The problem with recommending an app off the bat

Linkedin is a great tool for building connections, sending and receiving referrals, and even getting news updates relating to the industry you’re in. However, I have seen a few ‘boo-boos’ (as I would refer to them) recently.

These ‘boo-boos’ happen when someone innocently posts something along the lines of ‘I’m looking for a project management app, can anyone make a recommendation?’ Linkedin, as I said is great for referrals but when people make recommendations and list app names in the comments section, the geek inside me cringes a little. It’s a great idea to learn the names of the apps that are available but you can’t truly recommend a product without first understanding the client’s business… in a LOT of detail!

meter showing arrow pointing to 'a lot'

As my colleague Jonathan said “It’s like people recommending what car they drive or what house they should buy based on very limited knowledge”

Imagine if you were recommended a 2 seat Porsche Cayman by someone who owns it and can vouch for it. Sound good? Well it might be an awesome car but it’s not ideal if you actually have 3 children to fit in the car and prefer a front wheel drive. It’s important to fully evaluate the businesses requirements (4+ seats) and wants (front wheel drive).

And before you ask, yes I did have to Google ‘sports cars that have two seats’ – no shame. Proof below!

In all seriousness

(and from experience), there are lots of potential problems with listing which apps might help as you could end up wasting a lot of time. There might be an important integration or feature requirement that gets overlooked for example. But instead of venturing down the wrong path with the wrong app, think about this… The real opportunity is to lay the existing processes bare and look for the opportunities for transformation. This is where long term success lies and we see these opportunities all the time! 

You can read about the successes that can be achieved by business transformation here.

We recommend starting by mapping out the processes in the business so you can see where your existing issues are. You’ll also be able to see workflows that could become an issue if not optimised. Based on this information, you can define a set of functional requirements and rate them using MoSCoW (must have, should have, could have, won’t have). It’ll now be much easier to create an accurate shortlist of apps that might be a good fit. With the process maps and functional requirements you can have more meaningful conversations with the various app vendors. And they can build and deliver customised demos using the workflows you have mapped – so it’s much easier for you to see if that software system is missing anything you need. 

If this is something you need guidance on then please do get in touch with us.

Bethanie

Google Workspace tips

You all know by now that every couple of weeks I share my favourite features updates from Google Workspace. There are so many new features brought out regularly that it is not difficult to find some really awesome tips to share with you.

So here’s my most recent roundup

Out of office information will now display when replying to or mentioning a user in a Google Docs comment

In Google Docs, you’ll now see out of office information when replying to or mentioning other users in a comment.

When mentioning a single user in a new comment or thread, you’ll see the OOO banner and information on when they plan to return.

For multi-person threads, you’ll see condensed out of office information. You can select the info icon to view more information on each specific person. 

No action is required, this is now active.

Gmail email suggestions

This feature has been out for a while now but you may not be aware of it if you haven’t turned it on. Which is silly as it’s really cool! As you type an email, Google’s smart compose will make suggestions for the rest of your sentence. The suggestion will appear as a lighter text and you just need to press the tab button to use the suggestion.

To turn it on,  open Gmail and in the top right corner,  click Settings and then See all settings.

Under “General,” scroll down to “Smart Compose.” Select Writing suggestions on or Writing suggestions off. 

Create tasks in Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, or Slides

You can now create tasks when you are in any of the above applications. When a to do item comes to mind, you can just click on the task icon at the right side of your screen and add a task for yourself there.

Google Task Icon
Google Task Icon

What I particularly like about tasks is that you can create one directly from an email:

  1. Open Gmail and drag an email into the Tasks window. The task is the email subject.
  2. In the task, a link appears so you can easily reopen the message.
Move a conversation to create a task

In addition to this, you can add a task directly into your calendar. That way, if you don’t get round to completing a task at the planned day and time, it still remains an open task that you can reschedule. Click on a slot in your Google Calendar and just click ‘Task’ to switch it from an event to a task. There you can define what the task is, when it should be done, and which task list it belongs to. You can create your own task lists e.g. Admin, Project Work, etc.

So that’s it, I’d love to hear how you get on if you try any of these features!

Until next time.

Bethanie

WorkflowMax vs Xero Projects – What’s the difference?

The software ecosystem can be a minefield can’t it?

If you’re a business owner and a Xero user stuck on whether Xero Projects or WorkflowMax is the best fit for you, then you’re in the right place.

I have spent the last five years of my career helping businesses get started with Xero and WorkflowMax. I have spoken to hundreds of small and medium sized businesses in almost every industry to help them establish if these apps are a good fit for them. And guess what? I’m not stopping!!!

So, let’s take a look…

Both software apps are marketed as project management. At a top level, these types of systems are used by businesses that need to track jobs and time sheets. For that reason, they can be used by lots of different industries including professional services, architects, creative agencies, and engineers.

The great thing about Projects and WorkflowMax is that they are both Xero owned products. This means that:

  • They both have a native integration with Xero Accounting
  • They both hold the same Xero privacy policies
  • You’ll receive a consistent experience with their support teams
  • You can contact support in the same way for both systems
  • They’re both hosted on AWS (Amazon Web Services)
  • They have similar interfaces/usability

WorkflowMax user interface:

Screenshot of WorkflowMax's Job & Staff Management from www.workflowmax.com

Xero Projects user interface:

Track Jobs and Projects with Xero Projects | Xero US

There are some very big differences between both Xero Projects and WorkflowMax, that will mean that one of them will be a much better fit for you. I recommend mapping out your job management processes and comparing each stage of your process against the feature offering of each system, as well as considering your budget. 

I’ve listed some differences between Xero Projects and WorkflowMax below.

Xero ProjectsWorkflowMax
Quotes and Estimated Costs at task & cost levelQuotes/Estimates and Budgets at project and task & Cost level
3 user permission levelsGranular user permission levels (we’re talking 52 tick boxes!)
Attach expenses against a project but not purchase ordersTrack expenses – but also track & receipt purchase orders in a job – PO’s and receipts sync to Xero
Integration to Xero Expenses for expense claimsNo integration to Xero expenses
Invoicing from Xero Invoicing from WorkflowMax or via integration with Xero
Bills, spend money and expense linking in XeroPurchase order receipts and sales invoices link with Xero
Task billing rates per projectCustom billing rates per client or project, per staff member or individual task rates
Manage job due datesManage job/task due dates and milestones, automated notification reminders to staff
3 reports – Project Details, Project Summary, Detailed Time – no WIP reportingDozens of reports (including WIP) and the ability to build your own customised reports
Mobile app allows you to create a project and record information such as time and expensesMobile app allows you to add time and expenses to an existing job in WFM. No ability to create jobs in app
Time entries can be GPS tracked/automatedNo GPS tracking
Time entries can be pulled into Xero payrollNo payroll integrations

This is just a quick insight.

The great thing with software is that it’s often customisable. If Xero Projects is a great fit for you but you need staff billing rates, then you could set up staff as inventory items. If WorkflowMax is a great fit for you but you need capacity planning, then you might consider a third party app such as PlanRight. There are so many options and routes to find the best app stack.

But, in essence, Xero Projects is best for smaller businesses from sole traders upwards. Workflowmax is best suited to small to medium sized businesses. 

The most common business industries to use Xero Projects are construction businesses, creative agencies, IT support teams, and 1-2 user accounting practices, among others. From my time at WorkflowMax, I mostly onboarded architects, creatives, construction businesses, and engineers.

If you’re a Xero user interested in using Xero Projects, speak to your accountant to see if it’s the right fit for you.

If you think WorkflowMax (or even another project management software) might be a better option, then book a call with me or email hello@foxability.com. I can help you assess your businesses requirements and uncover opportunities to improve your processes. This will enable me to assist you in fully evaluating the best suited apps.

Hope this helps!

Bethanie

Xero app integrator badge

WorkflowMax Certified Advisor badge

More Google Updates!

Happy Friday one and all! Here’s a couple minutes of Google Workspace updates I think you should know about.

You can now create a new Google Meet video from your browser. 

Just type in meet.new and hit enter and you’ll be in a meeting that you can invite people to.

Remember, you can also type docs.new, slides.new, forms.new, and sheets.new to create all kinds of Google documents in your browser.

Google has released a files tab within Google’s chat rooms. 

If, like us, you use Rooms to communicate with staff or clients, then it’s likely that you’re sharing files with one another there. You can now click the Files tab at the top of the Room screen and search through all shared files there.

Google Chat will automatically suggest 1:1 chat based on your Google Calendar

In Google Chat, you’ll now see suggested 1:1 chats based on current meetings on your Google Calendar. You’ll see the suggested conversation shortcut at the top of the Chat section in Gmail on mobile and web and in Google Chat on mobile. Suggested chats will appear at the top of the Chat section in Gmail on mobile.

Video of Google Chat suggestion

The chat will be visible ten minutes prior to the 1:1 meeting and ten minutes after the meeting ends. This feature makes it easier to share information and files before a meeting begins, let meeting attendees know you’re running late, or share quick follow-ups once a meeting has concluded.

Sign in to RSVP via hyperlinks in Google Calendar email invitations

In order to prevent unauthorized users from responding on your behalf to Google Calendar event invitations, you’ll now be required to be logged in to use any of the RSVP hyperlinks in invite emails. Previously, organizers or anyone with a specific invitee’s invitation copy could respond on behalf of that invitee. Anyone without a Google account won’t be asked to login and can RSVP as normal.

Screenshot of meeting invite

We LOVE Google

We almost can’t keep up with all the new features they’re introducing. You can trust that I’ll be regularly compiling the best new features and posting them here on our blog, so keep an eye out and give us a follow on LinkedIn and Facebook.

All the best!

Bethanie

Recent Google workspace updates you should know about

With the age of working from home, Google workspace (formerly G Suite) has worked on bringing you a whole host of new features to make your experience even better. I’ve listed 3 of my favorite recent updates below:

You can now disable the use of backgrounds in Google Meet for your staff 

Had enough of your staff joining an important meeting with a pub scene as their background photo? (I miss the pub too, I get it) You can now disable that ability! It’s super easy, just see this article.

When sharing your screen, web notifications’ content will be hidden.

We all have had the issue of pops up when we’re screen sharing on an important meeting. There’s nothing you need to do, the content is hidden automatically for you!

You can now choose to share Google Drive files with specific groups within your organisation (think finance, sales, etc) 

You’re no longer stuck with just the sharing options of ‘individuals’ or ‘anyone with this link’ – ensuring better control and security on important documents. See this article for how to set this up.

Google are regularly releasing new updates so check back here to see more!

Bethanie

Digital transformation, what is it and what does it mean for you?

You may have heard the term digital transformation, but I’m here to break down what it really means for you and your business. 

At Foxability, we prefer to call it Business Transformation.

Moving to digital is transformational, yes, but ultimately, the biggest transformation is to your business, and your experience of working within the business. 

With the current new way of working, it’s really important to have the right tech implemented so that productivity is as optimized as possible and your business can continue to thrive.

Many businesses (maybe even yours) are using legacy systems or desktop software. Some businesses, dare I say, have no systems in place at all! This results in inefficiencies in all kinds of areas of the business.

Digital transformation means going from any of these:
  • Departments working in isolation
  • Duplicating data entry
  • Costly maintaining and updating of desktop systems
  • Unable to track detailed business metrics
  • Single user access systems
  • Can only access data from one computer
To this:
  • Departments collaborating on the same software, working in real time
  • Single data entry, automatic flow of data between systems
  • Automatic software updates
  • Access to business data on performance and profitability
  • Access software from anywhere on any device at any time
  • Enhanced data security
  • Foundations laid for business scalability
  • Increased client engagement
  • More free time to work on the business

This is not an exhaustive list – there are hundreds more reasons that moving to cloud based software is a good decision and there are thousands of cloud based systems in the market.

You can find everything from accounting software, to inventory management, point of sale, document management, job management, reporting, CRM, and many many more. Holding your important business data in the cloud is going to give you the visibility you need to make informed business decisions and enable you to grow. 

Clouds apps can also be integrated so if, for example, you want your CRM system to push opportunities into your job management system as a project, this can happen! As the cloud marketplace is always evolving, the opportunities are quite literally endless.

Moving to the cloud is not as expensive and time consuming as you may think. In fact, you’ll likely be saving money in the long run, and utilising software data to earn even more money. 

So how do you get started?

There are 4 main steps I’d recommend:

  1. Document your current processes to identify the process gaps and the issues you would like to solve using software
  2. Using this information, create a list of all the features you would like, scoring them on a nice to have to a must have basis
  3. Research and test apps that have the features you need
  4. Choose your software, implement, and train your staff

Business transformation is not always this simple

Especially if you’re a growing business who needs multiple software systems. That’s where Foxability comes in. I’d really recommend our process mapping workshop. This is a 90 minute meeting for you to talk us through your processes and current systems. We’ll use our knowledge to help identify the opportunities for transformation. Let us know what your vision is for the business, and we’ll do all the research and let you know which software apps can help you achieve this. We can also assist with customised demos, implementation and get the right onboarding and training in place to achieve successful change management.

This is our speciality, and we love what we do.

So, if you have any questions, need advice, or would like to dedicate a professional app advisor to lead this project for you, then please feel free to get in touch.

New Year, New Team!

2020 was a rollercoaster year to say the least. I heard both positive and negative stories about how it impacted businesses. Although it’s been a tough time for many, it has given business owners time to reflect on their business processes. That’s why I’m super excited to be joining Jonathan at Foxability.

So what’s changing?

So many businesses are now investigating how to streamline their processes and use more appropriate tech to enable them to be as productive and profitable as possible. Enter me… Bethanie Hawkins. I’m the new Business Transformation Consultant at Foxability. Yes that’s right, there’s two of us now! Double the people means double the time to service all of the incredible customers we speak to.

My role will be to hold workshops with businesses to explore possible areas of transformation and help implement the right tech. I can provide product demos and you’ll also see my face popping up in training videos too.

So who am I? Where did I come from?

Well… I come from a five year tenure at Xero accounting software where I worked with business owners and accounting practices to implement both Xero and WorkflowMax. I have known of Foxability for a few years now and met Jonathan a couple of times at Xero events, so I had been aware of his great reputation for helping businesses when I found out he was looking to grow his business. Jonathan and I share a passion in both the geeky product side of things, as well as enabling businesses to function well and ultimately grow.

In my spare time (when such events were allowed) I like to attend concerts and food festivals, and steal cuddles from my kitten Dimitri.

If you’d like to have a chat, please reach out to me at bethanie@foxability.com