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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.

Michael Timms

Recruiting is Broken, Succession Planning is The Future

Yes, I realize that saying “recruiting is broken” may sound like something Donald Trump would say if he was in the HR business. But as inflammatory as it may sound, it’s true. Think about it. Is your recruiting process delivering, on a regular basis, the top-tier leaders that your company is desperately seeking? Most people that I talk to are telling me “no.” They’re not happy with the results that their recruiters are producing, or at the very least, they’ve come to terms with what their recruiters can realistically produce.


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About the Author

Michael TimmsMichael Timms is a management consultant, author and speaker specializing in organization and leadership performance and the founder and principal of Avail Leadership. Michael is also the author of the new book, Succession Planning That Works. You can learn more about Timms and his book at www.availleadership.com and connect via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

StrategyDriven Resource Management Article

To Outsource Is To Grow: Why It’s Good To Hand Over The Reins

One of the major problems faced by business owners all over the world is knowing when to let go. There are plenty of reasons why. As a company owner, you are used to making the decisions and there is a good chance you like to keep things under your control. As much as you like to think you are running a tight ship, if you are lending your hand to every aspect of your business, there is a very good chance you are spreading yourself thin. And at that point, it’s time to give yourself a break.

To Outsource Is To Grow: Why It's Good To Hand Over The Reins
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You can’t do it all

You are right when you think you are the best person to lead your business, but you just can’t do everything. Delegating to a trusted employee is a perfect fit for the day-to-day running of your company. But what about those times when you have a special project or need help to explore emerging technology? Outsourcing to professional services may be the quickest and easiest way of handing these situations.

Specialist knowledge

Specialist companies will have a much deeper understanding of their industry than you can expect your employees to have. Sure, they know your business inside out but they may not know how to maximize your opportunity in particular areas. Let’s say your current in-house software system is bogging down from a recent influx of customers. In this case, IT outsourcing is likely to be better for you than leaving things to your under-pressure support team who may be challenged by their current workload.

The money

There are financial factors too, and your operational costs may be lower when outsourcing. Let’s say you want a new website designed. The investment required to find, employ, and train staff to do so often outweighs that of the one-off cost you would pay a freelancer or a small web developer company. There are offshore markets to explore too. Many highly skilled developers can be found in emerging markets such as India, where costs are far lower. Making use of modern communications technology makes it easy to share projects and get the same quality of work as you would get from your local town. And all for a lot less money.

Resources

At the end of the day, it’s all about resources: if you don’t have enough of them, you can’t possibly expect to grow. You may get a surge of new customers but if your team isn’t big enough to handle it, the influx could strike a serious blow to your business. Outsourcing at the right times and in the right areas mitigates your risk and opens up new possibilities. If you don’t free up the reins, stagnation – and possible implosion – is likely to be waiting for you at the next corner.

Leveraging Military Leadership for Civilian Success

The topic of military to civilian work transitions is receiving significant attention as of late, and with good reason. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that more than one million military service members will leave the military in the coming years. The importance of helping our veterans make this difficult transition into the next chapter of their lives cannot be over stated. However, a review of the transitions resources highlights a few shortcomings in the current approach. Most transitions resources and programs focus on helping the veteran find civilian sector employment – any employment. The transition support is heavily centered on resume writing, working the job boards, and conducting a successful interview. Again, nothing wrong with this.


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About the Authors

Bernadine Karunaratne is a recognized expert in talent management with a special emphasis on integrating talent strategy with business strategy. Her fifteen-year history supporting the public sector’s talent management agenda has resulted in an impressive track record, bringing technical competence and measurement-based, research-focused solutions to her clients.

Noah Rabinowitz is a seasoned business professional with expertise in talent management, sales effectiveness, new business development, and strategic transformations. He is also an executive coach, program manager, and senior faculty member.

The Best Jobs Go to the Best Educated People and Here is Why

Quite a bit of debate exists about whether education is obtained in school or through life experience. Looking at homes and families, the latter may reign supreme. However, universities, and the job market, often argue that a college degree is necessary to succeed in life and obtain a high paying job. Assuming that people can be educated in more than one way, what are some of the reasons why the best jobs go to the best educated people?

Education Blended with Common Sense
To succeed in the work world, people need to have a strong background in their field, but they also must exercise skills in common sense. Knowing the discipline provides the appropriate background information and the technical skills that are needed to succeed. However, the application of that knowledge often comes in the form of common sense. Exercising a blend of these skills allows workers to be confident, determined and strong in their decisions.


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About the Author

From her 25 years in business, Elizabeth Hill aims to pass on knowledge and skills gained in that time through her writing. She loves walks in the countryside, spending time with family and friends, and is ever so ‘slightly’ addicted to coffee.