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Business management software helps to fix objectives and plan for change. If you are an entrepreneur, try to learn as much as possible, since this management creates and maintains the production capacity that will enable you to work.
Many thinking hats
Running a business is complex and requires administrative, marketing, planning and financial skills. You may have expected to be able to exercise your trade or provide your services without considering all the roles you would have to take on.
If you are self-employed, you must both perform existing services and develop new ones with finite resources. This means coordinating actions both to fulfil orders and generate future business. It means determining and organizing priorities to meet objectives.
Good organisation, and task management software, especially visual ones, greatly facilitate this task. Here we will look at some of the business management software that do this effectively.
The decisions that people make on where to put their energy are essential for the health of their business, and yet they often take such decisions alone. The challenge is to get the balance right between production and development.
Using business management software helps you make those important choices about your priorities.
You may have many obvious and immediate things to do, but the priority is generally production, fulfilling customer orders because it represents short-term cash flow.
However, we must also create production capacity (see
Organisational decision-making is then about what activities to do today, whether current or for the future, when to change focus and how to balance effort across all the domains which crave attention.
Ideas for change come from many different avenues – external influences such as customers and markets which can drive us to change our service offering – or internal influences such as original creative idea generation. In either case, we must filter and prioritise these potential actions.
For more on this, read about moving new ideas into action and decision making with the eisenhower method.
Business Management Methods
Software will not answer all the questions. The following is a short summary of several management methods which can accompany your use of business management software.
Plan Do Check Assess
Below is a short video that describes various business management methods such as Plan Do Check Assess (PDCA).
Getting Things Done (GTD)
Getting Things Done (GTD), is a management method promoted by David Allen. It provides simple concepts such as Next Action to focus the mind on what you can do next, rather than procrastinating about the workload.
I read with interest approaches such as the Eisenhower matrix of decision-making, a simple way to think about your priorities and tasks in terms of a simple grid of urgency against importance.
The HBR How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton Christensen, set me on course to examine my purpose, to plot paths to objectives, and to measure your trajectory from the path.
I have considered whether my objectives are SMART (Single Measurable Achievable Realistic Time bounded) and how to use the information system to set objectives.
Kepner Tregoe project management
Kepner Tregoe is my goto method to define, monitor and control projects. Partly because I did the training course, partly because it seems so relevant. I describe the Kepner Tregoe model using Ayoa as an illustration.
We can use the model of business operations as a basis for improvement. The model, together with measurements, invites us to think about whether the objectives we set are achievable or desirable.
This analysis of the current system, situation, trajectory, desired outcomes and likely outcomes of the current trajectory is a part of the continuous improvement cycle.
See also software to use the Plan Do Check Assess cycle.
But experience has taught me that to maintain, update or change trajectory requires action, whether as part of a project or not. The focus can then be on organising work-related actions efficiently as possible into current production and future production capacity.
Setting and Achieving Objectives
So business management software alleviate the effort of planning, setting objectives, organizing your time, your actions and next actions within a professional context.
I urge you therefore to read about GTD and the measurement of trajectory. To think about whether your system’s configuration is optimal, the changes you would make to your situation, and how you could put those changes into practice.
It can be very satisfying to fix an objective, determine a future outcome and put in place actions to get there.
Examples of Business Management Software
I have experimented with many business management software, nonetheless Todoist, Ayoa, Evernote and Sortd, as represented in my trusted management system. I also use Microsoft Access to manage translation projects and related technical terms.
- Enterprise Architect to visuallly model systems with UML
- Mindmapping and brainstorming using software such as Simplemind
- Evernote as a library of captured experience
- Notion to hold on the fly databases and working collaborative documents
- Trello task and priority management software
- Todoist as a highly flexible task manager
- Operational management systems such as Odoo ERP
- Systems Analysis using UML
- Getting Things Done by David Allen, concepts such as next action
- Analysis of Strengths, Weaknesses (SWOT)
- Kepner Tregoe project definition and execution with Ayoa
- Working with purpose and for enjoyment
Is your configuration appropriate?
Whatever the configuration of management software that you use to organise your business, keep an eye on whether your configuration is still appropriate.
- Do you capture opportunities and transforming them into orders?
- Do you have systematic, repeatable processes?
- Do you respond to market demands and are you flexible enough to respond to change?
- How would you change the trajectory of your organisation to respond to a changing market?
These might seem like hypothetical questions. You might not ask yourself whether opportunities exist in radically different areas, but you might look at new technologies in your market and decide what technology is more efficient. You might take a training course.
You might want to determine whether your decision has brought you cost savings and improved your turnover.
Business management software can help you determine whether you have the capacity to take on new projects.
Business management software contribute to David Allen’s idea of mind like water. They store the details which the brain has some difficulty storing, and allow us to be more creative.
Consider whether you can evaluate the impact of a new project on current work. If your environment is disorganised, you might not even consider it and therefore pass up on new opportunities.
Knowing what to do depends on having a clear understanding of the domain in which we operate, and is key to developing desired outcomes.
A kanban grid in Odoo
The classic kanban is shown here in Odoo. You can easily slide the blocks (actions) from column to column, organised by horizon (GTD). Similar flexible kanban structures are available in Trello, in Todoist, and in Kanbanote. See here for instance using Kanbanote to implement the Eisenhower method.
The Ayoa visual project environment
Use Ayoa to manage projects. It provides multiple views of a work schedule, the visual view, the work breakdown view and can synchronise Evernotes with tasks. Use Ayoa to link mindmaps to tasks.
Ayoa allows you to create links between tasks and visualise the dependencies between them. This relationship between items provides perspective and allows you to stand back from the tasks in hand.
Break down tasks into sub-elements with a checklist.
Task management in Todoist
Todoist as a task manager can incorporate many projects, tasks and subtasks. It provides a very efficient environment to schedule multiple multi-level tasks, and now offers a kanban view.
Task management in Toodledo
Toodledo was my first love. Its mobile app was very efficient but the online desktop tool is less user-friendly, having many columns, a task cannot be opened in its own window.
A mindmap to model strategy
There are many uses for mindmapping. A mindmap can be a very useful business management tool to help identify subjects to develop.
iMindQ is a mind map tool which can transform a mindmap into a schedule:
Mohio to visually model Evernotes
Moh.io no longer exists, but was a very useful system to link Evernotes together in a visual environment.
Moh.io enabled you to graphically model Evernotes in a visual environment, to link them together. These arrows could be seen as project dependencies, functional links, arrows on a flowchart.
Evernote as a document library
I use Evernote as a document library. Once I have sufficient ideas or issues to initiate a bottom-up project, I make a mindmap to focus on the scope. I usually use Simplemind for this, as a design environment and to pull information together.
I might do more formal systems design using Enterprise Architect by Sparx Systems to sketch out future business systems. A systems design tool is of particular use when working for a third party or customer.
Trello to manage tasks in a kanban
Trello has comprehensive features which are useful in everyday planning across all GTD horizons.
Odoo to manage transversal functions
Odoo is an enterprise resource planning system in which you can qualify leads, transfer leads to orders and orders into invoices. The system provides accounting and business management data.
Favour if you can business management software which have a visual spatial presentation of activities, tasks, and priorities.
Getting business advice
If can be very useful to consult an external adviser, who can help you understand your business processes.
The adviser must understand the company, the business manager and their need to grow, but also the financial constraints.
The adviser can be involved in the development of strategy, in its implementation, in the establishment, definition and the execution of projects.
But even if they have a deep understanding of the issues, the adviser will never be in the shoes of the people who have to deal with the challenges every day.
Conclusion on Business Management Software
Managing a business involves analysing your current management system, developing and documenting your strategy.
- Look for ways to transform your strategy into action.
- Assess your performance against the announced strategy
- Measure your progress against objectives.
- Get trained on the right business management software
- Track day-to-day priorities
- Adapt your strategy based on performance
- Reflect on the efficiency of your system.
2 thoughts on “Business Management Software”
[…] Some of the material here is about documenting management experience, providing guidelines and tips, techniques and recommendations for using business management software. […]
[…] have a list of business management tools that I use and recommend. These fall into two main parts: the informal design tools and formal […]