Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the people affected by Hurricane Harvey. Everyone I know has a connection to someone living in the affected area, and is reaching out in some way to help.
On a brighter (or should I say darker) note, virtually everyone in the United States was able to experience the recent solar eclipse at some level. A few people in our office ventured out of their home states to travel to a part of the country that was in the area of “totality”, where the sun was totally blocked by the moon for over two minutes. Certainly, a sight to see.
Now, it’s time to look around and determine if your company is feeling the effects of an eclipse. Are there people that are being kept in the dark about business information that would help them help the company grow? While not necessarily all information about a company can be made public, there are probably things unintentionally not shared that could improve processes and expose new ideas.
On an individual level, are there bright people in the organization that are being overshadowed, and if given the opportunity to shine, could eventually become stars? (Is that too many puns for one sentence?)
Take a look around, and ensure your company is not experiencing a perpetual eclipse.
- Ken Hilton, President
I’ve mentioned before in this newsletter how important I think it is to regularly get continuing education. As I write this, I am preparing to make a trip to New York to attend a financial standards meeting, where I get updated annually on changes in recordkeeping and reporting recommendations. I typically attend three or four similar meetings each year to stay current and/or learn new things.
At Red Wing Software, we offer a number of ways to stay current on changes to our software, or just learn how to better use the features that may be new to you. In July, we had two three-day seminars in our Red Wing office attended by a number of new customers as well as people wanting a refresher or were ready to use more functionality they hadn’t previously taken advantage of.
In addition to our classroom training sessions, we offer on-site consulting (as do a number of our partners), over-the-phone one-on-one training, educational videos, and most recently, live web sessions. All of these options are listed on our web site, so you can take advantage of whatever method works best for you. And, of course, your individual questions can be answered immediately by calling our friendly and knowledgeable support staff.
Whatever option you choose for continuing education, whether on Red Wing Software products or other aspects of your business, you should set aside some time to stay current with your business tools and learn new ways to make your business better.
At Red Wing Software, we are continuously looking for ways to help our customers make better use of the data they enter into our applications, and easier ways to share information between programs. To that end, Dick and Dan, the managers of our development and design departments, recently participated in a gathering of like-minded software companies that have similar goals.
This industry specific, not-for-profit organization was formed to help develop standard methods for naming conventions of specific data in order to make communication between programs easier to accomplish. While there is still some work to be done before these standards are available to be published, our team is actively involved in shaping these standards, especially in the area of financial information.
For quite some time, we have had the ability to export data from CenterPoint and, in the latest version, have added the ability to import data into CenterPoint. Some of our customers have already found uses for this functionality. Over the next few months, we will be announcing and releasing some exciting new ways that data entered into CenterPoint applications may be shared with other specific programs.
Are you a driver or a passenger? It seems a lot of the things I’ve been reading and observing lately are related to this question. I’ll give you a few examples of what I’m talking about.
At a seminar I attended last summer, the presenter had the audience watch a video and afterwards tested us on what we saw in the video. While the group focused on the main subject of the video, a person in a monkey suit walked past in the background. When the presenter asked what significant things we saw in the video, almost no one remembered seeing the monkey. As a driver, you need to be focused on the task at hand, but also need to be aware of what’s going on around you.
To support one of my hobbies, I subscribe to many aviation publications that come at least once per month, and in many of the publications there are summaries of accident reports. I read these religiously, because in this case, I would rather learn from the mistakes of others, than learn from my own. In one case, an airplane with two pilots crashed when a warning indicator light came on and in an attempt to troubleshoot the problem, both pilots focused on finding the source of the failure, and neither pilot remembered to fly the airplane. The result wasn’t pretty.
Here’s one we all see every day: someone “driving” down the road while talking on the phone, sending a text message, eating, or you name it. They clearly are not aware of what’s happening around them because they don’t maintain constant speed, they wander about in their lane, don’t go forward when the light turns green, or any number of other obvious non-driver acts. I argue that many of these people are passengers in a car with no driver.
Here’s one last example that hits close to home: my mom once told me that when she and her friend travel together, one person is behind the wheel and the other is driving. I’m not sure what to think of that one.
My point to all this is, that when running your business (driving), and while focusing on the task at hand, don’t forget to pay attention to your peripheral vision. You might regrettably find that the task you’re focused on is being handled very well, while the business is crashing around you.
- Ken Hilton, President
When is it a good time to hire an outside professional? More often than you might think. You are probably really good at what you do in your career (or you should be doing something else). Even though you are an expert in your field, there are several things that go on in any business that are outside your area of expertise.
Since you’re reading this newsletter from Red Wing Software, I think it’s safe to assume you have some role that includes dealing with financial information. You might enter checks, record deposits, calculate payroll, or take a big picture view of the business using reports to analyze where the business should go. And, in some cases, you may be responsible for all of these things.
Even if you have a firm grasp on all financial functions in your company, it never hurts to get someone from outside the organization to review the information and give an opinion, or even audit how things are being done. I’ve mentioned in several columns that I believe if we think everything we do is being done the right or only way, we probably won’t make needed changes and grow the business or our own knowledge.
I’ll share an example of how Red Wing Software employs outside professionals. Although we have been producing accounting and other financial management software for 38 years and have many people with vast knowledge of accounting processes, employ our own in-house accountant, and have Certified Public Accountants on staff, every year we have an outside accounting firm perform an audit of our records and give their opinion, and have them prepare our corporate tax returns.
It never hurts to have an outside professional come in to your business and help it grow.
- Ken Hilton, President