Category Archives: WIMSisms

The WIMS Guide CoVid-19 Edition Charlotte

The WIMS Guide CoVid-19 Economy Edition aka “The Charlotte Coronaconomy”

By now we’re well into the quarantine period and pretty deep into the business disruption that’s been the byproduct of the spread of CoVid-19/Corona Virus. At this point many of us are (at least relatively) beginning to adjust to the new normal and catch our breath in terms of what this means to our various businesses. Hopefully you’ve been able to strategize on potential pivots, are making the necessary adjustments, and are getting closer to finding a new groove for the path forward.

On the other hand, it would be naive to think that every businesses is going to make it through unfortunately. To think where we are now compared to even a month ago is pretty horrifying. But that being said, the ONLY thing to do now is continue to march onward with an unrelenting focus on doing whatever it takes (even if that means closing up shop and going in a different direction) to get through this. Looking forward is really all that matters now.

In that light I want to use my company’s (WIMS Consulting) platform, clients, partnerships, relationships, etc. to help share resources, ideas, insights, hope, strategies, etc. to help you and your business navigate these waters. I know a lot of people are doing this too and some of these things may be redundant, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t do my part and just let others do the leading during this time.

Considering the majority of our our business is based in Charlotte, NC and Miami, FL I’m going to create a page for each with specific local information in addition to the more macro/federal stuff. Further, I’ve volunteered to help lead the “South Florida Business Continuity Task Force” so will be sharing more information about that too as we launch the website later today (3.25.20). In Charlotte, we’re going to spearhead something similar via the Charlotte Business Group. Stay tuned!

In the mean time please reference the content below which I’ll be updating regularly. If you have anything else you’d like me to add please email me directly at msimmons@wims-consulting.com.

It may sound insensitive right now, but as the saying goes: “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” This is going to produce unprecedented opportunities if you look for them. Another extremely applicable quote: “This too shall pass!”

-Mike

 

Financial Support

SBA/Disaster Relief Loans:

By now just about everyone has been spreading the word on this. But this piece from the Charlotte Business Journal was really well done. “What small businesses in North Carolina need to know about SBA disaster-relief loans”.

IRS – Federal Tax Relief protocol.

North Carolina Department of Revenue CoVid-19 Tax Relief Guidelines.

Charlotte/Mecklenburg County:

Carolina Small Business Development Fund: Small Business Lending: COVID-19 Update from Our President & CEO, Kevin Dick

Mecklenburg County ​Office of Economic Development another incredible set of resources surrounding things not solely business related but also with an expanded scope.

How to Get Mortgage Relief (Investopedia)

 

Charlotte Impact/Next Steps

Charlotte Regional Business AllianceCoVid-19 Resource Portal this expands well outside just greater Charlotte too and includes resources for the much larger regional footprint. Check it out, extremely valuable. It even goes into the personal health side of things, again which is outside of the scope of what we’re trying to accomplish here but if you’re curious this is the place to go. This also includes guidance from lawyers, accounting firms, etc.

Charlotte Inno – Startup Related: “Coronavirus-Related Resources for Charlotte Startups” This is an incredible and robust list that gets into operational recommendations among others.

North Carolina Chamber Coronavirus Resource Guide including Small Business Resource Center.

Charlotte Inno“Amid Coronavirus, Charlotte Tech Leaders Talk Next Steps for the Business Community”.

Charlotte Business Resources CoVid-19 Resources.

 

Ideas/Strategies

65 Free Tools to Help You Through the Coronavirus Pandemic (Entrepreneur Mag)

On CRM: How Companies Are Leveraging Their CRM Systems To Help Navigate Through COVID-19 (Forbes)

Coronavirus: What Every Business Owner Needs to Know (Wix) great article with a lot of sound ideas, even if some are seemingly obvious.

Email Marketing: This was a great article from Fast Company, and insightful. Just because everyone else is sending emails doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do one too. Just make sure it’s really well done if you do and that it adds value to your audience (don’t be self serving).

List Of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Small Business Relief Programs (Forbes)

COVID-19 Will Fuel the Next Wave of Innovation (Entrepreneur Mag)

 

MORE TO COME!!

The WIMS Guide Video Ep. 7 CRM

The WIMS Guide Ep. 7 – CRM: Gone Mobile

Today we’ve gone mobile, shooting from the mountains of Banner Elk, NC! It’s appropriate for today’s theme (we’re still drilling deeper into CRMs) about the mobile side of CRM.

Ideally, whatever platform you decide (or chose) will have a great mobile application as well. It can truly make a major difference with not only efficiency, but also with maximizing the program’s value. My go-to’s have great mobile apps of course (Zoho, Salesforce.com, HubSpot) but plenty of others do too.

It helps to be able to add notes/updates immediately after a coffee or lunch meeting, or after discussing an actual deal. I haven’t always been great at it either, but getting all the pertinent and timely data in the system ASAP really helps to ensure you don’t forget any of the crucial, and sometimes subtle details and information gleaned from those meetings. Further, being able to pull out your phone (when appropriate) to recall a key piece of intel can be valuable as well.

Why rely on your memory when you have a supercomputer in your pocket?

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. 

The WIMS Guide Video Ep. 6 CRM

The WIMS Guide Ep. 6 – CRM: The A-Team

If you’re following along (if not that’s ok too) today we’re talking about what you do as the next step in launching or redeploying your CRM. You’re going to focus solely on the A players for now. The main thing that is going to create momentum and keep you using the system is achieving ROI as quickly as possible. That’s the main benefit you want out of this and thus its the primary goal.

The quickest way to get there is prioritizing the A players first, aka your best clients and prospects. So after you’ve got the data, context, and all the other appropriate information about them in there you’re then going to focus on doing something about it.

You’re going to pick these people and go through them and schedule/pre-plan your out reach and follow up strategy. You’re going to leverage the task list, the calendar, reminders, etc. to layout the timing and content with which you’re going to conduct your outreach. And you’re going to leverage the CRM to systematize/automate it and take out the human element (somewhat, but not entirely).

By now you should have some sort of script that articulates your value proposition well along with a deck or brochure. Pre-schedule your follow up, and do between 3-7 touch points to make sure you see it through. Once you close the deal you can eliminate the subsequent steps as they’re convert. Put the email script in there, add some customized talking points, context, recall a funny joke or something they care about and set the entire campaign up in one shot.

The feeling you’ll get knowing this has been accomplished is going to propel you forward and create an invaluable supplement to your day to day activities. Give it a shot and let me know if you need any assistance.

-Mike

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. 

The WIMS Guide Video Ep. 3

The WIMS Guide Ep. 3 – For Entrepreneurs and Professionals Focused on the Journey

It’s Friday! Already got day 7 of my gym streak knocked out, got it in early today as opposed to the 10pm sessions I’ve been pulling off lately.

Today’s client work was mostly related to government/military contracting as well as the legal industry. Fascinating stuff. I try to bunch project work together by themes/industries as much as I can in order to maintain a consistent and appropriate mindset. It doesn’t always work out that way, but when it does I find it helps create more efficiency as you don’t have to transition from say a law firm to a restaurant instantaneously.

Also, I’m rocking the Charlotte Business Group pullover on this rainy Charlotte Friday to give the organization a little extra love as we have big plans for 2020 as well. We also have an event with the Charlotte Hornets coming up on Wednesday the 8th. Make sure you stay tuned!

Most important however, I wanted to use today’s post as more of a call to action to all of you. If you’ve got the goal of creating more written and video content surrounding your business I’d love to do some guest posts/collaborations moving forward. I just have a few small stipulations that I list on here. So please reach out to me so we can make this happen!

PS, yes I’m a pacer, rocker, fidget-er even (again media training on the way), it comes out especially when running on pure adrenaline after a wild week too haha. (Man watching these playbacks is awkward…)

Enjoy the weekend everyone!

-Mike

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. 

 

The WIMS Guide Video Edition

The WIMS Guide Video Edition Ep. 1

Happy New Year and welcome to the new decade! After about 50 takes I figured what the heck, let’s just launch this thing. It’s raw and vulnerable, warts and all. Clearly I need a media training refresher from my wife who is a former TV reporter. But that’s ok, the polish will come later with practice and reps.

Without further ado, coming to you from the WIMS, Inc. War Room it’s The WIMS Guide video edition! I’ve procrastinated for years now on doing video content as surprisingly, it may be the one area I’m a little self-conscious. But that’s also why I needed to just put myself out there and DO it already. So here we are.

I definitely cringed a little (ok a lot) watching the play back, but I will absolutely get better. I’ll begin conveying my thoughts my clearly and concisely. But if you could give your boy a little grace here in the beginning, I’d appreciate it. Or don’t, feel free to roast me too I can take it.

As the blog this is meant to be about the never ending/ongoing journey of business, entrepreneurship, professional development and much more. I’m going to try to provide you with as much value as I can through the insights gained from running my companies, WIMS Consulting, EolianVR, and ARRE (along with perspective and experience gleaned from dozens of clients across a variety of industries and sizes). But I also want to learn more from you too, and even build a community around our shared insights and experiences.

My goal isn’t to build a Gary V or Grant Cardone or Ed Mylett style vlog. It’s to just force myself to get better, get out of my comfort zone, and try to serve my community in any way I can. That’s really all I can hope for. It could last a week, or a decade, we’ll see…

Here goes nothing!

 

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. 

Q4 Finish Like a Savage Prep for 2020

STILL PLENTY OF TIME IN Q4: FINISH LIKE A SAVAGE & PREPARE FOR 2020 DOMINATION!

There’s something about Q4 that is always exhilarating to me. Knowing that “the game” is coming to an end, each and every play is more significant, there’s less margin for error. Perform well during this time and you can make up for a lot of previous mistakes and setbacks along the way. Let up or fumble the ball, and you can destroy all the momentum you made thus far. No pressure, right?

All of this is going on while simultaneously a new game is going to begin soon thereafter. Endings are always thrilling, but so are new beginnings after all. The new year coming up is especially enticing. Not only is it a new year, but it’s a whole new DECADE. The freaking Roaring 2020’s are upon us.

Despite the hectic grind I’ve been on lately (pretty perpetual at this point, but even crazier with baby #2 arriving very soon), I wanted to take a little time to revisit and write up a quick/updated “Q4 Manifesto” which is mostly for myself, but then I decided to add a few extra tips for you too, primarily applicable to both your business and professional life.

  • Don’t wait for January 1st to start your New Year’s Resolutions, now’s as good a time as any. It’s a misguided practice that usually doesn’t end well anyway. You don’t need an arbitrary start date to work on self-improvement, that should be a daily practice as it is. Why not start right now?
  • Get AGGRESSIVE – Close out ALL of those pending dream deals that have been lingering. Do much more outreach and lead generation. Don’t dwell on whether you’re annoying people or assume that they already have an expert helping them that does what you do. Push harder!
  • Try not to eat and drink everything in sight just because it’s the holidays. Maintain (or in some cases start) your workout routine consistently and only indulge occasionally. It’s especially tough given all the parties and networking events, but some balance now will spare you later.
  • Enjoy time with my family and friends and BE PRESENT. Don’t spend that precious time distracted with your head in the clouds and worrying about things that are out of your control.
  • Debrief/Reflect on the past year. What worked, what didn’t, what do you need to improve upon? Lay it all out objectively and identify opportunities to get better. While this may seem obvious, it’s crucial.
  • Strategize for 2020 (and beyond) now. Spend an appropriate amount of time writing out specific goals, sketching out project plans, and dreaming big. It’s rare that a whole new decade is about to start so let your imagination run a little wild to kick things off. From there be mindful, thoughtful, deliberate, and thorough enough to also make your plan realistic while still stretching yourself. Once this exercise is completed, start working on implementing that strategy ASAP to carry some momentum with you.
  • Add appointments to your 2020 calendar (monthly/quarterly, etc.) now to make sure you schedule the time to reflect on your progress and measure where you’re at along the way to ensure you continuously improve.

A few specifically for you:

  • Get and implement a CRM already! Seriously, how many times do I have to say it? If you need to spend some time asking a few questions on how to get started, reach out to me, that part is, and always will be, on the house.
  • Start a blog, a podcastvideo/webinar series, whatever. Leverage content marketing to develop and enhance your brand and get your business’ name out there.
  • Finally start that business you’ve been day dreaming about for years now.
  • Or at least start working on that side hustle you’ve been planning.
  • Identify an organization you’re interested in and get involved in the community. This could be philanthropic or civic, doesn’t matter as much as simply taking action and giving back.

I’m sure there are plenty others I’m forgetting. And I will likely revisit this some more over the next few months to continue tweaking it.

What are some of your Q4 goals? What about your 2020 goals? How can I help you achieve them? Please let me know, would love to hear from you!

Data Analytics Dashboard

How Anyone can Build a Custom Data Analytics Dashboard

If you could carve out an hour a month for analysis in order to save a dozen hours of work, the one-hour investment would be worth it, right?

How about if that same hour led to crucial details about your sales trends and customers insights?

On top of all that, what if that same one-hour investment came at no additional cost to you?

Seems like a pretty great deal.

Welcome to the benefits of an Excel-based analytical dashboard.

Benefits of an Analytical Dashboard

You’ve most likely heard of the powers and benefits of data analytics. You’ve probably seen examples from things like POS systems, Tableau, cloud-based software, and many others.

Some of these benefits include the following:

  • Saving you time and money through efficiency and more impactful insights

Spending time looking over your dashboard saves hours of debating anecdotal or piecemeal results and helps guide you towards the best path forward

  • Giving you better insights into your customer to improve marketing campaigns

Campaigns based on hard data are more successful as you can target your intended customer more effectively

  • Taking the guesswork out and make great, data supported, decisions in less time

The high end services all have their merits, but in a small business where you might not have the budget for those services (which are also potentially far beyond the capabilities you actually need), plus a large learning curve, those services don’t always make the most sense.

By learning (on a much faster learning curve) to make a dashboard in Excel, you can get the benefits you want in a completely customized dashboard at no cost (since you already have Excel on your computer).

 

Why use Excel for this

Let’s start with some common business questions.

How did your sales do last month? How does that compare to the same month of the prior year? How about compared to the pace you’ve been running at this year?

Now how about separating those numbers by project, item, or client? How about by distribution channel? Sales rep? What about the specific days you had promotions?

The first set of questions is somewhat easy to have a gut feeling for, if nothing else. You might even have some quick analysis created for you in QuickBooks (or similar software).

However, the second set of questions represents another level deeper. You might feel a bit less confident about your gut feeling. They require you to dive into the data each time you want to look, and maybe even anecdotally piece it together from a few different sources. It’s kind of a hassle, but they’re important insights, so it’s worth the time.

Here’s the good news from Excel – you can answer all of those questions, from top line revenue down to whatever level of detail you need, and have them at your fingertips in one place!

With a simple export of data from whatever source you need, you can populate dozens of custom views that you’ve templated and turn it into your very own analytical dashboard!

The only time intensive piece is building the template and framework for all your custom views.

After you create that, you’re essentially just updating with data each week/month/etc. and looking it over for trends. Making changes to it? Duplicating views with variations? Actually, all pretty easy.

The Excel Dashboard

Here is a very quick sample dashboard that shows that topline sales numbers (black chart) followed by a few, slightly deeper, analytical pieces that help evaluate performance (gray charts).

When I say “very quick” … this dashboard took less than an hour to fully create. Real life dashboards of this level of depth take a similar amount of time. Getting significantly deeper into the data does not necessarily mean significantly more time to create though.

Only a few “next level” type questions are displayed (although these may only be half a level deeper), but they are meant to be representative, and the great feature about the “behind the scenes” of the dashboard is that the building blocks for all levels of analysis can be VERY easily duplicated to get at any question you need.

Take a quick look at the dashboard, follow it along the yellow markers, 1 to 5. Any trends jump out at you?

You can likely see the following in a quick pass:

  • Sales are up in 2019! (Callout #1) – by 22.1% if we want to be specific

  • There seemed to be a change in performance starting in February (Callout #2). Perhaps a new item was released? Or a new marketing campaign?

  • All Sales Reps are selling more this year (Callout #3). Shawn leading the pack with a 28.7% increase over 2018

  • In Store sales have grown by over 60%! (Callout #4). However, Online sales have shrunk a tiny bit.

  • Further diagnosing, it looks like Jennifer and Oliver have really improved their In Store sales, while Shawn has faltered there (Callout #5). Perhaps there was a training that stuck with Jennifer and Oliver? Maybe Shawn has just focused all of his attention on Online sales?

Those types of insights are crucial to running your business and can be seen quickly from the dashboard. On top of that, there are still tons of different ways to cut the data… by product, by product and distribution channel, by sales rep by month, etc. All of these examples are (almost) as easy as copying and pasting.

Creating the Backend of the Dashboard – a General Guide

We start with one of the building blocks of an Excel-based analytical dashboard. Simply, the Pivot Table.

Depending on your level of familiarity with Excel, Pivot Tables might seem like “that complicated next level” or “that tool we use every day”.

The truth is, everyone can easily be at the latter, and if you’re already there, you could probably be using them more even more effectively. Investing just a bit of time can have a very outsized benefit to your business.

Pivot Tables are fantastic, for all levels of users, because of a few main pieces of functionality:

  • Very easy to build, use, and manipulate

Drag and drop methods, no complex formulas, no macros or coding

  • Ability to create charts and dashboards from the Table(s) easily

  • Build automatically updating formulas off the Table to create new data elements

It deserves mentioning that the quality of your data is very important. If the data is wrong to start, then there is no point is doing any analysis.

First… a few tips on how to create a Pivot Table

Feel free to skip this section if you’re already familiar.

For a detailed “how to” build a Pivot Table, I recommend watching from ~2:30 to ~5:30 in this video. The rest of the video has some good explanations as well, but for a quick guide, the 3 minutes is really all you need.

One piece I would highly recommend changing though, is in the data selection piece.

Important – select the entire column in the data, making sure the headers are in row 1. This allows you to add data in the future and have it included in the pivot table without having to change the data range.

The boxed-in range is okay as “ Sample Data!$A$1:$E$13 ”, but would need to be changed if you add more data to the end of it. The better version’s range “ Sample Data!$A:$E” highlights the entire columns.

Onto Creating the Dashboard

Start with creating a Pivot Table, and from there it is really just about dragging and dropping fields, copying and pasting, and picking a layout!

  • Let’s say you begin by creating a simple Pivot Table with sales by month:

  • From there, go up to the ribbon and find the “Pivot Table Analyze” or “Analyze” tab, depending on which version of Excel you’re working with.

  • Select the “Pivot Chart” option, and out pops a variety of options. Select your favorite chart option (bar chart, line graph, multiple types, etc.) and boom! You’ve got a working chart to help you analyze!

  • Any time you change what’s in the Pivot Table that created the Pivot Chart, the Pivot Chart will change accordingly.

Example, if you limited the data to just “Jennifer” (Sales Rep filter), you’ll see only her sales in both the Table and Chart.

Tip for the aesthetics of the Chart

To get rid of the “buttons” or ugly looking gray bubbles polluting your chart, you can right click on any of them and select “Hide All Field Buttons on Chart” and they’ll go away (as shown below).

If you don’t mind their appearance, each button acts as a filter for the Pivot Table. So instead of scrolling over to the Table, you can filter right from the Chart.

  • From there it is just preferences:

You can add a chart title, hide the legend, and a lot of other customization by clicking on the Chart, and then selecting the green “+” button that appears to the right of the Chart (shown below).

Once you’ve got your first chart, you can then start the duplication process!
  • To make another Pivot Table and Chart combo, you can just select the entirety of the Table, then copy and paste it elsewhere on the sheet

Copying the Pivot Table to be replicated
  • Drag and drop the fields (from the Field List on the right) you want to look at in the new Table (ex. Sales Rep in place of Month), and then go through the same quick process to create a Chart

The premise here is that each Table you create is referencing the same data. Each variation is just how you want to cut the data for that particular view.

Note – the formatting you select for one chart will not transfer to a new chart. The easiest method is to pick from Excel’s preset templates, which are normally visually appealing enough – both the black and the gray Charts above are in Excel’s preset templates. You can always customize the look of every chart individually to how you want though.

Best practice is probably to settle on a color scheme and layout after you’ve created all the charts you want, that way you can quickly go through each and select the same layout all at once.

After creating however many variations that get to your necessary level of depth, you’ve now just created yourself a dashboard! Congrats!

Best Way to Create Formulas Based on the Tables to get Additional Metrics in your Dashboard

You may notice that some pieces in the above dashboard (the tables with headers that have blue background and white text) are not Pivot Tables or Pivot Charts. These are created using the same information though.

Enter the GETPIVOTDATA formula. It is one of the most complicated looking formulas, but one of the most effective to use.

Note that it is simply complicated “looking”, but not actually that complicated to use.

Here’s an example. We’re going to walk through the Sales By Month table in the dashboard above (and referenced below).

Let’s say you wanted to get that 41.1% “Growth vs Prior Yr” for Feb from the information in the Pivot Table.

Naturally, you would do the following (referencing picture below) U10 / T10 – 1 = 41.1%

When you go to do that though, this scary looking formula comes out:

Let’s break it down and look at the first piece, before the “/”:

=GETPIVOTDATA(“Sale Amount”,$S$7,”Year”,2019,”Month”,”Feb”)

Translating, it is saying the following:

  • From the Pivot Table

=GETPIVOTDATA(“Sale Amount”,$S$7,”Year”,2019,”Month”,”Feb”)

  • Grab the metric “Sale Amount”

=GETPIVOTDATA(“Sale Amount”,$S$7,”Year”,2019,”Month”,”Feb”)

  • In the Pivot Table located in cell S7

=GETPIVOTDATA(“Sale Amount”,$S$7,”Year”,2019,”Month”,”Feb”)

  • Given the following criteria, Year = 2019

=GETPIVOTDATA(“Sale Amount”,$S$7,“Year”,2019,”Month”,”Feb”)

  • And the second criteria Month = Feb

=GETPIVOTDATA(“Sale Amount”,$S$7,”Year”,2019,“Month”,”Feb”)

You’ll notice the second GETPIVOTDATA (after the “/”) is the same formula, just referencing Year = 2018 instead of 2019.

It is the same formula as the nice and easy U10 / T10 – 1 above, just bringing in the functionality of the Pivot Table.

So why on earth would you actually use the complicated version?

Reason #1: Let’s say you add in another filter and the bulk of the Pivot Table shifts down by one row. The U10 / T10 – 1 will remain but will now be looking at a different month.

Reason #2: What if you changed the Pivot Table to include each Sales Rep’s details in each month (like below)?

Now that “U10 / T10 – 1” formula would be referencing Jennifer’s sales in Jan… not even close to total Feb sales.

If you used the GETPIVOTDATA formula, you would still get the result you want (Total Feb Sales Amount, 2019 over 2018) because you’re telling it what criteria to look at, regardless of what cells the intended data ended up in. It would still do $26,070 / $18,470 – 1, or 41.1%.

Note – in a scenario like the above picture, make sure Subtotals are enabled in the “Design” tab that appears when you click in the Pivot Table

Reason #3: You can completely customize the look of your created table, whereas you have limited aesthetic flexibility in the Pivot Table itself. I choose a blue header with white text.

Reason #4: You retain the copy and paste functionality of the “U10 / T10 – 1” formula but increase the accuracy of the formula.

Notice in our summary chart with each month’s “Growth vs Prior Yr”, we have the month abbreviation in the left column, then the % growth in the right column.

To utilize the copy and paste functionality of formulas in Excel, we just have to reference the month in the formula.

It is the same formula as above in every way except for the P9 in place of “Feb”. This just tells the formula to take the value in cell P9 as the criteria needed to be found in the “Month” section.
You can then copy and paste this formula to each of the months, and the “Growth vs Prior Yr” will fill out for each month, regardless of how many other variables are in the Pivot Table, or where the numbers you want are located (cell-wise).

Summary

So now you’ve learned…

  • The benefits of a dashboard, specifically one in Excel

  • How to make a Pivot Table

  • How to make a Pivot Chart based off it

  • How to duplicate those efforts (for efficiency)

  • How to reference the information in it to get analytical metrics that aren’t directly called out in the Pivot Table

  • (Most importantly) How to build your own fully functional, completely customizable analytical dashboard!

Updating the dashboard is an exercise that takes mere minutes to download the data and add it into your data sheet.

Reasonable time investment to make the dashboard, small time investment to update it, big business benefits.

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.

Sea Level Rising and What the Future Holds

Where are we headed?

What exactly does it mean to be sustainable and do behaviors that people follow determine if they are or are not following a sustainable lifestyle or does sustainability have to be engrained into the core philosophy of an individual?

I do not know the answer to this question, and I will not attempt to get to the bottom of what drives people to choose sustainable choices be it monetary, spiritual, or moral. In the past few months I have found myself thinking about not what draws people to becoming sustainable but the deeper question of does it matter how we live and how can we, as individuals make decisions that will help protect the earth. The earth needs to be protected not only for future generations but for those of us alive because the world and unexpected climate events are already impacting the world and causing irreversible effects. Instead of playing a blame game of who should take the burden of climate change the only path forward is to work with individuals, non-profit institutions, and corporations. While full cooperation is impossible the world needs cooperation on a stage never seen before to offset the costs on the economy and more importantly the environment.

 

Center for Climate Integrity

A recent report from the Center for Climate Integrity highlights the pressing nature of sea level change and how this one aspect of climate change will have immense impacts on coastal communities, the economy of the entire nation, and millions of Americans. This study highlights impacts of one of the major aspects of climate change being rising sea levels and how to handle the costs of these changes. Coastal regions have vast importance on ecological, economic, and cultural importance with vibrant communities. These communities also are home to many marine mammals, birds, and unique ecosystems including salt marshes and lowlands which add to the beauty of the coastal communities and can help as carbon sinks in marshlands that can reduce carbon emissions in the atmosphere.

 

Coastal Impacts

Beyond the beauty of these coastal regions, commercial fisheries and farms in these coastal regions provide fresh food and jobs. Many of the areas which will be hardest hit by the increased sea levels are popular tourist destinations which provide a valuable tax base and employment opportunities to communities. From the Florida Keys to the Eastern Shore of Maryland and the Outer Banks of North Carolina popular summer destinations face increased risks of rising sea levels. North Carolina, faces the third highest cost in the lower 48 from rising sea levels with projected increased costs in the Old North State to be over $35 billion by 2040. This places the economic costs behind only Florida and Louisiana and part of the total costs which could exceed $400 billion over the next 20 years with many of the costs incurred over the next decade.

 

Projected costs to build sea walls by state. Credit Center for Climate Integrity

 

Now what

The first step in advocacy is understanding the issues at hand, gaining background information about the causes of climate change and sea level rising will allow for beginning the dialogue on these issues. Here in North Carolina, some unique geography in the northeast part of the state means the one congressional district, the 3rd District, has the highest economic impact of any congressional district in the nation representing over 80% of the total cost in the state from sea level rise. While congressional district boundaries change the impacts of coastal changes from rising sea levels will dramatically impact the tourist centers of the Outer Banks.

The small coastal communities that many people only think about during yearly beach trips or when shrimp cocktails are order face uphill battles and will bear the brunt of the burden of rising sea levels. All is not lost. Actions can be made which will help protect the coastal communities including reaching out to local politicians, beginning conversations about how to combat climate change, and making purchases when possible to companies that value sustainability. The fight to protect our coasts is not over and by understanding that actions can be taken the coastal ecosystems can be protected.

The costs of climate change can not be thought of as after thoughts because communities are already dealing with the effects of climate change and rising sea levels. The impacts of climate change are not set in stone and can be minimized through advocacy, taking individual decisions to reduce your carbon footprint, and taking the steps to hold large corporations accountable for their carbon emissions and incentive sustainable investments.

 

Sources

Debruyn, Jason. “Rising Seas To Cost NC $35B In Just 20 Years, New Study Finds.” WUNC 91.5 North Carolina Public Radio. Retrieved from https://www.wunc.org/post/rising-seas-cost-nc-35b-just-20-years-new-study-finds.

“Study: U.S. Costal Communities Face More Than $400 Billion in Seawall Costs by 2040.” IGSD: Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development. http://www.igsd.org/study-u-s-costal-communities-face-more-than-400-billion-in-seawall-costs-by-2040/.