What is print management and why would you need it?

Print management is a software system designed for the effective management and optimization of print devices and related processes. It is useful in the management of the volume and nature of print materials. It also provides options for user authentication for accessing printers and other document print services. It controls the print queues and provides secure methods of printing.

Managing costs and reducing waste are two of the challenges businesses face today. One of the most effective ways to reduce costs and improve the productivity of network printing is with PaperCut MF.

PaperCut MF is an enterprise software solution which allows you to easily manage your print assets, collect usage data by location and device, identify inefficiency and implement cost recovery and allocation strategies to maximise your system productivity and return on investment.

PaperCut MF also adapts to the size of your network. The modern design and architecture of the software provides full scalability. So, it does not make a difference if your network consists of a single server and has only a few users or whether a multi-server network with a large number of users - PaperCut MF adapts to your needs.

  • Control account, bill or charge every copy, print, scan and fax with ease

  • Manage copiers, printers and users from a modern web interface

  • Track environmental savings

  • Report usage and costs by page, by user, cost centre/department, device and function

  • Access devices via a log-in or ID/Access card

  • Enforce responsible use print policies, via applied rules, limits and auto-notifications

Secure confidential documents and release anywhere via Find Me print – a perfect feature to assist with your GDPR policies

 

The Environmental Impact 

Reducing printing levels by changing a user's printing behaviour is one of the main aims of PaperCut, and by highlighting environmental aspects of their activities can help modify their behaviour.

Environmental impact counters are shown to users when logging into the user web interface. Administrators can also view the impact of users or printers via the details pages in the admin interface.

 

In addition, PaperCut can offer amazing reductions in cost. By implementing basic rules and features users can experience savings in the region of 20%.

Whether you have 1 of 50 devices, PaperCut could be the perfect solution for you.

 

For a free trial and demonstration give us a call and we would be more than happy to help!

Above and beyond

It’s easy to “talk the talk” when demonstrating to prospecting new customers about what you do and what makes you different compared to competitors. The phase “above and beyond” gets used in everyday language, but what does that actually mean?

For us, going “above and beyond” is a way of everyday thinking. It’s a mindset.

 

Here’s an example of that in action.

Last week we had a pretty difficult installation to complete.

The challenges:

-         The customer provides services to vulnerable Women. This means unknown delivery crews, engineers and ICT technicians turning up at unknown times would be difficult

-         The customer could have no downtime in printing, the machine needed to be in action from 0830-1700

-         The new machine was to be installed on the second floor of a converted terraced house. The stairway was going to be an issue

-         Due to the building there was no room to install one printer and then remove the other at a later date, it needed to be a straight swap

 

So how did we overcome these challenges?

-         We arranged a pre 8am delivery before the office opened at 0900 and clients were on site

-         We arranged to have a back up logistics company on standby in case the stairs caused on issue and more crew were needed

-         Fortunately, the machine went up the stairs with no problems, which meant all the logistic company had to do was remove the old machine.

-         In the 30 mins we had left before the printer was needed by the customer, we had an ICT engineer on site to complete the IT set up and get the customer back up and printing on their lovely new Toshiba!

All of this was achieved between 0700-0800. Back end this took a little extra organisation compared to our “normal” installs. The customer was none the wiser.

You could say we went “above and beyond” but for us it was just another day.

 

Should I buy my printer on line?

We sometimes get asked “why would I buy from Prolific when I may be able to get the same product cheaper on line”?

We get it, those prices can be pretty darn cheap but it’s not always what it appears to be.

A couple of things you need to look out for when doing a price comparison:

-         Are the products comparable and do the same job?

-         Is the configuration of the device the same?

-         Are there delivery costs?

-         Are there installation and ICT set up cost’s?

-         Will someone complete a physical site survey for you?

-         What are the service costs? Do you pay a cost per copy, do you pay for toner etc?

-         Is there a minimum bill you have to pay each month irrespective of the usage on your  device?

-         Are the engineers local?

-         Will you receive account reviews?

-         Is your volume monitored to help keep your on-going costs as low as possible?

-         Who do you go to if something goes wrong?

We’ve listed just a few of the key things to look out for and you can probably guess the answers to the above if you were to work with Prolific!

Perhaps have a look at some of our google reviews, they speak for themselves!

“Prolific continually provide us with a great service. We were helped to transition from our old provider to Prolific making the whole process painless. Paula is great and continues to provide great service beyond that new business phase, this is real customer care !!” – Matt Hemming

“Prolific solutions have delivered a consistent professional service for many years and the machine they chose for us has been the best we have ever had. Their support in setting it all up in the early days was invaluable. Highly recommended.” – Atwell Martin

“Paula worked really hard to help us understand what our requirements actually were, and how we could best get the most for our budget. We've been a customer for years now and wouldn't go anywhere else. Would recommend to anyone!” - NLM

 

We know cost is important and we make sure our pricing is reflective of that. But we also know that the service and support a customer receives is critical to the smooth running of their business.

Next time you think you can get a product or service cheaper on line, just ask yourself what you may have to compromise on.

 

Is a 4-hour work week really possible?

Have you read “The 4-hour work week” by Tim Ferriss? If you haven’t I would highly recommend it.

In summary;

Whether you're an overworked employee or an entrepreneur trapped in your own business, “The 4-hour work week” is the compass for a new and revolutionary world.

Forget the old concept of retirement and the rest of the deferred-life plan—there is no need to wait and every reason not to. Whether your dream is escaping the rat race, high-end world travel, monthly five-figure income with zero management, or just living more and working less, this book is the blueprint.

When I co-founded Prolific 6 years ago, my aim was to build a successful business at all cost (to the detriment of my physical health, mental health and work/life balance) to provide me with my “retirement fund”.

As time has passed my focus has changed as has the way I approach the business and its future plans.

This has occurred naturally but also from the copious amount of business and personal development books I have read.

“The 4-hour work week” has really made me reassess the way I approach each day, even down to each hour.

We all have the same hours in a day and a “to do list” which we need/want to achieve.

When I was an employee, I would make sure my day was filled and I kept busy. Not just because I was conscientious but because the busier I was, the better I felt and my days flew by!

If you adopt the same approach when running your own business, you will soon burn out. The “to do list” never ends!

After learning this the hard way, my days look very different and using some of the concepts that “The 4-hour work week” provides has helped me do this.

Such as; morning daily rituals, automating processes, flexible working in any location and changing my mindset “less is not laziness”.

Each day I plan my time strategically, each hour my focus is clear and my goals are achieved (most of the time!). I now work smarter, not harder and certainly work less hours than I ever have.

I don’t slog away each day focusing on “the retirement plan”, I work to provide my customers with the upmost support and service whilst living in the moment and achieving my personal goals and ambitions.

I’m constantly working on my work/life balance. Let’s be honest who wants to work more than they have to?!

 

Back to the title question. Is a 4-hour work week really possible?

Right now, for me, no.

I love building relationships with my customers and to do that I need to spend time with them and their businesses and this obviously takes time. I don’t want to change this about my business but wherever possible I use “The 4-hour work week” concept and use it as a “reference book” to check in with, to remind me of my goals and how I can achieve them. 

 

Do you have any personal or development books you could recommend? I’m always looking to add to my read list!

GDPR - How we can help you

We thought with the 25th May fast approaching we wanted to communicate some information that will hopefully make your life a little easier and tick some of the boxes in your GDPR policies.

We won’t go into GDPR, by now I’m sure you all know what it is and the implications for your business and we are definitely not GDPR experts!

However we know a little bit about printers and copiers!

Below are a few things to consider. Some of which come as standard (depending on your Toshiba model) and others will take your security and policies to another level. Remember it’s about what is right for your business and how you handle personal data. This isn’t a “one fits all” solution.

Toshiba Secure HDD – Most printers and photocopiers will have a hard drive that will store an image in a number of ways, the hard drives in the e-Bridge Next range have the following as standard.

  • 256-bit AES encryption – this is the highest level of encryption available
  • Encrypts in real time and stores encryption key on the HDD
  • Knows which MFP device it has been built onto and will only share info after authentication
  • If removed and connected to any other device the encryption key is deleted

Identity Authentication – It’s essential that you know who has access to your device and how it is being used.

  • Locked print – ensures no data is released other than for the intended individual
  • User codes – basic level of identification

For the next level of security, we would recommend PaperCut. This offers print management and secure print release (via a pin or swipe card). 

Document Management (Scan Solutions) – Data being scanned into your organisation needs to be handled in line with your GDPR policies. It may be that you need a more robust solution than the standard scan to email/folder function.

  • We can offer complete document management solutions through various partners. Such as Drivve Image and Nuance.

 

If you would like to discuss further or have any concerns please give us a call and we’d be happy to advise further.

Five reasons printers deserve more love than they get

Most of us probably take our printers for granted. We don't think twice about using them, yet would arguably be lost without them. So, with it being the month of Valentine's Day, isn't it about time we spread a little love to the humble printer? Here are five reasons to give your printer the admiration it deserves.

1. They're easy on the eye

Printers used to be big and bulky, but as technology has advanced, they've become more compact and easier on the eye. This means that even those offices or homes tight on space can now find room to squeeze a printer in. For this reason alone, they deserve a nod.

2. They spread environmental love

Workplace equipment often takes the blame for increasing energy costs or having a negative environmental impact, but this isn't always the case. Credit should be given to the Toshiba TEC printer, for example, which is carbon neutral, and is part of Toshiba's Carbon Zero Scheme to offset carbon emissions. Toshiba has offset 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, helping some of the world's poorest countries, proving that printers have a big heart when it comes to spreading environmental love.

3. Ample choice

If you've fallen out of love with your old printer, the good news is there's plenty more fish in the sea. With so many Toshiba printers on the market, you should easily find one that catches your eye, whether you're looking for basic functions, multiple features, or a wireless printer. Most printers are also pretty user-friendly, and even if you can't work them out, Prolific’s expert guidance and support is on hand.

4. They'll keep you safe and secure

The more technologically advanced printers look after your safety and security, so what's not to love about that? They come with a raft of security features that safeguard your data.

5. They're up in the cloud

Many high-tech printers now offer cloud-based printing, which is ideal if you use mobile devices or are frequently on the move. This is reason enough to put anyone on cloud nine.

If you want to fall in love with a new printer, contact Prolific Solutions to discuss your options.

Yes! It’s the January sales! But don’t be fooled by the offer that looks too good to be true…

Yep its that time of year again where we are bombarded by amazing offers and deals. The January sales are always a good way to cheer yourself up after the Christmas lull. Just remember, we all know that an offer that is too good to be true, usually is! (Unless it’s 70% off of anything at your favourite retail shop!).

We at Prolific may not be experts in shopping but we know a thing or two when it comes to printers and photocopiers.

If you’re thinking of replacing your printer and have been offered an amazing deal here’s a few suggested questions you may want to ask before you sign on the dotted line:

-         Is the machine brand new?

-         What is the lease term?

-         Is the lease a monthly or quarterly payment?

-         Is there minimum service billing?

-         If the contract is cancelled early is there any service redemption/repudiation?

-         How many local engineers do they have? What are their SLA’s (call out times etc.)?

-         Do they use manufacturer toner/parts only?

-         Are all toners and parts included in the cost per copy?

-         Ask for local testimonial and references

-         Check there website out and look for Google reviews

 

Just a couple of things worth investigating before you get rid of that old printer.

As always, we are here to help. If you think you've got a great deal but not sure, give us a call.

 

What’s the point?

 

Running your own business can be such a whirlwind of highs, lows and generally a little bit crazy at times.

It can be so easy to get so absorbed that you start to ask yourself “what’s the point?”

How many times have you missed doing something because you were too focused on work? Have you missed a family meal, drinks with friends, or simply downtime to read a book and get an early night?

In September I realised I hadn’t had a holiday since last Christmas!

Week after week had passed and I hadn’t taken any time off.

It made me question myself; what was the point? What was the point in working hard to build the business, if I couldn’t take the time off to enjoy life?

We’ve all got bucket lists full of adventures to which we say “I’ll do that one day, it’s on my bucket list!” but I know for me: days, months and years are passing by and I’m still not ticking those experiences off!

With this in mind I’ve just returned from Norway.

I’ve ticked three of my bucket list items off: whale watching, husky sledding and seeing the Northern Lights. It was incredible! 

And that’s “The point!”

That’s why I immerse myself in my business but I must remember to come up for air and enjoy life. I’m planning my next holiday and preparing to tick some more boxes on that bucket list!

If your bucket list isn’t enough of a motivation check out Tim Ferris’s “The 4-hour workweek” and James Wallman’s “Stuffocation”. They’ll give you some inspiration and maybe a different perspective and focus on life.

 

Why it’s okay when a prospect says “No” …

I’ve just put the phone down after receiving a “No”. To be honest it wasn’t a definite yes on my prospect list but I was surprised by the decision they had made.

As I’m writing this and coming to terms with my “No” (said a little tongue in cheek) I have to remind myself that it’s okay to get the “No’s” from prospects.

The reason?

You have to get “No’s” to get your “Yes’s”.

However good you are as a salesperson or an account manager, however good your product is or however good your company is there’s always decision makers who are going to say “No”.

But the good news is I’m one “No” closer to my “Yes”!

My statistics show that I need to book X number of appointments, to produce X number of proposals, resulting in X number of new customers.

Remember there are so many reasons (some of which will be out of your control) as to why you will get your “No’s”.

·        Perhaps you’re just the second quote they need to test the market (and there was never an opportunity).

·        Perhaps they don’t like your product.

·        Perhaps they don’t like you (or if we are being kind on ourselves, maybe they just prefer the other salesperson)!

Whatever the reason for the “No” you can move one step closer to getting your “Yes”!

And remember a “No” today may be a “Yes” in the future.”

 

Credit to “Go for No” - Richard Fenton and Angela Waltz - http://www.goforno.com/

“The Miracle Morning” - how I transformed my life in 365 days

One Saturday, just over a year ago I was having a little mooch around Waterstones seeing if anything jumped out at me and then, with a halo surrounding it, there was “The Miracle Morning”.

This was at a time where I was seeking answers to the things that were going on in my life that I wasn't 100% happy with and I guess I was looking for a quick fix. 

This wasn't the first time I had felt like this throughout my life, I've had periods of low moments and times when I wanted someone to present me with all the answers I was looking for.

Back to the halo... there, with “The Miracle Morning” glowing in my face I picked it up and bought the book (an unusually quick decision for me)!

In brief, “The Miracle Morning” is about getting up an hour earlier every day and completing six activities that are called SAVERS. Silence (or meditation), Affirmations, Visualisation, Exercise, Reading and Scribing (or writing a journal). In theory this should take an hour a day and can be broken up into any time duration that works best for you. 

To summarise I've been doing this for a year and it's transformed my life! 

In essence the changes I've experienced are:

No.1 - I now take complete responsibility for everything in my life and I understand it is only me that can make any changes.

No.2 - I can't change anybody in my life. I can only change the way that I respond and react to these people and situations.

No.3- I'm now really good at making decisions! There's no right or wrong choice. Just two paths to choose from. Both will provide me with a different experience that I will learn from.

No.4 - I'm a lot bloody stronger than I thought!

And in numbers this means: 

S (silence)- 68 hours of meditation using the Headspace App

A (affirmations)- 1,460 read out loud or in the shower!

V (visualisation)- 365 

E (exercise)- 1,825 kettlebell swings and 1,825 press ups

R (reading)- 17 business/personal development books

S (scribing)- a book of journaling - the crazy stuff in my head!

And an extra - G! - 365 things I'm Grateful for.

 

In terms of business what does this mean?

It means I can now make quick decisions and embrace the path I have chosen. In turn I can move on and deal with the next thing on my to do list.

When things in my day don't go to plan or perhaps I don't win business I was expecting to win, I now learn from that and take responsibility for what did or didn't happen but most importantly what I can do different next time.

Nothing last forever. So sometimes there are days that I don’t feel very positive or I’m affectionately called a “mood hoover”. I now know that a), my mood won't stay with me for long and b), I need to take control of my emotions to change how I feel.

These are just a few of the changes that I've noticed in myself that have either naturally happened or I have made a conscious decision to change.

Is “The Miracle Morning” for you? I don't know, maybe. All I can say is buy it, give it a go. One thing I have learnt is that I'm not very good at early mornings and I need sleep! After reading Tim Ferriss's " The Four-Hour Week", I'm now incorporating some of the things I've learnt from that with “The Miracle Morning”. This means I'm working less hours, allowing me to get more sleep, therefore allowing me to do “The Miracle Morning” later. I can still get the same results as when I was getting up at 4:30 in the morning and working a 14-hour day.

Like with anything I think all of these things you have to try and see what works for you, it's a constantly evolving process.

If you’d like to know more then buy the book and give it a go! Your future self will thank you. 

And if you have done/ are doing “The Miracle Morning” I'd love to hear how it's working out for you!

http://halelrod.com/books/

A note to the NHS

As I sit here (with one leg slightly raised) I feel a mixture of gratitude and apprehension.

Today is my first day back after having 10 days off of work, the longest break I've had since I started the business five years ago.

Last week I had planned surgery on my hip which will now hopefully allow me to reach my fitness goals!

The day of surgery didn't go quite as planned, I had a six-hour delay, no food for 18 hours and limited water (FYI I'm a 3 meals a day kind of girl!). This wasn't just me, there were several people in the same position, but wow, did they complain. I couldn't understand their behaviour. We live in a country where we have access to a fantastic health service. Yes, sometimes the waiting times can be a while but I couldn't fault the level of service and treatment I received on the day of my surgery. The staff were professional, caring and kept me informed of the day at every stage (and don't even get me started on the abundance of food and drink we have available to us in this country. This was less than 24 hours!).

The surgery was a success and the last week has been about the start of my rehab and recovery.

Previous to my time off, I'd obsessively gone over in my head, every situation and outcome that might arise on my time away but I really didn't need to be worried or concerned. 

All my customers knew where to go, what to do if they had any issues, concerns or questions that I normally would of promptly responded to.

And today as I sit here on my first day back, yes, I'm in pain, yes, I feel apprehensive about getting on top of my workload but the thing that is so prominent is the level of gratitude that I have for the NHS this country provides.

Hopefully I won't have to have any surgery any time again soon! But if I do, I know I'll be in safe hands and any concerns about the business will be minimal. 

Why I hate being called a “sales rep”...

Yesterday I got called a “sales rep” and it made me cringe. Yes I'm in sales and yes I'm a representative of Prolific but what I do is so much more.

To me the definition of a sales rep is someone in a shiny suit, visiting a customer and making a quick sale.

It feels cold and old school.

I’m not a “sales rep”; I'm an account manager, a problem solver, a finance guru, an agony aunt, a coordinator, a business owner and someone who is really passionate about printers and offering the right solution to my customers.

From when I first engage with a new customer, building the relationship is paramount. I want to be someone they can call upon about the smallest issue or concern. Someone they know that will deal with their query. I want to be the trusted partner that they can go to and have 100% confidence that I’ll be there to support them and offer the best service possible.

I started the business because I'm passionate about what I do at Prolific and the service that Toshiba provide. We don't just sell printers and photocopiers; we are there to build a long term relationship and solution for our customers.

My relationship with the term “sales rep” is something I perhaps need to come to terms with, because ultimately that is what I am. However I won’t take it lightly and will do my best to show my customers what I and Prolific can really offer!

Paula Horton – Managing Director 

Why Toshiba printers would make a good Rugby team

The teams are being announced this week for the upcoming Six Nations rugby, which kicks off in early February. We're dedicated sports fans at Prolific Solutions and the impending Six Nations got us thinking about just how closely aligned the multi-functional Toshiba printers we sell are with a well-drilled rugby team.

 

How, you ask? Well, let us lay out our case for the judges and demonstrate the similar characteristics you'll find (we're pretty sure you'll soon see the method to our madness!):

 

They have to be robust

 

Much like a front row rugby player that has to take the blows when they come, a Toshiba printer is equally robust and durable, capable of heavy use in the workplace to optimise your workflow and boost business productivity.

 

They have to be organised

 

In a 15-man rugby team, every player knows their place and their role on the pitch. All the Toshiba printers that we sell at Prolific Solutions can be organised to work around your business needs, with optional configurations to meet your bespoke demands.

 

They have to work fast

 

In the same way a flying winger needs to work quickly to evade the tackles, our Toshiba printers are all designed to work fast. For example, the Toshiba A3 multi-functional printer is capable of printing at 50 pages per minute and there are many others available within our product range that are perfect for hectic print rooms.

 

They have unrivalled stamina and performance

 

A rugby match lasts 80 gruelling minutes and subsequently all of the players set to represent their countries at the 2017 Six Nations will require supreme stamina and performance to overcome a busy calendar of matches. Our Toshiba printers are similarly made to work day-in, day-out, with consistent man-of-the-match performances for all your printing needs.

 

Reliable back-end management and support staff

 

Of course, behind every successful rugby team is a management team that's masterminded their victories. That rings true with any multi-functional Toshiba device you choose from Prolific Solutions. Our management team listen to our customers' business needs and work hard to deliver a printing solution that meets their productivity and eco-efficiency goals.

 

Because Toshiba's red branding = success!

 

A study by German sports psychologists at the University of Munster found that sports teams that wear red are more likely to win than those wearing any other colour. It's that kind of positive attitude and approach that breeds success for our customers and those on the rugby field!


With highly competitive Toshiba products and service rates, if your business is seeking a much-needed printing solution, make sure you give Prolific Solutions a call today on 0117 905 9274 or drop us a line using our online enquiry form.

Guest blog: Start your year with healthy eating

clairestone-logo-3.png

I know what you’re thinking:

  • Dry January

  • Paleo/vegan/raw/meal replacements etc

  • Quit sugar

  • Eat lots of green stuff

  • Maybe quit enjoying all foods for a few months while you fulfill your resolution to 'eat healthy'.

And I salute you. I really do (although, because I was a brownie as a kid, it's more of a dib dib salute rather than a smart military one).

There's nothing quite like boosting your health by eating better. As a nutritionist, I love the fact that we all want to eat better in the New Year, but get it wrong and you'll set yourself up for failing way before the daffodils start growing.

Like it or not, our bodies respond to the weather just like all the other animals out there. In the winter, we need to hoard, stay warm and relax. In the Spring we can shed our Winter padding and change things up. This means my key tips for healthy eating in the New Year are a little different to what you might be expecting. So here goes:

1) Stay hydrated

At this time of year, after all that lovely booze and sugary treats, your body is likely to be pretty darned dehydrated. Your skin will suffer and your kidneys are probably crying. So get into the habit of drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning before you hit the coffee pot.

2) Eat warm and warming foods, and save the cold salady stuff until the Spring!

It's the time of year for casseroles and soups, cooked slowly and with some good fats in there. These will keep you feeling full and warm all day long, meaning that sugary snacks are easier to resist. They will also help keep your brain nourished too, so that as we head towards the most depressing time of year, you'll be feeling fit and dandy.

3) Have a top breakfast. Seriously.

The day starts with what you eat in the morning, so make sure you start it right. You need a breakfast which will keep you full, satisfied and well nourished. Which is why porridge is such a popular breakfast in the winter. Add a handful of nuts and seeds to really give you a nutritional boost and you'll be happy right until lunchtime. If you don't like porridge, or you don't have time to make it in the morning, trying adding a handful of nuts and seeds to your cereal, or even making overnight oats so that they are ready in the morning. If you are a toast kind of guy/gal, be sure to add some protein or fat to keep you going all through the morning - you could try eggs, avocado, peanut butter or even hummus. Anything that gives you a concentrated source of energy in the morning will do.

So there you go. Three tips for eating healthy in the New Year. You might be thinking that there should be more you can do, or more you can quit, or even more salads you should eat. There's always more to do, but when we have loads to do, we tend to not do them so well. Instead, really get stuck into these tips and I guarantee that if you just do the first tip each and every day, you'll feel better than all the other poor souls who decided to quit everything on January 1st. And then, when the Spring comes around, you can really focus on upping your healthy eating game.

For more nutritional tips, check out Claire Stone Nutrition or sign up to my newsletter!

 

The worst Christmas party stories in history

Let's be honest, the Christmas party is a good time for bonding with colleagues, being recognised by your company for your hard work over the year, and a welcome break from the tedium of day to day work, but it is also an occasion that springs up a delightfully large number of embarrassing, hilarious and outrageous stories! There have been some absolute corkers over the years, so let's take a look around the globe and pick out a collection of the best.

The 'secret' Spurs party

In 2009, Tottenham Hotspur captain Robbie Keane defied the orders of manager Harry Redknapp by taking his football team on a 'secret' Christmas day out to Dublin via private jet, at the cost of a reported £2,000 per head. The only problem was that the boss got wind of it, and they ended up having to fork out £20,000 each in fines.

Don't break the Dinosaur!

As possibly the most famous Christmas Party story in London's glitteringly fabulous festive event history, the Natural History Museum's prize centre-piece, 'Dippy' the Diplodocus (discovered in the USA in the late 1800's) came face to face with its fiercest adversary for 60 million years - a bad boy City banker! A few drinks later and this adventurous banker spontaneously leapt from his table and started to ascend the dinosaur's gigantic frame (well, it's ribcage anyway). It turns out, though, that 60 million year old dinosaur ribs aren't all they're cracked up to be. A rumoured thirty thousand pounds and an almost certain sacking later, 'Dippy' now has an artificial rib and there's a sign saying 'Don't touch the dinosaur!'

The missed Christmas bounty

A Reddit contributor in the USA known only as BadDayBozo, perhaps fittingly, told the story of how he left a work Christmas party after believing it to be dying down, missing the company raffle. Not only did he miss out on a widescreen TV when his name was drawn, he also lost out on $2000 [£1,327] thanks to his decision to make an early exit, after his name was drawn again but the decision was taken to 'redraw'. Ouch.

Live Twitter falls (fails!)

One of the many fun features at a major 1,000 person shared party in one of London's most prominent venues was a gigantic real-time Twitter wall whereby revellers were encouraged to contribute positive tweets about the event. What could possibly go wrong? Well, in fact, nothing because a clever 30 second 'approval delay' policy was in place whereby the designated 'Twitter police' could vet controversial tweets following the previous year's real time exposé of a high profile corporate affair - in giant format!

Photocopiers

We couldn’t write a blog and not include the photocopier mishaps that go on after a few drinks. If there's one anywhere near your office party then it's going to be done. It's as simple as that. If you're a boss who doesn't like inappropriate prints, don't throw a party in your actual office. Ever.

Merry Christmas everyone, and enjoy your Christmas parties!

Our guide to avoiding Secret Santa shame

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Very rarely is Secret Santa a winner in anyone’s office. Go on, think back to the last time you were given a Secret Santa gift which you actually liked, and didn’t just re-gift at the first opportunity - which was probably the next year’s Secret Santa. Still trying to recall a decent Secret Santa gift? Don’t worry, so are we!

Secret Santa always seems to pair you up with someone in the office who you know nothing about, with the kind of budget which would barely pay for a decent coffee.

Here at Prolific Solutions, we know it’s hard enough to choose presents for people you actually know, so we’ve put together a few ideas which are sure to cater for even the pickiest of colleagues and save you from the awkward atmosphere which comes with awkward gifts.

On a budget (£0-£10)

Colourful coffee time

Who could fail to be cheered up by the bright colours of this Happy Jackson travel cup? Fill it with your favourite brew, and the lidded cup will keep your drink toasty hot as you endure the morning commute.

Organisation essential

Whether they’re super organised already, or in need of a little assistance, the Kikkerland magnetic dry erase board will cling to a metal surface, like a fridge, and help them to organise their working week with a dash of minimalist style.

Mid Price (£10-£20)

Stylish scribbles

This pink notebook from Ban.Do states the obvious on the front – “I am very busy”, and is a great place to jot down notes and ideas. Ideal for the person who is indeed very busy, or just the person who likes to tell people they’re very busy while doing very little.

Just have the one glass

After a long week (or day!), a nice glass of wine is the perfect way to relax. Or maybe a second glass of wine. Or a third. Take the guesswork out of how much of your favourite vino will take the edge off with this comedy wine glass/bottle hybrid.

Blow the budget (£20 or more)

Personalised perfection

How adorable is this crystal heart paperweight? Choose a photo which means something to your recipient, and have it etched onto a heart shaped paperweight which they can keep on their desk. A subtle alternative to a framed photograph.

There you have it. No more excuses for Grinching out on Secret Santa. It’s time to say goodbye to the novelty toys and books, and grab your wrapping paper and bows for the best Secret Santa gifts ever. We’ll see you in the Returns queue at the shops on January 1st, returning that disgusting body spray set which can only be the work of David in Accounts. Or Ange in Admin. Or James in Sales. Maybe it’s time to forward them this article, just in case….

Gremlins in the office

Halloween is capable of 'spooking out' the most calm, cool and collected of characters, and, as we all know, that describes the office manager to the tee. Halloween has the ability to send shivers down the spine of the office manager, as they sometimes bear witness to the strangest of circumstances.

Forget year end, forget recruitment and forget covering staff absences, the office manager's toughest time of the year is October, and not least because of the hell raising paranormal activities that might well occur.

So if you are an office manager, brace yourself for the stationary serpent to slither in and empty the stationary cupboard, leaving you with the task of summoning more pens, ring binders and notepads from the powers that be.

And don't forget about the copier gremlins that can infiltrate the office overnight, and break the machine. Just when you had sent an email around with specific instructions on how to keep the copier in good health, a deathly bug spread by the gremlins strikes!

Sitting down for a well earned moment's rest, but don't feel quite right? That'll be the chair critters that can move and adjust your seat when you're not looking. That's right - October could prove to be eerily uncomfortable.

Nightfall will see the water cooler witches congregate and gossip at the cauldron about the events of the day, cackling with glee at the mishaps and unexplained occurrences that go hand in hand with Halloween.

At Prolific Solutions, we've also heard many Halloween tales relating to the printer poltergeist. If you've spotted this fabled and fearsome creature, don't forget to give Prolific Solutions a ring and we will see what we can do to scare it off, using the methods we have garnered over the years.

So good luck to office managers everywhere as they do all they can to ward off the frightful manifestations that mark Halloween. And remember, if all else fails, you can always hide in the cleaner's cupboard!

 

Sit back, relax and take all the praise: 5 time management hacks for office managers

Everyone is subject to time pressures at work. Therefore, we're all aware just how precious our time can be during so many busy days. Anything that can make our tasks quicker or easier to complete is well worth considering. This is why we’d like to offer the following five suggestions that have proved useful for our own team…

1. The Headspace App

Just as you would use proven techniques to train your body in a gym, this terrific app, which can be downloaded to either your mobile or computer, use the same process, but for the mind rather than the body. A fit mind is surely a great help with tasks, from the routine to the challenging. They even offer a terrific ten-day starter programme about the basics of meditation for free – and you can find out all about it here.

2. Swift document conversion across many formats

If our first tip covered self-improvement, here we suggest a resource for that most practical of tasks – yet one that can be so time consuming - document conversion. The Toshiba e-bridge Re-Rite is a terrific tool that converts scanned paper documents into any of 21 electronic file formats, including PDF, Word and Excel. Our own team regularly uses it and find it a brilliant time-saving aid. More details here.

3. Get a better understanding of time

A fun exercise at a team meeting is to ask everyone to close their eyes and raise their hands whenever just one minute has passed. Some hands often hesitantly head skyward after 40 seconds or so; others remain obstinately low until 80 seconds are upon them. It's a simple way to demonstrate that it's important to be accurately aware of time passing. It's also key that time spent bears relevance to the importance of the task being undertaken.

4. Tracking time

Following on from the previous point, it’s vital for people to keep an accurate track of their time. We’re great fans of Toggl. This time tracking tool can help informed decision making, and help make sure that you know the ROI from the time invested on projects. You can even share timesheets with your clients, one of so many advantages this tool offers.

5. Signing documents online

If you haven’t yet tried Signable, it’s a superb way to get those vital documents signed almost instantly. No time spent in transportation, or the costs of courier or other services. Signable adheres to the latest in UK electronic signature law, and recipients can sign on their desktop or mobile. They even offer a 14-day free trial – so you can quickly see for yourself how much time and energy can be saved.

There you are: five different tips, aimed at both thought and practical time saving processes. We hope you find them of benefit to you and your business!

The Chocolate Bear Kitchen's Brownie Cookies (Vegan and Gluten Free) Recipe

What's an office without office treats? Here's a delicious recipe from The Chocolate Bear Kitchen that will satisfy your employees taste buds and keep them going throughout the day.

You will need:

Mixing bowl

Baking Tray (ceramic or lined)

Ingredients:

1/3 Cup Cacao or Cocao Powder

1/3 Cup Unrefined Sugar

1 Cup Tapioca or Buckwheat Flour (or 1/2 Cup of each)

1 Tbspn Baking Powder

1/2 Cup Ground Almonds

40g Chopped Dark Chocolate

1/3 Cup Raisins

1/3 Cup Melted Coconut Oil

1 Tspn Cider Vinegar

2/3 Cup Coconut Milk

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Add the Flour, Baking Powder, Cacao, Sugar, Almonds, Raisins and Chocolate to a bowl and mix.

Fold in the Coconut Milk, Coconut Oil and Cider Vinegar.

Spoon heaped tablespoons onto a baking tray, or roll and flatten in your hands.

Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Allow to cool on the tray.

Cook up a storm with these tasty treats and follow The Chocolate Bear Kitchen on Twitter for more tasty recipes.

Not all heroes wear capes: 6 ways to be the office hero

Everyone has a bad day sometimes, and every now and again things just plain go wrong at work, but there are plenty of ways to boost morale, be seen as ultra-helpful and be the office hero, all without wearing a cape or your underwear outside your trousers (unless that’s your thing, of course):

1. Cake is always a good thing!

You don’t have to wait for your birthday to turn up to the office with a supply of cake. Make it a once a week thing on a Friday, or perhaps get everyone to join in and bring in a pot luck supply of cake and biscuits on special occasions, like the last day before Christmas break.

2. The (not so) secret stash

Why not be known for being the person who has spare, well, just about everything, in your drawer? Spare tissues, spare plasters, spare sweets, spare batteries for the projector remote control, extra white board markers… The list is endless.

3. Be the office optimist

Spreading cheer, acknowledging great work and being positive can all help people feel good, though you might want to leave off the super happy and bouncy stuff until after all the ‘not a morning person’ people have had their second cup of coffee!

4. Birthdays

Add everyone’s birthday to the office calendar with a reminder and keep some spare birthday cards, candles and decorations in your drawer, just in case someone forgets.

5. Healthy snacks

Keep the office stocked up with healthy snacks to avoid that afternoon energy slump, and the office will love you. Try Office Pantry for delicious snacks that won’t expand the waistline, unlike all that cake! Our previous blog has some great tips on what snacks you should eat in the office.

6. Socialise

Be the planner for your work socials, look at fun nights out and events that are a little different, like a belly dancing class or a night learning to make cocktails. But perhaps getting a little too merry and dancing on the table at the bowling night might not be your best idea.

Finally, don’t forget that Prolific Solutions' print policy halves the printing costs for your company, and that definitely makes you the office hero, too!