Good internal communication is important to the success of any organization. How often does someone know something that should really be common knowledge, but for some reason that information is not shared with others in the organization who could benefit from it? Obviously, there are some things that need to be kept confidential, like personal employee information protected by HIPPA laws, etc. But most information, while not necessarily public, should be shared within the walls of the organization so everyone has an opportunity to contribute to the success of the business.
At Red Wing Software, we use a weekly internal newsletter to provide employees with the happenings inside the organization. Leaders of each department contribute information from their respective areas that they feel the rest of the team should, or would like to, know. In addition to structured departments, we also operate many teams that are specific to a particular project and include members from multiple departments. This is where communication can break down.
In the team meetings, ideas for new features, changes, or even new products are created. As these ideas are discussed, requirements are defined and refined, user interfaces are designed, test scenarios are determined, programming and documentation are completed, and voilà, the project is complete. The only problem is, sometimes everyone on the team becomes so involved in the process and has spent so much time talking about every detail, that they assume it is common knowledge to the entire organization, so they occasionally, and unintentionally, forget to share an important detail. I only use this as one example of how information can unintentionally be kept secret, when it should be shared with the entire organization so they can be included in the excitement about new happenings in the organization. Does this happen in your organization?
- Ken Hilton, President
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.
- Ken Hilton, President
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.
- Ken Hilton, President
This month, the Notes from the President portion of the newsletter is being written by a guest writer. Please be assured that the Notes from the President will continue next month with the words of Red Wing Software President, Ken Hilton.
By Stephanie Elsen, Red Wing Software Marketing Manager
I still remember when my dad brought home a Commodore VIC-20 computer. He set it up in the basement and told us to figure out how to use it. I was around 11 years old, and I thought we were certainly a high-tech family! I followed the instructions and created a little game. It was crazy how you could just push those little buttons and create your very own game.
I also remember the Macintosh computers in the school library where we played the Oregon Trail. There again, just push a few buttons, and take a (fairly slow and choppy) journey across the United States as the pioneers did. Technology grew, and soon I was in college where they expected me to use a computer, along with a Norton Textra Writer program, to write and print up my papers. WHAT? Isn’t writing the paper hard enough? I really struggled with that back then! But before long, it became much easier than using a typewriter, or writing it by hand.
I am sure you can remember as I can all the new technology that came along over those years. I don’t know about you, but I found each and every one a little scary and intimidating at first, but after learning to use it, I wondered how I ever got along without it! Thankfully, now that I’m older and technology moves faster, I am used to learning new things. Windows® 10, the newest iPhone® update, Facebook’s™ new interface…all new technology I’ve gotten used to fairly recently.
I love working for Red Wing Software - a company that is constantly striving to provide new technology for our customers. It is great to hear from customers who can now complete processes faster, access information more easily, and become more efficient because of using our products. We now have CenterPoint available in a cloud (hosted) environment, which can help so many of our customers. Sometimes we have to sunset our older products in order to make way for the newer technology. If you are still using a legacy product, I strongly urge you to have a look at CenterPoint, whether it’s the installed or cloud version. It is an amazing product, and we hear from customers often that they wish they had made the switch sooner.
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.
- Ken Hilton, President