Knowing who is doing what, where and for how long is a much harder task than it first seems…previously in my role as the Project Administrator at Interactive Software this was an impossible balancing act, having to rely on many different colour coded spreadsheets, email calendar reminders and post it notes!
I now use a version of our Achiever Training Management Software (ATMS) to automate or speed-up many of the daily admin tasks I have to do. Below are the 5 main ways I use it to help manage the admin and logistics in our busy office;
Letting go of the spreadsheets
By far the biggest change for myself has been letting go of the spreadsheets. Gone are the days when my desktop was a confusing patchwork of different files to try and muddle through to schedule who, what, where and for how long. It was a nightmare if I was on holiday and away from the office and someone else had to fill in, who would then have to try and understand the complicated layers of documents I had built for myself.
I’m happy to say it’s a completely different story now, I can look in one place and find everything I need. At a quick glance I can check if someone is available for a meeting, which particular customer a piece of work relates to or if someone has or hasn’t completed a specific activity. All in all this makes my job much quicker and more stress-free!
I use the scheduling tool in ATMS to take the hassle out of creating activities for individuals in the business. In approximately 10 seconds I can add a basic activity to the diary (with a description, date, time and duration), or if I need to I can build it up to include more detailed information such as required objectives our outcomes.
More often than not an activity will need more than a brief title to explain what is required so I can use the notes field to be much more detailed, this not only helps the person reading the activity but is also a reminder for myself – when you schedule a lot of activities in one day it can get confusing, but this ensures clarity.
Something I find particularly useful is being able to manage locations, if it is at a customer site, third party site or in the office, I can easily mark it as such. I can also check whether a particular room is free and block it out so it cannot be overbooked.
In a similar vein, arranging meetings used to be a really difficult task with different colleagues using different email calendars, but I can now pick up an activity and copy it into as many diaries in the ATMS scheduler as many times as needed, without having to type out the information again and again, this in particular is a real time saver!
Where does all the time go?
As the activities I create in the scheduler are linked back to a specific customer project, it is a straightforward process to work out how much time has been used and how much is remaining for separate business areas, for example; project management, onsite training and development time.
Therefore at any point in the project process I can quickly look on the system and find out how we are performing against the time that was originally sold to the customer, this can be really important information for Account Managers if they need to justify when and where time was spent.
Previously, I would have to chase up activities individually if I wanted to see if they had been completed – which was extremely time consuming! Using Achiever Training Management Software, marking an activity as completed is as easy as clicking a button, so it is really simple for me then to check back and see that everything that should be done has been done. If an activity needs rescheduling then I could quickly scroll through the diary, find a slot and move it. This might sound like something really small, but compared to the time I used to have to spend this has made a huge difference to me.
Checking the diary while out and about
As I’ve mentioned it isn’t just myself in the business that uses the scheduling tool, my colleagues use it too. Something which is particularly convenient for those who attend meetings at different customer sites is the ability to check it on their mobile or tablet. When an activity is created documents can be linked to it such as a meeting agenda or hotel booking, which can be especially useful if you are away from your PC. When back in the office they can also link any expenses such as petrol or meals back to the activity. As the activity is linked to a customer project it is easy to report on which is another load of my mind!
So, that’s how I use my version of Achiever Training Management Software to run our busy Sales and projects office. At the start I was nervous letting go of the process I had developed using spreadsheets, calendars and emails, but I’m pleased to say that I’m now confident letting the ATMS system take care of a lot of the day-to-day jobs for me.
I think the biggest changes I’ve noticed are the time I save each day and how easy it is for me to keep a close eye on what’s going on with things like projects, sales, customer training or customer service. I hope you liked my blog and found it useful.
Chloe has been a Project Administrator at Interactive Software since 2013 – she’s the glue that holds everything together! Chloe is responsible for all things administration, including scheduling projects, heading up customer service, organising customer training, co-ordinating diaries / locations / meetings, expenses, office reporting and efficiencies.