owen at owengreaves dot com

Posts Tagged ‘Software’

Measuring Business Processes

Last year I wrote an article called ” I.T. Decisions – Who Makes Them In Your Organization? “. Often the wrong people are making these decisions, they aren’t bad people but they should rely on those who work with Technology and understand the implications of making the wrong choices. One of the best ways to prevent the wrong people from making I.T. decisions is to make sure all business processes are well documented and measured (weighted). Why you ask?

  • If all subject matter experts in your business were to document their business processes, you would know exactly what each staff person has to do each and everyday to get the job done.
  • You then have a foundation to measure the right software applications for your business
  • These business processes can now be measured and weighted to help make I.T. decisions for your organization

Those are just few but you should be getting the idea.

There are many ways of handling the task of measuring business processes but I’ll try to keep it simple for you. There are two things I would recommend:

  1. Build a Database (MySQL or SQL) to store your business processes & the weighting
  2. Build Excel Worksheets to enter & pull these processes and weights from the Database

Years ago I had a couple of really sharp guys working for me, they built a nifty application (system) for us to measure our business processes against features in software applications. We wanted to have a snapshot of how each application matched up against each other, the problem is we didn’t have an easy way to see all our requirements on one page. We also didn’t know which processes were more important than others.

The first step is to pull your key subject matter experts together, get all business processes documented for each role in the organization. This ensured you knew what tasks had to be completed each and everyday to do business. Depending on your business this can be an easy job or a labour intensive one. I highly recommend this gets done regardless of how hard or how long it takes, because it makes future upgrades and or the decision to change a core application in your organization much easier.

Once you have your business processes documented you have something to work with when deciding what software or ERP systems implement, this job takes time but it’s well worth it. Enter these processes into your database, then build spreadsheets to pull that data out for review.

In your database you want to also store a measurement we’ll call weighting for this example. Why? When you sitdown and have software demonstrated you can ask key questions, does this software do this and that from your database. Afterall, you are asking directly from how you do business (your documented business processes). You now want to be able to give that process a score or measurement when sitting in these demonstrations. Your scale might look like this:

1 – Does it well and is easy to use

3 – Does it but not well – not easy to figure out or use

5 – May need to be modified

9 – Not sure – need more information

0 – Doesn’t do it at all

In your spreadsheet you would use the above scale to measure the software you are looking at on a business process by business process basis. Sounds tedious doesn’t it? It is when setting things up the first time, after that it gets much easier because you don’t need to build it again.

This is just one way of measuring your business process against software, you could and should group your business processes by importance as well. That way you know exactly what you MUST have and what the NICE to have’s would be.

I hope that helps, feel free to conatct me if you have questions or wish to go through this process for your business.

I would love your feedback, what do you think and do you have a better way?

My Goals for Owen Greaves Consulting in 2010

I spent many years just winging it, just responding to what felt right and mostly what felt good, sound familiar?  I have found that there are more business owners, check that, most people were doing the same thing. As I mentioned in my previous post, we spend more time planning a two week vacation than we do our careers and our lives. Why is that? I suspect due to a lack of knowledge, a poor understanding of what’s at stake here….it’s your life and you only get one chance to do it. Enough about that, I want to share with you what drives me and what my vision for Owen Greaves Consulting is for 2010.

I have met and worked for many, many business owners, CIO’s, COO’s, and they all struggle with the same things for the most part. They know what they want to do, but don’t really know how to build and implement a strong I.T. Plan. I.T. visionaries are way ahead of the rest of the organization, think of a funnel, you have a narrowing in the middle, a wide open area at one end and small opening at the other end. The visionary is out in the wide open section and instructs back to the small opening at the other end to do this or that. A short period of time goes by and he / she is frustrated because what they saw and instructed is not done. Why?

visionfunnel

The workers back at the small opening can’t see the big picture through the narrow opening in the middle, they don’t see what the visionary see’s way out there, they can’t even see where he is. The problem is at the narrow opening in the middle right? There has to be someone there that can clearly articulate what the visionary wants done back to the people (workers) in the small opening at the back. You might say things get lost in translation, it can happen if the person in the middle does not clearly understand what the visionary wants!

So what does this have to do with my vision for 2010. It’s obvious to me that there is a bigger problem than the funnel, it’s the man in the middle. Having someone who can build the plan so the workers can get done what the visionary wants completed. My vision, to help that person or organizations with a simple way to build that Strategic Technology Plan and to ensure that all businesses indeed do have a plan. Most don’t, they rely on internal staff, staff that don’t know how to build a plan because they are frankly too close to the problem(s). Most business owners think they know how, but they all too often are using the wrong filters to truly understand what the I.T. Plan should look like and be. Some of the smartest business people in the world don’t fully understand what needs to be in the I.T. Strategic Plan, hence they should hire the right people and or consultants to help build that strategy. No matter how big or small your business is, you should have a good plan on how technology will drive your business.

Most organizations have not documented what thier business processes are! How could they possibly know which software application, payroll, HR, CRM software and what have you to implement if they don’t know each and every process it takes to get the job done in a day. My goal is to ensure as many businesses / owners as possible have a good I.T. Plan. This has very little to do with Social Media but it has much to do with Technology overall. Social Media happens to be a large part of my work at the moment and it’s the hot topic of discussion everywhere I go.

My Plans for 2010:

  • Increase Public Speaking Engagements – on The New Technology, I.T. Strategies / Planning
  • To educate and teach 100 businesses develop an I.T. Strategic Plan. (roughly 8 new businesses per month)
  • Develop a video series on developing I.T. Strategic Plans. ( The I.T. Strategic Planning Series)
  • Continue working on my next eBook, The New Technology Pt 2. (hope to complete by end of 2010)
  • Write more often on my Blog. (daily if possible)
  • Get more subscribers on my Blog.
  • And of course, increase revenues ( I have to put that on here)

If you don’t have a list of items or targets, stop right now and make one…make two! What are you aiming for in 2010 and how do you plan to hit your targets? Better yet, what’s your I.T. Strategy for 2010?

I can see a problem with my list already, if I want to be successful, I have to find a few things to not consider doing. I may have to hire or partner up if I want to achieve all my goals.

What’s On Your List?

What's Your Plan For 2010?

You notice I didn’t ask you what your New Years Resolution(s) was or going to be? I don’t believe in or like New Years Resolutions because they set you up to fail. I won’t go in to why but I think you already know. We take more time to plan our vacations than we do our careers and or business goals for the next 1,2,3…5 years.

If you are a business owner you know that everything is in the plan, without it you don’t have a target, objectives and a road map to where you want to be in the next year, or the next 5. There are plans and then there wish lists, plans have long & short term goals. Wish lists don’t, they are nice to have’s or something you would like to have happen as a bonus to your plan.

Many of you are wondering what 2010 will bring, is business going to improve, will you find more work and so on. I don’t have a crystal ball, if I did I would know what’s going to happen to me let alone the sate of the Global market. I know this, we spend far too much time worrying, chasing and forgetting what’s truely important in our day-to-day lives.

Youv’e heard it said before, no one ever says on their death bed that they wished they worked more hours and had a bigger house or more money. They always say, I wish I had of spent more time with my kids, wife and taken more time for myself. You should know that I survived a heart attack in 2001, I can tell you first hand I never once thought about my job, my car, my house or any posession. I can tell you that I thought about my Lisa, my two boys Tyler & Brandon, my goals since then, to be and do more with them more often. I have and I continue to make sure my family gets the best of me.

We all have plans for different parts of our lives but mostly about our work and things we want from a material point of view. Business plans are abundent this time of year as new goals are put forward, hoping business will be better the next year than the last.  That’s OK, you should set those objectives, it’s good business to do so.

In 2010 much is going to change, but what? How will it impact your business and could you survive those changes you don’t see coming.  The level of risk when planning to upgrade full ERP systems, Payroll Software or an Office Suite may be low, but what happens when your business doesn’t reach sales objectives? How do you respond, what should you do? If you have a plan, you’ll know exactly what to do and even see clearly what steps to take to turn things around.

There a many, many templates and websites that can help you if you don’t have a plan, the business plan, the I.T. Strategic Plan and so on. I review many business plans and even more I.T. Strategic Plans and I can tell you almost immediately which ones are going to help when a crisis arrives. Everything is in the Plan.

What’s Your Plan For 2010?

Mine? Go over my plan and make adjustments as needed long term. I’m currently working on my short term plan, for the coming year called 2010. I’ll share some of my plans in my next Blog post.

You? Do you have one you can work from to ensure the next year has a road map?

This Is Where Customers Are Going!

imagesRemember when you were a kid, you ran out the door and then heard your Mother calling, where are you going? That’s what many local businesses are doing with their customers today. If you are the one calling, it’s most likely too late because your customers are off looking for what you didn’t have to keep them around the supper table. In this picture you are behind them calling out not in front of them engaging and sharing, drawing them in building a relationship, a relationship that builds loyalty and increased return on Investments. For many this sounds like way too much work and don’t have time for this new way of doing business. This new way is happening and you will have no choice, this new way is called Social Media, resistance is futile, you will be assimulated.

Businesses today will have to figure out how to integrate multiple Social Media Networks into there web presence, their marketing strategy and above all incorporate it into the business plan as a another way of generating a ROI. Keep in mind that Social Media is not the Messiah, it is one of many tools to use to build a stronger more viable business. Reaching out to millions of consumers who thrive online around the clock requires an investment, a different type of thinking and some courage too. Many business are still wedded to a traditional marketing approach, based on TV, radio and print ads, Social Media seems harder to understand.

The biggest change taking place, or the shift as I see it, there is no gap between the CEO and customer. They now talk directly to each other, there’s no need for the middleman. Support costs are dropping, some businesses are using these Social Mediums to reach customers and save large dollars in doing so. Take Comcast as an example, for more than a year Comcast has pioneered the use of Twitter to speak directly to it’s customers. It’s Twitter page @comcastcares has 28,000+ followers. Software maker Sage North America, to cite another example, routinely receives instant feedback from hundreds of people within an hour on specific products and services. Another example is in sales, those who visit MyFICO’s community website are spending 41% more than other customers!

Businesses don’t think in terms of inbound marketing, they are very good at outbound marketing. Outbound Marketing is only half the equation in today’s new market place. A great resource to learn about Inbound Marketing is Chris Brogan & Justin Levy’s Inbound Marketing Summit.

There are multiple shifts taking place but increasingly, consumers don’t search for products and services anymore. Rather, services come to their attention via social media networks like Twitter. So if you are wondering where your customers are going, look to the Social Networks a plenty, don’t believe me, here is another example of a National pizza chain, Papa John’s added 148,000 fans on Nov. 17, 2008 through a guerrilla marketing campaign on Facebook. It offered a free medium pizza to anyone who signed up to be its fan on Facebook. The promotion gained it thousands of customers and drove its Web traffic up 253%. It now has more than 300,000 fans and hopes to top 1 million by the end of this year.

I could list many, many more examples of how businesses are winning and using Social Media to enhance existing marketing efforts. When was the last time traditional marketing campaigns garnered such ROI’s as some of these businesses are experiencing in today’s new social environments? Your customers are in these social networks and you had better be there to.

Now you know where your customers are going, the question is….are you going ahead of them?

Your Passion Is In Front Of You – You're Just Not Paying Attention

motivatedmanpic-main_fullThere are 30,600,000 (million) references on Google for ” How To Find Your Passion”. Hard to believe there are that many experts on the topic, are you one of them…I’m not. I was thinking about this while taking a shower this morning, I know…I won’t go there. Gary Vaynerchuck said in his address at the BIG Omaha Conference, that he hated the question of, ” How do I find my passion?” the most because he didn’t have a simple answer. Maybe what I’m about to share will help you Gary, it appears to have helped me figure out my passion I’m just getting out of the starting gate. If you think this article is on track please send it to Gary Vaynerchuck and let him know I have found the motherload. 🙂

I had to stop and think for a moment, if we are creatures of habit and we tend to gravitate to things we love like events, books, movies and people, why is it so hard to figure out? I’ll take me for example to help you look at your own desire to find your passion. If you were to look in my home you would get an idea of who I am and what my family likes to do. Since we are talking about me I’ll leave the rest of my family out of it. Let’s start in my office, lets look around a bit, hmmm….lots of tech books, Business Plan Books, IT Strategic Planning, tons of sports (stats) books, Home Business, training books from my Radio & Television days and boxes of all the software I have purchased over the years.

Let’s go down to my rec room, there you will find a set of drums, two guitars…yep I’m a musician (drummer, singer) and so are my two boy’s including there Mom. In our Family room we have very little, it’s the hall of shame, all our wedding pictures and random family pics line the walls, also, the TV, WII, PS2 and the like are in there plus a small book shelf of Christian reading material.

Now you’re probably getting the picture of what I (we) are about, if I was to just use that inventory as a snap shot of what I gravitate to when I’m downtown shopping I would suggest to you I have a passion for Family, Music, Christianity, Technology and Business. As you can see there are a few things I could consider my passion, but the one that gets me more than anything is Technology & Business, it’s the first thing I look for when I’m at a magazine rack or just thinking about business &  marketing, how should I position my business (passion). If you were to spend any amount of time with me you would learn that I love people, I love to help others be better than they are. If you could just see how you could be, what you were designed and meant to be, know your role in this EPIC you were born in to, your passion would become obvious.

It’s a simple process I think, but if you look closely at where you spend your time & money, what you like shows up early. Take inventory of what you tend to buy most often, what you spend your time on when relaxing because it interests you, you will most likely find that is the very thing passionate about! Try it on for size and see if you could write about it, talk about it for hours on end on video or just tell it’s story…desire can not be planted in you, you have to find it within yourself and that is the thing Gary says you can monetize. Your passion is in front of you, your just not paying attention.

Please pass this along if you feel it’s of value and leave your comments. Send it to Gary Vaynerchuck to, (I don’t know his e-mail address) I would love help him with his dilemma of answering this question. I’m either on to something here or I’m just plain wrong, you decide.

Many Blessings, Owen