? Partner Feature: Q&A with Cathy Fanning (IT Training)
Hello, and welcome to August's Partner Feature!
In this series, we'll give you an insight into our partners: The experts who advocate for Meister tools and use their know-how to help their clients succeed. You'll discover how partners use our products to overcome a variety of challenges, and you'll find new inspiration from the experts themselves.
Today, we're speaking with Australian IT genius @Cathy Fanning about how she teaches her technical prowess to clients. Read on to find out more!
Hi Cathy, thanks for joining us today ☺️. Please tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
Thank you for this opportunity, Miša!
I’ve been in IT for over two decades in roles ranging from project management to software support to consulting and training. I founded The Temporary Alternative when I was at a crossroads in my career, struggling to decide whether to continue in IT - an industry I knew and loved - or try another path. I decided to do both!
I stayed in IT but brought a fresh perspective - The Temporary Alternative specializes in bespoke, fully customized IT training. I train small, medium and large businesses, focusing on Microsoft 365 and project management platforms. The day I stop enjoying training is the day I stop.
I have achieved a few accolades throughout the years; a particularly notable one was being chosen by Microsoft to represent the Australian small business market alongside four other businesses. This was an absolute whirlwind at the time and a tremendous amount of fun!
It's great that you brought something new to the industry! Please talk us through your normal working day.
I usually work from 9 am (after a good coffee) until 5 pm, although if I have a training session first thing in the morning, I'll start earlier. We cover four different time zones, so need to ensure we're flexible and available for our clients.
I work better in the morning when my energy and motivation levels are high; that's why I schedule most meetings and training sessions early on. After lunch, I take time to catch up with the team and go over upcoming tasks. I also prepare for training sessions and schedule any new projects. I find time blocking essential for getting everything done and avoiding last-minute panic.
It's clear you're passionate about what you do, but what's your absolute favorite thing about your job?
That's a tricky question - I have a lot of favorite things ☺️. If I had to choose one, I'd say it's getting to meet all sorts of people from different industries and walks of life. I love helping others work more efficiently using their preferred software. Watching clients reach that "light bulb" moment is still a real buzz for me - It's so rewarding when someone experiences this in a training session! That's when I know my work there is done ?!
Using Meister Tools
You've been a Meister advocate for some time now - When and how did you first come across MeisterTask?
Many years ago, I was using Asana for task and project management, but it proved too complex and heavy-going. I began searching for a better and more efficient alternative - That's when I came across MeisterTask. I first started with a free trial and was immediately taken with the platform - It was streamlined, effective and enjoyable to work with every single day.
As MeisterTask continued to impress, I delved a little further into Meister's Partner Program. The program was appealing even in its early days, especially as it offered a structure different to those offered by other SaaS companies. I saw great potential for MeisterTask in Australia and hoped that as a partner, I would be able to spread Meister's tools and philosophy. I'm a proud partner to this day!
Why did you choose MeisterTask over other tools to help you overcome organizational challenges?
It wasn't a hard decision! Not only is MeisterTask great for efficient project management, but it is also bright, colorful and pleasing to work with (a rare thing in the world of project management ?). It was the daily quotes that convinced me in the end - They're a small yet powerful extra that competitor tools don't (or didn't) offer. I find that the daily quotes both inspire me and keep me on track.
What's the most important improvement you've seen at work since starting to use MeisterTask?
MeisterTask allows me to stay on top of everything - Daily tasks, emails, every step of the client training process and my whole team.
I'm fortunate enough to have a great team of people beside me which is essential for providing the best possible service to clients. However, coordinating both people and tasks can be difficult. This is where I've seen MeisterTask revolutionize our workflows - During chaotic times, MeisterTask is the “go-to” focal point to stay on track and get everything done.
You've shared a few templates in the Community - Can you show us one of your project boards here?
The project board we use most often is the one for our training sessions. It's a basic project board covering all the main points we address in every training. In preparation for a session, I customize the project and tasks to suit the client's needs. Here's the board:
The Temporary Alternative offers an introductory, a day-to-day and an advanced MeisterTask training. Please could you share your favorite tip for each level?
Of course! At the introductory level, we take a first look at MeisterTask, migrating data from other project management tools and structuring projects and tasks. My top tip here is to consider the overall picture of how you would like your projects to look and run before setting up a board. Having an initial vision in mind will help ensure a better final board.
In the day-to-day MeisterTask training, we explore things like best practices, general settings and team collaboration. At this level, I'd advise you to make use of the comments function as much as possible. It's excellent for keeping your team up to speed and maintaining a culture of transparency.
Finally, at the highest level of training, we discuss admin settings, reporting and integrations. My top tip here would be to create project reports regularly (weekly, if possible). Reports give project leads a revealing overview of their team's performance. Export reports to a spreadsheet to share your findings with external stakeholders.
Thanks for all the tips! Can you give an example of a MeisterTask feature that simplifies your workday?
Daily reminders - I'm the kind of person that crams every piece of information into my head, so without reminders, I'd definitely forget something ?. MeisterTask helps me in two ways:
- I have reminder notifications enabled on my mobile, so I'm notified of all updates regardless of whether I'm in the office or not.
- I receive an email reminder every morning with a list of tasks I have to complete that day.
Here are a few other best practices:
- Start your day right with your reminder email and a cup of coffee...Nothing like a bit of light reading to get your brain going.
- Change your settings so that task reminders are sent on the day that tasks are due. Check you have this set up in browser, desktop and mobile apps.
- In Outlook, I've moved morning reminder emails to a separate folder. I've also saved them as my favorites for easy access throughout the day.
- I use the Office 365 integration to keep all consultants in the loop within their own 365 space.
What advice would you give to someone who would like to be an IT Trainer?
- Be certain you like engaging with people. I spend almost all day every day speaking with others. If you thrive in peace and quiet, this isn't the job for you!
- Make sure you really know your software subject matter. To teach something well, you must know it exceptionally. Not only should you know it, but you should want to share it.
Aside from that, good luck - It's a brilliant choice of career I've enjoyed for many, many years!
Do you have any final tips you'd like to share with the Community?
Whether you're using Microsoft 365 or the Google platforms, really make the most of the tool's powerful potential - Both complement MeisterTask remarkably and can transform your working life.
Thanks so much for sharing your expertise, Cathy! Please let us know how other users can reach you with questions.
Thanks so much, Miša. This has been a great experience, and I'm very happy to share my knowledge with the Community. Users can reach me via DM here ?.
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