Friday, February 26, 2010

How much does free really cost?

The web is changing perceptions about what should be free. Companies are giving away software for seemingly nothing. Some of it actually looks like good, quality software. But…is it really free? What does “free” actually cost? Answer: A lot more than you might think. Let me explain.

While “free” products may not cost money upfront, you typically end up paying in one of these three forms:

Thursday, February 25, 2010

5 new rules of productivity

Forget everything you know about productivity. This article on really challenges our preconceived notions of what is (and isn’t) productive.  An interesting and thought-provoking article, though I don’t believe that everything mentioned is entirely feasible.

For example, the points about missing deadlines if you don’t feel like working on a project made me scratch my head. In most companies these days, missing deadlines is not an option. If you consistently miss deadlines, you will be replaced.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Interactive reporting is now available!

I wrote about our new Interactive reporting template a couple weeks back, and received many inquiries as to when it would be available in m-Power. I’m happy to report the wait is over! m-Power users just need to download the latest update from the customer portal.

For those unfamiliar with m-Power templates, here’s a quick two-sentence explanation. We create a wide variety of web application templates with all the features built right in. Then, m-Power users simply need to select a template, point it at their data, make necessary tweaks or adjustments, and they have a new application. If you can find a more efficient build process, I’d like to see it.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Keep your skills current and stay productive

Are you struggling to keep up with tech trends? Are you finding a declining demand for your aging skills? I understand the dilemma. How do you pick up a new skill or programming language and remain productive at the same time?

This story on is inspiration for all those struggling to keep up with the ever-changing tech trends.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

10 tech messes that need fixing

Technology is a great time-saver and productivity booster…most of the time. However, technology isn’t perfect. With the benefits, come risks that might just waste time or hinder productivity. Why just last weekend, my wife and I were very late to an event because our GPS routed us to the wrong address. I had to talk my wife out of tossing it out the window. True story.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The real-time revolution

Do you still offer "24-hour turnaround?" Do year-end reports require days of analyzing spreadsheets? Do you enter the same data into multiple systems? Do you still request reports from IT?

If you answered "yes" to any of those questions, you're not operating in real-time.  If you're not operating in real-time, you're wasting time.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Why the 12-month budget is bad for business

The budgeting process used by businesses today is fundamentally flawed. No, I’m not against budgets, far from it. However, the idea that a budget should refresh every 12 months wastes money, prohibits progress, and compromises decision-making. Let me explain:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

5 ways to start your business day right

A good start to your business day is the key to productivity. However, there’s no magic bullet. What works best for you may be completely ineffective for me. For example, some people get themselves going with a jog in the morning. I never got into jogging…it’s always been boring to me. It’s all about figuring out what works best for you and sticking to it.

I like to start my day with a good sense of my business. This usually begins with my dashboards. I have all the data I want to see in one place, providing access to information such as: What changed from the day before? Are there any trends over the past few days I should pay attention to?

Monday, February 08, 2010

4 keys to a successful project

According to a study from last year, 1 in 4 IT projects fail completely, and only 32 percent of IT projects were considered a success. If you’re starting a new IT project in the near future, that has to be a bit unsettling. The question: What must you do to ensure success?

For example, pretend that your company needs a new reporting solution, and you’re in charge of the project. What factors are most critical to the project’s success? I’ve identified 4 of the most important factors:

Friday, February 05, 2010

Better tools are no match for a bad strategy

Let me tell you a short story: Mr. Smith wants to build a treehouse for his son. However, he has never built much of anything before and isn’t very handy. So, he runs out to the hardware store and buys all the best tools. He visits the lumber yard and buys the best wood. He then brings everything back home to build a treehouse. What are the chances Mr. Smith will successfully build a (safe) treehouse?  What are the chances that he just wasted a bunch of money on expensive tools?

Of course, this example sounds ridiculous. Who in their right mind would buy all the tools without mapping out a plan first?

Thursday, February 04, 2010

10 technology traps to watch out for

I recently read an article on, entitled "10 technology traps to watch out for." While the article contains some good tips, I’d like to add a particularly important technology trap that should have been included: Multi-user spreadsheets.

Spreadsheets are great when used correctly by one person. The spreadsheet was never meant to be a multi-department or even multi-user tool, yet many companies use it in these ways.

Monday, February 01, 2010

A few cost-reducing tips

The economy may be improving, but it’s always a good time to lower costs. But where do you start. My advice: When looking for areas to cut costs, always start with technology. Technology changes quickly, and technology prices change right along with it.

Analyze your processes and systems every few years or so. Chances are there’s now a better and cheaper way to do things. You never know how much you can save unless you look around. For example, this company saw 6-figure savings by upgrading their outdated systems.

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