data resource planning

Accurate Data Is Key to Good Resource Planning

How Good is the Data Being Fed to Your Resource Management Software?

Every company needs effective resource management. But even the best software is only as good as the data it relies on.

Resource management is key to every business, whether it is a legal firm booking out its top lawyers by the hour and making optimum use of its paralegals; a supermarket having the right number of tills open at the right time; a restaurant allocating tables for Christmas dinner; or a car factory having the right number of engines to slot into next week’s production schedule.

In years gone by, the allocation and management of resources was fraught with inaccuracy, guesswork and waste. Yet today, every good business has state of the art resource management software that removes the guesswork, automates the process and optimises resource allocation to maximise revenue and minimise costs, right? Well, not necessarily.

We have all heard of the phrase “garbage in, garbage out,” and any IT system is only as good as the data it has to work with. It is certainly true that the right system can provide a genuine competitive edge through all the factors we mentioned above, but only if the data is accurate and credible.

Let’s take a look at three metrics you need to consider when assessing just how good your project management data really is. We call them the three Cs.

Consistent

It is essential that the data you are using in relation to the project and resources is consistent across all the schedules. In other words, there must be agreed metrics and timescales in place across the board, and every project manager must be singing from the same hymn sheet.

Look at it this way – if two projects include the same piece of work but have completely different plans for its completion, the overall picture will make no sense whatsoever.

An effective way of ensuring consistency is to create templates that include the tasks, skills and jobs that are likely to be involved, along with standardised work patterns. That way, everyone can see what is expected.

Complete

However good your resource management software is, it does not have psychic powers. If there is data missing, the outputs are certain to be inaccurate. Make sure routine, ad hoc and departmental work is all logged in the system, as well as the formal projects.

Current

Data decays at a faster rate than you would believe possible. Unless everyone is committed to processing timesheet data regularly, the output from your resource management system will consistently be working on yesterday’s news.

As well as keeping the system constantly updated, Project Managers must also ensure they progress their plans according to the agreed deadlines. Any changes in scope need to automatically trigger a re-evaluation of the entire project.

Keeping the guesswork out

Pay attention to the Three Cs and your resource planning software can deliver all the benefits and competitive advantages that we mentioned earlier and more. Ignore them, however, and your business will be plunged back into the 20th century world of inspired guesswork.

tax accounts

Accounts Advice for Web Start Ups

Always Remember the Numbers

There are a million things to think about when starting a new web venture. Remember to take care of the basics to ensure success.

Despite the tough financial times we are living in at present, there has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur. In some ways, the increased spirit of free enterprise has even been helped along by the economic downturn that started around nine years ago.

As major businesses struggled, many individuals felt there was nothing to lose in going it alone and were prompted to take a step that they might have thought twice about in better economic times.

Today, small business experts Linda Carr Accountants see no indication of the trend slowing down. The technological age means almost anyone can start their own business, and those who operate predominantly online have minimal startup costs and therefore very low barriers to entry.

The great juggling act

Of course, starting a business is one thing, making a success of it is something else. According to an oft-quoted statistic, some 85 percent of new businesses fold within the first 18 months.

Anyone who takes the plunge will be working tirelessly to ensure their company falls into the 15 percent that go on to succeed, and that means keeping a lot of balls in the air. Managing the day to day operation, developing new business, gathering customer feedback, steering the medium and long term strategy, ensuring the marketing is effective and on brand – these are just a few of the topics that will be keeping the business owner busy all day and wakeful all night.

It is easy to take your eye off the most important ball of all. In the end, a business is there to make money, and if there is a problem with the accounts, it could spell disaster and an early bath.

Accounts advice

It is essential for any business to keep a close eye on the finances, but particularly so for a start up. The vast majority of new business failures are brought about by a problem with the cash flow rather than any deficiency in the overall business model.

You therefore need a skilled accountant onboard from the word go. To try and fulfil this role yourself is a false economy that will more often than not end in disaster.

For a small business, that does not necessarily mean hiring – even larger businesses often outsource the accounting function these days, so it generally makes sense to use the services of a local accounting firm.

Relationship building

You cannot keep secrets from your doctor, and similarly, your business needs to be completely open with your accountant. Relationship building is important, and they will be able to help you grow the business into one that is healthy, viable and efficient.

There are a number of different accounting methods that can be used, and these depend on various factors. It is far easier to start out on the right foot than to try and change horses midstream, which is another reason it is so important to have good financial advice from the get go.

With this in place, you have the freedom to focus on those other aspects of business development and strategy building to drive your business forward.

Airport transfers

Business Trip Planning Without a PA?

How to effectively organise a smooth running business trip yourself

In business, time is money, so arranging a business trip that makes the most of time spent away from base needs careful planning and foresight. If you don’t have the services of a dedicated PA, then there are effective ways to plan and organise a trip without it taking too much time. There’s also outside help you can draw on if required.

Even a one day business trip out of the office attending meetings or functions in another city would require some organising. For example, a trip from Edinburgh to London might involve flight bookings, car hire or being met by a dedicated driver – so you’d need the services of a suitable London chauffeur car hire company, and maybe a hotel reservation if it’s a late finish.

Itinerary

A basic foundation for planning the trip, it’s important to map out activities during the time away.

What meetings or events are planned and whereabouts they’re taking place are the two basics to establish. This will influence what travel arrangements are required such as flights, airport transfers and possible onward travel and the return arrangements.

Where to book accommodation (obviously within easy reach of meeting venues and so forth) is a key consideration as are hotel facilities. For example, will you be hosting a meeting with a contact or client? If so, maybe you’ll need a hotel with basic conference facilities. Good wi-fi or even an Ethernet connection might be required if receiving or sending large documents during your stay.

Communications

Very important of course; along with hotel wi-fi and maybe Ethernet, what about mobile phone? Maybe your existing contract requires amending or changing to use it abroad without racking up excessive fees.

Travel planning

You’ll likely have to book at least some of the following; flights, car hire, train, airport transfer and perhaps a chauffeur driven car if you need flexible transportation while you’re away.

Make a list of your travel needs by ‘tracking’ your movements from initial travel to the city or country concerned and your movements thereafter.

Check times – once you’ve booked flights, keep tabs on the latest information as flight and check in times can vary between booking and the day of travel. Don’t risk missing a flight, being left stranded, or having to wait for long periods in an airport to board a flight that was previously put back several hours.

Airport lounge or hotel – you may be heading for your first meeting soon after landing, so access to an airport lounge or nearby hotel even if staying for a mere few hours could be worthwhile to ensure you’re rested and fresh after a flight.

Refundable tickets – purchase refundable tickets if possible as your plans may alter. Perhaps a meeting is rescheduled or you find you need to be there a day earlier than planned? Planning ahead like this will save money on abandoned travel purchases.

Regulations in countries being visited

Ensure you know the rules and regulations for where you’re headed. Do you need a visa or inoculations? Could certain customs trip you up? For example, in countries with strict alcohol laws you could be held up at the airport in Dubai for something as innocent as bringing in a box of chocolate liqueurs, so check what can and can’t be brought in through customs.

Weather

Find out what the weather will typically be like when you travel. For example, New York in the summer can be very warm yet for a business trip in December or January it can be extremely cold with snow and ice common.

Balancing practicalities with appropriate business attire is obviously important, but don’t be stuck with the wrong clothing for the conditions.

Documents and insurance

It may seem obvious, but check your passport hasn’t expired – easily done with current ten year passports if you haven’t travelled abroad for a while. Are you insured? Your company may have a blanket travel insurance policy, but check carefully.

A good travel insurance policy will cover everything from unexpected medical bills, cancellations, lost baggage and more.

Checklists

Making lists under various headings is a basic yet effective way to ensure you think of everything and don’t leave something out. Lists under the following headings are worth making:

  • Documentation – visa, passport, inoculation certificates (if applicable)
  • Travel – what flights and other transportation is required? Identify and book accordingly
  • Clothing and equipment – need to buy anything? Maybe lighter business wear if going to an especially warm country. Require a travel bag for the laptop or new tablet?
  • Business materials – itemise everything required such as reports, briefings and presentation files (for example Powerpoint). What backup materials such as memory sticks and hard drives are required? Mobile Internet such as a dongle?

A helping hand

If you prefer or don’t know if you’ll have time for the above ‘DIY’ approach, there are travel management companies (TMCs) who can take some or all of the planning off you.

They’re particularly adept at organising travel and hotel bookings based on your requirements, and some can save you money as they’ll know how to secure the best prices. Usually an account handler or manager is assigned to you and they’ll put together a suitable travel and accommodation package. They mostly charge for their services by adding their fees to the booking costs.

You can choose from larger TMCs to smaller, specialist types. A good starting point is with the GTMC, a membership body for the travel management industry; their member companies account for some 80% of managed travel booked in the UK.

bed and breakfast

How To Start a Bed and Breakfast Business

There are lots of things to consider if you’re thinking about starting a bed and breakfast business; sadly, there’s a lot more to it than cooking a few English breakfasts and changing the bed sheets! It can involve a multitude of things, including finding planning permission, pricing, staff and suppliers. But if you have the right people skills and determination, it could be the career for you. Continue reading

phones for christmas

Got the Wrong Phone For Christmas? Trade It In!

Help is at hand if your new phone doesn’t meet your requirements

Trying to ‘make do’ with a phone that doesn’t suit you or can’t meet your needs is simply a nonstarter. For many of us, our phone is an important part of our everyday routines and – with more smartphones providing people with a mobile communication and entertainment centre – the right type is very important. Continue reading