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Archive for February, 2013

5 Signs You Need a CRM Solution

February 23rd, 2013

Streamlining business operations through automation is a smart move for businesses of all sizes. Business automation has been proven to produce a number of benefits for all different types of businesses:

– More efficient use of employee time
– Better customer service, satisfaction, and retention
– The need for fewer employees, or the ability to manage more clients/customers
– More office space because automation eliminates the need for paper record keeping
– Eliminates time spent on double data entry
– Eliminates duplicate invoices and payments, as well as late invoice payments
– Decreased marketing costs
– Increased revenues

Business automation is done through a software management system, and CRM software—customer relationship management software—is specifically designed to achieve the above goals by streamlining internal and external communications among a business’s employees and between employees and their customers/clients.

There are a lot of customer relationship management software systems available, and there are also a lot of different types of businesses and business models out there, ranging from sales-force based corporations to small businesses and nonprofit organizations. All types of businesses can benefit from adopting a CRM approach to business, because all businesses rely on customers/clients in order to produce revenues.

With hundreds of different types of CRM software and thousands of different types of businesses out there, how do you match your unique business to the right CRM software package?

The answer: you don’t.

CRM software developers like Productive Computing specialize in creating custom software automation systems—based on the CRM business model of using technology to streamline and improve customer relationships and communications—that are tailored to your business’s individual needs and challenges. And one of the best things about custom-designed software is that it can continue to be modified as your business changes, to best suit its current needs.

How do you know if your business is ready for CRM software and business automation?

There are a number of signs that a business will benefit from adopting the CRM software model as their business management system, but one surefire clue is when your current use of technology is hurting your company more than it’s helping it.

For example, mobile devices can really enhance a business’s internal organization and its communications with clients/customers, but these mobile devices can start to cost a company valuable money in the form of time when they create the need for double data entry because they don’t automatically communicate with the rest of the company’s operating systems.

The answer isn’t to switch your entire office over to Mac OS so your iPads automatically update shared computer applications back at the office. A more practical and feasible answer is to install software that uses a customizable automation system like FileMaker Pro to streamline all operating systems and applications into one system that’s customized specifically to your business and operations.

If your business is experiencing any of the following signs and symptoms, your operations will benefit from adopting a CRM business software solution.

Your employees are spending time on double data entry, or you are wasting time trying to find information located in multiple applications such as Word, Excel, Outlook, iCal, or QuickBooks.

Using a custom designed CRM software solution means that all computer and device applications, regardless of the operating system they’re running on, filter into a single user-friendly interface with streamlined communication that’s easy for both technology-savvy and technology-challenged employees to use.

Your current software management system is difficult to use, confusing to new employees, and/or has multiple features that you never use, possibly because you don’t understand how to use them.

A system that isn’t user-friendly is costing your business money in the form of wasted time. A system with features you don’t use, regardless of whether you understand how to use them or not, isn’t right for your business because it’s not tailored to its unique needs.

Your current CRM software solution isn’t meeting your company’s needs.

If your current management software isn’t streamlining your business the way you hoped it would, you need a customized solution. A CRM software developer can often modify and customize your existing system so your company doesn’t have to start over with a whole new management system.

Your current automation system, CRM or otherwise, can’t be modified to fit changes within your company, or the software is outdated and no longer supported by the developer.

One-size-fits-all business management software solutions aren’t really solutions at all. A custom-designed software and database system always works for your company because it can be modified when it’s no longer getting the job done to its fullest potential.

Your business isn’t operating on an automated system.

Automating your business management system, company operations, and customer/client communications saves time, helps employees function at a higher capacity, and improves client/customer relations, satisfaction, and retention, all of which lead to increased sales and higher revenues.

PCI Expands FileMaker Pro Hosting Services

February 21st, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

San Diego, CA – February 21, 2013 – Productive Computing, Inc., a Platinum member of the FileMaker Business Alliance, today announced the opening of a new FileMaker® Pro hosting data center to service customers east of the Mississippi river.

“For hosted databases, distance from the end user to the server is a critical variable in database performance. Since we strive to have the best possible performance, we are constantly looking for ways to provide a better user experience for our customers. Expanding our infrastructure by adding a new data center is another example of our commitment to our customers and will greatly increase our ability to satisfy users on the eastern side of the United States.” —Marc Larochelle, CEO, Productive Computing, Inc.

FileMaker Pro hosting services allow customers to host FileMaker databases or solutions on Productive Computing servers in the cloud. All the necessary server infrastructure and software is maintained by PCI and kept up-to-date for optimum performance.

FileMaker Hosting Differences You Can Count On:
While there are many choices out there for hosting a FileMaker Pro Database, keeping things focused and simple to efficiently accomplish your hosting needs is our philosophy. Here are some things that make Productive Computing, Inc.’s FileMaker Pro Database Hosting service different:

1.  We are a large FileMaker Platinum development firm with an expansive and expert knowledge of all things FileMaker (not just a hosting company who may or may not know how FileMaker works under the hood).

2.  We have dedicated servers with SSD drives (nothing virtual, nothing outdated) and as a result have read/written times faster than just about any traditional hard drives.

3.  We don’t overload our servers with too many files or customers and we always use the latest version of FileMaker server and OS security patches after we have tested them.

4.  We perform local backups, twice daily backups to a physical attached drive, and to the cloud. That gives us 3 points of redundancy for disaster recovery and up to 30 days of data as well as weekly and monthly snapshots.

5.  We provide a weekly DropBox backup (more often if needed) for those customers who want the peace of mind to know their data is at their fingertips. No cumbersome FTP programs to use to get at your data should you need it.

6.  We provide direct FileMaker Server Admin console access for users on FileMaker 12 where they can close and open files, download files, etc. We can provide direct access to FileMaker 11 Server Admin as well for developers who request it.

7.  For developers who are thinking of referring their customers to us, we treat your customers as if they were our customers in the event they work with us.

8.  We provide a unique Instant Web Publishing (IWP) scenario that will auto redirect IWP users to a web page of your choosing upon IWP time out or IWP log out. We developed this technology here in-house and it’s truly one of a kind.

9.  Distance from the server to the client is a big factor which is why we are continuing to invest in our infrastructure by putting servers in all corners of the country.

Watch the video below for information on FileMaker Database Hosting benefits:
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Various FileMaker hosting server locations also provide a foundation for Software as a Service (SaaS) product subscriptions. Products including Core4 CRM, Core3 CRM, Core2 CRM, FM Work Orders, and Music Director Pro are available to customers for a monthly fee under SaaS.

Sign up for a FREE 30 day trial of FileMaker Database hosting or SaaS today!

 

About Productive Computing, Inc.
Since 1996, Productive Computing, Inc. has been helping its customers become more efficient and profitable by implementing custom software solutions using FileMaker Pro. Utilizing FileMaker Pro as a rapid application development tool, their certified FileMaker developers can create custom applications that a business can run on their Windows or Macintosh desktop computers, in a web browser, on an iPad or iPhone or shared simultaneously on all of these platforms.

Productive Computing, Inc. also produces several off-the-shelf productivity solutions such as Core4 CRM, Core3 CRM, Core2 CRM, Core2 Invoices, Music Director Pro, FM Work Orders, OrgPlanner and IT Asset Manager as well as a suite of FileMaker Pro plug-ins that allow FileMaker Pro to integrate with third party applications including Outlook, QuickBooks, Apple’s Address Book and iCal, PDF forms, credit card processing, digital signatures and biometric fingerprint scanners.

In addition to building custom and off-the-shelf FileMaker Pro solutions and plug-ins, Productive Computing, Inc. is a full service FileMaker Pro hosting company. FileMaker hosting services allow customers to host their own FileMaker Pro solutions on Productive Computing servers in the cloud instead of purchasing and supporting the necessary server infrastructure themselves. These same servers also provide the infrastructure for customers who would prefer to subscribe to Productive Computing’s Core4 CRM, Core3 CRM, Core2 CRM, and FM Work Orders products under a SaaS (Software as a Service) pricing model.

Productive Computing, Inc. is one of only a few companies in the United States to have earned the highly respected Platinum level membership within the FileMaker Business Alliance and recently won the exclusive FileMaker Business Alliance Partner of the Year award.

Productive Computing, Inc.
950 Boardwalk, Suite 205
San Marcos, CA 92078
http://www.productivecomputing.com
info@productivecomputing.com
(760) 510-1200

Press Contacts:
Productive Computing, Inc.
Keith Larochelle
(760) 510-1200

What to Look for in CRM Software

February 19th, 2013

CRM software is customer relationship management software. The CRM business model is widely used and guides a company’s relationships with its current and potential clients or customers. CRM is a business organization and automation platform that uses technology to streamline four major aspects of business:

Sales
Customer service
Marketing
Technical support

These four parts of the business model are used to recruit new clients, manage and maintain current clients, win back lost clients, and increase revenues by decreasing the costs of marketing. A business must place a lot of emphasis on customer service in order to adopt this model.

Advantages of the CRM Business Model

CRM helps businesses use technology to streamline and organize business operations. Some benefits of using CRM software include:

Increased revenues
Decreased costs
Increased efficiency of employees
Increased efficiency of operations
Better internal and external company communications
Better customer service and client retention

CRM software uses sales force automation to streamline the sales process. Sales reps spend less time on each phase of the sales process, allowing them to take on more clients or for the company to use fewer sales reps to manage the same amount of clients.

Finding the Right CRM Software

There are hundreds of different types of CRM software, each tailored to the different types of businesses that rely on sales force and customer relations. How can you tell which one is right for your business?

Custom-designed CRM software programs are tailored to your individual business’s organizational and management needs. When you use a custom program to automate your business, you don’t have to worry about choosing the right type of CRM platform for your organization.

Here are some of the CRM software tools and management features you may want to integrate into your business’s own customized software.

FileMaker Pro. FileMaker Pro is a universal, customizable automation system that syncs your business’s current software management system with computer operating systems, desktop applications, and mobile devices, keeping all your workers on the same page and eliminating double data entry.

Outlook automation. By automating data exchange between Microsoft Outlook and FileMaker Pro, you can sync desktop applications such as Contacts, Calendar, Tasks, Mail, Notes, and Journal with the FileMaker database and mobile devices. All computers and devices on the system can automatically share information and all users view applications in the same windows.

Apple automation. If your office uses Mac OS you can similarly sync data exchange between FileMaker Pro and common desktop applications such as iCal, Address Book, and IMAP mail. If your employees use both Microsoft and Apple operating systems, you can eliminate double entries and get your entire office on the same FileMaker system through automation.

Custom iPhone and iPad applications. Allow your business’s mobile devices to communicate with your desktop computers and the FileMaker system. If your sales reps use mobile devices to make appointments, record client contacts and account data, and manage email, devices can be setup to sync with the main system automatically and save extra time spent updating multiple systems.

QuickBooks automation. Most small businesses manage their finances through QuickBooks. By streamlining QuickBooks with Filemaker you can automatically enter invoices, receipts, contacts, and sales transactions into the main office system and eliminate double entry of data. Electronically recording invoices, sales transactions, and accounts payable and receivable eliminates the need for paper record storage.

Utility plug-ins. These customizations allow your office’s different electronic transactions to automatically record and update information within the main system. You can automate features like credit card processing, Constant Contact management, electronic signatures, fingerprint security, PDF documents, printers, and files.

These software development features can enhance your experience with building and using your custom CRM software.

Feasibility study. This should be performed before your software is created. A feasibility study helps your software developer understand your business’s needs when it comes to your business processes, IT infrastructure, and current software process and compatibility.

Frameworks. Frameworks are templates used to give your custom software solution a basic framework instead of building the program from scratch. Frameworks allow your software solution to be developed faster and save your business money on customized automation software.

Technical support. A developer that offers ongoing technical support about the use of your software will help you get the most out of your investment. Look for email, phone, and chat options, with additional literature accessible from your developer online.

 

Using FileMaker Pro to Run a Business is the Software Industry’s Best Kept Secret

February 16th, 2013

FileMaker Pro is an affordable software program that provides a streamlined platform through which businesses can manage and organize various types of information and communications. FileMaker Pro software is based on the customer relationship management (CRM) business model, which simply means that it is a type of business automation and synchronization rooted in sales.

FileMaker Pro is superior to other types of CRM software (programs used for streamlining business management) because its user-friendly interface is easy to adapt to and work with. The program itself is meant to be customized according to each business’s unique needs. It provides a framework for CRM system management, but comes with the ability to easily modify the platform for individual businesses.

The FileMaker Pro platform can be modified in several ways:

Removing non-applicable features. Other CRM software solutions come with a number of features that the developers assume a majority of businesses will need and use. Often, this leaves a business with needless and/or confusing extras that only seem to get in the way. But FileMaker Pro is customizable; any unwanted features can be removed.

Install useful plug-ins. A QuickBooks plug-in for FileMaker seamlessly integrates QuickBooks into the system, rather than keeping the application separate from the system. This gives appropriate users instant access and makes recordkeeping automatic.

Create plug-ins for unique features. This is where FileMaker Pro can really benefit innovative businesses. Software developers can create custom FileMaker plug-ins that meet a business’s unique needs. For example, the ability to gather electronic signatures is something more businesses are interested in as paperwork becomes a thing of the past. E-signature plug-ins provide the necessary programming and integrate signatures directly into the management database.

Custom apps for mobile devices. iPads and iPhones can run FileMaker software too. Custom-built apps are suited to the business’s needs, and to the practical needs of using a mobile device. Custom solutions can be created and implemented in a number of hours through the user-friendly interface.

Another major advantage provided by the flexibility of FileMaker Pro is the ability to communicate and interact effectively with other systems. Streamlining business communication and information keeps everyone who uses the system on the same page, regardless of how they get there. Whether employees access the system through Windows, Mac, iPad, or iPhone, they all view and interact with the system in the same way.

Why is FileMaker Such a Well-Kept Secret?

Even with a force as big as Apple behind FileMaker software development (FileMaker Inc. is a daughter company of Apple Inc.), it is still widely under-recognized.

Hundreds of CRM software developers stand a lot to lose if FileMaker begins to dominate the market the way some of Apple’s other products have. Some of these bigger developers put just as much money into marketing against FileMaker as they do into developing their own products.

Like many Apple products, the public may mistakenly assume that FileMaker Pro is designed for the elite. On the contrary, FileMaker is extremely affordable when it comes to professional business software. The cost of maintenance for CRM solutions is one of their chief criticisms, but FileMaker continues to save businesses money through the ability to be customized and modified by everyday users.

Another big reason FileMaker Pro hasn’t seen more widespread use is that that the software is simply misunderstood. Although it uses templates and has a user-friendly interface, the task of understanding, installing, modifying, and implementing a new database is a daunting task to most businesses.

Indeed, getting a software program like FileMaker up and running, customizing it to meet specific business needs, and training the sales force and other departments to use it is a task. But it is an investment. This upfront effort pays off exponentially when businesses begin to use it and streamline all of their tasks and information, ultimately saving a lot of time and money consistently in the long run.

Because FileMaker Pro is meant to be customized to each business’s needs, we use the program as a template for developing completely customized business management systems that streamline sales, accounting, recruiting, management, and customer relationships into one system that tracks and records all information, in addition to providing universal access on any device from any location with secure Internet access.

It’s hard to say precisely why; sometimes, it’s simply the best things that are kept under the radar!

The Benefits of Using FileMaker as Your CRM Software

February 14th, 2013

If your business runs on a customer relationship management system—one that focuses on the customer and creating specified marketing and sales strategies for each customer—you have a wide range of software suites and solutions to choose from. The most popular and recommended by companies throughout the world is FileMaker Pro.

FileMaker Pro is a relational database program that integrates a powerful database engine with a slick, easy-to-use graphic user interface. What makes FileMaker Pro such a necessary part of your CRM strategy? And how can your business benefit from using FileMaker? Read on to find out.

1. FileMaker Pro is user friendly.

One of the biggest challenges to adopting new software comes in the transition: you and your team have done things a certain way for a long time, so introducing a new element is bound to throw some kinks in the system, right? Luckily, FileMaker Pro is a completely user-friendly application that is easy to use regardless of your computer prowess. You don’t have to develop databases for a living to use FileMaker, and teaching your team won’t require many precious hours of training. All it takes is a few minutes to become a pro thanks to the clean, easy-to-understand user interface.

2. It’s easy to start, regardless of how big or small your business is.

A relational database is a necessity for just about any modern business, big or small, and allows you to store, organize, change, and recall information. For a CRM system, a relational database is what you’d use to record customer data, including what they purchase and when they tend to purchase, that you can analyze to determine marketing strategies.

FileMaker Pro’s usability gives smaller businesses a powerful tool at a fraction of the monetary investment. You no longer need expensive database software nor do you have to hire a developer to run it.

3. It’s robust.

Sometimes, software is only so easy to use because it is watered down and not nearly as complete as more expensive applications, but FileMaker Pro has the same robust capacities as dedicated database software, and maybe more.

For DIY developers, FileMaker Pro is a dream. You can create a FileMaker database by importing a Bento library or through an Excel spreadsheet. At the same time, those who aren’t so much of the do-it-yourself mentality can choose from several layout themes and 30 starter databases. Starter databases cover a wide range of applications, including asset managements, invoicing, and family medical records.

FileMaker Pro can also create dynamic summary reports, which list your records and offer subtotals based on the sort order. You can, for instance, create a report that lists sales sorted by client with the totals for each client.

You can connect FileMaker Pro 10 directly to your internal email server without installing a plug-in. This allows you to send reports, invoices, letters, and other information from the database through email directly from FileMaker.

FileMaker Pro also has several features that allow for personalization for each member in your organization. For example, FileMaker keeps track of your searches and allows you to view recent finds and save frequent finds without having to reenter criteria constantly. These searches are user-specific, so you can find exactly what you need, quickly and easily.

4. It offers extensive control over how your data is presented and analyzed.

Getting into the nitty-gritty of FileMaker Pro helps you realize just how much control you have over the program, primarily in the scripts you can write to perform all sorts of actions with data. Scripts can be simple—send a report to a printer—or highly complex. Scripts center on general programming logic that allows you to check for errors, loop and branch, provide your own input, and offer adept control with all the database’s functions.

In the past, triggering scripts required the click of the button, which isn’t much of a problem, but for oft repeated functions, you can trigger scripts automatically based on various basic actions, like changing the layout or modifying a field.

5. It improves communication.

Thanks to FileMaker cloud hosting services, all the company information and customer data is available to all members of your team, keeping everyone on the same level. Cloud storage and FileMaker mobile apps allow your employees to access data from anywhere.