Category Archives: Business Management

Best Practices for Building a Website from Zoho Academy

By | Administrative, Business Management, Tips and Tricks, Training | No Comments

Build Your Best Business Website

Zoho have always said that, along with offering the technology to solve virtually any business problem, they want to provide help for businesses to succeed. They accomplish this by providing well-researched and comprehensive information about how to run a business with their software tools. The first goal for any business is to build and maintain a highly effective website.

Zoho Academy have created some easy-to-digest ebooks which bring together basic principles, best practices, and checklists to help you create a great looking, effective website. Below is the breakdown of each ebook. Read each volume from the start by clicking its title, or dip into the most interesting and relevant chapters.

Website Best Practices

Best Practices Volume 1: Homepages

Your homepage may very well be your site visitors’ first impression of your business. It has to walk a fine line between drawing visitors in with compelling content and pushing them on to the next page of their customer journey.

Best Practices Volume 2: About Us Pages

The About Us page is one of the most underutilised marketing tools on business websites, but it doesn’t have to be. Learn how to position your About page, what language and tone to employ, how to use your About page to communicate your company values, and how to make your About page a true conversion hub.

Best Practices Volume 3: Testimonials

When done well, testimonials are a powerful element of any website. But while their ROI can be very significant, good testimonials require smart strategising.  Knowing where to find them, what they should include, and where to place them on your website will help you use your testimonials most effectively.

Best Practices Volume 4: FAQ Pages

Your website’s FAQ page is your opportunity to address concerns of, clarify concepts for, and remove doubts that arise from prospects on their path to purchase. After all, when a prospect lands on your site, there is often no human available they can turn to for answers or help. Learn how the FAQ can best compensate for that absent interaction.

Best Practices Volume 5: Online Shops

If you run a retail business, the benefits of offering an online shop are indisputable. Your website will speak for both your salespeople and for the products themselves. Learn how to design your online shop pages, write excellent copy, and leverage psychology to serve your business’s best interests.

Best Practices Volume 6: Business Blogs

A business blog will establish you as an authority in your field, drive visitors to your website, grow prospect trust and engagement, and generate leads and sales. It’s one of the best content marketing tools your business has. So how do you ensure it creates as much value as possible for your business?

Best Practices Volume 7: Web Forms

Web forms are imperative for your business website because they allow visitors to interact with your company. If they’re making a purchase, subscribing to a newsletter, scheduling an appointment, or creating an account, visitors are using your forms. Learn best practices for the most common form types.

Best Practices Volume 8: CTA (Call-to-Action) Buttons

Whether it’s signing up for a free trial, setting up an account, or adding a product to a shopping cart, your prospect is always on the threshold of taking an action. That action requires a CTA button.  Here, we offer best practices for button design, copy, and placement.

Best Practices Volume 9: Examples of Great Websites

While tips, tricks, and best practices for your company website are invaluable, seeing these elements in action is often the best way to understand how they work and how to employ them. Here are Zoho’s favourite business websites by genre. We and they hope you find them inspiring and motivating!

Visit Zoho Academy to access an online, self service archive of educational content designed to help people do business better.

Afraid of GDPR? No Need for Fear

By | Business Management, CRM, GDPR | No Comments

man with head in sand about GDPRHave You Been Putting This Off?

By now you’ve heard about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force on May 25. You’ve either been prepared for a long time or you… haven’t.

We understand. We know you’re in business to do business, not to focus on regulatory compliance. But it’s not too late for you to show that you’re taking steps to do the right thing with your data.

First, let’s quickly get you up to speed.

Basic Facts about GDPR

  • The GDPR is designed to protect the rights of European residents to their property (their data) that you might hold.
  • GDPR defines personal data as “any information relating to an identifiable person who can be directly or indirectly identified in particular by reference to an identifier”. Another way to say this is that if you have a record that can be tied to an individual, the data in and linked to that record is personal data.
  • GDPR is good for business. Your compliance demonstrates that you are up-to-date with technology, trustworthy with data, and respectful of the law and your clients’ privacy.
  • The best way to maintain and prove your compliance is with a professional-quality CRM (Customer Relationship Management) solution.

Broad Requirements of GDPR

  • Understand where you get your data and what you do with it (accountability)
  • Know what your customer data actually contains (data usage)
  • Properly gain customer authorisation to hold, use, and/or share their data (consent)
  • Allow customers the right to know what data you hold about them, and generally to say what can and cannot be done with it (right of access)
  • Protect your customer’s data from unauthorised access and use (data security)Control over your GDPR data

Get Peace of Mind

Caldere Associates are experienced data scientists who use CRM and data analytics to help businesses understand and process their customer data sensibly and efficiently. We can take stock of your existing data and help you rapidly achieve your compliance goals. Contact us as soon as you can so we can do our best work for you.

Additional Resources

 

GDPR – Make Sure You Know

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Data safety and legal compliance depend on GDPR

It used to be the case that a person could freely walk across or use another person’s land so long as they were not violating other laws. More recently, governments protected the landowners’ property rights by strictly restricting how other people could access and use their property. In 2016, the EU passed laws that clarify the property interest of individuals in the data that is collected about them, and determine how the custodians of the data must control how the individual, the custodians themselves, and any third parties access and use the data. This legislation is called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and it comes into force on 25th May 2018.

GDPR Is the Law

All UK and EU organisations, as well as all other organisations processing data belonging to EU residents, will need to be fully in compliance by May 25th. Additionally, legal experts agree that Brexit is unlikely to relieve UK organisations of their responsibilities under the law (in any case the law will take effect long before Brexit is completed).

GDPR determines how data is to be stored, accessed, protected and utilised.  In simple terms, GDPR provides the public with more power to access information being held about them without having to access the SAR (Subject Access Request). Individuals also have the right to specify how their data is accessed and used by other people and entities. Finally, GDPR requires the holders of data to manage the data according to privacy best practices. The people who your data describes are recognised to have a property interest in their data, and this must be respected. Fortunately GDPR describes how you are expected to arrange things so that your databases respect the law.

What Do We Need To Do?

GDPR mandates that organisations appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO). Your DPO will be responsible for and will need to be in contact with internal and external customers in the event of a data breach. For most small businesses, it won’t be a legal requirement to formally appoint a DPO. It is also possible to appoint someone outside the firm (for example, a consultant) to be your DPO. However, someone in your business will, in general, be responsible for data compliance obligations under the GDPR, including documenting that compliance.

Note that under the GDPR, a breach in data doesn’t mean that only personal or financial details are unprotected or inappropriately accessed. GDPR has a broader scope. It includes confidentiality agreements, usage details, IP addresses, or any other data identifiable as belonging to an individual within the EU, including encrypted data.

How Does the GDPR Affect What We Use Data For?

The provisions of the GDPR can be divided into 8 key rights possessed by the individual whose data is being stored and processed. It also states how you must respect these rights.

  1. Right of access: Individuals can request access to their personal data.
  2. Right to be forgotten: Individuals may ask you to tell them how you use their data. They can ask you to remove and delete their personal data.
  3. Right to be informed: Individuals must know how you intend to use their data at the time that you gather it, and they must freely give their consent to that usage. There are rules that govern what information we need to supply and at what stages we need to supply information to the client.
  4. Right to data portability: Individuals must be allowed to transfer or move their personal data between service providers easily and safely. This move must be accomplished without denying the individual access to or use of their data.
  5. Right to data rectification: Individuals must be permitted to correct their data if it is inaccurate or incomplete.  Customers need to be made aware of the third parties to whom the data has been disclosed. Data holders must make sure that these third parties are also informed of the corrections to the data.
  6. Right to restrict processing: Individuals whose data you hold may specify how you may not use or process it, or deny you the right to process it altogether.
  7. Right to object: Individuals may object to your usage of their data based on their own particular circumstances.
  8. Rights related to automated decision making and profiling: You must have safeguards in place against the risk that a potentially damaging decision might be made without human intervention. Individuals generally have the right not to be subject, without their consent, to a decision that is based on an automated profiling or demographic sorting process.

What Else Do We Need To Know About the GDPR?

Naturally, as with any legal compliance issues, it’s best for you to consult with your company’s legal advisers to determine which provisions of the law you are in compliance with now, and which provisions you need to work on in order to get ready by the May 25th deadline. Typical of most legislation, interpretations of details or even of key provisions may differ. Fortunately there are official bodies who are issuing clarification and guidance, such as the Information Commissioner’s Office in the UK, and the Data Protection Commissioner in Ireland.

Once you know what your data compliance efforts must accomplish, our team of professional database experts at Caldere will be happy to give you the tools, methods, and support you need to reach those goals. Please don’t delay; a full and effective overhaul of your data policy is not something that can be done at the last minute. Contact us today to find out how we can help.

The New Act! v19 Upgrade – How To Get There

By | Act!, Administrative, Business Management, CRM, Maintenance, Tips and Tricks, Training | No Comments

So now that you’ve read our post and information page about the great new features of Act! Premium v19, what’s the way forward? Here’s a road map to preparing for and implementing a smooth v19 upgrade with Caldere.

v19 upgrade signCheck Your Vehicle

You will need to inspect all parts of your system to make sure they are operating properly and meet the minimum system requirements. If you’re not sure, we’re here to help.

If you need a license for v19, we can arrange this. (Some users, such as those with subscriptions or some of those who recently purchased v18, may already have a license.) Contact us and we’ll help make sure your license is in order for your v19 upgrade.

If you are upgrading from a version of Act! other than v18 Premium, and you are using or may use remote database access (such as for users who work from home, or mobile users), you must make sure that your SQL database engine is properly updated. We can assist you.

Backing up your databases before you upgrade isn’t just a good idea, it’s a critical step in any upgrade in case something turns out to be incompatible or not to work as intended. Backing up before, and in the worst case, restoring after, an upgrade can be intimidating and technically tricky. If you haven’t done this before, it’s critical that you do it (you would be surprised how many users we’ve seen who don’t know how). Some older databases may even need to be converted before the v19 upgrade. We are experts in this and can show you how to make sure you’re protected.

Most importantly, make sure your data is clean and organised. A clean database, free of accumulated garbage and duplicates, eliminates most everyday data issues and makes your work faster and more efficient. We know some tips and tricks that will help you tune up your data fast so you don’t also upgrade your problems!

Look Both Ways and Behind

If you are currently a Premium Cloud user, it’s important that you don’t attempt to upgrade on your own, or you could lose your ability to synchronise your data. Contact us to get a readiness assessment and understand what your next steps are.

If you share a database with other users (even if the other users are just the other computers you use), do not upgrade only your machine, or only some machines and not others. The versions of the database and the users must match. Contact us to help navigate the ins and outs of upgrading your server and organising all of your users, both direct-access and remote.

Checking your existing software for compatibility is always worth the small time investment. This includes making sure any customisations within Act! itself, as well as any add-on software, operate as expected in the new version. We can help you avoid roadblocks and known issues that can make your new installation troublesome or even cause crashes.

Know Where You’re GoingYour destination - v19

Act! v19 comes with brand new features and useful functionality that you may not have considered implementing until now! To get the full value for your subscription and the fullest use of your valuable data, we recommend you think about ways you can integrate these things into your business. We can discuss ways in which we’ve seen other businesses use these strategies, and help you get up to speed.

When it’s time to apply the actual upgrade, you can put us in the driver’s seat so we can do the setting up of your server, apply the upgrade and any necessary remote sync support to user computers, and make sure any after-upgrade configurations are implemented properly. We’ll catch problems as they occur and work with you to fix them immediately. This will prevent any unnecessary disruption and get you back to work in the minimum possible time.

After your upgrade, our team of experts can train you in any aspects of Act! into which you want more insight. We can provide necessary maintenance and support to make sure you don’t run into trouble on the way. This will make sure you run smoothly and avoid downtime that would cost you money and productivity.

Get the expert assistance of an experienced pit crew… contact Caldere by web form, e-mail, or phone to discuss Act! v19 and plan your v19 upgrade! 

Everyone Is a Decision Maker with BI

By | Business Intelligence, Business Management | No Comments

So you’re using Business Intelligence… but are you?

As business owners, managers, and IT professionals, we know what business intelligence is. It’s a way of using technology to make our valuable data interact with us as decision makers so we can understand it better and gain valuable insights. We can even manipulate the way the data is presented, recombine it, and drill down into it.

We’ve become comfortable with the idea that our data is more than just a bunch of records being warehoused on our server. Using the data to gauge and predict customer behavior, instead of just maintain customer history, has become commonplace. We’re now used to thinking of data as something that can be analysed using technological tools, and we’ve started to expect useful reports on demand. We may even think of business intelligence as part of the essential toolkit of the executive decision-maker. So what’s wrong with that? Well, nothing, except the word “executive”.

In the past couple of years, data professionals have realised that everyone at every level of business makes decisions, and that decisions always require good data. For example, HR professionals use business intelligence to track employee development and identify areas where people may need support. Line workers use business intelligence tools to monitor their machines and their own performance metrics in real time. Help desk analysts use business intelligence to understand early signs of trouble in the systems they support, or evidence that users need training in specific areas, based on ticket categories and volumes. A business isn’t really using BI to its full potential unless the whole business is using it. 

Data Democratisation and Systems of Insight

The idea that business intelligence is a tool for everyone in a business is called data democratisation. Boris Evelson, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, includes data democratisation in a model he calls Systems of Insight. Evelson defines Systems of Insight as the business discipline and technology to harness insights and consistently turn data into action.

Agile-BI-And-Big-Data-Enable-Systems-Of-Insight-To-Democratize-Data

© 2015 Forrester Research, Inc.

In Evelson’s model:

  • Early BI and data analytics belonged mainly to the IT department, and they used only the data that business management requested them to report on. There was a disconnect between the decision-maker and the data, because everything was filtered through the report-maker.
  • Agile BI began to close the gap between the decision-maker and the report dashboard, giving the decision-maker hands-on, self-service, analytics capability.
  • Big Data enabled businesses to store more data, access it faster, and deliver it in more and better ways.
  • Systems of Insight provide a context for Agile BI and Big Data to work synergistically, so that the massive quantity of data produced by a modern business can be packaged in the right way and delivered at the right time to the specific people who actually need to interpret, interact with, and act on it.

Helping the decision makers gain insights

Evelson’s report identifies three reasons that identifying these data users is the key to the success of Systems of Insight:

  • To make best use of business intelligence, it needs to be in the hands of the front line. Instead of leaving it in “technology centers”, executives need to make the technology available to and “embed these initiatives and budgets in revenue-generating departments”. He proposes that C-level executives take ownership of the systems of insight, with the CIO responsible for support and empowerment.
  • Data professionals need to allow data users more say in how to present the data. Naturally data pros will construct dashboards and reports for beginners, for critical uses, and for those who wish to maintain a primarily high-level understanding of their data. But as users become more knowledgeable in using these tools, they will become more sophisticated and demanding about exactly how they want to configure them. It will be time for the data pros to become facilitators, mentors, and troubleshooters as they enable users “to tackle the majority of their BI requirements and get their own insights”.
  • Data professionals must also use their experience and expertise to help their BI users “evolve into insights teams”. Evelson points out that users have been conditioned to blame the technology itself for their inability to use it. One reason for this is the mistrust that data pros have historically had for users, keeping the information and the technology “behind closed doors in a private office”. But they’re protecting the data from the people best positioned to understand it.

We’ve all probably seen database professionals act as though the data is too brittle to withstand handling. This is often as silly as expecting an Internet user to break a website by Googling it. But business users, who are the decision makers, won’t “break the database” by using analysis and BI tools. They can’t use their own experience and expertise to generate critical insights unless they are given free play in their own data. If BI is embedded into everyday operations, then it can suggest correlations and conclusions that they might not otherwise see or be able to act upon.

It’s time for data users to step up – Caldere can show you how

Decision makers at all levels need BI tools, and the Systems of Insight model, to help them understand the market, their business, their own jobs, and their customers’ expectations and behavior. Caldere is here to help businesses of all sizes, and all of the people in them, understand how to implement and learn the technology of business intelligence. Our professionals have the right experience, the right tools, and the right approach to getting you in touch with your business data in ways you have never thought of before.

Contact Caldere to find out how easy and cost-effective these insightful solutions can be for you and your business.

Source: It’s Time To Upgrade Business Intelligence To Systems Of Insight: Supercharge BI With Agility, Big Data, And Insights To Drive Action by Boris Evelson, July 20, 2015

Five Ideas for Making Our Businesses Stand Out

By | Business Management, Tips and Tricks | No Comments

Even though communications technology gives us many ways to present information about our companies, we need strategies for doing so powerfully and meaningfully. Even though we want to define ourselves to others as really important and to get the attention we deserve, we know that the sheer overwhelming volume of information makes it difficult to get our message across. How do we tell our story to the people we want to reach out to so that they remember us? How do we convincingly say, “We’re different and better”?

The main thing we need to do is to be clear about who we are, what we do, and why we do it. Then we need to focus on exactly what we do that others can’t provide, the things that our customers come back again and again for and that make us unique.

Here are five thinking points for how to create that definition and to stand out in the minds of our customers.

  • What is our passion? Passion comes before profit. In order to be and seem authentic and driven, we need to be excited about ourselves and what we offer. We have a story to tell. In realising our own value, we can make others realise it too. We’re in this for a reason, and that reason is what brings customers to our door. For example, we at Caldere are committed to understanding data and project management at the highest level and anticipating the real needs of business so that we can design exciting new data interpretation systems capable of answering critical questions even before our clients think to ask.
  • What is our key “thing”? What do we offer that others don’t? Because we are who we are, what can we do that others can’t? Are we a unique source for something extraordinary? Is our customer service the best in the business? What do we promise, and deliver on, better than everyone else? The answers to these, and similar, questions tell us who we are to those with whom we are the most successful. At Caldere, we are uniquely characterised by our customer-focused approach to effortless efficiency and productivity, through our creative problem-solving expertise and our commitment to making data serve business goals rather than making business chase arbitrary metrics.
  • Who is our audience? Having discovered our identity and our best strengths, we need to make sure that the right people discover us, too. In the past we created untargeted mass content, directed to no particular person, and optimised for no particular medium. Today we have to use all of our tools precisely, so that we reach the right person at the right time, every time. In order to do that, we need to gather good information. We can use business intelligence tools to mine our existing data for clues on what has worked best in the past and who our best customers are. We can talk to people in many ways to get their feedback on what they need most and what they expect in the future. At Caldere, we are finding more and more that we partner best with small and medium businesses who want to get the most out of their data and who are open to the latest ways to use their findings to connect closely with their own internal and external customers.
  • Why should our audience care about us? Our customers, however much they might admire us, our conviction, and our competence, will only make the effort to work with us if we have something they need and want. Just standing out is not enough. Customers may think of us as just a vendor of a particular product or service, but we know that they have a purpose in mind for which the product or service is just a means to an end. If we can show that we understand and care about their values and goals, they will in turn see us as an indispensable part of their success. Here at Caldere, we know our clients thrive when we create and sustain long-term relationships in which customer service is the highest priority—we know you can’t do your jobs unless your systems do their jobs for you.
  • How do we make our voices heard? It’s not enough anymore to just “hang a shingle”. Why and how we do what we do matters. Just like we seek to become part of our customers’ story, we need to make them feel like they are part of ours. People share their ideals and identities through social media, and businesses do the same thing in exactly the same way. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media are not just a way to announce our presence, but to share our thoughts, our best practices, our philosophy, and why people are glad to work with us. Authentic, relevant content, posted where people will naturally seek it, will encourage our existing customers to stay loyal, and make it easy for our prospects to engage with us. This blog is just one example of the many ways in which we at Caldere seek to inform and educate our prospects, customers, and colleagues.

Start by introducing these ideas bit by bit into your outreach efforts. As we become more comfortable with them, we can increasingly rely on them to help us to grow into our professional identities and to make our presence felt more and more strongly within our business communities. We should re-evaluate the answers to these questions regularly so we don’t miss critical shifts in the industry, in communications technology, or even in our own goals and values.

Business communication is now so fast and sophisticated that it will never again be sufficient to simply present ourselves as product or service providers. We need to get across clearly why we care about what we do, why we are different and relevant, why we matter to the industry and to our customers, and why and how we can help our clients take the next steps to success. Caldere are fully committed to helping you use your valuable data to answer all of these questions not only for your customers but also for yourselves.

How Can We Help?

Find out how Caldere can help you to build a more successful business:
Call +44 (0)118 945 6220 and speak to one of our dedicated specialists.

Contact us!