Everything You Need to Know about Software ROI

While not all projects or organizations are alike, there are many different elements of technology acquisition that have different value propositions and hence, need to be evaluated differently.

Here’s everything you need to know about software ROI… Let’s get to it…

People at office laptops

Software Value Proposition

Software is unique – it can run on almost anything, comes on a disk, CD, DVD, download, Cloud… It can do almost anything – from organize your day, inventory, plant, office, people, customers… you get the idea – it is somewhat ubiquitous – because you can never use that work too much.

Software value proposition aligns directly with the big three ROI elements reviewed in my previous blog:

  • Increased Revenue/Gross Margin
  • Increased Bottom Line/Efficiency
  • Improved Customer Experience

But how do you measure these (without hiring a team of financial specialists and accountants)? Let’s get back to the KISS principle.

Some software has an acquisition cost in either license costs or development costs. This licensing model typically has some form of maintenance or upgrade cost associated – you may also want to incorporate some component for infrastructure costs. Subscription [OK I’ll use the Cloud word] based software has a monthly or annual fee. All of these models can fairly easily allow you to find a long term direct cost of ownership – I would suggest you span this out past 5 years for acquisition licensing model with a 10-year life span or 5 years for the subscription model.

You now have a handle on the long term investment in the solution – sadly that may be the easy part…

In order to measure the returns, it can get a little more complicated. Let’s look at the big 3.

1) Revenue/Gross Margin

If you can you attribute specific revenue increases to the functions the software provides, then it simplifies things. It may not always be so easy. New geographies, increased penetration into existing accounts, cross selling metrics can be functions of many things. Additional revenue from online transactions is easier to quantify. Ultimately, it will be important to quantify these to your best ability. If you can attribute the reduction in direct Cost of Goods to the revenue, this number becomes somewhat obvious.

2) Increased Bottom Line

Generally, this is one of the somewhat easier parts to quantify – If you are in a position where you need to hire additional resources to complete tasks that automation can address, you can offset these net costs directly. Ultimately if you have operational costs that are labour intensive, eliminating the inefficiencies of these tasks through automation will reduce costs through increased production without increased labour and deliver an improved bottom line.

3) Improved Customer Experience

In a world where customers will pay for a premier experience, this may be one of the most important aspects of ROI, but perhaps one of the hardest to quantify. Through an improved experience, your “customers:”

  • Have a higher degree of loyalty
  • Purchase more from you because you are always open or have tools to purchase when they need it (impulse)
  • Have access to information to do their jobs from anywhere without interrupting their jobs
  • Rely on your organization because you are an extension of them

Ultimately the goal here is to attempt to quantify (in real dollars) the gains from these activities.

The rest is just math…

Person typing on a keyboard

A Simple Approach to Calculating ROI/ROI%

(Recognizing there are no factors for NPV for the financially oriented readers)

Calculate all direct costs for the useful life of a project (Development, Licensing, Support):

  • e.g. $ 50k initial development + 5k support annually for 10 years = 100k direct costs

Calculate the increased bottom line contribution through increased revenue, decreased cost:

  • e.g. Reduce hiring requirement of a $60k person, increase revenue by $ 50k annually through efficiencies = ($ 60k + $50k) * 10 = $ 1,100k
  • ROI (months) = 100k/1,100k*120 = 11 Months
  • ROI% = 1,100/100*100 = 1,100% or 110% annually

Chat with CoreSolutions about Delivering Tangible Results

Our rule of thumb for the viability of a project is fairly simple. When you invest in a project, the project should pay for itself within 18-36 months through increased returns. After that period you will receive these increased financial returns for the balance of the software’s useful life. Typically, this results in a 40-80% annualized ROI% – very few financial investments can boast these levels of return.

I would welcome the opportunity to chat with you about how we might assist in optimizing and growing your business and delivering tangible results. So, connect with us via telephone at 1-800-650-8882 or fill out a contact us form on our website.

Share

Advantages of Progressive Web Applications

Progressive web apps are causing a paradigm shift for software development. Traditionally, the development of an app meant knowledge of native languages such as (but not limited to) Java, Objective-C or Swift. It also meant jumping through the hoops and hurdles of getting yourself listed on those pesky Apple and Android App Stores. Now however, the development of apps can be made accessible to us lowly HTML, CSS and JavaScript coders. Before we continue on about the benefits of progressive web apps, it may be beneficial to explore their predecessor: Traditional Web Apps.

Traditional Web Apps

Traditional web apps differ from native apps because rather than an app icon on your screen; they are made accessible through a web browser. They are beneficial because unlike native apps, they are easier to maintain due to their common code across various platforms. Most importantly however, they don’t require visiting an app store for download.

However, web apps are not without their own shortcomings; as they are not installed directly on your mobile device—without internet connectivity, a web app is relatively useless. Hybridizing mobile and traditional web apps however create a new entity, one that takes advantages of the strengths in both native mobile and web applications: Progressive Web Apps.

Progressive Web Apps

Progressive web apps are a hybridization between native, and traditional web apps. Progressive web apps are progressive because they work in old and new browsers, although they benefit from the use of modern browsers and features. They also deliver a more app-like user experience. Like native applications, PWA’s can have icons placed either on your desktop, or in your toolbar, providing easy application accessibility. By combining the native and traditional web applications, PWA’s are able to achieve the benefits of each, while mitigating their shortcomings. In fact, Pinterest – a popular image sharing site – experienced a 40% increase in time spent on their site, and 44% higher user generated ad revenue after implementing their new progressive web app.

Benefits

A major advantage to using progressive web apps is the avoidance of app stores, and their strict regulations. Another important benefit not to be overlooked, is the growing presence of “app fatigue”. The 2017 U.S. Mobile App Report revealed an astonishing 50% of smartphone users in the US download NO apps per month. By focusing more on the user experience, PWA’s can provide more value to your customers, and your organization.

Arguably one of the most important features of a progressive web app is its flexibility, although originally intended for mobile use, PWA’s function just as well on desktop, television, and tablet screens. Offline mode is also of benefit, as information a user has accessed previously is available for use and viewing without the need of an internet connection; something native apps have yet to accomplish.

In terms of maintenance, progressive web apps also boast simplicity over their app-store-distributed counterparts. Rather than having to submit an update packaged file to the app-store, PWA’s can simply be updated directly through the server.

Limitations

So far you might be thinking – “why would anybody choose native over progressive web apps?”. However, there are a few shortcomings associated with obtaining your own web app. The main downfall is the lack of support on iOS devices, limiting your applications reach. Secondly, unlike native apps downloaded directly onto your phone, these web applications are unable to sync with your phones functionalities. Things like GPS location, calendars, contacts, or any other features native apps typically interface with, are unavailable to PWA’s.

Conclusion

Progressive web apps are changing the face of software development. Not only do they experience a variety of user benefits, but they also improve performance overall—see Pinterest’s Progressive Web App Performance Case Study. Increased time spent on site, increased ad revenue, as well as conversions are just a few of the benefits you can expect from replacing your native application with a web application.

Overall, PWA’s are:

  • Easier to develop
  • More useful for users
  • Easier to install, maintain, and keep secure
  • Easier to grow as your company grows
  • Can be run on any type of device (desktop, mobile, tablet)

Let’s discuss your next web-based application. Contact us directly at 1-800-650-8882 or fill out a contact us form on our website and we’ll help you determine how to make your next progressive web app a massive success!

Share

Implementation of an Enterprise-wide Common Street Address Database for the City of Hamilton

Problem

The City of Hamilton has many service delivery applications utilizing and storing resident addresses. For example, street addresses are solicited from the resident in a free form method and are never validated against a common address database.  Thus, the City has numerous instances of address databases that are not accurate or consistent, which are used on a daily basis to communicate to the residents. In many cases, these address databases are misused and often invalid addresses cause breakdown of communications.  This has led to embarrassment for the City, anger by the residents and in some cases legal action.

Challenge

The challenge is to establish a single authoritative address database which all service delivery applications can valid against.  Establishing which is most correct and then comparing others to get the best of breed is the greatest challenge.  Other challenges are the adoption of a single authoritative database, “clean up” existing databases and encourage application stewards to use the single authoritative database as truth.

Resolution

The City engaged a subject matter expert to help collect business requirements, design a solution and implement this solution. The technical solution consisted of a consolidated database model, application database cleanup, address maintenance tool, redlining tool for identifying address issues and a method to deliver addresses to other service delivery applications.

Also a sustainability model to ensure that addresses were maintained accurately and on a timely basis by identified stewards. The address model would ensure that new or updated addresses would be available to other service delivery applications.

Share

The Benefits of a Website Built with Responsive Web Design

Responsive web design is a relatively new approach to web design that seeks to optimize the web browsing experience for multiple devices. With the rise of smartphone and tablet usage over the last decade, the importance of having a website that displays beautifully on any medium is not only an opportunity for increased revenue, but is crucial for surviving as a company over the next decade.

With responsive web design, as a screen size increases or decreases, images and text on a website scale to fit the to the user’s web browser, ensuring that the all web content is displayed in its best form. So whether you’re accessing the web via a smartphone, tablet, desktop computer and so on, responsive web design provides you with a seamless and fluid browsing experience.

Here are the top 5 advantages to having a website built with responsive web design:

CoreSolutions Devices with Responsive Web Design
    1. Website and Web Application Adaptability

Responsive web design offers a browsing environment that can accommodate any mobile product, along with the traditional desktop computer. With respect to mobile devices, responsive web design provides a web browsing experience with minimal pinching and resizing, as web content almost naturally fits with the shape and size of the screen size. The bottom line is that responsive frameworks dynamically adjust to the device that is being used to access the web application.

In today’s global market, characterized by a variety of mobile options and with that varying mobile device screen sizes, having a website or web application that is mobile-friendly and provides the best overall user experience, is crucial to generating new revenue for your business. Since responsive web design functions to optimize web browsing from any browsing device, there is no need to build dedicated websites and web applications for each web browsing demographic. Rather, a solution built on responsive web design will effectively and efficiently handle both desktop and mobile web browsing.

    1. Mobile Usability and a Lower Bounce Rate

With mobile web browsing set to overtake desktop web browsing in the not too distant future as the number 1 method for browsing the internet, it’s imperative that organizations upgrade their websites so that they’re mobile-friendly. Responsive web design is tailored for the mobile web browsing experience and as a result, will provide you with a lower bounce rate due to the ease-of-use navigating the internet on mobile devices. Compare this with the bounce rate for non-responsive web design based websites accessed via mobile devices and the difference is astounding. If your website is not optimized for this mobile web browsing demographic, then you risk increasing your bounce rate. By providing mobile users with a seamless and fluid browsing experience, responsive web design will keep visitors on your website for extended periods of time, thereby assisting in lowering your website bounce rate.

Lady with piggy bank
    1. Long Term Savings on Development Costs

Although the upfront development hours and costs are greater, the long term return on investment for websites and web applications built on responsive web design is abundantly clear – you will save time and money by avoiding the cumbersome process of managing and updating a mobile version and a desktop version of the same application. With responsive web design, organizations can make updates in one location that will accommodate for both desktop and mobile web browsing experiences.

    1. Maintain and Potentially Increase Google Rankings

On April 21st 2015, Google released its mobile-friendly algorithm update, also known as the “Google Mice Update” or “Mobilegeddon,”with the goal of increasing the visibility of mobile-friendly websites, while simultaneously, pushing mobile-friendly websites to the top of google search results from mobile devices. It’s abundantly clear that Google’s mandate in this update is to assist with shifting web-browsing into a mobile dominated world. With a mobile-friendly website, there’s also the opportunity to snag new mobile business from a competitor whose website is not up to mobile standards.

So what’s Google’s number one suggestion for adhering to this new mobile-friendly standard? It’s having a website built on responsive web design! Technically-speaking, on its own, complying with Google’s new mobile-friendly standard won’t directly increase your Google search rankings on mobile devices – on the contrary, it will allow you to maintain your position and you won’t be penalized – what will allow you to leap-frog the competition in mobile search results is being the first to take the jump to optimize your website or web application so that it’s mobile-friendly.

In addition, responsive web design will assist with increasing your SEO, as Google crawlers will only have to search one website for your information, as opposed to non-responsive web design web applications that force Google crawlers to search separate mobile and desktop websites to index content. This means that you can house and optimize all your metadata for SEO in one area, making life easy on Google crawlers, & as a result, organically driving traffic to your website.

    1. Your Company Will Be Prepared for the Shift into the Mobile Dominated Web Browsing World

With mobile web browsing set to surpass desktop web browsing as the preferred way of surfing the internet, updating your website so that it’s mobile-friendly will not only assist your company in the present, but it will prepare you for the shift into a mobile web browsing dominated world. Responsive web design will put your company in a position where you are ready for this change in demographics.

Why Use Responsive Web Design?

In the end, it can be boiled down to one major organizational advantage: web applications and websites created using responsive web design will, if assembled correctly, save you time and money in the long run. You won’t have to maintain two separate websites for desktop and mobile, meaning that you will only be required to update one application. Your application will also be optimized for all browsing experiences and compliant with Google’s new mobile-friendly standard. And since your website will be mobile-friendly, there is the potential to increase your Google rankings on searches from mobile devices, along with the opportunity to improve your SEO.

Let CoreSolutions develop your next website or web application using responsive web design. With our extensive experience in software development, we’ll take your project from initial concept through to full implementation and beyond. Contact us today at 1-800-650-8882 to learn more about how CoreSolutions can make your next web development project a success!

Share

Fully Integrated Software: What it Means to Your Organization

In every business or organization, a variety of systems is required to complete daily tasks. These systems make your life easier and most days, there is no doubt in that. But, have you ever considered having your systems integrated? Having an integrated system not only establishes a future-proof foundation for your business or organization, but it can increase productivity and efficiency, in addition to boosting the morale of your employees or members.

System Integrations = Improved Productivity

Image of a happy and productive team

Your thirst for a system with streamlined data and simple login solutions can be quenched with a properly integrated system. Simplified processes, lower system friction, and streamlined data mean employees are truly using the system – not fighting it.

When systems are integrated, productivity rises. And rumour has it, increased employee productivity is something most businesses and organizations are willing to support.

The Benefits of Software Integrations: Efficiency, Effectiveness, Profitability & So On

Not only will employees be more productive with an integrated system, they will be able to complete their jobs in a more efficient manner. Additionally, data input will no longer be the stressful, tedious task that it once was and the act of logging in to multiple systems will no longer consume the mornings of your staff. And you’ll be happy to hear that your employees will stop cringing and complaining about the systems they use on a daily basis. Instead, they’ll get up and jump for joy every time they use the integrated solution at work (Okay that may be a little presumptuous, but they will absolutely approve of the benefits). A simplified, integrated system can stroke many of those infuriatingly repetitive tasks from your to-do list and save you precious time and money.

System Integrations Lead to Increased Morale

Image of an employee thrilled about a system integration

Having systems that are integrated can definitely increase employee morale. The two concepts may not seem to be related, but hear me out. An integrated system streamlines your data across all platforms for all users and reduces friction that may be caused from manually transferring data. Behind the scenes, integration makes your system more robust. While on the front-end, what your employees see is simplified. When work is simplified, employees are less stressed and morale gets a lift.

Calling on All Integration-ers

Software integrations can be very beneficial for any business or organization. It can create a better environment for your employees and at the same time, it can modernize your processes. Integrating your systems can also boost productivity, increase profitability and lift staff morale, which is always top-of-mind concerns for business owners and managers.

If integrating software has helped your company with any of these items, then we’d love to hear your story, so please leave us a comment below.

See more technical information on our system/software integration process here.

Share

Ensure a Comfort Level Throughout the Development Project

A wise man once said that the root of all problems is communication or lack thereof. Communication and communicating are at the heart of the Project Manager’s mandate, and project success hinges on it.

Effective communication, real status updates, frequent meetings, and product demonstrations are all part of the communication required for a development project. These processes ensure that the stakeholders have a high level of comfort throughout the project.

Insist On A Project Communications Plan

I suggest that you insist that all your projects include a communications plan that sets the frequency, agenda, day, time and duration of your regularly scheduled project meetings. I call these Traction Meetings. They should happen every week at the same time, same day, same length with the same agenda.

Have Weekly Traction Meetings

The purpose of your weekly traction meeting is progress. Its frequency enforces activity, and it is designed to identify, discuss and develop solutions to issues impeding the progress of your project.

To create additional levels of comfort in the project you may also develop some indicators of success and a to-do list.

Identify Issues and Solve Them With Stakeholders Present

Here’s my agenda format:

Graphic image with news, indicators, to-do items amd issues listed

News: Each person or group can share a news item that affects them, you or the project. Issues identified should be dropped to the issues list. You need to spend a short time on this – approximately five minutes.

Indicators: Are there measurements that you can use to plot the success of the project? Time and budget are two. If you have others that will help you identify issues, then add them to the agenda. Again, you should spend little time on this – about five minutes.

To-Do Items: Solutions to problems are either a 7-day fix, (to-do), a project scope change, plan change, etc. Capture the to-do items as you solve the issues to ensure they become to-dones!

Issues List: Project issues, news items, indicators not met, to-do items not complete, scope changes, scope creep, blown budgets and schedules can all become issues. Sort the project issues from highest priority to lowest then spend most your meeting time discussing and solving the projects’ biggest problems.

 

CoreSolutions of London, Ontario, is a locally acclaimed software development firm with over 25 years of experience.

CoreSolutions’ team of experts, including developers and project managers, build web and mobile applications using the Agile Methodology and tools. CoreSolutions will assist you through all phases of your project including:

  • Brainstorming;
  • Requirements Planning;
  • Project Management.

Connect with CoreSolutions today to start your project with a Free Needs Analysis.

Share

Accurate Project Estimates Reduce Stress

Part Nine in the Series: Software Development Guide for Business Leaders

Business leaders with development projects on the horizon can improve project success, reduce stress and elevate the public relations associated with your project by employing proper estimating and budgeting practices. This in-house exercise lays the groundwork for both external and internal expenditures. Create top-down estimates during project inception and then, once approved, use bottom-up estimating for the additional detail required for project budgeting.

How to Reduce Stress and Improve Public Relations with Project Estimating

Digging into the details from the inception of a project, to develop a project estimate will provide you with the confidence in your “numbers” when approaching your management team with a development project idea.

We’ve heard of software development projects that have grossly exceeded the initial estimate. Easily address estimate inaccuracy through a few simple, upfront project processes that will help you maintain organizational budgets, reduce internal stress and enhance careers.

Why is Project Estimating an Internal Practice?

While external resources could significantly contribute to the estimating and budgeting of your project, you, ultimately are signing the cheques and are responsible for your project’s success. Therefore, the project estimate is owned by you, the project sponsor.

Avoid embarrassing situations with your management team by understanding that the estimate belongs to you while the process for estimating may belong to your team.

What is Top-Down Estimating?

Image of the PhoneGap Logo

Top-down estimating is primarily used at a strategic level to evaluate a project proposal. At this level, the scope isn’t fixed, much of the detail is not defined, and the level of uncertainty is high.

Use a top-down approach to creating your project estimate during the project proposal phase. Develop a top-down estimate by using the experience of your senior team or external experts to break the project down and provide an estimate bolstered by a process referred to as the Delphi Method. Ratios are also often applied to create estimates; for example, “implementation is 2x the cost of development.”

A top-down estimate should have an accuracy range of minus 20% to plus 60%.

What is Bottom-Up Estimating?

Image of the PhoneGap Logo

Bottom-up estimating is performed at the work package level and can be summarized up into larger groups. Once the project is defined then, it makes good sense to engage the experts that can help to create an accurate estimate.

Upon approval, use a bottom-up approach to refine your project estimate. Often a previous project can be a template for your project. With the bottom-up approach to project estimating, derive your numbers and ranges from the lowest level that you can drive to – the work package level. Expect an accuracy of minus 10% to plus 30% in your bottom-up estimate.

A Hybrid Approach to Estimating

Using both top-down and bottom-up approaches to project estimating will provide you with the highest level of confidence in your “numbers.” Start with the top-down approach using experiential evidence, and the Delphi Method, then refine each phase of the project as it’s implemented by starting from the work package and working up.

Conclusion

A good and accurate estimate for your software development project will reduce scope and budget creep, improve relations between you, your team and vendors, and keep you in a favourable light with your management team.

Diligence and detail at the beginning of the project can help your business maintain budgets and expectations. It’s also important to note that good estimates and budgets can protect your team from the uncomfortable situations that can occur when a project goes off the rails financially.

 

CoreSolutions of London, Ontario, is a locally acclaimed software development firm with over 25 years of experience. CoreSolutions’s team of experts, including developers and project managers, build web or mobile applications using the latest technology and tools and will assist you through all phases of the project including brainstorming, requirements planning and project management. Connect with CoreSolutions today to start your project with a Free Business Systems Requirement.

Share

How Technology Is Changing the Customer Experience Landscape

In theory, customer experience is simple. When a customer purchases a product or service from a business, the experience they have can either be a good experience or a bad experience, black and white, simple, right? If it were true that customer experience begins and ends at the point-of-sale, then it may be that simple. But, that is not how customer experience happens anymore. Customer experience can begin as early as a simple Google search that ends up on your website. Customer experience can last as long as – well ever. A customer could be completely content with their purchase and then 2 years later call with a complaint. This interaction, though 2 years later, is still part of a customer’s experience with your business.

This extending timeframe for customer experience paired with the light speed advances in technology has forced businesses to revaluate where and when the customer experience begins, when and if ever the customer experience ends and what tools and technologies have changed the way customers and businesses interact.

Big Data and New Era Customer Experience

Image of man with iPad with data on the device

Though some customers may not be aware of how websites personally target them with ads and deals that are created based on their past search or purchase history or geographically target them based on where they are currently sitting, but it happens. And the reason it happens so easily nowadays is because the data that is available, and more importantly accessible, for businesses and search engines.

We live in a day and age where (though slightly concerning) it is not uncommon to be able to find out where someone lives, who they live with, what they do and when they do it. Now, before we go off on a tangent about online security and privacy settings, let’s get back to what this article is about – how has this data affected the customer experience landscape?

With this information in the hands of businesses, customers can receive much more personalized advertising messages, product suggestions, and even vacation ideas. Many do not enjoy their online data being peeped on for the sake of business; however, many do appreciate the personalization aspect and it does work or businesses would not be continuing to use this data for sales purposes.

This data-driven business style, paired with geo-targeting strategies have changed where the customer experience begins. Companies that customers have never heard of may already have a personalized message and product armed and ready before the customer even knows they want the product. Kind of creepy, but really cool from a marketing standpoint.

The Rise of Technology: Infinite Access for Consumers

Image of lady on cellphone

Another aspect of the customer experience landscape that has changed tremendously is the channels to which customers can engage with a business and also the channels in which a customer can find resources.

The first channel is through live help either on a website or direct video link. Technology has been created that allows businesses to live chat with website visitors via instant messaging or video chat. These tools aim to improve the customer experience by taking a time that is usually stressful for the customer and making their experience and simple and stress-free as possible.

The second channel is social media. Whether you reach out to a company via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Snapchat, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, Vine or MySpace (just kidding, probably not MySpace – though they do have a nice rebrand happening), businesses around the world have embraced this social media movement with open arms and have, in turn, created new avenues for sharing content with customers, engaging themselves in the current conversations and also receiving negative feedback. Social media allows customers to like and share the businesses they love, but also personally speak to the businesses they love. This technology has proven that customer experience goes beyond the point-of-sale more than any other channel in decades.

Lastly, the rise in the tech-savviness of consumers and ease of access to company information and FAQs has led to an increase in customers solving their own problems. As long as businesses have important information that is accessible via all sorts of different devices readily available on their website, some consumers will attempt to solve their problems themselves – without engaging with a customer service specialist at all. This could have both positive and negative outcomes. A) Customer does not talk to business; customer finds important information; customer is happy with business; business is happy; win-win situation. Or B) Customer does not talk to business; customer does not find important information; customer is unhappy with business; business loses customer; lose-lose situation. May be extreme, but the accessibility of online information has definitely changed the customer experience landscape.

Customers Have Come To Expect More from Businesses

Image of graph that shows customer expectations increasing

I’ll keep this one short.

The best and worst thing to happen to the customer experience landscape is the increase in customer expectations. Best because businesses are adhering to customer complaints and protests and that leads to customers that are much more consistently satisfied with a much broader range of businesses. Worst because businesses may be seen as inferior if their customer experience protocol does not match the likes of the larger businesses that customers have come to expect.

Bad service should not be tolerated from anyone whom customers are giving their hard-earned money. However, because of the increase in expectations, businesses who in the past may have not needed to invest heavily in customer service may need to now just to stay afloat. Businesses may do their best to have amazing customer experience plans, but if they do not have the resources to offer live help, or 2 hour phone call return guarantees or 24/7 support then certain customers may see that as inferior. Unfortunate, but it is how the business world works. If you aren’t ready to evolve, someone else will fly right by you and your customers may just latch on to them for a ride.

Customer Experience Landscape Conclusion

In today’s article, we have briefly touched on how much the customer experience landscape has drastically evolved in the past decade. With the emergence of new platforms and the increasing uses of mass consumer data, the idea of what a customer experience means has grown from being a business to consumer transactional relationship into an around-the-clock engagement relationship, regardless if a transactional sale is made or not.

The cool thing is that the platforms and technology used by customers and businesses to communicate with each other will always evolve, but the idea of great customer service and successful businesses responding to what their customers want is timeless.

If you have anything to add to the conversation, be sure to leave a comment below. I hoped you had as good of a time reading this as I did writing it.

Share

Downloadable Return on Investment Calculator

Recently, I have been chatting with business owners about their software needs. The consensus seems to be that technology is rapidly advancing and becoming more efficient. Moreover, businesses and organizations are looking into how to most effectively and economically invest in custom software. The needs of today’s businesses are very unique and robust and that is why many of them are investing in custom software.

The challenge is that not many people know the standard ROI (Return on Investment) for software development or how long it will take to make your money back. Because of these conversations I have been having, I have developed this easy to use Free Downloadable Software Development ROI Calculator. This tool is a great starting point for businesses and managers who are looking for a ballpark when it comes to custom software ROI.

Download Software Development Return on Investment Calculator.

Again, this tool is a great starting point, but if you have any more questions or want a free personal software needs analysis for your business, be sure to reach out to CoreSolutions via our Contact Page.

Please enjoy our new ROI Calculator!

Cheers,

Share

The Cost of Not Making a Decision

There is a cost to not making a decision and here’s my story. I was once asked by a potential customer, “Who’s your biggest competitor?”

Man waiting for decision to be made

I thought to myself, was it a local consultant? Was it a specific technology? Could it be Salesforce or Access or even Excel spreadsheets? The answer I realized was none of the above.

The answer I went with was, “The company that does not make a decision and the customer who thinks the status quo is okay for now.” That’s my biggest competitor and the answer surprised the gentleman who asked the question. You see, I had been at his location over 2 years ago, chatting with this same individual about a potential project and in the end, no decision was made. Fast-forward over 730 days and we were still talking about the same project.

Think of it this way: I would not be on site having a meeting if the status quo was all right. Being in sales, you know that you are not going to win every sale. It is a strange logic that goes like this – if I am not going to win the deal, then at least tell me someone else has won the deal and let me know a decision has been made. When I hear silence or worse, the common phrase, “We have not made a decision at this time,” this tells me this company is going to try to ride it out for another year or 2 and stick with the status quo, while at the same time, crossing their fingers that the existing software workflow or hardware does not break down.

What Causes the Status Quo Customer Response?

  • Budget is lacking
  • Workflow is not defined
  • Timeline is too tight
  • Decision makers are unaware of the problem
  • Fear of change from user base
  • Influencers & stakeholders are not involved in the decision-making process

How Technology Companies Help Mitigate the Status Quo from Pushing Back Decisions With Projects

image of a laptop, an ipad and an iphone

Budget is lacking: The budget to any project needs to be defined at the first meeting. When I ask customers about a budget, it is not about trying to build a project to take up all funds. The reason we ask that question is to understand if there is enough funding for all stages of this project – ex. Does this project need to be built in phases & are we the right fit for this customer? Bottom line budget also needs to be defined and if it is not, then how serious can this customer be about fixing the issue(s)?

Workflow is not defined: In order to provide an accurate and complete estimate, a comprehensive understanding of workflow needs to be submitted to the consultant early in the estimate process. If a complete workflow is not finalized, then this can lead to either too high of an estimate due to unknowns or too low of an estimate as not all required functionality is listed.

How do we help with defining workflow? At CoreSolutions, we overcome this workflow challenge by:

  1. Providing a template that helps capture basic workflow, reporting, & layout information in a “Project Discovery Document.”
  2. Offering a service that helps define and build the workflow called the Business Requirements Definition (BRD). This is a billable service that comes in more than one type. For really complicated workflows, we will have a customer go through the BRD process.

Timeline is too tight: Timeline refers to when a project needs to begin or when it needs to reach final completion. The usual answer I hear is, “I need this yesterday.” Sometimes the time to define the workload or build the solution will take too long. Some companies have measurable busy cycles. Implementing a new project during the busiest time of the year will not lead to a successful implementation or adoption rate. In order to get past the timeline being the reason for not making a decision, some companies will work with the developer to determine the best time to have a new application implemented and tested.

Decision makers are unaware of the problem: Decision makers need be on the same page. This is sales 101 – the decision makers need to be in attendance at major meetings. But decision makers need to also understand the timelines involved, such as the commitment of time required by staff to build workflow and to test the different phases of applications. Successful solutions typically have decisions makers in the loop, so that they have an overall understanding of the project scope – including time, workflow and user defined needs.

Fear of change from user base: Change can be scary, especially if it is perceived that this is a change for the sake of change. Generally, to become more efficient, new systems will require different layouts, screens, reports or workflows. Fear by the user base can be overcome in a few ways:

  1. The customer can nominate a few power users of the system who will test, deploy and have input on many of the new functions. In particular, screen layout and report creation.
  2. Through hands-on training that can be provided for users either remotely or onsite.
  3. By creating a User’s Guide with the customer’s guidance.
image of a team making a decision

Influencers and stakeholders are not involved in the decision-making process: Inclusion of stakeholders and influencers is key to a project’s success. The bigger the project, the greater the odds that more than one department, process or manager will be involved. In medium to large scale projects, sometimes it’s only the people inputting data that have issues and want a new process in place. Their own colleagues or superiors may not know that an issue exists. One of the main reasons why defining workflow is so important is that this will determine whose departments will need input in a new application and potential new or modified process(es).

The Pitfalls of Sticking with the Status Quo

Maintaining the status quo isn’t always the best business decision. Oftentimes, it’s an emotional bias for the present set of circumstances (See – Status Quo Bias). Although you may avoid the challenge of having to retrain your staff in the present moment, the fact of the matter is that in the world of software, you’re bound to face the, “It’s time to upgrade your software,” scenario. If you don’t believe me, then you’re likely still running Windows 95 on your machine.

So what are the negative repercussions of sticking with the status quo? Well, here are a few:

  • You won’t be future-proofing your organization for forthcoming technological changes
  • Your clients & staff will view your company as a technology dinosaur – who wants their business to be viewed as lagging behind in anything?
  • You’ll have to add new features & additional functionality to your system as the years progress – in terms of development dollars & technical upkeep, this will cost more in the long run
  • Your time & your IT staff’s time spent managing the day-to-day operations of your software will skyrocket

Ready to Move Forward? Need Help Defining Your Project?

Let us assist you! At CoreSolutions, we’re determined to take you Beyond Software™ to make your next project a success! Whether you’re replacing old software or looking to purchase new software, we can help walk you through the process!

The first step is to complete a project profile form on our website & we’ll connect with you to learn more about how we can serve you best.

Share