Category Archives: Software In Action

Leveraging Technology Part 2

All business tends to have a level or complexity that is eased by the use of technology. For some businesses, it is not about complexity but production; workers are expected to get a certain amount of work done each and everyday. Good examples are automated processes in databases that simplify the sending of marketing literature based on user input or accounting software simplifies the entry of accounting transactions. Once a system is setup and running, the daily workflow is simplified to a certain extent and the flow of production can be greatly enhanced.

To a large extent my role as a business advisor, mentor and trainer is to help find solutions for these problems; often using the existing tools on hand. Usually a few hours for training on specific tools or features does the trick and end user learns to better leverage the software tools they have.

What my clients seek is solution to some issue and what I hope to do is migrate any of these business bottlenecks into smooth flowing processes. Ultimately, I want to save my clients both time and money. Sometimes the solution is remarkably simple. I want to focus on one such solution. Creating Templates is a very effective way of fast tracking the creation of often repeated tasks, such as presentations, email messages, marketing literature, spreadsheets, financial statements, common letters and so much more. In almost every software application that I train in there is a template feature. Outlook for example you can create a library of responses for almost anything marketing related. I now have an extensive library of responses so when I get a requests for information the process is very simple and consumes so very little time. In Excel most users including myself will create the same or similar spreadsheets all of the time. I now have a series of templates for things like financial statements for clients, tracking information, payroll slips and much more. Each of these templates not only saves me time but gives me the flexibility of only having to make minor changes to adapt them for some other purpose.

Microsoft Word comes bundled with many templates that you can easily adapt for your own purposes and re-save as a template. Of course, you can also create your own easy enough. When creating your own template in any Office program, you should save the template to the proper directory so that the program will find it when you browse for the file. Word for example will list your template in the new browse window when you want to browse for a template to base your new document on. If you don’t save it to the proper Microsoft template folder, you can still open it, but you will have to browse your PC for it.

One program that is often forgotten is PowerPoint. For those that have to use this program day in day out, it can be a lot of work to create a new presentation. There is content that needs to be organized into a flowing presentation. Then there is creating the slides that will tell that story; formatting the slides, including graphics, charts, videos, audio, recording narrations, setting up slide timings if automated and much more. For those get into the more advanced stuff, there is creating and controlling animations, transition effects, creating interactive flow and more. You can count on spending a good part of a day or two creating a new presentation. With a saved templates that has the style and layouts you need already configured, you can spend more time on the substance of the presentation knowing the frills are already taken care of. While in this article I mainly talked about MS-Office, that application of template goes behind that. I have templates in Adobe programs, audio creating/editing applications and anywhere where I am likely to be doing the same repetitive task frequently.

If you like me do many of the same tasks over again, look into templates and see how they can help you with your daily work flow.


The Better Way to Stay Organized

Every generation has its impact on the next. The technical development in recent years have given rise to new and exciting technologies that are changing the way the humans are coping with life. Look around and you will see that users have a treasure trove of tools that can be used to organize your day to day life quickly and efficiently and generally without much of a learning curve. Although, there are many tools to choose from both hardware and software based, I am focusing one software tool that many of us probably already have installed on our computers. That program is actually bundled as part of the Microsoft Office Pro suite that regularly comes pre-installed on many new laptops and PCs out there.

That software is Microsoft One Note. I have been aware of this software for a number of years but never even launched it. To be honest I did not even know what it was about nor did I care. Then one day I was bored and I decided to clean up my computer. As I was going through my PC I started to uninstall unused applications. When I came across Office I was looking at the titles and said to myself, what exactly is One Note?

I launched it and when the application opens up the user is presented with a sample workbook that they can observe what One Note can be used for. In many ways this program is a digital file organizer with tabs that can by labeled. Within each tab you can have as many pages or subsections you need. The tools within the application are typical for MSO so if you use Office, the tools are already familiar to you. Also you can embed anything, spreadsheets, Outlook items, Word documents, insert tables and format like you would any MSO document. It is similar to an application that was years back, introduced as part of Office 95. Microsoft used to bundle a program called Microsoft Binder which looking back seems like a primitive version of this software. The software was dropped by the release of Office 2000 and reappeared in Office 2003 in the form of One Note.

While I usually deal with the business uses for such an application, this time around I thought it might be interesting to talk about how One Note can be used for personal reasons. My initial reaction was to dismiss this software as being somewhat unnecessary. Then when I got thinking about how I have so many website passwords, email passwords, goals to track, to do lists, recipes, reminder lists for shopping, people I intend call etc. I began to realize that although I have a good memory, I am relying way too much on remembering what I need to do. On any given day try as I may; I sometimes forget things. I found this frustrating so I started to write everything down in a note pad. Now I end up with all these notes that I have to manage. One Note for me was a life saver. I thought about what I wanted to organize and came up with Category headings for each. Then within each when applicable I created subheadings to further organize. When I was done I had my framework in place so that during my day I could keep One Note open and minimized and ready to use. When I had some fragment of information that I needed to file and keep on hand I had a place to put it. Another thing you can easily set reminders in Outlook or whatever you use for managing the scheduling of tasks, appointments etc. Now, the information I need such as notes, figures, password, etc., they are stored conveniently in One Note. This was a god send, I am even better organized now by having information stored in the proper places. I am glad that I found One Note.

My workbook keeps me on top of all my passwords, banking info (this section is password protected) and more. I keep recipes, snippets of code for websites, reminders such shopping lists, goal tracking lists, movie and book recommendations, topics that I intend to look up and so much more. If you have One Note installed, try it out and you will see for yourself just how useful it can be.