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It's About Time! The Journyx Blog

August 1, 2014

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. 

Keys to Success in Microsoft Dynamics Infographic

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.

 

July 30, 2014

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 Mesopotamia.

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.

accounting standards that add up

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. 

July 28, 2014

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.

accountability for accounting managers

  • 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!

Have more in mind that aren't on this list? Let us know your favorite one in the comment section below!

July 25, 2014

the chaparral story infographicIn 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.

Conclusion

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.

July 22, 2014

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!

July 21, 2014

how impending reform law of the mexican oil and gas industrySituation:

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

  1. 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.

July 18, 2014

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.

7 ways people use time tracking software infographic

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!

 

 

 

July 14, 2014

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.

  • 20 quick tips for better time management infographicLifehack 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.

July 11, 2014

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 hiresCEO’s have two choices in hiring:

  1. CEOs can search for great people and then create motivation, alignment and profits – BACKWARDS!!!!
  2. 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.

Continue reading…

July 9, 2014

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

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

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

In What Ways Can Your Workplace be Greener?

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

Fuel 
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.

Cleaning 
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.

Paper 
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.

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

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

Establishing Green Practices

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

Games 
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.

Prizes 
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.

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

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

The Benefits of Being Greener

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

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

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

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

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

July 7, 2014

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

  • First of all, the Project Management Institute is the premier non-profit networking organization, connecting you to project managers, CEO's, and other Executives around the world. Check out one of their many monthly meetings in a city near you. You might even stumble into our CEO Curt Finch speaking at one of their many events. 
  • The ICPM -- or International Community of Project Managers -- has a blog that has advice, tips, and more from authors, Execs, and speakers from every corner of the globe. With a primary focus on latest trends and advice, the ICPM provides a robust community for those looking for a little more guidance in their field. 
  • A Girl's Guide to Project Management is completely straight-forward, in your face, and telling it exactly like it is. It's written from the perspective of a female specifically for those of female perspectives as well, offering up great tips for every lady. 
  • 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.

July 3, 2014

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. 

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

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

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

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

Continue reading...

June 30, 2014

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

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

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

 

June 25, 2014

Are you spending time on social media? As a business executive you should be. According to a new study by BRANDfog, 75% of employees believe that executives who participate in social media are better leaders. And the same percentage believes that executives that communicate the company’s core values via social media are more trustworthy.

"In today's hyper-connected, information-driven world, CEOs and senior executives are expected to have an active social presence," explained Ann Charles, BRANDfog CEO. "The survey results were definitive - social media is an extremely undervalued channel for managing brand reputation, building brand trust and better leadership."

Social media is no longer just important for tech-minded companies; it’s a vital avenue of brand building and customer outreach for all companies. But many CEOs still don’t use social media, including 70% of Fortune 500 CEOs.

Fortunately, there are some easy steps you can take to become social media savvy in no time.

Focus on the Right Sites

As a small business executive, your time is important. So when you participate in social media, be sure that you are spending your time on the right sites for your business. You first need to figure out where your customer base spends its time. One way to do this is to send out a survey to a pool of your current customers, or conduct your own informal research on the major networking sites. You also want to be sure that the site you choose works with your company’s brand. Does your company present itself visually? Then Youtube, Pintrist, or Tumblr might be the place for you. Do you value discussion over visuals? Then consider Facebook or Twitter.

Get the Right Tools

Another way to make social media communication more time-efficient is by investing in the right set of tools. Social media tools can help you easily post and monitor several social media accounts at one time. One such tool, Buffer, lets you a build a queue of content that is then automatically posted on a regular schedule. This way you can write your social media material when you have time and not have to worry about whether or not it’s the right time to post it. For more social media tools for small businesses, check out this article.

Build a Consistent Brand

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

Don’t Just Talk Business

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

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

June 20, 2014

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

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

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

Continue reading…

June 18, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

June 16, 2014

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

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

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

June 13, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading…

June 11, 2014

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

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

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

The Pomodoro Technique

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

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

Practice Mindfulness

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

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

Keep An Active To-Do List

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

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

June 9, 2014

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

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

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

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