February, 2017

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Lesson Learned: Keep on Learning!

As the folks over at Harvard Business Review remind us lifelong learning has a wide-ranging positive impact on our day-to-day, relationship and lifetime success.

And I would add to this list that continuous learning also helps your career success. Of course, this means we all need to free our over-booked work-selves up enough to learn from past performance and evaluate data to the point that we can take off any blinders and evaluate lessons learned.

Implementing smart systems is a great first step to achieving this goal.  Remember a system is more than tools you purchase, more than the process you put in place, more than employees you hire; a system is all of these and more.

Take a Program Management Office, for example. If you are a small Government contractor you might only have one PMO dedicated to one contract, but if you are on the medium to large side you are likely trying to balance several PMOs all with different contract goals, deadlines, and requirements.

How to you make sure that seemingly disjointed PMOs are not making it impossible for you to keep on learning and improving?

Create an organization-wide PMO system.  Take ownership of your successes and identify and rectify deficiencies before they become uncontrollable.

Set yourself up to be a lifelong learner.

Let History Be Our Guide to Contract Management Success

How do Contract Officers set themselves up for success for their next contract? When do they start evaluating ways to improve performance? When do they start planning for the next time?

Day one of your current contract.

From day one Contract Officers and their team should be measuring data that can be tracked historically, that can show patterns, that can help them sit back and determine what went right, what went wrong, and what could go much much better (and using smart tools to help you collect, report on and review this data).

Set smart metrics, collect as much data as you can, and most importantly review the data at regular intervals.  Ask questions, don’t assign blame. Consider false positives and false negatives.

Setting historical tracking and reviewing standards at the start of a contract will help establish a firm culture of improving performance as a team rather than assigning blame to a specific group or individual.

And all of this hard work and attention to continuous evaluation will lead up to a contract post-mortem which is the second critical step towards contract management improvement.

Our friends at HubSpot give a great overview of what a stellar post-mortem should look like.

And don’t worry even if you are well into your second or third contract year it is never too late to start setting the baseline for how to improve for your next contract.

Why your Inbox should work for you and your Task Management

Last quarter our tech team released several new updates to your iSite Inbox and now that you have had a few weeks to get accustomed to the update we wanted to dive a bit deeper into why we made these changes.

Our goal when we make system improvements is to make iSite work harder and smarter for you especially when it comes to Task Management.

What does your Inbox number tell you?

With this in mind, our development team kept looking at that red number at the top of your screen and asked, why does someone click there? Just to click to another screen? Are we just adding steps?

The answer was, as you seasoned iSite users know, yes.  Clicking on the inbox gave you a list of items you needed to take care of, but it was just a list, a holding spot.  You could accomplish the same thing by going through the task manager.

The first iteration of the Inbox put us over one hurdle, but we knew we could do better.

Remember, work harder and smarter for you and your Task Management.

So we set our focus on what types of actions you could accomplish from inside the Inbox, without having to click to another module and on top of that we adjusted the way you can sort through items and moved some buttons to a more user-friendly space.

Now for many items, you need to accomplish for the day in iSite you can just click on your inbox and go!

Have you found the updates making your job easier?

Do you have any suggestions for future development?

Let us know by posting a comment or emailing us directly.

Scheduled iSite Outage

In an effort to maintain the highest quality of service, periodically it is necessary to conduct maintenance activities that affect our service infrastructure.

What is the nature of the outage?
On Saturday evening, February 11, 2017 at 10:00 PM ET, we will be making upgrades to our infrastructure, which is used to support the iSite/RealTime software.
The servers may be unavailable until 2:00 AM ET on February 12, 2017.

What services will be affected by the outage?

What is the timeline for the outage?

  • Saturday, February 11, 2017 at 10:00 PM ET:  Servers will be unavailable.
  • Sunday, February 12, 2017 at 12:00 AM ET:  All iSite-related functionality will be available.

What is the impact of the outage?
Intermittent outages are anticipated during this software upgrade event, thus, normal operation of affected systems should be suspended until after completion.
The actual impact should not exceed the scheduled time frame.

We appreciate your patience and apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.  If you have any questions, please contact us at: support@msm-isite.com

How can I get more information?
iSite Support is always available to answer any questions you may have about this change. If you have further questions, please contact us at support@msm-isite.com.

Top 3 Ways to keep your PMO on Track

The best time to start thinking about winning your re-compete? The day you win the first award.  Keeping your PMO on track from the first day will keep your competition at arm’s length and will help ensure that your Government client has only good things to say about your performance.

Here are just three ways that iSite can help you keep your PMO on track as you manage your contract tasks.

  1. Workflows

Smart workflows keep your systems and steps moving forward.  There are assigned responsibility, defined actions, and specific steps. In a solid workflow, there is no worry about a missed action and there is redundancy built in so there is no unforeseen delay.

 

Using workflows will help you show progress and will help you engage in a smart way with your Government clients.

 

  1. Eliminate Data Delay

iSite is a neutral system that allows appropriate users to access data they need in order to do their jobs in an efficient and smart way. By pushing data into iSite, your systems of record are not impacted, your team in charge of maintaining your systems of record don’t have to be sidetracked in order to respond to data requests and appropriate users have instant access to the data they need in order to answer client questions and manage their tasks.

  1. Capture and Review Historical Data

Improving performance is a great goal, but unless you have a tool that allows you to capture and evaluate historical past performance you are not using data to make improvement decisions. By taking advantage of one system to manage your tasks you are setting your team up for success when it comes to critical post-mortem conversations.

Put an end to Your Email Problem for your PMO

When it comes to managing your Government contract emails can be the straw that breaks the back of your success.

You might have the best folder system in place or you might be the shining star of email management; but you know there is always that worry that you have forgotten to respond to a critical question or that you have forwarded the wrong document or you have divulged organizationally sensitive information to the wrong msmith@wrongcompany.com.

Emails are our default, but they are old technology; the good news is that there is a better way to streamline your PMO communications and protect yourself from email’s pitfalls.

The first would be to utilize a discussion forum or instant message within a tool or application your organization uses.  For task management, iSite includes an entire module that is dedicated to discussions. The module, as with the entire tool, is regulated by security roles and groups so you never have to worry about which ‘msmith’ is reading your messages, and you are alerted when there is a reply or discussion topic directed at you.

The second would be to use a centralized document library to file all appropriate documents.  Of course, you will still need a pretty savvy folder system, but the automation of version control and the ability to set security on each document prevents you from kicking yourself as you try to retrieve a sent email.

We might never get rid of email, but by using tools and systems to their fullest capability you are one step ahead of the most common email problems and you now work smarter, not harder to successfully manage your Government contract.

Lingo Leg-Work Will Change Everything

Do you remember busy work? The task you might have been assigned that seemed pointless? That seemed like it was given to you so someone else could get you out of their way? That is given to the lowest man on the totem pole?

We are here to tell you that sometimes this so-called busy work is the critical foundation for the success of your contract.  Unless alignment on basics such as agreed upon terms exists be prepared to spend most of your contract execution or task management explaining what you meant when you said you followed standard practices and no one knows what you mean.

For example, do you know what ‘close of the financial month’ means when compared to ‘hard close of the financial month’? Is there a difference?

Or how about when it comes to ‘actuals’? Who hasn’t been blown away when there is a debate about what this term means.

Or maybe the difference between a sale and revenue?

Maybe your PMO team is a shining star and you are already successfully speaking the same language for your contract.  But what happens if a new member joins your team from another contract, did you find yourself scrambling to realign? How about when you start communicating with your client? Do you find yourself jotting down terms to research at a later date? Or what happens when you have a cross-functional meeting? Do you ever find the meeting ends up with folks talking at each other or in circles rather than communicating?

We all know that every Government agency, every Government Contract, every contractor, every PMO, and every individual has their own language assumptions before you even start to manage your new contract.  Our advice? Take the time to sit down, write down, and agree upon your lingo.

This so-called busy work will pay off. Trust us.