Most of the day goes by handling unnecessary things and doing unproductive activities, like creating invoices, teaching new joiners from the scratch, explaining the process, taking follow-ups and so on and so forth. By no means do I intend to understate the importance of these tasks but if you notice closely all these tasks can be automated and would still be equally effective.

I automated the maximum routine and build a process for every activity, at the same time made sure that each process is being constantly optimized and evaluated in every 30 days automatically. Sounds complicated right? It is fairly simple, let me explain you with the example below.

Tools, Document and Delegate!!

Every day I spent 4 hours in activities that I did the best but they could very well be done without me personally being involved. Since I had already cracked the code now others could simply replicate. Surely they need to be taught once personally but then they can easily work without any supervision. Hence below are the 3 steps I used to make an easy transition of work from me to other more efficient teammates. The order of the below step is also very necessary to ensure proper handover without any doubts.

  1. Tools
  2. I used specific tools for the specific tasks the online tools came really handy when managing tasks and checking the timelines. I never imagined that work allocation, instant communication, and target evaluation could be done so easily. Previously, I used to manage all these things over multiple spreadsheets. There are some great free tools which can give you a whole lot of freedom and save a lot of time. 3 of my favorite tools are Zoho, Freedcamp, and Bitrix24 .

    Bitrix 24
    • Can be hosted on Cloud as well as company’s server
    • Group Chat
    • VideoConferencing
    • Can store up to 5GB of document in free version
    • Up to 12 users in free version
    FreedCamp
    • Unlimited Users
    • Unlimited storage
    • Group and person discussions
    • Has mobile Apps
    • Time Tracking
    Zoho Projects
    • Zoho is the list only because it has complete suite like google but much more
    • Charts, Milestone, tasks, timesheet tracker
    • Free- plan has very limited features.

  3. Document
  4. For the daily tasks, I created a documented process which was shared with everyone with detailed notes, FAQs and pictorial representation of each activity. Pictorial Representation is very important don’t forget that.

    Sounds like a lot ain’t it? Well not actually, I was doing it daily anyway, and wasted 2 hours in explaining to people, 1 hour in meetings and 1 hours clearing doubts and all this on a daily basis. So I decided to spend 5 mins extra in documenting and taking pictures of my every action and 30 mins daily in researching the tool which could do my labor work.

    Let me explain to you what exactly I mean by this, with a few examples:

    Unnecessary things like, Being on call just for the namesake:

    This one is for the project managers and team leaders. A lot of time we have to sit on the client call just for the namesake and no matter how hard you try you cannot keep your ears on the call. As a result, you end up wasting at 30 mins per call of your time.

    Why exactly do you need to be there?
    Because your team is not confident enough; because you are not confident on your team; because you were the first person the client interacted with. Well, none of these are a valid reason, as a leader your role is to build new leaders and a process which can run independently of you.

    Unproductive things like keeping a watch on who is doing what and who is taking how long of a break:

    I define productivity as an exercise by which you are able to grow your growth/sales directly. And everything else becomes unproductive. So, does it really matter to keep an eye on everyone, you do all that to make sure that there is an optimum level of productivity. Why not set up a process where the productivity is tracked and not the physical presence of the fellow teammates. Decide a deadline/milestone for each peer and let them achieve it on their own. Our best support guy never sits in his seat yet has the maximum happy clients.

    Creating invoices:

    Yes, money is one of the driving force to the organization, and to get the money you need to shoot invoices. The general process is either you have to be behind your accounts team to generate and give you the invoice(generally take 30-60 mins) if there is an error in that then got help you, or you create it yourself which again takes 15 mins but distracts your concentration from the real task.

    There are tools available at a small cost for doing all your invoicing just by a simple 5 min task at the start of your project. You fill all the milestone as soon as the milestone is marked as completed an auto mail is shooted to the client with the payment gateway link with an invoice.

    Teaching the trainees:

    One of the major aspects of any organization, this generally happens with every organization. Pretty often we have interns or new joiners in the organization and to get them to speed we keep them with us and teach them everything while directing them which right practices and the proper processes.

    A simple documentation of each process and all the FAQ’s with detailed responses would save you frequent interruptions and help the rookies come at par faster.

    As a matter of fact, this often improves the team’s process and generate new ideas to improvise and optimize.

    Taking follow-ups:

    The biggest problem was to first remember the person and the date for the follow-up, the second was the way in which you take the follow-up so that your client responds and third to take it repeatedly until you get what you needed.

    Tools like HubSpot are a huge asset in such scenarios. As per the statics, all major business deals need at least 5-6 times of follow-up before the deal is closed.

    Imagine a tool which is smart enough when to take the follow-up and with whom to take the follow-up. All you need to do is insert generalized progressive follow-up emails, and it works while you sleep or acquire new clients.

    We don’t realize the power of technology and underestimate the importance of time. To gather new ideas and grow your business it is necessary to have a free mind and focus on being productive. By investing a small amount of your time in such activity you could increase your business to 10 times to the cost and time you invested building the process and automating the tasks.

    For a small example, at EngineerBabu I created a process for all the new joiners. I drafted a document with screenshots and links to everything that they would need to understand their role.

    I created 3 major documents:

      • Which tools we use and why do we use them:
      • On an average we use 8 different tools and for various different purposes. It used to take me 4 hours each day for 7 days to teach them all the tools and their real power. Add to that the amount of time I waste in regaining the concentration after each interruption. Not everyone was good at gathering the knowledge from Google and understanding it for themselves.

        To solve this we document each document and list What/Why/When/Where/How for each tool.

      • How to Use each tools:
      • Tools these days are very typical and have a learning curve of 3-4 days, and no we weren’t ready to invest that much time in just getting to know the tool. We took screenshot of each step and explained it’s importance in the flow of their work.

        Pictorial explanation helped them get used to the tool faster.

      • FAQ:
      • After all the efforts there are always some doubts and there are always some standard questions from clients. We marked-down each question, from client and from the rockie, with a pitch perfect answer.

    The documentation also helped us in finding out the loopholes and optimizing the process. In a larger team it becomes tough to explain and bring everyone on the same page, but with documentation, things become simpler, organized and standardized, while being highly scalable.

  5. Delegations
  6. The toughest part of all is the delegation of work. Delegation means trusting your work to someone else. Which means you are entrusting your credibility to be someone else’s work. In other words, you are giving the authority to someone to be the representative of your work and quality. Hence it is the toughest and most crucial task of all. Having said that, if you are able to find even 1 right person, the time it saves is immense; your productivity will take a hockey stick growth.

    The pre-requisite to take this step is high-tolerance to failure, and leadership quality . The reason you need these 2 features as pre-requisite is that if things go wrong you have to take the responsibility and not fire the delegate.

    How to allocate work?

    The art of allocation cannot work if you force it on someone, neither will they do a quality work nor will you be satisfied. The best people to allocate such task are the people who are looking, for new challenges. It should be a recreational stuff for them. You might contradict by preferring the profession of the field in which your task belongs. However, they would already have their plate full of similar tasks hence they would hardly be interested in doing any additional efforts. Moreover, the professional might take it as a burden, whereas a cross-domain person would take it as opportunity and really enjoy the task.

    How to find the right candidate?

    For finding the most suitable person for your task you need to be aware of your surrounding. If the team is small, you can be more social and know your colleagues better. They will tell you about their new interests and things they are looking forward to experimenting with. That is the right person for you. You can match the domain of your task to the interest of colleagues.

    If the team is big, you need to maintain a sheet of interests. A simple and easily accessible spreadsheet which can maintain a record of the developing interest of the colleagues with time. The co-workers will update the sheet as and when they see fit. Whenever you are looking to find a surrogate you can access the list to find the best suitable person who would be interested in harnessing the opportunity.

    How to motivate people to share their interest

    After some time they would automatically start seeing the value in accepting the new opportunities. Having said that, you may need to motivate people initially. The way I do it is by rewarding people and acknowledging their achievement in front of the complete team. You can also encourage people to share their experience and learning by doing this additional task. It won’t be long before people start approaching you for specific additional tasks. It is a great way to increase bonding and team skills.

I am able to save atleast 4 hours of my day and use them in finding new growth hacks, optimizing the process and help build new leaders while serving my clients to the optimal.

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The fun of Entrepreneurship is in the journey we endure.

I have been in the IT industry for quite some time now and have worked with more than a dozen of IT companies. Hence, I had the privilege to watch how things work from the other side of the phone. Consider this article as the magician trying to reveal his tricks. Website and Mobile Application is the necessity in today’s world, however, finding the right tech team could prove to be rather challenging for founders.

I have sent the project complete before time and I have seen the 2-month projects take a year to complete. Trust me, a single-company-fits-all model doesn’t work in IT. For every need, the right fit for the IT company “may” vary. Majorly, because of company’s past experience, current state or because of the founder’s position. Nonetheless, there are ways to help you figure out if the company you are planning to hire is the right for your idea or not.

Below mentioned 5 points are completely non-technical way of finding out if the particular IT company is the right fit for you and your idea or not.

Hire a company based on the person you are interacting with not on the company image that you carry:

It is probably the most important part for you to understand.

Your manager/POC is the person you will be interacting with for the rest of the project so make sure to go ahead only if you like his way of working OR request the higher management for change of manager.

It does not matter how great the company is or what all have they achieved. Your project will be handled by a handful of them, not all. If those handfuls don’t give you the right feel then chances are high that you will end up being unsatisfied.

Filtering the companies on the basis of their reputation may be a good initial filter. Nonetheless, in order to finalize the company from a list of final 5 filtered IT companies you have to focus more on the minute details then the IT company’s reputation.

Does your Manager understands your idea? :

Let’s say you liked your Manager/POC, he is hilarious and connects really well with you  BUT  does he connects equally well with your project idea?

Do these things intentionally:
    • Don’t give the complete detail on the first go:

Give the top level information about your idea to the manager. Over the period of time, you would have definitely spotted some loop-holes. You might even be confused about some technical work-flow of a functionality. And, if the company is the right fit for you, your manager should be able to solve it for you. BUT, you need not tell him about your research. Let your manager figure out what is missing and come back to you. It will show how experienced he is and how well does he understand your idea.

    • Hide the critical/tricky points:

The minute technicalities are the crux of any IT project. And every good company would ask you a thousand questions before sending you the quote. There must be some feature with alternate effects or some tricky condition which you might have spotted. Now is the chance for your manager to prove his mettle.

You probably would have to indulge in lot more calls and would have to do multiple explanations of the same point. Just be patient to see if he is able to figure it out, however, if he can’t you better be rethinking your options.

It is better to spend some time making the right decision than to rush into starting the project with the wrong IT partner and then regret the decision after having spent few months and your hard earned money

    • His suggestions will be your guiding angel:

One thing that comes naturally with experience to project manager is the market visibility for the latest trend. The sign to see if the company takes your startup as their own baby or not is the number of questions they ask and the suggestions they come up with. A good company would ask for a reason behind every functionality. Moreover, they would even come up with some new features that you wouldn’t have thought of.
Your Manager should pro-actively come up with the innovative trends and features that will enhance your idea’s effectiveness.

What the company has done in past is good but what can they do for you is what really matters.

The first thing any company shares with you is their portfolio (a lot of time, fake and irrelevant). Kudos to the company for doing a good job in the past, then again lot of things matter:

  • Maybe that rockstar developer/manager has left,
  • Maybe it was long back,
  • Maybe the technology was not as good,

Just a “Maybe” who knows what all has changed since the time they did the project in their portfolio. Nonetheless, what matters is what can they do now.

Don’t make your decision be completely based on the past of the company. Try to find their current stage and usefulness. Ask the company to find some reference websites and features that they would like to incorporate into your website. Take at least 2 weeks time before finalizing a deal or making any commitments.

Are they meeting the deadlines for meeting, documentation, reverts?

Timely delivery is a more like a habit rather than a process if they are obedient from day one they will keep their promise and stay true to their words. Intentionally, set more meetings by specifying a particular time. Give then some task and confirm a date by which they would return back to you.

A more concrete way would be to give them a small paid part of your project like documentation, wireframing, designing or any anything else. This would put their claims to a good test. Moreover, you would also be sure of the quality of their work. This will help you in setting up the right expectations.

What tools do they use for Project Management.

Transparency and daily status updates are a very important part of the client to track and manage the projects. And a good company will facilitate its client with ways to easily manage and track the project remotely. Imagine the pain or insecurity of not knowing the current stage of the work or having to do multiple emails to ask your manager about the current stage. </br />

Some good tools for non-techs are BaseCamp, and Zoho

Hope this article helps you in finding the right fit IT partner for your idea. The idea for the founders is like their baby and it deserves to be treated with equal care.

All the best, let’s improve the startup success rate by making more informed decisions

10 Principles to UI Design as a Founder

This article is posted from a Founder’s point of view to create a good UI Design, rather than a Designer’s point of view. The aim is to create a design of the product that makes the user loyal and engaged.

Here are the “10 Principles of Good UI Design”

Design your product according to the market you serve:

The UI for a Music concert website would be significantly different than a bridal e-commerce website.

The color combinations, the icons, the placement of buttons, everything varies significantly with the domain and age group of the target audiences.

Before you start the designing finalize your target audience which domain do they belong to (corporates or casuals), which industry do they belong to (IT, Retail, education, student, etc. ) and lastly the age group of the users of your application.

This will prove in very effective in creating a good UI.

Unless those are your Granny’s panties, they don’t need to be big or bulky:

Try to keep as fewer features or text on a page as possible. Try to make use of icons to make the features more explanatory with less use of words.

However, by no means do I mean that your users should be left confused and stranded. Customer understanding and ability to easily transit from one feature to another should be the utmost priority.

Minimalistic designing is the new Black. (That goes for Steve Jobs dressing as well)

Think of your Core idea as a bride in her wedding, very well differentiated:

What makes your application or website really useful is the core idea. That one differentiating factor you have from your competitors is your products true identity.

Make sure your USP feature is well focused and differentiated from the other functionalities. It should be most easily accessible.

Don’t let your USP get out of focus in the distraction of the generic features. Make it stand out.

Focus on the user journey:

Before starting the UI design form a flow of how the user will navigate on the application/ website. List down the page by page journey of the user.

Mention the buttons he would click on each page/screen to reach the desired next page. While designing you can place the spotlight on the important buttons hence making the user easily discover and navigate the application.

The simplicity of the UI in the flow to find the desired page has always been the key to an engaging and successful product.

Avoid Visual pollution:

Yeah, it is actually a term. Good UI design is environmentally friendly. It should make an essential contribution to the preservation of the environment around the user.

The specific environment that you can save here is the visual surrounding of the user using your application or website. Make user feel at peace and enjoy looking at the screen.

Here is a small test: Once you have the UI design in front of you look at it for 1 minute straight. Now, decide for yourself, how many time did you just feel like turning away from it.

Read More: Here is the Difference between UI and UX Design

Test it before developing it:

Once your UI design is ready, make a prototype of it before starting the development. And share it with real users to test if they find it as simple to use as you thought them to be.

Some of the handy tools, if you don’t wanna spend, are MavelApp, Invisionapp. Ready a bit about Guerrilla Usability Testing you have to do it to get genuine user feedbacks.

Keep taking feedbacks, practice makes man perfect and so the UI design:

Of course, you won’t come up with the ideal design on the first go, for multiple reasons. Hence keep plenty of space for your users to give you feedback.

Again, not every feedback is worth implementing. And no need to even keep a track of which changes have been requested the most.

If the feature is so necessary and so much in demand, then it will come up most often and would catch your attention. The most necessary feature will stick with you without you making any extra effort.

Be patient, great products aren’t built in 1 day:

As a founder, I understand that you are super excited and want to release your product as soon as possible. But a great design takes time.

And trust me, satisfaction is a myth. Because as a human we keep upgrading. Hence, our expectations and new ideas keep flowing in as you enter design phase.

Therefore, define a deadline and take the best solution you have to the development while continuing to perfect your design and bringing it in version 2.

Designs are not like Wine, they don’t get better with the age

On the contrary, Designs in the web and mobile world are changing at a rapid pace. New features and new ways to do old actions are being discovered and implemented every fortnight.

Pick the 3 Apps you use the most which have similar features to your idea, not a similar idea but a single similar feature like notification, newsfeed, etc. Make a list of the features and the reason why you like it in one application over the other.

Just as an example, try to think how the UI design of the Facebook app has changed in the past 1 year.

Do a facial not a plastic surgery:

Be ready to redesign your product every year. However, you just want to make small tweaks to your UI designs.

Keep the heart of the application/ website constant, always, unless there is something drastically wrong with it. Users form a loyalty with the UI of the product. If you change it too much you might lose the loyalty of your customers.

Even if you want to change it completely, then change it step by step, slowly, over a period of time. Give your audience sufficient time to accept the changes and become comfortable with the new features and UI of the product.

These are some rules which I had used extensively with my clients across the globe. And we have received phenomenal success, I mean my clients have, client success is our success after all. Some have even won best design awards and been selected in Y-Combinator.

So what are you waiting for, go to your designer and bring out the best in your application.

All the best!!

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