in a given period during which employees are working in a revenue-producing capacity. You must configure your timesheet system to track whether or not work is considered billable to the customer. Once you have this information, utilization for any period, group or person is found by the formula “B divided by T”, where:
B = Billable hours for the employee/group in the period
T = All hours worked for the employee/group in the period
Most organizations try to keep their utilization rate above 70%. A higher rate is better, until you reach a point where administrative tasks that are necessary to the business—like tracking time—are not being accomplished. Then you know you’ve pushed it too far.
In our next article, we'll consider the remaining two basic KPIs: adherence to estimate and percentage of projects profitable.
Happy Monday, all! It’s officially October and that means that we’re coming down to the wire on our projects, our pipelines and other major deadlines. If you’re feeling a little more stressed than usual, we’ve got the resources for you to completely shake it off and look at your deadlines with a new view.
- CIO - 11 Project Management Tips for Setting and Managing Expectations
- PMTIPS.com – The 3 Dimensions of Project Manager Competencies
- 99U – Top 10 Characteristics of Great Project Managers
- Forbes - Four Project Management Lessons You Can Learn From Software Engineers
- TIME.com – The Mistake Busy People Make
- INC.com – 10 Apps That Make Managing Projects Remotely a Breeze
Want more you can find on social media? Check out these groups to follow and join below!
- Google+ - Project Management Community
- Google+ - Project Manager Community
- Google+ - Project Management Masters Community
- LinkedIn – Project Manager Community
- LinkedIn – PMO-Project Manager Office
- LinkedIn – PMI Project, Program and Portfolio Management
- LinkedIn - Project Management: Networking, Forum and Jobs
Small Business Trends, the popular online blog of -- and relating to -- small businesses, is a cross-cultural hub of tips, analytics, latest industry trends and more. They’ve even been as kind as to publish articles from our very own CEO, Curt Finch.
This article, “How to Balance Leadership and Management”, written by the one and only U.S. Small Business Administration, offers its “how to” guide on keeping your scales evenly tipped, and keeping from going off in the wrong direction. Click here to read the full article.
It's not in the way you can multitask, it's not in how many devices you can juggle at once and it's not in how many meetings you can schedule in a day. Time management is a skill that -- carefully considered in proportion to your own personality type -- can be one of the most powerful tools you can learn in a lifetime. And we should know; we make it our goal every day to provide an easy-to-use interface to track your time on the job.
That being said, for this week's Monday Link-Ups, we're giving you our list of the best articles and studies we've seen out there to help you get your time on track.
- 4 Things You Thought Were True About Time Management - Harvard Business Review
- How Multitasking Hurts Your Brain (and Your Effectiveness at Work) - Forbes.com
- Small Business Owners And Time Management (INFOGRAPHIC) - Huffington Post
- Data, Data: How much time people waste looking for lost information, how fast the World Wide Web is growing, and other statistics from the front lines of the info glut - Inc.com
- Work Smarter, Not Harder: 21 Time Management Tips to Hack Productivity - The Creativity Post
- Don't Delay: How Are You Managing Your Time? - Psychology Today
Want more in the social-sphere? Check out these groups that have great time management tips and tricks to follow on a daily-basis.
- Lifehack on Facebook
- Time Management Ninja on Facebook
- Time Management Skills on LinkedIn
- Organizational Skills, Time Management and Project Management on LinkedIn
- Time Management Magazine on Google+
- Time Management Community on Google+
- Time Management and Productivity Community on Google+
Have some you didn't see make the list? Let us know in the comment section below!
Today on the Journyx Blog, we have guest blogger Diana Gomez, Marketing Coordinator at Lyoness America. Lyoness is an online shopping community that operates around the world.
In this article, Diana discusses how to keep calm and carry on, all while operating your own startup.
There's nothing more exhilarating than quitting your lame day job in order to direct all your energy to your startup passion project. If you've recently made this move, first of all: congratulations! You are in for the ride of your life-complete with slow climbs to the top, gut-wrenching drops and copious amounts of upside-down loop-di-loops. But you know it's all worth it for the existential satisfaction you feel day in and day out. That day job really was lame.
A key component of running a successful small business is maintaining your positivity and composure even during those loop-di-loops. Consumers can be very intuitive of the first signs of faltering on the back end, and the front end of your business may suffer as a result.
Here are six tips for keeping your sanity as captain of the "SS Startup," so that all your consumers ever see is smooth sailing.
1. An apple a day (and exercise and plenty of sleep).
The most obvious strategy in maintaining mental and emotional health is also the most overlooked. When in decent health, people often take their wellbeing for granted. Be purposeful in what you eat and drink, and exercise for 30 minutes every day. You'll have more energy, self-confidence, and less stress. Plus, creative people generally agree that one of the best ways to get ideas flowing is to go for a walk or jog-the fresh air and boost in metabolism really can work wonders.
When your brain just can't calm down, try meditation. It may seem cheesy, but yoga and guided meditation classes have been gaining huge traction for a reason. Think of it as erasing all the old junk from your e-mail inbox-a clear mind just feels better. Check out some online resources or a local wellness spot near you for more info on how to get started.
2. We all need somebody to lean on.
Is it safe to assume your business partners, employees and interns are all fabulous people to be surrounded by on a daily basis? Excellent. But when it comes to keeping your cool, confiding in them may not be your best option. No one can do it alone - so don't be afraid to reach out for support in any way you need. Widen your circle to plenty of people who are willing to lend you their ear, and be open about lending them yours, as well.
If you've had a mentor in the past, remember that just because you no longer work with them doesn't mean your relationship has to end. Mentorship is a symbiotic relationship. Just as mentees gain knowledge and advice in their endeavors, mentors get a sense of fulfillment and sustainability in their experiences by cultivating a fresh mind. Don't be shy.
3. It may be a shark tank, but you can be koi.
It may be temping to research your competitors on a daily (hourly) basis. Are you keeping ahead of the curve? What are their consumers writing in their reviews? Do you even stand a chance? The truth is, your competitors are trying to keep their cool, too. You're never getting the full picture of their business, so you don't have to let it inform your view of yours. Allow yourself to check out what your competitors are up to once a week or less and you'll maintain your focus - and sanity.
4. Switch it up.
A change in environment can do wonders for productivity. Whether that means rearranging your office furniture, working in your kitchen instead of your living room for the day, or enjoying an overpriced latte in the hippest neighborhood hangout, you are actually more influenced by your surroundings than you might think. Never underestimate the power of natural sunlight or a colorful painting-inspiration is absorbed in even the subtlest forms.
5. Get a life.
You know you need to take some time off, so do it! Feeling like a well-rounded person with experiences and interests outside of your startup will do wonders for your perspective, charisma and overall wellbeing. You're more likely to meet interesting people if you've got more to talk about than sales projections. Laughter is important, so go see the newest Seth Rogan movie. Go skydiving - your business will look a lot different from 13,000 feet.
6. Renew your vows.
Everyone says it, but that's because it's vital: "Do what you love." Never forget why you are devoting your life to your business. True love never fades, but passion does need some nurturing. To keep your motivation raging and your fires blazing, attend a startup weekend or get a drink with other entrepreneurs. Read some small business success stories. Revisit old mission statements and e-mails you wrote when your ideas were first starting to blossom.
Stay the course. Keep your cool. Do great things. And have fun!
About the Author: Diana Gomez, Marketing Coordinator at Lyoness America, implements business and social media marketing strategies. The Lyoness loyalty rewards program, where businesses and consumers benefit with free membership and money back with every purchase, can now be accessed on mobile devices
For those of us who tend to embody the type-A persona over the type-B, planning projects to the very last detail comes as second nature. For example; few, if any, of us would begin a cross-country road trip without first planning out where we want to go, what we want to see and how we want to get there. And during the trip, a traveler will often review how far they've traveled, how far they have left to go and what adjustments to their planned route may be necessary. Even then, as they say, the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.
So how do you go about setting up a plan for your project that will give your organization the desired outcome? Unfortunately, these lessons are often lost on the modern world of accounting, making poor planning, or no planning at all, one of the most costly mistakes in project accounting. So just how much will your organization be affected by poor project planning?
Let's take a look at these issues.
Just like a trip with no destination, companies often make the mistake of planning out a system for project accounting without giving much thought to their destination. In this case, the “destination” is the kind of reporting they would want to generate three, six or nine months down the road. You can get a better grasp on the desired outcome of a project by asking questions like: what kind of key performance indicators do they want to be able to measure the company by? What kind of information will they need to be able to evaluate their company strategy for the next quarter? What kind of figures will they need to be able to determine the success or failure of the given project?
By taking adequate time at the very beginning to determine what information you want to have down the road, you can then properly implement project accounting.
Asking the Wrong Questions
So maybe you have done your research and have determined the key performance indicators you will be using for your project and their desired outcome. But how do you know that you’ve implemented the correct KPIs to begin with? Going back to our road trip analogy, if you were planning a trip across country, you wouldn't use a map that focuses on local points of interest in one particular region. Why? Because it would be too specific and too narrow in focus to be of practical benefit.
Similarly, many organizations make the mistake of designing their data collection system with one department in mind, and with extremely fine-tuned KPIs limiting the site and scope of the project as a whole. The problem with this approach is that your average employee doesn't think like an accountant. As a result, just like a very detailed, but very specific map, a data collection system set up in this way will create more trouble than it's worth. Employees will get frustrated with it and can end up submitting inaccurate reports because of the flawed system.
So what do you need to do to avoid this mistake? Focus on efficient reporting. You will need ample information to track the project’s progress, but try not to create a system that focuses on acquiring every possible scrap of data, to the point that it bogs your employees – and your project - down. Decide what you need to track, and design the system to collect that information as succinctly as possible.
Here are some great options to consider when determining the data sets you’ll use in your project:
- Adherence to estimate
- Percentage of projects that are profitable
- Available resources
- Scope of milestones within timeline
Make Adjustments Accordingly
In the end, it’s all about revisiting the initial plan. Just as you periodically review your progress on a trip, it's essential to periodically review how well your project accounting plan is working. All too often, companies put a method into place and never revisit it.
Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is, you may not get it right the first time, and that’s okay. Only through periodic reviews, every three or six months, will you be able to see what is working, what isn't working and what might work better with a little tweaking.
By taking the time to plan with your end goal in mind, designing the most efficient route to that goal and periodically review your progress, you can avoid some of the most common project accounting mistakes.