You’ve decided to take the plunge. Your dream business is on its way to make it big and you’re scaling up rapidly. As a startup entrepreneur you’re conscious of your costs – bottom-line matters the most to you and outsourcing is the answer.

For your business, every decision that you take not only affects you immediately but can have rippling effects. It is important then that these decisions are taken after carefully considering the impact, yet you may not enjoy the luxury of time in this competitive business landscape.

As a budding business house, there are a few challenges that you will face – tight budgets, short turnaround times, robust software support, right skills and people resources, high focus on business development and competitive pricing norms. Most of these challenges will remain, but when it comes to choosing your software vendors, here are six steps that can ease your decision:

Understand your requirements
An in-depth analysis of how software is going to support your business is most critical. You not only need to understand your current requirements, but as a start-up your growth curve is exponential. You would need to have a sense of direction of where the business is headed and how your requirements will change. This will then be helpful for you to match your needs with the offerings of the vendors you screen.

Is the vendor flexible enough?
Sometimes you will have to choose between an extremely well-known name that provides you with a standard set of software offerings or an isv that is more willing to tweak systems as per your requirements. This will probably give you much more flexibility as you grow, enhance or modify your software requirements in a dynamic business environment.

How open are communication channels?
One of the biggest challenges you may face with vendors is the lack of open channels that can help cater to fast moving changes in your systems. Transparent communication channels, no language barriers and 24 by 7 customer support should be top of your list when selecting vendors.

Do they have the right people?
Do they have the right skills and people resources? Are they able to retain these people? Are their teams able to provide expert counsel to you in matters of software, emerging technologies and project management?

Confidentiality and security?
Does your software vendor provide you with a sense of peace when it comes to managing your data? Look at testimonials from other users and conduct a proper survey on how vendors manage their own security, confidentiality and look at legal agreements carefully before signing on.

Expansion capabilities and hidden costs?
Will the software vendor be able to support rapid expansion, do they have open architectures that facilitate growth and revisions? Look at all hidden costs clearly; articulate as much as is possible at the outset. But also do a professional ethics check to see that the vendor adheres to corporate norms when unwritten requirements crop up.

To know more about software vendors please click here.

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Field management software is a system that helps in the running of the business. It takes complete charge of dispatching activities. With this system one can ensure that his material will reach its destination on time.

A dispatcher needs to a keep tab with the driver on where the vehicle is and when will it reach. Constant phone calls connect them. But with this technology, the dispatcher does not have to worry. He can access the vehicle’s information as and when needed. The system helps in field service management and makes the administrator’s task simpler and stress-free. Some of the most important features to look for while buying field management software are:

Client Management

This feature helps you maintain records of your clients including your client’s contact details, purchase history and choices for a lifetime. Any feedback or note can also be stored. You can access the data anytime you want. This will help you to stay informed even on old client related matters thus helping you build strengthened relationships with your client.

Scheduling

This feature is the most vital part of the system. It helps you track the exact location of your vehicle. It also suggests which route to take while travelling. This saves the fuel costs and time taken for hunting the place. You can inform the customer about the exact time your representative will take to reach. This ensures that your delivery is made on time. Also, you can keep proper track of the schedule, work processes, breaks, and completion of any projects. The scheduling system helps you provide your customer with the best of service, thus building on the trust factor.

Billing

Your accounting team can relax as this feature in the system keeps an accurate record of your transactions and is capable of preparing instant bills. It helps to abolish the cumbersome paperwork. The system can take electronic signatures and work orders with an assurance that the data won’t be lost. Papers can be lost or damaged, but electronic data gets stored for a lifetime. Moreover, the customer can also pay your bills through electronic means. Time taken to complete a certain task and the amount of hours that a particular employee dedicates to the office are also evaluated.

Task Management

It is a feature that acts as a planner for your employees’ tasks which provides workforce management solutions. Employees can have their whole planner ready and inform you regarding the progress of each task. You can give them a deadline to inform when a specific task is expected to be complete. They can notify you once a particular task is completed while you can update them about the task that needs to be done on priority. Thus, all the tasks carried out by the employees can be easily monitored using the Task Management system.

Business Intelligence

This feature helps you to develop your business by giving analytic reports of your activities. It will help you identify your shortcomings and work on it beforehand. You can understand your own business better, which will help you to progress and keep abreast with consumer demands and expectations. You can also keep a check on your cash intake and expenditures on a regular basis.

Good field management software will help your business in many ways. It helps you to do away with unwanted tasks by acting as a waste management software too. The efficiency will boost customer satisfaction, and a happier customer is sure to bring more customers, more business and more profits to you.

Click here to get more information on Field Service Management.

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Look at the “major cloud features” in this SingleHop infographic. Notice how some reference work life, some personal life (I was going to say “private life” but thought better of it) and most serve both halves of the lives we lead today.

People use the cloud constantly but many don’t even know what exactly the cloud is. Every time we store our data online, whether it be pictures, music or sensitive work documents, that data is saved on physical servers somewhere on earth. The cloud is made up of these servers, some are open to public use and some are divided into secure sections to make up virtual private clouds, accessible only by authorized users. Understanding what the cloud is can help us better understand how to protect our data and ourselves online.

Life in the Cloud Infographic

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For the last couple of years “The Cloud” has been a buzzword all over the business and IT world.

What is The Cloud? -Basically, it is the possibility to use remote servers to handle your processing, storage and other IT needs. In the olden days you only the resources that you physically had on your computer; these days that’s not the case. You can “outsource” resources from another computer in a remote location and use them anywhere. This has opened so many doors for the world of business and has helped bring new companies into the internet.

Why? Because of how much it reduces the cost of being on the internet. A server is a costly piece of equipment and not everybody can afford it. Between the initial cost and upkeep of the hardware, you could easily spend a few thousand pounds every year.

The cloud has brought on the Virtual Private Server, which gives you all the benefits of an actual server without the hefty price tag. A hosting company will rent out a piece of their processing capabilities to your company and create a server environment for you. You only pay for what you use and you don’t have to worry about things like hardware failure, power costs or having room for a couple of huge server racks.

But what if your business grows? One of the biggest advantages of the cloud is that it can grow along with your business and your needs. It’s highly scalable and flexible, so if you ever need some extra storage or extra bandwidth, it’s a really easy fix that does not require you to purchase new equipment.

Since your own personal business cloud is by definition a remote solution, this means that you can access it from anywhere and everywhere as long as you have an internet connection. Want to make changes to your server? You can probably do it without leaving your house, even from the comfort of your own bed.

The same applies to your staff. If anyone ever needs to work from home or from another machine that’s not their work computer, all of the important files and resources they could possibly need can be hosted in the cloud, making those files accessible from anywhere. If someone’s office computer breaks there’s a backup and no data is lost.

The Cloud also makes sharing files between members of your staff a lot easier. Since none of the files are hosted on a local machine everybody has access to the files they require. Files update in real time, applications are shared and you can create a business environment that’s exponentially more effective.

Of course, the cloud still offers security and access control so you can keep track of who can see which files. A good cloud services provider also provides protection against malware and other security risks, to make sure that no pesky interlopers get into your files.

If your business is growing and so are your IT needs, then the cloud is an option worth exploring. Embrace the future, adopt new technologies and take your business to the next level.

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Success in the tech world: different approaches

by Benjamin on October 14, 2014

The tech industry is exciting, dynamic and competitive, and forging a good career in tech is the goal of almost all computing and engineering graduates. Success in the tech world is a real challenge, but with some good advice and planning, it is possible to make an impact.

There are various approaches that can be adopted to succeed in the tech world. However, what is most important is that IT professionals and engineers specialize early on to become experts in their chosen field.

Be flexible

The most important factor in the tech world is flexibility. Technology is constantly advancing, and everything that a student learns in their first year or two of college will probably be considered out of date by the time they graduate. An education, whether it is engineering or computer science, should always be considered a foundation to a career; it will rarely teach the specific skills that are needed in an individual’s first job.

Individuals who want to succeed need to be willing to change their tactics and strategies according to the ever-changing industry. For example, the latest development is the growing reliance on cloud-based business support systems.

Adopt the cloud approach

There is a growing trend in businesses moving their operations to the cloud. The cloud provides businesses with many advantages such as data storage and disaster recovery. More recently, cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions have been developed that seamlessly connect each business area and gather data to produce real-time management reports.

ERP was developed to help manufacturing businesses make production more efficient by analyzing the passage of resources from supply of raw materials through to the end product. It was used to highlight bottlenecks in production and identify where human resources were working sub-optimally.

ERP systems help all businesses, including technology businesses, to optimize workflows and become more efficient and more competitive. Today, ERP manages purchasing, sales, client services, finance and accounts, human resources, marketing and production.

By developing a system that can analyze the entire process, it is possible for managers to better identify problems before they cause a financial loss and to spot changes in customer demand. When implemented well, this can make a company very competitive.

Specialize

This may appear to be in contrast to the advice to be flexible, but in the tech industry specialization is vital for anybody, or any business, that wants to do well. To be noticed in the crowd it is important to be able to offer something that is unique.

A good case study of how specializing helps a tech company develop trust and respect in the tech market can be seen in  Transducer Techniques. They construct load cells that are used in engineering to accurately measure weight and force. Precision engineering companies are able to out-compete much larger companies that are focusing on the mass consumer market.

To succeed in the tech world both individuals and businesses need to ensure that their skills are developed on a solid foundation and that they specialize in a niche area that is in high demand. Being flexible is important early on in the career path because new technologies can provide exciting opportunities; however, ultimately, specialism is the key to success.

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How can technology help when working abroad?

by Benjamin on October 14, 2014

Those who have chosen to spend time living and working abroad are actually very lucky these days. The rapid development of modern communications technologies means that it is so much easier to keep in touch with people, no matter where you are, than it used to be even ten years ago. When somebody moves abroad, the ability to keep in touch is essential for both the worker and those remaining at home.

How has technology changed?

Before the onset of smartphones, laptops and the Internet, the only real way of keeping in touch with family and friends while working abroad was the telephone and letters. This usually meant that contact was infrequent, and most people would go for weeks without hearing from loved ones.

The Internet has changed a great deal for those who are away from home. Email has made it so much easier to drop somebody a line and has become a popular way to communicate not only with family and friends but also with work colleagues – even those in the same building! This has been followed rapidly with additional technologies such as smartphones and Apps that mean workers do not have to be at their desk to keep in touch. Financial technologies developed by organizations such as  Trans-Fast Remittance LLC mean that money can be transferred from one country to another in seconds – important for those who work abroad and want to send money home.

Cloud computing

Cloud technologies are becoming increasingly popular for businesses and private use. Cloud services mean that the location of the worker is far less of a factor than it used to be. Technology such as Skype means that people can keep in touch easily. Skype video chats are great for keeping in touch with family but are also ideal for the workplace. Meetings can be held via Skype and similar Apps. It is free to download and ensures easy communication.

Google Apps and Google Docs are a type of cloud computing. A worker can create a document using this software and it is held on Google’s cloud service. Another worker can easily access it from their own office, even if they are thousands of miles away. FaceTime is another option for communication while abroad. A way of making video calls, it has become very popular with younger people for keeping in touch while they are traveling.

Google and Apple are just two developers that have embraced the concept of cloud computing and are applying it to their new products all the time, continuously developing each one further. The development of cloud services and new ways to keep in touch is only going to continue as competition grows in this sector. Those who work abroad will see it become even easier to communicate in the years to come.

Communications technologies such as cloud computing have developed very rapidly, and their continual evolvement means that consumers should expect to see the Apps that they already know very well develop even further as well as the introduction of new software.

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What skills do you need to succeed in IT contracting?

October 14, 2014

Making the move into IT contracting is a big step. Whether it is a making an initial move into the field either as a recent graduate, a career change or as the result of a move from permanent to self-employment drawn by the promise of greater financial reward and enhanced flexibility, there are a number […]

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Cloud computing for improved business efficiency

October 14, 2014

A continued drive for optimum efficiency should be at the very heart of the business strategy of any organization wishing to stay relevant, profitable and competitive in their chosen field. Only by ensuring that operations are being carried out in the most effective and efficient way possible, with regard to all factors of the company, […]

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Updating Your Network Infrastructure for Modern Devices

September 18, 2014

Today the world of IT infrastructures is changing. This is due to the way companies communicate and the way they send and receive data within their networks, and the development of cloud computing and virtualised servers has re-shaped the way we share information with one another. Cloud computing is a scalable and reliable cloud based […]

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Top 5 Reasons Your Brand Should Invest in SMS Marketing

September 3, 2014

As more customers access information on-the-go, SMS is increasingly becoming an important tool in multi-channel marketing. However, there are still a number of businesses that believe mobile marketing demands significantly large budgets and heavy investments in applications. In truth, gaining access to mobile communications is easier than ever and engaging with mobile users is as […]

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