Budgeting Season Best Practices. Fall is finally here! Cooler weather, beautiful leaves changing. And while fall may be one of our favorite seasons of the year, budgeting season is absolutely not. Your company employees will spend late hours, and long nights, to sort out the budget. How does it normally go for your professional services organization? Does it run smoothly? Or do you feel like your drowning in spread sheets with mind numbing lists of numbers and reports? Do you feel limited using Excel? We understand the limitations of spreadsheets and manual data collection, and that these can often drive you insane. Here are our Budgeting Season Best Practices :

Use The BEST Tools: There have been a few detailed blog posts on our love for Excel. We recognize how awesome it is, and how it has stood the test of time, being used by almost every single business in the world for some type of data collection & reporting. But we also recognize, at times like these, (Budgeting Season), Excel has limitations. There are tools that you can use, that will not completely eliminate Excel, but will instead enhance it. Your budgeting season will be smoother, data collection simpler, and time and resources used CORRECTLY during the fall months. These tools, like our onePlan, offer flexibility, control, are faster & save you TIME.

Expand those tools, by PLANNING: Static budgets are a thing of the past. We realize now that our businesses are always changing. Why plan with old numbers and details? With a continuous planning model, data is constantly updated for you. Answering questions you have quickly and re-forecast based on market change. Use your old numbers to answer the questions through the future. You will be able to course correct half-way through the year, and have an even more accurate budget by budgeting season next year.

Budgeting Season Best Practices

Hopefully this is the last time we have to write about “Survival Tips.” Because it shouldn’t feel like surviving. Budgeting season should feel like just a regular part of your year. Finally, it can be fast, easy, simple and streamlined. Adopting new practices and tools is how you stay competitive in your field. And it is essential to better performance. If budgeting is your pain, let’s heal it! You can reduce your budgeting cycle by WEEKS of time. Bragging about how efficient you are next year will be a lot more satisfying than complaining about the tedious budgeting season.

Aside from being the CEO of 9DOTS, I am also an Assistant Varsity Football Coach at Cardinal O’Hara High School. Whether it’s at home or in the office, I have spent my life practicing, preaching and living the TEAM concept and culture. As a coach on the football field, and as a CEO, I try to see the best in each and every member of the team and use that to our advantage. It’s June 2018. It’s half-time. If you are losing, how do you adjust? If you are winning, how do you avoid complacency? I have FIVE tried and true tips from my experience coaching in all aspects of life. Keep reading for FIVE TIPS to coach your team to a WIN in the second half. 

Coach your team

Coach John

coach your team

CEO John!














In football, halftime can be one of the biggest challenges. If the team is losing, it’s possible to feel a sense of urgency to fix everything at once and panic. This never translates well to the team, and can lead to yelling, dissension, and loss of the second half of the game. If the team is winning at halftime, it’s easy to get complacent and lose sight of the fact that there is still an entire half ahead of us. As you approach the end of the first half of 2018, how do you close out with confidence and win the second half?


Here are my 5 TIPS too COACH YOUR TEAM to A WIN in the 2nd Half of 2018:

  1. Do a 360 degree team review. Solicit feedback from your “players”. Everyone is a leader. Believe it or not they may have better insights than you ever thought imaginable. After all, they are on the front line and see all the action.
  2. Make certain you remember all the key moments from the FIRST half – Good and Bad. We cannot solve the 2ndhalf without the knowledge we have gained from the 1st. Show the highlights and the low lights to the team. Ask “why?” Why did we succeed here? Why did we fail there? You might be shocked by the answers.
  3. Before you address the team, meet with your peer group. Discuss the 1sthalf and what their thoughts are for the 2nd Get the input from your direct staff.
  4. Address the team. Keep it brief. Explain the good and the bad and the strategy for the second half. During this time, let others speak. We cannot win the 2ndhalf if it’s only the coach’s ideas. We need buy in.
  5. Let them go! If you have formed your culture and your team, they know what to do. Be strong ing your abilities, trust yourself and your team.  If you have learned from your mistakes, it’s time to show it.

Once the halftime is over, there is only one thing left to do at the end of the game: Celebrate the win. But never get too high, because the next challenge is only one game away.

Coach your team

CEO Celebrates the Win!

Coach Celebrates the win!










9DOTS CEO connects the DOTS every month. Subscribe here (click Subscribe at the top left of the link) to our newsletter so you never miss a post. 

Check back next month & think outside the box with us.

left-brained or right-brained

Take this quiz   See if you are more left-brained or right-brained dominant & how it relates to 9DOTS! 

The right side of your brain is associated with creativity,  imagination, and the arts.  The left side of your brain uses logic, analytic thought, and reasoning.  Some CFOs, CEOs, accountants, etc. enjoy focusing on numbers, while some would rather focus on the creative aspect of a project. No matter if your quiz determined left-brained or right-brained, dashboards and data visualization software can work for you.

Left-brained: It takes time to process complicated images, jumbled words, and thousands of numbers. Even if you are math-oriented, use your customized dashboard to make quick decisions to benefit your bottom line AND THEN drill into reports and study them in a more organized fashion. This leaves less room for error and more fun for your logical mind!

Right-Brained: customize the dashboard to exactly how you need to see for your business. With tons of colors, charts and new, creative ways to get a look inside your business, it will be even easier to make snap-judgments. Make quick decisions no matter which way you think best by implementing data visualization.

“The brain processes images 60,000 times faster than it does text” (business2community) Solving your data problems with data visualization engages BOTH the left brain and right brain. Even the word DATA (left-brained) & visualization (right-brained) combines the two modes of thinking perfectly. Look at the photo below. Which sign is quickest and easiest to process?

data visualization

When you are driving, you have to easily and quickly process a pedestrian crosswalk. You don’t want to slow down, try to read the description of the sign, AND THEN try to understand the sign. Treat your business the same way. By consolidating spreadsheets with and endless scrolls of numbers & figures, data visualization, creates visuals of that data. It uses graphs, charts and images so you can quickly process answers and where you need to go next. Which photo is easier to understand at the speed in which you need?







Quickly steer the car & direct your business. Make decisions based on your metrics with this valuable tool. Drill down into reports to understand the numbers anytime you need! People often assume that a left-dominated brain would have a much easier time relating, but it is actually a combination of both. 9DOTS uses data visualization to cater to both sides of the brain. Use your analytical skills and math loving personality to customize the metric that best describes your organization. Take more creative steps with unique data visualizations, colors and charts.  Our graphs, charts, and spreadsheets cater to both left and right brain thinkers. Rapidly analyze patterns and trends as quickly 60,000 times faster.

There is even more information here & please follow us on LinkedIN to get 9DOTS updates & think outside the box riddles!

Why Legal Project Management
Pam Woldow
of global legal consulting firm, Edge International, has surveyed, talked to & written with SO many lawyers, she has heard it all. Her best practices for successfully implementing LPM for our legal readers & clients answer all of our questions. If you have ever asked ” WHY Legal Project Management (LPM)?” here are The 4 Best Responses 9DOTS can give you based on experience and all of our reading.

WHY comes before WHAT: “What” focuses on all the steps inside LPM: budget, scope, planning. When lawyers only focus on the WHAT, Woldow says they seem to think that LPM is a burden. Implementing it becomes a frustrating addition to their day. If the lawyers see the WHY in LPM, they realize the added value, “Lawyers genuinely want to be the most valuable resource to their clients.”

  1. LESS UNCERTAINTY : With a budgeting and forecasting solution, reaching a hurdle doesn’t mean you will struggle to jump it. The economy, regulation, product pricing and consumer demand are no hurdles too high. With a customizable solution and a rolling forecast, budgeting is no longer a tedious task that leaves you feeling uncertain about your numbers. Budgeting software makes setting a budget quick and easy, which grants more time to focus on an accurate forecast. You are able to use your budget as a roadmap and your forecast to navigate you down that road despite any risk or challenge you may face.
  2. FACE CHALLENGES BETTER THAN YOUR COMPETITORS: The ability to easily mitigate risk is a major competitive advantage. Simply put, there are other companies who will face similar challenges as you and not be able to overcome them. You will know immediately by following your roadmap and analysis that you can afford those new supplies. Quickly understand the impact a 10% sales increase will have on your employees. You will understand how a challenge will affect your bottom line and cash flow without spending hours or even days crunching numbers.
  3. Efficiency & VALUE: “Until recently, you did not find lawyers talking much about efficiency, predictability and effective communication.” They are talking about it now because times are changing, data & technology are rising and advancing, and clients know that the benefits of LPM brings tons of value. Answer all of your “what-if” questions quickly & use them to benefit the future.
  4. MORE PROFIT & A GROWING FIRM: The fact is, “Today, providing predictable pricing, keeping clients constantly in the communication loop, and making sure their law firm teams are aligned with client needs & priorities, is the way to delight clients and keep them coming back for more.” There is not one person out there who doesn’t want to profit, financially or personally. With a budgeting and forecasting solution, you get both. Mitigating risk leads to a significant competitive advantage which leads to a significant jump in your company’s success. By eliminating inefficiency, quickly overcoming obstacles, and gaining more time to spend on tasks that help your business, you will find time you can take advantage of. Without all of the stressors on your firm, clients will TRUST you and keep coming back.

The Paradigm is Shifting: The “why” motivates and inspires lawyers at the ground level. LPM delivers immediate, real-time benefits and lawyers AND clients are benefitting. “Any lawyer or consultant who says you should only use LPM when someone forces you to, totally misses the boat.” Commit to legal project management. Make LPM become second nature, and with that will come never-ending value to who you are as a lawyer.

Are you wondering, ” WHY Legal Project Management ? ” here are FOUR Answers, but 9DOTS has even more. Follow us on social media @ixdots or subscribe to our newsletter to ALWAYS have an answer to your WHY?