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Technology

New Features in Microsoft Word Worth Noting

By | E-Learning, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Word, Nonprofit, Technology | No Comments

Ah, Clippy. Remember Clippy? The happy, bouncing paperclip was once the icon of Microsoft Word, that ubiquitous program that transforms how the world works.

With over 1.2 billion users of Microsoft Office – that’s one in seven people worldwide – it pays to note changes to the popular and familiar program. The Journal of Accountancy recently reported many updates to Word, some of which are quite useful for accountants.

You won’t need Clippy to report on these features. We’ll look at them together with the top features presented here.

New Features in Microsoft Word 2016

The following features are available in Microsoft Word 2016 except for the “Draw” updates (the last item which is only available in Office 365). For those considering an upgrade to Word 2016, the new features may offer enough of an incentive for you to choose Word over any other product out there. Hey, with 1.2 billion users, you know it’s compatible with the software used by most of your clients, colleagues, members and donors!

  1. Tell Me: The Tell Me feature or Tell Me What You Want to Do enables you to locate commands or tools without having to hunt through the various ribbons and dropdowns. It eliminates the need to know or guess where tools are – you can access them immediately.
  2. Improved Version History: Microsoft seems to have taken a cue from Google Docs by saving a unique version of each document when you save it to your OneDrive. This enables you to access previous versions to pull into the current version.
  3. Real-time Co Authoring: You no longer must shuffle documents back and forth by email. Instead, collaborate in real time on a Word document. Do this through OneDrive or SharePoint. I It does take the best of Google Docs and brings it into the more robust Microsoft product. Thanks to the cloud, you and others on your team can avoid the nightmare of sending different versions by emailing files and instead, collaborate, review and edit together in real time.
  4. Simple Sharing: A new “Share” button enables you to quickly Share documents using OneDrive or SharePoint so you don’t have to save, export, open your email, upload the document and then save. Just add a colleague’s email and you can share it instantly.
  5. New Draw Tab: The new Draw tab offers more tools than ever before, a great addition to the Microsoft suite of features. The new drawing and inking tools allow you to customize your document markups. You can use your finger on a touchscreen or move inked items like shapes once they are in place. These new features are only available to Office 365 subscribers but are expected to be standard in the next iteration of Word.

If you create a lot of custom reports using Microsoft Word, you’ll like the new Shapes features too. For example, Shapes now comes with preset transparent boxes, so you can place them over background text or images. This makes it easier to use shapes like callouts.

What about Mac users? Microsoft Word may be used on Macs, and some prefer the features in Word to Mac Pages. If you create more detailed and customized reports or use your word processing software to build marketing documents like brochures, you may wish to test Mac Pages or a full-fledged graphic design program that works along with Word. Microsoft Publisher comes as part of some packages of Office; it’s fine for beginners but may not offer enough flexibility for advanced graphic design. It is, however, compatible with Word documents, so if you compose text in Word, it is easier to import it into Publisher than into some other graphic design package.

Upgrading to Word 2016 is easier than ever with cloud-based subscriptions that offer flexible packages for home, student, and office use. And although Clippy may be a thing of the past, the new functions are way more fun than an animated paperclip.

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.

Managing Millennials: The Myths, the Realities, and Somewhere In Between

By | Accounting, Millennials, Nonprofit, Technology | No Comments

Ah, millennials…you either love them or loathe them. However, you won’t be able to avoid them for long. That’s because millennials, defined roughly as those born between 1977 and 1995, represent the largest demographic ever, even outstripping the famous Baby Boom of the 1960s.

Millennials carry with them a lot of baggage, especially in the realm of workplace myths. For example, some myths that surround millennials are that they’re good with technology, independent, and lazy.

The truth is, of course, that some millennials fall into this categorization and others are defying it. Here are the facts about managing millennials and how older generation X and Y leaders can ensure a happy, productive workplace when managing millennials.

 First Job, New Skills

Although millennials may like to work independently and may work best on their own, they still need coaching. Many millennials skipped over the afterschool jobs that older generations experienced, and they went straight from high school to college and college to careers without having any workplace experience.

Ringing sales at the local department store or slinging burgers at a fast food restaurant may not seem to correlate to working in the accounting department of a nonprofit. However, those minimum wage jobs that many older generation workers experienced as their first jobs taught valuable life skills that millennials never experienced. Showing up on time, learning customer service skills, and learning processes and procedures may not have been part of their life experience.

Do not assume that just because your new junior accountant has a college degree she understands how to work in a group, take direction, or follow procedures. She may need coaching on basic workforce behaviors. Set expectations and provide clear guidelines.

Pairing an experienced worker with your new millennial hires may also help. They may resonate with the partner or buddy system better than formal training programs and get more out of it.

Basic things like: how to dress for a business meeting, how to behave in a corporate setting, and even the importance of returning messages on time may all be new skills for your millennial employees. Take nothing for granted and consider them a clean slate with a lot to learn until they prove otherwise. They aren’t being rude; they just haven’t been taught a lot of the basics that older generations assume were learned along the way.

Millennials Are Loyal

One myth that we’d like to put aside is the myth that millennials are disloyal. The truth is that they can be loyal employees if the organizations they work for treat them right. To a millennial, that means appropriate work-life balance, challenging assignments, and valuing input. Millennials will remain at a nonprofit organization for three years or longer if they find their ideas, opinions, and talents are honored and used appropriately.

Tech-Dependent

Lastly, there’s a myth that millennials are tech-savvy. In actually, they are tech-dependent, and that’s a whole different story. Tech-dependent means they rely upon their devices to the point that they feel they can’t work without them. We may feel we can’t leave the house without our watch; they feel they can’t leave the house without their iPhone.

Millennials may not be technically savvy: Meaning that they may not be able to solve computer problems, understand how to integrate an API into the back end of an accounting program, or any of the myriad other technical problems we encounter in our work days. They do, however, know how to use their devices and rely upon them for many basic things.

Consider this when communicating with millennials. They may turn to their text messages first rather than their office phone lines for messages. They may rely upon instant messages, texts, emojis or other methods of communicating rather than picking up the phone and speaking directly to you. It’s not that they don’t value direct communication. It’s just not their first inclination.

Every generation interacts differently in the workforce. We are all, to some extent, molded and shaped by the life experiences and culture we grew up in. Millennials are no different. Understanding their rationale, knowing where they have knowledge gaps, and meeting them halfway goes a long way towards helping them acclimate into your workforce and becoming productive contributors.

 

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.

Feeling – and Dealing – with Being Overwhelmed

By | Abila, Accounting, Accounting Software, Budget, Cloud, Corporate Culture, Fiscal, MIP Fund Accounting, Nonprofit, Professional Development, Technology | No Comments

It’s not confined to tax season. A look at why you’re feeling overwhelmed, and how to deal with it.

In the book “Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time”, authors Jeff and J.J. Sutherland have an interesting chart on page 91. In this chart, they cite statistics that indicate that as one’s attention is divided, productivity decreases. Working on two projects at once means a 20% loss in productivity due to switching gears; three projects at once, and you lose about 40% due to context switching.

Accountants and financial managers at nonprofits aren’t immune to this loss, due to context switching. In fact, we’re probably more vulnerable to it due to the focused nature of our work. Dealing with financial issues, accounting questions, and understanding complex financial information requires quiet, focused time. The barrage of instant messenger apps, phone calls, emails, texts and myriad information streams in today’s connected world increases the loss due to context switching. Multi-tasking for greater productivity is a myth.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone. Nearly all professionals are feeling overwhelmed these days. It’s as if the crunch before tax season never ends. Researchers point to the common culprits – instant messengers, instant news, instant everything – as a big part of the problem. The human brain isn’t wired to deal with this level of intensity, and we haven’t had time to adapt to the rapid pace of change that technology has wrought in our personal and business lives.

Although we cannot fully shut the world out and switch off the phones, there are ways to improve productivity. These include avoiding context or task switching, single-tasking instead of multi-tasking, and establishing boundaries around office times.

Single-Tasking for Greater Productivity

Multi-tasking does not improve productivity. Instead, it diminishes productivity because the mind needs time to acclimate to the second task. As we focus on one task, our attention is fixed on that task; switching to a second task takes brain power to establish focus, change direction, and process new information.

Don’t buy into the myth of multi-tasking. Instead, turn off the music or the television while you work. Shut the door to your office. Switch off the instant messages and turn your cell phone to mute while you work on a project. Allow yourself the space to focus, rather than trying to cram as many tasks as you can into the same amount of time.

Set Office Rules

Another tip to improve productivity and avoid feeling overwhelmed is to set some basic ground rules around your time in the office. While many managers prefer an ‘open door’ policy and make themselves available to their staff at any time, you may need to establish some basic policies around availability.

Some managers have ‘office hours’ when they leave their door open as a clear signal to their teams that they can drop in and ask any questions they wish. Others block out time on their calendar for quiet, focused work. Either method works fine. The point is to ensure that you have adequate quiet time for focused work and additional time blocked out for your teams.

Switch Off the Mobile Phone

 Cellphones are a great convenience, but their buzzing, shrilling, vibrating presence has ruined many a meeting, family dinner, or quiet time. Shut off the mobile phone when you aren’t at work or when you need some space. Texts are rarely as urgent as we make them out to be, and your brain needs a break from the constant stream of messages and information it’s trying to process.

Give Yourself Permission to Rest

 Lastly, give yourself permission to rest on the weekends, vacations and holidays. When you’re behind schedule on projects, it is tempting to trying to bring work home or devote a few extra hours in the evening to finishing up a project. Occasionally burning the midnight oil doesn’t hurt  but making it a habit can cut into your overall productivity. Ensuring balance in all things takes time, practice and effort, but it helps your overall productivity.

Everyone feels overwhelmed at times by work. If it becomes chronic, however, it’s time to take steps to safeguard your time. Burnout happens in all professions, including accounting and finance, nonprofit and for-profit companies.

 

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.


 

Responsible Data Collection for Nonprofit Organizations

By | Abila, Accounting, Accounting Software, Cloud, Data, Internal Controls, MIP Fund Accounting, Nonprofit, Technology | No Comments

Many people were shocked to discover the amount of data that Facebook and its partner organizations collect and share about their users. What’s surprising isn’t the amount of data collected and shared, but the public’s ignorance of how rampant data abuse is throughout the online world.

Have you ever had advertisements that seem to follow you online? That’s due to data collection from your browser history. Companies such as Google note which websites you’ve shopped or browsed recently and make educated guesses on behalf of their advertisers on which ads to display on your pages. So-called “remarketing” or “re-targeting” is just one example of how you are inadvertently leaving a detailed data footprint wherever you go online.

Social media websites such as Facebook may be in the news because of their disregard of how sensitive people are to data collection and sharing, but your company could be next on the list if you aren’t careful. Take time now to review your nonprofit’s data collection habits, security, and sharing guidelines, and make changes if needed to safeguard your donor and member privacy.

Create and Display Data Privacy Policies

Data privacy policies should be written and displayed prominently on your website. Some websites request that users accept them as part of their terms and conditions of using the website.

Privacy policies include:

  1. Details on how data is collected, shared, and stored
  2. Users’ abilities to stop data collection or access records
  3. Where to send complaints, questions, comments
  4. How IP addresses, cookies, and external links are used
  5. Any other information related to data use and collection

The Council of Nonprofits has a good privacy policy which you can review as a guideline to help you create your own. It includes the major points most nonprofits should cover in their privacy policies.

How Data Is Used

Most people recognize that some data is collected anytime they visit a website. Few object to simply recording IP addresses of people who visit a site but do disagree with who sites share their data with – they want control over who sees their personal information.

As part of your data privacy policy, be specific about how data is shared. Consider limiting shared data only to necessary third-party vendors, such as mailing companies who help you package donor mailings, or some other third party you manage and control. Selling user data may be a tempting way to make extra money, but it can quickly sour any trust built with your member base.

Improve Data Security

Even if you only collect a few data elements when people register for your site or make a donation, you must make all efforts to safeguard that data from hackers. Small nonprofits are actually at greater risk than larger ones because criminals know that small organizations lack the resources to counter against a cyberattack. They are more likely to pay the ransom when data is hijacked and may lack a dedicated IT resource to protect against attacks.

Take the time now to improve data security. Simple steps such as updating software, creating strong passwords, and adding virus protection software to your organization can act like locks on the front door of a house – not much if someone is truly determined to break in but enough of a deterrent that the average thief walks away for easier pickings elsewhere. Consider working with a cyber security expert to enact greater safeguards against intrusion if you handle highly sensitive data.

Although nonprofit organizations aren’t in the business of collecting and selling data like Facebook and other big companies are, they must maintain a basic level of trust with the public in order to continue their activities. Protecting data and providing transparency into your organization’s data privacy and security is one way to enhance that trust.

 

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting is a technology firm empowering nonprofit and government organizations with effective software, consulting & training that can help you with your accounting needs. We are committed to finding the most affordable technology, the most powerful solution, and providing expert support. By leveraging technology and superior reporting, our team helps to free more of your time to devote to the important work of your mission. We bridge people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We are passionate professionals who choose to work in the nonprofit sector for the same reason you do – helping others. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.