Roger Swannell

Three tricks with Microsoft Planner


There is no search. But you can filter by keywords to get what are effectively search results. Filtering is a better approach than searching as it also enables you to filter by when a card is due, who it’s assigned to, and which bucket it’s in.


Planner provides an iCal feed which can be pulled into an Outlook calendar to show as Meeting items. So, if you like using Outlook to manage your time and tasks, you can use this feed to show cards based on their start and due dates. And if the items in Outlook could be coloured (perhaps by bucket or label), then the Outlook calendar would start to be a bit roadmap-y.

Checklist items into cards

Items in a checklist can be promoted to cards by clicking on the up arrow that shows when you hover over the checklist item. The card is created in the same bucket as the card with the checklist but has no associated attributes such as due date, status or assignee.  An improvement on this might be being able to choose to copy and/or set the attributes from the parent card when promoting the checklist item rather than having to go into the card after it has been created.

What skills does an Ecommerce Manager need?

I saw a blog article that said Ecommerce Managers need skills in user experience, prioritisation, brand & marketing, personnel management, and project management.

Ecommerce seems to often be thought of as just about running an ecommerce  website, but I’ve never had an ecommerce role that was solely focused on the website so I’d also add:

  • Strategy.
  • Stakeholder management.
  • Supplier management.
  • Agency management.
  • Legal and compliance.
  • Contract negotiation.
  • Logistics.
  • Warehouse management.
  • Customer Services.
  • Budget management and financial planning.
  • Marketing, including email, social, advertising, content.
  • Commercial planning.
  • Analytics.
  • Data Protection.
  • Reporting.
  • Product development.
  • Buying and merchandising.
  • Order process management.
  • Technical.

Weekly update 89

Last week’s update…

What happened this week…

  • Discussed Ecommerce finance reporting.
  • Completed online shop redesign brief and set deadlines for the design work.
  • Reviewed Freshdesk for Retail Customer Services.
  • Worked on the Selling Defibrillators Project Plan.
  • Researched top Fascinator search terms.
  • Enhanced Fascinator listings on Amazon.
  • Implemented Extended Validation SSL Certificate on the Online Shop.
  • Worked on the current Order Management processes.
  • Added new Fascinators to the Online Shop
  • Added new Cards to the Online Shop

Read this week…

Doing next week…

  • Discussing expanding the range of products available on the Online Shop.
  • Visiting Sue Ryder’s warehouse.
  • Working on the online shop redesign.
  • Improving product pages on the Online Shop.
  • Discussing the proposition for selling Defibrillators.
  • Discussing the Magento License with the Procurement Team.
  • Scrum training.
  • Looking for new PR opportunities for the wedding favours.

Interesting stat of the week…

  • Comparing Goals Completions (Placing an order or signing up for an account) over January to March for the last four years, they decreased 41% between 2015 and 2016, increased by 6% between 2016 and 2017, and increased 24% between 2017 and 2018.

In the not too distant future….

  • Logistics process documentation (don’t get too excited).

More scrum versus whatever it is that we do

You iterate, we evolve.
You work in fixed time boxes, we let each thing grow at it’s own rate.
You have a definition of done, we try never to finish anything.
You burn down work you’ve done, we stack up things we’ve achieved.

Continuous improvement throughout the whole process

Washing up has five stages:

1. Eating on clean plates
2. Stacking dirty plates next to the sink
3. Washing the plates
4. Stacking clean plates on the draining board for drying
5. Putting away the clean plates

At stage 5, putting away the clean plates effectively depends on how the plates are stacked for drying. If all of the same types of items are placed together then it’s easier to put them away without having to go through an in-between stage of sorting them. These in-between stages activities that creep in appear to be adding to the efficiency but don’t actually tackle the underlying issues that are causing the inefficiency.

At stage 4, stacking the clean plates on the draining board in the right way depends on how you wash them. Efficiency can be improved within the stage to ensure the items dry quickly, such as stacking saucepans upside down with larger ones on top of smaller ones to save space, but just gaining efficiency within the stage could lead to less efficiency across the entire process so its important to take feedback from outside the stage.

At stage 3, washing the plates in the most efficient way depends on how they were stacked before washing. If all the plates will be washed together then they should be stacked together. And groups of items should be washed in a particular order, with cleaner items washed before dirtier items to maximise the cleanliness of the water.

And at stage 2, stacking dirty plates next to the sink and making them ready for washing depends on knowing how they are going to be washed at stage 3. So, sharp knives are kept separate for safety, plates are cleared and rinsed, and types of items are stacked together.

Processes can only be efficient as a whole if each part of the process is efficient. If one part doesn’t receive feedback from the other parts it can be organised efficiently for itself but reduce efficiency across the whole system.

Weekly update 88

Last week’s update…

What happened this week…

  • Began analysing new products for the Online Shop.
  • Planned Pin Badges stock for the year.
  • Agreed Clothing range rebuys.
  • Began developing new products for the supporter range.
  • Reviewed UX designs for the new online shop and brief the new designer.
  • Prepared data for an Online Shop Review meeting.
  • Documented current order management processes.
  • Improved the Everyday Cards category pages.
  • Discussed the proposition for selling Defibrillators.
  • Spoke to Magento about the Commerce License.
  • Spoke to Amazon about Sponsored Products optimisation.
  • Discussed Freshdesk with the People Services Digital Product Manager.
  • Discussed the new Ecommerce account in Dotmailer.
  • Went to the Quarterly Online Shop Product Roadmap Planning meeting.

Read this week…

Doing next week…

  • Reviewing the Ecommerce P & L with the Finance Team.
  • Making clothing promo on the website live.Improving Amazon Sponsored Product ads.
  • Developing a range plan for proposed supporter range.
  • Launching the new Running Shorts.
  • Working on the website redesign project.
  • Improving category and product pages across the Online Shop.
  • Discussing current operational processes.
  • Reviewing future operational processes.

Interesting stat of the week…

  • Over the last year, the BHF website provided 64.4% of users to the Online Shop, 48.9% of the revenue, and had a conversion rate of 2.03%. The next best performing source of traffic was organic from Google with 12.8% of users, 17.5% or revenue, and a conversion rate 4.06%.

In the not too distant future….

  • New customer email templates.

Don’t assume the experts know everything they need to know

Bring in the expert

I’ve been involved in a few projects where an expert in a particular field was tasked with working on an aspect of the project. It was assumed that as they were experts that they should be able to figure what is required and come up with the best solution. Invariably they don’t. Being experts doesn’t make them mind readers.

Tabla Rasa doesn’t work.

There is no such thing as a blank slate. Briefing is important. Providing background and contextual information helps the expert to see where their contributions fit in, working in isolation with the barest of facts may seem like it helps the expert focus but it makes the work harder and means the results won’t be what was expected.

Self-organising shouldn’t mean isolated

With Agile adoption came the idea of self-organising teams that could be given a piece of a project and then left to figure out the best way to deliver that piece. The downside of taking this approach too far is that the teams of experts aren’t involved enough with the other aspects of the project, they work in isolation, and produce out-of-context and sometimes unusable results.

Weekly Update 87

Last week’s update…

What happened this week…

  • Set up Microsoft Planner for Ecommerce Projects.
  • Wrote Stock Adjustments logic tests.
  • Reviewed advertising campaigns.
  • Started an Amazon Advertising campaign for Fascinators.
  • Worked on the brief for UX designs for the new Online Shop.
  • Gathered Range Plans to begin planning for adding more products to the Online Shop.
  • Reviewed the proposed interfaces between AX and Magento.
  • Discussed plans for Everyday cards and Christmas cards on the Online Shop.
  • Analysed Ecommerce business performance over the last finance year.
  • Planned department targets for this financial year.
  • New Hoodies and Jogging Bottoms stock arrived.
  • Discussed future plans for the Online Shop at the Quarterly Online Shop Product meeting.
  • Discussed how to fix the email forwarding issue in Freshdesk.

Read this week…

Doing next week…

  • Discussing the new Supporter products range.
  • Working on more detailed requirements for Magento 2.
  • Discussing plans for Pin Badges over the next year.
  • Completing data journey mapping for defibrillator customers.
  • Meeting the new UX Designer and discussing the new Online Shop.
  • Discussing the proposition and marketing for fefibrillators.
  • Discussing clothing rebuys.

Interesting stat of the week…

  • Last year we sold 646 different products, and the top ten best selling products provided 43% of our income.

In the not too distant future….

  • A much broader range of products on the Online Shop.

The removal of digital

I read Robert Green’s blog post about digital getting out of the way for fundraising and not using the term ‘digital’ in team names.

It reminded me something an old manager of mine said, “One day, having a social media team will be thought of in the same way as having a telephone team”. He meant that everyone has a telephone on their desk and knows how to use it, and that social media and using it to talk to customers would be something everyone in a business does, it wouldn’t be owned exclusively by a single team.

Whilst I’m not sure social media teams would agree as arguably social media platforms have gotten more complex since then, the point is easily transferable to ‘digital’.

Digital is a mindset and a skillset that everyone who works in a twenty first century business should possess. Organisations may take the same approach as CRUK and choose not to have a separate digital team, such as Halfords which split it’s digital team and joined them with the IT and Marketing departments. Or organisations may use a hub and spoke model with a core digital team doing customer-facing digital activities such as website development and performance marketing, but with the intention to push out digital skills into other parts of the organisation. Or an organisation could choose to have a single central digital team who manage all the digital activities for the organisation.

And perhaps, as Robert suggests, you can measure an organisations digital maturity by the model it uses. A really digitally mature organisation just does ‘digital’ without even thinking about it as separate from doing ‘reporting’ or doing ‘writing’ or doing ‘customer service’. I remember a few years ago, CRUK’s head of digital as he was then, saying that he wanted the people at CRUK to be as digital at work as they are at home. No one sits and home, switches off the TV, and thinks, “I’m now going to be ‘digital'”, as they put Netflix on, they just do it. Maybe removing ‘digital’ from team and role names is big part of being as digital at work as at home.

« Older posts

Copyright © 2018 Roger Swannell

Up ↑