Category Archives: Project Management

WIMS Consulting Logo Blue

The WIMS Consulting 2020 Rebrand

There is just something about transition, a new decade (even though January 1st seems like it was already another decade ago), and a new mission to undergo a massive scaling of one’s company that requires a bit of a shakeup. Huge transformative shifts force all involved to level up and evolve for the better. They demand a heightened sense of commitment to excellence and discipline.

As they say, the things that got you here will rarely get you there.

The first 6 years of WIMS Consulting have been great, the company has grown double digits every single year (with 2 years at triple), and despite the state of the market, this year is already on track to achieve exponential growth compared to last year (in fact it economy appears to be helping it along even more as companies go all-in on digital). That said, I have still been playing too small and remain far from where I want the company to be yet. It is time to ramp things way up and kick things up another notch.

A rebrand is often mostly symbolic, it is a way to re-engineer how you would like the public to see and perceive your company, and to re-calibrate the first impression for those that do not know you yet. It also allows you to set the tone for current and future employees, partners, and clients. It is an opportunity to recommit and reestablish your values of who you are and who you aspire to be.

Up until this point we have been far from perfect and have certainly underdone some growing pains along the way. As difficult as it is to admit, not every single client project has exceeded expectations for one reason or another. On the flip side plenty of them have gone really well too. Regardless of which side the responsibility lies solely with us for better or worse. Moving forward, that level of accountability and transparency must be the standard. A rebrand is a way to draw a line in the sand, a demarcation to demonstrate that whatever happened before going forward this is the way we will do business no matter what.

Now for a little background and insight on the creative. The spartan warrior is a deeply personal symbol to me since I was young. For one, I grew up attending a school called Milton Hershey (from kindergarten to graduation), and it was our mascot. We learned about their culture and their values (mostly the romanticized and positive version, not as much of the negatives side of it).

Then when I watched the movie 300, wow what an impact it made. To see a group of soldiers, and a King no less, willingly sacrifice themselves with such honor and grace for the good of their tribe, it really stuck with me. I know it was embellished a bit as all movies are, but that didn’t take away from the impression it left.

Between Milton Hershey and the culture resonating so much throughout my life I even got a tattoo of the spartan helmet. For those reasons and others, it sounded like a great place to start when considering what I wanted my company to look like.

Fortunately, when leveraging history to inspire the future you can learn from, and remove, the negatives in order to improve upon an ideal, allowing you to adopt the things that translate. Further, WIMS Consulting is not adopting ALL their values after all (for one we are very much capitalists). “The word “spartan” means self-restrained, simple, frugal, and austere” plus they were clearly pretty violent and brutal. So again, it is not exactly a direct comparison.

The positive side, such as their discipline, commitment, team-oriented collaboration and community are things you build a company around. Others include being strategic, thoughtful, well organized, and assertive. They were creative in their approach to problem solving. The soldiers in their army were only as strong as the person standing next to them and the collective unit as a whole. They tempered the potentially corrosive nature of outsized individual egos. They played offense and defense equally well. They had an unwavering obligation to do whatever necessary to achieve a desired outcome.

Now THAT is what I want the WIMS Consulting cultural values to represent and embody. I want the company to uphold its commitment and dedication to its community (clients, employees, and partners) to that standard of excellence every single day and in every single project and task. This is the mindset required that will subsequently lead to producing outstanding work and deliverables for our clients. It certainly won’t be easy, but nothing worth doing really is.

Hopefully, we nailed that impression and give this perception with the logo and throughout the supplemental components of the branding. More importantly however, is that we maintain the standards and values in a clear and tangible way. Stay tuned for more, but I would love to hear what you think so far!

WIMS Consulting Logo Blue     WIMS Consulting Logo Gold

The WIMS Guide Video Ep.10 Restarting the Streak

The WIMS Guide Video Ep.10 Restarting the Streak

Whelp I broke the streak! After literally 14 hours straight with a client firm there was a moment when I got back to the apartment around 10pm where I could’ve made the right decision and be Superman…but didn’t. Ugh!

Nothing like that bitter taste of blowing it to motivate you get back on track. Often it can derail someone and they spiral but I’m just going to shrug it off and get back at it. Especially considering that overall, yesterday was overwhelmingly positive and a major win. Spent the day with a law firm client talking business development and marketing strategy, doing some training, looking at the numbers, planning for the year ahead and really drilling down into the specific. Despite the unrelenting grind, the day absolutely flew by.

Now we just have to focus on making sure everyone follows up and is held accountable to the plan. Today, back to hustling in Miami. Carving out some time this am for billable work. Then have several meetings lined up and a networking event this evening as well. Onward!

The WIMS Guide Video Edition will focus on business topics such as Entrepreneurship, CRM, Marketing, Sales, B2B, Business Development, Web Design, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics, Machine Learning, and much much more. To learn more about Mike Simmons and his company WIMS Consulting, click here. 

CRM Call to Action 2020

Your Annual CRM Call to Action for 2020

I’ve been harping on the importance of CRM programs for about a decade now (here’s the last time), yet it still hasn’t caught on the way it should. This is the year that changes. Like with most technology, competition, economies of scale, and innovation have driven costs down significantly. Not only are they cheaper, but the functionality and value has simultaneously increased dramatically. Now, you can even get basic versions of a CRM program for free. It’s why acquiring and implementing a CRM program is my #1 recommendation for every business, regardless of industry or target market, if you’re looking to increase revenue.

Whether you work for a large and complex company, or if you’re an independent freelancer, or if you’re a sales mercenary who is compensated by getting to “eat what you kill,” there is a CRM program out there for you. Regardless of your budget (or lack thereof), you can customize the level of sophistication of your CRM program, as they all have various subscription levels. Further, there was recently an absolutely game changing announcement from one of my CRM platform preferences (and the one I personally use for my business).

Zoho One – An Operating System for Business

“Zoho One is a broad and cohesive set of applications that work collectively to run an entire business on the cloud. It includes more than 40 web applications and an equal number of mobile apps—under a single sign-on, with centralized administration and provisioning—making it a true operating system for any business. While each application punches above its weight against the competition, collectively they deliver a knockout punch.

With Zoho One, we’ve put together all the applications a company needs to acquire and serve its customers (marketing, sales, automation, and support apps); run its operations (finance, recruiting, and HR apps); and provide all the tools for its employees to work collaboratively and get their work done (office suite, mail, personal productivity, and collaboration apps). Almost any company has these same needs. With Creator, our drag-and-drop app builder, customers can even build custom apps for unique business needs—like logistics scheduling—and put them under the same umbrella that forms the single operating system for their business.

Zoho One is available at $30 a month—or just about a dollar a day, per employee. ($35 if you pay on a month-to-month basis).”

While WIMS, Inc. is platform agnostic (we work with all of them, including SalesforceHubSpotMicrosoft Dynamics, and Insightly among others) it’s getting more difficult not to refer my clients and prospects straight to Zoho right now. There are of course exceptions, but they’ve built something special, particularly for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Now, back to the more general CRM theme.

They all integrate with your email provider of choice, along with most social media channels, so tracking communications is easy (and automated). There are an incredible number of third-party add-ons you can incorporate depending on how robust your operations processes are to add additional functionality too.

Most importantly however, is that the ROI (return on investment) will more than make up for the expense.

CRMs help you automate your sales process. The more automated your sales cycle and follow up efforts can be, the greater volume of deals your business will be able to close. Further, the more accurate data you have about your sales cycle, the more deeply you can analyze it to gain insight that will not only help increase revenue, but ultimately help you improve:

  • Close rates,
  • Customer service and retention,
  • Length of sales cycle, and
  • Forecasting efforts and projections.

While implementing a CRM program can be a significant commitment initially, if you do it right, the benefit to your business is invaluable. With just under two months left in 2019, now is the perfect time to start planning and conduct your due diligence to start 2020 with yet another New Year’s resolution.

We’re here to help if you need it!

Improving with Kaizen

Improving with Kaizen

I have already highlighted some agile practices which can be used to enhance your personal and professional lives. From Kanban Boards to agile meetings, companies and individuals are being incorporated by thought leaders and managers at large and small organizations around the world. Kaizen is an approach to continual improvement which like Kanban originated in lean manufacturing practices in Japan in the 1950s.

 

The core to embracing Kaizen is to focus on continual improvements across all elements of the specific area which you are attempting to improve. If you are working on a team tasked with improving the user interface for a new mobile application for a volunteer organization a good place to begin would be to identify possible opportunities. Using this example will show how the focus and power of Kaizen is on being able to focus on specific aspects of a large process to improve the overall standing of the organization.

 

Identifying Opportunities  

Improvements begin with taking ideas and turning them into simple actions. The first step in gaining an understanding of how to improve a process is to understand the basic functionality of the task or process at hand. When applying Kaizen to work situations the place to begin is to understand the business process.

For our example of improving an existing mobile app, the focus should be on the existing business process and how the new roll out of the application fits into the organization’s overall strategy. The new application should be easy to use while conveying the core mission of the organization. This means that the aligning of strategic decision making means a new product or software update goes beyond developing software and aligns all business function in projects to ensure they are vital to the mission and values.

 

Collaboration

Actions are not siloed but must be collaborative between functional groups within any organization and often the best solutions come from collaborations between different organizations. Working on a shared goal will look different for every team and every circumstance/project will be unique but some lessons from Kaizen can direct teams to focus on specific areas of improvement and reap the rewards of focused collaboration. A good direction to follow on getting to the core of problems is by undertaking a root cause analysis. Through asking a series of questions to find the main cause of the problem at hand instead of merely patching problems through short term fixes.

 

Root Cause Analysis

Do you ever have a problem that constantly arises regardless of how many times you try to do little changes to fix it?

If this is the case conducting a root cause analysis may be in your future.

The purpose of a root cause analysis is to find the actual cause of a problem which in many cases is not visible on the surface. This requires asking many questions and getting to the cause of a problem instead of focusing on the symptoms that cause uncertainty. This process requires deep reflection and thoughtfulness to determine and focus in on the underlying causes of problems.

 

What this means

A nice feature of Kaizen is that it is an intuitive practice that many people already participate in without even knowing it. Asking more questions and being able to come to a collective agreement to improve the situation of your organization is a key outcome of Kaizen. This practice can additionally be used in your personal life to improve your relationships, career aspirations, and even improving home projects and chores. Revisit your own situation and see if there is any place that you can improve and begin asking questions to identify the root cause of the problem and make a plan to improve your outlook on life.

Introduction to Kanban

What is Kanban?

Kanban is the Japanese phrase for signboard or billboard. It is additionally a scheduling tool used across manufacturing, restaurants, and software development to stay on track and effectively completing tasks for project. The concept originated in Japan by Toyota under the leadership of Taiichi Ohno who worked as an industrial engineer helping to spread the technique of lean manufacturing. Kanban was initially implemented to expedite the just-in-time production method producing a specific quantity of necessary products based on consumer demand.

 

Overview of Kanban

Understanding the origin and general principles of Kanban allows for an easier adoption of Kanban. If you do not anticipate fully incorporating Kanban, understanding an additional time management and organizational design tool will allow for better results. At its core, Kanban is a form of managing work by balancing the required actions needed to complete work with the available capacity in order to complete different tasks. Since work is completed on a just-in-time manner waste is limited across the entire system. Workers only complete tasks that are necessary at the time the work is being done ensuring that the overall objective is maintained.

 

Sushi and production management

An example of just-in-time production outside of manufacturing is a sushi menu with a list of possible items and a box to check the quantity and type of each sushi roll. By completing work in a just-in-time manner customers will have fresh sushi rolls that were specifically made for them. On the production side, Kanban reduces food waste since food is prepared only when customers order a specific dish. The combination of reducing food waste and providing customers with fresher food will make the experience of both the restaurant and the customer more enjoyable.

 

Kanban board

However, the implications go beyond sushi! The seamless structure of ordering fresh rolls makes for an easy to grasp visual and edible example. The Kanban board is a practical visual tool used to follow the journey into Kanban by displaying relevant tasks on a visual board. While every Kanban board will be structured in a unique way to maximize value to the user, the general concept is that work is tracked from left to right as progress is made. Kanban boards can be utilized on whiteboards with sticky notes, in a spreadsheet of your choice, or through the online project management software of your choice including Zoho, Trello, and Atlassian.

 

Further Actions

Like any methodology, the key to becoming successful with Kanban is to stick to something that you will commit to the long run. Success through using Kanban can be maximized through additional agile frameworks ensuring that the quality of work is improved through focusing on moving tasks through the system and completing them in a timely manner. The importance of continual improvement, self-reflection, and increasing output are meaningful to the project itself and the outlook of the workers on the project by empowering them to take more ownership of the finished product. Kanban holds an important value by taking ownership of your own life and fully understanding the power of this approach and is beneficial for those who embrace Kanban and those who study it. Tools are merely the instruments used to accomplish goals and since Kanban is a tool it can be used in varying degrees to reach goals, set new ones, and complete projects in more efficient ways.

Project Management Banner

The Project Lifecycle

 

At its core, project management is about focusing on a plan to execute a series of tasks to accomplish an end goal within a specific constraint. Projects take many different forms and are often defined by having to perform complex tasks under the constraints of limited budget and time. Before diving into the article I suggest that you the reader take the time to go back and look through the WIMS Guide archive to read some of the other insights from myself and my colleagues.

 

I have addressed some matters related to project management and am going to embark on a further process of highlighting my experiences moving through the world as a project manager. Projects can be scary, and this is something which I am aware of and address these myself as I go through my daily life both professionally and personally. Projects do not need to be fretted or feared but should be embraced to tell the stories about your own journey and the strengthens the organizations you are a part of through your career, civic engagements, and volunteer organizations.

 

Getting started with a project

A five part project, lifecycle which was compiled by Villanova University is a good starting place to understand the values of going through a series of steps to complete successful projects. These five distinct phases occur over the life cycle of a project. The ability to see structure through the course of a project and learn about the structure of the project lifecycle is valuable to both the project manager and the entire team who is implementing specific pieces of the project and are not entrenched in the language and specifics of project management.

 

Project Initiation: This serves the starting point for the entire project. Often feasibility and value for the course of the entire project are measured at the on set of the project before any additional planning has commenced. If the project seems feasible and profitable the project manager will move forward with the project and showcase how this specific project fits into the core of current business operations.

 

Project Planning: The project has been given the go ahead and planning is needed to get it up and running. A plan will differ slightly for every project but will often include an outlined schedule, budget, how risk will be addressed, and the scope of the project to outline necessary resources and departments involved in different phases of the project.

 

Project Execution: After the plan has been written the work on the project will be done. The deliverable goods or services will be delivered through a series of deadlines to involved stakeholders and sponsors. Executing a project can only happen by following and updating the project plan as work is accomplished and some tasks are met.

 

Project Monitoring and Control: As tasks and work is completed some deadlines will not be met and adjustments to resources and timing are necessary. The project manager must monitor, document, and control these changes to ensure the project can move forward towards completion.

 

Project Closure: The project will have an end date when it is delivered to the customer. The end of the project should involve communication with the stakeholders across the project and serve as an important closure point for the team members to look back on the time they spent on it. Furthermore, this closure can serve as a celebration to enjoy the successful completion of the project while sharing lessons learned and spending time with some project members for a final time.

 

 

Concluding Thoughts

The steps surrounding the project plan are not rigid steps which need to be followed like financial equations but are guidelines to improve the process and outcome of projects of all sizes. Project Management offers ways to improve scheduling and optimize different tasks across projects for both individuals and teams. Empowerment occurs working through complex projects using a well-developed project plan. It is vital to understand that while projects are difficult the ability to deconstruct them into simpler steps will allow the lifecycle of the project to be completed in an easier and more rewarding manner.

 

Resources

 

“The WIMS Guide.” WIMS Guide. Retrieved from https://www.wimsguide.com/tag/the-wims-guide/.

“Project Management.” WIMS Guide. Retrieved from https://www.wimsguide.com/category/project-management/.

“Project Management.” WIMS Consulting. Retrieved from https://www.wims-consulting.com/project-management.

“Five Phases of the Project Management Lifecycle.” Villanova University. Retrieved from https://www.villanovau.com/resources/project-management/5-phases-project-management-lifecycle/.

Photo by Jo Szczepanska.

2019 World Cup

2019 FIFA World Cup

From June 7th through July 7th the FIFA Women’s World Cup will be held across nine French cities to be crowned as the best team in the world. This serves as one of the major sporting events of the year and will draw major media attention from around the world. The start of the World Cup is less than two weeks away and the events of the games will be the culmination of years of hard work and dedication by players, coaches, and event organizers.

Major sporting events like this serve as an insight into the complexities of organizing major events on the world stage with world class athletes and major global media attention. Project management from coaching and players making complex decisions in the middle of a game to the years of planning from local and national politicians, business owners, and stadium operators. From the soccer pitch to the logistics and planning all aspects of the Word Cup must be planned out using project management frameworks from executing to reflecting on how plays and designs play out.

 

The Game

The course of a sporting event provides many opportunities to take on leadership roles under pressure and uncertainty. This includes the opportunity for players who have smaller roles to make major plays to shape the outcome of the game. A good team member will understand that their individual decisions to the collective decisions made by the team will position itself in a better overall position even if certain players must limit their role on the team to improve the cohesiveness of the team.

The glory of scoring the winning goal can only occur behind the decisions made by players on the field under the instruction of coaches, dietitians, and a complex training regimen. The ability to get a team into championship shape occurs over years and is not an overnight process. This is a lesson which everyone can learn when working on projects. To succeed putting in the time is necessary. Every team needs a strong support system who can provide tips and help along the process from inception to completion. The stars of the American soccer team have been training and finalizing their preparations for the World Cup, in a similar way to how officials from FIFA and across France are in the final stages of preparing venues for the World Cup.

 

Setting the Stage

The players, media, coaches, and fans who will be descending on France will be staying at accommodations and attending games across the country in stadiums from Paris to Nice. The work that goes into preparing for a World Cup goes far beyond the soccer field and includes upgrades to stadiums and constructing new amenities for those visiting France. When the World Cup commences remember it is a marvel in project management from the perspective of the players, the decisions they have made leading up to and during the games, along with the organizers of the event, the decisions they have made in the past and the decisions they make through the Word Cup.

Pineapple Consulting

WIMS Client Spotlight: Pineapple Consulting

Pineapple Consulting Firm was created with only one goal: to help small businesses succeed. It helps how synergistic that is with WIMS Consulting, as not only is there a client relationship, but it really fits our model of creating partnerships too.

While Pineapple is eager to help however they can, they have a particular specialization centered around analytics and efficiency. Specifically, they are wizards when it comes to Excel, spreadsheets, lead generation, and project management (something we’re really interested in helping businesses with right now at WIMS Consulting too).

Their service offerings include:

  • Data Analytics
    • Inform decisions and strategies for the best results.
    • Data gathering, manipulation, and visualization with expertise in Excel.
  • Financial Analysis
    • Cost benefit analysis, Financial modelling and projections all in customizable Excel tools.
  • Project Management
    • Lead a project from idea development all the way to post-execution monitoring.
  • Lead Generation/Data Scraping
    • Extract leads and data from online and present it in easily manageable files.

They work with a wide variety of industries, but have a niche surrounding professional service firms. Pineapple’s founder has an extensive background in the financial services and wealth management industry. However they also work with startups of all sizes, accounting, banking, insurance, real estate, non-profits, and health care among others.

The company is based in Charlotte, NC but of course is able to work with clients from throughout the country.

Click here to check out their website and let them know that I sent you!

Project Management

 

The business world is shaped by the ability of organizations to effectively manage and execute projects in a team environment. Projects stand at the center of any idea and serve as the means of turning ideas into meaningful action. From the planning through executing and reflection on the project constant communication and decision making is needed to direct the project in the best direction. The ability to have leaders in an organization who can direct resources and personnel during uncertain times will reap many benefits for the entire organizations ability to provide the best quality solutions.

 

The value of project management stands out in the business world as a core competency which focuses heavily on operating the project. This includes reinforcing leadership decisions, maintaining project goals, and ensuring open communication occurs between stakeholders. Project leaders provide efficiently run projects developing a unique project management strategy which fits the specific needs of your organization. To improve your own project management skills, an in-depth view of the definition of a project from the Project Management Institute (PMI) will be examined. Some of the different project management frameworks will also be examined along with the dynamics of teams including the Five Stages of Group Development. Understanding the differences in project management frameworks as well as what constitutes a project and the ability to help develop and lead teams will become more ingrained into the core of your organization. The ability to understand how to construct your time and resources on projects will reap rewards and allow for more goals to be on time and under budget.

 

Project management is a skill set which does not fit into the boxes of specific industries or mindsets but encompasses the changes and complexities of a project over the course of its lifespan. Every project that is implemented changes and faces unique challenges and uncertainties yet the most telling sign of the success of the project is how the team reacts to changes and uncertainty. Effective project management will not solve all the uncertainties of projects yet that is not the purpose of project management and effective leadership. Project management serves as a framework to keep the project on course and ensure that the team can stay on track during good times and the more difficult times. Instead of being an exact science project management combines specific industry knowledge, emotional intelligence, and team building to create the most innovative solutions for teams and allowing teams to perform at their highest level.

 

Project Management

Introducing the WIMS Consulting Project Management Service Line

The WIMS Consulting project management service line was born out of our own need to allocate the time and resources to make sure and improve this area of our business. A core business tenant is that the best business models solve real problems that you can relate to and those that make a significant impact on your life. Getting the project management process built and implemented is working wonders for our business, and we realized it would likely do the same for yours.

Agile, Scrum, Kanban, Gantt. Excel, Google Sheets, Trello, Jira, Smart Sheets, Asana, SharePoint, Bitrix, BaseCamp, Zoho Project Management. We scoured the web, read countless white papers, articles, watched webinars and seminars, and researched the heck out of this problem until we found the best approach that works. We didn’t just look for the best methodology, but also the best software stack too. Because just like CRM programs (which we intertwine this with in our case) you can have the best understanding of the principles and software in the world, but if you don’t actually use and implement the program correctly it will still fail.

Many people conduct project management intuitively, or by using a combination of Outlook, post-it notes, and to-do lists. Others at least have upgraded to a Trello board or Smart Sheet subscription. It’s time to level up and incorporate a robust project management strategy as a core part of your company’s operations.

While we primarily built this for us, we quickly realized how replicable it is for our clients too. The value it brings to your overall business is profound. It helps improve communication, holds everyone accountable, ensures you’re focused and prioritizing the right things. All of which are crucial as you work to grow and scale. We spend a lot of time helping our clients get more business and increase revenue, now we’re also focusing on helping them to keep that business in a long-term and sustainable way. We’d love the opportunity to assist your company with making it happen. Reach out when you’re ready!

Project Management Offering

WIMS Consulting can act as your long-term outsourced project manager, or on an ad-hoc project basis as they arise. Our solutions are customized and flexible based on the client’s specific needs. Whether you have a system in place that needs some minor tweaks, or if you want to start over from scratch we can help. If you want to migrate to a new software platform, we got you covered.

Our primary objective is assisting you with improving your critical decision-making processes, streamlining your operations by enhancing efficiency, improving accountability, encouraging clear communication, and ultimately increasing your ROI.

Our Process

The WIMS project management service line is centered around the mission and goals of the client. To begin, we conduct an informational interview, or discovery call, where we take a deep dive into the organization’s operations to get a better understanding of the existing project management systems and policies in place (if there are any). During this due diligence phase, we learn what the client thinks is working, what isn’t, identify bottlenecks, and learn as much as we can.

This initial conversation will help frame the service and solutions proposed through having a candid conversation to understand where the organization is at and where it desires to go. When this method was undertaken internally, we included some of the questions included below.

Project Management Audit

We provide an audit of your organization’s existing internal processes. After this due diligence phase, we then take the time to thoroughly review and assess. Once this is complete, we come back to you with recommendations and next steps that we believe would lead to the most appropriate project management system for your organization. Before implementation however we will review it together to make a cohesive decision that includes the buy-in and commitment from both of our organizations.

Sample Questions:
1.    Describe your current project management/day-to-day operations process. What are three main points that stand out?
2.    Who is involved in the project planning process? Include all key stakeholders/administrators/decision makers, etc.
3.    What software (if any) are you using?
4.    What type of budget and resources do you have to solve this problem?
5.    Have you ever lost a project or not bid on one because of your current internal project management process? Have any other negative experiences occurred because of it?

Of course this is just a high level overview of what is ultimately a complex process. We’d love the opportunity to connect with you and your organization to learn more about your specific project management/operational needs and how we can assist.