6 things to do while everyone is on seasonal break.

Our Marketing Director, Mags, is a bit of a one for getting organised.  In this post, she shares here tips for stealing a march on 2017 and using the time between Christmas and New Year for maximum benefit and impact. 

It’s Christmas break! Yay.  The days between Christmas and New Year are a strange time, leaving some of us delighted to be spending time with our families, eating copious leftovers and some of us delighted to be anywhere but!  In one way or another, work continues, arguably often at a slower pace (as everyone else is off) but with a keen understanding that, come January, things will take off again very quickly.

Extensive research* reveals that there is a correlation between your boss being away and the degree to which your inbox is swamped.  This, in turn, can correlate between how on top of your to-do list you feel, how many new tasks are coming in and how calm you feel about impending deadlines.  Worse, you know it’s going to be super-busy between January and Easter (because it always is) when everyone is focused on the new year, change and getting things done.

Over the years, I’ve learned this time between Christmas and New Year is really important to stealing a march on the months ahead.

Here are my 6 to do’s for the seasonal gap. 

1          Niggly to-do list leftovers

There are always things on your to-do list that get knocked down because while you give them credence and importance, they’re either nice to haves, non-essentials or not a major priority.  Start knocking these off your list.  Go back through them, collect them into one place and figure out if they really are still to do, or because you’ve left them so long they’ve become a bit obsolete (count this as a victory and tick them off!). Can you scratch some off the list, and focus on the ones that really do matter and just get them done and dusted?   The other important lesson for me in all this is that I often end up with lists in more than one place (notebook, post-its, some in the CRM, some in my inbox). How can I keep on top of a list when I have lists of lists?

2          Get ahead with the planning

Come the new year onslaught how are you going to cope?  Get busy with your diary to get ahead of that game.

  • Block out space for regular tasks in your schedule so they don’t get forgotten
  • Schedule in recurring and important meetings if they’re not already in place.
  • Go through project plans – are they up to date? If not, get on top of them, and anticipate where blocks of your time may be most in demand to complete tasks – get these in the diary (in pencil or its digital equivalent ‘tentative’– you can’t be inflexible but you can try and take control of your own workload)

3          Research

Your planning grid will probably reveal the need for some solutions or a bit of background reading – get ahead with this now.  Set up folders and bookmarks in your web browser so you can bookmark pages and easily refer back to them when you need them but start to think about where your knowledge gaps are now and find key resources that everyone will find useful in completing a project.   This is a good task to do with a cuppa (or even a cheeky middle of the day snifter) and some Christmas cake.

4          Turn off your email

This is the perfect time to get as much stuff done as you can without interruption.  It’s a great time of year to turn off your email and avoid being distracted by other things and just crack through some of the things you need to get done.

5          Keep an eye on the clock

If you’re the kind of person that’s early into the office and often gets involved in working until later to ‘just get this finished’, make a special point of not starting work until you are supposed to and finishing on time.  I promise this will feel a bit like a holiday in itself and no-one will even notice. It’s only a few days and you should only be working those hours anyway.  And if you’ve turned your email off too you’ll be amazed at what you get done in the ‘proper’ amount of time. It is interesting how much we think other people notice if we are at work late each day – some do but in the main, no-one cares about your hours – they care about your output and outcomes instead.

6            Clear down your inbox

Once you’ve done some solid graft, take some time to clear down your inbox.  This is one of my favourite things to do before I switch off for New Year if I have been working the time in between.   I love to delete or clear out as many emails as I can.  It is virtually impossible to have a completely clear inbox, but the feeling of being on top of things that you get from having a very lean inbox is very satisfying and I remain determined to keep it as clear as I can for as long as I can.  (end of the week, usually). It’s an important psychological switch for me. I bet there are things you’re hanging onto as they’re a reminder to do something – get them on your list instead- where they belong.

* It doesn’t matter where I’ve worked or at what level this is a truth universally acknowledged.

pledge-1-3

We’ve taken the pledge – pledge 1%

Fear not, this is no pronouncement of our support for the temperance movement (though ask us after our Christmas Party and we may say differently).   This is about why we’ve chosen to Pledge 1% and what it means to us.

Read about Pledge 1%

About the Pledge

Pledgeonepercent is – in a neat and tidy nutshell – all about corporate social responsibility.  Giving back.  Being active members of the communities we live in.  It is a philanthropic movement to encourage businesses of all sizes to be good citizens as well as good employers.

Essentially, you can pledge four things

  • Equity – this is the polite way of saying cash.
  • Product – if an organisation has a software product, offering 1% of that product for non-profits to use is included in this
  • Time – the simplest metric of all – staff days or time.
  • 1/1/1 – all three of the above elements.

Why we’ve taken the Pledge

Purely and simply, we’ve taken the pledge as we believe it fits with our values and ethos as an organisation – where we are now and where we started from.  Doing the right thing and being on our customer’s side are critical to who we are and what we do, and what makes us ‘purple’ as a team.  Making sure we stay focused on our part in the world matters to us.

Of course, we could just have got on with doing our bit without signing a pledge.  Many organisations do.  We’ve chosen to sign up so that we can be counted as part of the movement, and help others to look at and consider the pledge too.  Collective impact of a movement is easier to measure – and with measurement comes the evidence of what the programme is achieving.  And thus encourages more organisations to take part in something meaningful.

How we set about doing it.

Applying to participate is the easy bit.  Understanding how our team – a group of strong individuals – want to use that time a little more complicated.

Mike, our Chief Operating Officer and organisational development specialist, opted for a staff survey to gather opinion and ideas about the kind of benefits the team would expect to gain, and also look at the initiatives we could consider as a team.

Collating the feedback was enlightening.  Not least because it revealed the extent to which staff are already freely involved in giving of one kind or another.  Most importantly, it revealed more of the spirit that sits in the Purple Vision team and the passions that drive individuals in their daily lives.

The majority in the team asked the organisation to steer away from collective activities that involved politics or religion, but these are of course a strong personal preference for many and our relationships at work are already respectful of any boundaries that these two areas can create – so it felt like a natural ask from the team and one we are happy to accept.

Our collective endeavours will focus on areas where we have identified a shared concern or passion.

What it means for us

We’re keen that Pledge 1% is real and meaningful for the Purple Vision team, so this may be all you ever learn of our Pledge.  It’s really important for us that this isn’t about PR, but this is about doing the right thing to be members of our society and community.

Mainly, we’ll give our time as individuals, but probably for one day a year, we’ll work on a project as a team together.  Quietly, without pomp, but with a lot of purpose.

For some of us it will be a continuation of the kind of things we’ve already been doing.  For others a chance to explore opportunities that we may not have had before, to participate, understand and learn.

1% is a small step in the right direction.

Of course, in an ideal world, companies would be able to offer more than what sounds like a humble 1% to achieve meaningful and impactful social change.  1% sounds small.  1% time is 3 staff days a year – that also doesn’t sound a lot on paper.

But look two things here.

  • We’re a small company and 3 days a year is a lot of potential work time. So it is a sacrifice for us to make at an organisational level.
  • For our team of 20, 3 days each is 60 days a year. 2 calendar months a year of time, or 480 hours in working time

We know we can make a difference in that time.

More info:

  • If you’d like to know more about Purple Vision’s approach to Pledge 1%, give us a ring and ask to speak to Mike, or send your enquiry via our web form.
  • To sign the Pledge for your organisation, visit the website: – http://pledge1percent.org/

Pledge 1%

It’s just a phase …

Dan Lockeretz, Purple Vision Project Delivery Director shares his experience of delivering CRM implementation projects – something he’s done quite a lot of in the years he’s been a Purple Vision, and even before that in his previous life charity-side.  This is the second in a series from Dan explaining projet delivery issues. 

Turns out your family is pretty much right. About everything.  Darn it.

Remember ‘don’t bite off more than you can chew’ or ‘you’ll never manage all that’. They were right.  Not about your ability to eat the whole Christmas selection box (just me then?).  Same as they were right when they said “it’s just a phase”.

Not about your excellent taste in hairdos and clothing (just me again, then?).

But if they’d been talking about CRM implementation, they would have been absolutely bang on.

A phased approach

When considering how to blend the right CRM implementation approach for your organisation, we very much encourage a phased approach.

We advise that you start with the very minimum you need to, and then build on all the additional functionality in phased stages after that.  This is known as implementing the ‘Minimum Viable Product’ (MVP) – “a product with just enough features to gather validated learning about the product and its continued development

In the real world of CRM implementation, the MVP means delivering the system with the only the very essential feature in the first instance.

Moscow?! 

As part of any Discovery Phase, and during the collation of user stories, we would typically conduct a priority rating using the MoSCoW system.

  • Must have – essential features for success
  • Should have – should are essential features but not necessary to be delivered as immediately – they could be delivered as a second phase
  • Could have – typically these would be features that improve user experience or user satisfaction but aren’t functionally essential. If the budget will stretch to it
  • Won’t have / Would like (but probably won’t get!) – the key stakeholders agree that these are not part of the process because they are lowest payback, not immediately essential or perhaps more appropriate for a further development stage of the system (eg in a years’ time at review).

This begins the process of ascertaining what the MVP is that could be launched at the point of go-live.

This reduces the length of the initial phase, brings users on to the system as early as possible so they can actually see it and understand it, and it ensures a low priority requirement does not eat up time and budget in the first phase.

Add integrations … 

Similarly, with system integration, it is unlikely that all systems will need to be integrated in phase 1, so the process of prioritising the ‘Must Have’ points of integration applies here also.   We therefore recommend a phased approach to bringing in the different points of integration.

The downside to this approach is that it may not be completely understood how each area will be integrated or developed from the first point of go-live.

he risk therefore is that subsequent changes, additional costs, or difficult issues come up after the point at which the system is being used live.

This risk can be mitigated through thorough discovery and business analysis across all areas, so the understanding of those areas and requirements are well understood from the outset and the project team have less chance of being faced with a surprise requirement.