Save yourself from Rental Scams

Nowadays there are a lot of houses for rent on the market. This is definitely a trend that is here to stay and can be beneficial for both landlord and tenant. However, unlike apartment buildings and complexes, rental houses may not be managed by a property manager.

Rental properties that are not managed by professionals are much more likely to be the target of rental scams. Here are some precautions that every potential renter should take, for every rental property they are thinking about renting:

  • The website where you find the property should have multiple photos, inside and outside. Inquire about the property and ask about something you can’t see in one of the photos.
  • The website where you find the property should have details about all the amenities. Look at the list and make sure the attractions mentioned are actually nearby – within walking distance if that’s what they say they are.
  • The webiste should have an exact address, not just an area circled on a map. Move on to another property if you can’t get the exact house address.
  • You should be able to set up an appointment for a walkthrough. Do not sign anything or make any payments until after the walkthrough.
  • You should be asked to provide information about yourself to be screened as a potential tenant. If you are not asked for your information at all or if you are asked for your information prior to a requested walkthrough, move on to another property.
  • You should be asked to sign a lease, but you should not be asked to sign or pay anything before seeing the property. If any kind of payment is requested before you have signed a lease and received keys (that actually open a door to the property) move on to another property.
  • Pay attention to the following warning signs: if the person asking for the intial rent or a deposit is out of the state or country; if the rent requested is too cheap for the area where the property is located; and/or if you are asked to wire a deposit or rental amount. These are all potential signs that the person asking for money does not own or manage the property.
  • Don’t be pressured. Scammers favorite tool is to try to make you act without thinking something through. Whether there is a time limit or not, you should thoroughly research the property – and if you don’t have time, move on to something else.
  • Know the owner – check real estate, property management, and tax assessor’s records to make sure that the person you are dealing with is the legitimate owner of the property.

Finally, if at any time during the process you feel uneasy or doubt what you are being told is true, move on. There are a lot of scammers pretending to be owners as soon as a house is placed on the market because more often than not, they get away with it! If no one was fooled, the number of scammers would drop significantly. Don’t be a statistic.

SharePoint and Project Management

We’ve had several questions in recent months about the capabilities of SharePoint for project management. By design, SharePoint is a collaboration tool and therefore lends itself naturally for team members to collaborate on a project or several projects with great clarity. The latest version of SharePoint as a project management tool is an excellent choice.

Office 365 (O365) and SharePoint combine for an even more powerful tool. Since the number of O365 companies is growing every day, it is easier than ever to take advantage of the great features below to facilitate project management.

Home Page

Your project home page can easily deliver dashboards for the team to quickly gauge how the project is doing. Your dashboard can include things like summary of work, goals, statuses, etc. This visual can be delivered in several ways, including Power BI. If you create the report to feed the dashboard with Power BI it is easy to deploy with the Power BI web-part that is native to SharePoint.

Your home page can also be built to deliver project specific news, issue tracking, etc.

Further, you can display links to common project functions in the Quick Launch menu along the left-hand side of the screen. This makes navigation clear and simple for your end users. Some suggested areas for Quick Launch might be:

  • Project Help
  • Goals
  • Contacts
  • Plan with task update capability
  • Documents
  • Risk tracking
  • Issue tracking
  • Metrics
  • Status reporting
  • Project close items such as “lessons learned”
  • Project surveys

Project Tasks

You can use an out-of-the-box task list to include dates, assignees, items, etc. This is very functional and easy for your team members to learn to update.

Better yet, you can build your project plan in Microsoft Project and then sync that plan to the SharePoint Tasks list. This would mean you only need one license of MS Project to build the plan. Then, all the remaining team members can update using their SharePoint license. This makes it very cost effective for companies and again, requires minimal training for the team. Or vice versa, you can create your task list in SharePoint and then say, “open with MS Project.” When team members make updates in MS Project their changes will be saved back to the SharePoint list for everyone’s use.

Workflows

Don’t forget about SharePoint Workflows to further streamline your project tasks. These could be used for things such as routing documents for approval or status of issues being tracked. You can use the out-of-the-box workflows or create your own. Workflows can help take the randomness out of your routine project tasks.

If the standard Workflow structure in SharePoint is not your cup of tea, you can always use SharePoint Designer or Microsoft Flow. SharePoint Designer is not for the newbie. You will need to understand some of the coding and syntax. On the other hand, Microsoft Flow has an easy graphical user interface that makes building workflows much easier for the average user. Flow is included with most versions of O365 license. They can’t make this any easier.

Templates

Rinse, repeat! Yes, once you get your SharePoint project management site the way you like it, you can save it as a template. Now it can be consistently applied to each of your projects. The same look and feel will make it efficient for Administrators and End Users alike. And of course, each project can have its own security setup.

Conclusion

The folks at Microsoft have made several updates in recent years to make using SharePoint for project management not only feasible but also a first-rate choice, especially for O365 users. MS Project and SharePoint compliment each other, allowing for better flexibility while saving both time and money.

Tech still not on minds of many CEOs, survey shows

The commercial construction industry has been notoriously slow to adopt new technology, and the results of a survey by Vistage shows that respondents will likely continue in that vein in the coming year.

Despite construction and engineering managers’ reluctance to incorporate new, digital tools in their workflows, venture capitalists recognize that construction technology will inevitably change the market and have therefore been pumping billions of dollars into…

Read more at ConstructionDive.com and get the Vistage Q2 2018 CEO Confidence Index for Construction.

Get the Vistage Q2 2018 CEO Confidence Index (not specific to Construction) and more surveys on the Vistage Research Center website.

 

Personality Analysis Tools…by Amy McNeeley

My first foray into the personality analysis arena was 18 years ago. I worked for an ERP software company at the time and the post-Y2K hangover was on the horizon for my industry. Rightsizing, restructuring, and lean were the daily buzzwords around the office.  In effort to assist management in keeping not only their best players, but also creating optimized teams, we were all put through a series of personality tests.  Although, a bit annoyed by the “mouse in the maze” feeling, I confess that I was impressed with the accuracy of the results. And, let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to see the results of their own personality test? It’s like peeking into a window of ourselves.

So why does this matter in our present day? Because building better, faster, and stronger teams through work style diversity makes a significant impact on our bottom lines. Too often when we think of diversity we think only of race, gender, or gender identity, but we ignore the most impactful diversity of all – the diversity of personality. While race, gender, etc. are characteristics that impact who we are, they do not define us or what we bring to the table.    Our personality traits ultimately are what determines how we interact with others and how each individual contributes to the team or to a engagement.

For example, if you put three dominant people (Team A) on one project and three steady individuals (Team B) on another, it’s very likely Team A will finish first, but Team B will deliver a much more solid result. Additionally, Team A is likely to have personality clashes, while Team B struggles with decision making. A blending of these two teams would yield the optimum result of a solid product, delivered on time with less conflict and little to no “analysis paralysis”.  Most of this know this, but aren’t sure how to get there. The result?  A comeback of personality profiling as a hiring and/or customer engagement tool.

Being the information junkie that I am, I had to check out what the wonderful world of technology has brought to us in this arena since I last dipped my toes in these waters. I’ll skip the painful encounters and share with you the three that stand out most from their counterparts.

CrystalKnows.com

  • Uses the DiSC Profile methodology
  • Free Version gives quite a bit of information in the resulting personality profile. Great if you would like to run the tests for your internal resources, depending upon staff size.
  • Fee based services include options for crawling through LinkedIn and Gmail to analyze your contacts, and can integrate with some CRMs. Pulling information from email, social media, and websites, this version gives a high level of insight on how to most effectively communicate with the person.  This is particularly helpful if you are trying to analyze the personality traits of potential and existing customers.

I like CrystalKnows.com because:  Best tool available for analyzing using social media and website information rather than requiring the subject to take a test (not realistic for customers) and because the tool analyzes the customer (or employee’s) own communication to determine how they prefer to communicate. 

Gallup StrengthsFinder (CliftonStrengths)

  • Bring a snack – it’s a 177-question assessment
  • No free version
  • Good for analyzing potential employees, but no functionality to analyze and provide information on your client base
  • Additional services, such as coaching and books are available.

I like CliftonStrengths because:  The assessment includes details on how to develop individual strengths and provides 34 personality indicators. 

Myers-Briggs Personality Assessment

  • Online or paper tests available
  • Consulting and training services available
  • Analyzing 16 personality types
  • Strong reputation as one of the most reliable tests
  • No free version available
  • Good for analyzing potential employees, but no functionality to analyze and provide information on your client base

I like Myers-Briggs because:  Myers-Briggs has been around for several decades and has a proven track record as an effective assessment tool.

Whether you’re evaluating a potential job candidate or trying to identify the best way to engage your customer at an individual level, the need to know preferred behaviors, and subsequently guide interactions, is stronger than ever.   Whatever direction you go, don’t miss the opportunity to leverage technology options when trying to build a diverse, successful team or when building lifelong relationships with your customers.

Have a favorite personality profiling or online presence analysis tool?  Drop me a line and let me know all about it at amy@hmscs.com.