Is there a Recession coming?

Is there a Recession coming?

I’m not an economist, let me say that upfront. But I do watch people, like most of us. And that’s what this blog is about – what people will do and how that could affect the economy. The more economists say that there’s a recession coming, the more worried we’ll all be. And the more worried we are, the more risk-averse we will be, the less decisions we’ll make, the less new initiatives will roll out, the less stuff will get bought. On the supply side, companies will make less money, so banks will tighten credit, there’ll be less money circulating and the GDP will decline. And so, we’ll ring in the recession all together, like it or not.

All that’s well and good, you’re thinking, but what can I do to make things better? Well, let’s look at two “fundamentals”:

– Are you as a person making enough money to pay your bills and then (even a little) some? If so, you’re going to be OK in the short term. If not, cut out that shiny new phone you wanted to buy. And focus on those new skills you wanted to develop. Whether you’re thinking transferable skills or company-specific, now’s the time to get that going and up your game.

– Is your company OK? You may not know the details, but the indicators will be everywhere. The toilet paper goes from 3-ply to 2-ply, for example – yes, I’m not kidding. And regardless of how the company is doing, you can do better. For example, you can talk to your manager about focusing on projects that deliver value in the short term. That’s not to say long-term projects must be dropped – in fact, with enough money in the bank, some companies choose to weather a coming Recession with longer-term initiatives. The point it, talk about it with your peers and managers about the “R word” of Economics.

Whatever you decide to do, do one thing for sure: Make the most of your time. How, you’re thinking. You want me to work on new skills, you want me to focus on stuff at work, there’s stuff to do at home – hello, how do I do all this? Well, track your time (you knew that was coming, didn’t you?):

– At a professional level, use a good time-tracking tool to track what you do and then analyse where those hours went (we have a good one here, if you’re in the market). Something that works specifically for your business and operating culture (oh yes, time-tracking can be seriously against general belief in some companies). Something that isn’t intrusive but is detailed enough so you can tell what you were focusing on. So you can decide what you should be focusing on.

– At a personal level, look at what you’re spending your time on. Start with a simple digital-health analysis (Android Digital Wellbeing or iOS Screen Time). If you spent 3 hours every day last week on Instagram and/or WhatsApp, you may want to think of other things you can do with that time. I’m not saying either of them are complete time-wasters. That’s for you to decide. But to decide that, you need to first know where your time goes. And that’s what these apps will tell you.

With focus, time-tracking and a little bit of luck, let’s beat the Recession. Then we can worry about Inflation.😊

Project Management that actually WORKS

Project Management that actually WORKS

Managing a project can get real hairy real quickly. Look at our own process as an example:

  • We begin with a great idea – taken from our storehouse of great ideas, Jira, of course.
  • We talk through of how we think it should work within our context.
  • We write out the details of what we think should be done.
  • We break down the stuff that needs to get done into small segments – 8-to-16-hour work-items.
  • We figure out the skills needed for each of these work-items.
  •  We use a Gantt Chart to set up Tasks.
  • We assign those tasks to various people using a Resources mechanism.
  • We get to work.

Sounds good, right? Unfortunately, not at all. Yes, all the pieces are in place, but how do we know how things are going on a day-to-day basis? For example, someone takes off for a day fo personal reasons – how do we know about that? And how do we figure out how that will affect the project? If you’re anything like a typical team, there are always other things that intrude on your work – customer issues, tech issues, laptop failures, you name it. And they all impact someone’s ability to deliver on the tasks they have to work on. Yes, they may have a nice dashboard that shows what they should be working on today. And they may even have ways ot marking those things as Done when done. But that’s when things are done – what about when things are being done? How do we know if things are slowing down?

The best way we’ve found is to do the following:

  1. Begin with setting the number of hours each assignment takes, right in the assignment
  2. Break the assigned hours across the days that someone’s to work on the task – say, 4 hours a day for 6 days if it takes 6 days to deliver
  3. Get everyone to track the hours that they spend on each of their task, every day, using an effect time-tracker
  4. Get people to report PTO requests regularly
  5. Report the hours spent on each task against the hours that should have been spent by now, based on the daily breakdown and the time-tracked hours
  6. Talk to people when these hours don’t match, help them fix things early.

With this simple mechanism in place, you can tell if things are slowing down, very early in the game. You can tell ahead of time if your project needs more people, more time, more money, a new laptop, whatever. That’s how you can make sure that your project management is actually working.

Now, you can do all of this and more using PK4 TimeTracker and our Project Management add-on.

  • With the Gantt chart, you can plan your whole project out, with work-breakdown at a Task level.
  • You can then assign those tasks to various people having multiple people doing things on each task, if needed.
  • People can use the Tasks tab to track when they need to do, as can you for your project.
  • Everyone can request and track PTO requests as they come up.
  • People can report the time they’ve spent on each task – they can use Salesforce, a web app, a mobile app, Jira, Slack or a Chrome Extension to report time worked.
  • If you have stages in your project, you can track those stages for each task on the Kanban Board.
  • You can see who’s working on what, what days they’re overloaded on, what days they’re on PTO – all via the Resources tab.
  • You can set up any number of Salesforce reports to track work-breakdown and time at every level of detail.

The key thing in all this is that you can track tasks as they get done, based on the time that people report for each task assignment. This gives you a much clearer idea of how things are going than jotting down notes during meetings.

Hopefully, this will get you sleeping better.🙂

P.S: Check out the details of Project Management here.

Mobile apps: Not Suitable For Work?

Mobile apps: Not Suitable For Work?

11 apps. That’s how many I installed in the 1 week I spent up in beautiful British Columbia, on the Sunshine Coast. The sun so bright, the water so blue – and my phone so full of new apps. Over a span of five days, I installed an app for Caltrain, one for United, another for Vancouver, even one about ferries in BC. While most people install an average of 3.5 apps a month nowadays, here I was, hitting the Play Store every few hours for something new. And my motivations were somewhat different from the usual buzz you get from Facebook and WhatsApp – they were mostly about finding the right information using my phone. For example, I saw that the Caltrain website looks terrible on my phone, so I looked for an app in the Play store and, sure enough, found one that worked well. I’m sure you’ve been through that process, too, when you find a problem and think that there must be app to solve it.

What I find fascinating, though, is that I don’t seem to think that way about business issues. When I see a problem at work, I don’t think of a mobile app, I think of a web solution. Track leads? Buy into Salesforce. Send mass email? Sign up for Mailchimp. Set up a marketing process? Use replyapp.io. So while my personal needs demand mobile apps, my business needs seem to be calling for web solutions. For example, while I know Salesforce has a strong mobile offering, I’ve never used it to track leads. And replyapp does not even have a mobile offering, but that’s not stopped me from relying on it.

As a company that offers mobile apps for businesses, I see this behaviour among prospects regularly. I’ve seen customers spend thousands of dollars rolling out responsive websites. I’ve seen nonprofits spending hours tweaking their Sites pages. But I don’t see them considering solving issues with a mobile app. It’s not that they think it won’t work – it’s that most people seem to not think of mobile apps for work at all. Consider this chart from Statista about the categories of apps that are popular in the US – Business appears far down the list, with only about 22% of people even trying Business apps.

I can see, though, that this is changing. Recently, a friend who runs an online store in Amazon discovered Amazon Seller, a mobile app that gives him access to his store on his phone. Now, he’s probably in Amazon Seller more than in WhatsApp (and that’s saying something, for an Indian). And our customers who DO make the effort to think Mobile wind up being addicted to the idea. So I guess that’s the issue: Mobile is not yet in the normal mind-space of solutions today. And I believe the operative word is “yet”. In the “personal” space already, no matter what problem you want to solve: there’s an app for that!