Archive for Office Management

Outsourcing: Don’t be too busy earning a living to make any money

Posted in Office Management with tags , , on December 13, 2010 by virtualcitypa

Outsourcing is worth considering when you find yourself being too busy to do what you do best. 

Tips:  Make outsourcing work for you

When outsourcing:

  • Take your time making decisions and make sure you are clear about the terms on which you and the supplier are working together
  • Make the effort to establish a solid relationship – this calls for good communication and flexibility
  • If you can stay with your supplier for several years, you are likely to get the best results. Switching suppliers can be a lengthy process, so it pays to commit to building a long-term relationship from the outset.
  • A flexible contract benefits both parties, allowing the supplier to innovate and you to react to changing circumstances.
  • Aim for a smooth transition/migration

Even with good planning, it’s a learning curve for both parties, so use it as an opportunity to modify the service level agreement (SLA) for the future.

Measure success

There should be financial benefits to outsourcing, but alternatives could include generating a higher profile for your business, more credibility, fewer defects or greater speed to market.

For further details – please refer to http://www.businesslink.gov.uk
The Business Link helps your business save time and money by giving you instant access to clear, simple, and trustworthy information.

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Office organisation tips

Posted in Office Management with tags , , , , , on November 17, 2010 by virtualcitypa

With the ever increasing workloads that companies are putting on employees, staying organised is vital. Here are some tips on how you can have better office organisation, more productivity and a little peace of mind.

1. Know the times of day that you’re at your best

We all have times of the day that we’re more productive than others. Use those better periods of the day to spend on the toughest tasks you need to accomplish. Leave the easier things for the times you’re less energetic.

For example, if you’re not a morning person then don’t schedule an important meeting early in the morning if possible. Push it back to 10:00 a.m. or later. Using your time wisely is one of the keys to better office organisation.

When you’re not feeling your best it’s nearly impossible to get anything of substance accomplished. This is where flex schedules can be a big asset. If your office doesn’t have that, talk to the boss about it and try selling him on the idea.

2. Deadlines are good

Set deadlines for yourself on important tasks. By doing this you’ll notice yourself getting more done in less time. Even if you really don’t have a deadline for a certain project, set one anyway. You’ll be amazed at how much more productive you can be with just this tip.

3. Control your day instead of your day controlling you.

Think about how much time you lose every day due to office distractions. Perhaps its emails that co-workers send, others who pop into your office and proceed to camp out for 15 minutes and the list goes on.

Let others know that unless their needs are an emergency, that you’re busy and don’t want to be disturbed. That’s not being rude, it’s being productive.

Every time you become distracted, not only do you lose the time during the distraction, but it’s difficult to get re-focused again. When this happens throughout the day it makes getting anything accomplished nearly impossible.

4. Cut the fat.

No, I’m not talking about a diet. Good office organisation is going to require the elimination of these things which are not of any value.

For example, if you are writing out reports that other co-workers don’t need, then stop doing it. Put out one report and send it to everyone by email.

Get with your boss and discuss the areas that you are spending unproductive time in. Let them know you could be utilising that time on the areas you are strongest in.

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/123924/office_organization_tips_to_being_more.html

Office essentials checklist

Posted in Office Management with tags , , on November 12, 2010 by virtualcitypa

Whether you’re equipping your first office or just re-stocking your current one, this checklist will help you determine and track which furniture, equipment, technologies and supplies you need to help your business run more smoothly.

Office Furniture and Equipment

  • Desk
  • Comfortable chair
  • File cabinets
  • Overhead and work lighting
  • Client seating
  • Fireproof safe
  • Desktop and pocket calculators
  • Bookcases
  • Postage meter
  • Worktable (s)
  • Office decorations
  • Labeling machine
  • Wall whiteboard and markers
  • Radio
  • Paper shredder
  • Photocopier
  • Wastepaper basket
  • Recycling bin
  • Alarm system
  • Fire extinguisher
  • First-aid kit

Computer Hardware and Accessories

  • Desktop computer and monitor
  • Keyboard and mouse
  • Printer
  • Modem
  • Notebook computer
  • CD writer
  • PowerPoint projector
  • Digital camera
  • Handheld organiser
  • Surge protector
  • Computer locks
  • Scanner

Computer Software

  • Word processing software
  • Virus protection software
  • Accounting software
  • Desktop publishing software
  • Contact management software
  • Website building and maintenance software
  • Payment processing software
  • E-commerce software
  • Inventory management software

Communications

  • Telephone line
  • Internet connection
  • Toll-free line
  • Desk telephone
  • Fax machine
  • Cordless telephone
  • Answering machine/service
  • Cordless headset
  • Speakerphone
  • Tape recorder
  • Mobile phone(s)

General Office Supplies

  • Business cards
  • Envelopes
  • Stationery
  • Imprinted advertising specialties
  • Postage stamps
  • Printer cartridges
  • CD and USB memory sticks
  • Pencils and pens
  • Printer paper
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Fax paper
  • Notepads
  • File folders
  • Stapler
  • Scissors

This checklist was revised from 202 Services You Can Sell for Big Profits by James Stephenson.

Top 5 mistakes when hiring in a recession

Posted in Human Resources with tags , , , on August 26, 2010 by virtualcitypa

While hiring during normal economic periods is itself fraught with big time peril, hiring during a recession can have its own set of unique challenges. Here are the top five recruiting mistakes made by companies during tough economic times:

1.  Thinking Great Candidates Grow On Trees

Recruiters I’ve talked with on RecruitingBlogs.com say they are having a harder time filling the reqs they have open. How can this be? Unemployment is high! Generally speaking, most of those top tier candidates that clients are asking for are still working and are not so willing to move now with so much uncertainty. Like most things in life, quantity isn’t a sure sign that you’ll get the quality you need.

2.  Under-Estimating Your Staffing Needs

One of the classic moves is under-staffing when times are tough. When you are launching a product though and you forecast five employees and your manager cuts it to three, think about the situation you are putting these new employees in. They’ll be doing the work of five employees and that added stress can lead to increased turnover. Turnover can cost a lot of money too.

3. Hiring Now Only To Later Lay Them Off

The opposite problem of number two: you hire someone and then lay them off three months later because of something unanticipated. There isn’t anything worse than this (especially if they had a job before!) When you make the decision to open up the req, plan worst case scenario and that you have to keep them on board for a year or more. Still confident? Open it up. Have questions? Re-investigate until you can be confident.

4.  Under-Compensating Because You Can

In a depressed market, you may feel the urge to underpay a new employee because you can. While I am a fully fledged capitalist, I should mention that there is a real risk to this strategy. Let’s assume that you under-compensate a new employee by 25%. Not a problem now but down the road when the market is back and compensation is on the rise, are you going to be ready to up the pay significantly (by 25% or not)? If you’re not, beware. You may be buying a deal on a very short term employee. And don’t forget holiday bonuses either, although here are some recession-proof ideas for you.

5.   Not Replacing A Necessary Employee

When times are tough and you have a hiring freeze going on, it may be tempting to not replace Bob from accounting who is retiring at the end of the year. Just redistribute the work and hope for the best. If Bob is a necessary puzzle piece though, you must replace him not only because you can (you were paying that salary before) but because it will help the other employees who are in the department (who may have taken over extra work as the down turn began).

In short, hiring in a recession isn’t about guessing and it isn’t about treating people like sub-humans because they are desperate for a job. On the contrary it is all about getting your hires right the first time and treating them with respect. This attitude will pay dividends once the recession is over and we’re all back to business as usual.

You can also find Lance on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/thelance

http://standoutjobs.com/site/blog/top-five-hiring-mistakes-in-recession/

Office Setup Tips

Posted in Office Management with tags , , on June 24, 2010 by virtualcitypa

This article from Susan Ward’s “7 Ways to Control Chaos in Your Small Business”,  I found particularly helpful as an easy to follow guide to good office management

1. Establish office management routines and stick to them.

Routine tasks need routine procedures if you want to stay organised and keep things running smoothly. Set up routines for handling paperwork and office systems. For instance, every piece of paper that comes into your office should be handled once, acted upon, and filed – not haphazardly piled on a desk. Office systems, such as computers, will need both administration and what I call panic mode procedures. When the system crashes or a computer-related piece of equipment fails, everyone in your office needs to know who to call and what not to do (such as try to fix the problem themselves). These data management articles provide helpful tips for everything from office filing systems through computer backup procedures.

2. Set up clearly delineated responsibilities.

Good office management depends on people knowing who is responsible for what – it’s people who are accountable who get things done. What would happen, for example, if the purchasing for your small business was done by whoever whenever? Would you be able to find a paper clip when you wanted one? Or print off a report when you needed to? Putting one person in charge of ordering all equipment and supplies solves the problem and keeps things running smoothly. It’s the same with (computer) systems administration. You need to have one person responsible for the security of your computer system and keeping track of things such as accounts, passwords and software. Otherwise, chaos will proliferate.

3. Keep records – and keep your business records updated.

Keeping records sounds like the easiest part of good office management – until you consider the need to keep those records both accessible and updated. But my first rule for controlling chaos will help you get a grip on this; make updating records an office routine. When you get a new customer or client, for instance, it only takes a moment to enter him into your contacts database. Then it will only take another moment or two to update the record after you’ve spoken to them on the phone.

4. Take a walk through your office and have a sit.

Is your office an example of space management or space mis-management? When you walk through the office, do you have to detour around obstacles or run the risk of tripping over something? When you sit down at a desk, could you actually work comfortably there? Are things logically arranged so that the things that you would use most at the desk are closest to hand? There are a lot of things crammed into offices nowadays, from printer stands through filing cabinets. For good office management, you need to be sure that all the things in the office are arranged for maximum efficiency – and maximum safety. The Basics of Small or Home Office Design provides tips for safely meeting the power, lighting and ventilation needs of your office space.

5. Schedule the menial tasks.

It’s too easy to put off things that you don’t like doing, and I don’t know very many people that enjoy menial tasks. Unfortunately, an office, like a kitchen, won’t function well without a certain amount of maintenance work being done. If you are a small business owner who’s in the position of not being able to assign whatever you view as menial tasks to someone else, force yourself to get to it regularly by scheduling time each week for it. Take a morning or afternoon, for instance, and spend it making the cold calls or catching up on the accounting (or updating the records).

6. Delegate and outsource.

In a perfect world, everyone would only be doing what he or she had time to do and did well. As the world is not perfect, instead a lot of people are doing things that they don’t have the time or talent to do well. Delegating and outsourcing can not only improve your small business’s office management, but free you to focus on your talents as well, thereby improving your bottom line. Virtual assistants can handle many of your office or administrative tasks.

7. Make business planning a priority.

Many small business owners spend their days acting and reacting – and then wonder why they seem to be spinning their wheels. Business planning is an important component of good office management and needs to be part of your regular office management routine. Successful small business owners spend time every week on business planning, and many use daily business planning sessions as a tool for goal setting and growth. If you have staff, involve them in business planning, either formally or informally.

Don’t let chaos interfere with doing business. Once you start applying these seven principles of good office management, you’ll be amazed at the difference good office management makes – and how much more business you do.

http://sbinfocanada.about.com/od/smallofficehomeoffice/a/officemgt1.htm

http://sbinfocanada.about.com/bio/Susan-Ward-6453.htm

Efficient office moves

Posted in Business start up, Office Management, Virtual Assistance with tags , , on January 18, 2010 by virtualcitypa

Office moves are certainly an area where virtual PA’s can help to smooth the transition by getting systems in place ahead of time to avoid costly disruption to everyday business. This article from http://www.allbusiness.com documents the stages well regarding what needs to be done.

Moving your office without a checklist is asking for trouble. Instead of planning as you go — which is really not planning at all — create a checklist that will help you stay within budget and on deadline.

The best way to avoid moving pitfalls is to be prepared. The list is likely to change
over time, and that’s OK. The goal is to have before you a blueprint that you can refer to again and again. Here’s a model to work with. You checklist may look slightly different depending on the size and type of office you’re moving:

• Create a moving task force. You don’t have to shoulder the entire burden of a move. Indeed, that could be an impossible task and, therefore, a guaranteed failure. Establish a task force consisting of key employees who can offer assistance and guidance during the entire moving process.
• Meet with a space planner and/or interior designer. Trying to fit everything into a new space with little or no expertise is asking for trouble. Make sure you enlist the help of professionals.
• Take inventory and discard what you don’t need. Moving can be an excellent time to clean house. As you’re taking inventory (do this so that you can make sure everything has arrived safely following the move), consider getting rid of extraneous equipment, papers, and other items that the office has amassed.
• Interview moving companies. It’s never too early to begin collecting information about moving companies and then following up with interviews. Be sure to thoroughly check references, too.
• Meet with communications staff. Knowing how the phone system and computer facilities will operate at the new location is a must. It’s incumbent on you to make sure that service will not be interrupted. The best way to ensure minimal disruption is to meet with communications staff on a regular basis.
• Contact appropriate utilities. You’ll need to contact your local utility companies for various services like phone, electricity, and water. Provide them with stop and start dates and schedule any necessary appointments that will require your presence.
• Take care of the details. Remember to make changes to office stationery and alert your customers that the company is moving with change-of-address cards. This is an excellent opportunity to remind your customers that the company is always looking for ways to improve and this move is just one example of the firm’s commitment to excellence. Let your vendors know about the relocation as well.
• Provide employees with orientation. Meet with employees before, during, and after the move to explain how any new functions such as the security and phone systems work. Also, offer guidelines for any new procedures that will be put in place as a result of the move.
• Arrange for new services. You want the transition to occur as smoothly as possible, so try to make move-in day easy and stress-free. Make sure, for example, that ample parking is available for your company’s employees. Order new keys, too, so that people can actually get inside!
• Meet with movers to review plans. Stay in close touch with your movers as move-in day approaches. Make sure you set aside enough time to actually sit down to review and confirm furniture and floor plans. Waiting until move-in day will frustrate the movers, your colleagues, and you.
• Conduct a walk-through. On move-in day (or before) walk through the new space with staff to indicate new work areas. Make them feel welcomed and respond to any questions they may have.
• Plan a party and celebrate. Don’t forget to reward yourself and other employees with a move-in party. Celebrate the success of the move and congratulate everyone on his or her contribution.

When moving your office, advance planning, clear communication, and a willingness to live with a little chaos go a long way.

Should you need help/support or advice regarding your office move please do not hesitate to ask on 0844 884 3890 or email enquiries@virtualcitypa.com

What does a Virtual assistant do?

Posted in Outsourcing, Virtual Assistance with tags , , on October 22, 2009 by virtualcitypa

A Virtual Assistant (typically abbreviated to VA, also called a virtual office assistant) is an entrepreneur who provides professional administrative, technical, or creative (social) assistance to clients from a home office.  They usually work for other small businesses, brokers and consultancy groups. It is estimated that there are as few as 5,000-8,000 or as many as 35,000 Virtual Assistants worldwide; the profession is growing in centralized economies with “fly-in, fly-out” (FIFO) staffing practices.

Common modes of communication and data delivery include the Internet, e-mail and phonecall conferences, online work spaces, and fax machine. Professionals in this business work on a contractual basis and a long-lasting cooperation is standard.

Typically 5 years of administrative experience in an office is expected at such positions as executive assistant, office manager/supervisor, secretary, legal assistant, paralegal, legal secretary or real estate assistant.