Work can be so much better than “work”

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A few months ago, I was training a client in Nintex and since we got to be on a friendly level I asked him how his work and and career prospective was pleasing him, he just said “well you know, work is work“. I was enraged! What the hell does it mean?! What’s the point of going to work if you don’t enjoy it a tiny bit ?!

He disliked most of what he did before the training subject I was giving him was only a small part of his daily tasks.  Granted, he also told me that he was only a few years to taking his retirement leave. 

This morning as I was leaving a new client’s meeting I reflected on this comment from the past, it has been haunting me for while because I wished not to ever be in that mindset. 

I am the lucky one, I love what I do because I take pride on explaining things to people, explaining how to can make their working day better. 

My best reward is when I see a smile on a user who suddenly realised how much time they will be able to save by using a better tool, how their job may change after their department site goes live, or a company director who can finally access his employees’s documents while travelling. 

I am a solution finder, I like to take a different perspective of a problem and consider an alternative view that may solve where others got stuck. I am no better than others, I just step back and reflect why we are trying to achieve that thing and it may come. 

As the years past it is never impossible that I think like that user and just wake daily for the only sake of reaching retirement day, but even if I had 20 days left to that, I certainly hope that I will make them to good use and get that smile of people’s face. 

Make everyday worth living for or something needs to change in that life. 

How I automate my business

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I used to have difficulties to explain to a friend or family member what I do. That “I develop sites, forms and workflows to help businesses perform better”. Sounds rather dull and evasive, right? Be honest! ;-)

Nowadays, workflows are not the privilege of only corporations, but small businesses too and certainly any individual, for their own benefit: avoid doing repetitive tasks.

And therefore, when I explain what I do, I now tend to say something like:

I make systems that help you to be more organised, with the tools you already have or didn’t know you could use.

Yes, we are talking either your computer, smartphone, activity tracker or even home light switches.
Depending on the tool used, the term ‘workflow’ is substituted with “rule“, “recipe“, “applet“, “process” or “flow“.

So, the quote “Workflow for Everyone” that Nintex used a few years back is moreover true today, and across a wider range of services. With Nintex Workflow Cloud, IFTTT, Zapier, Microsoft Flow, Fujitsu RunMyProcess and others, there are dozens of ways to automate your daily tasks, here are a few of the ones I use to automate the admin side of my work.

PRODUCTIVITY ENHANCEMENT (or “personal workflows”)

  • TIMESHEETS, EXPENSES and INVOICES

As a consultant, I may work on different projects and clients in a single week and cannot always pause to report on which I have been working on at the end of each. I use an online accounting portal that my accountant have full access to and each time I finish a work item I input the times in the mobile app, even for a 30 min task. At the end of each month, an invoice is automatically generated for each project that has hours spent, and the portal will send it to my client as a PDF, including an automatic reminder for late payment.
When a PaperBlade crew member claims an expense, they can use the mobile app to scan the receipt and enter the amount and description.  If it was related to a project it will automatically be added to the client invoice.
freeagentMobileAgent iPhone app for FreeAgent

  • BANK RECONCILIATION

Unlikbank-feedse a personal bank account, having a business means that every bank transaction is accountable for. After years of uploading statements to my accounting portal, I switched to one of the banks that can automatically and securely feed the transactions into my portal. This way I can reconcile and explain the operations from my mobile phone.
Click here to find which bank provides feed in the UK.

  • PROJECTS LIFECYCLE

Although SharePoint can do great things to improve productivity, its collaboration at item-level is not yet the best for small businesses. We needed a way to write a task, i.e. “create new site” and a developer to be able to ask any questions regarding that task, have the response in the task history, and move the task to the next stage until “done”. So we went for Asana.
asanaa
I have setup these automatisms:
– “when new project created, create a new task in accounting portal”
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– “when new item in Asana project [Support], create a new ticket in support portal”
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– “when new user is added to Asana, create a new contact in Office 365”
asana_to_office365

  • STREAMLINE CONTACTS MANAGEMENT

At PaperBlade we are proud to maintain a close relationship with our clients and it is important that they are kept up to date with our news. We run an opt-in mailing list with a link to unsubscribe easily.

– Each time a new contact is being created in our CRM a new entry is also created in our marketing list, using a Zap.
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– When I add a new contact to Office 365 Outlook a new entry is added to the mailing list,
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– Each time a contact is added to our accounting portal a new contact is added to MailChimp.
freeagent_to_mailchimp

  • HOURS SPENT IN A LOCATION

I use two workplaces around London when not at clients, and one of them is limited to a number of hours per month on an honesty principle. I did not want to not know if I was over the hours and no way that I was going to remember or write down how many hours I have each month, so I used a simple workflow to log an entry each time I enter the location and each time I exit. It is then easy to have a repeated formula to total each hours per month.
IFTTT has an iOS App that can be triggered on a Geolocation, and write to a spreadsheet the time. The battery consumption isn’t too bad and I have used it for 8 months already.
iftt_geoloc_ios

Unfortunately, IFTTT does not offer to write directly into a SharePoint list or Excel Online but it would be quite easy to extend this using CSOM.

  • SAVE EMAIL ATTACHMENTS TO ONEDRIVE

Last but not least, if only one FLOW should be used, is to automatically save all attachments received in Inbox to your OneDrive.
Save_email_attachments_from_Outlook_com_to_OneDrive_for_Business___Microsoft_Flow.png

I hope for these tips to be useful to more people to automate their year in 2017, and I will post some more “personal” ones soon, from activity tracking (without a smart watch), sleep analysis to a few home automation that I use.

Please comment below with your own automatisms.

And Happy Productive Year to everyone!

François.

Microsoft and LinkedIn published free Office 365 training

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Microsoft and LinkedIn have created new training courses about various Office apps and services. The courses are available for free in the Office Training Center, and cover topics like how to use Outlook 2016 and Excel 2016.

 

Source: New Office training courses from LinkedIn Learning – Office Blogs

Office 365 is trying humour … will you recognise the quote from ?

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After the first funny quotes started some years back with the 404 not found pages showing “oops… something happened”, making them more friendly and less scary, it seems that the whole IT industry is trying to have humour, even on “serious” screens like Office 365 Admin center…

I think I like it!  better have fun at work, right? (and with all the TV geeks in SharePoint, it makes sense…)

Office 365 has humour

Office 365 has humour

Wunderlist Joins Microsoft!

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I have been using Wunderlist for a few years now, often tried a different shared-todo-list that can sync between devices and people simply but always came back to it.

So I am a big fan, although the release roadmap has not been super fast in the past 12 months, it kept doing a good job and that’s what counts.

Now Microsoft is assimilating Wunderlist team (and 13 Millions users) , I am just hoping that we are not going to see another scenario of really good-yet-small company that gets eaten by a giant just to get the brains and kill the product, I know this is more the Yahoo! style, so we should be safe with Microsoft. Fingers crossed !

\anyway, as a startup this is amazing for Wunderlist so Congratulations to the team !

Our Future, Wunderlist Joins Microsoft.

See you at SharePoint Saturday Jersey !

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SPS Jersey

Looking forward to see some familiar faces at the SharePoint Saturday Jersey this weekend, it’s always amazing to see so many people willing to sacrifice their Saturday to talk geeky / work related subject.

Our session is at 10:30 so come and learn about the latest BI Reports Tools in Excel that will make you re-think about Excel, and see how we can expose those reports into SharePoint and Office365 in minutes.

If you see me around, please stop me and say Hi !  / Bonjour ! :-) (click my profile to see what I look like ;-) 

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Speaker at SharePoint Saturday Jersey

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SPS_Events_-_Jersey_Channel_Islands_2014

Flights and accommodation booked  !

I am looking forward to present PowerBI at SharePoint Saturday Jersey on 27/09/14 with Ben Ahmed. Jersey being closer to France than England it’s with no surprise that some of the French SharePoint-activists from the continent and may be we can have a special #ShareBière after the event ! ;-)

Speaker au SharePoint Saturday de Jersey.