Overwhelmed by email?

If you sit down and really think about the type of data associated with you as a person, most of that data will probably be communications-based, that is, all of that “stuff” that you generate or consume in the course of communicating with others via email, social media, etc. In this post, I’m going to focus just on email-based communications.

It’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole of spending a lot of time filtering through your email, or getting to the point where you have 1,000+ unread messages, because you just don’t have time or energy to even delete all the ones you don’t really care about or to “do something” with the ones you want to come back to later. Most tips on dealing with this overwhelm glut will focus on things like filters, folders, and labels as your solution, and those things can be really handy. Even so, your real problem could be that you don’t have enough email addresses.

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The What/How/Why/How of Finding the Best App Ever

People frequently ask me questions like, “What’s the best app for X?” That ‘X’ could mean the “best” CRM, the “best” photo management app, etc. It’s a good question, because there are a plethora of apps out on the market, some free and some not, some lackluster and some brilliant. So, how do you find the best app for a certain application? The answer lies in the What/How/Why/How of your data. (That’s right – it’s not a typo.)

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Can you afford a $90,000 mistake?

In today’s world, we’ve digitized almost everything, including our invoicing and payment systems. Even so, when we don’t support our data flows with an underlying structure, it can be easy to introduce costly human errors. I recently worked with a training client who was using an electronic payment voucher form, but the form still required manual (i.e., typed) data entry for all line item calculations and total calculations. I happened to be around to witness an incident in which the person filling out the form added an extra zero to the final total of the form. That’s the difference between $9,000 and $90,000. Yikes!! Below, I list three (3) simple ways this client and others can create forms so folks can better screen for and prevent this type of error.

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Sometimes It’s the Process That’s Missing, Not (Just) the IT

Today I want to talk about how learning software isn’t always just an IT thing. I’m frequently called in to address a technical skills deficit when in fact the IT skills gap that I need to address is also being blamed for an underlying process-based skills gap.

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Templates and Business Flow: Client and Project Management

This post builds on my previous post on templates: Templates, Audit Trails, and Client Confidentiality.

I’ll assume that you’ve created a series of template files to support your business flow, standardize your documents in a professional-looking way, and maintain client confidentiality.

In this post, I’ll discuss a couple of ways you can make sure they’re collected together in a way that makes them easy to find and easy to use.

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Introducing… Discovery Sessions!

A client of mine was struggling with a slow Microsoft Excel-based application. This application brought in data from multiple database sources, and utilized pivot tables to explore, analyze, and summarize that data. My client had requested hardware upgrades from their IT department, which their IT department turned down. IT was right; the problem was with the design of the software application itself, that is, how they were utilizing the resources they had.

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Templates, Audit Trails, and Client Confidentiality

A few months ago, I was the client of another business person. At the close of our business, this person sent me a standard business letter (i.e., date, name/address, subject, salutation, body) with the intent of summing up the transaction. A quick review of this letter made obvious that the business person had opened a previous client’s letter with the intention of using it as a template, but had forgotten to change anything other than my name and address at the top; the information contained in the remainder of the letter was enough to piece together who that other client had been and the exact nature of their business transaction. This oversight/blunder poses a problem in three key areas: the audit trail of the project, client confidentiality, and professionalism. A minor process change could address and alleviate all three.

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Brainstorming: You brought us here. What do we do now?

Brainstorming as a practice can seem completely nebulous, and so can quickly devolve into a practice that is completely unstructured. Like any productive practice, it takes a lot of mindful preparation and a lot of structure in terms of dealing with group dynamics and being capable of changing directions when the session isn’t fruitful. Some common questions your participants might be wondering are: What should I say out loud? Who gets to talk? When is it my turn? What if I don’t have any ideas??

I’ve already covered tips for preparation in earlier blog posts. Now it’s time to address those common questions.

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What the pour over can teach us about our software choices

I was recently introduced to someone by a mutual contact who suggested that we meet at the new contact’s office because of the quality of his pour over.

I admit that although I love coffee and drink it daily, the pour over jargon was new to me. Luckily, Google was able to rescue me from my ignorance, and I realized that I not only hadn’t been left behind by coffee aficionados and some awesome coffee brewing technology, but that this is in fact how I make my coffee all of the time.

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Training for Best Practices and Clean Data

There are a lot of things we each need to learn to be successful in the workplace. Some things just need to be memorized and recalled, like which storage closet houses the pens or the light bulbs. But most of what we need to learn is a process, from emailing to filling out paperwork to entering work orders to performing complex data analysis. This is where training comes in.

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