MyHours – A brilliant “free to use tool” to track your time


I am one among few in my Organization who has the luxury to use an application of my choice to track my time :), ever since we made that mandatory in our Organization.

The application rest of my Organization uses is a beast with so many functions / features beyond tracking time that makes time-tracking a painful activity. It is neither simple nor user-friendly.

Since then my pursuit towards finding a nice tool that helps me to track my personal time (without much complexities) went on and on till I ended with www.myhours.coma few months ago.

I am not sure whether I would pursue the advanced paid features in the tool in near future so I thought as a courtesy would write this blog to promote this application

The signup doesn’t take more than few minutes and you can set-up your basic data to track your time in less than 30 minutes. The set-up is very simple

  • Create list of clients you work with (Each form not exceeding 5 to 7 fields)
  • Create projects and associate to the Clients
  • Create generic tasks that you can associate with one or more of the projects

Once you are done with the above, you are all set to track your time not only in your Desktop but also in your Mobile / tablets phone too (Spica My Hours).

You can use an On / Off switch to manage the accuracy of time spent to the last second (Simple press “On” before you start working on it and “off” once you are done) or you can do a backlog accounting by specifying the start time / end time or just simply enter the total time spent on that task.

It also provides brilliant dashboard to slice and dice to analyze your time spent and also simple list report to filter and extract the report to share with your manager

If your needs are simple / you are an independent consultant go for it …

I am sure their advanced paid options to manage projects in a multi-user environment with advanced reporting should be great too …

Brilliant job myhours.com

Image Courtesy : myhours.com

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Product Strategy – For an aspiring Service Centric Organization


stablished service-centric organizations keen to diversify into product space struggle to put together a product strategy. I am picking here specifically“Established Service Organizations”, the reason being Organizations that genesis as a Product company generally know what they intend to focus on from day one (Typically aligned to founders passion) and align internally (hire talents) and externally in-line to it (focus on suitable markets, domains, verticals etc)….

But service Organizations trying to figure out their space in due course have challenges as they are typically bounded by various constraints. The constraints could be internal in terms of people’s capability / skill-set they accumulated as a service organization or service focus like a domain (CRM, ERP etc) or vertical (Banking, Manufacturing) they specialize in.

I believe the effective options to them are limited

Either leverage their expertise (Domain, Vertical etc) that they have built as a service Organization over a period of time and solve an unaddressed customer issuewith a product (Blue Ocean)

(or)

Choose a product space in their area of expertise that is proven to have an established market  and build a product that can compete at its own Price / Value position(Red Ocean)

Both of them have their own pros and cons and i don’t think one is superior than the other but the success lies on below critical success factors

  • Quickly choose one or other
  • Execute it quicker and better
  • and Sustain it with incremental releases that push your product up the price / value quadrant

Most of the Organizations typically spend too much time in (1 – Choose one over the other and they are always biased to Blue Ocean) and by that time they decide more “Blue Oceans” get converted to “Red Oceans”  or “Red Oceans” gets more and more saturated….

So I believe time & execution are essence here, rest may not really matter ….

Image Courtesy : http://www.igloo-design.com/

 

Schedule a meeting – The Modern Way


Getting an Opportunity to meet the person of your interest during Sales Cycle, is difficult and able to schedule it at a time that suits his availability is a lot more difficult.

The problem gets multifold if there are more than one participant needed for the meeting and these participants come from different Organizations like You / Your Organization, Your Partner Organization, Customer and Customer IT service provider etc.

Though CRM in general, has brought in improvements in Calendaring feature to schedule meetings internally with you and your team, it generally stayed within the boundaries of your Organization. A step forward in recent years is the introduction ofPartner Relationship Management (PRM) modules in CRM to extend the access of the data as well as to facilitate collaboration with your partners including but not limited to just meetings.

One of the welcoming features that I see in today’s CRM is about breaking the above boundary and extending it beyond your Organization as value add-ons

Recently got a chance to review through Hubspot team meeting feature that helps to send out a link in your request for a meeting where the recipient can  choose / select their availability considering your availability too. This is a fantastic aid to schedule a meeting without much of back and fro emails and most of the times if the person of your interest is a “Busy” executive, it is going to be a nightmare to get the response over emails …

Similarly, SalesforceIQ Inbox offers a fantastic toolkit that helps to embed inline in your email a range of available meeting slots for the recipient to pick and choose one that is convenient to him

I am sure most of the other CRM vendors are taking a note of it and it is a question of time to see this interesting feature in other products too…

Embrace electronic signature & integrate it with your CRM to cut down lead time


Signing a contract electronically is gaining legal acceptance across the globe and its penetration is widespread today in both B2C and B2B space.

Organizations running their sales processes in CRM should seriously consider integrating their CRM systems to e-signature solutions like Adobe Sign, DocuSign etc to collate and organize signed copies of contracts in their centralized CRM system, cut down the effort and time involved in the traditional wet ink signature process and provide a great customer experience (CX).

Most of the CRM platforms and e-signature vendors provide sophisticated APIs that can help you to generate contract documents on the fly from your CRM data (like account, opportunity info), push it through signature process electronically, get it signed by one or more parties electronically and tag it with appropriate CRM records for quicker retrieval for any future needs.

With ever growing support of CRM and e-signature systems to wide variety of handheld devices, you can virtually run the entire sales process right in your palm without any hassles. It also frees up your sales team’s productive time to be with your most important asset, your customers….

Empowering front line executives – My recent experience


It is a fact that empowering frontline executives would positively impact your customer’s experience on your products / services as after all they are the ones who your customers see every day.

Saying that not that many times you would have really felt it as in reality either most of the staffs are not really empowered enough to make decisions or even if empowered, they may not be the right material to leverage it .

My recent experience with American Airlines is a true demonstration of a positive experience with an empowered staff using her presence of mind to create an impact.

Was on a short (technically) trip from Atlanta to Raliegh recently and to save few bucks booked a 1 stop flight in American airlines with a stopover at Charollette while going and Miami on the way back …

The meeting overshoot by an hour at Raleigh but to my luck the flight from Raleigh to Miami too got delayed by an hour. But after seeing the boarding passes I realized that I am not going to make the connecting flight in Miami as there was only 20 minutes difference between the 2 flights ….

So went straight to the AA counter at Raleigh requesting them an alternative.With no options left (it being the last flight), the staff thought for few seconds and said, let me move you to the front seat in Aircraft to quickly get out of the plane to board the connecting flight …

I felt great …though technically it might not save more than 10 minutes, it created a big difference in my situation…Also, most of you may know the fact that AA sells every seat other than the one in Middle row at an extra price in the boarding pass kiosk… (This is my experience :))

The staff not only leveraged her empowerment to put me in the front seat that they can technically up-sell it for some bucks but also shrewd enough to think through and suggest the best possible alternative in customer’s interest in few minutes of interaction …

I know you might all be keen to know whether did I catch my flight from Miami to Atlanta …No, my flight from Raleigh to Miami got delayed further and ended up staying in Miami that night ….:) …Hmm, dreamt of vacationing Miami but never thought I would miss the flight and end up staying over night ….

Image Source : http://www.socialmediatoday.com/

 

Machiavellian way to promote you as a paid customer?


I do love open source, free to use tools…

The freebie vendors have an array of options to make revenue from something as legitimate as selling advertisements with your consent to selling your personal data to third parties without your knowledge ….It is also common that many of these vendors offer a full-fledged version for a trial period (from good old Microsoft days, expectations set well in advance) and post that you are expected to pay for it or offer a product with restricted features for free and charge you for anything more that you would love to…(like say Hubspot CRM)

My recent experience with one such interesting product to log timesheets was frustrating…Before sharing my frustration I definitely would like to give a credit to the vendor to develop such a user-friendly product that can help you to track time across devices seamlessly …I love it from day one I started using it and over a period of time, they added more and more interesting features and created a great user stickiness …All free to use with no strings attached

Though I always expected that at some point of the time they would release a “Pro” version with great features beyond what is there in the free version, I was taken by shock when they started making existing features as a “Paid” one and making the product today as an unusable one for free usage …To give you an example I was able to add a “comment” (very basic feature you expect) after logging a task against a project / task and recently they not only force upgraded the product but also made that feature available for “Paid” users only …

Though the vendor might think this as a great strategy to force convert you, I feel disgusted and deceived….

In this world of free apps with several interesting alternatives and who legitimately makes money  in many ways, I believe this strategy by the vendor is going to earn only disgruntled customers ….

 

A simple policy and its far reaching impact


The one thing that caught my attention in the U.S. and haven’t seen that dominant anywhere in the world is the unconditional return policy that most of the commercial organizations adopt.
The Organizations include some of the big ones like Walmart, COSTCO, BestBuy as well as small mom & pop shops. When I say unconditional, it is really unconditional with no questions asked and they return your money back in the same form you paid. I have done this myself few times on items that I am not happy with it. It includes items that are as less as $2. The policy typically covers everything in the store from expensive electronics to food and doesn’t matter what is condition of the product on return (not damaged though).
It is time bound but the time limit is more than sufficient to experience the products (most places 90 days)
Though it might look like a very expensive business decision, if you think through, the kind of impact that it has in the entire system is huge
(1) it ensures the Quality of Products / services delivered
(2) It entices people to “try” new things without any worries
(3) and the above (1) and (2) forces as well as encourages people to innovate
Though, there are obviously few people who might misuse (i have heard stories where people coming here in short term travel buy expensive cameras, take pictures, upload and return it back before going to U.S.), the fraction of such population is minuscule.
Every Organization going through challenges and want to really transform should come up with simple policies with far reaching impact which might really pain in short term but transforms the company over a period of time.