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It's About Time! The Journyx Blog

September 19, 2011

This Forbes article, written by Joe McKendrick, explores how cloud computing enables cost savings, fosters greater agility and more. Read on to find out the ways cloud computing is altering our business landscape.

Economists and pundits have long feared the emergence of what they called “hollow corporations,” or businesses that don’t actually produce actual goods or services themselves, but instead act as brokers or intermediaries relying on networks of suppliers and partners. But now, thanks to technology, successful businesses surprisingly are often brokers of services, delivered via technology, from providers and on to consumers.

Where are these services coming from? Look to the cloud.

Yes, cloud computing enables cost savings — as companies can access technology and applications on-demand on an as-needed basis and pay for only what they use. And yes, this fosters greater agility, with less reliance on legacy IT assets. But the changes go even deeper that that. Consider the ways cloud computing is altering our business landscape:

“Loosely coupled” corporations: I don’t think anyone should fear that our corporations are becoming “hollow.” Rather, “loosely coupled corporations” may be a better way to describe what is happening. The term “loosely coupled” came into vogue with service-oriented architecture a few years ago, meaning an entity or system stands fine on its own, but when linked to other like systems, the magic happens. Cloud computing is paving the way for the loosely coupled company – which may be an entity that exists purely as an aggregation of third-party services, provided on an on-demand basis to meet customer demands. Most of these services will be passed through as cloud services, both from within the enterprise and from outside.

Blurring of IT consumers and providers: In the IT world, the divide has been very clear cut: there were the vendors who provided technology products and services, and there were customers that purchased and used them. Cloud computing is blurring these distinctions. There’s nothing stopping companies that are adept at building and supporting their own private clouds from offering these services to partners and customers beyond the firewall. In fact, many already do. Amazon was an online retailer that began to offer its excess capacity to outside companies. Even non-IT companies are becoming cloud providers. Cloud computing may finally mean a way for IT to finally become a profit center.

Startups on a dime: Let’s face it, there’s no point in investing $50,000 or more in servers and software when everything you need is right in the cloud. I like the story of GigaVox, a podcasting provider, that launched off of Amazon Web Services a few years back. Their startup IT costs? About $80 a month, for everything from storage to back-end processing. As Chris Sacca, a software startup investor and former Google executive, put it: “The biggest line item in [software startup] companies now is rent and food… A decade ago, I don’t think you could write a line of code for less than $1 million.” As we ponder unemployment and underemployment in our economy, the availability of cheap cloud computing may be laying the groundwork for a startup boom, the likes we have never seen before. This applies to departments of larger organizations as well, by the way. Designing new products, without the need to go through corporate finance and IT approvals definitely is a great way to instill entrepreneurial spirit.

Read the full article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/joemckendrick/2011/09/19/cloud-computing-may...

September 16, 2011

AUSTIN, TEXAS (September 16, 2011) – Journyx today announces the addition of new topics, speakers and dates to the 2011 Journyx Webinar Series, a line-up of live and on-demand content from skilled presenters with real world experience. The educational webinars will help professionals further their project management careers, as well as provide Professional Development Units (PDUs) completely free of charge.

New session titles include:

  • Extending Microsoft Project and Project Server
  • Top 10 Reasons to Outsource Your Finance and Accounting Operations
  • Dynamic Project Planning: The Real Way to Execute Projects
  • How to Win and Successfully Execute on Defense Contracts
  • 5 Ways to Increase Profit with Time Management
  • 3 Critical Components of Project Success

The full line-up of webinars along with registration information can be found at http://journyx.com/library/webinars. Journyx also offers a full archive of past webinars.  

About Journyx, Inc.

Journyx helps customers intelligently invest their time and resources to achieve per-person, per-project profitability. Customers include Crate&Barrel, Schlumberger, BP, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Callaway Golf and Honeywell.

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September 14, 2011

Today's blog post comes from CIO.com's Consumerization of IT blog. Head over to CIO to read the full post!

I like to envision what the future of technology will be like and a completely wireless office has to be just around the corner. As much as I’m optimistic about a wireless office, I know security risks are an issue. But knowledge is power and by becoming informed of the risks in advance, hopefully we can prevent heartache down the road.

Why would a hacker want your business’s information? Most of the time there is something to be gained by hacking in the form of cold, hard cash. But also, hackers want your computing power, your connection bandwidth and/or your (or your computer's) identity. You must protect against a hacker interested in accessing important company information as well as the information of your employees. If you don’t have a secure Wi-Fi, a hacker can easily access your network from your parking lot.

For example, one school district’s insecure Wi-Fi network was exposed when a reporter sat in her car and not only accessed the network of the school’s central office, but was also able to download students' grades, phone numbers, home addresses, medical information, psychological evaluations and even full-color photos.

This particular school’s parent community included many people who worked for companies that supplied Wi-Fi equipment. As a result, these parents brought wireless networking into their children's schools at a very early stage. The security of the Wi-Fi network was weak and insecure – a free Wi-Fi network had been set up using the school’s LAN line. A secure network always needs to be a top concern -- when Wi-Fi access is limited in a business setting, employees will find a way to have full internet access, even if it means going an unsafe route to get it.

As more and more new technologies find their way into the workplace via the consumerization of IT without the direct knowledge of the IT director, a secure network is more important than ever. Osterman Research’s study titled the "2011 Consumerized IT Security Survey" states that “more than 80 percent of [companies] surveyed are letting their employees use consumerized IT products and services to conduct business communications.”

Head over to CIO to read the rest of the article!

September 12, 2011

Apologies for the hiatus but as you can see, we've been hard at work overhauling our blog! We hope you like the new look and feel, and please tell us in the comments what topics you'd like for us to cover.

How to Successfully Execute IT Projects Without Fail -- from the September 9th issue of CRN.

Today's IT solution providers are under many of the same constraints as their customers: Do more with less, deliver on-time, offer competitive pricing. Its easy to get lost in the details, but losing site of the big picture can cost VARs customers and money. Here, the CEO of Journyx, a project management software company, shares best practices of project management. — Jennifer Bosavage, editor

More than 30 percent of IT projects fail because they are either substantially late or exceeded their prescribed budgets, according to research from Gartner. That is an intimidating figure, especially as it coincided with our country slipping into its worst recession in decades. Now, as our economy struggles to improve, we should attempt to learn from our cash-strapped experiences and improve the ways in which we manage our project work.

In today's knowledge-worker economy, IT solution providers need to devote their energies to tracking resources against project performance. It's not enough to measure physical input vs. output to calculate ROI. Companies analyze the use of human resources against target schedule, cost, and quality. Only through careful analysis and reporting can an organization develop a comprehensive understanding of:

  • Who is working on which project?
  • How can we get a project back on schedule?
  • How much more work is required?
  • What is the real ROI for each project?

Areas of Failure in IT Projects

Resource Management

Finding the right person to put on each job can be challenging for many organizations, yet it is essential for successfully completing projects and maximizing human resource effectiveness. IT work should not merely be categorized by skill type or job functions, but also by the availability and capability of your team members in specific work scenarios. Understanding who you have to call upon and when they are available is crucial for getting the project done on time and within budget. An inability to see and quickly understand resource allocation – especially during moments of crisis – dramatically increases the risk of failure.

Executive Decision-Making

Projects rarely succeed without executive support, yet it's uncommon for executives to have easy access to the right real-time project information. Most often, executives make do with simple percentage-complete or other high-level “health check” statistics, but those do not add sufficient value in the decision-making process if the lower-level details are not correct and timely. An executive dashboard is only as good as the information that generates it. All too often, the data feeding these dashboards is inaccurate.

Project Management

Project managers are responsible for keeping projects on track, but how can they do this without an adequate system in place to help monitor progress and schedules? Without effective processes, project managers will tread on the toes of their team members in order to get status reports and project information. Good leadership requires easy access to information and simple communication, but too rarely are these present in project scenarios.

Read the rest of this article at CRN!

September 2, 2011

Clients are looking for project managers who are creative and intelligent. Unfortunately, these traits are abundant in the project manager talent pool. So how do you stand out from the rest and convince clients that you’re the right project manager for the job? Consider the following tips to distance yourself from the rest of the job-seekers:

Create the right brand for yourself
Potential clients believe their projects are distinctive, and will often want a specialist to handle them. This means that you need to market yourself as the right manager for the job. Promote yourself as a “jack-of-all-trades,” and you will send the message that you might not be able to excel at specific projects. Market yourself as a specialist in a certain niche and clients will get the impression that you’re only a good fit for that one area. The trick is to build a brand that portrays your credibility for various jobs while maintaining your attraction for clients who are seeking a specialist.

Use social media
Once you’ve defined your brand, apply it to your social media profiles to emphasize your expertise. On LinkedIn, you have several options for building your brand and your credibility. Start with the Answers section of the search bar to reach out to other professionals. Answering a question that has been posted is a good way to build your credibility as an expert, and might make the poster consider hiring you in the future. Search for and join groups related to project management, and become active in discussions in the group. Not only is this an excellent way to expand your network, but you will learn about opportunities that otherwise might not have come to your attention.

Twitter is also a useful social media tool for those who are looking for work. Search for terms that coincide with your skills and abilities. Chances are you’ll turn up people looking for someone with your talents to help them with a problem, and you can then start a discussion or offer your services. Posting helpful articles for your followers can build your credibility and create the association in their minds that you are a trusted resource.

Tailor your resume to fit the job
Your resume is one of the most powerful marketing tools you have because it allows you to highlight qualifications the client is looking for. Look unflinchingly at yourself through the eyes of a potential client and ask if the package you are presenting to them meets their needs. Simply listing every job you’ve ever done is not a good way to do this. Including a lot of information that has nothing to do with the position you are applying for forces the client to read and decipher whether or not you have the skills to handle the job. It is up to you to prove that you have the skill set they need.

Find connections to your experience
Just as you want to make it easy for a potential client to see the relationship between your experience and their position, you have to make it easy for them to connect in-person. Explain and provide tangible examples of past experience that relate to the job being discussed. Have references readily available to provide to potential clients. References can be found not only through paid employment, but also from projects you assisted on or community/volunteer work you’ve done.

Use your resume and social media presence to enhance the brand you’ve created. By creating and honing your brand, project management positions should begin to reveal themselves to you in no time!

 

About the Author: University Alliance submitted this article on behalf of Villanova University’s online programs. Villanova offers online PMP certification courses in addition to articles such as project cost management strategies to help professionals advance their career opportunities.
September 1, 2011

We could all use some expert advice when choosing the best technology for our business, right? Inc Magazine has compiled a very helpful list of "The Best Back Office Software for Running Your Business". Check out the article and let us know your favorite!

Never have there been more software choices for the small business. Considering all the information you need to manage, which ones do the best job? Should you use separate solutions for different functions, or should you buy an integrated suite that can manage many aspects of your business? It depends, say the experts we talked to about back office software on the market today for SMBs. In this guide we present what we hope is a good start for SMBs investigating the best back office software.

What is the difference between front-office and back-office software?

First, though, a bit of clarification. The definition of what constitutes back-office versus front-office software is open for debate.

“There's a lot of bleed between what used to be distinct categories, and that trend is being driven by organizations having [fewer] people doing more functions, and not wanting to purchase four apps when one or two can cover all bases,” says Andrew Baker, director of service operations for SWN Communications and expert on the Focus network.

To be clear, when we say “back office” software, we’re referring to the platforms and applications that don’t interface with customers but help you manage core functions such as accounting, human resources, or manufacturing. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is a term that includes many back-office functions.

“Front office” software, which we covered in July as part of our focus on the best software for SMBs, is often related to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and is useful for managing sales, marketing, and other customer-facing data. We also include things like innovative social media tools, customer service solutions, and more as part of the "front office."

So, without further ado, we present what we hope is a good start for SMBs investigating their best back office software options.

Accounting/Finance

It almost goes without saying that Intuit’s QuickBooks and Sage Peachtree should be on this list. In fact, according to the Massachusetts-based research group IDC Industry Insights, more than half of all small businesses use Intuit software. While Peachtree captures a smaller share of the SMB accounting market, it offers similar features and pricing—both range from around $200 at the entry level to $3,000 for an enterprise solution. QuickBooks also has an online version from $13 to $63 a month that stores all your financial data safely on the cloud.

They’re not the only players in the numbers game, however. For estimating taxes, try Outright. Mint is free and as such, very popular with businesses on a tight budget. Expensify is great at—you guessed it—expense tracking, as is Coupa.

FinancialForce is an immensely-popular SaaS tool because of its integration with Salesforce, a CRM tool we discussed in our front-office software story. It starts at $175 per user per month and like many of these apps, it’s available on the iPhone and iPad.

Head on over to Inc for the rest of this article!

August 31, 2011

Joe McKendrick, editor of eBizQ, interviews Journyx CEO Curt Finch on things companies need to know about cloud deployments.

Q: Is cloud-based ECM something that organizations are already doing?
Curt Finch: Yes, but mostly this is true with startups or VC backed firms. Some B2C operations, like restaurants, have their web page on Facebook now instead of having their own site.

Q: Will some ECM services be leveraged through public clouds, or is this mainly a private cloud play?
Finch: It's possible but the only advantage I can see is if you expect massive peak load spikes, like with the Superbowl or something like a natural disaster.

Q: Are there security implications to public or private ECM adoption -- or regulatory barriers?
Finch: If you trust the cloud vendor -- such as Amazon -- then there aren't really any security implications. But do you know for sure you can trust the cloud vendor?

Q: Will content remain on local systems, or will that also be moved to the cloud?
Finch: It would seem sensible to either move all of it or none at all.

Q: Does cloud offer the possibility for more widespread ECM adoption?
Finch: Perhaps. Complex systems are better managed by their writers, like Vignette.

Q: Will it truly put the "E" in ECM?
Finch: It's doubtful. The cultural and organizational impediments won't change, will they?

Head over to eBizQ for the rest of this interview!

August 26, 2011

Among the essential project management skills, scheduling can affect, either positively or adversely, the most areas within a project. Ineffective project schedules can create downtime for people and production equipment, wasting time and money, and leading to project failures.

Here are four techniques that can help you improve time management and keep your entire project on schedule.

1. Determine the Critical Path

Focusing on the critical path can help you deliver a project on time – or even cut its duration and complete it ahead of schedule. Maintaining the critical path will ensure a timely delivery, while extending it means the project will be delayed.

Here’s how to determine the critical path:

  • List All Necessary Tasks: Make a list of every individual task required by the project. Don’t be tempted to enter them directly into a Gantt chart. Include estimates of the work needed to accomplish each task to help you get a sense of the overall time needed to complete the total project.
  • Prioritize the Tasks: Each task will fall into line according to what needs to happen first. Decide which tasks have the highest priorities and continue through the entire list.
  • Make a Gantt Chart: One essential project management skill is learning how to prepare an accurate Gantt chart. Be sure to use the time estimates you listed previously and adjust tasks based on priority.
  • Determine the Critical Path: The longest path of tasks on the Gantt chart is your critical path. Keep in mind you may have more than one critical path in your schedule. Don’t overlook additional assignments that are not part of the critical path(s).

2. Build Slack Time Into the Schedule

Deliberately adding slack time into your project timeline is a smart way to stay on schedule. Project management professionals know that the unexpected is the one thing you can always count on; therefore, flexibility is a valuable project management tool.

Slack time allows a project manager to delay a task when necessary, without affecting the rest of the project schedule. In other words, slack time means that holding off on Task A will not prevent the on-time launch of Task B. Slack time is normal; as a project manager, you can identify and minimize it, but you won’t likely be able to avoid slack time completely. Your role is to determine the best path to improved productivity through slack time, such as moving idle team members to tasks that need more attention.

3. Crash When Necessary

Sometimes, stakeholders request a quicker turnaround time, and project managers are expected to deliver a completed project in a shorter time frame, with no reduction in scope. Crashing is a powerful project management tool in which you reduce the time to completion for tasks in the critical path. It’s helpful to know that reducing time to complete non-critical tasks – those outside the critical path – will not reduce the project delivery time. So focus on crashing tasks in the critical path.

Crashing happens when you double the team members assigned to a task, so it’s completed in half the time, or when your team is flexible enough that you can reassign more productive people to the most critical tasks, so they are completed in less time. Be creative when considering crashing methods. Determine the risks and rewards of each option, and choose the one with the best chance for success.

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Fast-Track Tasks

Fast-tracking is another method to cut the project schedule when necessary. In fast-tracking, the project manager rearranges the project schedule so that tasks that were planned for completion in sequence are reassigned to be worked on simultaneously. This doubling-up of tasks can reduce completion time by half, but only works when Task B’s start is not dependent on Task A’s completion.

Stay on Schedule to Be a More Effective Project Manager

Effective project management tools can help you manage time more efficiently. However, a project manager must retain a firm grasp on the basic fundamentals of project management to help keep every project on a concise and manageable schedule. Follow these four tips and you should see immediate improvements in your project scheduling.

 


 

About the Author: University Alliance submitted this article on behalf of Villanova University’s online programs. Villanova offers project management certificate courses along with many articles on their site like these project management tips.

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