Great timesheet tool

88 Miles

I’ve been looking around at some online timesheet tools and Miles Burke at Bam Creative suggested 88 Miles from Mad Pilot

Having looked at a heap of timesheet tools, this looks like a really good tool – and by good fortune developed in Perth.

Some of the features I was looking for included:

  1. Web based (a given really)
  2. Allow multiple clients
  3. Allow multiple projects
  4. Allow multiple consultants to work on any mix of the above
  5. Provide individual timesheets
  6. Provide team reporting
  7. Be easy to use
  8. Fairly priced

Some new features coming are likely to include additional reporting and adding your own logo to timesheets.

So far I’m impressed and have started using it, worth giving a try….

The Superhuman Boss – unrealistic expectations and how to manage them

Unlimited capacity – wouldn’t it be great to be able to deal with immense volume without experiencing stress or conflict?

Much of the challenge exists from pressure below and above – pressure below comes from a multiple of staff that need to direct information to or access information from their boss. From above, the challenge is “I deal with twice the volume you deal with, so cope”. It presents an unhealthy scenario for all parties, and increasingly I believe provides risk to organisations in terms of the negative health effects of these kinds of jobs.

However, how can you progress if you can’t deal with stress? Can you be Superhuman – it seems that the leader must be someone with greater appetite to work hard, and must be really smart in solving problems.

How do you fix it and focus? Concentrate on a bunch of things you will not do any more – cut, cut, cut and focus on those things that deliver the results that you are measured on. Share the challenge on priorities with your boss and make sure your relationship with your boss stays strong. Take some time out to breathe. Push back on requests for your time – if they don’t add to the goals you have been set, then avoid doing them.

This is partly a time management question, and partly a question of negotiation.

If you have had a scenario where you felt you had to be the superhuman boss, please share your experience – or if you feel your boss seems to be superhuman and your admire them for it – or are worried about them – then share that too. I look forward to your feedback….

Don’ta worry – Dumb Business thinking to avoid Part 2

Have you ever experienced the debilitating situation of not knowing what decision to make in a difficult circumstance? Or found yourself overwhelmed by the sheer volume of email and interruptions within your workday?

In case of the former it is caused by uncertainty (not enough facts) and a less than comfortable risk of decision failure.

In case of the latter, in many cases the day to day interruptions really get in the way of the big picture and most important jobs to be done. That type of continual interruption will make you highly ineffective – so you’ve either got to live with it, or change the environment.

I’m a big fan of getting time management in order, and my continual reference book here is by Alan McKenzie called The Time Trap. In this book he identifies the top 20 time wasters, and specifically how to deal with them.

My father would always say “Don’ta worry – what’s the worst that can happen?”. He isn’t Italian, but for some reason this simple sentence would provide some perspective and give the mind some necessary breathing space (distraction if you like) that allows the subconcious to trigger a logical decision.

3 reasons why smart people in organisations do stupid things

Today I was trying to explain why organisations sometimes almost compell their managers to do stupid things – or certainly why it might appear that way to people further down the chain.

1. The glance analysis – the solution to someone else’s problem can often seem obvious. That can be due to the person not seeing the wood for the trees – but also can be from not really taking the time to understand local conditions before passing judgement.

I once had to endure a conversation from a person from Melbourne (nothing against people from Melbourne, on the whole I have found them very nice…). He was seeking to make some changes to the way an industry association operated in WA – and make a takeover bid for all the other related organisations in WA – and run it all from 3000 miles away. He then also proceeded to tell us how little we knew about how to run such an organisation. It was one of the first dinners I’ve been to where 4 or 5 normally mild mannered people were ready to belt someone they have never met before.

2. The flick pass – email management (or mis-management) can allow for easy flick pass of a task (generally with a comment attached adding to the workload). People in management roles are often so time poor that the constant barrage of email encourages sending an email onto someone else rather than stopping the email and really thinking about whether the task should be done. Whilst it may not win you friends, sometimes it is worth asking the question of the sender, “If I simply couldn’t get to this due to other commitments, what would be the downside?”. Or send them a quote for an hour of your time….

3 Conflicting goals – ever wondered what is the real goal the firm is interested in? Generally there is a terrible conflict between organisation goals eg. growth versus profit now…

So, what do you think? Add a comment below about some of the dumb things you have seen organisations do to their people (or their customers…)

Jan’ry Feb’ry…

I once had a meeting with a guy that was supposedly a leader in the whole ebusiness area.

He opened the meeting by saying, “I don’t subscribe to that pay the vendor for work model…”. He didn’t particularly articulate how we should get remunerated for what we were doing, but we held our breath and kept listening assuming it would come.

The meeting got more interesting when we got to the specification of what he wanted.

“We are gonna deliver something… in Jan’ry.” (Bear in mind this was late November and nothing had been started..)
“Yeah, we are gonna deliver somethin.. in Jan’ry, Feb’ry, sometime, and its gonna be gooood….”

Jan’ry Feb’ry became part of the kmp venacular – whenever there was a crap specification – or no specification – or someone that clearly didn’t have a clue. “Jan’ry Feb’ry, it’s gunna be gooooood…” said it all.

Spinning a Plate

Shortly you will become unemployable.

You’ll never be able to work for someone else again.

Those words sent a chill through me. I was worried about the risk of failure, and rightly so. However I had a solid belief that what I was doing uas the right thing to do – it just felt right: I was ready for a big challenge, the industry was booming, and I had a genuine interest in the ebusiness sector. On top of that Bill was clearly a visionary – both in terms of business and in terms of people.

“I don’t mind you spinning a plate Justin. Just make sure you keep an eye on it. You need metrics, and you’ve got to keep it moving forward…”

Everyone has seen someone spinning plates. It used to be a clever act for variety TV shows and I first saw it at the circus. Plate spinning is a particular type of circus trick where you take a dinner plate on a thin wooden stick, then start the plate spin. The spinner wobbles the stick to keep the momentum going. The greater the skill, the more plates you can spin.

The timing must be precise – you must know when to wobble the stick and how much. Get it wrong and that plate will smash. It needs finess to keep each one moving forward.

Running a business a little akin to spinning a plate. There is simply nothing quite a liberating or frightening as grasping the nettle and hanging out your own shingle.

Unfortunately it is a sad fact of life that 95% of new business ventures fail within 7 years, and the majority of these fail earlier.

Small and medium businesses are the lifeblood of most economies, and some of those will be the big businesses of tomorrow. Those that will be successful will know the right things to focus on. Those that don’t find these things will face dire consequences – losing a home, a spouse or both.

Taking an opportunity – being entrepreneurial – is a mindset that will become taught in schools. However an undergraduate or post-graduate degree – or MBA for that matter – doesn’t provide the fundamental common sense basics that are the key to running a successful business.

I contend that many small business problems are the same as large business problems – just the number of zero’s is different, and the consequences of collapse more dire for the small business individuals concerned.

Part of the problem for entrepreneurs is the way they learn. They often tend to be the least formally educated within their business. They take a learning by doing – and by doing a lot – approach. They are interested in the problems others face and how they have dealt with them, and anecdotes are the key to the way they quickly grasp the nuances of complex problems.

So this book is intended to provide a common sense guide to business. Adopt these into your business and you will be a long way towards success.