The ROI of Information Management

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When employees constantly have to sift through resources, dig to find passwords and find the right person to grant them access to information, it’s more than just an annoyance, it’s a serious waste of company resources. There is a surprisingly high cost associated with the mismanagement of information and resources.

A McKinsey study revealed the average worker spends 1.8 hours each day searching and gathering information. That’s insane, right? One fifth of your payroll is paying for information mismanagement. This is a problem.

Email is a Culprit

Another McKinsey 2012 study reported office workers spend about 2.6 hours per day reading and answering emails. A large portion of that time is dedicated to searching email. You’ve done it, scoured through several emails to find one little snippet of information that likely should have been captured and stored in a centralized, easily retrievable place. Email is not a tool to store or organize information and it certainly can’t take the place of a project management system. It just wasn’t built for that, yet, we continue to waste time and search.

Lack of Accountability is a Culprit

Email doesn’t provide the environment where accountability thrives.  Here’s a scenario: Your sales guy just won a new deal and a week later the client calls him up to ask for the delivery date to be a week sooner.  The salesperson says sure and later emails the operations manager and cc’s the project manager to let them know this.  That operations manager forwards the email to a few supervisors which end in the abyss that is the email server.

A few weeks later the client calls the account manager and asks where we’re at on the delivery.  The account manager has no idea that the delivery date was pushed up a week.  They can’t reply to the customer with any confidence if the order will be on time.  They need to “research the answer”.  They need to find who may have taken accountability for this because expectations were not clearly defined.

This process happens in different ways and scenarios all the time because there is no explicit accountability in everyday processes.

Take a moment and think about what your work day would be like if you had all the information you needed, without roadblocks. Obviously, there will be external hold ups no matter what you do, but what if everything internally were to flow exactly like it was supposed to? The correct information was in the right place, expectations were defined and explicit, and accountability of for each step of the process in this wonderland workplace was built in.

We help businesses find their workflow wonderland. We create software that makes work flow the way it’s supposed to. Find out how to get more work done now.

Video: How the Volano Culture Delivers for Clients

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Yeah, I would love to come in, soak in some third party information about a client, and code for eight hours to create customized software for a company and process I know little to nothing about.  Said no software developer ever.

It can be hard for some to wrap their head around what we do here at Volano. Put simply, we build customized software to improve and automate workflow processes, but there’s more to it. While we are in a very specific niche of the software industry, our company culture differentiates us even further.

How We Make Work Flow

When we take an organization from spreadsheets and whiteboards to fully automated workflow solutions, we do it differently. We take out the middleman. Instead of the client, project manager, business analyst and software developer playing a rousing game of telephone with boat loads of information, our developers work directly with our clients. This allows not only for transparent communication and expectations going both ways, but this direct interaction facilitates a bond between the software developer and the person using the software.

Our unique approach to workflow solutions eliminates creative roadblocks in the process -perhaps one of the strongest and most overlooked parts. When the client and developer have their own cohesion, we have found that this fosters the most comprehensive, yet simplistic of solutions. When we first meet with clients, we explain that this won’t be your typical development project and by the way, meet your software developer…

Meet Your Developer

We realize that every organization will have their differentiator –The [Company Name] Difference! We chose not to get too complicated with it. We follow the school of thought that satisfied, engaged employees make satisfied, engaged clients. So far, it’s working out phenomenally.

Creating a work-life balance for employees is no doubt an investment, but it’s one with amazing returns. Software developers aren’t a dime a dozen, and software developers who invest discretionary effort into their work are most certainly not a dime a dozen. We like to keep things laid back in office -beer, darts, casual conversation -all welcome around here. Burnout is a very real thing in this industry, so we crafted our company culture and management style with that in mind. Beyond the physical work environment at Volano, these are the folks our clients are interacting with, these are our brand ambassadors, if they’re not happy and engaged, it shows.

So, yeah, you could call it the Volano Difference (insert stock photo of business person smiling here). Our company culture was thoughtfully made a solid part of our strategy. We create effective solutions for businesses with a unique approach that goes beyond your typical project interaction. We dive in, we build things, and we make work flow.

The 3 Ways You’re Killing Your Competitive Advantage

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Your processes, your business model and your workflows will need some ironing out. That’s just a fact of life in business. We all have kinks and growing pains. That being said, every organization will also come with inherent pros -those are your competitive advantage -the positive things that make your team unique.

Your competitive advantage might be purposeful, and it might just be intrinsic to your team. Whatever it is, define it, embrace it and be sure these common poor workplace practices aren’t extinguishing it.

Running Your Business on Excel

If you have a few simple numbers to run, or an ad hoc project with very few moving parts (like only you) excel makes a lot of sense. It should never, we repeat, never be used as a business database. When we get the opportunity to sit down with potential clients, we find they have a few of the same reasons for sticking with the old standby, excel…

Excel is fine for the amount of data we have.

Everyone already knows how to use it.

We’ve always used excel.

Whatever your particular competitive advantage is, it will always be overshadowed by poor information management. The utilization of sound, measurable data is any business’s strongest shot at improvement and growth. Businesses that rely on spreadsheets to store, organize and interpret their data are putting themselves at a huge disadvantage compared to those who are willing to invest in a real database.

Databases can be shared and worked on by multiple users and they support formal workflow processes. Plainly put, spreadsheets aren’t built for multiple users. When we look at this on a larger scale, spreadsheets are sometimes shared with hundreds of people, reviewing, approving and making edits to one document. At the end of this process, each and every one of those sheets must be consolidated manually. Please take a moment to think about that.

We could go on forever with this one, that’s for another blog post…and don’t even get us started on security.

Tailoring your Workflow to Your CRM

We’ve seen it a hundred times, instead of going with a tailored or customizable CRM, the choice was made to instead tailor an established workflow. That’s fine and dandy if the workflow is flawed and is being improved upon, but that’s not generally what happens.

Many organizations realize their competitive advantage flows from a particular process that has been refined over time, and with the right people in place. Your CRM should support these such workflows, not impede or alter them.

When thought is put into the customization of a good CRM, it feels almost intuitive to users. It should feel like this system is aligning itself to your team, rather than the other way around. No, a CRM cannot do this on its own, there must be a strong, supportive vendor behind it.

Failing to Empower Your Staff

Let’s get one thing straight, no matter how awesome your tech is, your number one asset in business is your human capital. Use them, empower them and seek return on your investment in them in a more enlightened way than in the past.

A great example comes from Zappos. Their competitive advantage can almost directly be attributed to their unique stance on customer care. Their sales teams aren’t merely order takers and the go between for the customer and line managers. Instead, Zappos employees are empowered to make customer care decisions and actions on their own. How much more sense does that make?!

“I want to feel like I can make decisions for what I am doing and other people want that as well. When people are empowered they feel a sense of ownership.”

Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO

We contend that there is a better way to integrate technology into your workforce and workflows. We don’t believe in the rigidity of unwieldy bureaucracies, we believe in change. We love to find an organization’s competitive advantage and create processes, systems and workflows that support that. Stop killing your competitive advantage with archaic business practices and become the nimble, market share winner you got into business to be. We can help. Connect with a group of lifelong learners of workflow now.

The primary route to efficiency

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“Differentiation is the essence of strategy, the prime source of competitive advantage. You earn money not just by performing a valuable task but by being different from your competitors in a manner that lets you serve your core customers better and more profitably.” Chris Zook and James Allen

Process or product differentiates you from your competitors. Volano knows that as you scale your business – you must follow the same process and create the same consistent product despite your growth.

Custom software provides efficiency.Repeatability

Repeatability is a measure of a system’s consistency to achieve identical results across multiple teams and multiple cycles. The ultimate goal is to have both a highly accurate and highly repeatable business process. Repeatability is the primary route to efficiency and scalability. Custom software can enforce business processes in a highly repeatable way. This kind of software brings differentiation, scalability, and repeatability. This is how software can be your competitive advantage.

We call this workflow. Volano builds workflow systems that allow you to repeat what works…and efficiency follows. Software to Make Work Flow.

What fell through the cracks?

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Sometimes when things fall through the cracks, it’s a huge problem. This article does an excellent job of illustrating what a classic bad system is. It was published a year ago and I’m betting it is still a problem today.

It could be better!
Volano could have built an amazing database system for the problem described above. We’ve built 100+ applications that track everything from lawn mowers (manufacturing) to medical records (government sub-contracting.) We align best with those that can use software as their competitive advantage…and where losing assets is not an option. Both web applications and mobile apps with a heavy database component.

Custom software development as a competitive advantage
If your work is falling through the cracks, we can help. Perhaps it is growing pains or maybe it is 13 year old systemic problem. Either way it very likely means you need workflow software. A software program that keeps track of your work and brings clarity and accountability to your business processes. At Volano Solutions we build ‘Software to Make Work Flow.’

Knowing Expectations with Workflow

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In the early 1990s Gallup started to collection data and analyze the correlation between employee performance and various aspects of work life. They discovered that employees who knew what was expected of them at work were the most likely to be in productive teams. When employees answered negatively or even ambivalently, the lack of job clarity often gummed up production.

Two years ago, Volano had the privilege to be part of Gallup’s EAS program and it was there that Rod and I learned about the Q12 employee questionnaire and just how important setting expectations is for employee engagement. Gallup’s research tied in completely with a concept we started formalizing and implementing in 2009 as part of our custom software: Work Queues.

Work Queues are the home page of your workflow. They are lists of the work you or your team are responsible for. These queues are shown to you immediately when you sign into the application and provide navigation directly to the area of the application where you can complete the task you’re responsible for.

This creates an excellent work environment for the employees who want to be effective – the employees you make sure you keep.