How to tackle a huge project | A SOP Story

TL;DR? There are four things you can do to make a huge project not only seem manageable but be manageable, even as you keep saying to yourself, “What was I thinking taking this on?!?” (1) Know what you’re trying to do and break it down into manageable steps as soon as possible. (2) Track your progress in a way that fosters momentum. (3) Be realistic about your energy levels. (4) Plan for implementation in a way that, as much as possible, lets you be mindful but thoughtless (i.e., well-considered but requiring no real decision-making when it comes time for application).

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Analysis paralysis and the myths of being data driven and successful

Do you ever overthink or overanalyze to the point where you stop making decisions and taking action? Where you’re afraid that the choice you’re about to make isn’t the BEST choice, so you wait it out a little more, and maybe research a little more, and maybe gather together more data … just so you can be SURE? That’s called analysis paralysis.

Debunking the myths of being data driven and being successful can set you free.

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How (and why) to categorize and organize your data

If you’ve ever targeted an email marketing campaign to a specific demographic, assigned a category to your blog post, or chosen a hashtag for your social post, you’ve used data classification. Classification is basically the process of chunking up or organizing your data, into different groups or under different labels, so that you can quickly isolate and bring together all of the things that belong to that group, so that you can do something with that group:

  • monitor it as part of a metric,
  • investigate it and compare it to other groups,
  • work with it, like with targeted marketing campaigns, or
  • plan with it.

In this post, I’ll discuss the problems that arise from unclassified or improperly classified data, and give some pointers on how to create and apply your own classifications.

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Analyzing time spent: Time management with box and whisker plots

We all know that there are only so many minutes in a day, and that goals like being more productive and effective hinge on things like better time management, that is, working smarter not harder. This is particularly true if you think you’ve got a pretty standard process in place. In this post, I’m going to demonstrate a visualization tool called a box and whisker plot. This tool will help you determine how long you can typically expect your standard process to take, and how to spot when there’s enough variability to say that it’s time to reexamine what you’re doing, so you can:

  • streamline a process for yourself, or
  • identify when it’s time to schedule a training or other intervention for your staff.

If you can find the middle thing in a list, you can do this time analysis.

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Vision to Action: Turning ideas into actionable and measurable steps

It can be hard to figure out how to turn big picture ideas and goals into actionable and trackable steps. For many things, the “figuring out” lies in a mixture of clarity, and then reframing and rephrasing. Here we take a monetary target and some other information from a business model, and turn it into something that’s doable, measurable, and actionable. If you’re stuck at this part of the process, this post might help.

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Don’t Be Caught Out by These Five Hidden Software Costs

The upfront cost of new software tends to be perceived as rather obvious. There’s the money you spend on the actual software purchase (if any) and the money you spend on any required hardware (if any). Folks frequently overlook at least five (5) additional cost considerations that can impact both your future budget and your productivity.

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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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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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