Bi101 Blog … on cloud computing and SaaS, by Business Intelligence 101

The Advantage Behind one Financial System

As your business has grown more successful your needs have changed. Larger offices, better data security, more complex organizational infrastructure – but what about your financial system? Has it grown with you? Software solutions that perform just one function well (e.g. QuickBooks) may have been great during your company’s early stages but are they the right choice to drive your continued growth and success? The decision to make a switch is always difficult and scaling up your financial software is no different. If you switch before it’s time you risk paying for larger capacities and capabilities than your company really needs, while even more worrisome is waiting too long to make a change. Forestall the decision and you’re undercutting your company’s bottom line with inefficient processes that can hurt key performance metrics and delivery deadlines that lead directly to your profitability. Below we examine some of the ways limited financial software options may be failing your current organization. Charging forward without any change always seems like the easiest path but if you don’t want your business to miss key opportunities for growth, you need to assess the state of your financial system continuously on the hunt for better solutions.

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How fast-growing is your organization? QuickBooks and many other software options are simple solutions that address accounting and finances only. For a rapidly expanding business you need a solution that boosts efficiency across several functions – a way to truly support your entire company with one financial system. Your employees may already be wasting valuable time double-entering information or searching non-optimized reports for key data. NetSuite is a great example of a provider that offers a more complete and customized solution – employees across locations and functions can efficiently access client information and other financial documents on demand to get the information they need.

Software like QuickBooks can also limit your visibility into performance – what modern companies need to make good decisions quickly is up-to-the-minute data and real-time analysis. Single function software solutions tend to isolate applications and data and make the big picture difficult to assess. The bottom line is that QuickBooks’ limited functionality doesn’t scale very well with your business. Because it supports only a narrow band of functions and processes it will eventually limit your organization from creating expanded offerings and growth opportunities. All in one solutions like NetSuite allow employees to access real-time reporting details and let clients self-serve the information they need when they need it most.

Lastly, because QuickBooks is on-premise software there’s always a maintenance concern. If you’re paying to monitor and troubleshoot your financial system from your internal IT group, you’re driving up your costs unnecessarily. This is a big part of what makes a cloud option like NetSuite so enticing. Security and access issues are basically eradicated and you’ll have a huge support team backing up every upgrade that gets rolled out. At the same time an open system is much easier to refine – clients like you provide the feedback that allows a cloud provider to quickly respond and solve issues with the software. Statistics indicate that on average users gain around 12.5% in overall productivity after a switch to an all-in-one cloud solution.

Still not convinced of the advantage of assessing and upgrading your company’s all-in-one financial system when the time is right? Still not sure if that time is now? Read our short article on whether QuickBooks is holding back your company’s growth or reach out to us anytime for a free consultation. We’ve been through it all and we’re here to help!

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Inbox by Gmail Available for All Google Apps Users

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Bi101 is happy to announce on behalf of Google that Inbox by Gmail is now open to all Google Apps Users, with invitations no longer being required. If this is your first time hearing of it, it is a means to keep your inbox cleaner by highlighting essential email information. While it is still in its early stages of use, it offers a lot of helpful tools to help streamline your email experience.

First off, Gmail bundles several emails under labels to make make them easier to check, featuring photos, shipping information or check-ins in the main window view, as opposed to having to open each email individually to view the data. If one chooses to create custom labels, Google will essentially ‘learn’ what the end user likes to see in each label to adapt to your preferences.

Reminders with tap and snooze emails make them return to your mail later in your day or upon reaching a certain location, such as work, home or even a meeting location, which brings focus to important emails while allowing you to leave the rest for later.

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Lastly, the clean aesthetics of the interface simplifies your inbox, with a colorful design concept, thumb-friendly buttons and a stylish, playful look to make your experience fun.

As an extension of Gmail, Inbox gives a different look and feel to something familiar and allows you to work more efficiently. It is highly intuitive and with the help of a few more essential features and updates, it could turn into your new inbox.

If you or your friends and colleagues are interested in utilizing Inbox, Bi101 would love to help! Simply click on the link below to speak with one of our specialists or follow the instructions below:

  1. Download one of the mobile Apps, either for Android or iOS phones/tablets
  2. Sign into a Google Apps account
  3. Start using Inbox!

 

Speak to a Certified Google Deployment Specialist Today!!

Why Your Company Needs an Email Retention Policy

Hundreds if not thousands of emails fly around your company every day – client correspondence, strategy discussions, fiscal analyses and everything in between. It’s remarkably easy to delete an email containing important company information. How do you know which emails to save, exactly how best to save them and for how long? These are the things an email retention policy should clearly outline and so if you don’t have these answers at the ready – your business needs to design and implement one.shutterstock_119018812

The reasons why you will benefit from an official email retention policy are simple – emails contain valuable company data and you don’t want to lose that data accidentally or through the negligence of any single employee. Email clients like Gmail offer easy-to-use archiving but are you certain that this is being used correctly? Do your employees understand the difference between deleting and archiving email? This is an important distinction – archiving removes the email from your inbox to avoid clutter but saves it indefinitely for future use. Deleting sends that same email to the trash (where it can still be retrieved) but marks it for actual deletion in a short period of time. Email retention policies and subsequent employee training offer significantly better protection for your company data assets.

A proper email retention policy can also shield your company from litigation and fines in the event of future e-discovery proceedings. You need to know what your specific industry requires in terms of regulatory compliance and then shape your email retention policy around that. The legal requirements vary by industry (i.e. 5 years for Public Companies according to Sarbanes Oxley)  but it’s extremely important that your electronic data assets are in compliance at all times and an email retention policy will ensure this.

Now you’ve recognized the need for an email retention policy, designing one is the next step. The policy should solve the following issues: how to capture inbound and outbound messages (and their attachments), how to easily retrieve the retained emails (search), how to be in compliance with regulations relating to your business or industry specifically, and how to ensure that your retained data assets are secure or encrypted. To help design your policy first consider a few questions. What emails are relevant to keep? How long do you want to keep them? Determining the length of time to keep relevant emails will be partly dependent on your compliance requirements – start with the minimum required and work from there for an appropriate solution. In general, retaining emails for a longer amount of time than necessary exposes you to security and legal risks, however shorter retention periods may annoy your veteran employees who fear losing old email chains and the important data contained within. You must balance these when deciding on the parameters for your email retention policy. You can also segment your emails in order to only retain those necessary for compliance and in order to reduce your overall risk while being sensitive to the potential for data loss.

The last step for your email retention policy is implementation. How will you ensure that your employees are fully informed on the new policy? You’ll need to put measures in place both to train employees on new standard operating procedures as well as to outline the consequences of non-compliance on the new policy. Make sure to check out the different features available between Office 365 and Google Apps.

If you have any more questions about designing or implementing your own email retention policy, Bi101 are the experts. We’ve been through it all and we’re here to help! We will work with you to analyze your business and plan a road for the technological future. Read about some of our amazing success stories here and please reach out to us anytime for a free consultation!

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ModelWorks Software Implementation

What exactly is Modelworks and why is Bi101’s signature approach the best way to improve your bottom line? The reason is simple – better planning equals better execution every time. We’re the planning and execution experts and we want your business to take advantage of the most up-to-date technological solutions in a way that works for you. That’s why we implement Saas with our Modelworks approach. Modelworks is Business Intelligence 101’s process of simulating your key business processes and involving stakeholders at an early stage in order to ensure complete buy-in and a smooth transition. Let’s take a deeper look at why Modelworks is the answer to your company’s complex software implementation by first looking at your company’s transition without it.

Modern companies are using a large variety of different online tools to get things done – from collaboration and sharing to email and chat services. For any given project you might find yourself using slack, jira, dropbox, and netsuite to serve different strategic functions and to help the team collaborate. Then your team decides to make the switch to Google Apps. It sounds like the one login solution you’ve been dreaming of, and cloud-company XYZ can help get you the basic setup. Your CEO’s expectation is top-notch organization and an immediate increase in productivity because Google is known for great products and service. It’s your job to deliver – then you hit a bump. Maybe there’s a security problem with your company sign in – the password is saved on a laptop with minimal security and so losing the laptop means suffering a major security breach for your one login solution. Or maybe it’s a small configuration error that allows all employees to see the subject of confidential meetings regardless of their invite status. Regardless, because of the high expectations and subpar execution the plan to switch to Google Apps is cancelled before it can really begin. Where exactly did you go wrong?

Like it or not, a software implementation at this level is a complex and subtle process. There are pitfalls to avoid and it begins with better planning and iterative process design. Modelworks is designed to emphasize the pre-transition stage – to anticipate any potential roadblocks or glitches before they happen by creating models of your actual business processes. The models run, we identify any problems, and we adjust our plan accordingly before moving forward with the official changeover. At the same ModelWorks is about working with the primary stakeholders throughout the process, allowing them to test and experience incremental software changes along the way to help ensure success and readiness. The end result is an execution that is as smooth as can be.

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A typical software implementation has an unfortunate side-product that no one likes to talk about – a significant dip in productivity while your employees adjust to their new surroundings and while the kinks in the system get worked out over time. With ModelWorks conceptualization and iterative modeling – we minimize inefficiencies and ensure that your team hits the ground running immediately. This method is what makes Bi101 the best in the business. We don’t know everything that your business needs at a glance – instead we take the time to learn before plotting your roadmap for change. ModelWorks means we not only understand your business conceptually but build models to analyze various possible outcomes and advise your team based on the results. It integrates all your departments into one solution, reduces overall project risk, and ensures user buy-in before the launch. It’s what we do, and we do it well.

Still not convinced that ModelWorks is the best possible way to plan and execute your company’s software implementation? Watch our implementation modeling approach here, or please reach out anytime for a free consultation at 866-552-4101.

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The ROI of IT

No one underestimates the importance of a CFO to a great organization – they manage the financial health and well-being of the company and are often responsible for its success. They are also responsible for allocating investment budgets and are typically rather hesitant to risk a move to disruptive technology like cloud-computing – even when it’s being recommended by their IT staff.

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How is your business’s IT budget being managed? Are you spending money on technology that isn’t adding value or competitive advantage to your company? Are you confident that your investments in technology are delivering on their expected returns? If so, how long does that cycle typically take? One major mistake that companies often make in regards to budgeting is that every year they take last year’s budget and copy and paste it as a starting point for next year’s budget. The end result is a a small, often insignificant shift from year to year and a loss of potentially ground-breaking innovation. We recommend you always begin with a blank slate – identify your top priorities and business needs and then build a budget strategy that fits. Oftentimes businesses waste money simply because they fear change, and this consistent reassessment may completely change your outlook and your company’s bottom line in the process.

Updating to the latest technology can be intimidating for a variety of reasons – an oft-cited (but ultimately unfounded) concern is less security. When it comes to cloud-technology, putting your data assets in a 3rd party’s hands can actually be one of the smartest and safest things you can ever do. Companies like Microsoft and Google have millions of dollars to spend on identifying and fixing security holes. Their brand names are synonymous with high-quality service for a reason. Very few firms have similar resources to direct toward IT infrastructure thus relying on your internal servers is actually significantly more risky. Now consider the resources you do have – would you rather have them focused on server maintenance or on the type of innovation that will propel the company forward?

If we agree that your company is better served by IT driving business forward than it is by IT doing routine maintenance, then it becomes an executive’s job to push IT to deliver more tangible results. In order to do that your IT department requires smooth, predictable technology that’s easy to manage. This sounds like a description of modern tech in the cloud – optimized for user experience and accessibility while consistently updated to work more efficiently by the software giants (e.g. Microsoft and Google) who supply it. Once your platform has the basics covered (security, infrastructure, and workflow) your IT group can focus on having a real impact on your business.

Enable IT to be a hub of innovation and impact and start seeing the real ROI of IT – your business will prosper and your shareholders will thank you. As an executive, you have the capability to be a catalyst for this kind of change. By sticking with the status quo you’re missing out on the myriad opportunities provided by new technology when instead you could be fostering a culture of innovation and enhancing your company’s productivity at every level.

Still not sure about how making a switch to the latest cloud solutions will positively affect your company’s bottom line? Check out our 15 Benefits of Cloud-Computing article, or reach out to us anytime to discuss how your company could begin reaping the rewards immediately!

Benefits of Cloud Computing System for Your Business

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