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When I get to the office in the morning, the first thing I do to start my day is make a big cup of coffee. The second thing I do is look at my calendar.

For some reason, it just sank in today, and I had to do a double-take. That can’t be right: June 2017?! We’re nearly halfway through 2017 already? How is that possible?!

Of course, time slips by because we are consistently consumed with and distracted by the day-to-day: We have meetings, deadlines, and appointments. There are the constant questions of “What’s for dinner?”; “Where’s my blue shirt?”; “Did that proposal go out?”; “When is the last time I called my mother?”; “Have I tweeted enough lately?” And on and on it goes until you wake up one morning and realize you’re six months into 2017, despite the fact that you’re still writing “2014” on your kids’ field trip permission slips.

We all start each new year with delusions of grandeur: This is the year I will join a gym and lose 10 pounds, get my inbox sorted and organized, eat more kale and less chocolate and start saving more for that anniversary vacation instead of inevitably spending up my travel nest egg on Black Friday.

What happens when you realize you’re six months into that shiny new year, and those goals that seemed so doable in January, now seem so far out of reach? How do you assess your progress to date? How do you get back on track and still meet those goals, with six months gone?

Are the goals we set in January, still SMART today?

There is a helpful acronym, coined in the 1980s to guide the process of goal setting.  The acronym is S.M.A.R.T.  A S.M.A.R.T. goal aligns with the following criteria: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.

  • Specific – Ask the “W” questions: What do I want to accomplish? Why is this an important goal for my team? Who is involved, and what are their roles?
    • Example: A general goal could be, “Get more clients”; a specific goal would be, “Hit the 50-client mark by December 31.”
  • Measurable – This requirement stresses the need for a concrete way to determine whether the goal has been reached: There is a definite finish line. Your team can visualize the proverbial tape breaking across their chests and celebrating their collective victory. “Get more clients” can mean different things to different members of your team; “Hit the 50-client mark by December 31” is a clear objective that leaves less open to interpretation.
  • Attainable – Does my team have the resources required to reach this goal? On the one hand, setting the bar too low can lead to low motivation, procrastination and decreased morale. A goal that’s too easily achieved poses no challenge, offers little reward and inspires no action. On the other hand, a goal that is too far out of reach or beyond your capabilities and/or resources will also serve to demotivate. If you feel you’re set up to fail, why bother going to the effort of trying? It is crucial that you know your team and are able to walk the fine line between low-hanging fruit and implausible expectations.
  • Relevant – If a goal is relevant, buy-in from your team will be a matter of course. A goal that is relevant is worth the costs and/or sacrifices entailed by such an undertaking and in keeping with the overall values of your organization, your brand and your long-term plans.
  • Timely – A goal with no time restriction elicits no sense of urgency. “Lose 10 pounds” doesn’t convey the same message as, “Lose 10 pounds by July 4.” The ticking clock can provide the impetus for action: You know the end goal, and you begin to conduct your day with that goal in mind, bringing you closer to actualizing it.

Have we made any progress?

Breaking a large or long-term goal into more palatable, bite-sized, actionable steps can keep everyone from getting overwhelmed and paralyzed into inaction.

  • Are we each clear on the goal, why we’re striving to achieve it and our respective roles in doing so?
  • Are we holding accountable the members of our team to whom we’ve delegated specific aspects of the task
  • What does that accountability look like?
  • How can we effectively track our progress going forward to ensure we stay on target? Specificity can be key, but be cautious that you don’t get so caught up in tracking the progress and reporting on it, that you end up wasting more time, impeding the progress you’re tracking!
  • Weekly/monthly reporting or status update meetings? To whom, by whom?

Avoid motivation drain.

The middle is tough. It’s where most people lose motivation, because they feel they’ve put in so much time and effort, but there is so much still to do.

  • Keep a visual reminder of your goal nearby. Whether it’s a hand-drawn, data-driven thermometer graph taped to your office wall or a travel brochure stuck to your fridge with a magnet, the constant reminder of the finish line will help shape your behavior, getting you closer to those palm trees.
  • Allow yourself to take detours: Tackling a long-term goal is daunting and draining, and a brief hiatus from the task at hand will enable you to come back, refreshed and re-energized; however, be sure to set a limit on how long that detour can be!
  • Be open with your team about your dwindling motivation. Undoubtedly, they’ve struggled too. Lean on each other, use each other as sounding boards and help to boost each other back into gear.

Jackson Brown Jr. said, “You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”

Reaffirm your commitment to your goals for the next half of 2017: Spend your finite number of hours in a way that will bring you closer to your target! Next year, you’ll be motivated by looking back on this year’s success!

About the Author

Tanya Amyote is a Marketing Assistant, database and Excel guru, and token Canadian at Edge. Tanya possesses a strong work ethic, impeccable communication skills, and a can-do attitude… as long as she’s had her coffee!

Tanya is an outspoken advocate for awareness of Osteogenesis Imperfecta (brittle bone disease), which she and her son both have. She is an avid reader, musician, and amateur photographer. In addition to their young son James, Tanya and husband Bryan have two rescue dogs, a senior pug named Harley and a small Heinz 57 named Luna.

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DiscoverySmith, the company innovating business process workflow for litigation support services, at Legaltech West Coast 2017 a suite of software products, the industry’s first easy to deploy toolset for enhancing litigation support efficiency.

In the past, Litigation support departments have struggled with the problem of quickly loading data and assuring quality work product while meeting deadlines. Through its powerful, patent pending features, DiscoverySmith empowers law firms and legal service providers to work efficiently by automating time-consuming tasks.

The software suite offered by DiscoverySmith consists of 3 products: Solid Proof, Rapid Loader, and Volume Tracker.

 

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Flexera Reimagines Software Supply Chain Safety –

Embeds Open Source Security Scanning into Software Development Build Process

 

Developers Go from Zero to Hero with FlexNet Code Aware,

Now Integrated with InstallShield® and InstallAnywhere®

 

Itasca, Ill. – May 10, 2017 – Flexera, the company that’s reimagining the way software is bought, sold, managed and secured, announced today it’s reimagining software supply chain safety. Flexera’s the first-in-industry to embed open source security into the heart of the software development build process with automatic analysis detection.  It will help keep the software supply chain secure by enabling 100,000 developers around the world to sell clean products, free of open source vulnerabilities and license compliance risk.

“For nearly three decades, Flexera’s InstallShield product line has been ubiquitous in every software company’s development process. With our FlexNet Code Aware release, Flexera is extending our customers’ capabilities to do a quick scan for open source vulnerabilities and issues at the time the application is being packaged,” said Jim Ryan, Chief Executive Officer at Flexera.  “In providing this capability, we are making it easier for software producers to gain unprecedented insight into what is in their code which they can, in turn, share with their customers.  Driving collaboration between software producers and their customers is essential to eliminating the waste, inefficiency and risk that currently exists in what can only be described as a dysfunctional software supply chain.”

FlexNet Code Aware is the leading automated, open source risk assessment and package discovery solution helping software developers quickly scan products for security and Intellectual Property (IP) compliance risks. FlexNet Code Aware is now integrated with Flexera’s InstallShield and InstallAnywhere solutions. InstallShield is the global standard used by 100,000+ developers for creating Windows desktop, server and cloud installers on more than 500 million devices.  InstallAnywhere is the leading solution for creating multiplatform installation experiences for physical, virtual and cloud environments.

By embedding FlexNet Code Aware into InstallShield and InstallAnywhere, open source security scanning is now a standard part of the software build process, helping developers discover and assess IP and vulnerability risks before products ship.  This powerful, combined solution sets the foundation for a vulnerability-free build, ensuring a smooth, error-free installation.

Eliminating Open Source Risk Early – Really Matters

The use of open source components in software development is skyrocketing. A decade ago, developers were using less than 100 open source libraries per release.  Today, some industries are using more than 1,000.  In addition – developers are often not aware of the risks contained in the open source code they use.

According to Flexera data, as much as 50 percent of code used in development is open source – code developers didn’t write themselves. And as a whole, developers are only aware of up to four percent of the third-party software that comprises their products.  As open source dependency increases, developers need to be good corporate citizens and truly understand the vulnerability risk and compliance requirements they are inheriting from the open source code they use.  FlexNet Code Aware – now integrated with InstallShield and InstallAnywhere, identifies the libraries developers are using, and what the associated licensing terms are to ensure compliance.

“Open source security and compliance can’t be a once-a-year process – it simply doesn’t cut it any more given today’s demanding time-to-market pressures. Build/release engineers are the last people to touch products on a daily basis before they are packaged for installation. Up until now they haven’t really been able to do much around open source vulnerability management,” said Jeff Luszcz, Vice President of Product Management at Flexera. “These engineers are the front-line of defense in the development process and should be front-soldiers in ensuring open source security and compliance.  With FlexNet Code Aware now embedded in InstallShield and InstallAnywhere, Flexera helps them find vulnerabilities as part of their ongoing, daily builds – without slowing them down. ”

 

# # #

 

Contact Flexera, and follow the company on…

 

About Flexera Software

Flexera Software’s business sits at the nexus between the world’s software producers and buyers – repairing the broken software supply chain, which is the most dysfunctional supply chain in all of business today. That dysfunction manifests as risk and cost – to both the producers of software and the enterprises that buy software – as they solve the complex, time consuming, and expensive problems of ensuring licensing compliance and security from vulnerabilities.  Our software licensing, compliance, cybersecurity and installation solutions are essential to ensure continuous licensing compliance, optimized software investments, and to future-proof businesses against the risks and costs of constantly changing technology.  A marketplace leader for more than 25 years, 80,000+ customers turn to Flexera Software as a trusted and neutral source of knowledge and expertise, and for the automation and intelligence designed into our products. For more information, please go to: https://www.flexerasoftware.com.

For more information, contact: Amanda Ingalls +1.949.241.1515 aingalls@flexerasoftware.com

 

Copyright 2017 Flexera Software LLC. All other brand and product names mentioned herein may be the trademarks and registered trademarks of their respective owners.

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The biggest benefit to attending an accounting technology event is the convenience of having many vendors, thought-leaders and your peers in one location that also provides CPE credits. These events provide the perfect opportunity to problem-solve, learn and investigate technology during a condensed timeline. Whether you have a project planned or if one is on the horizon, being able to talk to your peers and multiple vendors at your next accounting technology event is a convenience and may shorten your investigation time.

Consider these tips to get the most out of your next accounting technology event.

  • Prepare your list of projects or technology interests.  Define your project and identify potential solutions and vendors. Aim to assemble a list of 3-5 vendors to compare for each type of technology you are investigating.
  • Research vendors before you go. Depending upon your experience, you may or may not know the players in the space. Talk to your peers and do research online using keywords. You can also use social media to ask for recommendations and to learn more about a technology provider.
  • Seek out technology user groups and join them. Join user groups now to learn about vendors before you get to the event. These groups provide invaluable insight into the technology issues users are working through. You might ask questions or simply observe user conversations.
  • Read organic product and company reviews. Look for reviews that occur organically (e.g. CrowdReviews.com, Google Business Reviews, etc.).  Organic reviews are created by your peers who are real users working in the trenches daily. Reviews written by a commissioned reviewer are typically assembled using information from vendors’ websites. Product demos are rarely if ever done, and the commissioned reviewer may not be an accountant. A quick search of LinkedIn should reveal the commissioned review writer’s expertise in the channel.
  • Prepare your list of questions for vendors. Get your deal-breaker questions ready – questions that need to be resolved before you invest any additional time with a vendor. A deal-breaker question might be related to the level of integration with one of the technologies your firm relies most heavily on (e.g. tax software, bookkeeping software, accounting software, etc.) or product issues (e.g. user groups, independent reviews, etc.). Make notes for each vendor and prepare your questions ahead of time.

At the vendor’s booth, you will be talking to a sales person, the software developer and/or implementation specialist. Take advantage of the time you have with them to ask about integration, the impact on your existing processes, training, hardware requirements, implementation, migration of data, customer care, product updates and upgrades, add-on modules, and more.

Vendors may avoid discussing where product improvement is possible or needed. This information should have already revealed itself in the user chat groups and on organic product review sites, but it is nice to hear a vendor’s position.

  • Prepare your process list of must-haves and nice-to-haves. Consider the possibility a vendor does not understand your process and needs, especially if the vendor serves more than the accounting channel. It is not automatically a negative factor when a vendor serves more than one channel. It is common.

You may need assurances they understand your business processes. Prepare a list of must-haves, good-to-haves, and nice-to-haves; a features-and-functions list from every department that will use the product or service. This checklist will provide points of comparison when investigating multiple vendors.

  • Plan your booth visits. There will be hundreds of attendees walking the exhibit hall with you; prioritize your list of vendors and plan your route. Check to see if the conference app will allow you to make appointments so that you can skip the line and guarantee you get time with your top choices.

The vendor may have an assortment of employees and leadership team members at the event (sales, development, implementation or training specialists, CEO, VP, etc.). They will likely welcome meeting for morning coffee or at the event luncheon for a deeper-dive. Ask them to introduce you to a current client at the event; use coffee breaks, luncheons and social mixers to ask real users about their experience with the vendor. If the vendor is leading a session, attending the session might lend additional insight.

Looking for new technology partners to help you stay on the cutting edge? Practitioners Symposium and TECH+ Conference, one of the six conferences at AICPA ENGAGE, will be held June 12-15 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Attend virtually or in person to learn from industry experts and meet with vendors.

Leslie Garrett, PhD, Marketing Executive, Accounting Edge Marketing. Dr. Garrett is a marketing executive and industry analyst with expertise in marketing, public relations, search engine optimization, lead generation and management. She is instrumental in leading Edge’s corporate consulting and Search Engine Optimization website analytics services.

This article appeared in AICPA Insights on May 9, 2017.