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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Your Backup Plan: Be Prepared in Your Business for Disaster Recovery

If you watch American Football at all you would have seen a few instances this year of the need for a backup quarterback. Aaron Rogers, the star quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, was injured mid-season and until their third backup in as many weeks tied a game against the Vikings they didn't come close to looking like the same team without him. However, Matt Flynn finally stepped up and brought Green Bay back from several disappointing games to at least be competitive against the Minnesota team. 

A backup quarterback is an important component to a football team. While the hope is that the defenders can keep the quarterback safe on the field, their risk of injury is very high. The Packers have long relied on their superstar to keep the team winning but when he was injured against the Bears earlier in the season they had to quickly rethink their strategy. 

Their first back-up was injured and they had to call another player up from the practice squad to take the most important position in the game. Finally, after their longest losing streak since 2008 they re-signed Matt Flynn who was able keep the team afloat. While the team didn't win the game, they did tie in overtime and they will face the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day with Rogers' health still in question for that national spotlight game. 

Okay, we know you're not here to read about Football and I just spent three paragraphs talking about it at length. However, just like in football, uncertainty in business can become a major problem when something goes wrong and you don't have a backup plan. Football is a perfect metaphor for our business systems.  The technology is crucial but it isn't infallible and situations are bound to happen eventually that can take the system to its knees if you're not prepared. You need to know that your company, your team, and your service provider can handle these down times and keep them from affecting your business and customers. 

Many organizations refer to this as disaster recovery. Major corporations spend millions of dollars to analyze their product and have systems in place to prevent issues for their operations. Remember, a breakdown in your system will affect your clients and this is the pain you want to prevent. Solving a problem before it happens by having the right processes in place can be imperative. It is better a plan that you never have to use than to find yourself in a position that can grind your organization to a halt. 

Don't find your company without a star quarterback. Plan ahead with a backup system in place. 

Working with a software service provider who understands this critical issue is important. NextCrew offers high-availability cloud based online staffing platform. Let us worry about IT infrastructure and you take care of business. Contact us today!  

First photo credit: elviskennedy via photopin cc 
Second photo credit: Justin Marty via photopin cc

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thanks for Making Us Better: The Value of Customer Criticism

During our development process we talked with a lot of clients about what they needed for their workforce management system. Anyone who has worked in an industry that provides a client services knows that no two clients are alike. Throughout the process many clients made simple requests to make the system easier to use and others had more complicated demands. 

It is easy to stand firm and determine that your solution is only going to encompass certain needs. It is easy to say that certain functions are impossible. However, during the course of developing NextCrew's workforce management system we learned that sometimes the customer really is right and their criticism is what makes us strive to improve our product and services to meet even the most demanding customer's needs. 

Imagine how good your overall product would be if you spent enough time with your designs to make even your toughest clients pleased? If the most critical clients are happy then all of your clients would benefit from the extra work that you put into making sure the systems were the very best. 

We really appreciate the criticism that our clients provide for us to give us an opportunity to meet their needs and make our product better. 

To the perfectionist client who demanded we provide everything on their checklist; we are glad to have you in our corner. 

Using client criticism and requests for more functionality and better system features will make your business infinitely better. Here are five simple questions to ask your clients about your service and what you can do to make it better. 

  • Is our product meeting your needs?
  • What is the one thing causing you the most concern in your business? 
  • What do you envision could work to solve this problem using software or technology?
  • What can I improve to make this product even better for you?
  • How do you use this technology every day? 
It is important to thank the client for their criticism and understand that they don't mean it as an insult to your company. They simply have a technological need and feel that your product isn't solving it for them. Once you ask them these questions really listen to their answers. Commit to improve your service to meet their needs and, in turn, the needs of all of your clients.

During the development process for NextCrew, we were grateful for clients who demanded perfection. We feel that if we had been rigid about not changing system based on client request our product would not have the polished system that we are able to offer today.

photo credit: via photopin cc

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Is Starbucks Just Coffee? What kind of experience do you expect from your software provider ?

Creative Commons | Pauline Mak

What kind of service do you generally expect from your software provider? Most companies indicate that they want a product that functions out of the box and makes their jobs easier. What if you began to think about your software provider just like you would any other service? 

Take, for instance, Starbucks seasonal offerings. Pumpkin Spice Lattes have developed a strong following of very loyal customers. This three month only product offers users an experience that they can't get everywhere. Even with the sudden rise in Pumpkin Spice flavored products from a variety of food purveyors, Starbucks is still at the top of their game. The strategy is simple; provide an additional service that makes people happy. Starbucks isn’t just coffee it is an experience.
A software application is the perfect platform for customization that can enhance your product experience and works with your business operation. Your experience with this product doesn't just shape your business but it influences the user experience from your internal employees to your contingent workforce and clients. When strong customer service begins at the software implementation level, the ability to pass that down through your company is exponential. 

Creative Commons | 10ch
No software solution is one size fits all. It is important to work with a vendor who can understand your specific professional needs and help you customize a product that will enhance every aspect of your business. A software vendor who goes above and beyond after the contract is signed is exactly the kind of partner that your company needs. 

NextCrew specializes in workforce management systems that are customized to fit your needs. We are not simply a software vendor but a strategic partner who can work with you to make our product perfect for your business. We provide vendor support throughout the implementation and beyond working with you during the lifetime of our product and service. 

We believe that service makes the difference. We believe that offering you custom solutions and lifetime support is the right thing to do. This is the difference between a software solution and a strategic business partner. If you had to make the choice, wouldn't you select the company that offers you something beyond a product?  

We believe NextCrew offers our partners the best service and experience for their workforce management systems. Contact us today to learn more.

Monday, November 4, 2013

What is the Cloud and Why Should You Be in It?

The cloud has been one of the most talked about evolutions of technology within the last decade. But what exactly is it and why should you consider cloud services for your business? While many small business owners are concerned that the cloud is not as secure as other types of servers, that is simply not the case. The cloud works by storing all of your data and information away from your own computers and servers and allowing you to access them whenever you need them. 

There are several reasons for relocating your systems to the cloud. Here are a few more to consider. 

  1. The cloud is more cost effective. Unlike traditional in-house servers, the cloud doesn’t require the initial set up of computer hardware in your office. Cloud computing is not cheap but the cost of establishing your virtual system can be much less than if you need to make an investment in storage and server devices capable of running your workforce management tools.
  2. The cloud is easy to update and stay current. Because of the remote nature of cloud computing, it is very easy for your tech support to upgrade with the latest technology without your business experiencing any downtime. Since the information is stored off site an update is usually one simply click away. 
  3. The cloud won't grind your business to a halt if there is a problem. The Cloud is not centralized which means if one server goes down, your system runs on the rest of the available servers. This virtually eliminates any issues with technology hiccups. A hardware failure in the Cloud doesn’t mean your business stops running.
  4. The cloud provides opportunities to customize your system. With a cloud based workforce management tool such as NextCrew, you have the ability to customize your system to better represent your company and for your specific business needs. The virtual technology and our white label branding allow us to work with you to create a seamless system for your clients and crew.
By using a cloud based system for your company you are able to keep the costs down, stay current with technology, avoid tech outages.