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It's About Time! The Journyx Blog

July 9, 2014

Many people believe that going green is a highly personal choice and something that is best done in the comfort of home. In fact, many folks view it as nothing more than shuffling the empty milk jug from the fridge to the recycling pile or flipping lights off once your spouse leaves the room. But it's more than that. Going green at work is essential as well -- not only for the benefit of the environment and your office, but to benefit the employees, too.

People want to know that their workplace reflects the values they adhere to at home. The eye-rolling that a green initiative may provoke from non-environmentally minded employees is offset by the increased pride and motivation you'll inspire in those workers who do indeed care about their impact on the Earth.

Project Managers and Small Business Owners: If you are wondering how you can make your workplace a greener environment, congratulations! Curiosity and the will to make a positive change are the first steps. We can help you with the rest; read on for ways to help the earth while you're at work -- and have fun doing it as well.

In What Ways Can Your Workplace be Greener?

Consider encouraging small changes within your company from the top, down. Such changes will help cut back on different forms of company waste, and are surprisingly easy to accomplish as well.

Does more than one person at your office commute to work from the same place? Are there certain jobs that can be done from home or a coffee shop a couple of times per week or month? Save fuel by encouraging your team to ride together to work, take a bicycle or use public transportation. Or, if it's an option, allow them to telecommute a set number of days each week or month.

Use all-natural products to clean the office, or provide them to your cleaning crew. Not only are they healthier for the team members, they're healthier for the earth. You can even make your own cleaning solutions using common household items such as vinegar and lemon.

How much paper does your company use? This point is probably the most obvious in the office space where we freely use paper all day, every day.

Try the following tips for cutting back on paper waste:

  • Encourage team members to avoid printing out anything that can be kept electronically.
  • Print on both sides of the page instead of one.
  • Print just a few documents and let teams share.

Recycling your team's discarded mobile phones, printers, ink cartridges, computers, cameras and other items is important. These often contain valuable metals that can be used again in manufacturing new items.

Basic Utilities 
Don't forget the simple practices of turning off lights when no one is around, unplugging appliances and equipment after hours and keeping the thermostat set at a comfortable yet modest temperature. Even something as simple as using dishware in the office instead of paper products and washing them at the end of the day instead of throwing them in the trash can make a difference.

Establishing Green Practices

Managers and small business owners, they say that the culture of a company is set from the top, and it’s absolutely true; it all starts with you. Be sure to reinforce these new practices with the help of some fun, team-building activities that will inspire employees to enjoy and embrace a greener office.

Propose a friendly competition amongst team members.

Suggest these ideas and come up with your own:

  • Collect the most reusable material from around the office and present the items for recycling.
  • Drive to work the fewest times in a certain period.
  • Use the least amount of paper.

What kinds of incentives or prizes will you offer for those that achieve glory in these green competitions?

Here are a few earth-friendly ideas:

  • Offer the opportunity to donate funds to the winner's charity of choice.
  • Provide a gas card and encourage more car-pooling.

Don't forget to let your clients or customers know you becoming a greener company.

  • Use social media accounts such as Facebook, Google+ and Twitter to share photos and videos of your staff getting into the spirit of having a greener office.
  • Depending on your industry, perhaps you can ask clients to get involved in dropping off their own items to be recycled. For example, if you own a women's clothing boutique, ask regular customers to bring in clothes for a monthly swap and sale. Or, offer a discount for items your clients bring in for trade.

The Benefits of Being Greener

Boosting Company Morale 
Sharing a common cause and working toward a common goal is bound to make your staff form new and stronger bonds with one another. And rewards such as parties and dinners will bring a smile to everyone's face, improving attitudes around the office overall.

Lower Costs 
As a result of all of the above, you'll cut company costs by saving on printing paper, water and electricity bills.

A Healthier Company Culture 
Besides the emotional health that results from everyone working together, your office will no doubt become an overall healthier environment and reduce its carbon footprint.

It might seem overwhelming to think about the environment on a large scale and fret over what your company can do to help Mother Earth. But with these small steps, you'll improve your work environment and make a positive impact on your community. And as a bonus, help foster positive changes in your employees' habits as well.

Diana Gomez is the Marketing Coordinator at Lyoness America, where she is instrumental in the implementation of marketing and social media strategies for USA and Canada. Lyoness, an international shopping community and loyalty rewards program, sponsors the Lyoness Greenfinity Foundation, a charitable organization actively involved in sustainably protecting the environment, realizing innovative climate protection projects worldwide, and promoting the use of renewable energies.

July 7, 2014

Our project manager friends are always on our mind. All the work that they put into making the parts-of-a-whole work together perfectly (and sometimes not-so-perfectly) make them the leaders we like to surround ourselves with. So here we are, giving back to you. We've put together this list of our top favorite blogs, communities, social groups and forums to be a part of for those craving a little more community in their every-day project management lives. 

  • First of all, the Project Management Institute is the premier non-profit networking organization, connecting you to project managers, CEO's, and other Executives around the world. Check out one of their many monthly meetings in a city near you. You might even stumble into our CEO Curt Finch speaking at one of their many events. 
  • The ICPM -- or International Community of Project Managers -- has a blog that has advice, tips, and more from authors, Execs, and speakers from every corner of the globe. With a primary focus on latest trends and advice, the ICPM provides a robust community for those looking for a little more guidance in their field. 
  • A Girl's Guide to Project Management is completely straight-forward, in your face, and telling it exactly like it is. It's written from the perspective of a female specifically for those of female perspectives as well, offering up great tips for every lady. 
  • is a robust blog, converging articles and advice from managers all over the world. And true-to-form, it leaves no stone of the project management world unturned. 

Want a little more than just blogs? Check out the hottest social media forums and communities listed below for more.

July 3, 2014 has been a bold and thoughtful leader in the small business and executive/leadership space for quite a while. They function as a virtual crossroads for tips, sage advice, interviews from CEO's and helpful articles, and they're great at what they do, too.They've even published articles from our very own CEO, Curt Finch. 

Below is an article written by Steve McIntosh about the growing need for using a clean enterprise CRM. Check out the full article on their website here.

For small businesses, using enterprise CRM is like trying to ride the Olympic mogul course at Sochi using a pair of skis designed for Yao Ming. Unless you’re 7’6”, those skis will not turn without a lot of effort. So you spend the run slamming into each mogul instead of turning your skis and absorbing the bumps.

While enterprise CRM providers try to water down their platforms into ‘SMB’ versions, they essentially drop the prices without reducing the complexity and unwieldiness. And until recently, small business CRMs were glorified rolodexes. SMBs had to handle pipeline management, project tracking and support ticketing with different software.

So, small business CRM systems are finally unifying all these features into single, collaborative platforms. The best now offer a productivity ecosystem meant to be used as intensely as an email client. In small businesses where time, money and people are limited, running 360 degrees of customer interaction from a single interface makes a lot of sense.

Continue reading...

June 30, 2014

You might remember in our most recent monday link-ups post, we put a heavy emphasis on GP. Well this week, we're going to branch out and show a little bit of love to our SL and AX friends. There is so much support out there for these other three fan-favorites that we thought we'd be remiss if we didn't put the spotlight on them as well.

  • The Microsoft Dynamics AX Forums has a robust community of users sharing info and learning together. The community for AX ranks at about 19,000 companies using the software as their ERP solution with the software being pitted against big competition like Oracle.
  • The Microsoft Dynamics SL Forums is key to implementing your ERP Software, with SL ranking at about 13,500 companies deploying it as their solution in 2014, you'll need all the help you can get. They boast training videos and CustomerSource access at the tips of your fingers. 
  • AXUG is not just a silly acronym for the in-crowd, it's access to the community beyond even the forums. You get the latest updates, the inside scoop, access to partners and vendors catering and tailoring their solutions to AX. Highly recommend.
  • DSLUG is essentially AXUG but tailored toward SL users, vendors and partners. If you're ERP solution is SL, we could not recommend more that you join this group and get involved ASAP.

There are also tons of ways to be a part of the community online and in the social space. Check out these LinkedIn and Google+ groups and pages to get involved with. 


June 25, 2014

Are you spending time on social media? As a business executive you should be. 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."

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.

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, Pintrist, or Tumblr might be the place for you. Do you value discussion over visuals? Then consider Facebook or Twitter.

Get the Right Tools

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.

Build a Consistent Brand

As the CEO and/or owner of your small business, you are the face of your company’s brand. For this reasons, your social media presence is an important component in brand building. In fact, in the aforementioned BRANDfog study, over 80% of employees believe that executive participation in social media raises brand awareness and is a valuable way to manage brand reputation. But you have to be careful that the brand you are building is consistent. Make sure your visuals and messaging stays the same across social media sites and within the context of your overall brand. And don’t get pulled into negative interactions on these social sites. As the face of your company, you should be personable and engaging, but also professional at all times. 

Don’t Just Talk Business

Social media gives executives the ability to put a human face on their company and connect with customers personally. So don’t bore your audience with constant shoptalk. Richard Branson, the CEO and chairman of Virgin Group, gained a massive following on Twitter by tweeting regularly on a variety of topics, including his travels and his participation in extreme sports. Chris Brogan suggests you use the magazine model when deciding on how much corporate self-promotion to post. Magazines usually have 60% content and 40% ads. You audience won’t mind reading your company messaging as long as you also provide fresh, engaging content unrelated to your business.

Social media is not going away any time soon, so smart small business owners should stop ignoring it and start using it to spread their brand and grow their customer base. And who knows, you might even start to enjoy it!

June 20, 2014

Easily spotted in one of our favorite corners of the internet is ERP Software Blog. Edited by Dynamics ERP veteran Anya Ciecierski, ERP Software Blog has lent itself as a thought-leader in the Dynamics space, heralding breaking news and the latest Microsoft Dynamics updates. Our very own Curt Finch has even been given the opportunity to write for them.

Below is an article debating the importance and need for add-ons in an already-robust Dynamics ERP space. Visit their site here for the full story.

In a LinkedIn group recently, a member asked fellow users of Microsoft Dynamics GP for some sort of documentation with an explanation for why GP needs and benefits from third party products.  It is a fascinating and relevant thread, potentially a challenge to Independent Software Vendors (ISVs), and a bona fide query for Dynamics loyalists.  Other users gave their two cents, and a few themes naturally came out of the conversation. Firstly, some posited that a software producer, even Microsoft, cannot manufacture a solution that responds to each individual organization’s demands.  Similar to Apple products allowing operators to install Google Maps as an application, despite the fact that Apple offers its own map app,  so do ERP systems like Dynamics GP, and this flexibility is a necessity for modern businesses.  As any corporation who implements Dynamics GP has specific needs, goals, regulatory stipulations, and unique budgeting requisites, features and functionalities will vary in their value from company to company.  Third party offerings empower organizations to individualize their corporate performance management to best meet their needs.

Continue reading…

June 18, 2014

President Obama recently signed an executive order calling for new rules on overtime pay. Currently, salaried workers in executive, administrative and professional positions aren’t eligible for overtime pay if they make over $455 per week. The President suggested $600 or $640 as the new threshold, the current standards for New York and California.

Unfortunately, these new rules, if put into effect, will most likely disproportionately affect small businesses. While most large firms can absorb new regulatory costs, small businesses have less revenue to spread the costs across. As Marc Freedman, the executive director of Labor Law Policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, explained, "Similar to minimum wage, these changes in overtime rules will fall most harshly on small and medium sized businesses."

It is predicted that some small companies will see a significant increase their payroll costs as lower-level employees working 50 or 60 hours a week become eligible for overtime.  And in the current economic environment, many small businesses don’t have the available revenue to cover these additional costs. The overtime pay changes could also potentially devastate startups, which often depend on long hours and under-paid dedication from their employees in order to get off the ground.

While a proposed rule is not predicted to come out until the fall, small business owners should start thinking about how they might mitigate these costs now. Some companies may have the revenue to just pay for their newly eligible employees outright, but many small businesses don’t have that luxury. Those already under financial constraints may need to consider raising their prices or reducing their employee number.

There are also some other measures small businesses should consider to mitigate these possible regulatory costs. Instead of hiring full-time employees to provide a needed service, small businesses can save money by hiring contract workers or outside service providers. These entities are dictated by contract law rather than employment law, and so are not eligible for overtime or benefits. They can also dictate their own payment terms. As Paul Christiansen of Fox Business explains in a recent article, “The corporation is the magic strategy that can open up opportunity, freedom, flexibility and choice for both startups and their service providers.”

Small businesses owners should also consider investing in an automated time tracking system. If the overtime law is changed, it will be more important than ever to track how employees are spending their time in order to ensure that no unnecessary overtime hours are logged. A fully integrated system can also show small business owners which employees are profitable to the company, making any budget-induced staff cuts more straightforward.

If the overtime law rules are changed in the coming year, many small businesses will face additional payroll costs. But with the proper preparations, these costs can be mitigated.



June 16, 2014

We are totally head-over-heels for the Dynamics GP community. If you took a quick look at our website, you might be able to see why. We compliment their workforce tools like peanut butter and jelly, and are fans of their support community as well. With that, we'd like to give you this week's link-ups of Dynamics GP support tools of all types - whether it's in the social space or the Microsoft-funded one, we've got the resources here. 

  • Microsoft Software Assurance Program is the upgrade-as-you-do feature provided by Microsoft themselves. It is THE place you can enter in support tickets and get the help you need directly from the source. There is also their "Premier Support" package that breaks out even more support documentation, training, software deployment tools and more. 
  • The Microsoft Dynamics GP Forums had just 20,000 posts from users today alone; but don't worry, if your questions aren't getting answered there are bound to be questions similar to yours that are. 
  • CustomerSource is the place you'll find Dynamics training tools, the knowledge base and more. 
  • is the premier place for all things Dynamics - including the latest news, updates in the Dynamics GP community and more. 
  • ERP Software Blog is a haven where vendors and partners get to compare and contrast their favorite products, tools, add-ons and upgrades, and they don't miss a beat.

If you're looking to go a little more social, there are many groups and organizations currently talking about the very questions you might be asking. Check out these LinkedIn and Google+ groups to see the conversations they're having.

June 13, 2014 is an online hub for all things Human Resources advice, tips, latest products and more. With over 200,000+ peers writing, contributing and simply visiting the site, is the perfect sort of massive organization and community just for those in the HR industry. They even publish works by our very own CEO, Curt Finch.

Below is a great article on what it means to be a job-seeker in the 2014 economy, written by Sal VittolinoVisit their site here for the full story.

A growing number of companies and job-seekers are taking a temporary route to finding full-time employees and jobs. Temp-to-hire – or hiring after completion of a temporary assignment – is increasingly being used by job-seekers looking for full-time positions and companies that want to try out workers before making a decision whether to hire them, according to OI Global Partners, a leading human resources consulting firm.

Temp-to-hire has expanded beyond its traditional role in recruiting primarily administrative positions to include executive, managerial and entry-level posts in accounting and finance, information technology, medical, sales, legal and other professions.

A big reason why temp-to-hire has been steadily rising is because companies are reluctant to add full-time workers in an uncertain economy. More employers are requesting that job candidates work 3- to 6-month temporary assignments before determining whether to hire them full-time.

Continue reading…

June 11, 2014

Especially in the American culture of overworking and under-vacationing, we're constantly being inundated with messages of "Best Tips to a Better Multitasking You" or "Top 5 Ways Multitaskers Win". Whether it's taking phone calls while commuting, writing emails during meetings, or switching rapidly between projects, multitasking seems like the perfect way to get more done in less time.

But does multitasking actually make you more efficient? Current research says no. A 2010 report in the journal Science revealed that the human brain can handle only two tasks at once, because it divides the responsibility between its two frontal lobes; if a third task is added, the brain gets overwhelmed and starts making errors. Additionally, multitasking over a long period of time can have lasting effects on your ability to work effectively. According to a recent study called Cognitive control in media multitaskers, chronic multitaskers have problems with filtering information, memory management, and task switching – all necessary talents for an effective business leader.

So what can you and your employees do to reduce the negative effects of multitasking? Well, the obvious answer is to stop multitasking. But in today’s information-saturated, communication-centric world, that’s easier said than done. So here are a few strategies to help you focus on one task at a time.

The Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method invented by productivity consultant Francesco Cirillo. The idea is simple: commit yourself to a 25-minute session of uninterrupted work on a single task. Close your email. Put away your phone. If someone comes by your desk, ask them to send you an email that you can check later. Don’t let anything distract you until the end of the session.  

You can purchase a physical Pomodoro timer to time your 25-minute sessions, or invest in a Pomodoro app, available for iPhone and Android. As a small business owner, you can also encourage your employees to try the technique and implement rules on not distracting coworkers during sessions.

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is increasingly being touted as the solution to our overly multitasking culture, and it's less of a new-age mindset than you might think. Jon Kabat-Zinn, professor of medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, describes mindfulness as “non-judgmental attention to the experiences of the present moment.” And here's the thing: it’s effective. A recent study looked at how knowledge workers dealt with being assigned multiple tasks in a short amount of time. Those trained in mindfulness were better able to focus on the tasks and remember pertinent details. In short, they were better at juggling multiple tasks.

So how can you be mindful? Just focus your attention on the present moment and try to be open to your current experiences. This means that you need to stop worrying about next week’s meeting and instead focus on the email you’re writing. It also means accepting even your most difficult and tedious tasks. Once you’ve accepted the necessity of, say, inputting data into a huge spreadsheet, your mind will have a much easier time getting through it. 

Keep An Active To-Do List

It may seem obvious, but the importance of a well-maintained to-do list cannot be overstated. It will both help you remember to complete all your tasks, and keep you from switching between objectives while you’re hard at work. If you think of something that needs to be done – say an email or an errand – just jot it down on the to-do list rather than breaking away from your current task.

Though multitasking may always prove tempting, it is detrimental to your productivity and the health of your company. By managing your time, sectioning off tasks, and putting your head down for uninterrupted sessions, you’ll be able to get work done more efficiently and with better results.

June 9, 2014

Happy Monday, all! It's the sweet beginnings of summer which also means that we're just at the very peak of hiring season. So with that, we're serving up the latest blogs, sites, social media pages and groups to bookmark on your browser and follow. For those who are looking to get hired or looking to bring in new staff, we've got the best sources to get the absolute best talent out there. 

  • Fistful of Talent not only boasts a quippy name for fellow western-movie lovers, but they're serious about great hiring tactics, too. They have a plethora of the what's-new and who's-who in the hiring world, where to best post up your resume and where to find the best gigs all in one. They're no since they are blog-focused, but they've got the information to stand up on their own.
  • HR Daily Advisor is the "it blog" of HR professionals on the web. They boast daily tips and share great ideas on not only how to get the best talent, but how to keep it, too. They even have helpful templates, webcasts and documented research from laureates around the world. Check them out to see the real deal for yourself.
  • Speaking of, the Career Resources Blog is one of the biggest hubs for helpful tips and resume help around on the web. It's the foremost tool people seeking for jobs use to get the info they need to land their next gig -- so if you already already parsing the site, check it out now.
  • oDesk is the number one resource for freelance gigs - and we certainly can't forget about our freelancer friends. It may be filled to the brim with mostly writing opportunities and short projects, but oDesk is also for those creative types looking for a video job, graphic design projects and etc. They also have an amazing blog with helpful ideas on how to land the project, making it on your own as a freelancer, how to form the best relationships with the talent you've hired and so on. 

Of course there are so many more websites for jobs such as the Craigslist/jobs section for your area, as well as,, and The Resumator. So don't forget to get your feelers out on those sites for great talent as well -- or to post your resume there for those on the hunt for the right job. Still looking for more though? Check out these Google+ and LinkedIn groups discussing the latest in the hiring and staffing industries.

June 6, 2014

Vistage - The Executive Street Blog is a highway of sleeves-rolled-up no-hold-bars advice, latest stats, and innovative ideas from CEO's all over the nation. A cultural hub for exeutive thought leadership, Executive Street has writers from all corners of the world with over 30+ published authors and 180+ regular contributors. They've even been kind enough to post some writing from our very own CEO, Curt Finch.

Below is an article highlighting Fast Company's Top 10 of the "World's Most Innovative Companies of the Year". Visit their site here for the full article.

Every year, Fast Company reveals its list of the world’s most innovative companies of the year. With the topic of innovation front and center, Fast Company considers themselves to be a progressive media brand “written for, by, and about the most progressive business leaders”.

For the most part, this year’s top 10 listing comes as no surprise presenting Nike, Amazon, Square, Splunk, Fab, and Uber as the top 6 champions of innovation.

Initially, I had thought to only mention the top 5. But for turning the taxi and town-car industry upside down, I thought Uber deserved a mention as well. After all, it is not often that a company takes on innovation in an industry dating back to the early 1700’s.  Then again, who would have thought you could turn the soap industry on its head with foaming soap dispensers? It goes to show that no industry old or new is without room to improve.

First place on the list, Nike was highlighted for their culture of pushing boundaries which resulted in not just 1, but 2 groundbreaking inventions in the past year. The first is the fuel band, a relatively affordable electronic bracelet that measures movement through the day; whether you go out for a run, play a sport, or just walk around the grocery store.  Their second breakout invention is the Flyknit Racer, a feather-light knitted shoe that required Nike to re-invent their entire manufacturing process.

Not many companies, much less a company already successful and thriving, would take such a big risk in the name of innovation. However, Nike knows that in order to sustain innovation, risks must be undertaken. No Risk: No Innovation.  Put another way, no guts, no glory.

Continue reading...

June 5, 2014

Congratulations to Titan Salvage on being chosen as Journyx Customer of the Month for June!

“Titan Salvage had outgrown the old method of tracking labor in our warehouses. Previously, multiple people would send spreadsheets by email to a payroll person, who would have to consolidate the hours for corporate payroll, which led to untraceable errors and no ability to manage labor on a world-wide basis,” said Daniel Dolson, Operations Manager at Titan Salvage. “Journyx has been a significant leap for the entire Titan organization to centralize labor time recording and to manage job costs across the organization. Individual location managers now have access to track our labor spending at their depots and the company directors have big-picture views of true job costs for labor.

“In addition, the centralized collection and reporting gives our payroll team a reliable single-source to pass to accounting. The built-in audit trail for recording prevents mistakes and gives the employees higher confidence in the company.”

Founded in 1980, Titan Salvage expanded over three decades from a one-tug boat mission crew to a massive worldwide organization owned by Crowley Maritime Corporation. In that time, Titan has performed over 70 major “salvage and wreck removal operations, and more than 300 projects overall.” A loyal Journyx customer since 2012, Titan has gone on to clean up wrecks as massive as the Costa Concordia and become sponsors for the American Salvage Association National Salvage Conference. Learn more about Titan Salvage and what they do here.

June 5, 2014

Today we have guest blogger Diana Gomez, Marketing Coordinator at Lyoness America. Lyonness is an international cross-sectoral shopping community active in over 45 countries. You can check out Lyoness on Twitter for more.

It's a symptom of many office environments, even small ones, that employees might begin to feel ineffective over time and, consequently, unimportant. Despite their hard work and extra efforts, nothing seems to change. And that can bring someone's morale down pretty quickly, even with "Free Donut Fridays".

When it comes to increasing employee morale at the office, it's important not only to show your team how much you appreciate them, but to also provide them with an outlet through which they can see their efforts making a direct and positive impact. And there are few better ways to do that than by giving back.

The Psychology of Giving

While you can throw sales goal achievement parties and reward effective actions with financial incentives, there is a particular quality inherent to the act of giving that boosts one's mood in a much more meaningful way. And that's a psychological fact.

When Jorge Moll and his team at the National Institutes for Health looked into the mental impact of giving, they found that the same area of the brain that reacts when we feel pleasure, trust and a sense of "well-being" also illuminates during the act of giving. In fact, additional studies have found that participating in charitable actions can even have a positive impact on one's overall health.

And by providing your employees with a way to give back to the community, you're not only giving them a way to feel better about their jobs and themselves in general, but you're also improving the general public perception of your company.

The Social Impact of Giving

Whether it's helping to build a new home for an underprivileged family, planting trees in a downtrodden neighborhood or sponsoring a gift giving drive during the holidays, a company is making a win-win-win decision when they decide to give back to the community.

Win #1: Employees benefit from the opportunity to participate in a charitable action supported by their company. 
Win #2: The community benefits directly from the action. 
Win #3: The company benefits from the positive word-of-mouth and social influence of their charitable act.

The "How" of Company Giving

The act of giving back also has the benefit of being something that even a one-person business can take part in. The first step, however, is deciding which charity you want to align your company name with.

1. Choose a Charity that Shares Your Company's Values/Focus

There are currently more than 1.4 million charities in the United States alone, so finding one that fits with your company's focus and/or values might take some digging. However, a few hours on a reputable charity listing website such as or should result in a good list of choices.

2. Do Your Due Diligence

Despite the large number of charities to choose from, there are still many organizations out there that claim to be nonprofits but don't have the paperwork to back it up. Once you've narrowed down your list to a top few, be sure to check the following:

  • The charity is listed with the IRS as a tax-exempt organization
  • The charity can provide you with a copy of their Letter of Determination
  • The charity is willing to share detailed financial reports showing the income and dispersal of funds

Most of the time, if the charity is listed with one of the reputable charity listing sites, the website will likely provide you with all of this information and more. But not being listed on one of these search engines doesn't automatically mean that the charity isn't on the up and up. Just be sure to verify their financial and legal status.

The New Business of Giving

Now and then, no matter how hard you look, there just isn't a nonprofit that fits well with your company. Whether it's because no charity seems to compliment your business' ideals, your top choices seem to have poor leadership or you simply found a niche in your community that no charity is currently supporting, sometimes the best idea is to go out and start your own nonprofit.

Take the Greenfinity program, for example. The second nonprofit organization launched by online shopping community Lyoness (full disclosure: my employer), this program was created not only to promote the use of renewable energies and climate protection to countries around the world, but it also helps the company reach its goal of becoming entirely climate neutral. And Lyoness' first nonprofit, the Child and Family Foundation, has programs in several countries helping to provide children and families with education and family support.

While you may not be ready to take your nonprofit global, you can make a significant impact in your local community with the right focus. The team effort needed to make it happen undoubtedly will imbue your employees not only with a strong sense of accomplishment, but also with the sense of loyalty created when one helps to build a good program from the ground up.

There are a lot of steps in the charity creation process, but there are also a lot of organizations out there to help you get started. And whether you go with creating your own company charity or simply teaming up with a nonprofit that fits well with your own business team, the impact you'll have across the board is going to be a positive one.

About the Author: Diana Gomez is the Marketing Coordinator at Lyoness America, where she is instrumental in the implementation of marketing and social media strategies for USA and Canada. The Lyoness Child & Family Foundation (CFF) is actively involved in supporting children, adolescents and families worldwide, especially in the field of education. Check out Lyoness on Twitter.

June 4, 2014

For those Type A Project Managers, the first thought after completing a project is usually: “What could I have done better?” And really, if you are not capitalizing on every opportunity within the means and scope of the project at hand, the odds are that you will be overrun by those companies that do capitalize on them. Fortunately, it is not difficult to see where these potential profit areas exist. Let’s take a look at some important areas where you can uncover opportunities to make more money and save more time.

Rally Your Troops

For project managers, the resources you'll need refer to the people available to work on a project and the material (software etc.) that will be used to complete it. It is incredibly important to know exactly what resources are available, and when, in order to successfully set budgets and deadlines. However, in practice, that data can be surprisingly hard to find.

Instituting an automated time and project management system allows you to view exactly where resources are employed, what hours employees have available, and when they will be able (or unable) to work on a project. For instance, let’s say a key employee is going on vacation to Bermuda and won’t be able to work on the project for the duration of his visit. Gaining this information weeks in advance (via the automated time system) would allow you to redistribute his workload and avoid project complications or delays.

Give Them Some Space

Do you know how efficient your employees are? Having employees track time to individual projects allows you to view their efficiency at particular tasks, as well as the status of the project as a whole. Viewing this information on a daily basis let’s you know when employees should be moved to different tasks. It also lets you view project completion as an ongoing event rather than a set series of checkpoints. That way, if projects go off-schedule or resources are being used too quickly, it is easy to make minor corrections immediately.

Estimate the Viablity of it

Estimates are the first step in determining project viability. Both over and under-bidding costs you in the long run, either through project delays or loss of opportunity to pursue other projects. But it is never possible to make an estimate with 100% accuracy -- there are too many opportunities for error. However, this does not mean that estimates cannot be very good guesses. Building up a backlog of past project data will greatly improve future estimates. Note that this means every project attempted, not every project completed. Failed projects can be just as valuable in aiding future estimates as successful projects.

One way to make more precise bids is to use a key performance indicator. This is a tool used to measure progress towards a strategic business goal.  For example, the number you want to minimize in this situation is defined by the formula [(E-A)/E], where:

  • E = estimated hours to complete the project
  • A = actual hours spent to complete the project

Keeping this KPI value as close to zero as possible will show you that you are in fact bidding on projects more accurately.

Just tracking this number is a great first step towards better bidding, and you can get the necessary data to calculate it from any timesheet system, including a paper one without looking over the shoulders of your employees. Automated timesheet systems, however, are generally even more effective in this area because they often have reports to calculate the KPI figure for you. 

These are just a few of the ways that businesses can uncover hidden opportunity in their projects. Seizing hidden opportunity is not only important in the current business climate, it’s required.

June 3, 2014

(This is a continuation of part 1 of this article, found here)

Verify Abilities

The interview process is an experience that is hard to duplicate. It allows executives to check the more sensory-oriented aspects of a candidate, such as their ability to communicate and their interpersonal skills. It represents the human side of hiring. An interview can help make predictions about a person’s suitability for a given job and how well they may "fit" the organization’s culture. As selection expert Dr. Charles Handler puts it, “Years of research into the interview process suggest that the accepted validity coefficient (i.e., the accuracy) of the traditional (unstructured) employment interview is between .10 to .20. In non-geek speak this means that, across the board, interviews predict an applicant's actual ability to do the job with only between 1% to 4% accuracy, suggesting that between 96 and 99% of what it takes to effectively perform a job is not being measured by your employment interview.”           

To verify what you think you learned about a candidate in an interview, a thorough background check will make sure the candidate isn’t putting up an appealing facade. The reference check is designed to help guarantee that the individual can perform as promised, that he has a positive work ethic, and that he can be relied upon for some time to come. All negative impressions from previous employees should be taken into serious consideration, and it may be necessary to weigh the potential benefits against the potential wasted time during a failed tenure.

Gain a Statistical Advantage

Due to the overall subjectivity with which executives approach the hiring process and the informal processes most often used, the final decision is often made largely through gut instinct. After all of the careful scrutiny, analysis, and questioning that goes into the process, executives say that it almost always comes down to an intuitive decision.           

Hiring is a demanding process and is largely subjective. The difficulty is that there are simply too many variables in play to make a decision that will likely result in a highly productive employee. Some say that three good hires can't make up for the problems caused by one bad hire. To reduce unintentional bias and mistakes inherent to the traditional hiring process, executives should incorporate more science-based data to get a more accurate picture of the applicant and likely future performance.           

Today, the hiring process can easily be augmented with comprehensive personality tests and cognitive analyses. While most applicants can manage their images for an hour in an interview or spin their resume to appeal to the targeted audience, personality and reasoning tests are much more difficult to manipulate. These simple virtual tests measure cognitive ability, personality, how a candidate might actually perform, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. From these tests, it's actually possible to tell within a high degree of confidence whether they'll be happy with their job and their position within the company culture.           

Cognitive reasoning is a simple enough measure to gather for each candidate. Quick questioning within a few separate fields helps rank candidates by their ability to solve problems, conduct verbal reasoning, communicate, and deal with numerical information. While certain qualities may be unimportant in particular scenarios, it's clearly wise to hunt for candidates with a strong learning index and the appropriate level of verbal skills. When candidates’ abilities match those required by the job, they'll be much more successful and confident.           

These assessments can also measure behavioral traits such as sociability, assertiveness, attitude, decisiveness, independence, and more. Responses can help the hiring team learn quickly how a potential employee would fit in the existing job culture and if they would fit with management's current practices. If you find a highly dependent employee in a small, relatively self-managed organization, for instance, then you will need someone to direct this individual to make sure he or she stays on track.           

Measuring behavioral traits is an effective way for hiring managers to staff leadership positions or even round out teams by providing balance within divisions. Research demonstrates that teams made up of diverse personalities are often more productive than heterogeneous teams, so work to actively fill out your staff ( with compatible yet differing personalities.           

As always, however, executives should measure the candidate's strengths against the position for which they are hiring. When hiring a software designer, the individual will rarely require the same leadership skills that you would look for in a project manager. Understand the position, decide what qualities are needed for this position, and tailor the interview to test these strengths and weaknesses.           

A strong leader can grow and inspire current employees, while new personalities in existing teams can round out group dynamics to increase productivity and efficiency. Finding an employee who will work well within the company and provide profitable longevity is therefore crucial to the success.           

Personality and aptitude pre-hire assessments are accurate and can help predict future success on the job. They provide a significant statistical improvement over the traditional go-with-the-gut hiring mentality. And, if you have ever made a hiring mistake, assessments give new meaning to “what you see is not always what you get.”

The Holistic Approach to Hiring

In the future, it may be wise for organizations to take these practices into consideration to improve their chances of hiring a successful and viable candidate. A holistic hiring approach requires managers to analyze candidates on both the personal level and from the scope of the greater organization. Before analyzing each candidate, executives should first answer the following questions: Where will the individual be placed within the organization? How will the individual be interacting with colleagues? What will the candidate be doing? What is the company's/team's culture?           

Making hiring decisions based upon skill or personality alone can only take a business so far. By blending the two, your organization will gain a competitive advantage great enough to tip the scales in your favor. Invest in the future of your company through an educated hiring process, avoid brash decisions, and strengthen your organization.

June 3, 2014

Successful hiring is one of the key factors to operational success for large and small businesses alike. Executives should approach the hiring process as a means to both improve their existing workforce and to secure a candidate who will add long-term value to the organization. If approached merely as a step toward replacing a lost asset, the hiring process will squander considerable resources and forfeit significant opportunity value from a potential personnel improvement. The mission is obvious, yet, according to business owners, finding the right employees can be an elusive aspiration in a drawn-out process.           

The results of the hiring search can be crucial for the future of small businesses and a poor decision can easily cost any organization well into the six figures. Every new hiring opportunity has the potential to advance a business's interests or set them back significantly, and should be approached using the same level of data, knowledge, and preparation required for any critical business decision.           

The “people decision making” process, however, is littered with intangibles. Nation-wide unemployment continues to hover around 9%, but we have yet to experience the expected talent surplus from this prolonged recession. Instead, talent managers continue to struggle to fill leadership roles and key positions with the people who are right for their organizations. Avoiding this quandary is paramount to every business's success. To do that, organizations must adopt hiring methods that increase the chances of securing productive and “profitable” hires.

Sift Through the Facts

Identifying the right new employee should involve more than selecting candidates by resume strength, interview performance, personal references or “gut reaction”.  While the traditional big three – resume, interview, and references – can help drive an application, these factors alone cannot generate a comprehensive enough portrait of the candidate to justify the company’s investment of time and money.           

The resume frequently serves as the sole initial source for determining candidate strength, and includes information about education, experience, and special skills. This document is, however, an imperfect guide to a candidate's true strengths. Various surveys and research find that between 39% - 50% of resumes contain erroneous information, so they must be taken with a grain of salt until fully verified.           

Despite the prevalence of inaccurate data, executives can still get some information from the resume. The reported candidate's career arc can provide information about career path; roughly how loyal to the company he may be; what the candidate reports having accomplished at each previous job; how much time spent in areas that a company requires.

Weigh Strengths

Hiring managers should not give too much weight to years of experience and technical skills alone. A resume does not report how successful the candidate was – just that he held the positions. These indicators are far less likely to predict high performance than factors such as motivational fit, organizational culture match, and interpersonal skills. So, in looking at a candidate’s resume, it is important to conceptualize how an applicant's prior organizations may have functioned, how their qualities impacted performance and demanded work, and how the individual connected with the unique company culture. And, with over a third of senior executives citing retention as a pressing talent concern, it may be important at this stage in the process to check for other such candidate traits as well.           

Executives rarely give these important factors enough consideration in hiring new candidates. In a 2009 study, 43% of executives gave priority to relevant experience and technical skills, only 24% gave similar weight to an individual's ability to collaborate in teams and 11% considered the candidate's readiness or ability to learn new things, both of which are more related to success than skills.           

This same pool of executives reported that their hiring practices relied heavily on subjective personal preferences, and their views about hiring differed varied widely. They disagreed on whether to hire insiders or outsiders, who should be involved in the hiring process, how to assess candidates, and the keys to successful hiring and retention.

June 2, 2014

Happy Monday, once again! Today we've put together this list of the latest energy-focused resources, blogs, conferences and more. After all, we are based deep in the heart of Austin, Texas. If you need to be certified in oil, gas & energy resources law by the state bar of Texas or you're just here looking for a really great read, we've got the tips on what's hot off the press. 

  • Oil, Gas & Energy Resources Law is a specific subset of the State Bar of Texas, for those looking to be a little more-than-certified in the lawyer arts. 
  • Texas Oil & Gas Magazine might have one state in the title, but with national publication distributions, this magazine is the forerunner for the latest oil and gas news coming out of the United States.
  • Oil & Gas Journal is the top journal for all things energy-related, boasting global magazine distributions. Not to mention they've even featured Journyx. Check them out here.
  • Power Magazine  has been in circulation stretching back over a span of 131 years and is still going strong. They are the information source for all things in the power generation market, and even supplied issues during World Wars 1 and 2. 
  • Journal of Petroleum Technology is a global publication, releasing new issues monthly. They cover the science and technological advances in the petroleum and energy industries, and are updating their website with the latest of these on a daily basis.

Still itching for more? You can find these blogs, social media groups and upcoming conferences below with the latest community updates in the energy industry.

May 30, 2014

GoERPCloud is the child company of RoseASP, hosting their own blog with resources for Dynamics ERP, filled to the brim with regular contributors, the latest facts on Dynamics GP and updates on what's happening in the Microsoft Dynamics community. They even let our CEO, Curt Finch write for them. 

Below is the third and final installment in a series of articles about how to choose the best business software for your company. Visit their site here for the full scoop.

About half of all small and midsize businesses that adopt enterprise resource planning software do so because their previous software and hardware was on the verge of obsolescence, according to a whitepaper by Focus research.  This is not surprising in a post-recession era when many decision makers in the SMB market have been putting off major projects like new system implementations for years.  People may be declaring the recession over but we are all still pinching pennies and we want to be sure we are getting the best bang for our buck before we choose business software.  So, we created a three-blog series on how to choose business software. In this latest installment we will be covering how to make ERP software trials work for you. So Far in the series we have covered:

Continue reading…

May 28, 2014

Despite the advances made in project management technology, project failure rates continue to be through the roof. The Standish Group’s 2013 CHAOS Study shows that 64% of projects are either “challenged” or downright failures, leaving just 36% of projects to be considered successful. Project management software is only as good as the processes that support it.  Too many managers believe that they can install a solution and leave it at that.  The only way to enable such a solution to work is to also evaluate and address the root causes of project failure in your organization.

How Much Do Your Projects Really Cost?

Time data is crucial if you want to understand your true cost on a per-project basis.  If you do not know how much time your team members are spending on various projects, you do not really know how much the projects cost. But people dislike tracking the time spent on each task of a project. A software solution will only help you to accomplish this if you obtain widespread employee adoption. Usually, you can get people on board by explaining how the data will help the company.  Some managers opt to create a rewards system for time reporting. The methodology is up to you but if you achieve widespread time-tracking adoption, the knowledge you obtain from the data will be priceless.

Who is Available to Work on Your Projects?

It is important to track all project-related information through the same system. If you track your time, project, billing and vacation data in the same system, you can understand who is over- and under-allocated, who is behind on their work, and who is available to work on your project next month - all important issues for a project manager to know. Project managers can see the impact of their projects before scheduling them, allowing them to avoid unnecessary risk and take the guesswork out of planning. 

Actual Remaining Work

Everyone has the same answer when asked about the status of their tasks: “I'm 90% done.”  Updates based on percent complete do not give accurate information on how much longer it will take or whether or not it will be late.  Rather, a project management system where employees track time against tasks shows project managers, at a glance, how many actual hours of work remain. The data will then flow back into your project plan, updating it accordingly.  This improves project estimation for the future by verifying the accuracy of previous estimates. 

Clear Communication

Managing multiple people and projects across departments, companies and time zones is one of the hardest aspects of project management.  Everyone has their own methodology, technology system, culture and work style, and you, the project manager, have to account for all of it. Jonathon Cummings, professor at Duke's Fuqua School of Business, explains: “Although technology can tremendously improve productivity, [...] live communication [...] is still critical for a distributed team’s success." The bottom line here is that technology can help you keep in touch with your employees but you should never underestimate the power of live communication.

Though project management software provides us with increased functionality, it takes effective processes and management skills to solve the project execution problem. Technology will only be the answer when it has the right people driving it.