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Why Smart Project Management Data Will Never Go Away

Over the last 10 years, a trend has become apparent in the use of timesheet software   among companies of all sizes. More and more, corporate executives are seeking to understand their project accounting costs. If they know their project costs – and many don’t – they can discover financial problems with projects early on and fix them. This can potentially save you millions.

According to a study by McKinsey and Company, research shows that "on average, large IT projects run 45 percent over budget and 7 percent over time, while delivering 56 percent less value than predicted." Sometimes, companies can do something about that – like cancel the project, put different resources on it, or change the scope – but sometimes they don’t discover the problem until it is too late to save the project. This means that many projects may fail for reasons that could have been discovered and fixed!

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The Anatomy of a Great Social CEO

We all know just how effective of a tool social media can be when used to help establish and promote a brand, as well as enable interactions with a company. The question that businesses must answer is: who should act as the communiqué for a company? While higher-ups within a company might be tempted to delegate all corporate social media interactions to other staffers, a recent 2014 study from BrandFog determined that 75% of respondents agree that social media engagement makes CEO's better leaders.

Of course, before a company turns anyone loose on social media, there needs to be a corporate strategy and set of best practices in place. It does very little good to simply prop a business leader in front of a Twitter profile and tell him to go at it. In that same vein, Joshua Stiemle, of Forbes, notes "if you’re merely going to set up social media profiles and then do nothing with them, that

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Crunching Numbers in the Cloud

Larry Ellison, the CEO of Oracle, dismisses cloud computing as merely the latest fashion in the computer industry. I suppose he also dismisses that more than one-in-five IT decision makers have deployed over half of their total applications to the cloud, according to the Cisco Global Cloud Networking Survey. Regardless of any debate, cloud computing adoption rates are on the rise. According CDW LLC’s 2013 State of the Cloud Report, 39% of organizations either already utilize cloud computing solutions or are currently implementing them. This number is up from 28% in 2011.

Maybe somewhat surprisingly, cloud computing is a very attractive option for business accounting software. Accounting software takes up a significant amount of hard drive space, especially for small and medium-sized businesses. Cloud computing solves this problem by putting the majority of files and data on a separate server. This frees up hard drive space for individual desktop computers and saves money that might have been spent on additional storage equipment.

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How Mobile Apps Can Get You In The Competition

Now that it's 2014, you'd think that this would be a given, but it's not. Not yet, anyway. When was the last time you used a mobile app at work? According to a study by the Small Business and Entrepreneur Council, small businesses that use mobile apps to manage their operations save more than 370 million business hours and more than 725 million employee hours annually. That’s a huge amount of time saved which is important for any company – after all, time is fleeting and needs to be invested wisely. The study, which surveyed firms with 20 or fewer employees, found that 31% of companies saved an average of 5.6 hours per week because of mobile apps. So what are the best apps for saving your company time and money? Below is a list of some of my favorite apps to up your company’s productivity and profitability.

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Small Business? Pay Attention to Big Data

Big data is big news. Everyday a wealth of digital information is generated by people around the world through emails, blogs, social media posts, online credit card purchases, cell phone usage, and more. According to IBM, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are generated daily. And 90 percent of the total data in existence was created within the last two years.

Todd Taylor, NetStandard’s Vice President of Hosted Technology, explained at IBM Edge2013 how this remarkable data growth offers businesses unlimited possibilities. “Business data will paint a true picture of business performance that goes beyond profit and loss statements…to display real-time performance in a global economy.” This information can then be translated into improved marketing, tailored services, and cost savings.

While many large businesses have invested in big data technology, small businesses have been slow to take part. Taylor explains that while big data technologies might not seem appealing for businesses with limited resources, it is better for businesses to invest in analytics now, before their big data grows to unmanageable proportions. Not only that, but big data is more accessible than ever, thanks to a rise in cost-effective big data technologies. In addition to the well known

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3 Automation Tips for the Next Generation CEO

Small businesses owners are often barraged by automation software systems that promise to streamline an important business process. These systems can hold significant appeal, promising to reduce both costs and manpower requirements while still getting necessary work done. However, these systems usually claim to be “set it and forget it” type of deals. This can be misleading, and can result in unrealistic expectations as well as flawed implementation strategies. Fortunately, it is possible to derive a great deal of value from automation systems as long as you understand both their advantages and their limitations.

It’s important to understand which processes can be reliably automated within your company. These can include payroll, billing, cost accounting, IT infrastructure monitoring, internet related marketing, prospect and customer engagement management, competitive intelligence monitoring and many others. The trick is to determine which processes--if automated--will provide the most value for your company in particular. One method to determine this value involves carefully tracking employee time to determine if employees are spending large amounts of time on processes that can be easily automated. In cases such as these, implementing an automated system often provides a high return on investment by decreasing time spent on tedious activities while freeing employees to work on other tasks.

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Hire Me: The New Tech Skills Employers Are Looking For

If you’re in school, a recent grad, looking for work, or just looking for a new work situation in the tech market, you should be on the hunt for not just new opportunities but also new skills to add to your resume. Employers want new hires to have a good foundation in technology basics as well as great business and people skills.

Cloud & Mobile Technology

Cloud and mobile technology are invading the modern workplace. Because of this, familiarity in these areas will greatly increase your potential of getting hired.

So how can you become a cloud expert? One way is to become familiar with Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). PaaS is used to develop programs in the cloud. The development tool itself is hosted in the cloud and accessed through a browser. As servers move to the cloud, having knowledge in PaaS will become increasingly important for companies.

Puppet is another software tool that

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Three Tips to Build an Employee-Focused Reporting System

Businesses often put a strong emphasis on reporting metrics, and rightly so. Whether these metrics are collected via website analytics, sales figures or production output, executives usually recognize the importance of insight into daily operations and initiatives. However, there is a fundamental flaw with most reporting systems. Despite the fact that numerous tools make it simple to retrieve and report data, the employees who directly influence those figures rarely get to see the data. Both managers and employees can greatly benefit from seeing the impact of their contributions, or more importantly, where those contributions are coming up short. Following are three ways to help create an employee-focused reporting system in your own company. 

1. Break Down Metrics By Department 

It certainly doesn’t hurt to show employees company-wide metrics focused on overall profitability or the like, but they will benefit most from seeing metrics on which they have an impact. As an example, the services team should be able to review percentage of hours billable. Technical support should be exposed to customer satisfaction information. Obviously, the sales team has a plethora of figures that can aid them such as close rates and deal sizes. You can glean many of these metrics from your

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Three Tips to Build an Employee-Focused Reporting System

Businesses often put a strong emphasis on reporting metrics, and rightly so. Whether these metrics are collected via website analytics, sales figures or production output, executives usually recognize the importance of insight into daily operations and initiatives. However, there is a fundamental flaw with most reporting systems. Despite the fact that numerous tools make it simple to retrieve and report data, the employees who directly influence those figures rarely get to see the data. Both managers and employees can greatly benefit from seeing the impact of their contributions, or more importantly, where those contributions are coming up short. Following are three ways to help create an employee-focused reporting system in your own company. 

1. Break Down Metrics By Department 

It certainly doesn’t hurt to show employees company-wide metrics focused on overall profitability or the like, but they will benefit most from seeing metrics on which they have an impact. As an example, the services team should be able to review percentage of hours billable. Technical support should be exposed to customer satisfaction information. Obviously, the sales team has a plethora of figures that can aid them such as close rates and deal sizes. You can glean many of these metrics from your

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The Technical Support Project: How to Create a Winning Team, Part 3

This is part three of a three-part article series. You can read part 1 here and part 2 here.

Now that you have a new and improved technical support team in place, you need to let people know.  This includes departments within your company and external customers, both of whom need different types of marketing.  This article will outline some ideas on how to spread the good word. 

Where to Start 

What happens when you tell someone to do something?  The person’s reaction will be based on your relationship with them.  An acquaintance might tell you “no”.  A friend will explain to you why they aren’t going to do what you told them. Your kids will pretend to obey while they secretly do exactly the opposite.  Your employees will sometimes do you the honor of attempting to do what you tell them to.  That, frankly, is as good as you will ever get by telling someone to do something.

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The Technical Support Project: How to Create a Winning Team, Part 2

This is part two of a three-part article series. You can see part one here.

Staffing is the most critical part of creating a winning technical support team. If you make mistakes with the steps discussed in my first article but excel at hiring and managing your people, you will succeed in the end. If, however, you do well with the mechanics and make mistakes with staffing, you will certainly fail. 

Your Staff Today 

Even if your current staff is doing a good job, you will still have to bring new people in to help you rise from the ashes. I know you don’t want to fire the people you have today—that can be unpleasant—so give it some time and the problem will probably resolve itself for you. Your current staff will naturally turn over when they get tired of listening to complaining and blaming. Your task will then be to hire better than you have in the past.

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The Technical Support Project: How to Create a Winning Team, Part 1

You might compare technical support to a team of jugglers. It requires a lot of communication and teamwork to be able to handle flying bowling balls, knives, flaming batons and pianos. For instance, you will need to know when a baton or knife is heading your way, or who will be able to catch the piano. There are three big processes to put in place in order to facilitate the communication required to do this juggling.

  • Decide on 3-5 levels of case severity and decide on service requirements for each (how quickly you intend to respond and fix). If you already have priorities defined in your maintenance contracts, try to use them. Discuss the plan with your team and make sure they understand that top priority cases must be addressed first, so someone must pay attention to incoming cases and prioritize them immediately.
  • If you find that you don’t have the time to fix a problem so the customer never sees it, an alternative is to publish the solution in order to allow them to solve problems themselves. If you don
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Defining Web 2.0

There is a lot of disagreement about what the phrase Web 2.0 means.  Let’s clear that up. 

One answer is that Web 2.0 refers to the propensity of recent Internet applications to be more collaborative and provide for a richer user experience.  Web1.0 was a Web site that looked like a brochure or a resume.  Web 2.0 is a blog. Web1.0 was your newspaper’s classified ads, just webified.  Web 2.0 is eBay or craigslist.  Web1.0 was Netscape (i.e. here’s some software). Web 2.0 is Google (there’s nothing to install but it’s powerful).

Web 2.0 is about harnessing collective intelligence and eliminating the software release cycle – it’s about providing services, not products.  It’s about trusting users as co-developers of content or even of technology. As an example, Amazon.com does this with its user review system.

A more cynical definition of Web 2.0, found in the blogosphere in Europe, (where they tend to be more conservative about technology) is

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How To Avoid An Evil Datacenter

As with most companies, we store the bulk of our data internally on our network here at the corporate headquarters, but we also store a fair bit of it at our datacenter. We have software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications which we host for our customers, as well as for ourselves. We have our web site, of course, which must be up and running 24x7 or my CEO calls me up in a panic. We have an FTP server for support, as well as one for the public, etc. You get the picture. We’ve got resources that are needed by our remote employees as well as our customers. In essence, we need a reliable 24x7, redundant, fast way for our people and the world to access our data. If this sounds familiar to you, you might be in the same boat that we were in. We needed a datacenter. 

I’m oversimplifying our needs a bit, since we are a hosted service provider for literally hundreds of organizations around the world. You see, with the software that Journyx creates, you can either host it locally on one of your own servers, or you can ask us to do it for you, taking away that overhead. Since we host our customers

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How To Get Payroll To Max Profitability Throughout The Company

When payroll executives implement time and attendance systems to automate payroll, they often miss the chance to facilitate greater profitability throughout the entire company. These executives are, of course, payroll experts. They are usually not, however, experts at project management or billing automation.

The time data they collect, if collected appropriately, can also be used to automate project management, project costing, project tracking and project estimation improvement, as well as for internal, external and reverse billing automation. Most payroll and HR executives know little about these subjects, but increasingly, they are being asked to rise to new challenges.

These new challenges are being caused by the tectonic shift from capital businesses to people businesses. This is a shift of valuing time as much as money.  About 50 years ago, when most people twisted bolts in a factory, workers were not considered volunteers, they were not empowered, and managing the money of the company (i.e. the capital) was much more important than maximizing the time and knowledge of the worker. Such businesses are called capital businesses because power and wealth flowed from the capital.

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The Future of Project Management Software - Probably!

Over the last decade or so, the industry has shifted from customers installing software at their physical locations to renting Web-based software over the Internet on a monthly basis. It’s moving this way because customers want it to, and so do vendors.

Most software companies get their revenue from “shelfware” (software that is rarely used and ends up on the proverbial shelf). Popular programs like Quicken or SAP – for which customers pay the total cost up front – can be complicated, making them difficult to use and achieve maximum benefit from. However, once a customer has paid for these programs, there is no incentive for the company to follow up and ensure that it is working properly for the customer.

But hold on, things might be improving. Newer companies like Concur (expense reimbursement), Salesforce.com (sales automation), Hire.com (recruiting and hiring automation), and Taleo (also recruiting and hiring automation) are turning out to be quite successful in renting software over the Web to their customers.

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Seven Ways to Improve Your Consulting Company

In the consulting business, your hours are your inventory: lose track of them and they are wasted. If you hit your budget and reimbursable expenses, however, you will move more inventory.

Everyone wants a more profitable company with fewer headaches, happier customers and no surprises.  Often some of the most mundane areas of business execution lead to the highest levels of achievement when done right.  This is true for consultancies—automating your time and expense collection can help you achieve this higher level of profitability in several ways.  Here are the top seven:

Lower Costs and Increase Profits

1.   Understanding Your Costs

If you don't know your costs, you don't know where you’re profitable, so you can't steer your company towards success.  In today’s knowledge economy, project accounting is the best way to understand production costs, but few companies do it well. Consultancies already know the importance of tracking hours better than most companies do, so it should come as no surprise that a thorough, efficient method of time tracking is essential to running a profitable consultancy.

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Microsoft Dynamics in the Cloud: Are You Ready?

This year’s Microsoft Convergence Show had a record-breaking 10,000 attendees.  During the show, Microsoft showed off its hybrid cloud strategy for their Dynamics products.  Dynamics CRM can now deploy identical software both onsite and in the cloud.  Dynamics NAV and GP will follow suit in 2013, with AX coming soon thereafter.  How can you get your Dynamics product ready for functionality in the cloud? 

Simply put, if Dynamics is in the cloud, you should have all of your add-ons in the cloud, as well.  I’ll use the example of adding timesheet software to Dynamics.  This is a common add-on seeing as how Microsoft Business Portal lacks an essential time-tracking functionality.

Microsoft Dynamics Business Portal lacks data validations and thus is prone to human error.  This is a huge time sink.  If your managers are busy manually checking timesheets, it negatively affects company operations.  Another downfall of Business Portal is the lack of

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Multitasking: It's Assaulting Your Team's Productivity

It’s seemingly impossible to avoid multitasking in today’s busy world. The constant bombardment of emails, phone calls, and appointments quickly begin to pile up, so to combat this we attempt to juggle more activities at once. I instinctively answer the phone as I’m driving home from work or respond to an urgent email while I’m reading a report, but are these the best solutions to my problems?

Mounting evidence suggests that multitasking is the enemy of productivity. Though it may lead us to think that we’re being more productive, we’re in fact thwarting performance ability and significantly lowering quality of work along the way. While we can all recognize how multitasking affects the texting driver, the negative impact of multitasking in the workplace is not as immediately apparent.

A 2010 study in the journal Science tackled this issue by examining just how the human brain handles multiple simultaneous activities. Research suggests that when a person performs a single task, the goal-oriented areas of both frontal lobes work to engage the task together. When an additional task is added, the two lobes divide responsibility and each hemisphere focuses on its own objective. While our two lobes can work collaboratively to accomplish an independent task, they must divide to accomplish anything more fragmented.

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Microsoft versus Open Source Software

Microsoft has always been brilliant about garnering mindshare from smart developers. But now they're losing them. 

Developers are opinionated.  They're not always as unbiased and scientific as they think they are, so they're susceptible to philosophical wars: Mac vs. PC, Emacs vs. VI, Perl vs. Java... the list is endless. Once you get developers on your side - and Bill Gates has done a good job of this - they'll defend your position to the death. 

But now many of those developers, especially the youngest and the smartest, are going off and participating in open source work. It's easy to get passionate about open source because the stuff just plain works.  For example, our products at Journyx are built on Postgresql (a free database), Python (a free language), Apache and Xitami (free web servers) and are built and run on Linux & FreeBSD (free operating systems). But they also work with proprietary databases and operating systems, like Oracle and Windows. Our support costs are the lowest when our customers are on Linux.

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