We’re Gonna Work Around The Clock Tonite…

August 24, 2010

(With apologies to Bill Haley and the Comets…)

Got my Blackberry on, thumbs engaged
No missed emails at any stage
We’re gonna work around the clock tonite
We’re gonna work and text ’til broad daylight
We’re gonna work work work around the clock tonite (and tomorrow, and tomorrow nite, etc.)

In a previous post I dealt with some obvious consequences of being always connected, but I must admit I hadn’t thought of the issues that this article raises. For some years now the concept of a standard work day / week has been diminishing for knowledge workers, as email, telecommuting and smartphones have respectively entered the arena of workaday tools.

While some (most?) Smartphone addicts reflexively check and respond to emails in real time of their own volition (or addiction), seems that some employers are now making this a condition of employment. This effectively means that you are on duty 24/7 – but as you’re not actually working 24/7, what are your true work hours? And if you’re expected to respond to email outside of work hours, is it then OK to do personal chores during work hours? And if not, why not?

Remember when we actually believed that computers and technology were going to free up our time? Those were the days, my friend.

As an iPhone user who only checks email sporadically when not working at the accounting software company, I’m curious about others.

Are you required to be available 24/7?

And are you addicted to your Smartphone?

Are business software dashboards invisible?

August 16, 2010

Business Intelligence. Corporate Performance Management. Dashboards. You’ll virtually never see a demo of any company’s business and accounting software these days, without being impressed by their dashboards. They almost all have them – either built-in, or 3rd party – the must-have business intelligence tool. As a business owner / manager, you get to see the dashboard when you log on each day, highlighting key logistical / financial business data in (usually) a graphical format, making it easy to pick out important trends and exceptions. And for the first few weeks after implementation, most people spend at least a few seconds each day looking at the dashboard, and drilling down into more data when necessary.

Wholesale Distribution Software

However, like most things in life, after a while the novelty wears off. And while detail-oriented people will diligently use the dashboard on a daily basis, it seems (to me) that many executives and business owners do not. After a few weeks, they tend to briefly glance at the dashboard an on infrequent basis, and unless something really jumps out at them when they’re not thinking of something else, not much gets noticed.

I have no statistically sound survey to back this up, just my own observations (about myself as well as others). I’ve arrived at the conclusion that dashboards are not ideal tools for entrepreneurs and many executives – which ironically is the exact audience they target. Perhaps those who report to them will alert them to any specifics they need to know or act upon.

It says here that having bare-bones information and exception reports pushed via email is more effective. I know that approach works well for me (as long as the emails are not predictably repetitive).

Have your dashboards become invisible to you? Or do you actually use them on a daily basis?

Accounting Software Bloopers

August 10, 2010

Yes, folks, even us dull, boring accounting types enjoy the amusing gaffe, the “trip over your own feet” type of miscue. While doing some reasearch online, I came across a number of very amusing articles on accounting software (or ERP software) –  most of which I suspect result from an injudicious use of online translation services. Here are a few choice selections – I’ve not linked to the original posts to avoid embarrassing the supposed authors.

“Companies are dilating their business with ERP…”

“ERP is hastily replacing reluctant technologies, whacking almost all small and mid size companies to come out of their shell.”

“Information flow across boundaries experiences least viscosity…”

“The book is perhaps the most basic services by entrepreneurs.”

“If the plant is working stations, a computer and accounting software was done using, it says ‘On-site records.'”

“New songs, these issues are not well understood, including the software and real-life accounts.”

Interestingly, some of the sites on which these gems were located seem to contain a mish-mash of articles, some coherent and well-written, and others apparently contracted out in some alien language.

I hope you enjoyed this brief flow of viscous songs, and trust this post did not whack your company’s shell!

Outlook 2010 – 2 new things I love

August 3, 2010

OK, perhaps “love” is too strong a word here – I mean, get a grip, it’s only software, not something to actually fall in love with. Now if it were soccer…

But I digress (actually, I do that quite frequently – it’s a problem. See, there – I just did it again).

Back on topic – having upgraded to Office 2010 a while back, as a typical user I’ve been slow to learn what’s new, other than the very obvious, in-your-face changes. But this upgrade – Outlook specifically – is worth spending some time on, learning about new features and capabilities, because like many of you, I spend a significant chunk of time each day face to face with Outlook. So anything new that saves time or improves my experience in any meaningful way is like striking gold. Well, perhaps silver, but still good.

Thing 1: Quick steps

No, I’m not inviting you to dance. Quick steps are available from the ribbon (new to Outlook, but introduced in Office 2007 for Word, Excel, etc.) and can perform multiple actions with a single click. For example, several times a day I receive emails that I handle this way: I create  a task from the email (using drag and drop), I reply to the email, and I move the email from my Inbox to another folder. I have now created a Quick Step that does all three of these with a single click. This (together with other Quick Steps) is saving me so much time that I can now write blog articles like this one.

Thing 2: People Pane

Not the same thing as people pain, this new email message feature appears both in the reading pane and when you open an email. At the bottom, you have a collapsible additional pane with a number of resources relating to the person who sent the email. These include all emails exchanged, attachments sent and received, and meetings. You can also connect Facebook and LinkedIn accounts to this pane.

This one also saves me a lot of time, whoch (jesting aside) get reinvested in the wholesale distribution software business instead of the “search for emails and attachments” business.

So there you are: 2 things about Outlook 2010 which I like, and would love if Outlook was, in fact, soccer.

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