Saturday, September 29, 2012

To Plan and Select Meeting Rooms for Your Business Meeting

Business meetings can be staff meetings, sales presentations or business proposals to potential investors. When you have an important business meeting coming up, you need to make sure that everything is perfect if you want to make the proper impression. That is why you should take the time to find the right room and use the proper steps to create your perfect meeting.
Multimedia Presentations
Your meeting rooms need to be able to accommodate multimedia presentations. That means having a screen to project on to and a monitor to connect a computer to. The room should be arranged so that everyone can see the presentation and the presentation needs to be large enough to be clearly seen by everyone in the room.
Internet Connection
Social media and Internet tools are important parts of the new age of business meetings. Not all of your attendees that want to attend your meeting are going to be able to be there in person. But you can still allow important people to be part of your meeting by having an Internet connection and video-enabled computer in the meeting room.
The right kind of computer will allow people to use video conferencing services to see what is going on in the meeting and offer their insight as well. Your video conferencing software should allow remote attendees to share documents and make document changes in real time. Your meeting room computer should have an Internet-enabled video camera to allow your remote attendees to see what is going on in the meeting.
Many of the social media platforms allow for multiple people to utilize a single video conferencing system. This can be a great way to save money on video conferencing services for your company an your remote attendees.
Create a list of attendees at least a month in advance and send out meeting notices as soon as possible. When you get your RSVP list, that will tell you how large of a meeting room you are going to need.
Utilize social media platforms to allow people to RSVP for the meeting, share insight into the meeting content and ask any pertinent meeting questions.
A comprehensive meeting agenda, which includes meeting times and the names of people who will be making presentations, should be circulated to all attendees at least two weeks prior to the meeting. This will allow attendees time to prepare the materials they will need to attend the meeting and contribute.
Encourage attendees to ask agenda questions prior to the meeting so that all attendees may benefit from the answers. You can use social networking platforms to allow attendees to submit questions and then utilize those platforms to submit answers as well.
Each business meeting should have a defined purpose in order to get people to attend and contribute. When you spend the necessary time to prepare your meeting materials and find the perfect meeting room, then that will significantly improve the quality of your meeting.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Replacing Emails With SharePoint

I know the idea that we can ever replace emails is a scary one, and the truth is we can't really replace them. Emails are great for interacting with external organisations as we have no better alternative, but for internal interactions we have an alternative - SharePoint. Email is a problem for any organisation, we are overburdened by the amount of emails we receive, each one pops up at the right hand side of our screen screaming at us to attend to them, we silo information in our emails that cannot be shared with the organisation, in short they are not working for internal communications. SharePoint has many great features that can help us move away from relying on email and gain some control on how we manage our interactions and the information generated from them.
Announcements lists are designed for storing communications that need to go out to a group of people but do not require a response. For example, reminders of maintenance, reminders of upcoming events, etc. As emails this information often go out to the entire organisation (weather they wanted them or not) but there is no response required from the individuals. Using the announcements list this information can be stored and users can consume the information as they like (see the last point on alerts for more information on this ). Another great feature is that past announcements can be stored, giving you an auditable communication trail between you and a group of people.
Discussion Boards
There is nothing worse than opening up your email in the morning to see that you have been included in a large email chain, you know the type sent out to 10 people directly and another 10 CC'd in for good measures. These email chains are difficult to manage as not everyone will reply all, it's difficult to share and it clogs up your inbox. Discussion boards are a great way to replace the majority of bulk emails, they allow one person to post a discussion and multiple people can respond. There use lies in the fact that they become a centralised searchable knowledge base. The comments and insights you have gained from the team are then stored and can be used again by other teams. Given the amount of crucial decisions made in emails capturing them in this way makes it easier to audit and provides a backup to prove any decision making.
By implementing these two features you can look to decrease email traffic, but the success of these features is dependent on users accessing the sites that have the announcement list or discussion board. If users have lots of sites to look at it cannot be guaranteed that they will always see when new content has been added. To make it easier they can set an alert up on the announcement list or discussion board, when any activity takes place they are then emailed to tell them to check the site. Yes, I know what you are thinking this creates another email and I thought we were trying to get away from them, but this email can be deleted once it has been read as the actual content is in SharePoint.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Top 5 SharePoint Features You Never Knew Existed

The title of this article is slightly misleading as the chances are you knew about these SharePoint features all along, but you've either ignored them or not known how to implement them. Some of the most ignored features in SharePoint are the extremely useful and effective but are 'low-tech' so don't get as many articles written about them, but use them and you will see the benefits.
1 - Description Fields
Description fields are everywhere in SharePoint - creating a list or library, creating a column, creating a group they appear everywhere. Because they appear so frequently and they have no impact on what you are trying to create (you list will always be created even if you don't put a description) it is easy to ignore them when they are perhaps the most powerful SharePoint feature out there. They are so powerful as it provides you with a space to speak to your users and tell them directly what is expected of them or how to use a feature. Often we can create lists, libraries or columns that make perfect sense to us and others on the project team but to the user they cannot understand when or why they are to use them. This stops the user from engaging the product and they soon lose interest in SharePoint. By using the description field we can give users clear guidance on what is expected from them and they type of information we require. Once user know what is expected of them and why they quickly buy in to the system and want to keep on using it.
2 - Meeting Workspaces
The check box to create a meeting workspace is at the bottom of the event creation form in the calendar, but how many of us actually use them? The answer is not a lot of people. This is disappointing as Meeting Workspaces are a great way to provide users with a focal point for regular, and ad-hoc meetings. The different formats allow you to account for small meetings to more complex meetings or conferences that may span multiple days. Preconfigured lists and libraries make it easy to store documents, create tasks, store agendas and even manage attendees. If you have a regularly scheduled meeting it is easy to move from meeting to meeting and view previous thoughts comments and decisions. Deployed within a matter of seconds and ready to work with almost instantly the meeting workspace will change the way you conduct and manage meetings.
3 - Search Keywords
Search is a powerful tool in SharePoint, but the search is only as good as the information put in. We can help search by using metadata and scopes to target search queries, but what if the terms your users use to search are not the same as the approved corporate terminology. This is where search keywords come in. Search keywords allow you to take a search term and associated related search keywords with it. For example users looking to find information on taking time off might search the corporate intranet for Annual Leave, another user might use Holidays and another user might time off, three separate terms that all mean the same thing. Search Keywords allows you to link these terms together so that each user gets the same result. This also links into my next forgotten feature - best bets.
4 - Best Bets
When it comes to searching users often search for the same thing again and again, this is often repeated across the organisation. Information on pensions, holidays and training is often searched for and we can predict the exact page or document the user is looking for. To improve search we can link certain search terms to pages or documents that are relevant, so that when a user search using the keyword the document or page appears at the top of the search screen as a best bet.
5 -Site Usage Reports
SharePoint has built in analytics reporting that can tell us how many users looked at the site, our top pages and search queries. This information can help us gauge how popular our site is, this is useful if you are about to conduct a site redesign or implement new functionality as you can track how it has impacted on visitor numbers. The search information also provides us on details on what users are searching for, what they then opened and our top search queries. Based on this information we might decide to make some parts of our site more prominent as users are searching for them most often, this can also feed into our Best Bets and Search Keywords feature.
There are many more underused features in SharePoint that are not covered here. Most of them work exceptionally well they have just been poorly promoted by SharePoint or they cover a very specific area of interest that not all projects need to use. I've tried in this article to cover the features that everyone can use in their SharePoint site but might now.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Passion Converted to Success

"An Important Question to Answer to Yourself"
A fundamental question we should all ask ourselves is; 'What Am I Really Passionate About?'
If you are not happy doing what you are doing now, and you are not building anything of value for yourself while you're continuing to do it, then serious consideration should be given to making a change.
As I have said in previous writings, everyone has a right to be happy. That usually means finding something you are passionate about, and making money doing it.
However, the question of passion is a tricky one. Many people make significant mistakes by getting into a business that has to do with their personal interests. They are passionate about the subject matter, and feel that they can make money by throwing themselves into a related business venture. They may enjoy doing it for a while because of that personal interest, but if there is no solid business case for that decision, they often fail, or end up spending time at their 'hobby' and never finding anything close to real success.
The result is not only a failed or very marginal business, but usually a loss of passion for the thing that was a personal interest in the first place, so it's a double loss.
"The question of passion is a tricky one"
People that can cook go into restaurants, people that like sports go into sports-related businesses, people that dress well go into fashion retail - and they all fail to reach the success they deserve because they followed their heart instead of their head. The reality is that if you are successful in business, you build the resources and freedom to enjoy your passions, not the other way around unless you are terrifically lucky.
I doubt that the guy that owns the lug nut factory is really passionate about lug nuts but he saw an opportunity to build what he wanted to build. Now he enjoys his personal interests and passions to the greatest extent.
In the same vein, I doubt that the guy that realized that sheep manure was a good fertilizer was really passionate about sheep manure.
In my personal case, I really don't have a passion for debits and credits but the knowledge I gained by becoming a Chartered Accountant created a significant opportunity for me to build my own business. It also created resources to pursue whatever I want.
"I doubt that the guy that owns the lug nut factory is really passionate about lug nuts"
Frankly, I don't have a deep passion for the actual subject matters of telecommunications, or merchant services, or energy either. We have many subject-matter experts in the company that handle those subject areas with a great deal of skill. However, I do have a passion for the opportunities they present to me by allowing me to build a business around them to create wealth and freedom.
Many people will seek a 'dream' position or 'dream' business and never make any changes at all. They continue to wallow in their current situation, and never really achieve the happiness they deserve because that 'dream' opportunity never presents itself.
That makes me think about what I am passionate about, and I am proud to include the following items as my drivers:
1) Creating a great business for myself and my family in order to make the money I want, and to build an asset that will be very valuable in the future. The significant niche need of the business market place allows for that.
2) Operating a professional business, and the respect that comes with that profession in my community and beyond.
3) Being able to help other businesses increase their profits, and knowing that I was able to advise them to be more successful is tremendously fulfilling. The fact that the subject matter happens to be telecom, merchant services, and energy isn't really that relevant to that equation - that's just the way I help them reduce costs so they can increase their success.
4) Dealing in a business-to-business marketplace where there is a significant need for what I can do for other businesses.
5) Creating the freedom and flexibility - and control, to do the things I want to do. Of course, it is hard work but I have never shrunk away from that, and yet I never have to miss any event or function with family or friends if I don't want to do so.
These are just words to provide a little food for thought when you get to the point where you choose your own path. Many people stay in positions they don't enjoy, and that have no real opportunity to build happiness because they just can't pull the trigger on change. They are also affected by the multitude of naysayers that surround us all, which is actually the subject of another article I wrote some time ago.
My counsel is to not get caught in that trap. So whatever you do decide is right for you to achieve the things you want from life - just go for it, and with gusto.
I did that years and years ago, and I've never regretted it for one minute. It doesn't mean there aren't ups and downs but I really do look forward to each and every day in my business. It's all because of those items I listed above that fulfill me, and are driven by my true passion.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

How We Are Becoming More Paperless

Paperless is a term that is used to describe a situation or a place, such as an office, that doesn't use paper, usually due to the usage of computers. Although paper is still used extensively, due to technology it is not used as widely as it once was. There are many examples of how the world is becoming "more paperless".
An Office Environment
Originally offices were full of paper. The only way of recording anything in physical form was by using a pencil and paper. The invention of the typewriter became a hugely important moment in the productivity of office work but it didn't do anything to reduce the amount of paper that was used. Things have been much different over the last decade or two. Computers have taken over and you won't find an office without them these days. While documents do sometimes need to be printed out, this is more often not the case. Email has become the most widely used form of communication within businesses and in dealing with customers and other companies. This saves on paper compared with sending a letter, which may previously have been required.
Many of us receive local newsletters through our front doors. Newsletter communication, however, is now often done via emails. Documents, including an entire newsletter, can be attached to an email and read on the computer screen. If an organisation is sending out three-thousand newsletters each with twelve pages, then that adds up to thirty-six thousand pages. If this is sent on a monthly basis then that is four-hundred-and-thirty-two-thousand pages a year. If this is sent via email instead then that is a lot of paper saved. And that is only one monthly newsletter from one organisation. Although some may print newsletters out, the majority won't.
Magazines and Newspapers
Magazines and newspapers are still printed in large numbers in the traditional form and sold through outlets such as newsagents and supermarkets. Increasing numbers, though, are choosing to read up on news online - either through official newspaper or magazine websites or through other sites - so less paper is being used through these mediums.
Although still in its infancy, reading books via kindles is becoming more popular. Benefits from a consumer's point of view include only having to carry a small device, which is especially convenient if travelling with several books. In the long run this could have a significant impact on how many books are printed, while authors will still be making their money through sales in a different way.
There are numerous ways in which we are, as a whole, becoming less reliant on paper, with the above just some of the more obvious ones. The rise of email is a key reason for this with banks emailing statements to customers rather than printing and sending them via post, advertisers emailing potential customers instead of producing "junk mail", and in some circumstances receipt being email. Other ways in which paper is being saved includes insurance documents and instruction manuals being available online. This is having a positive impact on the environment and means people aren't left having to store endless numbers of important documents.