Isle Royale Trip – Training to do it right

 

Some of my Instagram followers may have noticed that Pawel and myself have taken liking to being outside quite frequently and for good reason. A couple months ago we were talking about where to go for my 30th birthday there were so many great ideas but one stood out more than the rest.. Isle Royale National Park.  Just talking about it seems mystical, unknown, and sometimes a little scary.

PLUS!! I’ve only ever day hiked! So what makes a day hiker want to carry 30 pounds or so on their back for 8 to 10 days? According to Travel + Leisure : “This gorgeous park near Thunder Bay, Canada, is the largest island in the world’s largest freshwater body (by surface area), Lake Superior. Though it ranks as the fifth least-visited park (14,000 annual visitors) in the nation, it has the highest backcountry use.” Now who isn’t intrigued by that?! After researching the biodiversity, back country challenge, and overall under documentation of the park by travelers it has sparked our curiosity.

We made a list of important tasks, equipment, and travel planning we must complete before we leave on this backwoods adventure. In this post I’ll share what our physical training has looked like and how this will effect the enjoyability of the trip. Not to mention the healthy side effects of training and how it’s positively effecting our lives. Continue reading

How Nintex has Boosted Our Productivity

Understanding a return on investment can drive excitement through the organization about recent purchases, trainings, etc. Throughout my everyday work I don’t take much time to think about Nintex’s overall value to our organization, I just love working on the product and building. As an organization we have benefitted quite well from deploying the O365 Suite.

I sat down and busted out some numbers to give you an idea of what you can gain – in terms of the numbers.

To give you an idea of our organization:
– Approximately 400 employees – currently 85 are heavy Nintex automation users.
– 14 Departments – including Health Clinic, Court, Police, and Education.
– 5,500 citizens are serviced by the government to some capacity

To give you an idea of our SharePoint O365 Environment:
– Publishing Sites are all interconnected – all employees have capacity to some sort of information about each department
– All departments are provided with a team site to keep department centric content.
– All boards, committees, councils, and commissions have access to team workspaces in SharePoint
– Special project management groups utilize SharePoint
– Full automation has only been provided to 1 council

To give you an idea about our Nintex deployment:
– 25 Workflows and Forms
– 1/2 of these are complex processes – meaning multiple process brought together via site workflows.

To give you an idea of our current employee feelings on automation:
– Human Resources, Education, and Finance has been a large champions of the digital transformation.
– Current backlog of processes in need of automation is approximately 6 months out.
Here’s a numerical break down of our current processes:

Savings Per Request YTD
# of Requests Per Month 200
Cost per Request – for manual processing – average set based on time, cost of paper, and manual storage. $75.00
Total Cost Per Month $15,000.00
Total Annual Costs $180,000.00
Annual Savings – Reduction of employee time by 60% per transaction $135,000.00
Initial Nintex Investment $26,514.90
ROI on Requests 409.16%
Process Cost Savings YTD
# of Requests a Month 200
Average Minutes per Request 30
Total Minutes/Month 6000
Total Hours/Month 100
Average Labor Cost/Hour: For person(s) processing requests $25.00
Total Labor Cost/Month $2,500.00
Annual Labor Costs $30,000.00
Annual Savings $22,500
 
Productivity Gains YTD
Avg. Hourly Wage $35.00
Min. Productivity Gain(%): Estimate of time saved per employee through process automation. 5
Productivity Gain/Hour $1.75
Estimated Hours/Week 40
Productivity Gain/Week $70
Estimated Work Weeks/year 45
Productivity Gain/Year $3150
# of Employees Utilizing Currently 85
Total Productivity Gain/Year $267,750.00
FTE Saved YTD on 85 employees^ 4.4625
^ We are a nonprofit organization so our goal is give our employees more time to advocate for citizens. The savings of 4 FTE currently relates to departmental directors and mission critical employees having more time to coach front line employees on duties.

Nintex InspireX Overview

Nintex wrapped up their first product based conference last week. Located at the Aria Resort in Las Vegas, NV there was plenty of learning, networking, and inspiration that happened in a matter of a couple days. I’ve packaged up a couple of my highlight moments that stood out to me.

The conference was a blast! Meeting various levels of Nintex users was a great way to see how an organization can implement the product.

 

Continue reading

Start a User Group

Wow has it been a whirlwind end/beginning of the year! I’ve been wrapping up a large project, which means my entire organization is on SharePoint/O365 to some capacity. How cool is that!! I guess if your job depends on it.. then it’s amazing.

So with that being said it’s created quite a stir… people have been asking the following: When am I next to receive automation?… How do I become a Power User?… Who owns this item?… Can I have access to this team site?… and well this list goes on and on. To alleviate all of the madness of being only one person working on an entire enterprise system all by my lonesome (in terms of administration, architecture, development, and more) I decided to pull the trigger on starting a user group.

This process was really a spontaneous choice after sitting in on follow up meetings with departments I decided that I really as one person feasibly can’t take it all on by myself. There are so many opportunities for training that as a architect, project manager, multi-hat wearing individual I miss the ability capitalize upon. This was the moment I tossed open my Outlook, sent out an email, then started to think of catch phrases and logos.

So let’s explore what it takes to entice individuals to come to a user group meeting… Continue reading

Quick Wins in My Project

My project team and I have been charged with bringing the rest of our organization into the SharePoint/O365 realm by the end of the year. Working with ten departments and plenty of different personalities. Getting to know individuals has lent us opportunities to make decisions on how we want to hand off solutions to stakeholders.

One method I had stumbled upon is handing off one solution at a time. After providing a light proof of concept to a department, they became so excited they asked if they could begin using it at that instance. Luckily, I had created it on their own site, with permissions locked down, so it was just a matter of granting the team access.  They took to the solution like a fish to water, no training, no questions… just hit the ground running.

After spending some time thinking about it, I remembered why the solution was such a hit. The department spends a large amount of time downloading, faxing, and emailing documents to various other stakeholders. They were so ecstatic to be placing this information in one place and giving alerts to the departments that needed it! Who needs that old fax machine anyways… it’s 2015.

The beauty in this method is that we have saved time and funding on training. I’m seeing end users willing to take this one small nugget and run with it while I continue to work in the background on other useful solutions for them. The department’s realization of value is growing, seeing the “what’s in it for me” early on has helped our project team earn trust and goodwill with this stakeholder. That is my success story of the week!

Train Before You Buy, Why More Automation Platforms Should Offer Training

After spending the past week working through the intricacies of training on Nintex it is evident that more automation platforms need to take the time to train potential buyers. While offering a demo is a great way to get organizations introduced, it doesn’t give much overall value of understanding the nuances that each of the products carries.


Automation Platforms, much like SharePoint, are cumbersome to introduce most individuals to use. Many organizations have the hope of introducing these solutions as a way for departments to automate issues on their own, rather than bringing in the information technology or the enterprise systems departments. I beg to differ in this logic for a small organization. Many of the line of business employees, we encounter in small (500 employees or less) may not have an interest in learning Boolean logic or what a list query means. These skills ultimately need to be realized by the information technology/enterprise system departments. By starting with I.T. departments taking a look at platform based solutions the organization can make a call based on what I.T. can support rather than relying on consulting and solutions tech support to be the main contributing backbone.

Consulting is a great avenue to bring a new set of eyes in for a project that may be stalled out, needing more developer/programmer power, or a project that required an outside unbiased opinion. Yet, for smaller organizations it should not be the main structure supporting all the vital organs or building out a project. After evaluating Nintex at TekDog, I am comfortable the organization’s decision either way to acquire this platform or not. Empowerment leads towards an eventual goal of the self-sustaining I.T. Department.

As we move towards the online training facility age, I will still stand behind good brick and mortar classes. As adults, we loose an aspects of new friendship, uncertainty, and excitement that the first day of school provided everyone with. When attending brick and mortar training we, as adults, gain a tiny bit of that wonderment back. Those feelings aren’t all bad, since we have a tendency of being more engaged than just sitting in front of a monitor blankly staring. You sit with your coworkers 5 days a week… go out in the world and attend a class. Make a buddy that may either already own the product you’re training on, or looking to purchase. Turn those people into your support network… I met a couple great programmers this past week.. that I’m sure I may want to email and ask how the heck do I write some logical conditional statement or something of that nature.

If automation platforms took a step back and became less concerned with closing deals on the front end, I think we’d begin to see a trend of empowered purchasing for these sizable investments. If these companies took a few moments to look at how they can better excite potential buyers, it’s not conferences.

  • Conferences are merely a tease. They show you it’s easy, it works… Look this guy that sets up the same horse and pony workflow can do it in a matter of two minutes… I hope many of you aren’t wow’ed by this, if you are sorry… you’re a sucker.
  • Video classes are great, I love having on demand content. But it doesn’t force me to concentrate, I don’t have to absolutely use my mind… Yeah, I am kinda a rouge internet wanderer. If I’m not completely engaged, I’ll leave you and your online content. For all sorts of reasons color scheme, speakers voice, pace of content… This list could go on for days.
  • Online classes are great too, your all working in a virtual class room together with a live instructor. You get to ask questions then and there, but it’s lacking something. People don’t interact the same online as they do in person, I can read classmate/instructor body language… this drives me insane for some reason. I want to see people talking as if I don’t know them, possibly ask them questions about their jobs, compare my idea against theirs… These are all things that online just doesn’t facilitate well.

If you’re thinking about purchasing an automation platform or really any type of software/SaaS products go to a live class. Build something with it. Ask people who were already users… and not just the reference list the vendor will give you. Go out and scour LinkedIn to see if there are people using the products, message them, people always have opinions… doesn’t make them right or wrong. Generally speaking get your hands dirty with the product and see if you can live with supporting it.

I’d like to thank TekDog for the great week. Driving back to Michigan gave me time to reflect and think about issues with product sales and the approach currently taken. Coming in not knowing a single thing about Nintex products and walking away excited to dig in deeper was a great experience that conference and virtual training just can’t hit at 100%.

TEKDOG University Nintex Training

TEKDOG is a passionate little company based out of Columbus, Ohio. The newly renovated facility dons a great modern décor, giant televisions to see step-by-step instruction, and new desktops to work along on. Not to mention the pet friendly atmosphere, it’s nice to have dog interaction while being away from home.  I have had the pleasure of spending the past two days learning Nintex Forms with a great group of Ohioans.

TekDog Classroom - courtesy of www.TekDoginc.com

TekDog Classroom – courtesy of http://www.TekDoginc.com

Jason Keller, a die hard food lover, takes the time necessary to insure all students are on point with learning. I have felt comfortable navigating, creating, and automating various business use cases within Nintex and SharePoint. These are features that I have not been able to find from product sponsored courses in many instances… Either the instructor is dull or I get stuck watching some ancient slide deck, which who learns from either of those situations. Being able to realize the ROI during a class has been  a much different perspective, learning how software works prior to even considering a purchase grants an architect the ability to look at this from their everyday perspective and evaluate which functions would be easy for end users to adapt to.  Attending a class to evaluate a piece of software is a much better investment, even if it’s not purchased, than having buyers remorse at a later date.

TEKDOG University - courtesy of www.tekdoginc.com

TEKDOG University – courtesy of http://www.tekdoginc.com

With user adoption of SharePoint being a constant issue within every organization I see the value of investing into well prepared training materials.  It makes all the difference to have reusable reliable content with baked-in best practice.

Spending time at TEKDOG isn’t like setting at a classroom. It’s spending time getting to know other individuals who are passionate about SharePoint and SharePoint products. While working out in the field it isn’t an everyday opportunity we are granted. Sharing solution ideas, pains, and workaround has been a really great experience over the past two days, it has made me realize there are certain aspects of my organization that I absolutely love… and that is a good perspective to gain.

It will be exciting spending the rest of the week with Jason, Kerry, and the rest of the awesome TEKDOG staff. The verdict may still be out on if we want to introduce Nintex to our environment. But, I will say though that the verdict is in on TEKDOG – they rock.