Better System Adoption

Better System Adoption

If you’ve spent any time in business, you’ve probably been involved in a “…ok, here it is…” system deployment. You know, the one where your boss calls a meeting to tell you about the great new software the company just purchased that is going to make your life so much better. Oh, and you can begin using it right away! Of course the part that is usually left out is how to best use the new tool to get those great new results.

We all know big-bang deployments don’t go well. So why do companies continue to neglect the user training aspect of the effort? And even if initial training is provided, what it you were not there for the initial training? The reason is because training has always been seen as a costly endeavor that takes takes a good deal of time to create and that no one really enjoys.

When I first started working on our PowerFranchisor365 solution, we thought we would solve this problem by creating a complete training curriculum and provide free access to all users. The classes were thorough and well produced. We created everything in an online teaching platform to try to make the user experience as good as possible. We even had a test at the end to gauge how well you listened and retained. The result? A big dud. As it turns out, users don’t want to sit through a training curriculum and be tested at the end. Users want quick answers to specific questions and not much else.

 So knowing the big-bang deployment did not work and the produced training did not work, we decided to try very basic short videos. The result? A big success! It seems users are perfectly willing to watch a two or three minute video that specifically shows them how to do what that want to do. No need for big production, just a simple screen capture showing yourself doing what it is they want to do and it works.

While there are lots of video options for the storing and distribution of these videos, we found YouTube playlists to be pretty effective.

I hope this tip saves you time and improves your deployments. Be sure to leave a comment if you have found other methods to be particularly helpful in your system adoption efforts.

Mobilize Your Team

Mobilize Your Team

It’s time for all businesses to face the fact that we live in a mobile society. I really don’t think I will get too many arguments there. So if everyone agrees that we live in a mobile society, why do most employees have to come to work to do their job?

I think the reason is that the personal technology world seems to work quite a bit faster than the business technology world when it comes to mobile access. The number of mobile capable apps has been rather limited – until now

I’ve recently been working on a number of business process projects where mobility is a critical part of the design. These companies are trying to get their teams into the field and want them to collect data while they are there as opposed to relying on them to write the information down and hoping they will enter the data when they return. Thanks to a new Microsoft product called PowerApps, my ability to deliver results is much faster and much less costly than I could have imagined even as little as last year.

Microsoft PowerApps is essentially a development studio specifically designed to build mobile apps. But that is not what makes this steak sizzle. The difference Microsoft PowerApps brings to the table is the wide range of connectivity to existing business systems. The challenge with all mobile business apps is that they are generally not standalone in nature. Meaning of course, that anything you do with the app is most likely connected to some other system or process in the business. And while there are plenty of platforms for developing mobile apps, very few have an intuitive way of connecting to common business systems the way PowerApps can. Having the option to use one of the many pre-built connections or even build your own, make the possibilities almost endless.

Before you drink Microsoft’s “easy development” kool-aide and start asking your IT guy to spin you out a few apps, know that, building enterprise level business applications will take some coding knowledge. BUT even with that, the amount of time it takes to build and deliver an enterprise level application can be half of what it would not using PowerApps.

So what kind of apps are a good fit for PowerApps? How about a mobile Lead capture app for your next big trade show? Quickly enter a name or scan a badge and have the information sent to Dynamics 365 for Sales real-time.  

How about a store inspection app? If you are franchising your your business, brand integrity is critical. Give your team the ability to inspect your franchisees without having clipboard and pencil in hand.

I could go on, but I am sure you get the picture. PowerApps, in my opinion, is going to change the way many businesses view mobilization. First because they will be able to act on their needs without staring at a year-long project and second because the time and  cost of development is much shorter and lower than previous mobile efforts. With shorter time to delivery and lower cost of development, Microsoft PowerApps is a good choice for any business looking to mobilize their team.

Web Order Integration

Web Order Integration

I recently had an extremely cool project for a client who needed to streamline their ordering process. This client was receiving around 250+ orders per day via their web ordering application and the who process was labor intensive and prone to mistakes. Because their ordering application was not tied to their accounting system, all orders had to be manually entered into their accounting system one-by-one. The process, though effective, was costly and not easily scalable.

After doing a little research and understanding all the steps involved, i realized all the pieces were there to automated their entire ordering process. It was actually pretty easy since they were using two very popular business platforms, Dynamics 365 for Sales and Quickbooks Enterprise.

I started by connecting their Dynamics 365 for Sales environment to their web ordering application allowing orders to flow from the web directly into Dynamics 365 for Sales without any human involvement. While we had to use custom code to do this part of the integration, it was much better that the problem we were fixing. I am generally not a fan a custom integrations development since there are so many other choices, but in this case I really had no other choices.

From there, I integrated Dynamics 365 for Sales with Quickbooks Enterprise utilizing SCRIBE Software to transmit those orders into Quickbooks. For each order, two separate purchase orders we created to track the vendor purchase and cost. This was a huge time saving for the client since every sales order always had two purchase orders. If you do the math on that one, you get to about 750 documents being created every day!

With the sales orders entered in the system automatically, the accounting team was able to quickly and easily convert those orders to invoices in Quickbooks to send to the clients.

The last set in the process way to make a copy of the invoice from Quickbooks in Dynamics 365 for Sales. Though this was not being done manually, I did this so the sales team had complete visibility of all their customer purchase, real-time, without having to interrupt the accounting department.

The end result was an extremely efficient and cost saving integration that was very challenging and enjoyable to work on. Not only were the orders coming in with virtually no errors, the fact that the whole process was automated meant fewer people needed. And as we all know, fewer people means cost savings!

Best of all, I think, is the fact that their process is now extremely scaleable. Unlike the previous manual process, they could double their business and it would have only a minor impact on accounting.

In the end, this project was one I thoroughly enjoyed and the client found hugely valuable. And in my book, all WIN-WIN’s are great outcomes and worth remembering!