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Download: Team Generator

The problem with choosing teams with no real system is that it can sometimes result in the problems of (1) taking too long to pick teams eating into game-time and (2) the teams not being fair as a result of mismatched player ability in teams, resulting in potentially one-sided games, which is never fun, especially for the losing team.

I’ve created a calculator that enables you to create fair teams based on player ability broken down by (1) skill and (2) stamina. The tool is limited to five-a-side and seven-a-side games; please update if you need more players added, otherwise drop me a line and I would be happy to help. Once downloaded you will need to ‘Enable Macros’ when prompted.

Just use this before the game and send the teams out to all the players in the group chat prior to the game.

You may not want to make this a public document for obvious reasons.

Blank Team Generator

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Here’s How you Identify & Manage Stakeholders

One of the most important elements to successful project delivery is, Stakeholder Management; stakeholder management is the management of all parties that have an interest or stake in a project, ranging from, the people responsible for the project; subject matter experts; key decision makers; the do-ers, to the end users.

Effective stakeholder management can either make your job really easy or really hard; the better you are at stakeholder management and managing people’s expectations, requirements, input and perceptions, the more value you will get from your dealings and interactions with your project stakeholders.

Below I highlight effective and well-established ways of identifying; analysing and managing stakeholders.

Identifying Stakeholders

If your role includes working in ambiguous project environments, with uncertainty or you are charged with delivering a project that is at its very early stages, identifying stakeholders is a high priority task. Some of the ways in which they can be identified is by first of all consulting with the individuals responsible for the sponsorship of the project, which one would assume would hold some basic or detailed knowledge around who the individuals or teams that may be affected by the project.

Although this is certainly a good starting point, it would also be value-adding to review project documentation produced to highlight the scope, benefits and value of the project, as these documents such as the ‘Project Initiation Document’ or ‘Charter’ will highlight the direction for the project, individuals/teams impacted and much more, which will give you good indication and direction on the people/teams/departments you may want to consider.

The project may be closely interlinked with other already established business processes, which may be owned by related stakeholders who would be a good source for information on interested parties.

You may want to reach out to core departments such as ‘Legal’; ‘Risk’; ‘Compliance’; ‘Customer Experience’ and other related teams if available to simply ask if they would need to have an input on the project; you may need to send them project documentation; it will typically be common knowledge however if you need to get certain teams involved.

Stakeholder Analysis

Based on the above activities, it may be that you’ve now generated a list of thirty stakeholders that need to be considered as part of your project. Sometimes stakeholder lists, depending on the size of organisation you’re working with can grow to be quite big, so it is imperative that we employ a sustainable system that (1) enables the project team to understand stakeholder input/requirements/involvement etc, as expecting the project team to remember who’s-who in their head is of course unsustainable; (2) allows us to individually mark who requires what level of updates and involvement, as they are two important items, that are independent of each other.

Interest/Influence Analysis

The first part is to understand from your list, which stakeholders wield high levels of ‘Influence’ and high levels of ‘Interest’. Lucky for us, there’s a simple matrix that’s typically employed to understand where people on your stakeholder sit as follows:

The matrix below brings to your attention four quadrants that should all be managed accordingly:

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‘High Power; Low Interest’: Little level of updates/input required, if any. The people in this group are considered to be passive, but may become more actively involved depending on interest and move in appropriate quadrant.
‘High Power; High Interest’: Should be kept informed throughout, as typically decision makers or high impact influencers.
‘Low Power; Low Interest’: Need little monitoring, as stakeholders are not interested, however may benefit from the odd periodical update.
‘Low Power; High Interest’: Should be kept informed of project activity, as may be able to influence powerful stakeholders.

With this information and your better understanding on the impact of individual stakeholders, it’s important to set up a Stakeholder Register/List and classify each stakeholder based on the results from (1) your influence/interest matrix and (2) knowledge on the level of input the stakeholders will have. I’ll talk about the register further.

RACI Classification

RACI classification is system used to understand the what involvement, responsibility and/or accountability stakeholders have for project tasks/deliverables/updates etc. The RACI system is broken down as follows:

  • Responsible (for): The “do-er” who is responsible for delivering the item in question.
  • Accountable: This is the person who “owns” the project/task/activity who the buck ends with, who has responsibility for the activity/project/task at hand. This can also be stakeholders with decision-making abilities.
  • Consult (with): This is a person who will have an input on the project, which could include a Subject Matter Expert; end-user or decision maker
  • Inform: These are individuals who you are to keep informed of project/task/activity progress, who may be impacted by the project, mainly end-users or low power; high interest stakeholders.

A stakeholder can belong to more than one classification, however, be warned, this can get a little messy if you’re filtering with Excel, which we’ll talk about later. May be easier if you’re using a software package.

Nonetheless, this approach to classification will make it easy for the project team to identify individuals who need to be updated according to the stakeholder management strategy.

Stakeholder Management

Here’s where you set the tools up to effectively manage your stakeholders. There are two key elements to effective management; they include (1) a coherent and useful Stakeholder Register and (2) Stakeholder Management Strategy.

Stakeholder Register

This is the register that will list all of your stakeholders with respective RACI classification, along with any further information or insight in to that particular stakeholder. This typically works best as an Excel spreadsheet, with filtering capabilities. The spreadsheet may have the following headings for columns:

  • Name
  • Department
  • Title
  • Role on Project
  • Expectations
  • Level of Interest
  • Level of Influence
  • Involvement (Level of)
  • RACI Classification
  • Date Added
  • Sign-off Required
  • [Deliverable #1] Signed-off (if required)
  • [Deliverable #2] Signed-off (if required)
  • [Deliverable #[…]] Signed-off (if required)

You can download a template I’ve put together for you here.

Stakeholder Strategy

The stakeholder strategy will inform the project team on the level of detail of updates; frequency; who will be responsible for updates; detail of any walk-throughs to be delivered; when they will be delivered e.g. before sign-off requests; what to do if stakeholders are non-responsive, which will happen! And any other detail around the complete process of managing stakeholders.

Naturally, keeping all of this information in a centralised location and incorporating updates, deliverable releases etc in to your project calendar would be useful, as related tasks like this will ensure the correct stakeholders receive the correct information at the right time. It is also equally as important to maintain strict professional, based on a friendly, courteous and respectful approach, ultimately resulting in sustained relationships over the long-term that goes beyond the project. Remember, you may be working with the same stakeholder in the future and it is extremely important to maintain credibility, a quality reputation and good relationships for subsequent projects.

Not forgetting soft skills as part of your stakeholder management, the book, ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People‘ is certainly a must read. It drives the idea of emotional intelligence and has great techniques in how to get more value out of your relationships. Soft skills are an essential skill to a good stakeholder manager and developing these soft skills, by reading such books, or further learning, will certainly add value to your project delivery skills.

Good luck with managing your stakeholders.

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DOWNLOAD: Net Present Value Investment Appraisal

Ever find yourself in a situation where you have to make an investment decision? Either setting up a new business,  investing in a property or pondering a project within your business? The decision can, sometimes, be a tough one if we don’t have the necessary tools in our toolbox to help us make a good decision.

The Net Present Value calculation is a technique that helps us to make better decisions based on more variables that go beyond other investment appraisal techniques. It is probably one of the most widely used techniques in professional investment appraisal. It is used when you are looking to understand if a project is viable or not. It tells us the profit generated by the project and if whether it exceeds the initial investment, taking into consideration the term in which you need your money back by and any discounts you need to apply to that income such as costs, interest or required rates of return etc.

The NPV is the difference between the cash inflows and cash outflows, discounted by a rate that the future inflows will be subject to, therefore bringing all income to today’s terms or “present value”.

The tool includes the following variables, which you need to know in order complete the calculation:

  • Investment Amount
  • Project Term in Years
  • Discount Rate
  • Cash Outflow/Investment Required
  • Forecast Cash Inflows for Project Term

The way you know if whether a project is viable or not is from the output of the calculation. The NPV will calculate your result in monetary terms, that will either be more than £0 or less than £0. If it is less than £0 over the project term, then you should not progress with the project. Where however the result is a positive figure that is above £0, then the project, in theory, is positive and therefore, cashflow positive and able to pay off liabilities such as costs and return you initial investment.

I’ve created a calculator for some projects I am working on and have made it available for you to download here.

The calculator is limited to a project term of five years, as most forecasting is just guess work after that.

If you would like to level up your NPV game, you can read my blog post here about calculating your discount factor or ‘WACC’ – Weighted Average Cost of Capital.

Hope it’s useful. If you would like the calculator tailored, please email me and I’ll be happy to help.

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DOWNLOAD: Mortgage Calculator

If you’re buying a house to live in or a buy-to-let and need to understand monthly mortgage costs, you can download my mortgage calculator below.

The calculator offers you insight in to your ‘Interest Only’ and ‘Repayment’ monthly payments, taking in to consideration loan-to-value rate, arrangement fee rate, interest rate and term, which are all customisable.

Hopefully this will give you better insight in to how much your mortgage will cost you and/or how changing interest rates, term, arrangement fee and LTV will affect your mortgage payments.

The calculator is completely customisable and I’ve made it easy to know where to change what by highlighting changeable cells to green.

There are various websites that help you to calculate mortgage costs on a month-to-month basis, however I didn’t find them very flexible in terms of including arrangement fees, changing loan-to-value proportions and changing interest rate levels. I also really wanted to compare and do a bit of analysis around changing rates, which this calculator helps me to understand.

Download here.

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DOWNLOAD: How to Better Manage Your Business Finances and Make Better Decisions

The better management and review of your sales and costs data can be a powerful way for you to gain unique insight in to your business, to help you in making better financial and strategic decisions on maximising profit.

This unique information can give you knowledge on if whether your current and historical decisions are moving your business towards your ultimate business objectives, such as increasing profit by x%, or reducing costs. This real-time information on your financial position will help you in making better future decisions that will support you in meeting your business objectives.

Controlling risk is key and that is exactly what this simple log I have created helps you to do. It does this by recording every sale, with associated details and every cost/expense with associated details. It then uses the simple formula as below to calculate your gross profit. 

  • Profit = Revenue – Costs

Your Gross Profit is outlined in the Sales tab and incorporates sales, costs and forecasted costs.

It’s an editable Excel spreadsheet and you are able to add or delete columns as you wish, but if you think the log needs more, then drop me a message. I’m continuously reviewing my posts and would be very pleased if you did this.

I can tell you with confidence that this system has helped me to better manage my business, by equipping me with the information in an accessible format that is functional, instead of my old folder full of receipts and invoices, that I had to search through and manage manually, which was a serious headache; you probably know the feeling. By treating this log as a live document, keeping it regularly up-to-date, some of the reasons it has come in handy are as follows:

  1. Real-time Information on how much my profit is relative to my sales and costs
  2. When it comes to completing my Tax Return, I don’t have to dig out all of my receipts at the end of the year and struggle to read them through the degradation of quality of my receipts.
  3. I also know that for every transaction listed in the calculator, I will either have or not have a corresponding receipt.
  4. It allows me to search through my transactions i.e. I don’t have to manually search through my receipt file for a transaction – I can search by any field of a record.
  5. It acts as a reference point for future expenses; If I want to go back to remember how much I spent on a drill in 2009 for example, I can do this very easily by using the CTRL+F search functionality.
  6. It records all details related to all transactions, with notes. If I have something I want to remember later on, I can simply write it in the notes section. I will also have information on how the customer paid, what date they paid and more.
  7. I can see who my main customers are. By using the sort functionality in the spreadsheets, I can sort by customer and with a simple calculation, work out their average spend with me.
  8. It helps me to model scenarios – I sometimes put it sales figures that I would like to achieve and see how this affects my profit; I do the same for costs too.

The log helps me in making strategic decisions ranging from reducing my spend on expenses or giving me important information on who my main customers are, to allow me to concentrate on them; we all know the 80/20 rule, right? It gives me knowledge on performance and what services of mine are most popular; this information allows me to develop ancillary services that relate to the popular services. 

It’s best to use this log as a live document you keep up-to-date on a regular basis. It may takes couple of uses to get used to inputting data, but once you’re in the flow of things, you won’t be able to live without it.

You can download it from here.

Take some time in getting to know the spreadsheet before using it. There are some example entries in the spreadsheet, which you can delete. 

Have fun in managing a better business.

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DOWNLOAD: Now This Is How You Manage Your Time

I was on the search for better ways to manage my time the other day. I read about the Eisenhower Matrix in this book. President Eisenhower was admired for his time management skills.

I liked it, so I created a tool based on the matrix; the tool allows me to better manage my time incorporating dates, the below quadrants, notes and more. You can sort items by quadrant, date, requested by and more. I now use it for work, business and personal life – I have three tabs at the bottom of the same sheet for all different things and I tell you, it’s made a difference.

My tool named, ‘Eisenhower Time Management Tool’ can be downloaded Here.

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DOWNLOAD: My Approach to Investing in Shares is Better than Yours

I never knew what shares to invest in once it comes time for me to invest. I found myself stumbling from site to site and asking people I consider knowledgeable for their recommendations. The problem with this is that, I am making my investment decisions based on other peoples investment objectives. So I decided that I needed to come up with a way that allows me to buy shares based on my own, personal objectives.

They are:

  • Must be strong companies
  • Have a good dividend returns
  • Have low levels of risk (volatility) for a certain percentage of portfolio
  • Good potential for longer term growth (buy and hold)
  • Value for money

With these objectives, I put a calculator together that helps me decide on which shares to buy, based on my objectives. The above objectives are what the calculator will help me to achieve; there are others like diversification of risk and industry and others, but I’ll talk about them in another post.

Process: Once I put the calculator together, I input share prices with associated dividends and betas and sorted in to ‘Descending’ order. The shares at the top of the list offered most value, so I bought those shares. Simple right?

My calculator appropriately named, ‘Which Share To Buy Calculator’ can be downloaded here.

Aside from the calculator, please do your own research; I cannot be held responsible for your buying decisions!

Further instructions can be found in the calculator.