Tag Archives: Planning

Succession Planning By Flipping Leadership on its Head

2017 AO RethinkMktgPodcast Featured Marquet Succession Planning By Flipping Leadership on its Head

This transcript has been edited for length. To get the full measure, listen to the podcast.

Nathan: Can you tell us a bit about yourself, your naval career, and what you do now?

David: I was in the Navy for 28 years. And I came up through the Naval Academy and had the privilege of being a captain of a nuclear-powered submarine. And my experience in leadership was … I kind of went on this journey from what I call the knowing and telling leader, where you knew all the answers and you gave all the orders, and the better you could give orders the better you were as a leader, to what I like to now say the knowing but not telling leader. In other words, you want to know your job, but even when you know the answer or you think you do, resist giving the answer to the team, even though that feels unnatural. Because that’s when you build a very powerful and resilient team around you, which is really what I needed.

So that’s kind of what happened to me. It was all accidental. And it really wasn’t the Navy had planned for me. But that’s what happened.

Intent-Based Leadership

Nathan: You call this intent-based leadership. And can how different this is from the norm?

David: Our picture is the strong competent person who’s making things happen and telling people what to do. Most organizations run in what I call permission-based mode. Either the boss is running around telling people what to do or if we get to the point where we, “empower people,” and we say, ‘OK, I recommend this, I would like to do this,’ but we’re still operating in a permission mode. In other words, the answer is no. Unless I hear definitively yes, the answer is no. In other words, I have to wait for a yes before I can take action.

And we flipped that on its head. And we said, you know what, the default is going to be yes. And unless you hear a no, you have permission to do what you’re recommending. And the way we said it was, we didn’t call it a recommendation, we just say it’s your intent. So, the officers, and the chiefs, and the radio supervisor, would come up to me and say, I intend to clear the broadcast or raise the radio mast or whatever it happens to be, and they would just do it unless I said no. If I just sat there quietly, which I would do a lot of the time, they would just do it. I intend to surface, I intend to start the reactor, I intend to load a torpedo, and then they would do it.

And the benefit of that was huge because it created a team of thinkers and proactive people who took action. Because if they didn’t say what they intended to do, nothing would happen. I wouldn’t step in. I had to resist this. I wouldn’t step in and say, ‘Oh, hey, nothing’s happening guys, why don’t we do this, we need to do that. Let’s start a new marketing plan. Let’s start a new advertising campaign…” And so that was really, really hard for me. I got thrust into it because I ended up taking over a ship as captain, not the ship that I was trained for, and so I didn’t know the ship.

And I gave an order, like the very first order I gave was wrong. It was a thing you couldn’t do. It was basically like shifting into fifth gear, but there were only four gears on this particular submarine. But the officer did it anyway. And I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what’s going on here.’ And he said, ‘Well, you told me to do it, I mean that’s what we do around here in the Navy, we do what we’re told.’ I said, ‘Well stop that. Stop doing what you’re told. Start telling me what needs to happen.’ But the first step in the whole deal was for me to keep my mouth shut. And this was really hard. It felt very unnatural. But we ended up with more submarine captains than any other ship. And we set records for a whole bunch of things.

Push Authority to Information

Nathan: When you came to the Santa Fe, you did a listening session. You went and asked a lot of questions. For people not familiar with the military, when a sailor takes vacation, it’s called leave. And you needed a bunch of people to sign off on you taking vacation. And you kind of gave that power to the chiefs, eliminating a lot of unnecessary signatures and time delays.

David: Right.

Nathan: That then led to them really managing three or four other aspects of their teams. Can you talk about that?

David: The phrase we use is: we push authority to information, not channel information to authority. The traditional approach for most organizations is we know the people on the periphery of the organization, the boundary, this is the people running the machines, or the salesmen who are sitting in the offices of the clients, or the software coders who are in the code, those people know what’s going on. But the decision-making authority rests somewhere above them in this chain of command. The coders know what’s going on, but someone else is deciding what features are going to be added to the software. So, what happens is we have to channel the information up to an authority figure for a decision that comes back down and we execute.

So, what we said was, look, let’s flip that on its head. Let’s push the authority for making decisions out to the people who just natively have the information. And the result is a much faster decision-making loop, rather than wait for this big delay. There’s also a cleaner loop because it always gets distorted as it goes up through the chain. And the benefit of doing that is you get ownership. Because when people get to make decisions, you want ownership, just let ’em make decisions. If you want engagement, just let people make decisions. There’s no fanciness to it. We want to make it sound fancy and complicated because then people will hire consultants, but it’s not. It’s just let your people make decisions. You have to be engaged. If you’re making decisions, you gotta be engaged.

So just say, ‘OK, look chiefs, you guys get to make this decision, this core decision which is when can you people go on leave, vacation. You’re in charge of that.’ Well they said, “Well if I’m in charge of that, I need to know the ship’s schedule and the maintenance plan. And they basically ended up taking ownership of more and more and more parts of work.’ Now some people will say they’re kind of already in charge of that. No, they’re not. We say that, but it’s not really true. We say it, but they don’t – if you’re not the final signature on a form, if there are signatures below yours, you’re not in charge. You’re just a bumper sticker.

And we just took a lot of the forms that the Navy had given us and I just reduced the number of signatures on them. I just deleted one, two, three or more bottom signatures and said, ‘OK, now instead of routing it all the way to the captain, just needs to go to the department head, or the chief, or the leading petty officer, and it’s done.’ We would inform everybody above, but the decision would have been made at the lower level. It’s called push authority to information, not information to authority.

Eliminate “Just Doing My Job” Excuses

Nathan: During your listening sessions, there was a response you would get, and I’ve been in organizations, in many companies, in different industries, where I’ve seen the same thing, where people were saying ‘I just do what I’m told.’ And can you talk about the risks of that, why that’s less than ideal?

David: Yeah, I do what I’m told, right? So, the problem is, what if what you’re told is wrong, but I just do it anyway. Of course, that’s easy because I can always say, ‘Well, it wasn’t my responsibility for the screw-up. I was told to do it.’ That’s the age-old excuse. So, it’s fragile. It’s a very fragile system. And we all know corporate disasters. The Costa Concordia ran aground. The captain ordered the turn, ‘Hey, let’s go close to the island and turn late.’ Everyone else was just doing what they were told. The USS Greenville, the submarine that came up underneath the Ehime Maru and collided, killed nine people. The captain made the decision. Everyone else was doing what they were told.

And when you have these corporations where the top person is giving direction, everyone else is doing what they’re told, that’s great until it’s a bad decision. And then the whole thing goes off the rails. We think the answer is to, “give people the authority to speak up.” But there’s a better solution which is don’t force them to tell me that you’re wrong, just skip that part. You’re never going to have to tell the boss they’re wrong if the boss never gives the order. We always are coming to the boss saying, here’s what we want to do.

Nathan: How do I learn more about you, Turn The Ship Around, and your recently released accompanying Turn The Ship Around Workbook?

David: The workbook, it’s called the Turn The Ship Around Workbook. Just check it out on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or whatever your favorite website is. Our website is davidmarquet.com. And we have resources available there. Our YouTube channel is called Leadership Nudges, like nudge, like push a little bit. You can just Google that. And you can get enrolled in these leadership nudges or subscribe to the YouTube channel and learn more about it.

Nathan: I really appreciate your time today. Thank you very much.

David: Thank you. Thanks to all your listeners for what they do to make the world a better place and to help people at work come and have fun. Thank you.

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Act-On Blog

Disaster Recovery and Continuity Planning with Microsoft Azure

Do you run a small business? Are you the head of a large company? Is your organization headquartered in a metropolitan center, or in a rural area? No matter what your circumstances may be, all businesses in the U.S. share one thing in common: the importance of Information Technology (IT) in their day to day operation.

When circumstances are normal, your business’s IT systems likely function without anyone taking much notice. They’re incredibly important to virtually every aspect of your company. Nevertheless, they’re easy to ignore. That is, until disaster strikes.

When your business is hit with a catastrophe, the fragile nature of your IT systems comes to the forefront. Whether you’re navigating an act of nature such as a fire, earthquake, or flood, or coping with the fallout from a terrorist attack or malicious virus, there’s no doubt that you’ll wish you’d safeguarded your IT systems.

Have you ever taken the time to evaluate whether or not your organization is prepared for a catastrophic event? Consider that even a few minutes of downtime can result in tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenue. And, when the worst case scenario presents itself, you could face the irreparable destruction of sensitive customer data.

Disasterrecoveryplan 1 625x519 Disaster Recovery and Continuity Planning with Microsoft Azure

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. All of this can be avoided. As the Cloud Solutions Architect at JourneyTEAM, Joe Crandall, points out, modern businesses don’t need to suffer a “set back or have to shut their doors” due to a major disaster, thanks to “today’s modern technology.” The sad truth, though, is that most businesses don’t take the necessary steps in advance to prepare for these kinds of catastrophes. As a result, they suffer the consequences.

Are you prepared to deal with the crash of your entire inventory system? What happens if all of your records disappear? How will you continue to comply with governmental regulations? Will you have to shut down?

Ask yourself this: when was the last time you backed up your business’s data? And, are those backups physically located on the same property as your extant IT system? If so, your so-called “backed up” data is just as vulnerable as the original data. What would happen if you needed to spend time restoring that data? Can you absorb the cost? And, what if the data disappears forever? Can you cope?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry: JourneyTEAM is here to help. Our experts will evaluate your organization’s infrastructure and provide you with a custom Managed Disaster Recovery Plan to account for any and all possibilities.

Consider this: IBM recently determined that less than half of Internet-based organizations had any sort of disaster recovery strategy. And, of the mere 40% of businesses with such a plan, most of them weren’t actually taking the necessary measures to keep their plan relevant. As a result, only 8% of organizations are properly prepared for an IT catastrophe.

backup hardware 625x419 Disaster Recovery and Continuity Planning with Microsoft Azure

To make matters worse, Aveco has determined that 1 in 5 companies will eventually suffer from an IT disaster. What happens if one of these companies isn’t prepared? The data is clear:

  • 93% of businesses that lose a significant amount of data will shut down in less than 5 years
  • 80% will close their doors within a year
  • 43% will shut down immediately and never reopen

Don’t allow your business to fall prey to these statistics.

JourneyTEAM is ready to create a custom Microsoft Azure Disaster Recovery Strategy for your organization. We’ll work with your business to conduct a strategy impact assessment, determine any potential impacts from one of the aforementioned disasters, and create a plan of response. We’ll also account for all of your existing systems, including Dynamics 365, Office 365, SharePoint, and more.

At JourneyTEAM, our focus is on characterizing the potential impact of a disaster in terms you can understand, such as dollars lost per hour. We’ll create and document a custom disaster recovery plan that accounts for all aspect of your business.

Don’t wait: disaster could hit your business at any time. Call JourneyTEAM today and let us create or modify your Disaster Recovery Strategy for your organization.

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CRM Software Blog | Dynamics 365

Start Planning for Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2018 Now

black friday Start Planning for Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2018 Now

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are about to hit yet again. Last year, 154 million more people shopped than in 2015 and it’s only predicted to get bigger. It’ll be interesting to see how 2017 shapes up, but in the meantime, there are some things you can do as a retailer for both brick-and-mortar and online stores to start planning for next year and beyond.

How to handle the crush of shoppers

Every retailer’s biggest focus and investment, for both e-commerce and brick-and-mortar, needs to be on scaling. If your backend falls apart because of a crush of traffic, everything you set up will be for naught. You need a system that can handle the large traffic load and the pounding of people hitting refresh and trampling through your store.

Moving to the cloud or at least hybridizing part of your environment prior to Black Friday must be a priority. The cloud allows you to rapidly scale your operations based on traffic load for a significant cost savings over running your datacenter in-house. It’s a key part of keeping your network flexible, agile, and scalable.

For brick-and-mortar stores, the key to increasing revenue is optimizing the movement of people in and out of the store. The traffic flooding into these stores on Black Friday can represent several multiples of the typical daily traffic. In order to be successful, the floor staff must be equipped with real-time information about inventory levels, customer flows, in-store deal announcements, and answers to the questions asked by panicked, manic shoppers.

The best way to arm staff is to supply mobile devices that enable them to communicate with each other and provide that real-time information at their fingertips. You can even provide POS systems directly on those devices so they can check people out right in the middle of the store, significantly reducing the crush at the front counters.

Brick-and-mortar retailers must also stand out from the noise of their competitors beyond just giving excellent customer service. To differentiate, they must offer compelling real-time deals that can draw the crowds and satisfy shoppers’ needs. But customers must receive this information in a timely manner. The same digital systems that keep floor staff up to date can help customers determine their Black Friday game plan. With the right analytics in place offering a 360 degree view of the customer, you can provide personalized deals and recommendations that compel shoppers to prioritize your shops on their Black Friday agenda.

How to make the online experience as exciting as the in-store experience

Online goes a bit differently. Shoppers may plan their Cyber Monday or Black Friday based on email newsletters and ads they’ve received, but there’s a ton of competition. Sending real-time offers and encouraging shoppers to subscribe to deal alerts throughout the day can help you stand out from the noise and leverage the loyalty you’ve built throughout the rest of the year.

Online retailers can leverage the same technologies driving in-store personalization to send customized deals and ads to consumers based on their shopping habits with the help of products like analytics and integration. Researchers have seen consumers that receive more targeted ads are more than twice as likely to buy the advertised product as consumers that get non-targeted ads.

The same systems can identify shopping trends in real time, allowing for dynamic pricing and deal creation based on predicted shopping trends and inventory levels. This can help dramatically decrease the logistical headaches that come with coordinating your Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales while offering deals that drive purchasing behavior without discounting so deeply that you lose profits.

To see how TIBCO is helping retailers digitally transform, download the whitepaper: The Digital Challenge in Retail or visit our Retail page.

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The TIBCO Blog

How to Calculate RPO and RTO for Disaster Recovery Planning

Vision Solutions, who recently merged with Syncsort, has been in the business of high availability and disaster recovery for more than two decades. The article below is an update to their popular blog post explaining how to calculate RPO and RTO for disaster recovery.blog rpo rto How to Calculate RPO and RTO for Disaster Recovery Planning

If you’re creating a disaster recovery plan, one of the first things you need to do is determine what you need to protect. All data is not created equal and there’s likely no reason to replicate and store every bit and byte on your servers.

The two primary methods of measuring the criticality of IT systems are how much data and time you can afford to lose, commonly referred to as RPO and RTO.

RPO: Recovery Point Objective

The first, the Recovery Point Objective is the threshold of how much data you can afford to lose since the last backup.

Defining your company’s RPO typically begins with examining how frequently backup takes place. Since backup can be intrusive to systems it is not typically performed more frequently than every several hours. This means that your backup RPO is probably measured in hours of data loss.

RTO: Recovery Time Objective

The second, the Recovery Time Objective  is the threshold for how quickly you need to have an application’s information restored.

For example, maybe four 4 hours, eight 8 hours, or the next business day is tolerable for email systems. Keep in mind the amount of time it takes to provision servers, storage, networking resources and virtual machine configurations.

blog banner 2017 State of Resilience Report How to Calculate RPO and RTO for Disaster Recovery Planning

Choosing a Solution

Using these two primary measures will help you estimate your cost of downtime to better define your budget for an IT system continuity plan. Reviewing your RPO and RTO can also help you determine which technology will best meet your needs.

Finding the right balance of features and price to meet your RPO and RTO is one of the most critical things you can do to protect your business. For IT system continuity, there are three solution categories: backup, high availability and disaster recovery.

  • Backup means keeping your data safe; in this situation, RPO is more critical than RTO.
  • High availability means avoiding downtime and keeping your critical applications and data online – a high availability solution is required for high RPO and RTO
  • Disaster recovery is the ability to recover data in case the production system is damaged, destroyed or becomes unavailable for an undeterminable period of time. A comprehensive disaster recovery solution that can restore data quickly and completely is required to meet low RPO and RTO thresholds.

Vision Solutions offers high availability and disaster recovery solutions to ensure you can keep critical apps online and restore any lost data in the event of a disaster. Download their free 2017 State of Resilience report to review the latest trends in disaster recovery planning.

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Syncsort + Trillium Software Blog

NetSuite launches Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service (PBCS) for NetSuite Customers at SuiteConnect

websitelogo NetSuite launches Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service (PBCS) for NetSuite Customers at SuiteConnect

Posted by Thomas Boyd, NetSuite EPM Regional Vice President

Finance teams continue to be asked to do more with less. Also, they’re being asked do it faster with minimal errors.

Meanwhile, most are armed with just Excel – error prone, time consuming, and not scalable for growing analytical needs. It’s a tough challenge to answer.

In fact, recent research from Ventana Research and KPMG has found:

70 percent of companies still use spreadsheets across planning and forecasting processes

62 percent of companies are buried in basic duties with little time for more analytical work

50 percent of most finance organization’s time is spent on operational processes

30 percent of most finance organization’s time is spent on financial reporting and control

Only 20 percent of most finance organization’s time is spent on adding value by improving financial performance.

Most finance personnel aren’t just looking to automate these tasks, they want to be able to provide meaningful analysis that can drive business growth. It’s better for career advancement, employee retention and the business as a whole.

To address these needs, at the recent SuiteConnect event at Oracle OpenWorld, the NetSuite EPM team launched PBCS for NetSuite. The Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting solution is built on Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service.

Based on Hyperion Planning, the Oracle PBCS is part of the Oracle EPM Cloud suite and is the leader in cloud planning and budgeting with more than 2,500+ customers worldwide.

This NetSuite version of PBCS includes integration to NetSuite utilizing NetSuite Saved Searches, drill back to NetSuite from PBCS, Operational Expense Planning, Capital Expense Planning, Personnel Planning, Revenue Planning, Financial Statements, interactive dashboards, multi-currency and Smart View MS Office integration.

At a dedicated SuiteConnect session, attendees got a chance to see how NetSuite PBCS utilizes driver-based plans, flexible workflow and process management, unlimited versions, what-if scenarios, and ad-hoc reporting (browser and Excel) to help companies reduce planning cycle times, improve forecast accuracy.

Already, more than 10 customers have adopted the solution. Some chose NetSuite PBCS over competitors because of the flexible user interface (browser or Excel), time granularity (monthly, weekly, daily) for planning, scalability for planning for many components (SKUs), and Smart View ad hoc planning capabilities. Others replaced competitive products because of its scalability, the need for more robust reporting, and the ability to manage multiple hierarchies.

Already the returns have impressed. Early adopters of the Oracle solution have reported:

38 percent less time in planning process

32 percent less time creating management reports

50 percent increase in forecast accuracy

NetSuite PBCS is available now.

To learn more, please visit the Integrated Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting website.

Posted on Mon, October 23, 2017
by NetSuite

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The NetSuite Blog

The Genesis Of Poor Planning Decisions

282700 06192017 SAP001406 F V2 e1507982951701 The Genesis Of Poor Planning Decisions

Let me start with a quote from McKinsey, that in my view hits the nail right on the head:

“No matter what the context, there’s a strong possibility that blockchain will affect your business. The very big question is when.”

Now, in the industries that I cover in my role as general manager and innovation lead for travel and transportation/cargo, engineering, construction and operations, professional services, and media, I engage with many different digital leaders on a regular basis. We are having visionary conversations about the impact of digital technologies and digital transformation on business models and business processes and the way companies address them. Many topics are at different stages of the hype cycle, but the one that definitely stands out is blockchain as a new enabling technology in the enterprise space.

Just a few weeks ago, a customer said to me: “My board is all about blockchain, but I don’t get what the excitement is about – isn’t this just about Bitcoin and a cryptocurrency?”

I can totally understand his confusion. I’ve been talking to many blockchain experts who know that it will have a big impact on many industries and the related business communities. But even they are uncertain about the where, how, and when, and about the strategy on how to deal with it. The reason is that we often look at it from a technology point of view. This is a common mistake, as the starting point should be the business problem and the business issue or process that you want to solve or create.

In my many interactions with Torsten Zube, vice president and blockchain lead at the SAP Innovation Center Network (ICN) in Potsdam, Germany, he has made it very clear that it’s mandatory to “start by identifying the real business problem and then … figure out how blockchain can add value.” This is the right approach.

What we really need to do is provide guidance for our customers to enable them to bring this into the context of their business in order to understand and define valuable use cases for blockchain. We need to use design thinking or other creative strategies to identify the relevant fields for a particular company. We must work with our customers and review their processes and business models to determine which key blockchain aspects, such as provenance and trust, are crucial elements in their industry. This way, we can identify use cases in which blockchain will benefit their business and make their company more successful.

My highly regarded colleague Ulrich Scholl, who is responsible for externalizing the latest industry innovations, especially blockchain, in our SAP Industries organization, recently said: “These kinds of use cases are often not evident, as blockchain capabilities sometimes provide minor but crucial elements when used in combination with other enabling technologies such as IoT and machine learning.” In one recent and very interesting customer case from the autonomous province of South Tyrol, Italy, blockchain was one of various cloud platform services required to make this scenario happen.

How to identify “blockchainable” processes and business topics (value drivers)

To understand the true value and impact of blockchain, we need to keep in mind that a verified transaction can involve any kind of digital asset such as cryptocurrency, contracts, and records (for instance, assets can be tangible equipment or digital media). While blockchain can be used for many different scenarios, some don’t need blockchain technology because they could be handled by a simple ledger, managed and owned by the company, or have such a large volume of data that a distributed ledger cannot support it. Blockchain would not the right solution for these scenarios.

Here are some common factors that can help identify potential blockchain use cases:

  • Multiparty collaboration: Are many different parties, and not just one, involved in the process or scenario, but one party dominates everything? For example, a company with many parties in the ecosystem that are all connected to it but not in a network or more decentralized structure.
  • Process optimization: Will blockchain massively improve a process that today is performed manually, involves multiple parties, needs to be digitized, and is very cumbersome to manage or be part of?
  • Transparency and auditability: Is it important to offer each party transparency (e.g., on the origin, delivery, geolocation, and hand-overs) and auditable steps? (e.g., How can I be sure that the wine in my bottle really is from Bordeaux?)
  • Risk and fraud minimization: Does it help (or is there a need) to minimize risk and fraud for each party, or at least for most of them in the chain? (e.g., A company might want to know if its goods have suffered any shocks in transit or whether the predefined route was not followed.)

Connecting blockchain with the Internet of Things

This is where blockchain’s value can be increased and automated. Just think about a blockchain that is not just maintained or simply added by a human, but automatically acquires different signals from sensors, such as geolocation, temperature, shock, usage hours, alerts, etc. One that knows when a payment or any kind of money transfer has been made, a delivery has been received or arrived at its destination, or a digital asset has been downloaded from the Internet. The relevant automated actions or signals are then recorded in the distributed ledger/blockchain.

Of course, given the massive amount of data that is created by those sensors, automated signals, and data streams, it is imperative that only the very few pieces of data coming from a signal that are relevant for a specific business process or transaction be stored in a blockchain. By recording non-relevant data in a blockchain, we would soon hit data size and performance issues.

Ideas to ignite thinking in specific industries

  • The digital, “blockchained” physical asset (asset lifecycle management): No matter whether you build, use, or maintain an asset, such as a machine, a piece of equipment, a turbine, or a whole aircraft, a blockchain transaction (genesis block) can be created when the asset is created. The blockchain will contain all the contracts and information for the asset as a whole and its parts. In this scenario, an entry is made in the blockchain every time an asset is: sold; maintained by the producer or owner’s maintenance team; audited by a third-party auditor; has malfunctioning parts; sends or receives information from sensors; meets specific thresholds; has spare parts built in; requires a change to the purpose or the capability of the assets due to age or usage duration; receives (or doesn’t receive) payments; etc.
  • The delivery chain, bill of lading: In today’s world, shipping freight from A to B involves lots of manual steps. For example, a carrier receives a booking from a shipper or forwarder, confirms it, and, before the document cut-off time, receives the shipping instructions describing the content and how the master bill of lading should be created. The carrier creates the original bill of lading and hands it over to the ordering party (the current owner of the cargo). Today, that original paper-based bill of lading is required for the freight (the container) to be picked up at the destination (the port of discharge). Imagine if we could do this as a blockchain transaction and by forwarding a PDF by email. There would be one transaction at the beginning, when the shipping carrier creates the bill of lading. Then there would be look-ups, e.g., by the import and release processing clerk of the shipper at the port of discharge and the new owner of the cargo at the destination. Then another transaction could document that the container had been handed over.

The future

I personally believe in the massive transformative power of blockchain, even though we are just at the very beginning. This transformation will be achieved by looking at larger networks with many participants that all have a nearly equal part in a process. Today, many blockchain ideas still have a more centralistic approach, in which one company has a more prominent role than the (many) others and often is “managing” this blockchain/distributed ledger-supported process/approach.

But think about the delivery scenario today, where goods are shipped from one door or company to another door or company, across many parties in the delivery chain: from the shipper/producer via the third-party logistics service provider and/or freight forwarder; to the companies doing the actual transport, like vessels, trucks, aircraft, trains, cars, ferries, and so on; to the final destination/receiver. And all of this happens across many countries, many borders, many handovers, customs, etc., and involves a lot of paperwork, across all constituents.

“Blockchaining” this will be truly transformational. But it will need all constituents in the process or network to participate, even if they have different interests, and to agree on basic principles and an approach.

As Torsten Zube put it, I am not a “blockchain extremist” nor a denier that believes this is just a hype, but a realist open to embracing a new technology in order to change our processes for our collective benefit.

Turn insight into action, make better decisions, and transform your business. Learn how.


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Digitalist Magazine

New Whitepaper on Planning a Power BI Enterprise Deployment

 New Whitepaper on Planning a Power BI Enterprise Deployment

I’m excited to share that a new technical whitepaper I co-authored with Chris Webb is published. It’s called Planning a Power BI Enterprise Deployment. It was really a fun experience to write something a bit more formal than blog posts. My interest in Power BI lies in how to successfully deploy it, manage it, and what the end-to-end story is especially from the perspective of integration with other data assets in an organization. Power BI has grown to be a huge, wide set of features so we got a little verbose at just over 100 pages.

A huge thank you to Chris Webb for inviting me to be his co-author. Chris is not only whip-smart, but a total pleasure to work with. 

Another big thank you to Meagan Longoria for being our tech editor. I like to think of myself as detail-oriented, but I’ve got nothin’ compared to her eagle eye.

We worked primarily with Adam Wilson at Microsoft in terms of getting information, so he deserves a thank you as well for dealing with the questions that Chris and I peppered him with week after week.

I hope you find the whitepaper to to be useful. 

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Blog – SQL Chick

Why Dynamic Planning And Analysis Optimizes Decisions

273791 273791 l srgb s gl Why Dynamic Planning And Analysis Optimizes Decisions

Gone are the days of a single annual planning cycle. Or at least – those days should be gone.

Planning processes have certainly evolved. Previously, many companies started their planning process in September (assuming a December fiscal year-end), and spent a large part of the fourth quarter on planning iterations. Once the plan was approved, there were few adjustments; however, a significant amount of time was spent on explaining plan/actual differences throughout the year.

As changes in the business environment began to accelerate, companies evolved to a rolling forecast. Instead of waiting until the end of the fiscal year to begin a new planning cycle, companies began to plan and adjust their budgets based on actual data that came in during a financial period, giving them a rolling 12-month forecast.

Today we need real-time planning to account for disruptive business models and sudden changes in demand. This requires organizations to act quickly to make changes to the plan, potentially moving funds due to changes in a business model, customer demand, or other factors.

Levels of planning

Every part of the organization, not just finance, must engage in planning:

  • Finance: There are many ways to plan financial information. Of course, there are balance sheets and P&L financial planning, but also management accounting planning for cost centers, internal orders, profit centers, projects, and dimensions of profitability, including logistics information such as customers, products, and regions.
  • Operations: HR plans for headcount, salary, benefits, and training costs. Sales and marketing departments estimate customer demand, plan for expenses to ensure closed deals, and evaluate product pricing. Meanwhile, manufacturing plans capacity and product mix, as well as any materials they need to procure. In the best case, sales and manufacturing planning complement each other.
  • Organizational hierarchies: Especially in large organizations, business units and subsidiaries also plan, and these plans need to roll up to the corporate level. Similar to intercompany reconciliation of actuals, cross-business adjustments may need to be made.

Integrated planning

A key challenge has always been the siloed nature of planning, both for financial planning as well as the influence of operational planning on finance. In many companies, the different types of planning are performed in a different system or spreadsheet, requiring manual consolidation. And each time there is a change, the reconciliation starts from scratch.

Enter modern finance solutions.

Instead of relying on different systems and manual processes, these solutions enable a single, consolidated view of all planning and forecasting information across all financial, operational, and organizational levels. This includes a rollup of planning information from subsidiaries into corporate planning, as well as automatically including operational plans in financial plans to measure their impact on both the financial and management controlling plans.

And since the same information is used for transactional processing – analytics as well as planning – there is no lag time, ensuring that the most up-to-date information is available at any time. Simulations, what-if analyses, and predictive capabilities allow for the modeling of all planning options.

Before and after

To see how this works, let’s take a look at the planning processes in two organizations. One company – let’s call it Mary’s Manufacturing – has many disparate planning systems, as discussed above. The other, Stephanie’s Software, has implemented a state-of-the-art finance solution. This team is not only capable of consolidating and updating planning information in real time, but can also use sophisticated dynamic planning tools to evaluate the financial impact of all strategic options available.

Consider a merger and acquisition (M&A) scenario. The finance team at Mary’s Manufacturing spends so much time in manual consolidations that they cannot possibly evaluate each M&A scenario. Instead, they must pre-select only a few options, meaning they’re not considering every scenario. On the other hand, Stephanie’s Software, using dynamic planning and predictive tools, can evaluate each and every option, even tweaking individual parameters in the model to determine the most profitable and sustainable scenario for the organization.

At Mary’s Manufacturing, the finance team spends most of their time doing manual consolidation and reconciliation of planning data. This task repeats every time a source plan changes to ensure that financial planning reflects any changes in sales, operational, and HR planning. However, with dynamic planning and forecasting capabilities, the finance team at Stephanie’s Software can add value to the organization by spending the majority of their time in analysis of all potential scenarios. The finance team thus becomes a valuable member of the executive team that can provide answers to “what if” questions immediately, even in an executive boardroom situation.

For more information about solutions that support planning processes, please visit:

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Planning for the New Year: How to create an editorial calendar

blog title team calendar planning 351x200 Planning for the New Year: How to create an editorial calendar

Also, I realize that in marketing we don’t always have the luxury to plan a calendar a full year in advance. Sometimes we may be lucky if we have a week to conceptualize and execute a plan. But we can aspire. This post is intended to help you get over the hurdle of a blank calendar. By the end of the post and accompanying exercise, you should have a rough plan that will take you through the end of 2017.

Here we go!

Why do you need a plan?

Organization! A calendar can help you visualize your day, month, or year ahead. It is your roadmap to what you’re up against.

It can help you when you fall short on inspiration, too. If you’ve already set up your calendar, you’ve done the gritty work of ideating topics and themes for your campaigns and copy. Now you just need to execute.

Plus, editorial calendars are a great resource to show your boss that you’re boss.

When do you need an editorial calendar?

I set up calendars and work-back schedules for everything, including daily life. Just ask my husband about our weekend schedule and he’ll go glazy in the eyes as he thinks back to the detailed plan I’ve set out for us to achieve all our errands and fun. I can’t help it! I need to calendar everything to ensure it’s realistic – to ensure all my plans will actually fit into a day. Plus, I like the constraint of time-blocking (see my previous post on productivity).

I also use an editorial calendar or workback plan for most assignments in the office.

Editorial calendars are especially critical for those of you in content and publishing – to plan work ahead including getting freelancers assigned. I come from the magazine world, where we had to plan our cover story and features months in advance. This habit trickles over into web publishing, too, to know what is being posted and when. They’re also necessary for blogging.

Some people question whether it’s smart practice to create an editorial calendar for social media. The argument against doing so is that social media should be timely and spontaneous and planning months in advance is the antithesis of that.

It’s a fair point, though I’m of the mindset that you need an editorial calendar as the backbone to your social media calendar. The reason why? You‘ll make yourself crazy if your social media plan is literally blank and you have to scour and scamper to come up with topics on the fly, day in and day out. I’m not suggesting that you line up all 365 days of posts in advance, though. Instead, strive for a balance. I gravitate toward selecting weekly or even monthly topics that help me frame up my calendar. Then I leave lots of margin to fill in with newsy posts, too.

What to include on your editorial calendar?

You don’t have to include everything on your calendar. In fact, you probably don’t want to because the more granular it gets, the more you’re going to have to adjust when things change (and they will).
Instead, start with the basics: dates, topics or themes, and key milestones. That in and of itself is a rudimentary, and effective, calendar.

But let’s go a little deeper.

How to tackle your editorial calendar

I want this to be an interactive, hands-on workshop of a blog. My goal is that you can frame up your own rough calendar while we go through the next sections.

So, to start, pull out a few sheets of scratch paper and a writing utensil for this.

(Note: while I realize we are in a digitally savvy age, I strongly encourage using actual paper and pen/pencil at this stage. You’re roughing out ideas and may do some rudimentary sketchings – and lots of scribbling. Paper works best for now, and you can transfer this to a more polished digital file later.)


First things first: prioritize your goals and tasks. Draw an inverted pyramid, point on the bottom. At the top (biggest part of the pyramid) are the things you must-do this year: launch a product, hit a certain revenue goal, and so forth. These are those things on your must-do list.

Next, move to the middle section of your pyramid and break it into four quadrants. Label them Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4 – so you have one per quarter. Think about what needs to happen in each of those time frames and write those things down, if you know. If you don’t know specific dates for these items quite yet, just fill something in anyway as placeholders. You can always update this.

In the smallest section of your pyramid, at the point, list your smaller wish list items you’d like to do if you can.

I realize it’s a little awkward to smush everything into this pyramid shape, because the result is not a symmetrical shape – especially in that quadrant section. But the intent is to get you thinking about your priorities, from biggest to smallest.


Now, grab a new piece of paper. We’re going to take that same pyramid and make it more calendar-like.

The first step is to plot out 12 squares and label each with the 12 months of the year. Within each month, plot one thing from your pyramid. That thing can be a to-do list item, a milestone, or an overarching theme. Consider key business operations here, too. For example, any conferences you’ll be supporting. Also, list national and international holidays you may be able to tie into. Feel free to add “TBD” or “placeholder” to your list. That’s OK. Your goal is to let the ideas and plans flow at this stage. Don’t judge yourself for not having all the answers. You may also have extras – more than one thing per month. Write those in for now.

As you are doing this work, my guess is your brain will start to dream. You may feel the urge to be creative here – at least it does for me. As I start planning, my brain gets excited and ideas flow. I make correlations and may even come up with catchy slogans and campaign ideas I can use later on. If this happens to you, don’t resist. Write them down. No one is watching! These notes are for you.

Step away from your work

Now that you have your months plotted, pause. You can break this into weekly or even daily and hourly chunks later. But this is good for now. You could even stop at this stage completely, especially if you’re feeling taxed and need to move on to something else.

Otherwise, allow yourself a break before you revise. Pat yourself on the back and step away at least for 15 or 30 minutes. Grab a coffee, or take a walk and come back.

Welcome back: time to shuffle

Back? Great! Now it’s time to shuffle things around and play a bit.

Grab 12 sticky notes or notecards – one for each month – and scribble in the work from your 12-month calendar. Affix them to your desk or floor and start shuffling things around to see what works best. If you have extras, give those ideas their own sticky note.

Next, look up an online calendar of holidays and make note of anything you may have missed, such as smaller holidays or national “days” (such as national dog day, ice cream day, and so forth). These can be fun things to leverage.

I also recommend you pull out last year’s editorial calendar at this stage to compare your work. If you’ve got metrics from last year, all the better. Assess what you did, what worked, and adjust.

Keep shuffling and balancing your calendar until you are satisfied. Personally, I look to ensure I have an even distribution of topics and ideas per month – but it doesn’t always work out so smoothly. At minimum, I try to have one or two major ideas for each month, with a few extras that might float between months or be nice add-ons if we have the time. And I want to err on the side of more content at the front half of the calendar than the back. You can always add more things later as the months’ tick by.

Also, take your time at this stage. This is really the heavy lifting, and it requires thought. You may even want to stretch this work over the course of a few days.

Create a one-sheet view

Once you feel solid about the plan, go back and plot your “final” calendar onto a one-sheet view so you can see it all in flow. Group your months into quarters. Assign KPIs or goals so you can measure your results. How does it look? Probably pretty polished at this stage. Great work!

Assign work

Once you have your calendar and themes ironed out, now’s the time to define the details and work out workback plans. For example, assign names to to-do items. Capture key due dates for deliverables. Even make note of specific budgetary restrictions or traffic goals for your efforts.

Expect revisions

Note that above, I said this was your “final” calendar. In quotation marks. That’s because it’s never really done, is it? You know this game by now. Everything changes – whether it’s due to a strategy shift or a new boss coming in and shuffling things around.

And it may be because you simply don’t love the plan and need to make some adjustments to improve your calendar. Remember this is your calendar, so you can come back to it and work ahead as often as you like.

Tactically, I prepare for this by setting reminders on my digital calendar every 1-2 months. I title my task “update editorial calendar” and I block an hour or two. Then, I go through the above exercises – or at least read through my plans – and make tweaks as needed.

Weekly or daily views – should you create them?

If you are on a roll and want to go deeper to create a week-by-week or day-by-day plan, you can. But if you do this, I recommend you only plan this deeply for 6-10 weeks in advance. The reason is because of what we just discussed: plans can and do change. I’d hate for you to get married to ideas and daily tasks, only to have to undo and change them all.

Going digital and final tips

Once you’ve scribbled on paper and worked out the kinks, this is the time to transfer this calendar to whatever medium works best for you and your team. Maybe you transfer everything onto a shared calendar like Outlook, Google spreadsheets, or Asana.

I suggest you create a one-sheet slide view of the calendar, probably in PowerPoint. I like to do this step so that I can insert the calendar into to the appendix of any marketing decks I distribute throughout the year. It’s also easy to print this slide and tack it to my office wall to consult.

I also like to create a single month at a time view, which I call my “at a glance” view. This helps me stay on track and clearly organize my priorities for the month.

Great work! Here’s to a successful year ahead!

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