Some people mock planning saying that planning just takes time and doesn’t add value, but creates a plan, a guess, up front which you then need to stick to. I disagree, at least in part.
Planning is very valuable. Ask any senior manager in any company and they will say that there is a lack of people who can plan their work and communicate it clearly, weather to colleagues or customers. However, the value is not in the end result, in the document that is the plan. Rather, the planning process itself is where the value is.
By planning, you get to think through what you want to do and how you are going to get there. Through thinking, you realize any eventual problems and can evaluate weather you need to address them right away, take a different route around them, or just keep them in the back of your mind. When (or if) you hit them, you will at least be aware of them and can act better and faster.
Even though you might not necessarily always keep to the plan, the process makes up for it. As long as you then clearly communicate with other stakeholders in your project what is happening, you may deviate from the plan if it makes more sense. Communication and planning goes hand in hand and makes for happier coworkers and customers.
In conclusion, in every time of scenario where any type of planning is involved, it is the process that creates the real value for you, where you get to think through the project or the task ahead of time. Every hour of planning as they say, are returned several-fold over the course of any project.
As part of my University degree, I am taking three courses in German and as a part of the courses you have to give a few talks of around 10 minutes each. Since the entire class is made up by fellow Economics and Business Administration students, I wanted to share something that would actually be useful, and talk about my experiences and lessons from the last 10 years as a (young) businessman.
Most people just do these talks because it’s necessary and to get the grade. On this occasion, I wanted to share something meaningful, something that would be worthwhile listening to. Here is a comment I was sent after the talk, a comment that makes speechless. I’m very humbled:
It felt like you should be the lecturer instead of some others. If you compare against when the CEO of the Volvo Group was here a few month ago, I thought your talk in 10 minutes gave me more than all of his in 1 hour. Thank you.
I have debated quite a bit with myself weather to make the video public or not. I’m comfortable enough with my Swedish (obviously) and English to do public videos, but in all fairness, my German includes so many grammatical errors when speaking, it’s almost comical. However, I have decided to share it with you because a) I have gotten some great, positive feedback on it and b) the teacher also enjoyed it very much and apparently wasn’t hindered by the grammar (too much).
In most of the world there are solid laws around book keeping with heavy rules and regulations about what you must and must not do. Most people also find this utterly boring and will be quite disappointed when I suggest that you keep track of your numbers yourself, outside of the book keeping too.
The reason for this, is that as a consultant you are mostly billing your hours. Every day you work up value in your company (your time) as you are in an instant selling this time to your clients, whether packed in a project or on an hour-by-hour basis. Just tracking this when you invoice the customer gives you a very skewed picture of your company.
Track Hours. Track Earnings. I am suggesting that you focus on two things. First of all, track all the amount of ours that you work (I use Harvest—It’s an excellent app with great reporting). Billable and non-billable. This gives you an overview of how much time you are actually spending on projects and customers. If your find your billable hours too few in comparison to the non-billable, you know what you need to do.
However, don’t stop here. Summarize the would-be-earnings on a project or client basis every month. That is, take the hours worked, multiply by your hourly rate as necessary and you will get the worth that you have worked up during the month. Put this in relation to what you are billing and you have some great data on how your company is doing.
Basically, just looking at the invoices aren’t enough. Some projects might go on over several months, causing big lump sums in certain months, and no earnings in others. In traditional result reports, this isn’t answered. Creating an internal report like this however, solves the problem nicely, simply and easily and doesn’t take much time at all.
I’ve written before about an apparent expectations some people have about someone else doing all their work for them and how odd that is, looking at whom it is coming from in the case of my rant. Today, we have another rant following up on this theme: Stop Wasting My Time.
I never thought I would on a university level (people who are aiming for higher manager roles even!) experience people who after being told instructions two or three times, still do not seem to recall them ever hearing it.
Frankly, I could care less about this for their own sakes. If they fail to do something because they didn’t listen, that’s fine. Where it becomes problematic however, is when enough people do this so that it takes up valuable time from others who have been paying attention before.
I am studying at the university to learn, not to hear instructions being repeated time and time again. Many things compete for my time every day and this is something I could absolutely do without. Again. Stop Wasting My Time.
It’s always hard to make graphical thumbnails when all you have is code. Thanks for Instacode, this is much easier. Just paste the code in the box, apply some effects and in no time, you have a pretty looking code thumbnail.