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It's About Time! The Journyx Blog
Maybe a “stress-free office” is a bit of a misnomer, because let’s be honest: if we totally eliminated stress in any and all forms, nothing would get done because we’d lose our sense of urgency. But too much stress has a lot - no, really, a lot - of negative effects, not just on work performance but on health and quality of life in general.
Here at Journyx, one of our philosophical tenets is “don’t make things more stressful than required.” Stress due to personal conflict or something as trivial as an unnecessarily strict dress code lowers performance and generally has a negative effect on company culture. We want our company to be a fun place to work.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t require high quality results from your employees. You should absolutely expect high performance. But it’s another thing entirely to stress out over a small mistake (or even a perceived mistake) that has no actual negative effect on, well, anything at all.
So what’s the right balance between a healthy amount of stress and too much?
Many people operate under the idea that negative feedback is simply a part of management, and it is, but it also isn’t. Unfortunately, oftentimes a manager leaves an employee alone until they do something wrong. Then the employee gets negative feedback and tries to improve based on that negative feedback, without ever having a clear idea of what they are doing well.
As an engineer, it’s really just my nature to be more negative. That’s just how my brain works - I see all the problems remaining to be solved and want them to be fixed as soon as possible. It’s a natural instinct. As managers, we often just assume that our employees and team members know that the other work they do is great; it’s just that we want these other three things fixed, as well. (Of course, we don’t necessarily feel the same way when we are on the receiving end of the feedback!)
Research shows that the number one motivator of employees isn’t cash, isn’t promotions - nope, it’s personalized, immediate recognition of good work from managers. You know, getting a “thank you” here and a “great job” there. And really - how much time does that take out of our day? As long as the employee actually is doing a good job and isn’t phoning it in, why not? Consider this: even though we try to keep employees motivated with cash and bonuses, it turns out that positive reinforcement actually stimulates the same neural pathways as receiving money.
It’s a win-win: You can motivate your employees better and cut costs! (Just kidding, don’t take away your employees’ bonuses.)
So, how do you apply this to your management style?
Here are a few pointers:
●Make sure you’re not using the “Leave Alone/Zap” management style described earlier (term coined by Ken Blanchard). Do your employees, or even just your other team members, only hear from you when they’ve done something wrong?
●When it comes to positive reinforcement, an immediate response from you is best. Don’t have employees wait until the end of the year to find out all the good stuff they’ve done, because chances are either they’ll have forgotten or you will (not exactly ideal for keeping people motivated!)
●Keep your positive feedback sincere and specific. You don’t have to go on and on - but make sure they know what you liked about their work.
Managing is certainly an ever-evolving art seeing as how everyone is different and no two people will respond exactly the same way. But minimizing stress and maximizing positivity is a great place to start. What tips do you have for making the workplace more pleasant?
Last week our Monday Link-ups blog post featured our top 5 favorite project management apps. This week, we're taking it to part 2 where we'll feature 6 more apps that can save you minutes in any given project, regardless of industry. Check out this list and see just how much time it can save you.
- Freshdesk: depending on how long your support teams ticket queue is, simply responding to customer support emails can take up a lot of an employees time. Malleable to different types of personalities and workflows, this tool not only helps out the support desk but also the manager overseeing it with a simple UI. You can prioritize, assign and label the status of a ticket with just a click.
- Unroll.me: May actually be the best thing since sliced bread, Unroll captures all of your most-frequently-mailed marketing emails and compiles it all into one sheet where you can unsubscribe all at once. It's a dream for those who have accidentally clicked one too many times on the accidental "subscribe me" button.
- Concentrate: a popular app that's stellar if you're not the greatest at multitasking (myself included) and need a little extra help shifting from say, a left-brained task to a right-brained one.
- SelfControl: one of those apps that's quickly cropping up on the market as something of a lifesaver, it actively blocks incoming/outgoing email for a set amount of time so you can get prioritized and focus on the task at hand.
- Localist: this app centralizes your event planning and poses a 70 percent increase in attendance.
- Anti-Social: one of our personal favorites, this one blocks the ever-so-distracting social media sites from your radar for a set period of time so that you can put more focus into your project and less into Twitter.
Still want a little more? The following are some must-follow blogs on time management. Have more that weren't on this list? Leave a comment in the section below!
MSDynamicsWorld.com is the forerunner in the latest Dynamics news, trends and tech. If there's an update in any Dynamics ERP System, they're the first (and most trusted) to cover it. They even have featured some work from our very own CEO Curt Finch!
This article titled, "Cloud Terminology 101: Six Terms You Should Understand About Cloud Computing" by Rob Curls, Solutions Consultant at Tribridge, highlights and clarifies some key terms to better understand the black hole of a mystery that can be cloud computing.
"No one understands the cloud! It's a mystery!"
Those words of anguish, from Jason Segel to his co-star Cameron Diaz in a new comedy, sum up the confusion that still surrounds cloud technology for most people. In this case, the pair discovers that their computer has uploaded undesirable personal data to a cloud-based file sharing service, making it visible to everyone they know. Can they get the offending content back, saving some shred of their dignity in the process?
While this is a fictional story wrapped around a comedic personal mishap, it identifies some key challenges we face with cloud computing today, from the lack of controls for safeguarding data to a general lack of knowledge in the general public.
For those of us in the business community who work with systems like Microsoft Dynamics, managing sensitive information such as customer data and payroll records requires understanding some of the common cloud terms and what they mean to an organization. And you'll need to be able to explain these terms to others who require at least a basic understanding of what the stakes are in a cloud-based business environment.
1. What is "The Cloud"?
When it comes to internal accountability for your company’s employees, there’s a balance that needs to be maintained - and it’s not impossible to attain. Using time tracking as an example, employees must track their time to projects, tasks, customers, etc. so that you can understand costs, know where you’re profitable and where you’re not, bill and pay accurately, and see where your projects are at.
That said, there is a line between managing and micromanaging. While getting the above data is important and necessary for your business to grow, micromanaging will hamper the growth of your business and create an unsatisfied, disengaged workplace. On average, employees who know they are being watched perform at a lower level, which has a direct impact on their quality of work, happiness and ease in the office, as well as ability to get along with others. The micromanager is also left dissatisfied, knowing that time spent hovering over employees could be better spent getting valuable projects done.
So here’s how to effectively manage without micromanaging:
We’ve found there are two key components:
1: Be specific
The key here is really clear communication. You need to make sure that everyone’s on the same page, particularly when it comes to the specifications for projects and their deadlines.
It might be a dead horse to beat, but there’s a reason that the SMART goal setting process is so popular. Here’s a brief overview:
- Specific: When people are confused about the project or their role in it, chances are they aren’t going to get their work done correctly.
- Measurable: If the task isn’t measurable, how will your team member know when it’s done?
- Assignable: This is a given, since you’re managing a team.
- Realistic: Don’t overload your team members. They’ll just submit a lower quality of work in an attempt to get it all done.
- Time-oriented: Without a deadline, tasks can quickly be forgotten about, put on the backburner or fall through the cracks entirely.
2: A review process complete with status updates
To keep your team members accountable, they need to be meeting with a manager for a review process regularly. What “regularly” means can change from manager to manager. What’s important is that the review process shouldn’t be about accusations, but an honest and open forum where either party can air concerns; where the manager can ask the employee, “What’s holding you back? What can we change that will make it easier for you to get your work done?” This can be done monthly or quarterly, and should be counted as a separate process from submitting project status updates.
When it comes to status updates, you need to have accurate ways to monitor progress. Ideally, this will consist of two parts:
- Information tracking: This can be done without the manager checking in with the employee for updates. Information tracking is an easy way to see progress at a glance, such as a project calendar on a wall or a shared drive.
- Quick status updates: Here, team members can air concerns about a project and answer any specific questions about what’s holding them up or what problems they foresee with their assignment.
Overall, trust your instincts. If you’re in-tune with your team, it will be easy to notice when an employee is in stress-mode or, on the other hand, when a project is going smoothly. At the end of the day, it depends entirely on the personality of the employee and their respective project manager. Know that no two tasks are alike, and that having a way to track information without physically and literally being in your employee’s business will alleviate the thoughts of having “big brother” hovering over their shoulder. Follow these steps, and a more enjoyable workplace environment is bound to flourish.
For the most part, we all have a means for managing our projects. While many still prefer old-school style sticky notes and a notepad (myself included), most of us in the information age have gone full-digital. To use the ubiquitous phrase 'there's an app for that' would be an understatement. There's an app, a Facebook group, a Google+ hangout, and a webinar for that. So we've listed the highlights for you all on the Journyx blog in this weeks' Monday Link-Ups. Check them out below!
- Asana is an app that goes by the phrase, "teamwork without email". It's both a task and a project management app that incorporates keyboard shortcuts, commenting capabilities, linking options and tags for the whole team to collaborate with.
- Sqwiggle is one of those developer masterpieces that is great when many team members are working remotely. Unlike Google Hangouts which is always active, Sqwiggle is more passive, capturing a snapshot of you working every 10 seconds or so as opposed to being on video feed all day. And, if you want to chat with someone, all you have to do is click their picture.
- Basecamp is a project management tool for those that may want to go in the less big-brothery direction. It's been around for roughly 15 years has grown just by word-of-mouth.
- Creately is super unique in that it allows for better project management via the use of diagrams and image mapping, giving team members the best idea of the flow of a project from start to finish.
- Glasscube is free, fully on the cloud, and easy to use for those just looking to not only manage their own tasks better, but to also be a more effective project manager. Here you get to leave comments, tips, add or remove tasks for your team.
Still want a little more? The following are some must-follow Facebook, Google+ and upcoming webinars to check out. Have more that weren't on this list? Leave a comment in the section below!
Continuing in our third week of our infographic series, (see one and two here) we decided to save the best for last. A few years back in some of our earlier Journyx product updates, we heard from a good handful of our customers that they wanted us to integrate more fully with Microsoft Dynamics, and especially Microsoft Dynamics GP. Well, we heard your requests and made it happen. Today, we fully integrate with Microsoft Dynamics GP Project Accounting, as well as AX and SL.
Then, this last March we went to Microsoft Convergence 2014 in Atlanta and were completely wowed by the Microsoft Dynamics community. The VAR's and ISV's alike seemed to have a cohesive partnership that would make a Texas football team jealous. You can read all about what we learned here. It was incredible; we went back to Austin having gleaned much more knowledge than we had intended.
So what did we do with this newfound info? We compiled data from the best sources - including articles from MSDynamicsWorld.com and ERPSoftwareBlog.com - and even interviewed VARs for their thoughts. What we found was that the Microsoft Community is absolutely flourishing - with NAV in the lead with 102,000 companies using the product and GP rounding closely behind in 2nd place with 47,000 companies.
And here's the thing, it's absolutely all about the implementation. Many companies try to take it on themselves, and fail, or hire an inexperienced VAR and find similarly dull results. In fact, according to an MSDynamicsWorld.com article titled, "New ERP report notes implementation challenges, cloud hurdles", "72 percent of projects have exceeded their planned durations, and 66 percent of respondent organizations have received less than 50 percent of the measurable benefits they anticipated".
See for yourself; check out the infographic below. Remember, it's all about the implementation and getting it right the first time. Since the Dynamics community is so tightly knit, there are plenty of great resources to help you find the right VAR to get the implementation of your ERP system done well.
All companies know that good accounting is vital for business - after all, a business that doesn’t know if it’s ahead (and by how much) isn’t going to be in business for long. But what else can we learn about this critical business practice and how we might do it better? Read on, dear readers, and let’s explore all things accounting!
A Brief History of Accounting
If you can believe it, the art of accounting is over 7,000 years old. It wasn’t very well-suited for hunter-gatherer societies, because in those societies there isn’t much accumulated capital (the food was gathered daily or weekly, mostly without storing it for long periods of time). It was much more suited for farming-based societies where grains and other goods are being stored in cellars for long periods of time. That’s why accounting took hold so well in ancient
A huge step in the evolutionary ladder, accounting and trade in this age flourished, and it flourished well. Accounting gave those peoples a way to know that Joe took 3 barrels of grain from the storage sheds and needed to pay it back. Accounting got another boost in the last two centuries with the industrial revolution, because however well suited accounting was for farming societies, it was much better suited for the manufacturing age.
But How Well-Suited is it for the Information Age?
Since the 1950’s, we’ve had a sharp increase in “knowledge workers”. These workers are defined by Wikipedia as “workers whose main capital is knowledge” - essentially, people who “think for a living”. Businesses that are comprised mostly of these knowledge-workers include industries that handle big data such as marketing firms, consulting firms, and of course, technology firms like Journyx.
So how does this relate to accounting? Well, the assets that are between your ears can’t be repossessed. Depending on the accounting, loan officers might not call a team of copywriters or a team of marketing consultants a “sales asset”. And without assets, your business can’t get loans.
ROA, ROE, and ROIC (that’s return on assets, return on equity, and return on invested capital) are all metrics that don’t necessarily work with a knowledge-worker company precisely because so many of their assets are intangible. And in a knowledge-worker economy, people who are unwilling to learn are less valuable to your company.
How Does this Affect Businesses Otherwise?
Here’s one example: a call center is essentially the knowledge worker equivalent of a sweatshop. You have many employees working far below their intellectual level, which leads to burnout and a high turnover rate. If there was a way to measure new employees’ “assets” (the assets between their ears), the call center could place a new employee appropriately and give other employees the freedom to work in roles that capitalizes on their strengths and career goals. For the business, that means less turnover (and we all know hiring and training can be costly - more on that in a moment) and employees in better-suited positions, which means more profit for the business in the long run.
So About That Training
Today, thorough employee training is often considered a low priority, and when expenses are getting cut, training is often one of the first areas to feel the pinch. But even if we can’t necessarily quantify it in dollars, we all know that training isn’t “just” an expense - a well-trained employee is an asset. Can you imagine the value of a system that made it easy to track the difference between various types of training, going so far as to show how well those employees went on to perform and bring in money for the business? That sort of system would be invaluable for a business owner and would let them maximize the return on investment with employee training over the long term.
Where Does That Put Us in the Scheme of Things?
We believe it would be accounting nirvana to have an accounting system that works around and respects the assets (or pseudo assets, if you will) of knowledge-worked based businesses. Not only would it let you maximize training, but it could have a long-standing impact on the way we run our businesses - for the better. We can only hope that with the knowledge-work boom, this dream will soon be reality.
Working in the software industry gives us some pretty great insight into things like new tech, latest industry standards, the best trends in design and function. But what you may not know is that we also have a lot of friends in the accounting & CPA industry as well. So with that in mind, we thought we'd dedicate this week's Monday Link Ups to our fellows and friends in the Accounting industry.
- AccountingToday is an obvious but necessary choice to have on this list. The CNN of the Accounting world, they're the best source for all things Accounting.
- AccountingWeb is a lot like Accounting Today, packed with forums, webinars, organizing by state and tax codes.
- AccountingCoach is owned and operated by CPA, MBA Harold Averkamp. Great for amateurs, beginners and students, Harold takes any question - big or small - and answers them. In fact, he's answered 993 questions at this point
- CPA Technology Blog boasts a great mix between accounting blogs and new tech articles.
- The Skeptical CPA is every students dream. It takes a hard look at the accounting industry and parses through each problem in detail - but not without adding in a way to solve it.
- The Accounting Onion takes its name from the ubiquitious blog, the Onion, taking a hard look at the industry as a whole and offer up humor in its critique.
But what about LinkedIn, Facebook or Google+ groups? Don't worry, we've included those as well. Check them out below!
- Big Four Accounting Consulting - Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, PwC, Accenture, Capgemini (Big4.com) (LinkedIn)
- Accounting and Finance Professionals (AAFP) (LinkedIn)
- Accounting Jobs and Jobseekers (LinkedIn)
- Accounting (Facebook)
- Accounting Firms (Google+)
- CPA Community (Google+)
- CPA Exam Prep (Google+)
Have more in mind that aren't on this list? Let us know your favorite one in the comment section below!
In the second part of this series on the Mexico oil reform laws, (the first part can be found here) we continue exploring the need for a time, cost and equipment tracking solution. You can read part one here. (Link to part one)
2. Reduce Errors
Not only should you track time, cost and equipment data either at the well site or for your in-office employees, but you should find the appropriate time accounting platform to automate it for you. Whether you use Enertia, Microsoft Dynamics or another accounting solution, fully automating the time data collection 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. An automated time and expense tracking system will also simplify your JIB processes and reduce any errors.
3. Monitor (and Increase!) Your Profits
Why do we track project costs in the first place? The answer is simple—to guarantee that every project undertaken and executed is bringing in a profitable ROI for your company. This Key Performance Indicator (KPI), “percentage of projects profitable,” can ensure you’re focused on the right projects and tasks. Unfortunately, most companies have projects going on at any given time that actually lose money for the company. Due to an inadequate understanding of costs, many of these go unnoticed. Yet all you need is direct and indirect per-project cost data along with revenue data to gauge per-project profitability, allowing you to make every effort to maximize this particular KPI. The formula is:
# of profitable projects / # of projects
Understanding true project cost should be an integral part of every organization's project management methodology, but many companies do not even know where to begin. With the right data and a few powerful KPI formulas in hand, project estimation becomes substantially easier when you keep track of the length and scope of past projects, which will save you time and money as you go.
If you’re planning to expand your operations into Mexico, now is the time to ensure you have a solid time, expense and equipment tracking solution in place that will allow you to capture well cost data at the source, in the field, via mobile connectivity.
You might have seen us mention a few days ago that Mexico is pushing a bill through the works that will shift the way it handles its oil and gas industry in a big way. In fact, it's already been passed through Mexico's Senate, according to Reuters.
So what exactly does this mean? According to the bill, this opens up regulation for private companies to enter into the oil and gas industry in Mexico, which has been locked up by companies like Pemex for quite some time. With Mexico being the third largest exporter of Petroleum to the U.S., according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, this is just the thing that many private corporations have been waiting for and can now act on.
Accurate, timely data at the source has never been more important, and with the flood gates opening up in Mexico, it's absolutely necessary to have. With that, we've compiled a video on what next steps are as you consider entering your business into Mexico and the top ways proper time tracking and project management data can help you. Check it out!
Mexico is on the cusp of one of the biggest reforms in the country’s history – a revolution of their oil and gas industry that will end Pemex’s monopoly and open the door for other companies to produce oil, gas and electricity. With this reform, a huge opportunity is opening up for investors and producers alike.
Mexico is one of the top oil producers in the world, ranking ninth in 2012, and is the third-largest petroleum exporter to the U.S., according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. But production hasn’t been as strong over the years, making this a prime time for the reforms to take place.
If you’re considering expanding your operations into Mexico, it is critical to have a solution in place to track time, costs and equipment on a per-well basis.
Recognizing the Opportunity Before Expanding into Mexico
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.
How a Time, Cost and Equipment Tracking Solution will Maximize Your Profitability
- Manage Project Risk
Time data can make a fundamental difference to your company if collected in real-time at the source and used correctly. One of the ways in which time tracking can lead to success is by using it to monitor the progress of each project. 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 and stop wasting time and money.
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.
We are all about the business of measureable, actionable data. We've been in its trenches since the mid-nineties, and to say we have learned a thing or two about time tracking in the Information Age would an absolute understatement. So recently, we did what a time tracking and project management company does best - we took a survey and looked at our analytics.
We measured a sample size of roughly 150 of our very own customers, and compiled the results into the infographic below. What we found was that a majority of our customers use our software for billing, but there was also a pretty large crossover between the three main uses of billing, payroll and cost accounting as well. Interestingly enough, 81% of our very own customers say that time tracking software in general is vital to their business processes for things like cost tracking. But don't just take my word for it, see it all for yourself in the results.
Have uses for time tracking that weren't listed in the results? Tell us in the comment section below!
There are a lot of things that as an Austin-based Time Tracking software company, we just don't get: we don't understand the My Little Pony craze, long lines at local taco joints, leaving anything without some sriracha, getting more than 6 inches of snow, and we definitely don't understand mismanaged project costs. That being said, we've got the best list for you this Monday chock-full of time management blogs, tips, advice columns and anything else we could scavenge for you to check out. These are not just the best blogs out there, but they're our favorite blogs out there. Let's get started.
- Lifehack is one of our favorites around here; they're constantly posting nifty ideas for organizing your space for better feng shui, best ways to get out of a ticket -- and of course our favorite -- best time management tips.
- LifeProTips runs along the same train of thought - except here we have a user-aggregated forum for best tips, great ideas, and simple ways to better manage your lifestyle.
- Pajama Productivity operates on a much smaller scale, what someone's personal blog really feels like, except it's their journey to better productivity management. Written by the pen-name Annie, she writes with a great deal of voice and heart; it's hard to not relate and get excited right along with her. She even answers questions, doles out some real-world advice and more.
- Productivityist is actually a blog penned by the former editor of previously mentioned Lifehack. And it's obvious: he offers well thought-out tips and ideas, as well as dispels some time management myths, infusing it with his own brand of humor and wit.
Want a bit more? Don't worry, the fun is just starting here. Check out these great social groups on Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook to get your full fix.
Vistage - The Executive Street Blog is a supersite of no-hold-bars advice, latest stats, and innovative ideas from CEO's all over the nation. A cultural hub for executive thought and 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 certain hiring practices of successful companies and how you can implement them for your small business. Visit their site here for the full article.
CEO’s have two choices in hiring:
- CEOs can search for great people and then create motivation, alignment and profits – BACKWARDS!!!!
- CEO’s can hire passionate, motivated and aligned people who are chasing the CEO’s bus because those people already on the bus are excited, charged with energy, and aligned to a revenue strategy which is achieving profitable growth based on an aligned True North.
Guess which Apple, Disney and Harley do? At these companies the employees are there to achieve the shared True North (WHY, Dream, Vision, etc.) as a member of a committed team. There is a deployable strategy being executed and everyone (internal and external), everything (all structure) and 100% of focus is on bringing that True North to the market.
There will always be opportunities for improvement in this changing world, but the “happiest place on earth” or “making a dent in the universe” or the “ultimate driving machine” will continue to be the True North for Disney, Apple and Harley where the improvement is in how customers experience the True North.
When CEOs decide to get the right people on the bus the focus is on the people, their skills, their ability to grow, contribution, lead and follow plus any number of other well-meaning measures.
This CEO finds the BEST person to put on the bus and then learns if that person is aligned to the company’s True North and improving the CEO’s brand or this is the most money someone has offered them and they are working for the money.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- ProjectTimes.com 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.
BusinessTips.com 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.
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.
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.
- Microsoft Dynamics AX Forum (LinkedIn)
- Dynamics ERP Professionals Group (15,000+) (LinkedIn)
- Microsoft Dynamics AX Professionals (LinkedIn)
- Microsoft Dynamics (AX, NAV, CRM) Add Ons (LinkedIn)
- Dynamics SL Users Group (LinkedIn)
- Dynamics SL (LinkedIn)
- Microsoft Dynamics SL Freelancers (LinkedIn)
- Dynamics AX (Google+)
- Microsoft Dynamics AX Blog Community (Google+)
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!
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.