Tag Archives: Outlook

Project Management for Small Business

pmlifecycleWhat is a project? Building an aircraft carrier would certainly be a project. For that you would need a team of highly qualified people and sophisticated management software. That kind of project is beyond the scope of a small organization.

Our type of project could be building a website, participating in a tradeshow, running a conference, and so on.

In this post we will look at how a small organization could manage such projects.

Project Definition
A project has two main characteristics

1. It is not a routine activity of your organization
2. It has a definite start and end time

Project Management
Managing the project basically involves getting the project done on time and within the budget allocated for it.

In a small organization you may be both the manager and the implementer of the project. Given all the routine day to day activities requiring your attention, you certainly still need help staying on top of your project.

More often than not, there will be other people involved. Then communications become an important additional activity you will need.

The Process
Big or small, projects start by identifying the tasks that will make up the project. This requires a bit of brainstorming and possibly lots of sticky notes. The end result is the work breakdown structure.

Then you need to estimate the duration and cost of each task on your list. Then the tasks need to be transcribed onto a calendar of some kind to remind you when they need to be done. This project focus tool describes a practical approach (from Lumia Conversations).

If you are working with others, like planning a conference for example, then the team members need to be informed of the tasks allocated to them.

The Tools
For the size of project we are discussing, you could certainly could get by with pen and paper, and good pocket calendar.

However, I recommend tools that most small organizations already own and are familiar with: Microsoft Outlook and OneNote. With these tools you can schedule tasks, communicate project progress, keep notes of meetings and payments and more.

If you find you have a more complex project, then you could consider a project management plug-in for Outlook, or even an online project management service (project management software).

Summary
A project is different from our routine tasks and as such, needs a different approach. However, with the software that most small organizations already have and are familiar with, it is possible to integrate your project tasks with your normal workflow.

If you would like to learn more about project management concepts, the eBook Project Management Lite is a good place to start.

How Is Your CRM?

crm-counterHow does one get new clients? By looking after existing clients!

Word of mouth is a very effective way of getting new clients. And that brings us to CRM. What on earth is that?

In this post we will describe what it is, and how a small organization can implement it.

The Definition
Customer relationship management (CRM) is a system for managing a company’s interactions with current and future customers (from Wikipedia).

In practical terms when a client calls you, and you can answer “Hi Joe, how is the new grand child?”, then the client feels positive about your relationship.

Some people have the knack to remember details about people, but for most of us it is not so easy—we need help. That is where CRM tools come in.

Importance
A recent report lists reasons why many small businesses will fail this year.  In this short video from the article Times columnist, Gene Marks, discusses the importance of CRM for small businesses.

CRM Tools
All organizations need CRM, but the size and type of your organization will determine the type of CRM tool that will work for you. We look at three options.

  • OneNote
    Microsoft OneNote lets you keep notes on anything, including customers. OneNote is like a small tabbed pocket book, where you keep notes about each client that you place in the tabbed sections by last name. You can access this information using your desktop and your smartphone. Here is an example…
  • Outlook
    Although Outlook is not free, many organizations are already using it for email and tracking their contacts. Outlook tracks much of the information in Contacts that you will need for CRM. It can also give you reminders of birthdays, follow up tasks and more. Here is more information…
  • Subscription Services
    There are many providers of online CRM services. These can be very powerful and provide features based on advanced data analysis. But they are not free. If you have many clients, these services may well be worth the monthly subscription fee. For an example see…

The Take-away
It seems that every year there is a report of some kind giving reasons why small businesses fail. But you don’t have to be one of the statistics—consider your CRM needs and implement a suitable tool today.

Do you find mail merge tricky?

Many people think mail merges are tricky, and rightfully so – it certainly used to be. But MS Word has made the process really easy and intuitive.

Every day many thousands of basic mail merges are done in organizations. However, MS Word has powerful merge tools that many people are not aware of. Knowing these tools can take your work to the next level.

We have created a new course, Be A Mail Merge Guru, in which we look at four case studies of how advanced mail merges can be applied in a typical organization.

You can follow Dandy Daffodils Inc. every step of the way as you apply mail merge to manage a trade show and workshop effectively.

Intrigued? Then visit the course home page now for more details.