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It's About Time! The Journyx Blog
Vistage - The Executive Street Blog is a highway of sleeves-rolled-up no-hold-bars advice, latest stats, and innovative ideas from CEO's all over the nation. A cultural hub for exeutive thought leadership, Executive Street has writers from all corners of the world with over 30+ published authors and 180+ regular contributors. They've even been kind enough to post some writing from our very own CEO, Curt Finch.
Below is an article highlighting Fast Company's Top 10 of the "World's Most Innovative Companies of the Year". Visit their site here for the full article.
Every year, Fast Company reveals its list of the world’s most innovative companies of the year. With the topic of innovation front and center, Fast Company considers themselves to be a progressive media brand “written for, by, and about the most progressive business leaders”.
For the most part, this year’s top 10 listing comes as no surprise presenting Nike, Amazon, Square, Splunk, Fab, and Uber as the top 6 champions of innovation.
Initially, I had thought to only mention the top 5. But for turning the taxi and town-car industry upside down, I thought Uber deserved a mention as well. After all, it is not often that a company takes on innovation in an industry dating back to the early 1700’s. Then again, who would have thought you could turn the soap industry on its head with foaming soap dispensers? It goes to show that no industry old or new is without room to improve.
First place on the list, Nike was highlighted for their culture of pushing boundaries which resulted in not just 1, but 2 groundbreaking inventions in the past year. The first is the fuel band, a relatively affordable electronic bracelet that measures movement through the day; whether you go out for a run, play a sport, or just walk around the grocery store. Their second breakout invention is the Flyknit Racer, a feather-light knitted shoe that required Nike to re-invent their entire manufacturing process.
Not many companies, much less a company already successful and thriving, would take such a big risk in the name of innovation. However, Nike knows that in order to sustain innovation, risks must be undertaken. No Risk: No Innovation. Put another way, no guts, no glory.
Congratulations to Titan Salvage on being chosen as Journyx Customer of the Month for June!
“Titan Salvage had outgrown the old method of tracking labor in our warehouses. Previously, multiple people would send spreadsheets by email to a payroll person, who would have to consolidate the hours for corporate payroll, which led to untraceable errors and no ability to manage labor on a world-wide basis,” said Daniel Dolson, Operations Manager at Titan Salvage. “Journyx has been a significant leap for the entire Titan organization to centralize labor time recording and to manage job costs across the organization. Individual location managers now have access to track our labor spending at their depots and the company directors have big-picture views of true job costs for labor.
“In addition, the centralized collection and reporting gives our payroll team a reliable single-source to pass to accounting. The built-in audit trail for recording prevents mistakes and gives the employees higher confidence in the company.”
Founded in 1980, Titan Salvage expanded over three decades from a one-tug boat mission crew to a massive worldwide organization owned by Crowley Maritime Corporation. In that time, Titan has performed over 70 major “salvage and wreck removal operations, and more than 300 projects overall.” A loyal Journyx customer since 2012, Titan has gone on to clean up wrecks as massive as the Costa Concordia and become sponsors for the American Salvage Association National Salvage Conference. Learn more about Titan Salvage and what they do here.
Today we have guest blogger Diana Gomez, Marketing Coordinator at Lyoness America. Lyonness is an international cross-sectoral shopping community active in over 45 countries. You can check out Lyoness on Twitter for more.
It's a symptom of many office environments, even small ones, that employees might begin to feel ineffective over time and, consequently, unimportant. Despite their hard work and extra efforts, nothing seems to change. And that can bring someone's morale down pretty quickly, even with "Free Donut Fridays".
When it comes to increasing employee morale at the office, it's important not only to show your team how much you appreciate them, but to also provide them with an outlet through which they can see their efforts making a direct and positive impact. And there are few better ways to do that than by giving back.
The Psychology of Giving
While you can throw sales goal achievement parties and reward effective actions with financial incentives, there is a particular quality inherent to the act of giving that boosts one's mood in a much more meaningful way. And that's a psychological fact.
When Jorge Moll and his team at the National Institutes for Health looked into the mental impact of giving, they found that the same area of the brain that reacts when we feel pleasure, trust and a sense of "well-being" also illuminates during the act of giving. In fact, additional studies have found that participating in charitable actions can even have a positive impact on one's overall health.
And by providing your employees with a way to give back to the community, you're not only giving them a way to feel better about their jobs and themselves in general, but you're also improving the general public perception of your company.
The Social Impact of Giving
Whether it's helping to build a new home for an underprivileged family, planting trees in a downtrodden neighborhood or sponsoring a gift giving drive during the holidays, a company is making a win-win-win decision when they decide to give back to the community.
Win #1: Employees benefit from the opportunity to participate in a charitable action supported by their company.
Win #2: The community benefits directly from the action.
Win #3: The company benefits from the positive word-of-mouth and social influence of their charitable act.
The "How" of Company Giving
The act of giving back also has the benefit of being something that even a one-person business can take part in. The first step, however, is deciding which charity you want to align your company name with.
1. Choose a Charity that Shares Your Company's Values/Focus
There are currently more than 1.4 million charities in the United States alone, so finding one that fits with your company's focus and/or values might take some digging. However, a few hours on a reputable charity listing website such as CharityNavigator.org or CharityWatch.org should result in a good list of choices.
2. Do Your Due Diligence
Despite the large number of charities to choose from, there are still many organizations out there that claim to be nonprofits but don't have the paperwork to back it up. Once you've narrowed down your list to a top few, be sure to check the following:
- The charity is listed with the IRS as a tax-exempt organization
- The charity can provide you with a copy of their Letter of Determination
- The charity is willing to share detailed financial reports showing the income and dispersal of funds
Most of the time, if the charity is listed with one of the reputable charity listing sites, the website will likely provide you with all of this information and more. But not being listed on one of these search engines doesn't automatically mean that the charity isn't on the up and up. Just be sure to verify their financial and legal status.
The New Business of Giving
Now and then, no matter how hard you look, there just isn't a nonprofit that fits well with your company. Whether it's because no charity seems to compliment your business' ideals, your top choices seem to have poor leadership or you simply found a niche in your community that no charity is currently supporting, sometimes the best idea is to go out and start your own nonprofit.
Take the Greenfinity program, for example. The second nonprofit organization launched by online shopping community Lyoness (full disclosure: my employer), this program was created not only to promote the use of renewable energies and climate protection to countries around the world, but it also helps the company reach its goal of becoming entirely climate neutral. And Lyoness' first nonprofit, the Child and Family Foundation, has programs in several countries helping to provide children and families with education and family support.
While you may not be ready to take your nonprofit global, you can make a significant impact in your local community with the right focus. The team effort needed to make it happen undoubtedly will imbue your employees not only with a strong sense of accomplishment, but also with the sense of loyalty created when one helps to build a good program from the ground up.
There are a lot of steps in the charity creation process, but there are also a lot of organizations out there to help you get started. And whether you go with creating your own company charity or simply teaming up with a nonprofit that fits well with your own business team, the impact you'll have across the board is going to be a positive one.
About the Author: Diana Gomez is the Marketing Coordinator at Lyoness America, where she is instrumental in the implementation of marketing and social media strategies for USA and Canada. The Lyoness Child & Family Foundation (CFF) is actively involved in supporting children, adolescents and families worldwide, especially in the field of education. Check out Lyoness on Twitter.
For those Type A Project Managers, the first thought after completing a project is usually: “What could I have done better?” And really, if you are not capitalizing on every opportunity within the means and scope of the project at hand, the odds are that you will be overrun by those companies that do capitalize on them. Fortunately, it is not difficult to see where these potential profit areas exist. Let’s take a look at some important areas where you can uncover opportunities to make more money and save more time.
Rally Your Troops
For project managers, the resources you'll need refer to the people available to work on a project and the material (software etc.) that will be used to complete it. It is incredibly important to know exactly what resources are available, and when, in order to successfully set budgets and deadlines. However, in practice, that data can be surprisingly hard to find.
Instituting an automated time and project management system allows you to view exactly where resources are employed, what hours employees have available, and when they will be able (or unable) to work on a project. For instance, let’s say a key employee is going on vacation to Bermuda and won’t be able to work on the project for the duration of his visit. Gaining this information weeks in advance (via the automated time system) would allow you to redistribute his workload and avoid project complications or delays.
Give Them Some Space
Do you know how efficient your employees are? Having employees track time to individual projects allows you to view their efficiency at particular tasks, as well as the status of the project as a whole. Viewing this information on a daily basis let’s you know when employees should be moved to different tasks. It also lets you view project completion as an ongoing event rather than a set series of checkpoints. That way, if projects go off-schedule or resources are being used too quickly, it is easy to make minor corrections immediately.
Estimate the Viablity of it
Estimates are the first step in determining project viability. Both over and under-bidding costs you in the long run, either through project delays or loss of opportunity to pursue other projects. But it is never possible to make an estimate with 100% accuracy -- there are too many opportunities for error. However, this does not mean that estimates cannot be very good guesses. Building up a backlog of past project data will greatly improve future estimates. Note that this means every project attempted, not every project completed. Failed projects can be just as valuable in aiding future estimates as successful projects.
One way to make more precise bids is to use a key performance indicator. This is a tool used to measure progress towards a strategic business goal. For example, the number you want to minimize in this situation is defined by the formula [(E-A)/E], where:
- E = estimated hours to complete the project
- A = actual hours spent to complete the project
Keeping this KPI value as close to zero as possible will show you that you are in fact bidding on projects more accurately.
Just tracking this number is a great first step towards better bidding, and you can get the necessary data to calculate it from any timesheet system, including a paper one without looking over the shoulders of your employees. Automated timesheet systems, however, are generally even more effective in this area because they often have reports to calculate the KPI figure for you.
These are just a few of the ways that businesses can uncover hidden opportunity in their projects. Seizing hidden opportunity is not only important in the current business climate, it’s required.
The interview process is an experience that is hard to duplicate. It allows executives to check the more sensory-oriented aspects of a candidate, such as their ability to communicate and their interpersonal skills. It represents the human side of hiring. An interview can help make predictions about a person’s suitability for a given job and how well they may "fit" the organization’s culture. As selection expert Dr. Charles Handler puts it, “Years of research into the interview process suggest that the accepted validity coefficient (i.e., the accuracy) of the traditional (unstructured) employment interview is between .10 to .20. In non-geek speak this means that, across the board, interviews predict an applicant's actual ability to do the job with only between 1% to 4% accuracy, suggesting that between 96 and 99% of what it takes to effectively perform a job is not being measured by your employment interview.”
To verify what you think you learned about a candidate in an interview, a thorough background check will make sure the candidate isn’t putting up an appealing facade. The reference check is designed to help guarantee that the individual can perform as promised, that he has a positive work ethic, and that he can be relied upon for some time to come. All negative impressions from previous employees should be taken into serious consideration, and it may be necessary to weigh the potential benefits against the potential wasted time during a failed tenure.
Gain a Statistical Advantage
Due to the overall subjectivity with which executives approach the hiring process and the informal processes most often used, the final decision is often made largely through gut instinct. After all of the careful scrutiny, analysis, and questioning that goes into the process, executives say that it almost always comes down to an intuitive decision.
Hiring is a demanding process and is largely subjective. The difficulty is that there are simply too many variables in play to make a decision that will likely result in a highly productive employee. Some say that three good hires can't make up for the problems caused by one bad hire. To reduce unintentional bias and mistakes inherent to the traditional hiring process, executives should incorporate more science-based data to get a more accurate picture of the applicant and likely future performance.
Today, the hiring process can easily be augmented with comprehensive personality tests and cognitive analyses. While most applicants can manage their images for an hour in an interview or spin their resume to appeal to the targeted audience, personality and reasoning tests are much more difficult to manipulate. These simple virtual tests measure cognitive ability, personality, how a candidate might actually perform, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. From these tests, it's actually possible to tell within a high degree of confidence whether they'll be happy with their job and their position within the company culture.
Cognitive reasoning is a simple enough measure to gather for each candidate. Quick questioning within a few separate fields helps rank candidates by their ability to solve problems, conduct verbal reasoning, communicate, and deal with numerical information. While certain qualities may be unimportant in particular scenarios, it's clearly wise to hunt for candidates with a strong learning index and the appropriate level of verbal skills. When candidates’ abilities match those required by the job, they'll be much more successful and confident.
These assessments can also measure behavioral traits such as sociability, assertiveness, attitude, decisiveness, independence, and more. Responses can help the hiring team learn quickly how a potential employee would fit in the existing job culture and if they would fit with management's current practices. If you find a highly dependent employee in a small, relatively self-managed organization, for instance, then you will need someone to direct this individual to make sure he or she stays on track.
Measuring behavioral traits is an effective way for hiring managers to staff leadership positions or even round out teams by providing balance within divisions. Research demonstrates that teams made up of diverse personalities are often more productive than heterogeneous teams, so work to actively fill out your staff (http://bit.ly/njIaHn) with compatible yet differing personalities.
As always, however, executives should measure the candidate's strengths against the position for which they are hiring. When hiring a software designer, the individual will rarely require the same leadership skills that you would look for in a project manager. Understand the position, decide what qualities are needed for this position, and tailor the interview to test these strengths and weaknesses.
A strong leader can grow and inspire current employees, while new personalities in existing teams can round out group dynamics to increase productivity and efficiency. Finding an employee who will work well within the company and provide profitable longevity is therefore crucial to the success.
Personality and aptitude pre-hire assessments are accurate and can help predict future success on the job. They provide a significant statistical improvement over the traditional go-with-the-gut hiring mentality. And, if you have ever made a hiring mistake, assessments give new meaning to “what you see is not always what you get.”
The Holistic Approach to Hiring
In the future, it may be wise for organizations to take these practices into consideration to improve their chances of hiring a successful and viable candidate. A holistic hiring approach requires managers to analyze candidates on both the personal level and from the scope of the greater organization. Before analyzing each candidate, executives should first answer the following questions: Where will the individual be placed within the organization? How will the individual be interacting with colleagues? What will the candidate be doing? What is the company's/team's culture?
Making hiring decisions based upon skill or personality alone can only take a business so far. By blending the two, your organization will gain a competitive advantage great enough to tip the scales in your favor. Invest in the future of your company through an educated hiring process, avoid brash decisions, and strengthen your organization.
Successful hiring is one of the key factors to operational success for large and small businesses alike. Executives should approach the hiring process as a means to both improve their existing workforce and to secure a candidate who will add long-term value to the organization. If approached merely as a step toward replacing a lost asset, the hiring process will squander considerable resources and forfeit significant opportunity value from a potential personnel improvement. The mission is obvious, yet, according to business owners, finding the right employees can be an elusive aspiration in a drawn-out process.
The results of the hiring search can be crucial for the future of small businesses and a poor decision can easily cost any organization well into the six figures. Every new hiring opportunity has the potential to advance a business's interests or set them back significantly, and should be approached using the same level of data, knowledge, and preparation required for any critical business decision.
The “people decision making” process, however, is littered with intangibles. Nation-wide unemployment continues to hover around 9%, but we have yet to experience the expected talent surplus from this prolonged recession. Instead, talent managers continue to struggle to fill leadership roles and key positions with the people who are right for their organizations. Avoiding this quandary is paramount to every business's success. To do that, organizations must adopt hiring methods that increase the chances of securing productive and “profitable” hires.
Sift Through the Facts
Identifying the right new employee should involve more than selecting candidates by resume strength, interview performance, personal references or “gut reaction”. While the traditional big three – resume, interview, and references – can help drive an application, these factors alone cannot generate a comprehensive enough portrait of the candidate to justify the company’s investment of time and money.
The resume frequently serves as the sole initial source for determining candidate strength, and includes information about education, experience, and special skills. This document is, however, an imperfect guide to a candidate's true strengths. Various surveys and research find that between 39% - 50% of resumes contain erroneous information, so they must be taken with a grain of salt until fully verified.
Despite the prevalence of inaccurate data, executives can still get some information from the resume. The reported candidate's career arc can provide information about career path; roughly how loyal to the company he may be; what the candidate reports having accomplished at each previous job; how much time spent in areas that a company requires.
Hiring managers should not give too much weight to years of experience and technical skills alone. A resume does not report how successful the candidate was – just that he held the positions. These indicators are far less likely to predict high performance than factors such as motivational fit, organizational culture match, and interpersonal skills. So, in looking at a candidate’s resume, it is important to conceptualize how an applicant's prior organizations may have functioned, how their qualities impacted performance and demanded work, and how the individual connected with the unique company culture. And, with over a third of senior executives citing retention as a pressing talent concern, it may be important at this stage in the process to check for other such candidate traits as well.
Executives rarely give these important factors enough consideration in hiring new candidates. In a 2009 study, 43% of executives gave priority to relevant experience and technical skills, only 24% gave similar weight to an individual's ability to collaborate in teams and 11% considered the candidate's readiness or ability to learn new things, both of which are more related to success than skills.
This same pool of executives reported that their hiring practices relied heavily on subjective personal preferences, and their views about hiring differed varied widely. They disagreed on whether to hire insiders or outsiders, who should be involved in the hiring process, how to assess candidates, and the keys to successful hiring and retention.
Happy Monday, once again! Today we've put together this list of the latest energy-focused resources, blogs, conferences and more. After all, we are based deep in the heart of Austin, Texas. If you need to be certified in oil, gas & energy resources law by the state bar of Texas or you're just here looking for a really great read, we've got the tips on what's hot off the press.
- Oil, Gas & Energy Resources Law is a specific subset of the State Bar of Texas, for those looking to be a little more-than-certified in the lawyer arts.
- Texas Oil & Gas Magazine might have one state in the title, but with national publication distributions, this magazine is the forerunner for the latest oil and gas news coming out of the United States.
- Oil & Gas Journal is the top journal for all things energy-related, boasting global magazine distributions. Not to mention they've even featured Journyx. Check them out here.
- Power Magazine has been in circulation stretching back over a span of 131 years and is still going strong. They are the information source for all things in the power generation market, and even supplied issues during World Wars 1 and 2.
- Journal of Petroleum Technology is a global publication, releasing new issues monthly. They cover the science and technological advances in the petroleum and energy industries, and are updating their website with the latest of these on a daily basis.
Still itching for more? You can find these blogs, social media groups and upcoming conferences below with the latest community updates in the energy industry.
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.