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StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article

Unlocking the Full Potential of Your Business Software

When it comes to building up a business, there are many different factors that will determine your overall success. However, one of the least considered points that many business owners overlook is the way they utilise technology. In particular, one problem area that they fail to notice is the use of software. Now, it’s not to say that companies don’t use software. In fact, it’s clear that in order to survive in the current business landscape, the use of software is paramount. However, there’s a clear divide between companies that understand how to make the most of their software and companies that barely use 10% of the features.

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article
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Common Examples of Underutilisation

Let’s take the common word processing software packages that companies use. The three most common applications (as of writing) are Microsoft Office, OpenOffice and Google Docs. We could write an entire article comparing the three and what type of businesses they cater towards, but that wouldn’t be the point of this article. Instead, we’re going to show how businesses fail to utilise their full list of features and how it’s both costing them money and time.

Collaborative Features

Despite Google Docs being a free-to-use cloud application, many people fail to realise the full potential of a cloud-based office productivity suite: collaboration. Google Docs offers one of the simplest ways for multiple people to collaborate on a single document. Whether it’s a technical document that is being written by several authors or a project document that has to be edited by several people, Google Docs offers the necessary tools to take advantage of it. Sadly, far too many people use Google Docs as a simple word processing tool and nothing more. This can, of course, be done with other office programs, but it’s a good example of how even a free piece of software contains unique features that are often underutilised.

Remote Working

A great feature that has been enabled by cloud services is the ability to work from almost anywhere. There are still people that save their work to flimsy USB flash drives and pass them around between the office. Those days are over (for the tech-savvy, at least) and it’s now possible to not only use the cloud to transfer files across greater distances and keep team members updated, but you can also access and edit files from virtually any piece of hardware. You can edit it on your Mac laptop, Windows desktop, Android smartphone or even iOS tablet. No matter what operating system or type of device you use, there’s a good chance that the software you use can actually be used across multiple different platforms. The industry calls this cross-platform compatibility and it’s something that far too many companies forget about.

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article
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Finding Problem Areas to Fix

Now that you understand the effect of software and how it can optimise your business, let’s take a look at ways that you can actually find problematic areas to fix.

For starters, always start from your workflow. From start to finish, your workflow should be seamless and without any hitches. You can’t just take a look at your workers and just guess if something is going right or wrong, however. The key here is to use analytics in order to get a better idea of what your business is up to or capable of. For example, keep track of where the bottlenecks in your business are. If a certain department or employee is constantly causing the rest of your company to halt, then it might not be their fault. It could be the fault of a piece of software or it could be that their job is just so tedious they can’t finish it on time. It might not be a case of getting an extra employee either—they could just need some new software

Realising What Software Can Do

At the end of the day, computers are dumb, Without input from somewhere, they don’t know what to do because they don’t serve a purpose. A computer that calculates numbers has a purpose, but even then, it needs input in order to function. You should think of software in the same way—it needs to serve a purpose and it’s often to make something easier.

Let’s say your financial department is having issues with calculating your incoming and outgoing money. As a result, it’s causing delays in paying and receiving invoices and you’ve even had a couple of complaints from the rest of your staff because they aren’t getting paid on time. You might think about hiring a new employee because it seems like your finance department isn’t being productive enough. However, there’s a better way to solve that issue.

Fixing the Issue With Software

Take note of how much it costs to hire an employee and keep it aside. Next, take a look at what the financial department’s workflow is like. If you find that they’re having troubles calculating numbers and filling out spreadsheets because they’re doing it manually, then it’s possible that a piece of cloud accounting software could fix the issue. If it’s a specific problem, such as payroll management or asset management, then things like fixed asset management software or a dedicated program to manage staff wages could be a great alternative. In other words, software is fantastic for fixing things or improving productivity as long as you’re willing to research the possible solutions and consult a tech-savvy employee for assistance.

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article
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Some Final Words

This article has been brief, but it should have given you some insight into how you can unlock the full potential of your business software. It’s an expensive investment, which is why you need to make the most of your software. Read guides, learn if you find that you’re not utilising more than half of the tools available to you, then you might want to consider downgrading to another piece of software that will help reduce your business expenses.

Stephan Aarstol

Demystifying the Workplace “Unicorn”: The 5-Hour Workday

The five-hour workday isn’t just this mystical “unicorn” you’ve heard about around the water cooler. It’s real, and it can work for your team.

Why is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. the magic time? It’s been used for so long that it’s become immortalized in song. While the traditional 40-hour workweek remains the norm, you’ve changed the way you work.

What used to take all day — making phone calls, waiting for the mail, driving for hours to buy supplies — can now be done with much greater efficiency.

Being an entrepreneur requires you to be efficient and productive. But filling the traditional eight-hour day by churning out more work just means you’ll burn out or run your health into the ground. It’s almost impossible to produce high-quality work for eight hours straight.

I think you can do a better job in five hours.


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About the Author

Stephan AarstolStephan Aarstol is the author of The Five-Hour Workday: Live Differently, Unlock Productivity, and Find Happiness. He is CEO and founder of Tower, a holistic beach-lifestyle company, which includes Tower Paddle Boards, Tower Magazine, SunglassesByTower.com, and a direct-to-consumer surf- and beach-lifestyle company at TowerMade.com .For more information, please visit www.fivehourworkday.com and www.towerpaddleboards.com and connect with Stephan on Twitter, @stephan.aarstol.

Johan Gunnars

3 Simple Ways Productivity Leads to Your Best Self

What do you think of when you hear the term “self-improvement”? If you’re like a lot of people, you might imagine working your way through giant stacks of self-help books, starting an intensive new exercise regimen, or devoting more time to charitable causes – all of which are certainly worthwhile ways to improve oneself.

However, the path to self-improvement isn’t always about drastic lifestyle changes. Sometimes the easiest way to get started on the journey to a better version of you is just by doing the little things to get organized, make a plan, and recognize the everyday effort it takes to get there.

Improving your productivity is a simple place to begin – and with World Productivity Day upon us, there’s no better time than now to start discovering your best self! Here are 3 ways to do it:


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About the Author

Johan GunnarsJohan Gunnars is an entrepreneur and CEO and co-founder of Simpliday – Meetings, Reminders & Email in One, a new iPhone calendar app allowing users to achieve a more organized and efficient life by bringing together meetings, reminders and email in one customizable, beautiful, user-friendly app. Johan experience in productivity, software, e-commerce, consumer electronics, among others, leads him to focus on how companies and products can make a difference while connecting to the overall vision and strategy. Johan is based in Malmo, Sweden. For more information about Johan and Simpliday, visit Simpliday.

Managing a Remote Team: 12 Best Practices for Better Productivity

The remote and mobile workforce population is steadily rising. Even IBM adjusted its HR policies to accommodate remote workers. Today, it is one of the top companies that make use of a remote workforce, offering flexible work options, alongside Apple, Dell and Xerox.

To ascertain staff productivity in teams that are scattered across various locations, below are twelve best practices to effectively manage a mobile/remote workforce:

1. Embrace flexibility

Managing a remote workforce will require application of a diverse set of techniques and mediums to get a task accomplished. Individuals are, well, individuals and are, therefore, unique, and so are their ways to accomplishing things. While maintaining protocols is important to achieve business goals, allowing remote workers to utilize methods and tools they have already proven to work is good practice.


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About the Author

Maricel Rivera manages content for Comindware, a global leader in adaptive BPM and project management solutions. You may connect with her on Twitter.

The Advisor’s Corner – How do I deal with so much on my plate?

How do I deal with so much on my plate?Question:

There is SO much on my plate – how do I sort out priorities, recognize the blocks, and keep an open mind for possibilities?

StrategyDriven Response: (by Roxi Hewertson, StrategyDriven Principal Contributor)

You might find that you are so focused on the ‘tasks’ at hand that the most important work is getting the short end of the stick. Let’s identify some ‘buckets’ to help you navigate your way to success.

Perhaps you have just been given a challenge to solve by your leader. Your job is to identify the relevant factors, create priorities, and then execute on your own or with others on your team. My advice: start by identifying which items fall into each of four buckets: Fat Rabbits, Quick Wins, Rocks, and Who Cares.

You know what a Fat Rabbit looks like, and it probably makes you smile! These are those parts of the challenge that are foundational, have the highest/fattest impact, and must be in place to succeed at executing your assignment. These are the big fat chunks of your challenge that need to be addressed or nothing else will work matter.

Quick Wins are those parts of your challenge that require minimal effort with maximum payoff. They demonstrate tangible, visible progress. Getting them done and making them known to the appropriate stakeholders, significantly boosts momentum. Too many people think they have to get the Fat Rabbits well underway or completed before going for any Quick Wins. Ignoring Quick Wins often results in Slow Wins or No Wins.

Then there are the Rocks. These are tough blocks in the road to completion of a successful challenge. These Rocks need to be identified without denial or wishful thinking. Pretending they aren’t there won’t make them go away. Sometimes Rocks are pebble like, and sometimes they are more like Mt. Rushmore. Solutions may not be known immediately, and that’s ok. You won’t move forward without moving the Rocks out of the way one way or another, or finding a way around them. If the Rocks are too formidable, reconsider the challenge – is it the right challenge at the right time? Moving Rocks requires a lot of effort and energy, so you need it to pay off.

Finally, we have the Who Cares bucket. These might be interesting, but they are a distraction. Identify the Who Cares items so your valuable time and energy are not waste and that no one really cares about.

Let’s take one challenge, Succession Planning and dip into the four buckets for a look. This sample is by no means complete, but it will give you the idea to apply to your own work.

Fat Rabbits

  • Define the workforce realities with indisputable facts, and create the ‘burning platform’ of urgency
  • Identify current competencies and compare with necessary next generation competencies
  • Align all HR/OD functions: to meet forecasted job content and design

Quick Wins

  • Learn why people come to work at ABC Company, why they stay, and why they leave
  • Identify key positions and key people to target for succession planning
  • Analyze internal/external labor demographics/pipelines

Rocks

  • Decentralization reality vs. having one ABC Company strategy, are in conflict
  • IT Systems, as they are today, and aggregate data reporting are insufficient to collect enough accurate data

Who Cares

  • Offices need to be rennovated when people leave, thus impacting the budget (lots of things impact the budget – it’s off topic or very low priority)

When you focus on the things that really matter, you make progress. When you don’t, you don’t make progress. Make sure your Rocks are not show stoppers, then go for a few visible and happy Quick Wins as you work on your Fat Rabbits!


About the Author

Leadership authority Roxana (Roxi) Hewertson is a no-nonsense business veteran revered for her nuts-and-bolts, tell-it-like-it-is approach and practical, out-of-the-box insights that help both emerging and expert managers, executives and owners boost quantifiable job performance in various mission critical facets of business. Through AskRoxi.com, Roxi — “the Dear Abby of Leadership” — imparts invaluable free advice to managers and leaders at all levels, from the bullpen to the boardroom, to help them solve problems, become more effective and realize a higher measure of business and career success.


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