Author Archives: Admin

5 Steps of Project Management – Step 1 – Initiating

23 Oct 20
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Project managers divide each project into 5 steps, guiding it from conception to completion. These steps are Initiating, Planning, Executing, Controlling, and Closing.5 steps of PM - First step - Initiating

Today, we will discuss the first step, Initiating.

Initiating the Project

The project begins by choosing its goal: A building is being built; a division is being launched; a marketing campaign is being developed, etc. This goal is the Big Concept, and its completion or failure should be obvious. Use concrete and objective words to define the goal, as well as the time frame in which the project is to be completed. Avoid subjective terms, such as “improved” or “better,” or vague references, such as “in the future.” A solid example of a project goal would be “This project will see the construction of a five-story office building, with 50,000 square feet office space, in the Denver Tech area, and is to be finished by March of next year.” A weak example would be “We will create an ad campaign that will improve sales in the future.”

With the project’s goal in mind, you must address three issues, during the project initiation phase:

  • Project scope definition – Here, you must broadly define what is to be included in the project. If you are constructing a new building, is interior design to be included? Will the project be complete only once the C.O. is granted? Finer details will be finalized during the planning stage, but these high-level considerations should be established, now.
  • Project manager appointed – Now is the time to appoint the one individual who is responsible for the entire process. With whom will the ultimate buck stop? Or course, the project manager will delegate duties, as appropriate, even management of specific areas of the project, but the project manager is the one with whom the ultimate responsibility of guiding the project to completion rests.
  • Establish project milestones – Major projects need to have points along the way that help the project manager know that the project is on the right track. This can be viewed as mini projects within the overarching project. In the example of our building construction, one milestone could be to complete a geological study for the site, another might be to pour the foundation. As each of these milestones is reached, the project manager can assess if the plan is successfully progressing towards its overall goal.

With the initiating stage complete, you are able to move to the next phase, Project Planning.

AdvantEdge Training can help you learn more about successful Project Management.

Top 5 Best Practices in SharePoint

22 Oct 20

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Best practices in SharePoint

How important is it to follow best practices in SharePoint?

It can be the difference between a company that loves SharePoint and a company that hates SharePoint.

The problem is that there is next to nothing on the internet about best practices that need to be used in SharePoint. Sure, there are plenty of videos and articles that are tagged as “Best Practice.”  It turns out, though, almost all of these are really about how to use whatever functionality is demonstrated in the video or article. If you are not sure what is truly best practice in SharePoint, this can make building a great SharePoint site nearly impossible.

Best Practices from the ground up increase user adoption

In this video, we will talk about the five most important best practice areas, when building a SharePoint site.

There are more than five best practice areas. Watch for additional videos about best practices from AdvantEdge Training.

Take a SharePoint training class from AdvantEdge Training & Consulting to get your skills and site up and running smoothly.

Mailbox Shortcuts in Outlook

22 Oct 20

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Mailbox shortcuts in Excel - Image by Brigette Werner from Pixabay

Most people love shortcuts, and use them regularly for just about anything. In Outlook, a user can create shortcuts to go to various mailboxes or folders within a mailbox, with just a few easy steps. Follow the steps below to create mailbox  shortcuts in Outlook, to find your most used mailboxes, or other items, quickly:

At the bottom of your folder pane, usually on the left side, click the … to see other options available to you. Select “Shortcuts.”

Mailbox Shortcuts in Outlook - Select

Once the new pane options populate, right-click on “Shortcuts: and select “New Shortcut.”Mailbox Shortcuts in Outlook - New shotcut

A dialog box will appear, allowing you to select where you want the shortcut to take you. You are limited to items within, or linked to, Outlook. This includes items that might be linked to in SharePoint, iManage, or other data management systems, as long as these show up in your Outlook menus.Mailbox Shortcuts in Outlook - Linked to Outlook

Once you have selected the item for the shortcut, click “OK;”  your shortcut will appear in the Shortcuts folder pane.Mailbox Shortcuts in Outlook - Shortcut pane

Learn to use Outlook to better manage your work day, with a training class from AdvantEdge Training and Consulting.

Effectively Manage Remote Employees

22 Oct 20
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Manage remote employees

Quickly disappearing are the days of companies where all employees are based in one office.  In our globally shrinking competitive landscape, drivers for this change include: speed to service, less travel cost with clients being spread out, and improved customer service.   This creates challenges in company expectations of remote employees, and in effectively managing a remote workforce.

Managing remote employees can prove rewarding, liberating and fulfilling . . . or you can feel like an empty nest parent whose kids don’t stay in touch.  You can’t manage a team of remotely dispersed employees with all of the same techniques, which used in the past, for supervising a group based in the same office.  There are some specific skills and techniques you need to use as a manager to make sure you have a strong team that doesn’t feel disconnected by the miles.

Get the right skills to manage remote employees

Our online Remote Employee Management course teaches you the techniques you can employee to make sure you have a strong team, including:

  • Keeping Remote Employees on Track – Remote employees are more apt to stray off course, by focusing on what they think is important, rather than what you think is important.  Its not that they are being malicious; they can just become easily disconnected with the overall objectives of the team and company when they are teleworking.  In this module, you will learn how to keep them on the right path, by setting clear visions and expectations, so there is no confusion about how they can be a successful part of the team.
  • Increase and Don’t Delay Communication – With a virtual team, how can you make sure that they are getting the information they need without information overload? How do you insure that you are using the correct communication tools?  What is the appropriate way to communicate with a virtual team?  In this module, we will cover the different communication tools and channels to use, how to make your meetings run efficiently, and how to ensure you are engaged in accurate communication with your team, ensuring that they are getting the info they need to work just as if all in one office.
  • Building Team Strength and Developing Trust – If not managed correctly, remote and teleworking teams are really not teams.  Instead they become a bunch of individuals working alone in silos that happen to report to the same manager.   However, that doesn’t have to be the case.  If managed correctly, remote teams can be strong, closer, and work better together than those based in the same office.  In this module you will learn how to create dynamic and interactive teams that have a closely woven team community, and strong trust, with mutual respect.  You will also learn how you can insure that your communication with them is clear and credible.
  • Creating Accountability – One of the biggest company fears about a teleworking teams is that they will not be working when you can’t see them.  Unfortunately, this fear can lead to a micro-management style that gets you the opposite results of what you want.  So how can you hold your team accountable without becoming an micro-manager?  This module shows you how to empower your employees to manage themselves and how to create an accountability tracking system so YOU don’t have to be that system.
  • Coaching Remote Employees – How can you effectively coach and develop your team of virtual employees when they are not based in the same office with you?
  • Motivating Remote Employees – A team of dispersed working employees need a self-charged motivation technique.  How do you keep them excited and engaged in their work and with the team?  This module will show you techniques to create that self-charged motivation.  Also you will learn how to get your team as excited about work as they are about playing.


Take the online course, or have us come to your location for a private group training for your management team.

Keep Decimals Out of the Equation with Data Validations in Excel

22 Oct 20
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Data Validations in Excel

Using Data Validations in Excel can be very helpful, as validations make sure the data is entered correctly, and ensures all the intended functionality works according to plan. One possible validation scenario is the need for all numbers to be displayed as whole numbers. Follow these steps to ensure no decimals are included during data entry:

  1. Data Validations in Excel - Select columnsOnce your Excel workbook is open, drag-select the cells in which you want the numbers to be restricted to whole numbers.
  2. Click the Data tab on the ribbon, then in the Data Tools group, click the Data Validation command.Data Validations in Excel - Data Tools
  3. When the Data Validation dialog box appears, set the Allow section to Whole Numbers, the Data section to Greater than or Equal to, and the Minimum section to 0.Data Validations in Excel - Select Validation
  4. Once completed, click OK, and those cells will be restricted to whole numbers.
Want to learn more ways to make Excel work harder for you? Take a class in our Virtual Training Center or have us teach a group at your location.

Take a Free Skill Assessment

15 Sep 20
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skill assessment

Looking to take a class on a Microsoft Office application but not sure which level is right for you? Or maybe you are just curious how well you stack up in using an application. Take one of our Free Skill Assessments to find out! Select the application (Access, Excel, PowerPoint, Word, or SharePoint), enter your email and info, and answer 20 questions. We will immediately give you the recommended course level to take, as well as email you an answer-by-answer analysis of how you did on the assessment.

Using Word Templates

15 Sep 20
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Word Templates

When you were in school, you probably had to write according to standards set forth by the your school, such as the APA or MLA stylebooks. In Word, you can preset a template that meets those standards, and not have to remember it again. Every time you open your Word template, the document format is ready to go, waiting for you to start writing.

The nice thing about a template is that it is very hard to overwrite it, as a template will force you to do a Save As, saving your work as a Word document, rather than a template. To overwrite your template, you would need to change the file type, save the new template in the same place as the old template, and name the template you are trying to save wi8th the exact  same name as  the original template. Plus, you would still need to confirm the overwrite. It is just the opposite for a regular document, as a regular document can be overwritten just be clicking save.

To create a template, you need to first create a regular Word document with all the correct formatting. Once you have done this, follow these steps to turn it into a template:

  1. Click the File tab to go to the backstage area. Word Templates - File
  2. Click the Save As section on the left. Word Templates - Save As
  3. Click Browse. Word Templates - Browse
  4. A dialog box will appear that will allow you to name the template ans store it where it is convenient for you.
  5. Click the Save as type drop-down menu and select Word Template. Word Templates - File Type
  6. Choose where you would like to store the document and click Save.
  7. You can close the file and your template is saved.

It can be easy to think you are using a template, when you are actually mistaenky working within a regular document.  There is one sure way to know, which is to check the document icon. If it has a blue stripe across the top, it is a template; if not, it is a regular Word document.

Word Templates - Template Icon

Template Icon

Word Template - Document Icon

Regular Document Icon

Learn all the ways to make Word work harder for you by taking a training class from AdvantEdge Training.

Missing a Mouse? Use ALT

15 Sep 20
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Missing a Mouse? Use ALT - Excel


If you’ve ever had a mouse go bad in the middle of a project, you probably called IT to bring you a new mouse.  Or if this happened at home, you drove to the store to get a replacement. Regardless of where it happens, it is Murphy’s Law that it will happen at the worst possible moment. You’re desktop computer doesn’t have a finger pad and you just have a couple of things to finish, but you are stuck waiting to finish. Or are you?

Clicking the ALT key allows you to keep going! Follow the steps below to type your way through the commands need to finish your project:

  1. Once you have pressed the ALT key, letters and numbers will appear on the ribbon tabs and on your Quick Access Toolbar.Missing a Mouse? Use ALT - Excel - Press ALT
  2. If you press the correlating key on your keyboard, you will make that tab active, which will display different options for you to press. For example, if you press N, the Insert tab will become active, and the commands in that tab will have different letters or combinations of letters to press to insert that object. Missing a Mouse? Use ALT - Excel - Commands
  3. Single letters are easy, but what about commands with combined letters? You do not have to press the combination of letters at the same moment. Press the letters of the combination in order, and the command will execute. For example, pressing the key for letter S, then the key for letter L, will open the Sparkline dialog box. Missing a Mouse? Use ALT - Excel - Sparkline dialog box

If you need to backup a step, maybe because you pressed the wrong key, press the Esc key to go back one step. Missing a Mouse? Use ALT - Excel - Press Esc

Pressing Esc a few times will take you out of the functionality.

AdvantEdge Training and Consulting has Microsoft Office classes that fit your specific skill level and project needs.

The Telephone Game – Emotional Intelligence

15 Sep 20
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The Telephone Game - Emotional Intelligence

Most of us remember playing the Telephone Game at a party as children: The first player thinks of a sentence, then whispers it in into the ear of the player next to them. That person whispers what they thought they heard to the next person, and so on down the line, until the last player reveals what was whispered into their ear.  Usually, the message has dramatically changed between the message the first player thought up and the message the last player heard, often with humorous results.

What is it that makes this communication-chain game work?  Clearly, the whispering aspect has some bearing on the results of the game, but that is not the only thing that is happening. The same thing can happen when we try to communicate with others outside of the confines of the Telephone Game.

So what factors are at play that can cause our efforts at communication go so awry?

The Telephone Game - Emotional Intelligence - Misinterpretation factors

The Real Life Telephone Game

When we communicate with another person, the message they receive is based on much more than just the words we choose. Studies show that less than 10% of our message is conveyed by the actual words. Body movements and the expressions on our faces communicate more than half of the meaning the listener receives, and around 40% is conveyed by our tone of voice.

If something outside of our intended message influences our voice, posture, or facial expressions, it is easy to see that what we meant to say can get lost in translation. For example, if a speaker is in pain, or feeling unwell, it can come across to their listener as though they are angry or impatient with the conversation. Our mood, or our feelings about the listener, can alter the tone of our voice, as well as our expressions or body posture, altering how the listener understands our message. Even something as simple as sitting with your arms crossed can give the impression of being defensive.

Many things beyond those physical attributes can cause your misunderstanding. How the listener feels about the speaker can also influence whether they interpret a message more positively or negatively. Even the listener’s mood can bias their interpretation of what is said to them.

In a recent article, we discussed how word choice can be interpreted differently by different people. Our experiences with particular words or phrases can easily stymie effective communication. One example many people can relate to is the phrase, “We need to talk.” Those four words can send shafts of terror through the hearts of anyone who has heard that before they receive very bad news. A speaker may mean it in the most innocent or positive way, but a listener who has heard that phrase prior to being dumped by a partner, or punished by an angry parent, is not going to be able to put aside those experiences to listen with a completely unbiased mind.

Getting It Right

How can we make sure our real life version of the Telephone Game gets us closer to getting our intended message across the line? We cannot control the listener’s mood, or their past associations, but there are some techniques to help minimize misinterpretations:

  •  Avoid important conversations when we are feeling agitated, distracted, or highly emotional.
  • Try to keep our nonverbal cues (body posture, tone of voice, facial expressions) consistent with the message we intend to convey.
  •  Be attentive. Actively listening when another speaks, and giving them nonverbal signs (like maintaining eye contact and an open body posture) encourages the listener to be attentive and open to your message.
  •  Keep an open mind. When you jump to conclusions, even if you do not verbally express them, those thoughts are often betrayed on your face, and can steer the conversation in an unintended direction.
  •  If you know your listener has negative associations with certain words or phrases, avoid using them.
  •  If you observe that what you are saying is missing the mark, own it. Do not blame the other for misinterpreting, as that will just increase defensiveness. Say something like, “That didn’t sound right. Let me try that again.”

Effective communication is about how well you get your idea across.  If the message is being misinterpreted, it is your job to take a step back, figure out where things went wrong, and then try to make them right. After all, it isn’t the fault of the last player in the line of the Telephone Game if he hears “The Pope wears stinking pomade,” after “I hope we’re drinking Kool-Aid,” has filtered through 12 whispering people. The message went wrong somewhere up the line; blame won’t make the message any clearer.

Get the Skills

Want to make sure your conversations don’t turn into the Telephone Game? AdvantEdge Training can help:

  • AETC’sEmotional Intelligence training course will teach you how to influence and direct your emotional states, and better understand others’ emotions, with an eye toward anticipating and influencing their behaviors. Our EI classes will help you develop the skills to be more effective in communication, manage conflicts better, and find more common ground in your interactions.
  •  Effective Business Communication teaches the skills needed to be more effective in your conversations, so that your interactions with others can be more productive, and yield more positive outcomes.

Recorded vs Coded Macros

15 Sep 20
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Recorded Macros vs. Coded Macros

In the world of Microsoft, macros are the way many users automate various steps of their daily processes. There are two basic types of macros, recorded and coded. Recorded macros are what most users are familiar with. as they are simple to create and simple to use.  Coded macros are less common, as require knowledge of Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). Recorded macros tend to be more forgiving than coded ones, especially since one character out of place in a coded macro will render the whole macro useless.

Check out this video on creating recorded macros and coded macros, and some of the differences between the two:

Get the skills you need to automate your work day with AdvantEdge Training’s Excel classes , or VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) training courses