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MSDS Sheets: A Resource Guide

As an office supply dealer we get a number of request for MSDS sheets and we are always happy to help a customer with this need.  I have added some great resources that we use on a daily basis to help service our customers, and some information regarding what an MSDS sheet is all about.  I really hope that these resources will help our Smart Office readers.
A material safety data sheet (MSDS sheet) is a form containing data regarding the properties of a particular substance. It is intended to provide workers and emergency personnel with procedures for handling or working with that substance in a safe manner, and includes information such as physical data (i.e. melting point), storage, disposal, protective equipment, and spill handling procedures. The exact format of an MSDS can vary from source to source.
According to MSDS Writer “The need to communicate hazards of chemicals to users is of the utmost importance. The widespread use of chemicals, the development of new chemicals, and the need to re-evaluate the hazards of pre-existing chemicals contribute to the importance of MSDS Compliance. In the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has created the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to mandate the use of a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and provide information to people who use, handle or store hazardous industrial chemicals. The MSDS is used to convey the details on a material’s identity, manufacturer information, hazard identity, emergency information, instructions on what to do if a hazardous situation has occurred, information on the prevention of hazardous situations, as well as other technical information. Recognizing the importance of this document, many other countries (e.g. the EU, Australia, Canada) have adopted the HCS into their own chemical safety initiatives. Article can be found at the MSDS Writer Resource Guide.
To quickly look up MSDS sheet on Office Supplies, check out http://www.biggestbook.com/msds/home.asp (Just enter product SKU or description)
If none of these resources work out for you, contact the manufacturer directly. Biggest Book has contact information for all the manufacturers in addition to the MSDS sheets. I really hope that this article helps!
Miles D. Young
Smart Office
An Office Resource Guide by:

The Label Maker: An Essential Time Saver

The label maker has been around for a long time, but its use in an office environment is as important today as it ever has been. While label makers do not always make for the most attractive labels, they are efficient and they get the job done. Today’s label makers offer a wide variety of options beyond the ones of yesterday, as well. There are label makers you can purchase to change the fonts, change the colors, and type on like a keyboard, making them even more convenient and helpful. Casio and Brother are just two of the great manufacturers making quality electronic label makers for the home and office.

An office can descend into disarray rather quickly. Files and folders may be neat, but without a practical labeling system, this may not matter. Sure, you could go around and write on all of them with a magic marker, but that’s messy and it leads to an even less professional presentation than using a label maker. With a good labeling system, every place has a name, and everything can be put in its proper place. There are so many ways you can use a label maker, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without one.

 

Label Folders

All of your computer folders have a nicely labeled name, so shouldn’t your physical folders have the same? You can use a label maker to give each of your filing folders the correct name. Folders are an excellent way to keep your important documents separate and filed in an easy to access way. If you are in the medical or dental profession, you can use these folders to separate patient information. If not, you can do the same for each individual client on your company. You can also create folders for your billing and receiving information, as well as your training materials. This latter idea is an especially good one, as new employees will have a resource they can use when trying to get into the swing of the job.

 

Label Filing Cabinets

A filing cabinet is a wonderful way to store your papers and keep everything organized. If you have a large Metal File Cabinetoffice, however, there may be multiple filing cabinets, with little to tell the uninitiated viewer what the contents hold. This is where your label maker can come into play. Simply make a discrete label for each cabinet, or perhaps a label for each drawer, best describing the contents within. If there is no ready name for what the cabinet or drawer holds, two options present themselves. One, you may need to rethink your filing system. A filing system should be just that: a system. There should be no cabinets or drawers filled with junk that fits no particular system or scheme. However, it’s your cabinet. If you have no particular name for what a drawer holds, simply label it “MISC”, and move along.

 

Label CDs

CD ROMs have become part of the office environment in a big way, but without the proper labeling system, they can become lost or misplaced. No one wants to go through a stack of unlabeled CDs to determine which one contains what information. The worst part is that these CDs might have started off with some sort of writing on them, that has since been faded to time. This is where a good label maker comes in. No, not the same kind you used on the file cabinet. They have special CD label makers you can purchase that will do the job.

 

Create New Storage Solutions

Of course, with your new label maker, the sky is the limit as far as how you choose to store your documents and papers. This can also be transplanted to your home office, should you need to take some of your files and documents home with you, or if you just need a new filing system there as well. Plastic boxes are cheap and can make a great way to store those documents that won’t be used for some time. Folders, files, binders, and even crates can make a great storage solution as long as there is a filing system in place. With a label maker, this won’t be a problem.

How to Create a New Paper Filing System

There has been much written and said in the media lately about this country becoming a paperless culture. We take this to be the truth, simply because it’s hammered into our heads day after day. But what if we actually slow down and examine this?

Yes, you may pay your bills online, thus cutting way back on the amount of mail you send out. What else? Did you ever really write that many personal letters that have now been replaced by email? Well, maybe you did. Hmm. . .well that seems to be about it. We are still reading books, we are still printing documents, and we are still signing contracts the old fashioned way. Yes, there are online equivalents of all of these things, and yes, there will probably be a time in the future when paper is as rare as gold, but that time is certainly not here now. Paper surrounds us and we use it all the time.

With all of this paper, in fact, it can be easy to lose track of it all. Papers get stuffed in a desk here, shoved in a filing cabinet there, and we can never find anything when we need it. Our office is a mess because we failed to have a system for filing all of our important documents. Well, if it needs fixing, there’s no time like the present. Let’s go through and look at what you can do to create a new paper filing system for your office.

Filing Cabinets

If you think the remark above was meant to disparage the filing cabinet, think again. Filing cabinets are a
wonderful resource, and should be the centerpiece for any large scale filing system. On the other hand, they 2 Drawer File Cabinethave to be used correctly in order to be efficient. And so many of them are not used correctly. Papers are flung into this folder or that folder, until there is no sense of order left. At that point, you may as well be tossing them on the floor. True, they’re out of the way and out of sight, but they won’t be any easier to locate when you need that all-important document.

When starting your new filing system, take a look around the office and see what you have before buying new supplies. You may or may not already have what you need, and a penny saved is a penny earned. However, now is not the time to be stingy, either. If you do not have what you need, don’t just make do. Filing supplies are amazingly inexpensive, so don’t cling to every penny as if it were your last. Besides, what does a penny buy in today’s society, anyway?

File Folders

Start your new filing system by labeling all of your folders with the appropriate headings, and then go from there. Smead makes a good folder for office use, as does Pendaflex. If you don’t have a filing cabinet yet, get out there and purchase one. It doesn’t have to be the best one on the market, but you should choose one that Colored File Folderswill get the job done and fits with your office decor. Once that is squared away, you can begin to put your folders inside in a manner that makes sense and will be easily accessed.

Make sure you follow a filing system that is simple and, more importantly, uniform throughout the cabinet. This is where many filing systems go astray. People tend to start off well, alphabetizing everything, and getting their filing cabinet in a proper order. Then the train starts to fall off the tracks. They start putting things in the cabinet by order of importance, or by date, and at the end of the day, there’s no telling where anything is. Choose one method of filing and follow it throughout the cabinet. That way everyone will be able to easily follow the system and won’t mess up a good thing.

A Separate Guide

This is something that can be invaluable, but it is rarely used by anyone. You could make your filing system this much better, if you create a separate guide to your filing system and place it on top of the filing cabinet. That way, no one will have any doubt as to where things can be found. It may sound like a lot of extra work, but it will save an incalculable amount of time in the long run.

Appointment Juggling: Planners & Calendars are Critical

Appointment Juggling: Planners & Calendars are Critical

It’s Tuesday night. The clock says it’s four-thirty, but it feels as though it has been saying that for the last half hour. You were supposed to be finishing up some payroll busywork, but have instead found yourself fiddling with the contrast on your monitor. Perhaps making it brighter would make it more pleasant to look at. Darker? Mainly, you’re just trying to kill the last half hour before its time to go home. True, you could just leave now and no one would think the worse of you, but you like to set a good example for your employees. Besides, you like to leave your early escapes for Friday.

Then the phone rings. It’s your boss, and he wants to know why you aren’t at the meeting downtown! Oh no! You completely forgot about it. You scramble to make up an excuse, but he doesn’t sound happy. He advises you to meet him first thing in the morning so he can catch you up on what you missed. You hang up and lose interest in the contrast of your monitor and decide you have to do something about your appointments. But what is the answer? Is there one, or are you simply doomed to a poor memory and an inability to juggle time?

The Planning Calendar

There is an answer, and it is found in the planning calendar. At-a-Glance is but one company that makes a fine planning calendar. These calendars make it easy for you to keep track of all of your appointments, meetings, and special events that you have a tendency to forget. And you’re not alone. If everyone could simply remember everywhere they were supposed to be, planning calendars wouldn’t be one of the biggest selling office supply items on the market. You just need to take the time to get one, and get organized.

Of course, having a planning calendar will not do you much good if you do not use it the right way. You have to make sure you right everything in that calendar, no matter how small and insignificant. You then need to make it a point to look at the calendar every morning and plan your day accordingly. Take the time to thumb through the next few days as well, just to make sure there isn’t something on the horizon you need to be planning for today.

Overall Time Management

While a planning calendar is important, it’s not the only aspect of your overall strategy. You can do many other things to help you start controlling your time, rather than have it be the other way around. One of these ways is to start each day by creating a to do list. Granted, this isn’t a revolutionary idea, but are you doing it? Or do you easily get sidetracked even when you know there are things to get done. Having a to do list, and writing it up in the order in which the tasks need to be completed is an excellent way to start managing your time better. Encourage your employees to do the same. Just the act of creating the list can make you feel better and more in control.

Get Help with Time

Don’t hesitate to bring others in to your time management strategies. This particularly includes your employees. Make sure you use these people in such a way that they can contribute to getting tasks done and appointments kept. After all, that’s part of why you’re paying them. If need be, incorporate your family into the mix as well. If you have important tasks that can be delegated to anyone else, make sure you do so if you won’t have time to manage the project by yourself. Of course, when it comes to friends and family, this only works if you’re willing to do the same for them should the opportunity come up.

Time management doesn’t have to be the bane of your existence. If you take some simple steps to get it under control, you’ll find that you had much more time in your day than you originally thought, and you won’t feel that constant weight of stress crushing down on you throughout your days. Isn’t that reason enough to get things in hand?

Four Tenets of Office Management

When it comes to office management, there are some standards and practices you should always adhere to, regardless of your company’s specific product chain or your service industry. These tenets will help you to have a more successful office atmosphere, and keep your company on track for success in both the financial and human areas. One may be just as important as the other, because one naturally feeds into the other. You’ve of course heard the old saying about sharing the wealth.


An office that is making money hand over fist is a happy office, most of the time, or at least it should be. Of course, this won’t necessarily be true if the employer is underpaying the workers, but as long as that is in check, everything else should flow smoothly. The following are the four basic tenets of office management that can keep an office running smoothly.


Employment


Unless you are a company of one, employment will be a factor in your yearly decision making. Therefore, it is wise to have policies and rules in place for when the situation arises. It does not make sense to sort of throw your hands in the air and hire someone in a different fashion. That creates inequality in the workplace and confusion among the employees. Not to mention, things usually work a lot better when they are standardized. Does that mean taking the human element entirely out of the equation? Absolutely not.


No company should base their hiring practices on a set of rules so stringent that an answer to interview question (A) means an outcome of (B), or a resume that state (1) should always means (2) occurs afterwards. There should absolutely be room for judgment calls and the like. However, there should be policies in place as to how that employee is trained and brought into the working environment.


Project Management


One area where quite a few office environments fall behind is that of project management. Without strict guidelines and strong project leadership, employees are like a ship at sea without a compass or any sense of purpose or direction. A project that should have taken a week is turned in three months later. And whose fault is that? Is it the employees? Not really. Not if there aren’t guidelines in place about how these things should be handled. Without those guidelines, people in general are not going to work to the best of their abilities. Sure, there will be those who will rise to the occasion even without those policies, but they are relatively few and far between. It is much better to have the guidelines in place so that employees know their deadlines and have the tools necessary to meet them.


Office Furnishings


You could run a company budget dry trying to keep up with every piece of technology and office equipment on the market. On the other hand, an office could well be behind the times if the manager doesn’t spend at least some time considering what tools the office could use to maximize efficiency. It’s important to strike the right balance here. There are some great internet office supply stores that would be at home in the bookmark folder of any top executive. Take the time to peruse these stores and even sign up for email alerts about new products. That way you can take each product on a case by case basis and evaluate how it would help your company versus the money it would cost to purchase it. They will also let you do direct side by side comparisons of different brands. You may need a new multifunction copier. Do you go with Brother or Canon? These decisions can be made by carefully looking at price and feature comparisons.


Communication


This goes hand in hand with the last tenet. It is up to the office manager to decide how his employees will communicate with each other and with the outside world. With today’s technology, communication has changed in many ways. What was yesterday’s memo board is today’s email alert, what was yesterday’s meeting with a client might be today’s teleconference. Make sure you avail yourself of all the new communication options and implement the ones that make the most sense.

How-To: Keep Your Inbox from Taking Over Your Life

The computer age is great. Tasks that used to take days now take seconds, information is always there at the touch of a button, and businesses can extend their realm of marketability beyond their local walls and into the annals of cyberspace. With all of these positives, though, it must be said that there are some negatives that come with it.


If you are an office manager, you may consider email to be one of those negatives. Perhaps you treat going to your inbox as if it were a life sentence. How many spam messages will I get today, you think with a sigh. Then there is the matter of simply sorting through the good ones. Which ones demand your immediate attention and which ones can be ignored until later? Which ones are just the latest forward from one of your coworkers? If you are finding that you are spending too much of every day sifting through your email, this article is for you. We’ve devised a simple set of ways for you to get your inbox organized and turn your email back into a positive.


Folder Creation


The first step toward making your inbox a place of calm and peace is to create some folders. If you have ever done this with your internet bookmarks, you may already know how much easier they can make finding something (especially if you’re a bookmark packrat). Why not try the same thing with your email? A lot of people are not even aware of the many things their Outlook can do. This is a shame, because while Microsoft may not be the perfect company, they really have loaded their email program with a lot of features that probably go unused by ninety percent of their users. If you’re one of them–do one thing before go any further. Take an hour or so and just explore your email. Just play around with it. See what it can do. Chances are, you’ll be surprised by what you find.


Ok, time to get back on track with folder creation. Let’s say you want all of your client’s emails in one folder, all of your employee’s emails to go to another folder, and then your boss’s emails to go in a third folder. You can of course go on and on, but we will stop there for the sake of brevity, and since we have little way of knowing how you specifically want to separate your email categories. To do this, just go under File and click the New Folder icon. Label it something easy like “Clients” or “Boss”. No sense getting creative here and then creating an extra level of confusion for yourself when you go to retrieve your mail. Do this again and again for each of the various categories you want to make.


Directing Email Traffic


Once you have your folders in place, you may be wondering if you are going to have to copy and paste each email into the correct folder when they are received. Of course not, that would just be adding several extra steps and creating even more inbox confusion. What we want is to make your email life a little easier. So here’s the next step. You are going to create rules for each of your folders. This is done through the Outlook program and it can easily be set up to distribute your emails to the appropriate folders. You can set it up to go by subject line, or by the sender. This way, if your boss sends you an urgent message, it will go straight to the Boss folder you created, and you’ll know you need to take a look at that email and address it before getting to your other folders and any new messages you have in there. You’ll still have an alert in the main system itself that will tell you when you’ve received new emails and to what folder you should look to find them.


The Real Inbox


Now that you have sorted out your email inbox, what to do about the one on your desk, piling up with papers from every which way? Well, there are some simple steps you can take to clear that out and make it less of a burden as well. 3M and Rolodex offer a variety of products you may never have heard of that can help you get organized in a hurry. Take the time to find a good online office supply shop and browse their selection of merchandise to find excellent tools you can use to clean up the clutter.

Making Your Database Work for You

For reasons unkown, decades after this information has been possible to collate by computer, many offices refuse to make use of a simple databases to effectively manage their business. Perhaps you are one of these people. Maybe you see other companies figure out complicated results from surveys they take, from sales promotions they did, and you’re not quite sure how they did it. Maybe you think it was through some superior technology that you do not have access to. But nothing could be further from the truth.


The fact is, they are just taking advantage of this decades old technology called the computer database and then crunching the numbers they find inside. Running a successful office means keeping track of information. If you are not doing so, you are not living up to your full potential. A database can keep all of your business contacts together, so that you can access them at the click of a button. A database can hold all of the information about your last advertising campaign and reveal to you how effective it was in obtaining new business. A database can tell you which of the items you sell is the most profitable for your company.


Advertising Campaigns


One of the best uses of a database is for your multiple advertising campaigns. With an efficient and well put together database, you can access, collate, and compare information in ways you might never have thought of. Only then will you truly be able to get a sense of what has been working for your company and what hasn’t.


You don’t want to spend your time and money running an unsuccessful ad campaign over again, that part is self evident. However, what may be just as important: you don’t want to cut off an ad campaign that might have worked if it were not for other factors. That is why it is so important to keep and store information about every aspect of your campaigns. It is amazing sometimes how one little change or variance in wording can completely turn your ad campaign around. If your ad campaigns are more in the direction of marketing and referrals, you can do the same sort of thing with a database. You will be able to research what works and what has not. What sort of variables might you be able to implement that would increase your referral rate, and so on.


Contacts and Customers


There are too many great ways to keep all of your contact information in today’s digital world to still be trudging along the old way. Is there anything inherently wrong with the old way. No, but when there’s a quantifiably better way, why not put it to use? A lot of people are hesitant to bring new technologies (no matter how basic) into their lives or their workplace. And it’s true, there usually will be a learning curve.

Often there will be a period of a week or a month where you wonder why you switched. After that, it will be smooth sailing. You just have to force yourself to accept the changes and get over that little hump. Soon enough, you will be wondering how you ever got along without it. By stuffing all of your contacts and customers into a clean database, you’ll be able to organize them in any fashion you want, create hyperlinks between related contacts, easily duplicate contact information that falls under more than one category, and much more.


Accounting


Though the uses for a good database are practically endless, we will just take a quick look at accounting management and leave it at that. A database can do wonders in the area of your office finances. Keep track of all of your billing and receiving information, organize your debts and credits, keep your payroll together, and plenty of other things. The limitations are strictly with your own imagination.


Like we said, there are a hundred more ways to use a database, if not more. If you take a look around your office, you can probably come up with more ways without even blinking an eye. Keep in mind that not all of these databases need be electronically based. A good notebook by Universal or Ampad can give you same results in a more portable fashion. Give a try in one area of your office management, and it’s very possible you’ll find it wise to implement it in many others.

Reining In the Overpaid & Underperforming CEO

Corporate governance expert Nell Minow explains the relationship between outlandish severance packages and the risky financial instruments linked to subprime mortgages.

The boards of directors of Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, and other financial institutions may have contributed to their massive subprime mortgage–related write-offs by creating compensation packages for their chief executive officers that didn’t punish them for failure, says Nell Minow, editor-in-chief of The Corporate Library, an independent research firm that rates governance practices. In fact, this approach to their compensation encouraged them to take undue risks, she says.

These CEOs were guaranteed outsized exit and separation packages, regardless of how they or their firms performed. And now that many of them have been shown the door, there is little hope that shareholders or directors could “claw back” any of that pay, Minow says. One important solution, she argues, is for more companies to adopt rules specifying that to be elected, directors must receive a majority of shareholder votes cast, rather than a plurality as is typically the case now (indeed, currently even if a large number of shareholders abstain, a director can be elected with just a few affirming votes). This would raise the prospect that directors could more easily be ousted by dissatisfied shareholders if they grant overly generous compensation packages. William J. Holstein, a contributor to strategy+business, talked to Minow in late January 2008 about her attempts to refashion the relationship between boards, shareholders, and top executives.

Interview Transcript  (S+B Journal and Mr. Nell Minow)
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

S+B: In what ways were the boards responsible for the current debacle in the financial-services sector?

MINOW: There were a couple of precipitating factors. One is that the boards weren’t paying enough attention. They weren’t asking the right questions. And the other is that they were creating executive compensation plans that had the effect of pouring gas on the fire.

You can see how it worked by looking at it in hindsight. All of the CEOs who failed got paid very well. Therefore, the pay plans had very perverse incentives. Yes, the CEOs did receive incentive compensation, but incentive to do what? If the incentive was to essentially offload risks — which is what happened, because the CEOs were pushing much of the risk off to shareholders — then this is what you get.

S+B: It seems that the vast majority of U.S. companies have more independent boards and more effective governance than they used to. So what went wrong in the financial sector?

MINOW: Generally speaking, yes, there have been tremendous improvements. Boards are doing a much better job than they did a few years ago. They’re providing much more diligent oversight. But in the financial-services sector, I don’t think there has been much improvement. In the very first set of corporate governance grades that we at The Corporate Library issued in 2003, Citigroup was dead last, even though Institutional Shareholder Services (another governance ranking agency) was giving them top marks. On paper, Citigroup looked like it had wonderful corporate governance policies. But on the two issues we thought were most important, the board failed abysmally. One was pay for performance — their approach was awful — and the other was how the board responded to the analyst scandal (in which Wall Street firms were found to have falsified positive research about companies in an effort to win investment banking business). Citigroup was the only company in which the CEO was personally involved in one of the most outrageous conflicts of interest and one of the most outrageous breaches of ethics of that period: the incident involving analyst Jack Grubman. [According to investigators, in 2000, Citigroup CEO Sanford Weill asked Grubman, the company’s top telecommunications analyst, to raise his rating of AT&T; after Grubman complied, Citigroup won a US$45 million assignment to help underwrite a share sale in AT&T’s wireless unit.] As a result of his personal involvement, Weill was restricted in his ability to meet with his analysts without an attorney present. And yet the board did not impose any sanctions on him. That is the definition of a bad board. They didn’t know how to respond when the CEO failed.

S+B: What could the boards of financial-services firms have done to help avoid situations like the subprime meltdown?

MINOW: You can’t do better than what Warren Buffett said to the people at Salomon Brothers many years ago: “If you lose money for us, we will be forgiving. If you lose reputation for us, we will be ruthless.” You make the situation clear by stating your intentions and you back them up in the design of your compensation program. If there’s any suggestion of bad behavior, the money goes back to the company. That’s the only fair and credible way. Any CEO who won’t come in on that basis is somebody you don’t want to bet on because he is not willing to bet on himself. The moral of the story is that you get what you pay for. If you tell the CEO he’s going to get paid tremendously for short-term gains even if he has an “après moi, le deluge” philosophy, then he’s going to go for it.

S+B: Are you now going to push more intensively for reforms in CEO compensation?

MINOW: I don’t know how much more intense I can get. I’ve been pushing for a long time. But I’ll continue. I’m enthusiastic because now it’s like a perfect storm; three different forces for positive change are coming together at the same time. One is majority voting. I think that’s going to be very powerful as it gets widespread adoption. Right now, under the law, a director who is unopposed can get elected with one vote because voters have only two options: to affirm a candidate or not to vote at all. Thus, it’s not very meaningful to withhold a vote. But as companies adopt the rule that a director must receive a majority of the votes cast in order to win, directors will know they can be voted out if there are a lot of abstentions. Second, the broker vote change will eventually go through so that actual shareholders, or beneficial holders, will vote for directors. (Currently, in many cases, large brokerages hold shares for individual investors and vote on their behalf without consulting with their clients; frequently, they join management in supporting their board slate and opposing shareholder resolutions.) Third, mutual funds and money managers now must disclose which way they voted on board appointments and resolutions under a ruling by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

We do a “naughty and nice” list every year of who votes for shareholder value and who does not. So that will put pressure on mutual funds to vote more thoughtfully. One way or another, votes are going to become much more meaningful. If compensation committees start getting voted out for signing off on outrageous pay packages, then I think boards will start to do a better job.

Editor’s Note: This interview was conducted by Strategy and Business Magazine (S+B Publications), courtesy of Booz, Allen, and Hamilton. Special thanks to Edward C. Landry and  William J. Holstein.  Reproduction of this article in any form is prohibited.

Three Simple Steps to Maximize Productivity


Running an office or a business means turning your office systems into a well oiled machine. To do otherwise means to lose productivity and thus lose money along the way. As running a business these days means taking every shortcut and advantage that comes along, you cannot afford to be behind the times in any aspect of your management strategy.


If you are not sure what we mean by office systems, or what it would mean to your company to improve them, here is just a sampling of the ways you can improve functions around the office in regards to the way things are run, and in regards to your employees.


With an efficient and smooth office system running, you will be able to find your contact information at the touch of a button, or at the flip of a file. No time should be wasted hunting down misplaced Rolodex cards or running around the office trying to find out who has what information on your clients, customers, or vendors. You will be able to get right back to clients when they need important information, or have a request for your business. You can submit proposals with lightning speed. Keep all of your projects on track, and don’t waste a minute with helter skelter scrambling at the last minute. Finally, you’ll be able to keep a close watch on your advertising campaigns.


All of this is essential to the office manager, and we are sure you agree. In order to maximize these systems, however, you will need to take some steps. This article is about providing those steps to you in an easy to implement manner. The important thing is that you start as soon as possible, as every wasted day doing things the old way is another handful of dollars down the drain, something few businesses can afford.


First Step: Find the Problems


In every twelve step program, the first step is admitting you have a problem. You have done this simply by seeking out this article and reading along. Now you need to pinpoint where those problems lie. It’s not good enough to simply say, “We’d like to be more efficient.” Without a concise description of the problem, there can be no solution. It would be like going to the doctor and just telling him, “Something hurts.” You have to get a little more specific if you want to find the problem.


In order to do this, you need to take a close look at every aspect of your office systems. How quickly are you able to get back to clients when they have a proposal or a request? Could that time be cut in half? How would that affect your bottom line? Take a look at your employees and see if there is any wasted effort or time going into tasks that could be automated or at least made more efficient. Make sure everyone is working the hours they are scheduled to work. If you need help in this area, there is software such as the ATRx Secure Punchin that can ensure each employee can only clock in for themselves. Do this with every aspect of your office until you come up with a healthy, specific list of things to be improved.


Second Step: Weed Out Administrative Time Wasting


A major blockade to the running of a successful business is spending too much time with meaningless administrative tasks. Yes, they need to be done, but is it cutting into the time you could be making sales calls and generating money for the company? The answer is undoubtedly yes, but administrative activities are an unfortunately necessary evil. However, there are many things you can do to make these tasks easier and more automated. Find out what these things are and implement them as soon as possible. There are some things only a human can do, and you should concentrate on those things.


Third Step: Delegate Authority


Many office managers and executives find it a sign of weakness to hand out work to their employees that they could do themselves. Actually, the opposite is true. Your talents are needed in the supervisory field, and that is where they should be put to use. Don’t hesitate to give away your more expendable tasks to those under you. That is, after all, what they’re being paid to do.

The Four Greatest Applications of Virtual Technology

The modern world has given us a variety of tools to use in both our everyday life and our business life. It seems like every day brings us a new application or piece of technology we can put to work for us. Some of it sounds too good to be true, but it is amazing how many things are possible today, and how many more things will be possible tomorrow.


With this in mind, we thought it would be fun to take a look at the four greatest applications of virtual technology. Each of these applications can be used to shoot your business to the next level if you haven’t already implemented them. Even if they don’t mean an entirely new system of profits, they will undoubtedly make your life easier in one way or another. If you have not heard of these applications, or if you have and have not yet been convinced of their usefulness, read on and we shall convince you otherwise.


#1. The Blogosphere


You may be tired of hearing the word “blog”, and if you are, we can’t really blame you. But there is a reason this word has caught on so fast and a reason so many people have turned to it as a means of expression. Not only is it the domain of many who wish to get their personal feelings out on to the Web, but it has become a powerful marketing tool for companies and businesses.


If you have not started a company blog, you could be missing out on a key element in attracting future business. If you are not sure what to blog about, simply take a look at your company. What do you do? What business are you in? You will want to blog about topics that mean something to your customers. You can then either run the blog on your company website, or put it out on one of the major internet blogging channels with a link back to your website or the phone number of your office.


The concept is tremendously powerful in its simplicity. Potential customers surf the web looking for topics that interest them, and they come across your blog. If it is well written and attractive, it will entice the surfer to become a customer of your company.


#2. Online Appointment Books


For every old style way of doing things, there seems to be a virtual upgrade. Some of these upgrades are superfluous, but online appointment books are not one of them. With an online appointment book, you can keep fast track of your deadlines and meetings, and even have them open to interactivity with your assistant or even your clients. Have a way to schedule meetings and appointments, and then plug in a way that the online appointment book alerts you to new entries. It is much more efficient than the old way.


#3. Virtual Conferencing


If your company has not brought virtual conferencing into the system, you really are missing out. There is no further need for expensive trips across the state or country in order to have meetings with your important clients, attend trainings, or visit with partners. With virtual conferencing, you don’t have to go any further than your desk to be in touch with anyone in the country or the world.

In order to do it right, you need a high speed internet account and you will need to shell out the money to provide the right equipment for your own company and the companies you wish to have contact with. In the long run, however, this method of contact could save you thousands and thousands of dollars. Not to mention, it simply makes your company look better to be on the cutting edge of new technologies, and causes your customers to instill trust that your business is headed in the right direction and is ready for the new millennium.


#4. Virtual PC Connectivity


Of all the virtual applications, this may be the greatest. We’re not here to promote specific companies, but there now exists a way for you to access your office computer from home, and vice versa. This new technology allows you to get on your home desktop, log in to a system, and then be able to do everything with your office computer that you could do if you were actually at the office. The implications of this are grand. No more late nights at the office, burning the midnight oil. Now, taking your work home with you is easier than ever before. With security being an issue, make sure you invest in a quality piece of computer software lock, such as those programs made by Kensington.