Daily Archives: June 18, 2010

The Dumbest Conversation I’ve Ever Had

When SI reviews a product, SI insists on a demo. It’s very simple. If you can’t show me a demo, then I have nothing to say. I’m not interested in your PowerPoints or your opinions about the marketplace or your scuttlebutt about your competitors. I have one question, and one question only: Where’s the Beef?

Two days ago, one of the largest independent vendors in our space offered to provide a demo so that SI could cover them. Then, yesterday, they insisted on an NDA. This is the second time I’ve had this conversation in a month. And I’m as dumbfounded now as I was last month.

As per the FAQ, SI will not cover any company that insists on an NDA. Please don’t tell us any corporate secrets, we don’t want to know them. What good are corporate secrets if they are revealed under an NDA and they cannot be written about? Furthermore, SI has no interest in them. SI is not a gossip column that hints around at this or that. That’s why SI can’t be manipulated by marketing people. We don’t care what you have coming next month or next year, unless it can be written about. We’re not going to “hint around” that we “know something important” about your product line or your future plans. That’s not what we do here. You can go to dozens of other sites for that.

At SI we are into reality, not fantasy. And in the real world a company’s released products are not corporate secrets.They are in the public domain. Everyone sees them. Everyone uses them. I am no different than anyone else who has seen the product. How on earth am I supposed to write about your product if you tie me up with an NDA? It would be the dumbest conversation ever, and the most worthless article ever published on SI. Not that worthless articles aren’t published daily on dozens and dozens of other sites, but as I said, you can go to those other sites if you like worthless articles.

Forgive me, but I am deeply suspicious of any company that won’t demo their product to me. (And I’m glad to say that there aren’t many that have officially refused. In fact, to date, only four companies have officially refused. However, the four that have refused are four of the eight biggest companies in the space. And that is worrisome.) SI is not in the business of product bashing — and if you look at my past reviews of dozens upon dozens of solutions, if nothing else, this one fact should be abundantly clear. I have great respect for anyone or any company that brings a product to market. Having done it myself a few times (as I am not your average liberal-arts blogger with no other marketable skill, but a CS PhD who has designed, architected, implemented, and brought a number of e-Commerce and e-Sourcing platforms to market), I know for a fact that it is not easy to do that. No matter what you might hear, it never is.

Take me up on my challenge! Every review SI has ever done is archived on the blog. The majority are indexed in this post (which is updated a few times a year). If the product solves a problem in our space, it will be written that it solves a problem in our space. Any product that has made it to market that actually works and actually provides value is a product that somebody somewhere can use. It’s SI’s job to let that somebody know about it. That’s what we do here.

I can’t figure it out. What are these vendors afraid of?

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To Maximize Your Time, Tweak These Ten Time Management Rules

A recent headline over on the Supply & Demand Executive Site on the art (and business) of finding more time: 10 ways to organize your time and resources for maximum ROI caught my attention because I thought it might have a good tip or two for improving supply chain ROI that I hadn’t covered before. It didn’t, but the 10 tips of time management it offered from it’s review of a chapter from thriving in the workplace all-in-one for dummies are still worth covering, if you give a few of them a little tweak. Here are the tips, and tweaks, that will help you achieve success in your supply chain efforts.

  • Live by the 80/20 rule

    Given that 20% of your tasks produce 80% of the results, spend 80% of your time on the 20% of the tasks that produce results. Furthermore, for the 80% of tasks that don’t produce results, 80% of perfect is more than enough.

  • Prioritize

    Actions that advance an initiative in-line with the strategy take priority. Unless it’s a true customer emergency, busy work and colorful smoke are low priority.

  • Conquer the In-Boxes

    Virtual or Physical, there are three types of documents. Those you act on, those you delegate, and those you discard. If it’s a priority and you need to do it, you add it to the work queue according to its priority and deadline. If it’s a priority that can be done by someone else, or not a priority but still needs to get done, you delegate it. Otherwise, you discard it.

  • Clear the Clutter

    As the article states, a topsy-turvy desk translates into greater stress and the misleading feeling that you have all the time in the world to complete your projects. Plus, it’s distracting — and with all of the modern forms of communication, you have enough distractions as it is.

  • Ask Specific Questions

    Specificity cuts out confusion and extraneous detail. Ask for precisely what you need, and you just might escape the data overload you’re hit with on a daily basis.

  • Burn the Time Leeches

    You don’t have to close your door, wear headphones, or be arrogant, but when the office Wally stops by, wish him a nice day, thank him for his interest, and escort him to the door or, if you work in a cubicle, the coffee room on your way to a meeting (which might be a meeting with yourself back at your desk, but since a brisk, short, walk every hour or two keeps you alert, the 2 minutes it takes to lead him astray will be more than worth it).

  • Preemptively Appreciation Strike the Busybody Clients

    There’s always that client or contact who needs to be involved with everything or always up to date on what is going on. Make brief update calls to them on a regular basis, preferably when you only have a few minutes before “an important meeting to advance the project or product”, and they’ll be less likely to call you with excessive demands for your time.

  • Give Yourself a Kit-Kat, Give Yourself a Break for a Job Well Done

    If you do a great job, splurge a little on yourself. If you get the bonus you deserve, splurge a little more. (Save some, like a responsible person, but remember that the carrot always works better than the stick.) Sometimes it’s as easy as holding off on the Starbucks until the report is done.

  • Track Your Progress

    Just like you can’t measure the effectiveness of your supply chain initiatives without regular measurements and trend tracking, you can’t measure the effectiveness of your performance if you don’t analyze your performance on a regular basis as well. Even if you aren’t required to file a time-log or a weekly report, create a brief report that captures what you did, how long it took, how it compares to your goals for the week and performance over the previous weeks, and what you plan to get done next week. Also include a summary of any problems or distractions that cost you time, breakthroughs or inspirations that saved you time, and anything significant that should be remembered. It should never be more than a page, and often half a page will do.

  • Be Brutal

    Apply the rules consistently and when you need to, be harsh with your desk, your documents, and your doorknob cow-orkers who worship Wally as their leader.

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