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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:
YouTube Preview Image

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

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.

Using Work Order Management Software to Create Efficiency In Your Business

February 13th, 2013

Handheld computing devices, like the smartphone and tablet, have seen a dramatic surge in the last decade—especially the ever-popular iPad. Their popularity comes from their convenience and the sheer potential that comes from having essentially a personal computer in the palm of your hand.

That potential has been put toward video games, various recreational apps, and methods of connecting with others, but handheld devices have quickly made their way into the business realm to improve efficiency and workflow as well. Let’s take a look at how an iPad or similar handheld/mobile device loaded with work order management software can create a more efficient business.

An Upgrade on the Handheld Concept

Handhelds aren’t an entirely new concept in work order management. They were a good way to automate processes and do away with much of the paperwork for a greener, eco-friendly workplace. In the past, handhelds were called data collection units and were available for all industries. You could customize them to work with your company’s CMMS (computerized maintenance management system).

However, most of these units were small and clunky for technicians who got their hands a little dirty in the field. Time-saving features, like simple dropdown menus, were mostly absent. Worst of all, the units were docking-type units. In order to download and upload data, you had to plug these handhelds into computers. It was near impossible to receive real-time data for reactive and emergency work. Technicians had to waste precious time plugging and docking their handheld units during the work shift just to get their work tickets.

Smartphones, tablets, and iPads are a much-needed upgrade on these handheld units. They can perform the same basic tasks plus so much more, and in a much more efficient way. Given the easy interface, your technicians can write work orders, perform preventative maintenance procedures, and review drawing and schematics in mere minutes, all from their iPads.

IPads and tablets have the added benefit of large screens on top of slick design. Your techs have plenty of room for looking at lists, drawings, and schematics, and the touchscreen gives them space for writing notes and comments and capturing customer approval signatures at the job site. With the built-in camera, your in-field technicians can take pictures for their records or send them to headquarters for advice or assistance.

Greater Speed, Accuracy, and Functionality

There’s no more waiting around when you have the power and convenience of an iPad in your hands. Dispatchers can send electronic work orders with the click of the button. From there, the technicians can locate and navigate to the work order destination using built-in maps and GPS. You can update the status of a job and ensure that everyone—client, dispatch, and technician—knows what has and hasn’t yet been completed.

The iPad and its many mobile apps offer a great deal of automation that extends to managing work orders. You can automatically calculate invoice totals, avoiding human math errors. Tracking and invoicing parts is simpler than ever, so you can stop losing money on lost parts that haven’t been invoiced. The digital format means your brand can save money on paper and paper goods as well.

All of the information your technicians collect in the field transfers into your work order system and can be directly siphoned into Quickbooks or other accounting software. The days of lost paperwork, delays with data entry, and messy handwriting are of the past.

Improved Quality

With any business, it all comes down to quality. If your team isn’t exactly on par with producing quality documentation or work requests, you can’t expect an iPad and a bit of software to fix everything. After all, paperwork is as much a part of the process as getting into the field.

Before you even get the mobile devices into your technicians’ hands, make sure they are up to speed with proper procedures and are capable of producing good written work orders. From there, you can introduce them to the upgraded tech and help them understand the value of using mobile devices.

Mobile devices can do wonders to improve quality and efficiency. With the right set up and a knowledgeable team, you should have no problem finishing the day with better work orders and asset data.

FM Work Orders

Why Settle for CRM Software for the Masses

February 12th, 2013

Your business is unique, and the CRM software used to manage it should be unique as well. A one-size-fits-all solution does not streamline most companies to their fullest potential. This leaves a business struggling to meet the format of their CRM system rather than enjoying the benefits of a platform that rises to meet their needs.

Why Generic CRM Doesn’t Work

Non-customized CRM software platforms can seem effective in theory, but in application they never reach their full potential. That’s because they are usually implemented though either software or a web-based hosting service that offers one platform to all businesses, regardless of the type of business they operate. General-needs software is not adequate for all types of businesses.

In theory, all businesses are selling something, usually a product or service, but not always. And a business that sells used cars, for example, wins and attracts clients differently than a business selling vacation packages, and their interactions with their clients are different too. The used car dealership may experience most of their customer interactions in person at the dealership, while the vacations business may conduct all of their business over the phone and online, without ever coming face to face with a customer. A used car dealership is usually working to make a one-time sale (although they still want to create customer loyalty so the buyer will return or refer their friends and family for the next car), while the vacations provider is looking for repeat vacationers and client retention.

Nonprofit organizations function like for-profit businesses in many ways, but their “sales” are unique. Not called sales at all, these organizations are effectively selling not a product or a service but a need. Nonprofit business models are fundraising based and they aim to attract clients and customers of all types. Most nonprofits rely on revenues from a variety of different places: grant-awarding foundations, individual/private donors, fundraising campaigns, and selling a product and/or service. Each revenue-earning sector of the nonprofit may be run like a different business, but the same staff may be running and managing each sector.

Most businesses operate more like the nonprofit (in a variety of unique ways) than on the cut-and-dry sales model. A successful business, regardless of industry, markets, wins clients, makes sales, and retains clients in multiple ways rather than through the platform of a confining business model. And a CRM system should help a business better manage its employees, customer relationships, and use of technology, not dictate the ways they perform these functions.

How is custom CRM different?

Custom CRM is unique like your business. When you run your business using customized CRM software, your business is operating on a platform that’s different from every other information management system out there. The platform may begin with a framework like FileMaker Pro, but it is customized to suit the business’s individual needs along the way. It doesn’t contain functions your business never uses and it can be changed and modified when it’s no longer meeting the business’s needs to its fullest potential.

A successful business is constantly growing and changing. A successful business revamps its sales and marketing techniques when revenues are down, whether it’s because of the loss of a big client or a change in the economy. A successful business also changes when profits are up, by identifying what worked and using that forward momentum to increase profits more. A business that can’t change because of an inflexible management platform won’t be able to live up to its fullest potential.

It makes sense to adopt an information management system that’s custom built to your individual needs from day one, tailored to your changing business when needed—and that comes with the technical support and expertise necessary to make those changes.