From early stage startups to established SMBs, running a business means juggling projects and keeping everything on track. This compiled list of advice for entrepreneurs on business organization strategies useful tools to help every employee organize their thoughts and perform better at work.
Tip #1 – Use Project management/ERP software to plan for resources and expenses:
While brainstorming sessions and SWOT analyses are important for innovation and to ensure the company is on the right track, they aren’t focused on project management. Companies need formal project management / ERP software in place to effectively plan for usage of resources and to manage related expenses. Planning the usage of resources and managing expenses are two core tenets of operating a business. Both are integral to bottom line revenue, and firms should utilize every available tool to help them properly manage projects and resources so they can operate at optimal efficiency and profitability. Firms rely on ERP solutions to manage accounting and financial applications, handle procurement and order processing, conduct inventory management, and even oversee HR functions and payroll.
Look for a project management suite that combines multiple tools, including visually-based mindmaps, knowledge metrics, and project dashboards. Use various reports to manage resource assignment and usage, handle task scheduling, and keep on top of various milestones and related budgets. Advanced project management software will allow detailed tracking that helps the company manage changes, with reports on milestones, critical task tracking, and multi-project resource usage reports. These items are kept on a project dashboard which provides at-a-glance information on milestones and the current state of various tasks. Visually-based software can help translate the day-to-day project management into high-level impact reports which give updates on the project so managers can see progress and any major impediments.
Tip #2 – Conduct a SWOT analysis to see what is working and what is not:
A SWOT analysis is an ideal way for a company to match its capabilities and resources to best excel in a competitive environment.
The SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Strengths are the company’s resources that can be leveraged for competitive advantage, weaknesses are the missing capabilities that put it at a completive disadvantage, opportunities are external elements that can be used for growth and potential profit, and threats are changes in the environment that put the firm in jeopardy.
Creating SWOT analyses for a project or business venture is an important exercise because it is essential for the development of strategic plans. It encourages a business to bluntly state its strengths and weaknesses, so strengths can be copied and enhanced and any weak points can be corrected. SWOT analysis that is performed in a brainstorming-style meeting can be very powerful, as different viewpoints provide a fuller picture as to the opportunities and threats that exist in the marketplace.
Utilizing a software firm with SWOT analysis creation capabilities is a smart way to formalize and share the analysis, and import content into mindmaps and other related diagrams.
Tip #3 – Create a flowchart(s) to ensure employees (and even company leadership) understand the processes within your business:
Flow charts are an ideal way to visually illustrate the flow of tasks within a business. They provide staff members at all levels with a step-by-step guide for the order of processes, giving them insight into the interconnectedness of various departments and the overarching need for all staff to complete their process on time and at first-rate quality.
When looking for a flow chart vendor, select one that offers advanced diagramming and vector drawing software which can be exported to a variety of formats to suit the needs of various stakeholders. Business processes that are cross-functional be charted in a diagram which then allows teams to look for ways to improve process effectiveness and identify quality issues that need to be resolved.
Consider an “order processing” flowchart that begins at order placement and takes the viewer through all possible “what if” scenarios, such as what steps to take if the buyer’s credit card or address are not in order. These types of flowcharts are ideal for spotting areas of future automation or to document processes to comply with audits or regulations.
Use Mindmaps to accelerate brainstorming and to organize ideas and put them into motion:
Mind mapping is a tested technique for both creative learning and memory functions because it blends together imagery, color and visual-spatial arrangements. It encourages people to look at problems in a fundamentally different way, which is a great method for finding new insights or developing a plan to tackle problems. By making information a more visual medium, it becomes easier to share and discuss among a group, which is essential for productive brainstorming sessions.
Companies and organizations wanting to conduct productive brainstorming should look to quality mind mapping software tools for brainstorming will utilize a timed session that places some pressure on the participants to work quickly and present “top of the mind” ideas that are essential to brainstorming. Ideas are inserted onto a screen around the center node of the mindmap, with the brainstorming ideas branching out without grouping or hierarchical structure.
The best mind mapping software will effortlessly manage the input and output of data which is vital for brainstorming. It will be able to capture ideas from multiple sources, and import data from multiple sources and formats, to provide brainstorming attendees with a full and contextual picture of the problem. Output of the information must also be possible in order for the brainstorming to hold value. Outputting means collecting the data into a sharable format such as a presentation that is outside of the mindmap, but provides the key takeaways.
These tips are from Olin Reams of project management software provider ConceptDraw.