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CEO Connects the Dots: Choose Your Attitude

I was out over the Thanksgiving weekend doing some shopping. Needless to say, I wasn’t in the best frame of mind. Quite frankly, my attitude needed an adjustment. Instead of enjoying the hustle and bustle of people out doing their thing, the company of my wife, or the beautiful, crisp, November weather, I complained to myself about why we were there. I’m certain my body language was poor and even more certain that I had the Grinch’s puss on my face.

And then we walked into an old country store and I saw a rustic framed quote from Charles Swindoll:

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company … a church … a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude … I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you … we are in charge of our Attitudes.”

Wow! These were powerful words and they showed up for me to see, just in time. I’m certain my day would have degraded into something terrible and probably would have ended with a spat with my wife by the end.

Instead, I took charge of my attitude and changed my entire day.

I realized just how right Swindoll is. Every single day we have a choice. Happiness is a choice. Embrace a positive attitude and start the day differently than maybe what feels natural in that moment (like staying in your bad mood & being a Grinch through the holiday season).

As we head into the holiday season, there is no better time to choose your attitude. The stress will mount each day both in your personal and professional life as the year comes to an end. Recognize that life is going to happen, and we can’t stop it. Just reflect on what Chuck Swindoll teaches in his quote, 90% of life is HOW WE REACT. Let life happen, and make the conscious decision to be positive in reaction.

Choose a great attitude starting today & let’s finish the year strong!

“You are Only as Good as Your TEAM”

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Insight into your business is a gift you benefit from every minute of your work day, and it is truly priceless in it’s usefulness and its efficiency. There is a need for Business Intelligence solutions from a team that thinks outside of the box, like 9DOTS. I post blog posts every week about 9DOTS and our comprehensive product…

BUT, do you really know 9DOTS or our CEO John Florio who is passionate about our products, solutions and team? The inception of 9DOTS and the years that laid the foundation for 9DOTS have led to our success today. The history of how we became this team of like-minded thinkers is relevant in getting to know who we are!

We are passionate about being a team with our employees and our clients. As John says when he talks about the growth and continuous success of 9DOTS, “you are only as good as your team.”

Watch this TV Interview with Main Line Connect & Jennifer Lynn Robinson to GET TO KNOW 9DOTS!  

Don’t Be a Statistic in 2016, Gain Competitive Advantage!

2015 is coming to an end, and so has your budgeting season.  If you have been reading along, or even if you haven’t, here are a few facts we learned through different surveys and research throughout the year.

A study by Grant Thorton, LLP shows that only 36% of businesses use scenarios and “what-if” analyses to re-check possible outcomes of a strategy.

A study by F1F showed that, out of 1,200 senior managers surveyed yielded stastics like “17% of large businesses suffered financial loss due to poor spreadsheets, and 78% say that key financial decisions are supported by spreadsheets.”

Companies spend weeks or even months completing the annual budgeting process, because it is so important. But too many companies fail to supplement the annual budget with planning activities that could strengthen performance management, gain competitive advantage, and of course drive profit!

Read our white paper to figure out how NOT to be a statistic in 2016, and instead stay ahead of the competition. 

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PwC Finds Pricing & Profitability Law Firms’ Top Priority

PI_Jan15_art3PwC has posted their findings from their 2015 Annual Law Firms’ Survey. Through interviewing the Top 100 firms, they have discovered that a top priority for the future of law firms is to focus on pricing and profitability.

Firms are continuing to invest in business improvement programs. The focus of these programs for Top 10 firms is to drive profitability and enhance support services, whilst firms outside of the Top 10 continue to feel pressure to reduce costs to remain competitive. “A growing number of firms have identified the problem and the solution. Pricing capability and sophistication at a firm-wide and individual partner level is being harnessed and for those firms it is having a swift and significant impact.”

It all falls back into the main idea that communicating and understanding your clients is what leads to a successful law firm. A one-size-fits-all process is no longer the most useful. It results in unhappy clients, and a less profitable law firm. “This depth of understanding the client is a critical precursor to being bale to create and articulate to the client an effective pricing strategy or methodology on a particular matter.”

Providing partners with the right tools and methodology for pricing decisions is also considered key. The article discussing the study mentions that pricing improvement has a very quick ROI. “The PwC report found that even IT projects whose objective is improvement of matter pricing, have an average ROI timescale of only four months.” A lack of correct pricing tools “results in what most firms regard as an unacceptable level of what the report referred to as Unplanned Fee Income Write-offs.”

But, the good news is there is a problem AND a solution. With the right tools, they write-offs are significantly reduced. “Pricing capability and sophistication at a firm-wide and individual partner level is being harnessed and for hose firms it is having a swift and significant impact.”

Three Ways Spreadsheets Are Holding You Back

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Traditional spreadsheet practice for Planning, Forecasting and Reporting is falling by the wayside. Microsoft Excel is powerful, but for the exponential data your organization has it’s power is just not enough. Strengthen your organization by understanding the ways that tiresome, stressful spreadsheet use can actually hold your company back.

 

  1. Spreadsheets are very susceptible to human error: Incorrect numbers and calculations not only cause a domino effect of mistakes throughout, but they cause speculation of your credibility. When you rely heavily on spreadsheet use, these mistakes can be detrimental. Today, your usual workday and work environment is fast paced. There is no time for error when entering your spreadsheet numbers, but it takes TOO much time to
    stress over every detail to ensure perfection. You need information in real-time. With a business intelligence solution that still uses the familiarity of excel, but eliminates the chance for mistakes you will be leaps and bounds above the competition that still uses spreadsheets, and you have an even smarter way to analyze your data.
  2. Heavy reliance on spreadsheets does not give you the ability to forecast as often, and be as advantageous, as you can: With a business intelligence forecasting solution, you won’t start a budget from scratch. Your organization could continuously forecast at least 18-24 periods forward, and months of crunching numbers can be consolidated to days or even hours. Real-time information and rolling forecasts means your business can focus on today, tomorrow and even manage the future.
  3. It’s challenging to add a dashboarding tool to your processes: But dashboards are actually a great, easy way to analyze data. It’s nearly impossible to view and understand multiple spreadsheets at one glance. With a dashboard, you can see charts and graphs that make all of those spreadsheets make sense. Eliminating the time you’d spend to understand cells of spreadsheets, and adding time to your regular work day.

Eliminate heavy spreadsheet use and empower your business.

 

Manage Visual Analytics Effectively

Business Intelligence has changed the way of the business world and opens a new window to data analytics. Your entire organization becomes profitable, in time and in those dollar signs you are always wishing for but can never quite grasp. This article from TDWIdata_visualization[1] explains just how beneficial Visual Analytics, and its versatility, are for a business, but it also reminds us that Visual Analytics can quickly lead you down a messy path if it is not properly managed.

David Stodder gained perspective through his research (study of spreadsheet use, an interview with the director of data warehousing for Helzberg Diamonds, an interview with the director of pricing at Watts Water Technologies, & more) for this article, and his new viewpoints on Visual Analytics is worth sharing.

Visual Analytics tools allows users to work in a self-service environment with less reliance on IT for every question, dashboard, report, etc. Users have more power, and in most cases, this means users can move your organization closer to its final goals. But with this power, comes the ability to mismanage.

If growth in the use of visual analytics tools and applications is not managed carefully, it could also exacerbate the very difficulties that enterprise BI rollouts were intended to solve.

Through his research, Stodder found one consistency that matches 9Dots’ findings and opinions–start eliminating spreadsheet use. Through dashboard and analytics tools’ versatility, there are a variety of ways you can take this first step, but moving out of heavy spreadsheet use means more easily managed data and less confusion and stress in your work days.

The best course is to pursue “managed” or “governed” self-service that features good communication and division of responsibilities. A best practice is to establish a governance or center of excellence committee to support growth in self-service visual analytics. In this way, enabling “the masses” to be more data-driven in their daily strategic and operational decision making can be a realistic goal.

The key BI objective that Stodder has found through his many inquiries into well-run, profitable companies, is one that is consistent with our blog posts: “improving operational efficiency and performance through better information flow.” With visual analytics tools, users are offered a new set of tools that meets this objective AND it’s no more challenging to use. We understand that change can lead some of us into a frenzy, but it’s no better than the frenzy your already dealing with in your day-to-day. As long as the tools are managed and deployed correctly and your organization is comfortable with how to use it, they will push forward into new data environments AND improve your business.

Simplify Your Analytics Strategy

AnalyticsAnalytics can challenge your organization. Data is so abundant that the complexity and confusion of it all can be overwhelming. When you sit down and try to analyze everything, you just don’t know where to start, or where to go. But Narendra Mulani, the senior managing director at Accenture Analytics has some sage advice: recognize what is important & what your analytics should be doing for every aspect of your organization.

If even that seems overwhelming, there’s one more step—simplify. “Pursue a simpler path to uncovering insight:”

1. Accelerate the Data: “Fast data = fast insight = fast outcomes.” When an environment is created that accelerates your data, your organization can manage that data much quicker. Getting the data you need in real-time improves many aspects of your business.

2. Delegate the work to your analytics technologies with

  • Next generation Business Intelligence & Data Visualization
  • Data discovery
  • Analytics applications
  • Machine learning and cognitive computing

3. Recognize that each path to data insight is unique. With data, elements are always changing and new obstacles come into play that challenge your data. There will always be new questions, and different answers that solve the dilemma of each question. “No matter what combination of culture and technology exists for a business, each path to analytics insight should be individually paved with an outcome-driven mindset.”

By taking these three steps, your analytics strategy will be simplified and so will the way your organization is run. It’s rare that simplicity can seem like it is enough, but with your big data and analytics processes, simple is beneficial.

5 KPIs That Will Create Financial Success

"KPI" Tag Cloud Globe (key performance indicator data targets)The key to any successful professional services organization meeting their financial objectives is the management of all revenue and cost information. The core financial management solution is the hub of all of this information. It must provide an infrastructure where costs and revenues can be easily be analyzed and where key members of the executive team can drill down to better understand areas of success in areas of improvement.

There are Five Key Performance Indicators that offer that infrastructure for greater financial success for professional services organizations:

  1.   Annual Revenue per Billable Consultant
  2.   Annual Revenue per Employee
  3.   Billable Utilization
  4.   Project Margin
  5.   Project Overrun

Professional services organizations must continue to focus delivering high-value and high-margin services in order to meet profit objectives. These five KPIs give organizations the ability to do that. It can be overwhelming to stare at your profit objectives and fear you may not meet them, but tracking these core financial metrics will make meeting profit objectives seem easy and exciting.

 

The Detriment of Spreadsheets

error_spreadsheetBI Solutions that eliminate the complicated use of spreadsheets create stronger, efficient organizations. In the last post I shared that the use of a business intelligence tool eliminates spreadsheet errors and creates confidence in numbers.

FIF9 conducted research with YouGov and obtained empirical data about just how detrimental making an error in a spreadsheet can be to your business. It is understood that many people feel safe in familiarity. Where spreadsheet use may be complex, changing our ways can be equally as taxing. This study shows the negative effects staying in the “spreadsheet comfort-zone” can have on your organization. More notes and statistics on the use and abuse of spreadsheets can be found in the F1F9 study here.

The research was conducted with help over 1,200 UK-based senior managers

Data supports what we see in the market everyday: spreadsheets play a critical role in business decision making globally.

With a statistic like “17% of large business suffered financial loss due to poor spreadsheets,” it is necessary to read about an alternative solution. After all, 78% of British businesses say that key financial decisions are supported by spreadsheets.” As easy as it may be to stay safe, making a change in your processes can be exceedingly beneficial.

From Spreadsheets to Business Intelligence Solutions: Becoming a Profitable Organization

why-excel-kills-your-schedulingSometimes it can feel like you are swimming in a sea of spreadsheets. This wouldn’t be too much of a problem, if spreadsheets didn’t cause so many of their own. Using Excel spreadsheets limits the ability to perform high-value, forward-looking analysis. They are prone to data errors. Errors in data will cause many more days of diving back into that sea of spreadsheets to try to fix the problem. Knowing all of this—that spreadsheets lack supportive features such as work flow and metadata management, that they can’t handle the complicated processes of business modeling, and that they are potentially making your organization less profitable than they can be, why are so many businesses still using them?

In 2014, Grant Thorton, LLP conducted a study of 130 finance executives from companies of $1 billion in annual revenue. The findings showed that nearly 39% use spreadsheets only. The people of Grant Thorton, LLP believe that the annual budgeting process alongside planning tools will create the most efficient, accurate and profitable organization—but this can’t happen with the use of spreadsheets:

“Companies spend weeks or even months completing the annual budgeting process, which is not surprising given that the budget serves a variety of high-level, table-setting purposes in most organizations. But too many companies fail to supplement the annual budget with planning activities that could make performance management more agile.”

  • A little less than half of all surveyed currently practice continuous planning and adjust resource allocations in response to changing conditions.
  • Only 36% use scenarios and “what-if” analyses to re-check possible outcomes of a strategy.
  • When asked why no one has improved the Financial Planning and Analysis aspect of the business to add value, 62% (nearly two-thirds of participants) stated that they were too buried in basic financial management duties.

Read more about this study here. There are a large number of organizations that could benefit from using a business intelligence tool and jumping out of that sea of spreadsheets. Companies that have been using business intelligence tools don’t feel behind. Instead, they find that theirs is the organization that is competing and still growing.