Enhancing the Power of Elastic Email via CRM Integration

Elastic Email Integration

Elastic Email is a powerful email platform that can help improve email marketing campaigns by easily creating newsletters and sending email more efficiently. However, it still needs people to create or update marketing lists, process unsubscribes in a CRM system and create and send campaign reports for analysis. This takes time, is error prone and is an unnecessary employee cost. By integrating Elastic Email with CRM systems it is possible to remove the costly administration from email marketing.

Synchronising marketing lists and unsubscribes

Contact lists are a vital component of marketing campaigns and therefore need to be managed and updated on a regular basis. If your business uses a CRM system to collate and manage these contact lists then updating these manually in Elastic Email will be a costly, employee intensive process.

TaskCentre can automatically synchronise your marketing lists between Elastic Email and your CRM system by a scheduled or database event. It will also write back all your campaign unsubscribes and hard bounces to your CRM system that have been encountered by Elastic Email.

Full email marketing automation to business rules

From time to time you might need to run ‘unplanned’ email campaigns. Factors such as slow moving stock or pressures to cross sell/up sell all mean more email campaigns need to be processed by the marketing team. Yet, finding the time to run these unplanned campaigns can be difficult.

TaskCentre can automatically create and send Elastic Email campaigns based on data events you define e.g. slow moving stock. It will also update your CRM application with the results.

Automating campaign report distribution

Once an email campaign has been sent you will probably need to generate a report detailing the open and click through results. This report will then be required by the salesteam to update the CRM system and set up follow-up activities. More administration for you and your company to absorb.

TaskCentre can automatically create and distribute open and click through reports and dynamically update CRM systems. Removing this administration allows your sales team to focus on the primary objective of sales.

The business benefits of integrating Elastic Email with your CRM solution include:

  • Removal of time consuming bi-directional data entry
  • Eradication of the risk of sending inappropriate communications to contacts whose statuses have changed in one application (CRM) but not your other systems (Elastic Email).
  • Improvement in employee productivity

If you want to find out more about Elastic Email integration or have any questions about what business process automation and application integration can do for your business call us on +44 (0)330 99 88 700.

 

 

[Source:- orbis-software]

Achieving Operational Efficiency via Workflow Automation

Operational Efficiency via Workflow Automation

Operational efficiency is the capability of an organisation to deliver products or services to its customers in the most cost-effective manner possible while still ensuring the high quality of its products, service and support. Unsurprisingly, improving operational efficiency is a fundamental objective for the majority of businesses.

The main contributing dynamic to operational efficiency is workflow. It’s therefore surprising how many organisations still depend on a large amount of manual processing, using legacy or siloed systems, paper-based forms and excel spreadsheets, rather than automating these mundane tasks that underpin the smooth running of a business.

Automating Workflow

Workflow automation is about streamlining and automating business processes, whether it is for finance, sales & marketing, HR or distribution. Deploying workflow automation to each department’s everyday business processes via will reduce the number of tasks employees would otherwise do manually, freeing them to spend more time thinking about value-added tasks.

This essentially allows more things to get done in the same amount of time and will speed up production and reduce the possibility of errors. Tasks simply cannot get ignored or bypassed with an automated workflow system in place.

If the right processes are established then every employee will know what is expected of them and what they are accountable for. Any deviation will be escalated to management via a notification. In fact, management can benefit from being able to see exactly what is going on from a macro level, rather than having to request updates and reports.

If there is a bottleneck in the workflow then managers can make an informed decision and act on it immediately. With the ability to measure workflow, businesses can also understand where it is possible to improve.

Workflow automation can also help organisations maintain standards and compliance by configuring the workflow to make sure all essential activities and outcomes are tracked and escalated. Aligning workflows with policy makes it straightforward for users to comply.

TaskCentre’s Workflow & Human Interaction Capabilities

TaskCentre can integrate all business systems within an organisation. The Workflow & Human Interaction capability can then provide organisations with a powerful and flexible workflow automation solution that ensures business rules are adhered to and administration is removed.

It permits users to receive and authorise multi-level workflow jobs, regardless of device and business system the workflow starts or ends within, and creates a 100% audit trail for complete piece of mind.

Here are a few examples of processes that can benefit from workflow automation:

Finance

  • Bank account management
  • Invoice processing
  • Governance and compliance

Sales

  • Automate lead follow-up notifications
  • Trigger alerts regarding high-quality leads
  • Notify account manager about contract expirations

Marketing

  • Upsell, Cross-sell and Cycle-based sell opportunities
  • Follow up shopping cart abandonments
  • Create automated email responses for enquiries

Production

  • Supplier and contract management
  • New product development
  • Procurement and work order approvals

Getting the Best ROI from Workflow

Adding workflow capabilities to your system will revolutionise your business, but it is important to get workflow automation correct from the start otherwise it will only create problems in the future. Organisations need to understand what inefficiencies and business processes they want to address and make sure that everyone involved in the various workflows contributes to their design. If something is missing then the workflow won’t work.

Once it has been created and tested the workflow ideally needs to be documented and communicated to the users. Human interaction will be required at some point in the workflow, so employees need to know what is expected of them. Additionally, if someone leaves the organisation having the workflow documented will enable the next person to pick up the process very quickly, thus not adversely affecting the process.

 

 

[Source:- orbis-software]

Exception Reporting: Automating the exception management process

Exception Reporting

Exception reporting is critical for businesses to quickly identify and address key business process issues before they become a problem. Automating the exception management process ensures that potential issues and the manual monitoring of data is removed.

It’s not uncommon for organisations to have an employee to manage exceptions by monitoring systems for data anomalies and potential issues. This approach to exception reporting can be an extremely risky and costly avenue to take. So, how are businesses overcoming the risks associated with exception reporting?

Automated exception reporting

Automating exception reports enforces best business practice and removes the manual monitoring of critical data to ensure that potential issues are avoided. Removing the associated costs and the risk of human error through automated exception handling can be achieved through TaskCentre, which enables:

  • Exception reporting via email or SMS
  • Automated exception reporting with attachments
  • Exception reporting with added workflow functionality

TaskCentre provides the ability to monitor and generate management exception reports on critical business processes. This functionality allows organisations to make informed decisions on exception based events immediately and can automatically create and distribute detailed exception reports by scheduled or database event for the following formats:

  • Crystal Reports
  • Microsoft Reporting Services (SSRS)
  • MS Word
  • HTML
  • PDF, XLS, TXT

TaskCentre users, such as Morgan Motor Company Ltd use TaskCentre to perform event-based, management exception reporting. Automated exception handling in-real time helps them to identify cars that have been sold below a specific margin or when a new part is created. Depending on the information needed by a team or individual, emails and SMSnotifications are personalised to the users exact requirement.

“TaskCentre saves us having to check data manually because it will automatically send an email to say this has or hasn’t happened, depending on the criteria that has been designated.”
Caroline Gudgeon, System Implementation Team, Morgan Motor Company Ltd

Exception handling using TaskCentre

TaskCentre’s drag and drop Tools enable organisations to streamline business processes for the exact business requirement. TaskCentre is based upon Tasks and Tools. Tasks perform as part or all of a technical or operational process which is triggered by one or more Event or inbound/outbound SMTP email. Tasks can contain any number of steps within a business process which, in turn, are created with easy to use, drag and drop Tools.

The TaskCentre Tools expose and consume information to and from each other in any combination which can be easily expanded as and when required to meet business needs. TaskCentre Tools are used to create steps within a Task which allows any number of database structures to interact. As a result, the Tools are then joined together to build the automated exception report. TaskCentre Tools can be grouped into six categories which are:

  • Event
  • Input
  • Format
  • Output
  • Execute
  • General

Click here for a detailed explanation of TaskCentre Tools.

Exception handling example using Crystal Reports

TaskCentre’s ‘Run Crystal Report Tool’ is a Format Tool which is used to create a Task Step to automate the running of Crystal Reports. Exception handling examples can include locating accounts in a database which have exceeded their credit limit, running a statement for a list of inventory sold, or producing an order acknowledgement for new orders.

When executing an exception report to identify accounts within a database which have exceeded their credit limit, the customer account number will be directly mapped to a parameter field within the Crystal Report. Crystal Reports will then use the customer account number to complete a database query of its own. Data can be extracted from anInput Step such as a Database Query (ODBC). This enables Crystal Reports to obtain additional information on the customer account in question to complete the report. The number of accounts which have been located by the TaskCentre query dictates the number of exception reports that are generated.

Each document exposed in the Step can then be delivered by using Output Steps such as Send Message (SMTP), File Transfer (FTP) or Save as File. As a result, the exception report can be used to present management information which can be distributed by email (as an attachment), SMS or published to form the content of a web portal or intranet.

Where a report requires access to data tables that have specific security associated with them, all relevant login details can be passed by the Step to the report concerned. The drag and drop process can be seen in the image below.

 

TaskCentre Tools used in this process:

  • Event > MS SQL Server Trigger Tool
  • Input > Database Query Tool (ODBC)
  • Format > Run Crystal Report Tool
  • Output > Send Message (SMTP)

For more information on running a Crystal Report using TaskCentre read this article.

Exception reporting with Workflow

Exception based reporting consists of four distinct phases. These can be identified as:

  • Identification
  • Evaluation
  • Action
  • Review

Unfortunately, many business applications lack the functionality to perform the action and review phases. TaskCentre not only provides the ability to address the identification and evaluation phases through its Notifications and Alerts and Document Automation Tools, but its wokflow functionality also allow businesses to create unique employee workflows and report on process closures.

In many businesses, workflow remains a manual driven process where authorisations are unique to departmental structures and business rules. Controlling workflow processes by implementing workflow automation ensures that business rules are adhered to whilst removing unnecessary administration tasks. Below is a small selection of common automated workflow processes that have been created by TaskCentre users.

  • Expense approvals
  • Single and/or multi authorisation workflows
  • Authorisation of Purchase Orders
  • Price change approvals and discount authorisations

Benefits of automated exception reporting

Automating management by exception processes ensures that data is provided to the right people at the right time. Exception reporting through automation reduces the risk of relying on employees to monitor and report on business exceptions. It also provides detailed management exception reports and related workflow tasks via email or SMS. The common benefits TaskCentre users experience through automated exception management processes include:

  • Reduced exposure to financial risk
  • Enforced best practice and procedures
  • Consistent and detailed information to support exception reports and decision making
  • Risks associated with employees spotting exceptions removed
  • Automated business processes beyond exceptions identified

 

[Source:- orbis-software]

Ensuring availability during the summer season

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Richard Agnew, VP NW EMEA, Veeam, looks at delivering 24/7 availability.

Summer is here, and many are getting ready to take a well-deserved holiday. However, this does not mean that expectations of continuous access to applications, services and data should be lowered.

A modern business relies on delivering 24/7 availability, regardless of employee holidays. But what happens if the system breaks down during the week that a corporate IT manager has gone away? It will take longer than usual to get systems running again, and that in turn will impact corporate revenue and reputation.

In order to avoid this, there are three simple precautions that businesses should take during the summer holiday season to ensure that corporate applications, services and data remain continuously available.

Avoid downtime
It is no longer the case that planned or unplanned downtime will not have a direct impact on vital services, whether it is revenue or reputation. According to the 2016 Veeam Availability Report, the average cost of downtime for mission-critical applications is $100,266 per hour in the UK specifically, and 59 percent of respondents revealed their organisations’ applications encounter unplanned downtime caused by IT failures, external forces or other factors, up to ten times per year. Although employees are made aware that the system will be down for a period of time, this may still have a negative impact on productivity, profitability and workflow. A modern business requires constant and reliable data availability – especially during the holiday period when staff levels are lower.

Delete unnecessary data
Garbage data is a recognised problem, and one that can have the biggest impact on a firm’s availability. Data like this eats up resources in the data centre, and can cause poor performance and system errors. To maintain high availability, it is essential to keep garbage data under control. Common culprits are installation files duplicated at several locations, as well as virtual machines that are invisible because they have been removed from the warehouse, but not permanently deleted.

It’s easy to keep unnecessary amounts of garbage data when nobody knows what it is, and no one wants to delete it in case it’s something important. This method of keeping useless data is a legacy from the days when data protection and availability solutions were much less sophisticated, and restoring lost data was a cumbersome and difficult process. Today, data recovery is much quicker, allowing you to recover what you want, when you want. Whether you have lost a backup copy of an important piece of data or unintentionally deleted some garbage data, it is much easier to restore, usually within seconds.

Have procedures in place before the holiday season
Another equally important issue is that data recovery for any application requires spending one of the most valuable resources – time. The average downtime of critical applications in the IT systems of UK companies is five hours, an extended time for an organisation to be offline, when it could be as low as fifteen minutes. To ensure that services, applications and data are available throughout the holiday season, it is not only IT solutions that must be put in place, but also routine. Planning for restoring data in the fastest and easiest way when a problem has arisen is essential if we are to avoid unnecessary downtime and loss of corporate revenue.

Availability is as important during the holiday season as any other time, and downtime remains costly no matter what time of year it occurs. In today’s digital society, end-users are expecting organisations to be Always-On and available. Unfortunately, the average number of failures in modern enterprises is still high. According to the 2016 Veeam Availability Report, 84 percent of senior IT decision makers across the globe admit to suffering an ‘Availability Gap’ between what IT can deliver, and what users demand. This gap costs $16 million a year in lost revenue and productivity, in addition to the negative impact on customer confidence and brand integrity (according to 68 percent and 62 percent of respondents, respectively). This cost only increases as more time passes, and unless procedures are put in place before the holiday season, there is a high risk of unnecessarily long downtime and high revenue loss.

Is your data centre ready for its summer holiday?

 

 

[Source:- CBR]

A picture tells a thousand words: Visualising the mainframe for modern DevOps

Image result for A picture tells a thousand words: Visualising the mainframe for modern DevOps

Steven Murray, Solutions Director at Compuware, looks at the challenges of the mainframe in the app economy.

From shopping online, to scrutinising our bank balances, digital technology has become ingrained in everyday life, making applications the lifeblood of today’s organisations. Consumers expect these digital services to work seamlessly, which has driven businesses to adopt more intelligent approaches to developing and maintaining them, such as DevOps. These modern approaches enable IT teams to work more closely in order to deliver flawless digital services and updates in much shorter timeframes than have previously been possible.

However, although most of us use these digital services on a daily basis, very few realise that as we live, work and play online, the app economy is in large part underpinned by the mainframe. Despite having been around for over 50 years, even today the mainframe is responsible for crunching the numbers and processing over 30 billion transactions that power the digital economy every single day. Mobile banking, for example, relies heavily on a string of complex digital services that draw data from the mainframe, despite the core service visible to the consumer being delivered through a flashy new modern app. It’s therefore unsurprising that 88% of CIOs say the mainframe will remain a core business asset over the next decade.

The mainframe of the digital economy

Despite its central role in supporting digital services, very few modern developers have experience working on the mainframe, and even fewer understand the complex interdependencies that exist between these legacy systems and distributed applications. This is in part due to the isolated environment that specialist mainframe developers have historically worked in; the very same secluded working environments that DevOps encourages companies to move away from. As mainframe developers worked in silos, independent of others, the newer generations of developers were alienated from the platform and had little opportunity to learn from their more experienced colleagues. This has created a shortage of skilled mainframe developers as the older generations continue to reach retirement age.

In an increasingly interconnected IT environment, this skills shortage is hindering DevOps initiatives. If developers aren’t aware of the detrimental impact that a single update to one application can have on the wider ecosystem, they’ll find it nearly impossible to deliver error-free digital services and updates as quickly as they’re required to. So how can businesses keep up with rising consumer expectations and enable programmers with little to no mainframe experience to deliver flawless updates to applications on any platform?

Enter the polyglot programmers

First and foremost, companies need to work towards enabling their developers to work interchangeably on any IT project, regardless of the platform or programming language behind it. As most developers have little experience working on the mainframe, companies need to provide them with modern tools and development interfaces that are more familiar to them and can be used across any IT platform. Importantly, mainframe tools must be integrated with popular and familiar open source/distributed DevOps solutions so that developers can use the same tools for COBOL, Java and other languages.

Having one modern interface and a common set of tools across all platforms will help to unify agile software development lifecycle workflows by enabling programmers to switch seamlessly between tasks regardless of the platform and bringing the mainframe into the fold of mainstream IT. With this approach, the mainframe becomes only different in syntax where languages like COBOL are just another programming language for developers to learn.

However, enabling developers to update mainframe applications is only half the battle. They must also find a way for developers to more intuitively understand the complex interdependencies that exist between the applications and data sets that are integral to the services they’re delivering, without the need for digging through incomplete documentation or acquiring the same specialist knowledge that took their veteran colleagues years to acquire. Rather than expecting developers to manually trace the complex web of interdependencies between applications and data, modern visualisation technologies can do the legwork for them. Having the ability to instantly visualise the relationships between digital services, as well as the impact any changes they make have on the wider ecosystem, will enable developers to update mainframe applications with confidence that there won’t be any unforeseen consequences.

Mainstreaming the mainframe

Ultimately, education is needed to convince non-mainframe programmers that there is a bright future for these hugely reliable and powerful mainframe systems. To encourage this, businesses need to integrate the mainframe into mainstream cross-platform DevOps processes. The easiest way to achieve this is if the same interfaces and tools can be used across all platforms. This will also encourage collaboration, eliminating mainframe silos and promoting cross-platform DevOps, which should make programming on the mainframe easier and more intuitive to developers who usually work on distributed applications.

 

 

[Source:- CBR]

Improving Business Outcomes in a Networked World

Image result for Improving Business Outcomes in a Networked World

Leo McCloskey, Chief Customer Officer for Actual Experience, on the importance of digital quality experience for the success of businesses.

Global acceptance of digital commerce, cloud, managed, and networked services and the resultant need to rapidly conduct business across a constantly changing landscape of providers, applications, and services has businesses scrambling to keep up.

Businesses are transforming into smart users of connected devices, applications and technologies and yet the metrics that are used to monitor performance of call centers and retail outlets are not being captured for on-line systems and automated services that perform those same functions.

As each new service or application is launched, monitoring and management solutions are added to ensure the quality of the digital service, and while that is absolutely necessary, there are visibility gaps being created between the experience that the user sees and the infrastructure that these systems affect. That gap is preventing the capture of important digital experience metrics and the business is being adversely affected.

Attempts to align the views from individual monitoring systems to understand the end-to-end performance and quality of digital services only widen the visibility gap and create blind spots that become more prominent and more difficult to minimize as more of the business goes digital. The tools available to track and improve the health of the underlying infrastructure and services are critical, but those tools are meant to manage and improve the digital experience – not measure it.

The measure of end-to-end performance of networked systems for customers, employees, and partners is known as digital experience quality. Understanding the quality of a digital experience can improve employee productivity, help IT solve problems faster, and keep customers from leaving.

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know
Businesses are awash with data; yet measuring digital experience quality remains difficult. Executives at every level are investigating and investing in strategies to improve access to and analysis of this data, yet the return on that investment remains elusive.

Business leaders overwhelmingly believe that digital experience quality is important to their customers and employees, yet only 22% believe they are actually delivering a consistent experience.

Based on a survey of 403 business leaders conducted for Actual Experience, the strategic focus for many companies looking to understand and improve the quality of the digital services they use and provide includes three things.

57% Data and analytics – More than a trend, businesses of all types are embracing the possibilities created by complex analysis of large quantities of data. When it comes to managing the applications and infrastructure used by customers and employees, the business is only as responsive as the data allows. Having the right metrics and analytics in place to support decision making is a top priority for executives as they determine budgets and identify priorities for the business.

51% Quality – If the systems don’t work, the business doesn’t work. Every hour of every day there are critical connections with suppliers, customers, partners, and employees that depend on the quality of the applications, systems, and networks being used. And many of those applications, systems, and networks reside outside the business. Top priorities are having digital interactions that work consistently well, combined with the ability to make continuous quality improvements.

42% Culture – Understanding the end-to-end experience is only possible when the whole business is joined up and focused on customer and user experience. Creating that culture starts at the top, but executing on that culture requires reliable and capable management systems to deliver an end-to-end view of the digital interactions that support daily operations. While 78% of C-level executives believe they are responsible for digital quality, less than half believe they can identify the specific quality issues that need to be improved.

While core functionality may be solid, the ability to navigate the visibility gaps between management systems and create a seamless end-to-end view of what users are experiencing is missing. Metrics that describe the performance of each component of the user transaction are valuable, but without a reliable measure from the user’s point-of-view, the picture is fragmented and far from clear.

Improving Business Outcomes
When serving customers, executives want the experience to be fast, reliable, and frictionless. Measuring and analyzing all the pieces of the customer or user journey is a daunting task. There are numerous connections to dozens of things that can go wrong all along the way. At any given time, a transaction can be disrupted by a wide variety of factors that might be a one-time occurrence or an indication of a larger problem. How do you know?

Establishing a digital user and executing a process the way they would, constructs an outside-in, end-to-end measurement of what happened, when, and whether it matters. Doing this for multiple processes enables rapid response to problems and, over time, measuring digital experience quality reveals performance bottlenecks that show where technology investment would add the most business value.

Something as minor as spotting a slow responding timekeeping system can improve productivity and reduce the frustration of employees who should have more important things to do. Improving the systems used by those closest to the customer ultimately improves the customer experience as well.

From the first customer inquiry to the final delivery of products and services, there are multiple systems and providers that make up the digital experience. Understanding the view from the outside-in for every type of user is digital quality experience and that measurement is critical to your business and your brand.

 

 

[Source:- CBR]