Recent Improvements to Evernote and Xero

Since I wrote about Working in the Cloud and the applications the we love using at Adaptive Consulting, there has been some significant improvements made across two of them. Below is a summary of what I love about these improvements and some additional information about them.

Files in Xero

As mentioned in that article, we love using Xero for our accounting needs. One new major improvement that was recently announced is the ability to store files in Xero (not just attachments). This feature in my opinion adds a tremendous amount of value to a business as it increases collaboration between small business owners and their financial advisors via a single tool.

Another feature which has been flagged as coming soon is the ability to email files to Xero and create bills from them. I’m eagerly looking forward to getting hold of this new functionality as it will be a massive time saver!

Read about the announcement on Xero’s blog at http://blog.xero.com/2013/10/attach-files-financial-data/.

Files for Xero from Xero on Vimeo.

Evernote 5 for Windows Desktop

Ever since Evernote announced that Evernote 5 for Windows Desktop was being released I’ve been looking forward to trying it out. When I finally was able to download and install it, it didn’t disappoint. There are a whole bunch of features that I love about it, including the new UI, the Shortcuts, the Smarter search functions, etc.

 The downside (and the single biggest gripe I have) with Evernote 5 for Windows Desktop is that it has a tendency to crash a fair bit. As with most things, I’m confident that this will be resolved as this new version matures.

 I also love this little graphic titled “100 Reasons to Love Evernote for Windows” to describe the core features http://blog.evernote.com/blog/2013/10/17/100-reasons-to-love-evernote-for-windows/.

The MOST Important Dashboard of them all

health_dashboard_200pxHaving spent quite a bit of time over the past month visiting various hospitals, I have come to the realisation that a dashboard that shows/monitors key indicators of the state of a person’s health is probably the most important dashboard of them all.

The heart rate, temperature, blood pressure, blood oxygen levels, etc are all vital signs that are monitored when someone is unwell and in hospital. If any these go below (or sometimes, above) their normal values there is cause for concern and usually triggers some action from the medical staff.

These dashboards or monitors have to be real-time. They also have to be accurate. Whilst most organisations would like their dashboards to be real-time and accurate, the consequences are rarely as bad as having a patient’s health deteriorate and no one knowing anything about it.

Dashboards in the Supply Chain – Manufacturing

Abfüllanlage Bottling plantManufacturing is another area in the supply chain for which you could have lots of KPIs that can be indentified and monitored. To a fair extent, a many of the KPIs for a warehousing operation also apply to a manufacturing environment, such as:

  • Monitoring the status of orders, including Priority Orders
  • Monitoring order turnaround times
  • Monitoring incidents on the production floor

Other items that could be monitored via a Dashboard in a manufacturing operation include:

Productivity

Most manufacturing operations have productivity KPIs for staff, and by monitoring productivity via a dashboard in real-time will allow the company to identify and resolve any issues whilst they are occurring.

This information can also feed into trends, be it seasonal, type of product being manufacturing, etc so that adequate resources can be scheduled as required.

Raw Material Stock Levels

Whilst many ERP systems these days have real-time monitoring of stock levels and some have the ability to place orders automatically, it is still vital that planners are able to see what triggers these stock levels to run low and when. Any information they can gather about the items and their stock levels will assist with materials planning in the future and also guide them in adjusting the minimum stock levels.

Real-time monitoring via dashboards and/or alerts can provide input to this process.

Damaged Goods

Producing damaged good in the manufacturing process is a costly exercise as in some cases there is no option but to start again from scratch.

By monitoring any reported damages in real-time, the plant or factory manager will be able to identify the problem, analyse the cause and implement changes to reduce any further potential for damaged goods being produced.

Of course, the value of the goods being produced need to considered when implementing a monitoring process. Trying to fix the occasional damage in a low value item such as a plastic straw isn’t as important as trying to eliminate 5% of large crates turning up with defects.

Wastage

Material wastage does happen in most manufacturing operations. However, identifying the causes of this wastage and trying to reduce or eliminate it will result in significant cost savings.

A real-time dashboard can be used to monitor how much wastage is being produced and if any particular workstations or machines is producing more waste than the others. In the case of a machine, it could indicate something as simple as a machine requiring recalibration!

Hopefully this is useful in some way and I would love to hear from you with any examples you wish to share.