It is not often that I say I'm curious about a new Microsoft release but here I am saying just that. Last September, Microsoft introduced a new planning tool that is apart of the Work Management tools. The planning tool is called Microsoft Planner. If you've used Jira or Trello, you will find this tool very familiar. This tool is available on several of the plans such...
As a technologist, I think that is important to have checks and balances to avoid over-engineering solutions. It’s easy to fall into the trap of overthinking a solution. Every technologist does it at least once in their career. Ok, probably more than once. The reason this happens, in my opinion, is that we get excited over solving the problem. We marry that excitement with the tools and techniques that we’ve been amassing in our toolbox. From there we end up with the greatest solution ever made, for the moment, at least in our minds. We go on believing that until the someone, usually the client, says, “Its too complicated”.
These last few cold days have inspired a lot of "house cleaning". Anything that prevents me from bundling up like a zombie in order to prevent frost bite is what I've been up to. This time is not reflective time where I ponder the meaning of life or Danico for that matter, but time to clear the decks of the pet projects. Those should have been done a long time ago projects and jus' cuz stuff that goes onto a "someday" list somewhere.
We all have them. Those things we think of that don't really have an immediate application but are fun to work on. If you are like me you have your client work, your volunteer work, your family work, and your personal work. With all of that work, sometimes it is hard to find time for the fun-jus'-cuz stuff.
When I was younger and fantasized about becoming a business guru, I'd planned to own an empire with offices in popular cities like Chicago, New York, London, and the like. I also was under the impression that business would be steady, predictable and linear.
Really quick, I wanted to tell you about a software tool that is quickly becoming my favorite. What you may not know is that I am always looking for ways to improve how to stay on top of projects. With the help of Rivers and Associates, we have been testing out Teamwork Project Manager cloud based project management tool. No, they are not paying me to toot their horn, heck, they probably don't even know we were evaluating it.
Ever feel like you are suffering from deja vu every time you start a new assignment? A template or two may solve this. Take a moment to think about your business. Are there documents/forms/interactions that you repeat often? I bet there are.
Do you have multiple lines of business? You can create one for each or better yet look at the synergies between them and maybe one will do. Think you don't have time?
Let me ask you this, how much time are you spending reinventing the wheel? I bet you have better things you could be doing. Think of it this way, the less time reinventing the wheel the more time engaging new customers. The added bonus is that as your business grows those working with those working with/for you can use the template that get things going with customers the same way you would, freeing you up for in-depth client discussions, business building activities and most importantly, time away from the business.
With the new template, faster intake + more time for business building activities = more $
Why create one when so many templates exist? Great question. Here's the thing, I don't know about you but the templates are great guides for getting me started but in the end, I make so many modifications to meet my business processes that the original template is not recognizable. Here's what works for some customers.
Sit down with a a blank sheet of paper or open blank document in your favorite not taking software. Don't think of formatting, sequence or anything. Simply jot down everything that comes to mind when you think about your customers. Their industry, their goals, which services they've used of yours in the past and currently. You should start to see a pattern and categories.
Now that you have all of this information, go back through and organize it. The patterns and categories get you started now just move the information around to group by them.
Your are almost done. Take a look at it, is it easy to navigate? The categories can be section headers and the questions may need to be rearranged for logic sequence. Lastly, add some branding as you may want to distribute to a customer to fill out and you want them to remember who you are.
There you go a new template that streamlines a business process thereby saving you time and money.
What repeatable processes do you have in your business that could be streamlined?
The other day I called on a prospective client to open discussions on creating their web presence. As we sat down to talk about their goals, I noticed the odd look I received when I pulled out paper and a pen. You see, I start with paper - always. It may be blank or simple lined paper but most of the time it is storyboard paper (think the handout view in PowerPoint or Keynote). It may sound a bit strange but there is a reason. Don't get me wrong with all of the computers and other electronic devices I own or have access to, I could never touch a piece of paper, ever.
Flipping channels, I paused the remote long enough to see an initial interview with a sales guy and a new client on some reality show. The sales rep kept saying something to the effect that there are a lot of options - over and over and over. Followed by repeatedly asking the client if they liked any of the options set before them. I sat there thinking, "You need to give them something to react to".