As business analytics coaches, we are constantly assisting organizations and individuals on achieving Faster Cheaper Analytics™. Today we are talking about implementation tools.
Like you, I am responsible for multiple daily and monthly tasks as part of my normal job. Add on some strategic projects that are key in pushing Lodestar Solutions forward. This takes a ton of organization. I found myself struggling to keep them all organized. As a result, I fell in a rat race of continuously delivering my commitments late. The work load felt heavy. I was frustrated and was literally suffocating at work. The stress impacted my personal life resulting in me being a subpar mother and wife. Internally, I was deeply disappointed myself and ashamed of how many commitments were not being delivered on time. I knew I was better than this. There had to be a better way! I was committed to making my commitments!
The Search for a Better Solution...
Previously, I was using lists and found it deeply satisfying to cross items off as they were completed. You know that feeling. Putting things on your list because it's easy to cross off. But random lists were not cutting it. I needed implementation tools to make me more scalable. This would allow the teams I was on to communicate and bring transparency to the real demands on my time. Turns out I was not alone in this feeling. Being a smaller company, most of us at Lodestar Solutions wear multiple hats. We were feeling the same frustration. The team started experimenting with different implementation tools. Our goal was setting project priorities and bringing transparency to the process.
Our journey to being incredibly productive and obtaining deep job satisfaction started with a discovery of a tool set. It's something Lodestar Solutions team members now use every day. Using this tool set is crucial in implementing our Faster Cheaper Analytics Program™. Since it’s Faster CHEAPER Analytics™, all the implementation tools mentioned below are incredibly economical.
Recording and Editing Software - Camtasia
Repeat after me…I need to be scalable. Part of achieving Faster Cheaper Analytics™ is knowing when and how to be scalable. Using video is an excellent way of making yourself scalable. Camtasia is an extremely inexpensive and easy to learn video recording and editing software. Here's how Lodestar Solutions uses video for scalability:
1. Training - One of my favorite ways of using videos is to record software training sessions. End users love it! If they are needing a refresher or are too embarrassed to ask, they can just re-watch the video. In addition, Camtasia has functionality for creating interactive table of contents. This allows end users to jump to certain locations.
2. System Documentation - Let's face it. Nobody likes documenting a system. Furthermore, nobody reads it anyway. However, for tasks that only get performed occasionally or if new team members need to get up to speed quickly, documenting is extremely useful. Recording yourself talking about the system while sharing your screen is 10x faster than typing and taking screenshots. It's also more effective than trying to decipher screenshots.
3. Meetings and Demos - You can record meetings and demos. This allows individuals who were not able to attend to watch at their convenience.
4. Requirements Gathering - The best way of gathering accurate requirements is being 100% present in the meeting. However, we are not always afforded the luxury of a scribe. Recording the meeting allows you to stay totally attuned to the conversation. It cuts down the meeting time by half since you're not trying to take in-depth notes while asking pointed questions and reading their body language. One caveat is making sure the user(s) being interviewed know it's for their benefit and so you can be fully engaged in the conversation.
Online Work Management Software - Smartsheet
Early in our journey to a more productive work life, Lodestar Solutions knew we'd be needing a way to provide visibility into our client projects. We started looking at several cloud-based work management software applications. Then we discovered Smartsheet. Smartsheet is an intuitive online project management tool enabling teams to increase productivity using cloud, collaboration, & mobile technologies.
We are now using a Scrum board for Agile project management but still heavily rely on Smartsheet for:
- Onboarding processes and documentation
- Detailed requirements and sample documents
- End user testing schedules
- Issue tracking
- Internal project lists
- Common place for procedures
Agile Project Management System - ScrumDo
You don’t have to be 100% agile to start reaping the benefits of agile tools. One such tool is a Scrum board. Even if you are still practicing a waterfall style of project management, we are recommending the use a Scrum board. It brings transparency and encourages team collaboration; two factors key in Faster Cheaper Analytics™ and increased productivity.
Many old school project managers will resist the idea of using a Scrum board. They still cling to their early 20th century Gantt charts as a source of comfort and power. I have never been on a project where the Gantt chart was even remotely correct. Additionally, these charts take tons of effort to maintain with no productivity benefits. We are trying to achieve Faster Cheaper Analytics™! If a task isn’t producing a productivity benefit, we need to question why we are doing it.
Utilizing a Scrum board, teams can see exactly what is being worked on, what is done and what has yet to be accomplished. There is no need for titles on hierarchies in this model. Everybody pulls their weight and contributes to the common goal. If they don’t, it becomes painfully obvious.
How Lodestar Solutions uses a Scrum board
On our internal Scrum board, we have a column for items being reviewed. Once approved, they move to the “done” column whereas when we are on a client project, that column may state “testing”. What you name the columns is irrelevant. All that matters is the team having visibility into the effort remaining and encouraging each other towards a common goal.
A scrum board shouldn’t be expensive. If your team is centrally located, you can even use a wall or whiteboard with sticky notes. Poof! A free and effective Scrum board.
At Lodestar Solutions, we have tested several Scrum boards. The one we found to be the most economical and most desirable in its features is ScrumDo. ScrumDo aims to unleash high performance in your teams, innovation in your products and continuous improvement within your organization.
These are just a couple of the implementation tools we are using at Lodestar Solutions to achieve Faster Cheaper Analytics™. However, we would love to hear about what tools you use to increase effectiveness and productivity. Please make sure to share your comments below.
In conclusion, just remember that a good tool makes you more scalable. In addition, it allows teams to communicate effectively but also brings transparency to the real demands on your time.
Here's Your Call To Action:
For more on this topic, watch Heather Cole’s video "Discover More Time for Business Intelligence by Leveraging Recordings". To find out more about increasing your productivity and our Faster Cheaper Analytics Program™, become a Lodestar Solutions Club member. This gives you access to an exclusive video library.
Should you have any specific questions about these implementation tools and how they can be integrated into your organization or other general questions, feel free to email us at Coaching@LodestarSolutions.com.