Tag Archives: management

5 Leadership Essentials for a Successful Project


Written by Hanna Kounov.

During my many years of project management I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly of projects. It is usual practice to have the scope, timeline and the budget of a project agreed upon by all parties so it is interesting to me that there is still an opportunity for failure. One would think that with all that in place and checks and balances it couldn’t go wrong. So why does it occasionally? Because it is not about the scope, the budget or the timeline… it is about change and therefore about people and their acceptance of the change.

I concede that no-one starts out to have a project fail but careful considerations should to be taken if you want it to succeed. In today’s business environment a failed project is no longer an option. That being said the scope of today’s projects – even small ones – are fundamentally different from just five years ago. New technologies and the ability of being mobile, coupled with smarter and more effective tools and customizations mean that projects are far-reaching and more complicated. For that very reason one has to ensure that these five essentials are in place. There are so many different reasons for project success or failure, but in my experience, for a project to be successful the following elements have to be present:

1. Committed Engagement
In order for any project to be successful there has to be commitment to the project. Management plays a role in ensuring that not only the project team is supported but everyone in the company understands that the change is required and necessary for future growth. The most successful project are the ones where the customer is engaged and takes responsibility for the system and the proposed changes. This requires motivating team members to test the new process and be involved at every level and task during the implementation.

2. Accepting Change
Perhaps the most damaging statement for any project is “We have always done it this way.” Receiving push-back of this nature can stop a project in its tracks or force it off the rails. The outcome is that you do not achieve the results you were expecting. These seven words will start a landslide of “fixes” or re-engineering that will reduce the effectiveness of the project as the software is forced to adhere to an often antiquated business process. There will be no gain in the long run and before long all the previous flaws will become apparent once again as people step outside the software to fill the gaps that were supposed to be addressed during the project.

3. Team Work
What is teamwork but relationships in motion? Foster respect between team members. It is not about being right, it is about getting the best outcome possible. Strong mentorship and support is crucial. Conflicts must be addressed immediately. There can never be room for passive or aggressive behavior and all viewpoints have to be seen as important and weighed to see if it makes sense. Have regular meetings and encourage discussion among team members. Remember e-mail is a great but voice and/or video communication really improves the overall health of the project.

4. Strong Leadership
Someone has to make the tough decisions! Leadership is essential as the proposed project is sure to change the structure and the nature of how business is conducted. Without leadership the project will flounder like a ship without a rudder. A successful leader is one who is optimistic with the ability to recognize what is and not avoid the harder conversations. A person who realizes that life happens and that you have to dance in the storm to keep some projects on course.

5. Care for the Team
It is my opinion that many times there is a lack of care for the project team within an organization. In most cases the individuals involved in a project still have to manage their day to day jobs. Splitting their energies in this way can cause huge stress for some individuals. As the live date approaches these team members need support. My recommendation is that some of their responsibilities are taken on by other staff members however that is not always an option in smaller companies. Therefore it is important for the project team to know that their efforts are appreciated through recognition in some form.

It doesn’t matter how simple or complicated the change is, it is still a change and with these five management essentials the chances are in your favour for a successful project.

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by | March 7, 2016 · 7:03 pm

Annual IT Budget ~ What to keep in mind..

Written by Larry Hack.

It strikes me every year how the IT budget, capital and services, is either ignored by companies, or underestimated. Further, the successful operation of an ERP/Accounting system on an up to date IT infrastructure will add hugely to the value of your company, however, this too is underestimated. Why is this?

If one Googles “IT Budget for companies” there are many tools to be had to assist in planning your budget. There are also sites which recommend how much spending there should be on IT. It is suggested that an average of 5.2% of annual revenue should be spent in this area. Some say between 4% and 6%. I read a white paper put out by American STRUCTUREPOINT Inc. which states:

Deciding on a budget requires more than just flinging numbers onto a spreadsheet. Today, businesses are confused and uncertain as to what an appropriate IT budget is, and they don’t have a clear vision for how these funds should be spent”

In my experience many clients wait to the last minute to replace hardware. Then the upgrade ERP decision often rests on the hardware decision as old ERP is usually not supported on current technology.

Some of the driving factors to stay current with your ERP and update your servers/IT infrastructure every 3 to 4 years include the following:

ERP: Annual license fees are paid which ensures access to continuously improving software not only in new functionality but also in the areas of performance and optimization. The old saying “If it ain’t broke let’s not touch it” is less true these days as I would suggest that there is more benefit to be gained by upgrading your software. Take advantage of reviewing your business processes and retraining you staff. Usually with staff turnover it is common to find that newer staff has had minimal exposure to how to use the software properly nor have any understanding of its capabilities, never having been shown properly. Often there is frustration and lack of adoption of the software purely because of lack of knowledge. This leads to staff using “side systems” such as Excel and others and this in itself creates inefficiency  and reporting is done outside of the ERP system with resulting duplication of effort and various “versions of the truth”.

IT side: Security, Security, Security. (Internet threats, access by which members of staff to which data, remote access by offices in other locations local or worldwide. Working from home? A huge topic these days! This requires careful setup and maintenance. What about backups? More disk space is needed as so much data is collected. We do not want to purge history as we want to be able to analyze this more and more. Then we need multiple servers because we want TEST companies, upgrade companies and so on. Server virtualizations, dual processors, SQL databases and Microsoft operating systems upgrades.  This is a lot to comprehend!  Then we have new “Cloud” and “Mobility” solutions to factor in together with needs you may have for bar-coding solutions from an IT standpoint.

American STRUCTUREPOINT urges one to consider IT as an investment into the operations and flow of communications, rather than a cost of doing business. With proper budgeting, your company’s systems can be deployed in a way that enhances your ability to respond to varying changes in the competitive business environment. At least pause and re-consider your approach to this topic as we move forward into 2016. We at Phoenix Systems are of the same view and would like to help you with this process, if you would allow us.

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SYSPRO 7 ~ Importing General Ledger Budgets

Written by: Ildiko Prelak

Things you can do in this program:
• Import GL budget records
• Verify if there are any errors in the import file without importing the GL budget records
• Print the contents of the import file
• Customize the program

Accounting periods
• Budgets are imported only for the number of accounting periods in your ledger year (an additional budget is available if you budgeted for the year end period), for example if you defined 6 accounting periods in the year and you import a line that contains 12 budget values, then only the first 6 budgets of that line are imported.

Budget value considerations
• The entry of budget values can be made at any point within the allocated field space. Because budgets are stored to the nearest unit (dollar, pound, etc.) any decimal values that are encountered are ignored.
• Any blank entries for a budget value are treated as zero.
• Although the allocated field size for each budget value is 15 characters, the actual budget amount cannot exceed 12 characters.
• The budget values on the import file are imported based on the account type defined against the ledger code (Ledger Code Maintenance), and are therefore not necessarily imported with the same sign defined against the values on the import file.
For Asset, Expense and Statistical account types, the values are imported as defined in the import file. i.e. negative values remain negative and positive values remain positive when imported.
For Capital, Liability and Revenue account types, the sign against the imported values is reversed. i.e. negative values on the import file are imported as positive values and positive values on the import file are imported as negative values.

 Errors that can be encountered
• The import process is immediately aborted if the first character of each line in the import file does not begin with a B. However, if any other type of error is encountered then a list is displayed within a browse window at the end of processing. A maximum of 200 errors is listed at any time.
Only the first error encountered on a line is listed, for example if a single import line contains three separate errors, then only the first error is indicated on the list. Once you have corrected the first error and re-run the import, then the second error is listed, etc.

Maximum number of records
• A maximum of 99 999 records can be imported from any one file. If you need to import more records, you need to break up the import file into multiple files.

Security considerations
Operator access to the following activities within this program can be restricted. You configure this using the Security Activities function of the Operator Maintenance program.


Importing entries from a file
• Ensure that you have created an import file in the correct layout
1. Select the From file import method and then enter the name of the file that you want to import (or browse for the file) at the File name field.
2. Specify any options required, and then select Import.
3. Select Review file. The details of the import file are displayed in the Details pane.
If you do not select this option, then any errors found in the import file will be displayed in the Details pane. You will need to correct the errors on the import file before attempting to re-import the information.


4. Make any changes, select Validate, and then select Import.


Adding entries directly into the import program
1. Select the Use data grid import method and then enter the required details in the Details pane.


2. Specify any options required.
3. Select Validate and then select Import. If any errors appear, make these changes before importing again.

Exporting column headers to Excel
You would typically follow this procedure to save the listview column headers into an Excel spreadsheet before you capture your import data.
1. Select the Export to Excel icon from the Details pane.
The column headers are displayed in an Excel spreadsheet as well as the company name, date and time of the import.
2. Capture your data in the relevant columns.


Copying entries from an Excel spreadsheet
• Ensure that the required security options are enabled
• Ensure that the date format in the spreadsheet matches the date format used in SYSPRO
• Ensure that you have your Excel spreadsheet ready for copying, or that you have copied the data from the spreadsheet to the clipboard


You would typically use this to save time when adding entries.
1. Select Paste (visible columns only) from the Edit menu in the Details pane.


2. Specify any options required, and then select Validate to validate your entries.
3. Select Import to import the records.


Duplicating listview data rows
You would typically follow this procedure to save time when adding import records.
Duplicating records in a data grid is the equivalent of the Copy/Paste function.
1. Select the row you want to duplicate.
You can select the row by clicking on any cell within the row.
2. Select Duplicate from the Edit menu in the Details pane.



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5 Corporate New Year’s Resolutions

Written by: Hanna Kounov

It is that time of the year and possibly you are making personal new year’s resolutions but have you ever considered making New Year’s Resolutions for your company or your department. Interesting thought right? This is the perfect time, in most cases year ends have just been completed and you have the big picture right at your fingertips. The point is to not just focus on the bottom line but on a broader spectrum.

So where do you start? Logically, with a review of the previous year. Word of caution, do not call it a post mortem. Post mortem by definition imply that something has died of unknown causes. Avoid this term when looking at the year or at anything else going forward for that matter. The idea for this review is to determine where you have been succeeding and where things can be strengthened. The fact that you are still in business means you are doing something right. The question is how do you make it better? These are the areas where you should focus your New Years Resolution’s.

With this in mind I did some research and found some of the key areas that companies are looking at for 2016:

1. Get to know your customer better.
You may be under the impression that you know your customers needs but things change constantly and what may have been important might not be now. Do you know their pain points and their needs? Find new and innovative ways to engage with your customers. Does your marketing strategy speak to their needs? If not how is that corrected and devise a plan of action. Marketing is important and there are many inexpensive ways to engage with customers in this day and age. Look for ways that work not just for you but also for your customer.

2. Time management.
Why do we fail at time management? Because everything we know about it is geared towards managing “clock time” and what we should really be managing is “real time”. Real time happens in our heads; we create it and anything we create can be managed. The first thing you have to know is how effective your company is at managing time. You could send your key people on time management courses but that would probably be a waste of time (pardon the pun) because they will be working with “clock time”. Perhaps a better way is to ask those same key people to jot down every thought, conversation, task or action they take for one week. At the end of that week look for the places where time is wasted on unproductive things that don’t produce results . Now you have the information to Organize, Prioritize and Schedule. Make sure that 50% of your teams scheduled time is spent on activities that generate results and schedule time for interruptions. Remind your team that it is impossible to get everything done in a day and be okay with that, tomorrow is another day and that is why you are prioritizing. The good news is that 20% of your teams actions will generate 80% of the results so if everyone is concentrating on the things that matter, you are way ahead of the game!

3. Maximize employee contributions.
Forget everything you know about this because there is no “secret”. Simply treat people the way you wish to be treated. Nothing makes up for compassion, mutual respect, kindness, open communication and flexibility. Adhering to this very simple rule will produce happier employees and happy employees engage with customers and each other in a positive way. Let your employees know that they are valued. Communicate the companies goals and values and allow for the people to have a say if they want to. Strengthen your teams skill sets with targeted training. When you invest in your people they feel valued, important and secure in their future with the company.

4. Understand your data.
Your company has a ton of data but other than the financials the rest may be shrouded in mystery. Find out what your key performance indicators are. Once you know what they are find ways to extract, massage and delve into it. Do you really know what is going on? Do you have enough historical information to make informed decisions in regard to budgets and sales targets? If the answer is no put it on your resolutions list and work with the data the whole year. Build a comprehensive Business Intelligence Strategy for the year. You will be tapping into a gold mine.

5. Set your goals for the year.
You do this every year and this one should be no different. The question would be, do you understand the information that is driving the goals? If you didn’t reach the previous year’s goals special care should be given as to why. Were you pushing the right products? Is your customer demographic in a strong position but you still missed out on sales or are you feeling the pinch because of an economic slowdown? Asking the tough questions will help you determine a valid sales target for the year ahead. Break down those lofty goals into milestones to be reached throughout the year. This will allow the team to feel that they are reaching their objective and motivate them. The final word I found in my research is; be realistic. If you are asking your sales force to reach unattainable goals it could have the opposite effect and make them feel defeated before they have started. Realistic goals make them strive and often exceed expectations.


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