Monday, March 16, 2009

Online Tools for Business Managers

Entering the world of business has been a huge change for me over the past six months, and I'm learning more than ever before, particularly about being a manager. Along the way, I've found a number of tools and resources that have been very helpful to me, and today I'd like to pass on some recommendations:

Mind Tools

This site features a number of articles and tools for managers, but is also a wealth of information for junior staff who want to learn about how to advance into management. The latest free newsletter featured a great overview of how to write reports, and standardize reporting within your department. The range of subjects covers everything from flow charts to time management. You can download e-books and white papers from the site as well.

Demand Metric

Do you want to plan an event, but don't know where to start? Are you looking for a template on how to write a case study for business development? Or perhaps you are simply trying to find a way to compare the talents and qualifications of multiple job applicants. If you can measure it or put it in a report, there is a template for it in Demand Metric. This site provides Word and Excel templates for tracking just about anything, or writing many business communications, like press releases. Some are free with basic registration (name, company, email), but to access everything you need a paid subscription. It's quite pricey, but if your company can afford it, I would go for it. Otherwise, the free tools are great all on their own.

Aberdeen Group

If you're in marketing, the Aberdeen Group has a number of reports and white papers available for use. AG is a market research firm, specializing in technology use. If you don't know how Web 2.0 and social media work, you can find plenty of resources here. There's also a lot of information on how to use social media and techonology to effectively market your company's brand.

Dilbert

Go ahead and laugh, but I use Dilbert as a "how not to do things" guide to management. Reading the antics of Pointy Haired Boss is a great way to see the worst way to do anything. For every stupid thing that happens in Dilbert's cubeville, I take a moment to think about how the problem could be solved in real life. Or better still, I try to think about how a problem in my life would appear in Dilbert. It helps to put a lot of things in perspective, which is truly useful in problem solving. Also, Dilbert is just funny, and who wouldn't like to spend time reading the comics?

Management tools come in many forms, and I like a mix of real books and online tools. Please feel free to share any other great sites you know of in the comments.

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