There is no end to the rainbow of project management software options in the marketplace today. There are any number of different philosophies, varying approaches, sets of terminology, and frameworks ready to use. There are packages of all sizes; some systems have a big price tag and large groups of fans and certification levels and literature. Some are mid-range in terms of price and functionality. And then there is the tool used by far most often for managing projects; the simple email inbox.
Which is the right one for your project? While all of the available options have their benefits, it is likely that no existing solution is exactly what you need.
Organizations end up using email to manage projects because it is infinitely flexible. With an informal, email-based approach, the actual project management process resides in the collective minds of the people on the project, and email is used to keep everyone synchronized and to flag messages as reminders on tasks still to do.
The downsides of this approach are numerous and well-known. There’s no automation; the participants have to remember and initiate everything. Information becomes stale; there’s no guarantee that anyone is looking at the right copy of a file, or the right version of the schedule, etc. These problems and inefficiencies are what cause organizations to move up to more formal, automated project management solutions.
That can be a positive move, as long as the new package has the right mix of features and options. Too often, the new package has only a portion of the needed tools, plus a ton of other features and options that seem interesting but that don’t relate to the project at hand. Formalizing into a real project management system should be a big step forward for a business. However, it can often be a lateral or even backward move, especially if the stakeholders were successful early on in identifying a clear, efficient way to think about the project that can’t be properly modeled in the new structure.
The solution to the dilemma, the ideal approach, is to bring the best of both options together by building a formal, centralized solution that’s designed to support the key aspects of the informal solution being left behind. Don’t go for an out-of-the-box project management package. Instead, approach each project individually, and tailor your existing project management framework to model the things that need to be tracked.
Nobody likes returns. When a transaction goes wrong and has to be reversed, nobody benefits.
Unfortunately, the fact that companies dislike returns too often translates into situations where companies give only cursory attention to returns processing. Rather than integrating return handling into the main business pipeline, moving RMAs and Vendor RMAs in and out is often done as an afterthought with minimal or no process to support it.
Properly handling returns protects organizations against bigger, hidden losses. Simply verifying the legitimacy of a proposed return can stop losses before they happen, but that requires accurate tracking and data capture as part of the initial fulfillment step.
When a return authorization is requested, your staff needs to be able to quickly find the original order and immediately validate the warranty offered to the customer.
If the return is valid, organizations need to proactively schedule each step from then on. For instance, if the vendor’s warranty for the item still applies then the vendor needs to be notified immediately; not when then item finally arrives from the customer. A vendor RMA number needs to be secured and stored. The fact that the return is expected needs to be logged. If an advance replacement will be sent, or if the customer will receive a direct refund or account credit, that expense needs to be tracked based on the actual receipt of the returned item. If the item doesn’t arrive, or if it doesn’t arrive within the time-frame set by you company’s terms, the customer needs to be contacted and some settlement needs to be made.
And going forward, the return may impact the overall supplier rating of the original vendor, and when summarized may impact future purchasing decisions.
Everyone needs a contact management system, and that’s why there are so many options available. Email clients like Outlook have some CRM functionality. Quickbooks has customer and vendor management tools. Entire sites like SalesForce.com are designed to offer every CRM tool imaginable.
But what CRM system is right for your organization? If you’ve spent much time reading this blog you’ll probably know the answer; the right CRM package for your business is the one that includes all of the features you need, and none of what you don’t.
A CRM solution with reminders to contact prospective customers is great, if that’s how your business operates. If not, the reminder model may not fit, and any reminder tools in whatever software is used have to be ignored or worked around. Some companies base their customer interactions around email, and if email history and tracking isn’t the fundamental paradigm of their CRM system, that will be a problem.
At web designers Sydney, we start by identifying the ideal communication flow for your business. Often that’s based on the informal processes that have already evolved between your staff members. Then we add automation geared toward your operation’s specific goals, and deliver a package with the right mix of complexity and functionality.
The lengths with which we go to prevent the compromise of data from outside forces is perpetual, always fortifying the perimeter to prevent breach. While businesses are diligent in maintaining these firewalls and other hardware security measures, what if anything is done to guard against malicious internal data threats like sabotage or espionage?
We discovered log ago that very little, if anything is done to protect against these potentially catastrophic internal events. Internal security breaches tend not to be single threat events, but are perpetual in nature, usually occurring over days, weeks or months. The calculated pattern of attack is to avoid detection and therefore the threat event occurs gradually. These subtle breaches usually coincide with a disgruntled employees planned departure whether or not voluntary. With proper user permissions and restrictions in place, this threat will be confined to the areas of authorization, but without proper restrictions are in place the damage can be exponential. How can you protect against this unknown?
The best protection is daily backups, a standard disaster response measure taken by almost every business. Those without comprehensive disaster recovery plans run the risk of catastrophic data loss. But even those plans that include daily backups, over extended periods, face difficultly recovering corrupted data from internal forces. Daily database backups are data “snapshots” of a particular information set and if that data were to disappear due to sabotage, then subsequent backups would not reveal that particular occurrence. Deletions or malicious changes could continue to different sets of data over a period of weeks or months without detection. How then do we protect our client data from destructive forces from within?
Rescue backup software system should be equipped to provide to handle standard daily protections for atypical disasters. The rescue system is structured to back up daily and store data to a second off site recovery server. This automated backup procedure has a secondary objective to record changes to data sets separately which allows the rapid recovery of the data and identifies the responsible user. Automatic daily rescue confirmations provide assurance of secured data. We developed this as a high volume transaction based backup system capable of handling large data sets and has been proven to be a reliable disaster recovery solution. The time to think about defending against data sabotage or espionage is before it happens. If you have questions regarding database vulnerability or your preparedness, please contact us as we offer complementary disaster plan analysis and reviews to identify structural weaknesses.
Every database structure has strengths and weaknesses. In every design there’s a tension between simplicity and functionality. Striking the right balance is challenging, but in general most systems gradually seek the right level of complexity to support the functionality needs of the user base.
Some software systems and databases with no functionality overlap can be productively used in tandem; an email program and a spreadsheet system, for instance. There’s no functionality overlap, so they complement each other.
However in Enterprise Resource Management, a common situation organizations evolve into is one where there are two or more similar systems being used side-by-side. This creates a thick layer of additional complexity, while often offering little in the way of additional functionality.
When two systems are used simultaneously to, for instance, track inventory, organizational problems ensue. If there’s a discrepancy between the two lists, which list is correct? Are some employees extremely familiar with one system, while remaining at an uncomfortable novice level with the other? Are the assumptions made by one system the same as the assumptions made by the second? Are there fundamental incompatibilities that need to be constantly worked around?
When most enterprises are getting underway, the only Business Intelligence data being created is done mentally in the decision-maker’s mind. That works well while there are only a few customers, a few products or services, and a few deals, but it doesn’t scale when the business expands to include more factors and more volume than the company leaders can easily recall. Too often at that point, the entire Business Intelligence process is stopped, and leaders fall back to relying on monthly or quarterly financial reports to navigate each day’s decisions.
Properly done, a centralized, real-time Business Intelligence tool fills this gap and continues to give the company directors quick, accurate analysis even when the volume and complexity of the information exceeds what can be handled mentally.
The primary strategy for accomplishing this is to identify the key factors of the enterprise and the important relationships between those factors. Then, a process is created to automatically calculate and summarize those areas into values that can be listed and compared. And finally, and interface is developed to display the values and relationships in a way that clearly highlights the current business situation, recent trends, possible problems, and potential opportunities.
In many cases, as businesses grow and compile ever-expanding heaps of information, the focus of Business Intelligence becomes displaying less data, rather than more.
The values displayed are, themselves, links to the data from which they are calculated, so that if in-depth research is required, company directors can quickly move from the Business Intelligence layer to the operational layers and identify specific customers, orders, and other events that have contributed to the top-level trends and balances.