December 13, 2016 10:53 AM by khilton
I’ve mentioned before in this monthly message how important I feel continuing education is for everyone in any organization. If we don’t continue to explore new ideas and start to believe that what we are currently doing cannot be done any better, the business will slowly fade away. None of us can be an expert in every aspect of the business, so it’s imperative that we get out of our offices and learn from the wisdom of others.
I recently attended two conferences for just that purpose. The first meeting was with a group that focuses on data standards and facilitating the sharing of information between different companies’ products for the benefit of their clients. This was the first time I’ve attended this particular conference, and the first day was a bit overwhelming. By the end of the meeting, I learned a lot that I could bring back to Red Wing Software to help improve our company. I won’t get into much detail, but one of the most interesting sessions at this conference dealt with Business Process Modeling and Notation (BPMN). Until now, I was not aware that there was a standard format for BPMN. There are many software applications that help companies put their processes into an easy to understand flow chart. This was a timely topic for me, as we continue to improve and document our internal processes.
The second conference was the annual meeting of a consulting organization that focuses on one specific market. I’ve attended this conference for 30 years. While I always learn new things at this meeting, one of the biggest benefits is interacting with peers in the industry, outside the formal meeting times. It seems at many events like this that through networking more education and business is taken care of after-hours than during the scheduled sessions. As with any organization like this, you only get out of it what you put in to it, and it’s important to be an active participant. Our own Julie Strain is currently serving as President of this national group, and was responsible for planning this meeting in Fort Worth, TX.
Even if you can’t seem to break away from your busy schedule for a few days and attend events in your particular area of expertise, there are many online classes and webinars available on almost any subject to get that important continuing education.
November 3, 2016 2:17 PM by khilton
Every day, we all make important decisions that affect how our business is going to operate and those decisions determine the path we want the business to follow. The same holds true for our local, state, and national elections. You get to determine the direction of your community, region, and country by exercising your right and responsibility to vote.
These decisions can be difficult because of all of the confusing messages we hear, but we need to sift through the noise and try to get to the facts. We have to look past the bumper sticker messages and look at the underlying philosophy of the candidates. What direction do they want to take the community, country, and world? We need to ignore the pundits that try to tell us what a candidate means from their point of view. One way to do this is, after an interview, speech, or debate, change the channel to something non-political, and decide for yourself whether the candidate is the kind of leader you would like to see guiding their respective geographic area.
Remember, whether your candidate wins his/her race, or the opposition comes out victorious, know that you’ll get another chance to vote in two more years. However things turn out, there isn’t a better place in the world to call home.
September 12, 2016 2:56 PM by khilton
September may seem like a strange time to talk about budgeting for your business, but actually, any time of year is a good time to review how your business is tracking against your projections. Whether it’s planning for next year, or comparing this year’s results to what you were planning, looking at your actual numbers compared to your business plan for the year should be something that happens on a regular basis.
To illustrate, I’ll use a couple Red Wing Software examples of why this is important. Each manager of their respective department is responsible for creating their budget for the coming year. Of course, not only expenses are projected, but revenue is also part of the budget. For example, each salesperson puts together the sales goals that they expect to achieve on a monthly basis, and how they expect to achieve those goals. Sales numbers are then measured throughout the year on a daily basis so we are aware of how we are performing compared to our projections. If sales numbers are not what we expected, (either lower or higher), it is important to know the reasons and react quickly to any discrepancy. Of course if sales numbers are higher than we expected, we want to know why, and keep making decisions that ensure continued success.
On the expense side, you obviously want to make sure you are not spending money that was not budgeted without a serious look as to why these expenses were increased. Also, and this may sound strange at first, you want to make sure you are spending all the money that is budgeted unless there is a good reason for not spending it. For instance, our Marketing Manager budgets to spend a certain amount on very specific items. Whether it’s advertising, trade shows, web presence, travel, or any number of other things, it is important to stick to this plan. If marketing dollars are not spent as planned, the result could very well be a decrease in revenue. It can be a delicate balancing act.
We are fortunate at Red Wing Software to have seasoned, experienced managers and staff that are very good at planning for their respective departments, and our revenue and expense numbers are typically within two percent of their projections. I believe with practice, discipline, and timely analysis, most businesses can be equally accurate in their planning process.
This month, I want to share some observances made on a recent business trip. First, it’s a long drive from Red Wing, MN to Sheridan, WY, but the landscape and sites along the way are something everyone should experience at some point, and the destination is breathtaking.
Several speakers shared their experiences on how their businesses are structured and how they use financial information to manage decision-making processes in their operations. It was refreshing to see so many Red Wing Software users, and users of other software, take advantage of the capabilities in their choice of products to really analyze their situation and make sound decisions to improve profitability.
It was clear our hosts for the meeting held everyone that worked at the company to a very high standard, and likewise treated everyone in the organization like family. We should all strive to live up to the standards that were exhibited by their management team.
Finally, as part of the meeting, we attended a rodeo. When I see the physical condition that these cowboys and cowgirls must be in to execute their chosen profession, and the danger they put themselves in, it makes me feel fortunate to be in the software business. About the only time someone at Red Wing Software gets hurt is if they slip on the ice between their car and the office.
I want to congratulate Chad in our sales department on the arrival of their newest addition to their family. A beautiful baby girl.
With the relatively recent heavy rain storms and flooding in the southern and eastern United States, and the wildfires in the west, it is a reminder of how important it is to be prepared for a disaster. I sincerely hope all of our customers are getting through the unexpected events and/or recovering from the effects safely.
I have previously mentioned the importance of having your business information protected by storing data backups off-site and in places the data would be available to restore if the need arises. In the event of a disaster, Red Wing Software will do everything we can to help get your business back up and running by helping reload programs, etc., but we can’t help recover your financial information if you don’t have access to a good backup. Please don’t hesitate to call on us when you need disaster recovery assistance. One way to eliminate worrying about storing data backups off-site is to use the Red Wing Cloud Service which gives you access to your CenterPoint program and financial information in the cloud so it can be accessed anytime from anywhere.
I’ve heard the recent “Brexit” vote described as an “Independence Day”. As we enjoy Independence Day in the United States, and Canada Day in Canada, we wish the best of outcomes for our friends and allies in Europe. Please celebrate safely.