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Julie Ginn
Julie Ginn
Julie Ginn is Marketing Director at Axium, a software development company specializing in accounting, project management and business development software solutions for the architectural and engineering (A/E) industry.

Training. Education. Networking.

June 17th, 2010 by Julie Ginn

Top 5 Reasons to Attend the Axium Training Workshop in Portland, Oregon, on October 21 and 22

1. Get poweful information only available here. This is the only Training Workshop offered by certified Axium trainers. It’s two days of in-depth training, education and networking you won’t find anywhere else.

2. Conquer your competition. Is your firm ready to catch the next wave of economic opportunity? Research shows that firms that invest in their capabilities during economic downturns acheive more in the long-term than their rivals.

3. Share the wealth. Learn new approaches and practices you can bring back to your firm to improve processes and limit scope creep.

4. Network. Network. Network. Share new ideas and experiences with your peers.

5. Understand Axium’s product vision and strategy. Talk with our R&D team to hear product roadmap, updates, enhancements and development plans.

Register today!

Axium Software Training Workshop

June 1st, 2010 by Julie Ginn

Spend two days with Axium experts at our hands-on software training workshop. Register today.

Is the A/E/C industry using social media?

May 13th, 2010 by Julie Ginn

Considering the conservative nature of the A/E/C industry, I’m not surprised to see it’s taking awhile for social media to catch on. It’s a big shift to get people to stop thinking of social media from an end user perspective and start thinking about how to use it for marketing and influence purposes. Do a quick Google search on your company name — how many Facebook or YouTube pages come up that aren’t related to your company? Your company could and should be owning that position on the first page of Google.

Would you like to know how you stack up against other A/E/C professionals in the social media realm? Here’s a fun poll I came across specific to our industry.

Where Does Your Mind Wander When It Wonders?

April 28th, 2010 by Julie Ginn

Turn off your monitor for a moment and close your eyes. Let your brain wander to your happy place. Are you on a beach? Playing with your dog? Travelling with your closest friend?

Where does your mind wander when it wonders?

At Axium, we want to help you get out of work sooner and to your happy place faster. So dust off your favorite vacation photos or your weekend getaway shots and submit them for Axium’s Find Your Happy Place contest. If your photo is chosen, Axium will create a personalized  View-Master reel and viewer showcasing your vacation photos.

This is for A/E firms only so enter today!

Three Things You Should Do Now to Prepare Your A/E Firm for the Economic Turnaround

March 25th, 2010 by Julie Ginn

Along with all of the recent economic doom and gloom, there have been a few small signs that the sky is not actually falling. The downturn continues to affect most of us in one way or another, and although it has definitely created hair-pulling times for the A/E industry, it does seem like a small light at the end of the tunnel is appearing.

Now that things are beginning to pick up, it’s time to start laying the ground work so your firm is in the best position when recovery arrives. So how can you begin to prepare?
1. Plan your rehiring strategy – now.

This is a great time to determine where more people will be needed when demand picks up. Firms that are prepared with updated job descriptions and a clear hiring process will have their pick of the best-of-the-best applicants who have either been laid off or delayed plans to job hop.

2. You know that business plan you wrote eons ago? Dust it off and re-write it.

Rewriting your business plan makes you sit down and think about the direction you want to take your firm. Understanding your company’s unique value proposition is the key to standing out from your competitors.

3. Monitor, measure and take action

Think about what you’ve learned from your mistakes, and how you’ll do things differently as the economy improves. In the last two years, firms have learned to squeeze every dime out of every project. Make sure you have the right people and right tools in place to continue this practice. Consider purchasing project management software to allow you to monitor and measure a project’s progress so you can quickly identify scope creep and act on it.

It’s easy to blow off these suggestions when you’re busy dealing with today’s economy and today’s problems. But keep in mind if you don’t prepare for the rebound now, you might miss one of the greatest opportunities to change your firm’s culture in the way you’ve always wanted.

How human behavior affects software implementation success

March 4th, 2010 by Julie Ginn

To a large extent, implementation success depends on human behavior. Oftentimes the real key to success lies in two critical components: the right person leading the process and an honest evaluation of a firm’s readiness for change. Every person has a different tolerance level for change, and motivation and education goes a long way to easing uncertainty and fear. If you’re looking at implementing new software, one of the most important factors you should consider is human nature.

Make sure your expectations are realistic, not idealistic
Don’t underestimate the time it’ll take to make a shift in your firm’s cultural habits and processes. At the outset of the implementation, you should consider lowering expectations to allow some time for user adoption. It’s important to keep in mind that software is a tool but it will be real humans who make it work. It’s good to pinpoint who will be your champions, and who will dig their heels in. Sometimes the best course of action is a limited roll-out before extending the software to the rest of the organization to gauge peoples’ response.

Communication, Motivation, Education
Articulating the value of new software to every person affected is key. Remember to emphasize what the firm is trying to accomplish instead of presenting a list of software features. People can relate to end goals. Take a close look at the processes in place now – which ones work and which ones should be revamped – and illustrate how new software can not only fix what’s been broken, but can make everyone’s job a little easier.

In today’s constantly evolving competitive arena, change is something that cannot be avoided if a company is going to survive. Most people do not love nor crave change. This is why it’s necessary to do an honest assessment of your people and your current culture before you begin the implementation process. In the end, it’s going to be the individual users who will determine whether or not your firm will get the most value out of a software investment and achieve the goals the change is intended to drive.

What cost is too much for winning new business?

February 8th, 2010 by Julie Ginn

When it comes to winning a project, most firms will dedicate any amount of resources necessary to ensure a victory. Highlighting past work, schmoozing new prospects and making endless cold calls all falls into one category – business development. During sluggish economic conditions, no cost seems too small to pull in the next lucrative job.

All that effort is not wasted time and money, but it does have a dollar sign attached to it. How do you determine what is the true cost of all that activity? What tactics work best for different prospects?

Living in a project-driven industry
You live in a project-driven industry and you should be determining your business development cost on a project-by-project basis. This approach will help you get a more accurate view of what is the true profitability of each job.

Most industry-specific software will offer the capability to track business development and marketing costs along with the actual costs over the life of the project. Putting that software to good use will help you determine just how successful your performance was given all of the effort you put into winning the job in the first place.

When you talk about analyzing data and reviewing trend analysis for your business development efforts then you’re going to need software that does more than track costs.

Identify star performers and successful tactics
With the economy still showing little signs of recovery, the importance of improving your business development efforts is more important than ever. What software do you use to assign project managers, identify star performers and track why you won or lost a project? How do you make sure that your efforts were worthwhile?

Five Tips for Switching Software Successfully

January 27th, 2010 by Julie Ginn

If you’ve ever been through the process of implementing new software then you may feel that the workload needed for it can be motivation to never switch programs again. The idea of such a headache has driven some companies to stick with their DOS programs to this day!

Is all this pain and worry really necessary? Is there such a thing as a smooth conversion?

At Axium we have learned that with the right guidance and preparation you can achieve conversion success without the aggravation and extended timelines. Here are some tips to make the task less overwhelming:

Tip 1: Pick key staff members to manage the process and lock down vacation time. There’s nothing worse than trying to get important information from somebody drinking margaritas in Mexico.

Tip 2: Set a deadline. Thinking that new software can be implemented in your “extra” time is one of the most common pitfalls and will draw out the process.

Tip 3: Prep your data. Thoroughness is the key for this step. Any errors or corrupt data will result in a longer process and major headaches.

Tip 4: Make training a priority… for everyone: Introduce your entire staff to your new software and teach them what specific areas they will need to know when your transition is complete.

Tip 5: Make your consultant your new best friend. Use your time with your consultant to pick his or her brain for any tips or tricks to making your conversion a smooth one.

R&D Tax Credit for A/E Firms

January 15th, 2010 by Julie Ginn

I’ve been looking around for case studies of A/E firms that have qualified for the elusive Research and Development Tax Credit as we prep for our webinar on this topic next week.

It’s been a tough haul looking for specific, proven examples because although A/E activities may qualify for the credit, the process for claiming it seems daunting. And it sounds like it’s high stakes to enter the tournament: the chance to put money back into your hands by saving or recovering tax dollars vs. the dreaded fear of triggering an audit. Worse yet, I’ve heard tales of penalties being assessed, appeals stalling out, and the denial of future use of the credit.

I’d like to hear your experiences with the credit. Have you applied for the R&D tax credit and stalled out in appeal? Did it trigger an audit? Maybe you’ve had the reverse experience and you can pinpoint a company, process or tool that helped your qualify?  Comment here and be sure to join us for Tri-Merit’s presentation next week. 

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