From a spreadsheet to a tracking system

  • Are you emailing around a spreadsheet to gather data from other people?
  •  
  • Do you wish your spreadsheet communicated updates, sent reminders, attached files?
  •  
  • Are you seeking a cost-effective, online solution that’s secure and prevents data corruption?
  •  

If you answered yes, you are hitting spreadsheet limitations and may benefit by stepping up how your team tracks on FMYI

Testimonial

I use FMYI avidly. It’s my calendar and a great way to communicate with my team. They know when I’m busy by checking my calendar, and can easily set appointments around it if they need my help. It is also my follow up tool for businesses that I have to work on over a period of time.
— Kendall Rohde, Special Projects Coordinator in Austin, Texas

FMYI for education

Did you know about how the education sector is using FMYI? From Michele Snyder, Science Curriculum and Instruction Advisor at the Arkansas Department of Education:

“Thank you so much for the opportunity to use FMYI to conduct a successful collaboration with Arkansas science teachers to create the Arkansas K-12 Science Standards for Grades K-8. The platform you provided allowed for the teachers to work in small teams to review drafts of the standards. This was a confidential place that allowed them to read, study the 4 versions, and make comments on changes for improvements. It also kept the control of the content to me which is important when working with 35 different individuals. This digital collaboration also allowed the teachers to stay in their classrooms. Thank you again and I look forward to continue working with you on FMYI.”

Get out of the inbox and spreadsheet box

tumblr_inline_nuf9heujAl1qb7ghm_500.png

I’ve been consulting with clients to optimize how they “track” their work beyond spreadsheets, to increase efficiency. After work I helped my boys build their trains and I couldn’t help but notice a few similarities:

Select the right pieces to make progress.

Trains are made with straights and curves and the boys pick what they want. Similarly workplaces and initiatives choose what they will use to organize and collect information from their dispersed teams (whether tracking contact details, projects milestones, progress updates, and other essential pieces of data).

Most organizations use massive spreadsheets to track their work for obvious reason. However, can you relate to the challenges of a spreadsheet becoming overgrown, getting wider and wider as your team tries to document over time what happens. And, there’s no way to attach emails, files or tasks that remind people to follow-up. Might there be another “piece” (of software that is) to help you through these obstacles? Many clients select an internal forms in a shared workspace system because adding updates is easier, new information alerts the right people and reminders ensure follow-up. Of course they still need the button to generate a dynamic spreadsheet for reporting purposes, but not the day to day tracking. And, just as the train will circle back to the start of the track, work groups with a system keep searchable, historical records of what happened. Don’t be derailed by the confines of a spreadsheet “box”.

Communicate to ensure everyone knows where they are going.

As my sons operate in parallel, laying down their selected pieces, it’s not long before the choices they made in silo create conflict on the best path forward. The same is true with any initiative — It’s not efficient to copy every person on every email but if email is the only source of truth, critical decision-making assets have to be constantly emailed.

Having all assets in one place, rather than scattered about, can save countless hours of searching.  A client boasted in our last meeting that changing how they track and communicate significantly increased their accuracy to get things right the first time, and transparency with select team members was the key to avoiding costly mistakes. Seeing the high level activity in a system (something you can’t do in an email inbox) can reveal bottlenecks and opportunities. While email may be the delivery method of choice, the centralized home for the information should not be the email “box.”

Grow quickly: the need for speed.

My kids lay down their track quickly, as the part they like best is driving the trains. Work teams also desire efficiency. One reason a number of clients were previously deterred from making adjustments in their processes was the seemingly unproductive time it takes to create a new track, or time for “on-boarding.” One of our clients said, “The system I was looking to implement was like building an ice skating rink that would take months to build before we could use it…thank you for providing one that we could skate on while we build and grow.”

A manager should avoid throwing a team off-track when adjusting their  “workflow.” If you go, for example, from simply using email to a hard-core CRM, you will likely hit a user-adoption wall. Or, if your team doesn’t see “what’s in it for me” you may face a long, uphill implementation battle. A custom software construction project can be a financial risk, so instead consider a scalable option that allows you to get the team onboard quickly, along with the flexibility to adjust the system on the fly. A more simple solution that actually gets used is a better investment than a large-scale custom build that turns into a nightmare Pandora’s “box.”

Getting outside the box

Finally, unlike what’s found "inside the box” of trains, I suggest thinking "outside the box” (as in outside the email inbox and spreadsheet box) when selecting how your internal workplace or external initiative is tracking and communicating. Our company helps managers at the core stay connected with their dispersed teams. Whether a start-up or a focused team at Fortune 100 corporation, government agency, or NGO, the work is far more fun and stress-free when you stay on track.

— Seth

Terri Todd, President of Habersham Humane Society

“I am often asked how much I get paid for the work I do with our local non-profit humane society. We are all volunteer organization. I do receive the opportunity to work with professionals dedicated to helping animals and educating our community who inspire me on a daily basis.

When I began the work with Habersham Humane Society I asked that they use the FMYI software to help build a strong supportive team using collaboration and interaction that would create an environment for these workhorses that would be much more efficient and help build the platforms for their ideas to manifest into great projects with ease of access to information without the ritual of digging through buried data. Bits and pieces of emails or files that had been stored somewhere for safe keeping later. Grant work for non-profits is very data driven and all that hard data needs to be reserved for future use.

FMYI builds those data storage areas with ease and offers those working with you to fast access at any moment. The ability to create within the software work projects and sharing information to others or separating teams by project for any business style is an outstanding part of the FMYI software.

While our work is about animals, managing people is key to the outcome of our impact. Time is important to all us and helping our organization by getting the most of their time and energy is what I needed. We just love FMYI!”

Innovation in a seismic zone

Are you ready for the big one? I participated in an Oregon Business MagazineQuake Smart” panel discussion today in the Key Bank Club at Providence Park and learned quite a bit about disaster preparedness and resilience. We had a lively discussion and I contributed some thoughts around the technologies and social network building initiatives that could help push earthquake preparedness forward. Here’s a great summary of the discussion in Oregon Business.

Some key questions and answers:

What is the best way for community members to learn more?   

How can you stay in touch with action plans?

  • Information on your intranet
  • Facebook Groups or Nextdoor with your neighbors
  • Connect advocacy and advisory working groups to coordinate efforts across regions, sectors, and other stakeholder groups through tools like FMYI

What are some technologies for the aftermath?

-Justin