Take the unique and complex way your business operates, and simplify that with custom software. Now make that solution available to your entire workforce and even vendors, suppliers and customers. That is Customized Business Logic, a technical term we use to describe how we develop software to help your business run more efficiently and your employees get more done.
A client portal provides your customers secure access to information about their account or service. The aim is to streamline interactions with your customers, from support to sales. A great example of a client portal is the insurance industry, where their clients can access ID cards, claim information, and order or change coverage. Imagine what a good client portal could do for your business. A well designed client portal will help your business create operational efficiency, a better customer experience, and even grow your revenue.
At Ping! Development, we offer Customer Support and Software Maintenance plans as part of our services. Businesses need to view software maintenance in the same way they view maintaining their vehicles and machinery. Lack of a good maintenance plan for software can lead to reduced efficiency, down time, and even security breaches. Keeping software updated will save money and lot of headaches, in the short term and long term.
From our previous blogs, you now know how involved the entire process is in developing custom software for your business, from gathering information to hiring the right developer. But what happens after the application goes live? There is always maintenance to be done, and a good software maintenance plan is key to ongoing success, not to mention keeping all of the components updated, secure and running smoothly.
In our recent blog, Web Design versus Web Development: Information Design, we touched on things you need to consider when developing a new application for your business. In this article, we expand on that. If you’re thinking to yourself, “I’m still not sure exactly what solution I need,” we’ll help you focus in on the answer by looking at types of users and the desired outcomes. We’ll look at internal versus external users, and we’ll dive into outcomes such as marketing, revenue, and operations.
Planning your web project takes time and lots of research, but once you’re done, the real work begins. However, most people don’t really know what should be happening during their web projects. Most follow an intricate, yet fluid, construction and execution process. In this article, we’ll go over what you should expect.
Making the decision to start a web project can seem overwhelming. There’s so much to know: audience, SEO, and catchy domain names are just a few. And unless you’re a web developer, it’s hard to sift through all the advice and add-ons to figure out exactly what you need. In this blog, we’re going to outline the four goals you need to set before you start your web project.
In this installment, I’m going to talk about something that comes up on many projects: the pivot. Every project starts out with one idea that is believed to be set in stone, but what inevitably happens is a customer starts asking for something no one ever conceived (or that was downplayed for one reason or another). For Compliance Clinic, that was data storage.
This is the first in a new series of monthly blogs which will focus on a single project. The goal isn't to bore you with technical jargon and geeky details. Let's face it, you would get bored. Quickly. My goal is to provide you with insight into what happens when someone has an idea for a new digital platform and what goes into making it a reality.
Security was on everyone's mind last year, including mine. One of the things I was keenly aware of was that most people talk about it fearfully - including me. I wanted this article to be different. We all know there are people out there who want our information - that hasn't changed. As a web development company, however, we must do our part to make obtaining that information more difficult.
It's becoming just as important to be able to connect with your customers directly through their mobile devices as it is to have a company Web site. That's great, but it's not for everyone and building a mobile app isn't as simple as converting your existing Web site or application into a mobile app. Planning, methods for the app to obtain and share data, and the mobile app itself all need to be created.
We've all seen it: sites that offer a complete Web site, ecommerce store with zero coding! Sounds pretty great, right? Cut out the middle man, build and maintain your own site - who wouldn't want to do just that. Ignoring the technical facts that there is still quite a bit of coding happening behind the scenes and ultimately the same kind of code is generated, you often give away your intellectual property rights and waste your valuable time maintaining the site instead of doing things that will help your business grow.
I was in a meeting regarding a possible and the inevitable question came up regarding how estimates work. As I've mentioned in the past, we are a custom development firm and don't perform project work on a fixed bid because application development, especially redesigning existing applications, always comes with a surprise or two - usually small, but sometimes not so small. The response I received was eye-opening: "I don't like surprises."
Sol Minion Development was recently recognized as one of three finalists for the Tempe Chamber's 2015 Entrepreneur of the Year Award, alongside BioStress Imagery and All About Compression (the recipient). After the Beacon Awards ceremony, I was discussing what we did differently from other Web companies. Let's face it, there are a lot of choices for Web design and development firms, but we do stand out because we are actively protecting our client's data and educating them.
When you talk to an architect about building your dream home, you can get a rough idea of the cost by providing some preliminary information. It's not until they dig into specifics - the kind of countertops, number and size of bedrooms, and other important details - that they can provide you with an exact number. The same is true when creating a custom Web site or application. Estimates are often based on little more than an hour-long conversation and a few general examples.
Once an application is finished and you're using it, that's all there is to it, right? Doubtful. Technology changes quickly and some issues don't show up until after the application has been live for days, months or even years. Recently, we started troubleshooting resource alarms on a client's production application and discovered some underlying issues that didn't begin to appear until the system had over a thousand users managing hundreds of thousands of unique data elements.
When it comes to a digital presence, you want to look good and your first instinct is to find a great Web designer. After all, you're not writing software, so why would you want a developer? As I network with other businesses, I find they tend to fall into two camps: they either believe Web designers are the same as Web developers or they think a Web developer can only write code and can't create a Web site. Well, I'm here to set the record straight.
When it comes to solving our client's business challenges with software, there's a lot that has to happen to make it a reality. The first stage is the proposal and we want our estimate to be as accurate as possible so the client can plan accordingly. To that end, when planning out a custom solution, we focus on four key items: keeping the timeline short, prioritizing features, talking about our client's problems, and talking about the end result
KEEPING THE TIMELINE SHORT
When creating a custom solution, whether it's for employees to use in back-office management tasks or for a customer service channel, we plan to produce the minimum viable product (MVP). An MVP will implement only the core functionality of the software with minimal "bells and whistles" so that a solution can be in place as quickly as possible. If a challenge facing our client means they will cease to exist in 6 months without it, including all the extras and producing the final version in 5-7 months won't help. Our goal is to have an MVP complete and implemented in three months or less.
TALK ABOUT YOUR PROBLEMS
Where our clients see problems, we see challenges and a puzzle to be solved. Like a good psychiatrist, we're great listeners and encourage our clients to tell us about the problems they're facing in their business. Hearing these challenges gives us one piece of the puzzle and some insight into what doesn't currently work, narrowing down the options on our way to a viable solution.
PRIORITIZE FEATURES & STICK TO IT
In order to keep the timeline short and solve the puzzle, priorities need to be set. Lots of ideas will come up during the initial brainstorming and we'll need to transform these into features so they can be prioritized. Once this is done and a plan has been put together, any ideas that come up during the project should be evaluated through this lens. Many times, a new idea can just as easily be added during a future enhancement project rather than disrupting the current momentum toward a solution.
TALK ABOUT THE END RESULT
Prioritizing features and knowing the challenges our clients face is just one part of getting to a solution. Second only to knowing and understanding the problem is knowing the desired outcome of a business process. It could be an email that is triggered, a work order that is created, or an order that is shipped, but that outcome is the other end of the process that our solution will manage. Everything in between will be handled by the software in some way.
Addressing these four items provides the most insight into how we can help our clients. From this information we can propose an appropriate solution and begin devising the architecture of the solution's components.
Since founding Sol Minion Development, I've been to dozens of networking events. Each time, the same question came up: "So, what do you do?" There's plenty of ways to answer this question and plenty of techniques. I've tried several of them, but it's hard to define what we do succinctly. After a little over two years and using the "Twitter Approach", I whittled it down: We solve business challenges using software. The challenges could be just about anything, from marketing to operations to customer service, but it's all solved in some way by software. So, what do you do?
Here are three examples of challenges faced by many businesses that we can help overcome.
So you're a new business and you need to establish your presence online. Or perhaps you've been in business a while and your online identity could use a bit of an upgrade. But where do you start? It can be intimidating talking to someone about your Web site. It's your livelihood and outsourcing the creation and/or maintenance to someone else that may or may not understand your business is known to cause heartburn until trust is established.
When searching for the right person to establish or reinvigorate your digital branding, it's important to know what to expect.