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It's About Time! The Journyx Blog
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:
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.
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.
You’re aware by now that Microsoft has killed Business Portal for the next release of Dynamics GP. As you search for a time tracking replacement to Business Portal, there are many factors to consider. Last week, we gave you a requirements list and today, we’re talking about demos and hosting options.
Have you wondered if it’s really worth your time to find a quality time and expense add-on to Dynamics GP? Well, look at it this way: is profitability important? Is it important to stay on track with budgets and projects? Yes? Then you should absolutely be tracking time. Read on for information on making sure the demo is rock-solid, and the advantages of software-as-a-service versus installed software.
The Most Common Mistake in Buying Time and Expense Tracking Software: Don’t Fall For a Deceptive Demo
You have the right to demand that any vendor absolutely, completely proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that their solution will solve your company’s specific business problem. You deserve a detailed demonstration that uses your employee list, customer list, project list, your company’s logo, color scheme, and that shows you reports on your data that will prove to you that your business problem is solved. If a vendor can't make you 100 percent certain that the solution will work for your specific business needs, then walk away. Canned demos are designed to deceive.
Questions to Ask Vendors:
- Can you absolutely prove to me that you will solve my business problem, using my employees, departments, projects, etc., and then show me the reports I need to see?
- Can you provide references of clients that have successfully integrated your product with Dynamics GP, as well as my project management system and my payroll service provider?
If the vendor can quickly configure the software during a demo for you and show you that it really meets your needs, then he probably can do it quickly after it’s installed at your company as well.
SaaS Flexibility Allows Early Rollouts, Server Protection and Easier Upgrades
If the software is 100 percent Web-based (and it should be to avoid obsolete technology and installation problems), you can run it from any server on earth. Software companies can deliver technology via two different models: installed at your location or rented by you and running on the vendor’s site. The latter approach is called software-as-a-service (SaaS). There is no reason a provider can’t offer both options.
SaaS allows early rollouts, server protection and easier upgrades. In an early rollout, the vendor lets you temporarily use the SaaS site while your IT shop deploys the machine purchased for your local installation. Server protection is the process of sending a backup to the vendor in case your local installation fails. Thus, the vendor can get your system running on his site instantly. SaaS allows easier upgrades because you’re provided a test site during the upgrade process that requires no hardware purchases on your part.
Questions to Ask Vendors:
- What sort of backup generator do you have in case of a power outage at your SaaS site?
- Where is it hosted?
- How many connections to the Internet does your SaaS site have?
- How much does server protection cost?
- Can I roll-out on your SaaS servers and later transfer the data to my own servers?
- Where are SaaS backup tapes stored?
- What kinds of security and fire suppression capabilities exist at the hosting site?
Get Feedback from Every Department
The time data that your system collects, if collected appropriately, can be used to automate project management, project costing, project tracking, and project estimation improvement. Additionally, the data can be used for internal, external and reverse billing automation.
Think back to that requirements gathering portion of the time tracking software selection process. Bring in R&D managers, marketing folks, and people from all other departments. Have an entire selection team. Yes, it may be harder, but it will unleash profitability that you didn’t know you had available.
Do you feel like you have a better handle on moving forward with finding a time and expense replacement for Business Portal? Hopefully this information has been helpful. While you’re putting together your short list of potential vendors, please consider Journyx, as well. We would appreciate the opportunity to speak with you and see if our solution would be a good fit for your company.
Smallbiztrends.com is the absolute forerunner for converging small business tips and trends with entrepreneurs and economical advice. Founded by Anita Campbell in 2003, Small Business Trends boasts a range of 300+ contributing writers on their publication site. One of those authors just so happens to be our very own CEO, Curt Finch.
Below is a great article on the economics of small businesses in the past few years by writer Joshua Sophy. Visit their site here for the full story.
For the majority of small businesses, increased revenue is outpacing increases in taxes. That’s the consensus from a new survey by online payroll provider SurePayroll. SurePayroll recently unveiled its April 2014 Small Business Scorecard covering the previous tax year.
The survey showed that 60 percent of small business owners saw revenues increase during the previous year. Meanwhile only 57 percent saw increases in their taxes.
The survey also showed that slightly more than 33 percent of those small businesses saw revenue increases of 15 percent or more during the 2013 tax year. Meanwhile, only 20 percent of small business owners participating in the survey saw their taxes increase by that much over the same period.
Journyx has been in business since 1996, and is now an established small company with 30 employees and thousands of clients worldwide. But reaching this level of stability wasn’t easy. CEO and founder Curt Finch started the company as a programmer with limited expertise in managing people and running a business. He had to learn these skills through trial and error, and learn them fast in order to keep the company going. Here are his biggest takeaways from his 18 years as Journyx’s CEO.
Focus on Customers
Don’t create technology just for the sake of creating it. Instead, you need to create market-driven products that your customers actually want (or even need). Here at Journyx, we are passionate about keeping a pulse on the needs of our customers and prospects in order to deliver solutions that will solve their specific business problems in a cost-effective, efficient way.
And once a company has purchased your solution, continue to deliver fantastic customer service. Journyx customer support has received many accolades, including from our client CoWare: "The installation and usage of our existing database worked flawlessly! I wanted to take this opportunity to once again acknowledge your excellent commitment to customer service. The fact that you went beyond what most would do speaks volumes to your commitment to customer support.”
Innovate in Hard Times
When the economy took a turn for the worse in 2008, Journyx saw an opportunity to change and expand its business. We started looking for new markets for our products, and for ways to improve our existing products. In the end, we came out ahead and are still thriving today. On top of that, it's of utmost importance that your company continues evolving your product with the dream that not only will you keep on top of the rapidly evolving market, but be the forefront software innovators and thought-leaders in the nation.
Hire the Right People
Human resources are a company’s most valuable asset, and so, as CEO, you have to understand which people are the right for which jobs. At Journyx, we use hiring assessment software Affintis to determine potential employees’ specific skill sets and weaknesses. And once you’ve hired employees, it is also important to manage them effectively. Be flexible with your employees and build them up so that they are as dedicated to your company and its mission as you are.
Admit When You Are Wrong
No one likes to be wrong, especially when they are the CEO of the company. But you will earn the respect of your employees and clients if you admit early and often that you were wrong about something, whether it was a project, a certain process, an idea, or even a person. It’s best to set expectation and understand that even when set, they might not always be right.
Microsoft has announced that Business Portal will not be included in the next release of Dynamics GP. Are you one of the many companies scrambling to find a reliable time and expense tracking replacement? Finding a replacement solution can be daunting but we’re here to help. Following are a few items of consideration as you navigate the buying process of a new solution.
Have a Buying Process
Too often--in large and small companies alike--the key statement in the buying process is “look at this cool thing I found on the Internet.”
The result of this is usually wasted time and money. Time and expense tracking software will touch everyone in your company. Nobody likes to track their time, so it must be simple to use, have a friendly interface and encourage accurate data collection in every way possible. And since you’re a Dynamics GP user, it also needs to seamlessly integrate with GP and offer bidirectional data exchange so that time data flows into GP and vice versa. The system should include double entry methodologies and approval processes, and have automatic reminders for the procrastinating, busy, forgetful executive (you know who you are).
First, you need a requirements list. This will enable you to eliminate scads of vendors that pop up when you Google "timesheet." To assemble your requirements list, ask all the different departments in the company that will be affected by the system for their input.
Here are a few potential requirements:
- Do you need to verify invoices sent to you by contractors, and test the time tracking system on them first?
- Do you need a system that prevents people from tracking time against projects they shouldn’t have access to?
- Are there other systems with which you need to integrate besides Dynamics GP?
- Do you need to get the system rolled out now with no time to wait for IT to buy a machine and transfer it to your IT shop when they’re ready?
- Do you need to split-bill back project costs to other internal departments?
- Do you need to fix your estimation process?
- Do you need Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) compliance or very accurate IT capitalization data for the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX)?
- Do you need to understand your R&D costs on a per-product basis?
- Do you need a tightly-controlled but distributed purchasing process where everyone gets a company credit card?
- Do you need to reimburse for mileage?
- Do you need a low monthly fee rather than a giant one time fee?
There is No Magic Fix
I recently saw a statement on a vendor’s site that they can “implement in 2-3 days”. Not going to happen. You can’t roll out a time tracking system in two days unless your problem is simple enough to only include one of the above requirements. And if you think your requirements are that simple, you’re probably wrong. But if they really are that simple, don’t spend your money on software; stick with Microsoft Excel.
The technology is powerful and it can help your company become more profitable in a number of ways. It can lower your payroll processing cost while increasing accuracy. It can also speed up your billing and convert more A/R to cash; automate travel expense reimbursement; and most importantly, it can tell you which projects are broken before you would ever have known it before. This is not a complex process but is one that requires time and energy to accomplish it correctly.
Microsoft will continue to provide support for Business Portal for a little while longer so luckily you have a bit of time to figure out a replacement strategy. Should you be in this situation, Journyx invites you to take a look at our solution and see if it might be a good fit for your company.
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 laying out the sprawling roadmap in graphical form of Microsoft Dynamics ERP and its user base. Visit their site here for the full story.
A question that people evaluating Microsoft Dynamics ERP often ask me is, “How many companies are using Microsoft Dynamics?” These are the recently updated numbers from Convergence 2014 provided to me by Jim Desler, Director, Corporate Communications at Microsoft. Breakdown of the Microsoft Dynamics customer numbers worldwide by product :
Microsoft Dynamics® AX - 19,000 companies
Microsoft Dynamics® GP - 47,000 companies
Microsoft Dynamics® NAV - 102,000 companies
Microsoft Dynamics® SL - 13,500 companies
Microsoft Dynamics® CRM - 40,000 companies (4 million users)
If you deal with customers on any sort of basis, you know that no matter the season, great customers are one of the main properties that keeps your business afloat. And it's not just a one way-relationship, either. It's a two-way street where it's absolutely key to reward your customers for their loyalty and continued business. But what does that really entail?
Reliability in an unstable economy
The best way to treat your customers right is to first and foremost provide them with a great and reliable product. One of our clients, Intersys Consulting, improved their customer service by switching from their old payroll system to Journyx. “Many of our Fortune 500 clients do billing audits,” Intersys CEO J.R. Carter said. “They usually hire an outside company to catch billing errors. One of our biggest clients was just audited for a time period of three years, encompassing 600-700 invoices. The auditing company came back with no errors related to time tracking. This is, of course, attributable to our awesome office manager but also to Journyx.”
Don't just wait to speak, listen to them instead
But beyond just providing a great product, you should also strive to figure out your customer’s needs. This may require a time investment, but if you can understand what your customer wants, you can focus your efforts to help them achieve it. Position your company as an important part of your customers’ future strategies and they will likely pay you back many times over.
Be prepared to weather any storm with them
Of course, don't get frustrated when the other line is a little quiet, either. Not every customer will be responsive to your outreach efforts. Even if you have determined that you can devote time to developing a relationship, some customers just aren’t interested in anything beyond your core product. That is still great. Scale back your efforts, but don’t completely cease them. Sometimes, persistence pays off. Similarly, keep an eye to the future. Companies often change strategy and focus, which could present a future opportunity to reengage. Be ready to step up your activities when it’s the right time for them.
The most successful targeted customer outreach programs are mutually beneficial.
A mutualistic relationship is the best relationship
At Journyx we have implemented a deep integration with the Microsoft Dynamics GP accounting systems for some of our customers because our software is a flexible add-on to Dynamics. Although we originally implemented this for just one customer, we have been able to expand on the success of the original offering. If it weren’t for a specific instance of customer outreach, we wouldn’t have discovered a profitable new market for this business to dive into.
Take customer outreach seriously, and treat it with as much respect as any other business project. The results can be measured in your bottom line, and you may uncover unexpected benefits that you might have otherwise missed. Move forward intelligently, with an eye to your costs and capabilities, and the rewards will be substantial.
Microsoft is dropping Business Portal from the next product release of Dynamics GP, version 2015, that is due out by the end of this year. You will not be able to use your existing version of Business Portal once you move to the 2015 version of Dynamics GP.
As a quick recap, Business Portal is a SharePoint-based tool that provides collaboration, data entry and reporting using your Web browser directly into Dynamics GP. Some of the more popular apps are timesheet entry, requisitions, human resources and payroll self-service, key performance indicators, document management and queries. All of these can be created and saved to an individual user or groups of users. When a user logs into Dynamics GP, their home page in Business Portal is unique to them.
Business Portal is linked to Financials, Sales, Purchasing, Inventory, Project Accounting and Manufacturing. The create-and-modify wizard makes setting up and using Business Portal very easy.
That said, Business Portal has not gained the adoption that Microsoft had hoped and due to end-user and VAR feedback, Microsoft is replacing Business Portal’s features and functionality with built-in features in the future releases of Dynamics GP.
Jamie Grant, a Program Manager on the Dynamics Development team, had this to say:
Our plans are to bring back those features offered in the portal and introduce them into the Dynamics GP application. In the next month or so, you will see the release of GP2013 R2. This release will have a number of new features as well as fixes. A few of the features you will notice will be around the inclusion of Time Entry and Requisitions (both formerly available in Business Portal). We will also be releasing an app that will allow end users to quickly enter their Time/Vacation/Sick leave.
Business Portal will only be included in the web client version of GP, not in the local install version. And for those who will be able to use the web client timekeeping, the functionality is quite basic and the user interface is dated. For these reasons, many GP users have come to the conclusion that the time is now to find a reliable, robust replacement for Business Portal.
Should you be in this situation, Journyx invites you to take a look at our solution (http://journyx.com/business-portal-replacement/blog) and see if it might be a good fit for your company.
BusinessTips.com is a new friend of ours here at Journyx. Their blog is a place where experts and authors can share their best advice, hardest-learned lessons and more. In fact, it has such a massive database of contributing writers and authors that it's mapped it out in an easy-to-use interface to find just the type of wisdom you need with just a click. They've even been kind enough to post the works of our very own CEO, Curt Finch.
“Productivity” has become quite the business buzzword. Maybe just reading it makes you picture all of the blog posts you’ve seen, touting tricks to clear your inbox faster or recommending the latest, snazzy to-do list apps to install on your phone or tablet.
Sure, those things are fun, but there’s a deeper meaning to productivity, too. And unless you’re taking this big-picture view, all the tips and tools out there won’t make a big difference in your life.
Ready to shift your thinking? Here are three unconventional ideas about productivity to take to heart.
“Busy” doesn’t equal “productive.” Have you ever noticed that everyone seems to love talking about — and sometimes even bragging about — how busy they are? But being busy doesn’t mean a whole lot in itself. Think about those days when you’ve powered through tons of tasks, only to realize you didn’t get anything done that was truly important to you. Let’s go back to the dictionary for the old-school, pre-buzzword meaning of productivity: “achieving or producing a significant result.” Significant results don’t have anything to do with how busy you are. And they don’t have to be huge, life-changing or a big deal to anybody else but you. The only criterion is that the results you achieve are significant to you, whether that means finishing a proposal, making a phone call that’s been weighing on you or finding time to work out.
Project accounting is a critical concept for today’s business world. More and more, corporate executives are seeking to understand their project accounting costs. If they know their project costs, they can discover financial problems with projects early on and fix them. This can potentially save companies millions of dollars.
Unfortunately, many companies have not structured their project accounting system in a way that allows them to draw upon the data for future knowledge. While it is important to understand a current project, it is equally important to be able to glean information from past projects and apply that information to future endeavors.
Fortunately, here at Journyx we have some time-tested ways you can structure your project accounting system to increase its value.
1. Quality Data In = Quality Data Out
In order for project accounting data to be accurate, the data that is put into the system must be accurate. Bad project accounting leads to unnecessary overtime, bad estimates and canceled projects. And so, while employees are often resistant to the idea of tracking their time, they need to understand that there are tangible benefits. Without tracking time to specific projects, it is impossible to calculate the real worth of their time, and the real value of their contributions to the project. Additionally, not providing accurate time tracking information will skew the project accounting data for the entire project.
Tying bonuses or other benefits to complete data collection is often used in customer relationship management (CRM) tools to adjust sales commissions. The same can be done for other forms of data collection. Even if you don’t like to dangle a carrot to get results, providing employees with a template for future success can prove the value of accurate time and resource tracking.
2. Intuitive User Interface
When it comes to choosing a time tracking system, it’s important to consider the system’s interface and ease of use. While your IT professional might be comfortable implementing a system with a highly technical front end, other employees will balk at a complex system. Most employees just want to enter their time as quickly as possible, and then close the program and forget it.
Instituting a system that will notify employees when their time is due will help with compliance. Look for a system that pre-populates memorized information and common tasks. Even small time savings for the employee will increase the value of information you will get from them. Make it easy, make it quick, and they will do it right.
3. Early Warning System
Most project time-tracking systems support some way of indicating what percentage of each project is complete. This can create an early warning system for projects that are going out of control. If you've spent 45 percent of the money allocated for a project, but you are only 10 percent done, it's time to hit the panic button.
4. Limited Visibility
Any project time-tracking system that is worth its salt will be able to limit an employee or department’s visibility into the project list. An employee confronted with 500 entries on his timesheet will usually enter bad data. Pushing this burden up to an administrator will vastly improve data accuracy. You can also use this mechanism to assign people to projects, limit hours on projects, and see who has been assigned to which tasks.
5. Estimation Improvement
Expensive and complex portfolio planning systems are designed to help you refrain from starting projects you don't have the resources to finish. They can save you lots of money but their Achilles heel is bad estimates. Time tracking can be particularly helpful in estimation improvement when many of the projects in your company are similar, and they usually are.
Detailed time-tracking data shows the cost of the first phase of a project. If the cost is 10 percent and you've spent 100 hours gathering requirements, then any estimate far from the 1,000-hour mark should be reexamined. Furthermore, 10 percent is probably the wrong number for the projects in your company, so your mileage may vary. But historical time data will give you important insight into what this average is and how variable it is, and therefore, how to perform that calculation.
Happy Monday and a very happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone! Today we've got the latest tech resources from the best-kept-secret spots online. Being a software company ourselves, we're no strangers to the world of the fast-paced new tech cropping up on the markets. If you're feeling overwhelmed by it all (and trust us, we feel a little overwhelmed, too), then you're in for a treat with these helpful resources, trends, tips and blogs to check out.
Have more you think would benefit? Let us know in the comment section below!
- ArsTechnica is a massive hub of new video games, the latest tech trends and great new software finds for those ready to go "full-geek".
- Mashable Tech cannot go without mentioning. A blog that cuts out the fluff and leaves you with the need-to-know basics and emerging trends, Mashable has been making waves in the tech blog landscape since 2005 and shows no signs of slowing down.
- TechCrunch is a long-time fan favorite for both businesses and geek-readers alike. A place where a small software company can find their press release and a techie can find new tips on something a little deeper than the latest updates on Google Glass, TechCrunch has made itself into a crossroads for a wide array of audiences for nearly a decade.
- GigaOm is a rising star listed in CNET's blog 100 list, and it features heavily news on startups and a high-level view of what's happening in the tech industry; great for those folks who just want the laymen's terms.
- ZDNet though the brand itself stretches all the way back to 1991, it eventually evolved into an "enterprise IT-focused online publication"
- Gizmodo goes by the tagline of "Tech by Design", and it's not kidding around. Part of the "Gawker" media network, Gizmodo specializes in the latest news for both web designers and tech enthusiasts
Want some more? You can find these blogs, social media groups and pages below complete with the best tips and tricks for those who consider themselves "tech-newbies".
- Technorati LinkedIn Page
- Google Official Enterprise Blog
- The Unofficial Apple Weblog
Every nonprofit organization, regardless of size or sector, has a mission. It might be to raise funds and awareness for a disease, assist underprivileged or abused individuals, or help conserve and protect the natural resources. At the same time each organization also faces the danger of losing sight of its mission by becoming preoccupied with necessary but often burdensome overhead and administrative work. When employee, management or volunteer time is wasted on tasks that could easily be automated, the entire organization suffers, along with the mission.
Fine Tuning the Wheel
An expertly-developed and finely-tuned time management system that tracks project management, billing, and professional payroll can become a window into the real-time costs of any organization. This is especially true if it provides a thorough understanding of costs at every level of the organization and complete visibility into these costs for everyone who impacts them.
The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) learned this lesson quite well. As a relief and development organization with staff working all over the world, the CRWRC must be as efficient as possible in how it uses staff time. In the past, the organization found that having employees track their time in Microsoft Excel wasted this valuable time. Multiple faxes and emails were required to obtain the appropriate signatures, and the Finance department then had to recompile all the data into financial reports for grantors. For this reason, the CRWRC decided to implement a technology solution for tracking hours worked on government grant programs.
Laura Musoke, Training and Development Coordinator at the CRWRC, believes that the new technology has brought positive change to the entire organization. “The system has decreased the amount of staff time involved in compiling time-keeping data and eliminated time spent chasing signatures,” she says. This allows the staff to focus their attention on more pressing matters that help the CRWRC achieve its goals.
Many people mistakenly believe that time-tracking data is only useful for payroll. On the contrary, if used correctly, this data can facilitate greater profitability throughout the entire organization. In fact, time data helps to automate project management, project costing, project tracking and project estimation improvement, as well as internal, external and reverse billing. It can also provide a critical view into where time is being spent and if things could be done in a more efficient manner.
Laura Musoke believes that automated time tracking has had a greater impact on the CRWRC than just facilitating payroll. She says, “The data also allows us to see areas where staff members are overloaded with grant program work – either working on too many grants or working too many hours, even weekends. We can address these specific situations by writing more personnel costs into subsequent grant applications to hire local support staff.” It is clear that for many organizations, time data provides insight into not only what people are working on, but how many labor hours are expended, helping managers to calculate the true ROI of each project.
With modern technology, there is no longer any reason to waste employee time and effort on overhead and administrative tasks. Automated time tracking not only makes payroll easier, but also highlights where employee time is spent and whether or not the projects are profitable. Without this unnecessary burden, nonprofit organizations are free to focus on their strengths and work towards fulfilling their strategic goals – the reason why they are in business in the first place.
- Congratulations to Triad Semiconductor on being chosen as Journyx Customer of the Month for May!
“Journyx is valuable to our company in that it saves on time and resources. Employees and supervisors can more quickly and easily enter and approve timesheets,” says Cherry Taylor, Accountant at Triad Semiconductor. “It saves resources such as paper and printer toner. Journyx also eliminates at least four hours of work per week for the accounting department as manual entry of each employee timesheet is no longer needed.”
A specialist in IC Solutions and supply chain management, Triad Semiconductor LLC has been in business since 2002 and boast big name customers such as Texas Instruments and GE. Triad has gone on to partner with NASA to develop tools for mission requirements used by university professors developing the minds and careers of young undergraduate researchers in projects involving future spacecraft and instrument control. Learn more about Triad Semiconductor here.
Happy Monday, all! Whether or not you’ve just downed your third cup of coffee or are zipping through it all solely off of a good night’s sleep, we here at Journyx have organized this list of DCAA Compliant links to help get you through the day. We’d like to think we know a thing or two about being government compliant, seeing as how we’re stamped and ready ourselves, and we’d like to help you get in on the action.
Here’s a list of our top resources, social groups, blogs and more to get you started. Have more links to add? Let us know in the comment section below!
- DCAA News is a whole site packed full of good info and completely dedicated to keeping you up-to-date on all things DCAA
- DCAA.mil is the actual website behind the entity, and they’ve laid out their tools to help so you don’t flounder
- Working With the U.S. Government: Your Guide to DCAA is a whitepaper from us here at Journyx designed to give you the play-by-play on being DCAA complaint
- 24th Annual Government Procurement Conference is touted as the “premier event for small businesses in the United States” where companies of varying sizes get the chance to interact in person with their national government
There’s more than one way to go social with it, as well. Here are some additional sources you can find and interact with on Google+ and LinkedIn:
- DCAA Audit Compliance
- QuickBooks Government Contractors: DCAA Compliance and Project Cost Accounting
- QuickBooks for Government Contracting and DCAA Compliance
- DCAA Compliance Services
Have more resources you think would be helpful? Feel free to add it in the comments below!
Our friends at GoERPCloud.com are completely connected. They’re blog has a plethora of articles from all kinds of VAR’s, partners and ISV’s – meaning, they have information coming straight from the thought leaders in the industry. You can even catch some works from our very own CEO, Curt Finch on their blog, and we love being in their good company.
Below is a great article with tips for small businesses on how to choose the right ERP software. Visit their site for the full scoop.
Maybe you are a small but growing business that is starting to feel the strain of outgrowing a basic accounting system. Maybe you have a legacy system that is bogged down with years of bolt-on solutions that go unused. Maybe the cost of maintaining on-premise is no longer a viable business decision. Whatever the case, choosing the right business software is no easy task. Your new system is going to be the backbone of your business and it is going to play a major role in the future success of the organization, so there is almost no margin of error. With that, we’ve come up with 3 key steps to choosing the right business software in a 3 part blog series. In this first installment we will talk about matching business software to business needs.
Matching business software to business needs requires a lot of homework, carefully assessing what the business hopes to achieve with the software implementation. Unfortunately not all departments or people are always going to be in agreement about how to prioritize business needs.
Internal sabotage from change-resistant employees is often a leading cause of ERP implementation, according to an article at Panorama-Consulting.com. So leveraging those organizational change best practices right out of the gate is part of your software selection best practices.
If you've been alive and breathing in the last decade, you've seen the many amazing (and sometimes terrible) things that the internet has to offer. But more than anything, what we're seeing is an inundating amount of how-to lists, buzzwordey articles with our top five tips and tricks, the "best" time management tactics and so on. And some of them are truly great reads, (and we've been guilty of sharing those types of articles before, too) but many of them simply don't have all of the facts. So here we present to you some absolutely surefire ways to improve your business and get ahead of your competitors with very little effort or investment.
Tone up that time management
This isn't your grandma's time management advice. Actual measurable time data can make a fundamental difference to your company if collected and used correctly. One of the ways in which time tracking can lead to success is by using it to plan for projects and then follow their progress along the way. Knowing a project is behind schedule or over budget towards the end of the project’s life span does no one any good. Knowing this information sooner, however, will help you act accordingly with your peers, employees and your personal projects as well and stop wasting time and money.
Not only should you track time within your company, but finding the appropriate time accounting platform to automate it for you will be all the difference in the world of human errors on an excel spreadsheet. According to a major research advisory firm, fully automating the timesheet process reduces errors and staff time by 75 percent or more. Automation technologies and practices reduce improper time tracking activities and associated costs by validating project/cost code lists and monitoring approval processes electronically. Additional savings are realized by eliminating paper costs, and policy and regulatory compliance is improved.
Keeping big brother quiet
Make absolutely sure your company is in compliance with SOX, DCAA and/or other necessary standards. When payroll executives implement time and attendance systems to automate payroll, they often miss the chance to facilitate greater profitability throughout the entire company. These payroll executives are, of course, payroll experts. They are usually not, however, experts at project accounting or billing automation.
However, the time data, if collected appropriately, can also be used to automate project management, project accounting, project tracking and project estimation improvement, as well as for internal, external and reverse billing automation -- and any of these can also become SOX concerns. Most payroll and HR executives know little about these subjects, but increasingly, they are being asked to rise to new challenges with federal regulation requirements being just one of them.
Step up your PTO management
Controlling and understanding PTO expense allows you to recruit better talent. You can promise people more vacation than your competitors if you know that it's controllable. This tips the balance in your favor, allowing you to build a better team.
The first issue businesses need to address when creating their PTO plan is what to do about employees who quit or are terminated. Many states require that the balance of vacation pay be paid when an employee leaves the firm unless the company has a policy that states otherwise. If you choose to disallow vacation time to resigning employees and you run a company of high turnover—a fact of life in certain industries, like retail or food service—this allows you to re-allocate the PTO that those who leave might have used in favor of those who stick around. In essence, you can offer more generous PTO packages when recruiting than your more lenient competitors can offer, at no additional cost.
A little positive affirmation never hurt
Choosing the appropriate time management SaaS solution will only benefit your company if you can get your employees to actually use it. Hourly workers are easiest to convince because they want to be paid, so they already have an incentive. And yet, everyone regardless of status should want the company to be a success, so once they understand that using time tracking to automate billing—thereby making it more accurate—leads to more revenue, they should become more open to it.
Project accounting is more abstract than payroll or billing, and you don’t want to wind up with unnecessary overtime, stressful blown schedules, bad estimates or canceled projects. Try relating specific examples where good time collection could have prevented problems in order to make that connection in the minds of your employees.
Happy Monday, all! Today we're turning our attention toward staffing agencies, and those looking for the perfect client-job combo. We love working with our staffing friends, and having an edge on the latest staffing resources, tips and tricks is a fountain of knowledge worth sharing.
Here are our top resources we’ve found that we deem helpful, useful and absolutely necessary whether you are over-capacity or under. Have more links and blogs to add? Let us know in the comment section below!
- CWS Summit 2014 of the Staffing Industry Analysts group will be in London this year, May 13-May 14
- 2014 ANA Staffing Conference hosted in New Orleans proves that staffing applies to everyone – including nurses. Save the date for November 4-November 5, 2014.
- 2014 Midwest Staffing Conference will be May 1, 2014. Hosted by the ISSA, this conference kicks off the biggest staffing event of the greater Midwest area, with this year being located in the bustling city of Chicago, IL.
- 2014 NCASP Training Conference in North Carolina brings with it a speaker list that’s almost too power-packed to contain in one weekend. Register quickly, this conference will be May 15 – May 17, 2014.
- Manpower Group is a massive conglomerate of people, resources and open job postings for all types of skill sets and needs.
Want to go a little more social? Here are some great Google+ and LinkedIn groups to check out:
- Staffing Industry Analysts – Industry Community
- The American Staffing Association
- Recruitment Consultants and Staffing Professionals
- HR, Staffing and Recruiting Professionals Forum
- Advocate Staffing
These are a few of our favorite things. Have any you think would be good for the list? Feel free to add it in below!
Our friends at Executive Street, the Vistage blog, boast a far-reaching network of executives, managers and entrepreneurs starting up their own businesses. They operate as a hub offering a daily dose of small business tips and project management advice. They've even been kind enough to publish articles from our very own CEO, Curt Finch.
Below is a great article about how a few weak links can ruin the whole chain. Visit their site for the full scoop.
I’m sure you’ve seen advice regarding employee bonus and incentive systems, including some that are quite complex. The idea is that, to achieve a high-performance workplace, you need to motivate employees and achieve maximum efficiency.
None of this is wrong, but I often suggest another strategy that surprises a lot of people: get rid of the bad employees. It may be harsh, but it’s also true: the best thing you can do for your good workers and your company is to separate under-performing and marginal workers.
Statistically, there are always employees who seem disengaged or apathetic and some who are even working against the organization. Then there are those who are impaired by drugs or drink. Some may have problems that may, in some circumstances, be a danger to themselves or other employees. They should be separated from the company.
Another group is even more difficult: those who are not bad enough to terminate, but aren’t good enough to be retained. These are the marginal producers.
Marginal employees produce errors, inaccuracies and affect the morale of the work group. These employees demand a larger percentage of managerial attention. Sometimes, they benefit from a wake-up call from their supervisor, but often they just lower the standards for the rest of the work group. Identifying and dealing with these employees may be among the most difficult challenges that managers face.
In many companies, the problem is simply ignored. But a marginal employee’s co-workers know who the trailing workers are and expect something appropriate to be done. When something is not done, they tend to turn on the manager for his or her dereliction.
As oil prices stabilize and production continues to grow, the oil and gas industry has the need to continuously focus on controlling costs. According to a recent Reuters article, the rapid growth of oil production activity worldwide has led to an increase in equipment and operating costs, as well as a shortage in specialized workers. What this means is that companies must reduce their per-unit costs in order to grow their profits.
Fortunately, improvements in rural cellular coverage and mobile technology offer a solution. Companies can now track their data electronically, offering visibility into and control over their lift costs. And with oil prices moderating, controlling costs may be one of the only ways to get a competitive edge in an increasingly crowded field.
The oil and gas industry has always generated a vast amount of data captured through oil wells, process equipment, financial operations, and pipeline and refining operations. But until recently, this data has not been adequately managed or leveraged by E&P companies of all sizes for business insights. In many cases, the data remained fragmented and underutilized on various paper spreadsheets.
While companies know how important cost data is to their business, they may not have had the means to accurately track their costs in real-time. As the oil and gas industry has become increasingly manufacturing oriented, dependence on timely data has increased as well. Companies must process the streaming data from remote drilling sites and make quick decisions about equipment, personnel, and safety. Additionally, with the current high cost of labor and demands on equipment, errors and delays are more and more costly. Accurate, timely information has never been more important.
Improved cellular and internet connectivity in rural areas offers a new way to gather, store and leverage information. Historically, cellular coverage was slow to deploy in remote areas because of lower density populations. This is great news for oil companies, as most now have access to wireless coverage in remote locations.
Because of improved availability of mobile access, companies can now track information via sophisticated software, rather than relying on paper spreadsheets. Advances in mobile technology make it much simpler for field workers to log pertinent data in real-time via smartphone or tablet.
Tracking Lift Costs
E&Ps know firsthand that monitoring and controlling lift costs is very important. According to the most recent data from the Energy Information Agency, the total upstream cost (finding and lifting) for producing oil averages $33.76 per BOE (operating costs + finding costs) in the U.S. Prices are expected to decline modestly due to non-OPEC supply growth and still tepid developed country demand.
Monitoring lift costs – including costs associated with transportation, labor, supplies, supervision, pump operation, electricity, and other expenses – is made much more efficient through the use of a Web-based time and expense tracking system with mobile capabilities. On-site workers can track time, expenses, and equipment usage on a per-project basis. The best systems will integrate with and feed this data into your accounting/ERP system.
This data allows companies to know their costs in real-time, tracked directly at the source. This makes it easier to spot potential problems and avert them before they slow production. But the real value lies in consolidating and leveraging this data over time.
Moving Business Forward
Better knowledge of costs gives companies a better understanding of where money is spent and which areas of production are most or least profitable. For example, real-time data tracking can uncover overlooked expenses, such as the cost of refurbishing transportation trucks between sites. These uncovered expenses can then be charged back to the appropriate parties, lowering overall costs.
Additionally, tracking employee time and equipment usage by project allows companies to reduce non-productive time and optimize employee allocations. According to the aforementioned Reuters article, oil, gas, and pipeline employees are some of the best-paid employees in the U.S. For example, Texas workers take home around $15,000 a month. At this expense, it is imperative that companies allocate employees properly to maximize productivity and profits.
And perhaps most importantly, by tracking site data over time, companies can establish reliable key performance indicators (KPIs) against which current and future projects can be accurately assessed. Companies can more precisely predict how a new lease will perform by analyzing historical data from similar operations, improving cost estimates and lease evaluations. Integrated historical data also helps companies assess health, safety, and environmental impact, which are all increasingly important factors in the face of new, stricter regulations.
The oil and gas industry is facing a huge opportunity with improved mobile connectivity in the field. This improvement allows for the subsequent benefit of more accurate data collection at the source. If E&P companies pursue these new opportunities to automate the capture of real-time cost data at the source, they will be better positioned to compete effectively going forward.
About the Author: Curt Finch is the CEO of Journyx. Founded in 1996, Journyx offers customers two solutions to reach the highest levels of profitability: Journyx – project, time and expense tracking software – and Journyx PX – resource management software that provides work and financial forecasting for a complete picture of project and budget status, employee time and availability. Journyx has thousands of customers worldwide, including Chaparral, Schlumberger, BP, Crate&Barrel, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Callaway Golf, Honeywell and many others. For more information, visit www.journyx.com/oil.