Recently I was at a youth camp that has a philosophy of no-debt, a bare-bones crew, and to be as efficient as possible. The no-debt aspect was impressive given that the last building cost over 10 million. The bare-bones crew was in order to be able to offer more amenities, which they did. What this means is that the youth at the camp have to "pull their weight". Instead of having a large kitchen staff, the youth serve each other and they all clean up. At the end of the week, the youth tidy up the cabin and basically take on a philosophy of leave it like you found it. They also did things like automatic lights. They come on when you walk in and after a period of inactivity, they turn off. In talking to one of the leaders, they said that they always try to learn from other camps, listen to the problems that they have experienced, and then try to improve how they operate. This mentality of being more efficient, planned, streamlined, focused, and open-minded could save a company in the long run. As the year progresses on, try to think of ways that you can improve operations and create a better foundation for the company.

Do you have a digital junk drawer?

Do you have a digital junk drawer? I sat listening to a webinar looking at a list of social media apps that just seemed absolutely absurd to me. The list literally took over multiple pages. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm on Instagram, I have a Facebook account, and post regularly to Twitter. But as so many of us know or are starting to realize, these platforms, while they can be extremely beneficial both in our personal life and professionally, can become a time vacuum. Does that mean that we should just eliminate the use of these platforms? No, of course not, because these tools can be used to help businesses be more effective, efficient, and simply better at connecting and helping the customers. But maybe, just maybe, we should be a little picky about which ones we use. Making sure to only use the platforms that genuinely help a company better serve the customer and bring in revenue (this can and should be tracked). With that in mind, is it time for you to de-clutter your digital life?

AcuTrax Digital Proof of Delivery

If you've ever had a customer ask you to show them who signed for a delivery, then you need DataWeld’s digital proof of delivery. Digital proof of delivery does several things, but the most important is that it makes it possible to prove delivery fast and easy. This can be done, in most cases, in a few seconds which helps in saving time and improving customer service.

The other major benefit is the elimination of paper. Orders and who signed for them are all digital, which eliminates the need for filing the paper and more importantly, trying to find the piece of paper when it's needed.

Want to learn more on how to save time and energy with DataWeld’s digital proof of delivery? Then please give me a call at 318-317-7977 or send me an email to andi@dataweld.com. I would love the opportunity to explain how AcuTrax can help with digital proof of delivery.

Don't have time for a phone call or email? We understand, so if you want some more information and have time for a quick 5 minute read, then click the link below to learn more!

Andrea Striegel
AcuTrax Specialist

Planning Time

We went from cassette tape to cd to download and now to streaming. The music industry, as with all other industries, has had to adapt and change. As time goes on, as technology improves and advances, we have to adapt and keep up or get left behind. As, the year comes to an end, be thinking about how you could improve. What technology could be implemented? How could you make your business more efficient, more effective? This will look different for everyone, regardless of whether or not you’re in the same industry.

The following are a few things to remember and to help guide you in your thoughts about planning:

  • Adapting to new technology is becoming increasingly more important. We’re moving faster than ever and new technology gives us the tools to be more efficient and effective at both our daily tasks and big picture strategy.
  • Online tools are amazing and can give us access from anywhere we need it. The downside? With more and more web based apps will inevitably come more cyber attacks. This means that security protocols will become increasingly important.
  • Cloud strategy. I know that we sound like a broken record, but things happen. Every company needs to have a disaster plan and part of that could and probably should be a cloud service. Whether all information is hosted and/or run off of a hosted server or all files (not just the critical ones, space is cheap) are backed up and accessible from off site, every company strategy plan should involve the cloud.

Just remember that even a small step is still a step, so take that step forward as we plan for and get ready to move into a new year.

Automate those task!

Having the correct tools can make all the difference when you're trying to finish thousands of tasks during the day. For instance, backups are critical, but if you have to remember to go to the server, plug in a drive, and set the backup to run, then you've spent time on a task that could have been automated. Instead, you could setup a service like Carbonite that backs up automatically and then worry about more important tasks, like filling up your cup of coffee... Seriously though, having the proper tools in place can save little bits of time that may add up to massive chunks of time. What's the point? Always ask the question: Am I doing this task the most efficient and effective way?

Going Green

All of us know that we need to be responsible with our natural resources and with our bank accounts. What does this look like? This might look like changing the light bulbs to LEDs (which are much more efficient and last significantly longer) or maybe turning off some of those unused lights... It might also look like setting up recycling for the company. Regardless, the big idea here is to start thinking about the impact of how we do business. The next two points are some ideas to hopefully get you started.

1. Go paperless: This is one of the things I say all the time and that’s because it has so many benefits. First, with no more paper and automatic backups set to run, critical files are never lost. So scan the important documents and setup a real-time automatic backup. Second, you’re helping the environment while saving money. Consider the following statistic: 39% of copies are thrown in the trash... so why not email that file? Or scan that document into the digital filing system (where everyone has access without printing) and recycle the paper.

This can also look like going paperless on bills. Most companies these days will send a digital version of an invoice (many encourage this) and many like receiving a digital version. When the bill is emailed, it's there immediately and there's no money spent on paper, postage, or envelopes. If you're a vendor, with a good accounting system, the invoicing process can be automated. Invoices could be processed and emailed out automatically without anybody getting involved other than the initial entry.

At a bare minimum, going paperless makes a company more efficient, but in the long road it can make a company more profitable and environmentally friendly.

2. Alternative energy: Solar Power. I know that solar can be a large upfront cost but, if the plan is to stay in the same location for a while, it can easily be looked at as an investment. First, we’re talking free energy. That means no longer paying the power company for electricity or at least not all of it. Second, with enough solar panels, the power company will start paying for the excess energy that is sent back onto the grid. This helps the bank account and the environment. 

There are companies that will cover the roof in solar panels and even create covered parking with solar panels. Installing panels on the roof is pretty much permanent. Covered parking is fantastic, but that is definitely a much more permanent and costly solution. While these options are great for the companies that have the bank accounts to fund them, they're not always practical for everyone to implement. Let's say you're not planning on staying for a long time, maybe just a year or a couple of years. Smaller panels can be mounted on the outside of a building (much like hanging a sign) and used to power smaller setups. Think powering some computers and maybe the lights, but not necessarily a server room.

Again, the main point of this article is not about the above two points, but more so to get us thinking about the impact of how we do business. These ideas are just two ways of many that a company could be more efficient and environmentally friendly, while saving money.

Spring Cleaning

t's officially spring and that means spring cleaning! I do understand that the warehouse is probably going to remain dirty, but that's not really what I'm talking about. We urge people all the time to create backups and there's a reason: they're extremely important. However, there's no reason to back up that third extra copy of the photo from last year's company picnic that somehow kept getting copied and re-saved in random places... So, in honor of spring, take a few minutes to clean off those old files and get a little more organized. If you need a jumping off point, then click here to read more on Getting Organized.

Get Organized

I was trying to create an article for a newsletter and it wasn't going well. I was drawing a blank and then it hit me while I was staring at my computer. Recently I have been reorganizing my computer files. I'm typically an organized person, but over the years I've collected a massive amount of files due to video and image editing. It was now time for me to restructure and purge those files that were no longer needed. 

A few things I realized were:

1. Be Centralized
Keep all your files in a centralized location. This simply means don’t have some folders on the desktop, some in the My Documents folder, some on an external drive, etc. I recommend having one location for all folders and then creating the Root folders within that centralized location. This will make locating a file easier (no more using the search bar to find a file) and, if the need arises, transferring all those important files means you copy and paste 1 folder not 100.

2. Start with a good root folder
I've created hundreds of videos over the last few years. All of these videos have a raw format, a finished format, and a handful of other files. Keeping all that organized can get overwhelming. To fix this issue, I created a root folder for videos within my central location (My Documents, Dropbox, an external drive, etc.). I then created sub-folders for each of our offerings and within that a folder for each video. This setup keeps me from having to search through every file for one video and keeps me from having to go through twenty sub-folders to find a specific file. 

3. Don’t be afraid to change
Like anything else in business, the setup created today may not work next year. Getting organized is just the first step. You may realize soon after everything is organized that there is a better way. Figure out what works for your specific situation, what helps you to be most efficient and effective at your job. 

At the end of the day, everyone’s organization will look a little different. The naming structure needs to make sense to the user and the folder layout needs to fit the needs of whoever is using it. If this is one person it’s relatively simple. If it’s a team, then it becomes a little more complex and might require a couple of conversations. Spending the time to get organized will help, in the long run, to save time and in-turn money.  

Automated Invoicing

One of the fun things I get to do each year is serve on the GAWDA Management Information Committee. Every time we meet, there's a brainstorming session about how technology can be used to reduce labor costs, increase profits or improve work flow processes for the welding supply distributor and vendor. The process of discussing different technologies...

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