Look through these Windows! It’s Memory Lane…

What a straightforward reminder that things change… The History of Windows Versions.  Start with teeny pockets of memory manipulating literal bits of data, and yet that basic input-output system led to SnapChat promising to wipe data from recipient’s memory and 4chan proving they can’t (Tweet that!).  There is plenty of history before and beyond Windows but Microsoft built the bridge to the individual users and by doing so changed the world.  It isn’t a miracle because somebody was going to do it.. like “inventing” the gramophone or flying the first plane.  Microsoft delivered home computing which we then shaped to share stupid ass selfies.

kathleenkettner_it_manager_network_administrator_windows

The rough tools of introductory Windows

Slate offers us this perspective.

Go ahead and bash Microsoft’s operating system all you want (ironically using its technology to do so), but first note that Windows works and has worked for a long long time.  You likely are interacting with some form of a PC-based computer service right now.  We accelerated from ASCII-based Notepad files to our monstrously tangled GIF-ilicious .wild.wicked.web in thirty quick years.

Can I get an OLE?

There is a coherency in the long-haul on Windows that is familiar to those of us who spent our careers adapting to its evolution which was driven in part by our own consumer lobbying for features and functions.  This isn’t ancient history, lots of us pre-PC tech-vets are still here; we have a grasp on the “new” technology that comes from a generational-iterational complexity you cannot duplicate unless you proceed sequentially through it.

Conversely, experience can be a burden of sorts and that point goes to the newbies who think they just invented everything.

Tech units who too closely mirror each other’s training and experience fall prey to group think.  Recognize the value of an “iterational” mix, blend old school practicality with new school ingenuity.  Don’t let the echo of a dominant position drown out the sharp insights from other perspectives.  Your development team should be able to both mirror and cloak your consumers to get a resilient product.

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* Debate:  Every war is different, but all wars are the same.

CDW: Top 9 Reasons to Use Office 365

This white paper from CDW lists the reasons it considers Microsoft Office 365 a good choice for business.  CDW is one of the largest suppliers of technology, and I have worked with them for years, so I am giving them credit for highlighting the potential.

From my own experience, this suite of products known as O365 can form the backbone of your procedures, but only you can define and assign those duties.  Microsoft isn’t going to discuss the choke-points in your invoicing due to poor equipment allocation or inadequate staff training.  For that you need somebody to listen to you and guide your analysis then provide straightforward solutions.

Frankly, if you could solve these problems yourself then they wouldn’t still be on your To Do list.  It takes training and experience to break down the actual steps in the real world to achieve reliable results.

My method is to work with the company’s “linchpin”, the one who gets things done.  It might be the office manager, it might be a supervisory team, but until we identify (or create) that pivot point we will fail to build the proper foundation.

This pivotal position has not been entirely successful so far; their ability to power through operations is their strong suit but deconstructing processes to find the new foundation going forward isn’t in their tool kit.  Much of their technique involves brute force, throwing labor and fury at the stack of tasks that never seem to get done.

We establish a new procedural pivot point, a resource rather than a personality, and we engage all users in establishing best practice actions across the board.

My value-add is the documentation we develop together, encoding the How To tips and tricks that distinguish a thriving enterprise.  Don’t think three-ring binder, think Wikipedia: quick, indexed, evolving.  The company invests in worker skills and it should capture that co-development in written procedures, inventories, checklists and logs.  By doing so, we put the emphasis on results where it belongs.

This work is done down in the weeds:  tailoring forms and adjusting databases, how to answer the phone, how to route the mail, how to handle your shredding; who cleans the kitchen, who schedules the conference rooms, how do I get a report on returned items, who can sign Form B-11?

It is a big-picture decision to update technology but the actual work is detailed, specific, and fact-driven.

Conversions and deployments can be disruptive because people’s work habits are on the line.  The “coping mechanisms” that workers evolve to do their jobs are deeply ingrained.  They have been too busy just getting must-do stuff done to take a step back, and to look ahead.

We bridge this by providing skills-building in your existing environment.  Whether or not an upgrade is in your future, it is important to establish a baseline of knowledge necessary to interact with the company’s technology as it is.  This means re-training from the basics so we all start with a common vocabulary.  Like an info highway driver’s license.  Minimum required skill level.  From that common core, we then move people forward as needed into their areas of expertise.

People perk up when you show them easier ways to get things done.

By activating the under-used features of what you already own, you can increase productivity and establish reliable operations.  You provide a familiar software interface for new behaviors and we clarify our goals. By sharpening your templates, forms, autotext and bookmarks in Word, you produce uniform documents that are consistently branded.  By creating working examples of company spreadsheets you can encourage predictable choices in Excel.  Set up your watermark logo in the footer of PowerPoint slides once and for all.

O365 is an elegant collection of options and choices, so rich that much of the function is under-used.  We build from the basics so when it comes time to add the bells and whistles, we’ve got tech options synched with the workforce.  Better yet, we can extrapolate this method to non-Office products like accounting and CRM with a high likelihood of success.