Tag Archives: productivity

Review of PRIORITY MATRIX – a workflow system that will revolutionize how IT managers work

This is a BOLD CLAIM, I know, , , but I believe wholeheartedly this system is going to create a paradigm shift in how IT managers work. Let me explain below or go view the video I created to learn more:


A paradigm shift is needed
IT managers have three major challenges and now there is software available to attack all three.

The “BIG THREE” challenges are:

  • Prioritizing work
  • Managing projects successfully
  • Communication

These three challenges are the sources of what I have called the Triple Threat To IT Success for many years.

Appfluence, a Palo Alto company, released a new version of their PRIORITY MATRIX software this week that includes specially designed “IT Manager Templates” to help address these three challenges.

Having used the system for a few months I can tell you that it addresses these three major challenges very effectively.

PRIORITY MATRIX is a very powerful workflow system that places an emphasis on improving productivity and accountability. It even eliminates a considerable amount of your email.

I know what you are saying to yourself, “Right Mike, , , eliminate most of my email, , , who are you kidding?”.

It’s the same thing I thought when I first heard this statement. Well, I saw it happen first hand when I used the system in a real project. It eliminated 90% of the email I would have had with the people working on this project and we completed the project much more productively.

It’s just one of the reasons I have been so impressed with the Priority Matrix system and wanted to make IT managers aware. This is going to be a major step in my company mission of, “helping IT managers of the world achieve more success“.

How Priority Matrix works
The PRIORITY MATRIX system provides a simple interface that uses the Eisenhower Principle for Decision Making. This principle has been around since the 1940’s and is actually well known. Many use this method in their work including:

  • Dr. Stephen R. Covey in his highly acclaimed book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  • David Allen’s book titled, Getting Things Done
  • SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)
  • Evernote even has an Eisenhower template

The Eisenhower Principle uses the “4 quadrant concept” where the two boxes in the top row are “important” and the two boxes in the bottom row are “not important”. The left-hand column of two boxes is “urgent” and the right column of two boxes is “not urgent”.

So you have:
Quadrant 1 – Important and Urgent
Quadrant 2 – Important but Not Urgent
Quadrant 3 – Not Important but Urgent
Quadrant 4 – Not Important and Not Urgent

You can use the 4 quadrant concept any way you wish, not just how General Eisenhower (and later 34th President of the US) used it.

Flexibility and adaptability to what you need is the “name of the game” when it comes to the PRIORITY MATRIX workflow system and how they use this 4 quadrant concept.

The 4 quadrant layout in Priority Matrix’s user interface allows you to organize and categorize tasks, projects, or virtually anything you want.

The possibilities in using the 4 quadrant methodology are virtually limitless.

The real power is behind the simple user interface
PRIORITY MATRIX uses the 4 quadrants as the main part in their approach, but there is a big difference in what I see with their implementation. They have a powerful workflow engine beneath the simple 4 quadrant user interface you see.

This engine automates many workflow things we always had to do manually, and it places an emphasis on prioritizing work and completing the work productively. You would never know this unless you worked with the system.

Here is a sample of P/M’s key features and benefits:

  1. Organize virtually anything you want. The 4 quadrant structure is very flexible; you decide how you want to use it.
  2. Prioritize tasks or items by assigning a due date. When you do, the system automatically tracks this and notifies you with alerts and reports.
  3. Assign tasks to teammates. The system keeps track of this automatically so you and others of your choosing can see what is getting done and when things are coming due.
  4. Collaborate in real time to resolve issues. This aspect improves productivity considerably and will eliminate a major part of your email. I didn’t believe this at first but it definitely does reduce email significantly.
  5. Easily include notes, attached files, screenshots, url links and more in your communications.
  6. The system maintains detailed documentation of all communication and notes on all tasks. This is great for documenting what actually happens for future reference. If you work in an environment where tracking work activity is important then this system is definitely worth looking into.
  7. GANTT charts are created automatically and you can even work from the GANTT chart interface to update projects, change dates, reassign tasks, etc.
  8. The CALENDAR interface works the same way.
  9. Manage dozens of projects and easily see all that’s going on by project, by quadrant, by teammate and more.
  10. Build a project from scratch or use one of the predefined project templates to get up and running quickly.
  11. Tag projects, tasks or items so you can filter views or reports by tag. Very helpful.
  12. The system is a great place for storing reference material and other resources.
  13. The system is cloud based so all your devices have access.
  14. Tremendous scalability and security using Amazon Web Service’s S3 storage capability.
  15. Communication updates are automatic when people are assigned or participating in a task or project. This is a major benefit for IT managers.
  16. Easily monitor employee workload when you define tasks with “effort required” and “start & end dates”.

I discovered PRIORITY MATRIX by accident a few months ago and now that I’m familiar with it I’m wondering, “Where have you been all my life?”

The manual To Do List system I’ve used for 30 years is obsolete with a tool like this so I’ll be using PRIORITY MATRIX from now on.

I was so impressed with the PRIORITY MATRIX system that I wanted to invest time and energy to help the company create IT Manager awareness of their system.

I created 6 IT manager templates and they are available for free to new users from the Appfluence web site. Create projects in these categories in just a few minutes, , , there will be more templates created and available soon.

IT Manager Resources
Employee Performance Planning
IT Project Portfolio Process
IT Project Risk Analysis
IT Project Value Analysis

Go to: https://appfluence.com/it-management-software/ and take advantage of the FREE 30-day TRIAL offer of the PRIORITY MATRIX System for IT Managers.

I encourage you to take a look at the PRIORITY MATRIX system. Believe me, it’s going to revolutionize the way you do things and make you much more productive in achieving more success.

Risk #1: IT – Business disconnect

The first risk listed in the Six Key Risks a CIO Must Avoid post is, , ,

There is a reason why I listed this one first. I believe the biggest risk of all is when the IT organization is focused on “X, Y, and Z” and your company needs you to focus on “A,B and C”.

Studies have suggested for many years that over 50% of all IT organizations are out of sync with their company, , , i.e., the “business”. I’ve seen this firsthand in many situations and the interesting thing about it is that, , , the CIO doesn’t realize or think he or she is out of sync when it occurs.

It’s such a big deal that you see in most CEO and CIO surveys that this issue is almost always in the Top 3 of their List of Concerns.

It only takes an hour or two in an IT assessment to discover if the IT organization is “in sync” or “out of sync” with the business, , , not a lot of time.

So, why do CIO’s who are out of sync with their business clients not realize this?

There could be several reasons but I think it usually comes down to, , , they aren’t communicating with and listening to their client (senior managers and department managers of the company).

Let’s take a quick look at what you hear in an IT assessment when the IT organization is not aligned with the business, , , the “IT – Business disconnect” exists:

Senior managers say:

  • “We spend a lot of money in IT, but not always sure what it is for or why.”
  • “We aren’t always aware of what IT is working on.”

If your senior management team says these things, , , you are out of sync with the business.

Here is why, , , if you develop an IT strategy and communicate it with your senior management team and gain their agreement and commitment (meaning they will fund and support it), , , then there is no way for them to say the things I listed above.

Senior management becomes an integral part of your IT strategy. In fact, if you handle it properly, it becomes a “company strategy”, , , not an IT strategy. When other department managers learn about these plans, it comes across less confrontational when it is delivered as a “company plan” versus a set of “IT initiatives”.

So, the key to staying in sync with the business and avoiding an IT – Business disconnect is to:

  1. Conduct an IT assessment to determine the business needs and issues your IT organization should address.
  2. Develop an IT strategy based upon these needs and issues.
  3. Communicate your strategy to the senior management team in order to:
    1. Create awareness
    2. Gain agreement that it is an appropriate set of initiatives for IT to focus on
    3. Gain senior management’s commitment, , , they will fund and support the initiatives you recommend the IT organization should focus on

Do these things and there is no way for you to have an IT – Business disconnect in your company.

Where CIO’s get in trouble is that they don’t take time to conduct a thorough IT assessment and to develop an IT strategy based upon the business needs and issues they would discover. Often, this is because they are focusing on technology, , , and not the business.

It’s all about the business, , , it’s not about the technology.

Technology is only something that’s needed to achieve the ultimate goal of a company, , , technology is usually not the core competency of the company.

Technology is important certainly, , , even critical in most companies, , , but it is not the real focus of the company to achieve its goals and objectives.

Because most of us in IT are shy and introverted, we tend to skip the communication parts. We would prefer to just be able to go work on the projects and not have to communicate where we are going, why we need to do things, , , we would just like to have our teams go do the work.

Unfortunately, this won’t work.

Successful CIO’s know how important effective communication is in their success so they implement communication processes that forces their organization to communicate.

So, develop your recommended initiatives from the business needs and issues, communicate and gain agreement from senior management, , , and then, and only then invest time, resources and money on these projects.

Do this and your IT organization will always be aligned with the business.

Approved invoice log

Have you ever received a vendor invoice and start thinking you have already approved it for payment, , , but just can’t remember if you did?

You can’t remember for sure so you go down to Accounts Payable and check with someone to see if they have it, , , it sure looks like the same amount you approved recently.

This used to occur to me all the time, , , until I got tired of it and created a simple Invoice Approvals Log. When I approve an invoice, my secretary or I update this log so I can determine quickly if I’ve received a duplicate invoice later on.

Saves time, improves your productivity, , ,  and reduces “hassle factor”.

Mimeo.com makes my life easier

When I find something that makes life easier, I like to tell people about it.

Mimeo.com is one of those things you discover that makes what used to be a major effort for me to prepare for one of our classes almost effortless, , , truly effortless.

My class materials arrive at their destination in London, Ontario Canada today for the class I will deliver next week. It took me all of three minutes to order them yesterday afternoon.

I simply reorder my last shipment, key in the new ship to address and BAM, , , we are done. Get up this morning and check the tracking link and can see that the 3 boxes containing 11 sets of materials are in London and “on the truck to be delivered”.

I am one happy guy!!

It takes a couple of extra days to send them to Dubai or Johannesburg, , , but the order process is just as quick, , , 3 minutes worst case. This effort used to take my office several hours to copy, bind and tab to prepare new materials  for a class, , , plus we had to carry heavy boxes of materials, , , what a pain.

Now, the effort is easier, faster, and the quality is great every time, , , plus the cost is extremely reasonable when you consider your time, not having to carry heavy materials to airports, etc.

The biggest challenge will be opening the boxes when I get to my hotel classroom and setting out the materials for our students, , , gotta love it!

UPDATE — just as I’m writing this post, I get an email from my client in London telling me the materials have arrived. We are good to go!!!

Details at www.mimeo.com.