Regatta Day – St. John’s, NL

Its Regatta Day here in the city. A holiday and probably one of the more social events of the year. Its held on the first Wednesday in August (weather permitting) and is North America?s oldest continuing sporting event. The Regatta began officially in 1825 and has run the first Wednesday in August every since.

Why am I at home then curled up with a tablet pc and reading The Killing Hour? Frankly because a day away from the office seems better spent for me this year with my feet up spending time with my family, than catching sun stroke in the beer tent with a few thousand of my closest friends. Not that I would have always made that choice mind you.

Maybe later this evening we will pop down to watch championship race.

Why Do I Love Microsoft?

Well I guess love is a word I should just reserve for my boyfriend, family and close friends. But there is a definite appreciation within me of how Microsoft products have improved my ability to do what I do best.

In the workplace, I am a person who likes to be involved in all the new projects and experience new technologies. I love coming up with outlines, plans, and documents to support our new products. But only once. Once I get something to a level of completion once, I do not want to go back and do it again for something else. This is where I rely on products such as Microsoft Office, Sharepoint, Project, Visio, and Infopath to help me out. Not to mention OneNote and Windows Journal for the tablet.

Some people like to paint Microsoft as an evil empire that threatens the existence of all small companies. But in actual fact, for a company with limited resources and a talented group of people who need to wear many different hats, Microsoft can be their best friend.

A competitive company today is an efficient company. By using tools that help to automate tasks and increase information flow, an efficient small company of 40 can become as strong as a company with a staff of 100 or more. Quite easily in fact. The key is collaboration and automation.

By documenting workflow and processes using tools such as Project and Visio, a manager can identify areas that act as bottlenecks or that can be automated. Sometimes a simple form or document template can save an employee a great deal of time as well as improve quality of information that is shared. Bottleneck areas are very important to identify since they can usually be improved by a shift in resource allocation or improvements to the process leading up to the bottleneck. The problem doesn?t always lie at the bottleneck so effective workflow documentation can be very useful and pretty easy.

Team or project websites are a great way to collaborate and share information on a project. The document control functionality of Sharepoint Portal Server 2001 was superb. But I have to say after using version 2 I doubt I could ever go back. All the benefits of Sharepoint Portal Server 2001 and Team services have been combined and expanded on to create a platform that empowers people like me to create lists and libraries of information that is both easy to update and accessible to everyone. In the past when I wanted to have information collected and updated in such a way, I would have to ask for the services of a coder to help me out. This is not always convenient or cost effective. Now I am empowered to create lists and organize information that is beneficial to the team and that reduces the amount of time required for reporting and data sharing.

But what is even better is that once I create a list or site that contains all the information about a project or task that I want, I can then save it as a template and share with other managers and teams. An example of this would be a development project website containing a lists, document libraries, forms and web parts that when combined make tracking a project a breeze. Once I got this to a level that everyone on the team was comfortable with, I saved it as a template and now the entire site can be deployed in seconds whenever a new project of the same type is made. This would normally be a bottleneck that has now been eliminated.

Efficient collaboration makes it easier for project managers and team members alike to access and report status. In our company I know that some of us often found weekly project status reporting a long and mind-numbing process. But now that we have adopted better tools, a simple quick weekly meeting is all that is necessary to address pressing issues.

I have even created a special to-do list on my own Sharepoint site that ranks priority of tasks and deadlines and tell me what I should do each day. As well as I complete tasks I fill out the record for each tasks and consequently have my time tracking and own status reporting available to me through the use of different views. Thus shaving off even more time that I used to spend each week at redundant non-revenue generating tasks. Plus by having all these tools available to me, I can feel better about the work I am getting done since things are less likely to fall through the cracks.

So while there may be plenty of companies out there coming out with software that does what Microsoft software does, it doesn?t change the fact that I now have a large suite of software available to me that work great together and makes my life a lot easier and more productive. For that I say thanks Bill and friends!! I just can?t wait for Longhorn now.