How to Find the Right Recruiting Software for Your Hiring Needs

When comparing the hundreds of recruiting software systems out there, small businesses often prioritize things like ease of use, cost and vendor support. Those are important factors. But there’s another major factor here that can easily be overlooked:

Which system is going to be the best fit for your hiring needs?

Medical practices have vastly different hiring needs than restaurants, after all. The same can be said for long-established businesses compared to fresh new startups.

And because each platform can’t do everything in the recruiting process perfectly, it’s important to prioritize certain software systems and features over others depending on what your hiring needs look like.

With help from the Gartner report, “Technology Insight for Talent Acquisition Applications” (content available to Gartner clients), let’s look at different types of hiring needs and the recruiting software features these types should prioritize in their search.

1. The High Volume Recruiter

 Who:  Retailers, restaurants, media/entertainment businesses or those in hospitality and tourism.

 The hiring need:  Due to seasonal hiring and above-average employee churn, high volume recruiters often need to hire a lot of people quickly. The biggest obstacle to this need is going through a massive amount of job applications (due to lower skills/experience requirements) to find the right people for the role.

 Recruiting software features to prioritize:  High volume recruiters need to prioritize recruiting software features that can automatically find promising candidates and remove obvious stinkers from a large list of applicants.
Resume parsing—which surfaces certain applicants or disavows others based on keywords found (or not found) in their resume—is key. So is any functionality that can automatically assess candidates.

The ability to easily schedule interviews and quickly generate offer letters is also going to be critical to this group to speed through a large number of hires in a small amount of time.

ApplicantStack can automatically score candidates based on answers to submitted questionnaires

2. The Startup Recruiter

 Who:  Tech startups are the obvious members of this group, but any new business experiencing accelerated growth that needs to hire for multiple specialized roles would qualify.

 The hiring need:  These businesses are growing rapidly, but unfortunately a lot of roles they need to hire for have greater demand than supply in the market (e.g., web designers, project managers etc.). Compounding the problem is the fact that no one knows who many of these startups are! Talented applicants would prefer to work for a company they’ve heard of then some new kid on the block.

 Recruiting software features to prioritize:  Startup recruiters need to make a name for themselves in a crowded hiring arena. Because of this, any software features that can support employer branding and recruitment marketing efforts are going to be very important for this group.

That includes functionality to create an enticing careers page along with features like hiring workflow insights that can improve the online candidate experience and make a good impression on highly coveted applicants.

Sourcing analytics functionality is also important to startup recruiters, in order to identify passive candidates with hard-to-find skill sets.

ClearCompany allows you to source candidates by skills or expertise

3. The Red Tape Recruiter

 Who:  Hospitals, universities and public sector organizations.

 The hiring need:  As if finding the right candidate for a position wasn’t hard enough, red tape recruiters also have to deal with a ton of strict regulations and compliance requirements with every job requisition. Since hiring budgets are often tied to special grants or projects and there is a large number of stakeholders involved in every hire, tight tracking and approval processes are extremely important.

 Recruiting software features to prioritize:  Customizable hiring workflows are going to be a must for this group, so that the right people can stay in-the-know on certain hiring activities and be able to sign off on candidates quickly. Having a system that automates tracking and reporting needs related to EEOC and OFCCP compliance should also be a priority.

Lastly, red tape recruiters should focus on recruiting systems that can integrate tightly with any core accounting systems or budgeting tools they have to accurately track hiring costs.

With JazzHR, you can customize the hiring workflow for different positions

4. The Internal Recruiter

 Who:  Well-established businesses with low attrition and hiring rates relative to their size.

 The hiring need:  The internal recruiter doesn’t need to fill roles all that often, and when they do, they want to promote from within. The challenge here is aligning recruiting, performance management and succession planning processes to identify, develop and promote the best person.

 Recruiting software features to prioritize:  Tight integration with a talent management system is a must for internal recruiters in order to keep tabs on current employees that may be better suited for roles than external applicants. Leadership can create set career paths for certain roles, and as employees get assessed by their managers during performance reviews or take online courses to further their development, recruiters can check in to monitor their progress.

If a current employee can’t fill a higher role, a referral from one of your current workers will be the next best thing. Look for systems that allow employees to leave referrals for open positions with ease.

Employees can login to SmartRecruiters to refer friends and family for open positions.

5. The General Recruiter

 Who:  Everyone else, pretty much.

 The hiring need:  For the general recruiter, flexibility is key. Periods of intense hiring activity will be followed by long droughts. Skills requirements for positions will vary wildly; as will hiring budgets and candidate pools. The important thing for this group is making continuous improvement: to employer branding efforts, hiring processes and everything in-between to raise key recruiting metrics.

 Recruiting software features to prioritize:  Priorities are going to differ from recruiter to recruiter more in this group than any other. That being said, when we look at the features recruiting software buyers request the most, they prioritize the ability to post openings on job boards, perform resume management and score and rank applicants:

Top Requested ATS Features

Source: SMB Applicant Tracking System Buyer Report

Next Steps

Having your hiring needs in mind when evaluating different recruiting platforms is a great way to align your software purchase with what your business ultimately wants to achieve. Once you’ve identified the features you want to prioritize in your search, here are some next steps to land on the right system:

  • Call (855) 998-8505. Our recruiting software advisors will help you narrow down your selection to a few systems that best meet your needs. This is a free, no-obligation consultation that can be done in minutes.

Nonprofit Best Practices: How to Improve Your Organization With Software

My wife is a better person than me.

She has dedicated her life to working in the nonprofit field in order to help people less advantaged than we are. However, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t face typical workplace stresses and frustrations—including dealing with software and technology woes.

“I vow to listen to any of your complaints about job-related software.”

Recently, to keep up with the amount of information that flows in and out of their office, her organization updated to using Salesforce for nonprofits. When I asked her what kinds of challenges this created for her, she told me that her biggest questions revolved around how they were supposed to use the new software suite:

“What level of detail should be recorded for communications? What should remain confidential? When should you establish a new campaign?”

My wife is, of course, not alone in asking these sorts of questions when faced with new or updated software. When any organization—including nonprofits—has a software change there will also be a change in the organization’s best practices.

Nonprofit best practices, though, are somewhat unique from other businesses.

This article will explore what kinds of new best practices are needed when a nonprofit changes or updates its software.

Focus On the Tools That Matter

The first and most important thing that nonprofits need to do when considering new software is take their time to find the right software (which, by the way, is something we’re happy to help you with).

The last thing you want is to waste time on-boarding your whole organization to a new system that’s not the perfect fit for your particular business model.

According to Tim Sarrantonio, the director of business development at NeonCRM, one of the biggest traps that organizations fall into is purchasing software that does too many things, rather than focusing on a specific need (such as donor management/fundraising):

“Don’t be pulled or swayed by flashy and unnecessary tools when your organization can’t organize an annual fund.”

The donations dashboard in NeonCRM
 

Don’t just purchase software that sounds nice in theory. Select your software upgrades based on fulfilling specific needs—such as automating time-consuming tasks, as we’ll cover in the next section.

Automate Manual Processes

Ultimately, business software serves two main, overarching purposes:

  • Information storage/access
  • Automation

Nonprofits are as beholden to the bottom line as any other organization, so it’s in their best interest to automate time-consuming (and thus money-consuming) manual tasks with more effective software.

Samantha Avneri, marketing director at Regpack, explains that for most nonprofits these tasks usually include payment management (such as membership dues and donations) and email communication.

Automation of registration processes in Regpack
 

Furthermore, according to Avneri, nonprofit software also needs to fulfill the goal of information storage and access, so that employees can find important data with a simple search.

Automating paperwork and communication, she says, “opens the door to staff working on the core tasks of your organization, without the administrative tasks eating up precious time.”

In addition to making sure it’s saving you time and money, you should also keep in mind how the software can help your donors, particularly by maintaining their privacy.

Prioritize Security

When your donors give you their money and information, they are also giving you their trust.

If you want to maintain that trust—and get any more of their donations—you need to be sure to keep that information safe and secure.

This, of course, can be easier said than done.

According to Jonathan LeRoux of small business web design and marketing service TurtlePie Solutions, “In this era, with the recent Equifax data breach, and the seemingly daily news reports of companies being hacked and customer data being held ransom, data security is more important than ever.”

This means, first of all, ensuring that the vendor you purchase your software from has a solid history of security. A quick Google search can tell you whether or not they’ve ever been subject to one or more breaches.

However, much of the onus of security will fall on your organization to implement the software properly.

As LeRoux explains, “your nonprofit’s leadership, your IT team and relevant members of your staff must come together to form concrete standards of practice and policies that dictate the safe access of accounts, proper use of software and secure transmission of data.”

This focus on safety should also include making sure that you can safely transfer information between different software programs used by your organization.

Integrate Your Software Systems

Although some larger vendors of nonprofit software, like Salesforce, can provide you with all of your organization’s various needs, those can be pricey systems—particularly for smaller nonprofits with fewer IT resources.

The large amount of information available in DonorPerfect’s “Key Performance Indicators” dashboard
 

You may find yourself using a variety of different vendors for a number of distinct types of nonprofit software—fundraising, grant management, CRM, accounting and so on.

It can be fatal to your streamlining process if your various software systems are unable to communicate with one another.

You may end up spending more time trying to transfer information between systems than you ever spent on the newly automated tasks in the first place.

Chad Reid, director of communications for online form building platform JotForm, explains that, “In this day of automation, make sure your organization uses a software that can take information about a donor or member, and automatically distribute the information to spreadsheets, email marketing services, collaboration tools, CRMs and cloud storage softwares.”

This integration needs to go further than just the specific software systems, though, and needs to become part of your nonprofit’s larger technology strategy.

Develop a High-Level Technology Strategy

Annie Rhodes, director of foundation strategy at Blackbaud Corporate & Foundation Solutions, argues the following:

The single most important thing for nonprofits to keep in mind when implementing new software of any kind is technology strategy.

Rhodes explains, “It is necessary for all organizations, big and small, to have a high-level technology strategy to ensure that each technology purchase aligns with and drives achievement toward your organization’s mission.”

This means choosing your systems as part of a larger software initiative, not just piecemeal. Doing otherwise can lead to the problem of finding yourself with multiple systems that can’t effectively communicate (discussed above).

Rhodes advises that, “If you are just getting started, start small by focusing on the core technology solutions key to helping you run your organization, and then grow from there, referencing the overarching strategy each time a new technology investment is made.”

Rhodes is not the only person to recommend high-level strategizing. According to Gartner analyst Bill Swanton:

“Getting agreement as to which business capabilities are unique and fast changing upfront can help with prioritization of work to fit budgets that are always limited.”

Source: A Pace-Layered Application Strategy for the Public Sector and Nonprofits” (available to Gartner subscribers)

A fully developed plan can make sure that time, money and effort aren’t wasted with failed or inefficient software implementation.

Having this kind of high-level strategy will ultimately help you to ensure that you are following through on all best practices as you go about the complex task of implementing software for your nonprofit organization.

Next Steps

These are just a few of the nonprofit best practices you should implement alongside your new software. For help choosing what that software should be, here are some steps you can take to narrow down your options and get more information:

  • Email me at andrewfriedenthal@softwareadvice.com for more information. I’m happy to help you figure out what your own nonprofit software needs might be and to connect you to one of our expert software advisors for a free, no-obligation consultation!

3 Loan Management Software Features for Improving Borrower Experience

Taking out a loan often signifies a major life event for consumers—it means you’re buying a home, purchasing a car or attending college. And most consumers will take out loans for these events multiple times in their lives. It’s never stress-free to borrow, so providing borrowers with the best possible experience is crucial for fostering trust and repeat lending.

It’s not easy being a borrower

This is why finding the best loan servicing software for your unique business is crucial. Today’s lending systems support an array of processes, but it can be tough to determine which of these is most important for your business.

We’ve surveyed borrowers to get their take on how their lenders’ software positively impacted their experiences.

Understanding these effects will help you prioritize what types of services your new software needs to support.

How Loan Application Software Improves Overall Lending Experience

There’s quite a few steps to the lending process, none of which you can’t afford to overlook. These include:

To help you assess which of these stages is most positively impacted by lending software, we asked borrowers about their most recent experience.

Respondents report that the start of their lending journey benefits most from loan servicing software.

Borrowing Processes Most Aided By Lender Software

Three-quarters of survey respondents say their application process benefited from the lender’s software. The benefits of the application software are amplified by the finding that borrowers listed the application process as the second most important loan process behind the negotiation of terms and rates.

The application process is the first interaction that borrowers have with your lending business and sets the tone for the experience. If the experience is sub-optimal, it will be difficult to stop borrowers from immediately going to another lender.

Take the time to define what you want this initial application experience to be and employ lending software accordingly. For any borrower-facing application, keep it simple.

LendingClub’s website with a simple form to kickoff the application process

Take LendingClub’s website for example. They offer a simple, easily understood form box that potential borrowers can complete to get quick estimates on their rates. A form box like this is a likely initial experience for borrowers.

You could take advantage by requiring an email address to see the rates results, putting them into your marketing channel as well as providing them with valuable information.

Online Loan Management: The Most Useful Lending Software Feature

While online application capabilities are beneficially impactful on a lender’s experience, we wanted to determine which features were most useful once they’ve taken out a loan. The common theme we found was that having the ability to service the loan online is a huge positive impact for borrower experience.

Impact of Online Loan Servicing on Overall Borrower Experience

The overwhelmingly positive impact of online loan servicing should serve as a wake-up call for any lenders not currently offering online capabilities.

If you aren’t offering online loan management, chances are your borrower experience is suffering, which can be poison to a business in the long run.

Since “online servicing” is a broad catchall for a bunch of different features, we dug a bit deeper to pinpoint the features borrowers find most useful. The top three include:

Online Payments
Electronic Signature
Informational Dashboard

While there are many operational capabilities that you need in your loan servicing software, the borrower-facing capabilities listed above are crucial to ensure a positive customer experience. Such a combination of services will make a strong dashboard for borrowers to answer most all their questions on their own, saving your borrowers from having to call or email (and saving your team time from the phones).

Borrowers Want Self-Sufficiency But Still Value Communication Channels

While the right combination of online servicing capabilities can cut down on costly communication between customers and your team, borrowers don’t want you to be too hands off. Many borrowers still value online communication tools.

Along with the 45 percent of borrowers saying communication capabilities are “very useful” for the lending experience, another 31 percent said these tools are “moderately useful.”

So while there’s value in providing online tools for borrowers to self service, online communication capabilities also prove useful should borrowers need to reach out to you. For example:

  • Something as simple as confirming that a payment has been made to an existing balance can improve a customer’s experience.
  • And then there’s the potential to open another loan and do more business. If an existing customer wants information on another type of loan, they can reach out to you online and you can begin the sales process.

These communication tools also provide a great channel for you to market new services or special rates to current borrowers. As stated in the intro, many borrowers will take out multiple loans throughout their lifetime. Lenders should keep this in mind and work to unlock that repeat value.

Lender Experience Is Critical, But Don’t Sacrifice Operational Efficiencies

Now that you know which borrower-facing lending software features are most valued, you’ll be able to optimize your offerings accordingly. If you’re not already offering online application and servicing tools, that’s where you need to start.

When it comes to choosing loan servicing software, you have to balance the needs of your borrowers with operational and process needs. Luckily, our array of loan servicing software listings can match both needs and provide you with a balanced system to support the back-end operation and offer an improved front-end experience.

Here are three common operational lending software features we haven’t mentioned yet that you’ll want to ensure your system provides:

  • Loan origination capabilities. This feature supports the back-end of the application process. It enables you to create various types of loans based on differing combinations of payment options, interest rates, and service fees.
  • Client management. This enables you to complete credit checks and do your due diligence in assessing the viability of potential borrowers. It can also function as a customer relationship management tool, record valuable client notes and contact information.
  • Analytics dashboard. This highlights the key metrics you are monitoring and articulates them in easy-to-read charts and graphs. You’ll be provided with wonderful insight into your operation.

It’s critical that you match the beneficial online borrower tools with these key operational features so that you have a balanced system capable of growing and sustaining your business.

Next Steps For Lenders

Now that you know the key features your new lending system needs, it’s time to adopt and implement the system and grow the business.

To help you out, we’ve put together a list of top loan servicing software options.

Take a look at these and be sure to read through the user reviews from your peers in the lending space. These reviews provide an unparalleled transparency into each system. Good thing you know exactly what to look for.


How Small Practices Should Think About IoT

The Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly transforming the medical industry by redefining how people, devices and applications connect and interact with each other. These revolutionary new interactions are allowing medical practices of all sizes to deliver innovative health care solutions.

Applying IoT in the medical world comes with numerous benefits that are associated with aspects—critical care response, preventative care etc. And as medical practitioners happily embrace the advantages of technology, it becomes important for medical device manufacturers to further explore the possibilities of innovation and establish themselves in this new era of the connected medical industry.

Seeing how these two sides of a vast industry can cooperate with each other on the implementation of IoT is no easy feat.

In this article, we’ll help you understand the growing importance and role of IoT in the health care industry—with analysis from an industry insider.

Defining IoT for Small Practices

IoT offers tremendous business opportunities for medical practices of all sizes. But to understand more about the prospects and scope of IoT at small practices, we spoke with an expert:

Waqaas Al-Siddiq, chairman, CEO and founder of Biotricity

As the CEO of Biotricity, Al-Siddiq is at the forefront of the focus on improving health care through technology. He notes that, from a small practice perspective, there are two key components of IoT—its internal component and its external component. He lays them out as follows:

Internal: How IoT solutions streamline business.

“The first [key component] is internal to the practice, and that means utilizing solutions that can increase efficiency, save time and bring in automation with minimal IT overhead. IT overhead is a big issue for small practices and that is why IoT implementation at this level will require seamless solutions where the practice is indirectly consuming IoT.”

-Waqaas Al-Siddiq, chairman, CEO and founder, Biotricity

External: How IoT improves the patience experience.

“The second [key component] is leveraging IoT-based solutions that can be delivered to the patient. IoT-based solutions that can collect data, provide routine reminders and feedback and summarize data for the next in-person visit will be game changers for small practices. Such solutions would not only increase the efficiency of routine and follow-up visits, but also provide better insight into the patient and improve outcomes.”

-Waqaas Al-Siddiq, chairman, CEO and founder, Biotricity

Here’s the most important point to remember as a small practice:

At your scale, your consumption of IoT-related technologies will be related to buying connected devices to help you manage patient data.

“The scope for IoT in small practices will be more secondary in nature, as opposed to direct consumption of IoT,” Al-Siddiq says.

“For example, physician practices will end up buying more connected devices, as they will help streamline their internal workflow. As devices become connected, they will upload their data directly into the EMR, as opposed to having a physician or a physician’s assistant manually enter such information.”



 
Connected devices in a medical practice (Source: Lairdtech.com)

 
Such a system of connected devices will help you save useful time for your small medical practice and also streamline the practice by making it more efficient.

IoT Adoption Trends in the Medical Industry

IoT is not just an interesting bit of technology, but a real business opportunity for many health care organizations. Its high adoption rate is a testament to its rightful growth.

According to a recent survey by Hewlett Packard subsidiary Aruba, 87 percent of health care organizations will adopt IoT technologies by the end of 2019.

Currently, 60 percent of health care organizations have already integrated these technologies with their infrastructure—the third-highest adoption rate among all industries.

The most common areas where these technologies are being utilized are patient monitoring and maintenance followed by remote operation and control. Check out the below video by Aruba that talks about the adoption trends and overall process of patient care using health care-related IoT:


 
Improving patient care through IoT in healthcare (Source: YouTube.com)

 
In addition, Gartner forecasts that there will be 8.4 billion connected devices in use worldwide in 2017, a 31 percent increase over 2016’s total. This number is predicted to reach 20.4 billion by 2020. Specifically in the health care industry, real-time location devices would be the driving factor.

It’s easy to note that IoT offers a promising future to the medical world and is here to stay. It’s still in the evolutionary stage and will take some time before health care organizations fully adopt this technology.

IoT Medical Devices in Action

Long before IoT gathered attention in the medical field, the industry was already doing remote gathering of data through telemetry.

At a basic level, IoT works on the concept that anything that can be linked to a sensor is capable of communicating data to a receiver.

But IoT is not only about collecting and viewing data—it’s applications are much more involved in the world of internet and providing value to all stakeholders.

There are several applications of IoT in the medical industry. Some of them are:

  • Real-time location services: Using IoT, physicians are able to use real-time location services to track connected devices that are used to treat patients. Doctors and other medical staff can easily track sensor-enabled devices (such as pumps, wheelchairs etc.) that either get misplaced or become out-of-sight.
  • Patient and environment monitoring: Doctors and clinicians can predict the arrival of patients in critical care units through the use of IoT. They can also remotely track and monitor patient status in real time.


 
Remote health monitoring (Source: Electronic Design)

  • Check on hygiene levels: IoT enables physicians and doctors monitor the degree of cleanliness among the medical staff members. For example, a device starts buzzing whenever a staff member with dirty hands comes near a patient’s bed. This helps them save patients from infections that might be present in the medical practice.

Regarding the useful IoT applications for small medical practitioners, Al-Siddiq mentioned, “I think the most useful IoT applications will be connected medical devices and analysis tools that can automate data entry and perform simple summaries.”

“Devices like spirometers, blood pressure monitors, ECG machines, pulse oximeters, basic blood analysis and other such devices will become very useful from a general practice perspective” says Al-Siddiq.

He adds that, “chronic care management solutions for ‘outside practice use’ will also help small practitioners manage patients better by increasing interactivity and making ongoing and follow up visits more productive.”

The applications mentioned above are just a small part of the numerous ways through which IoT can help medical professionals take better care of their patients. The scope for advancement through IoT is unlimited in the medical world.

Looking Ahead: Medical IoT Benefits

Today’s IoT devices are replacing human involvement in decision-making processes at various steps through the use of analytics. This means that connected health care has become a reality. This offers several benefits to small medical practices, such as:

  • Reduced costs: Through IoT, patient monitoring is carried out in real time that reduces unnecessary doctor and patient visits.
  • Fewer errors: Automated workflow and accurate data collection result in minimum errors.
  • Better patient experience: Patient needs are addressed efficiently through connected health care devices. Enhanced accuracy and proactive diagnosis adds to the trust factor among patients.

When asked about how solo doctors and small medical practitioners could leverage the benefits of IoT, Al-Siddiq suggested “to focus on leveraging IoT by purchasing solutions that encompass such technologies without introducing IT overhead.”

Small practices should “focus on solutions that are automated, have limited setup time, and ultimately save time and improve internal workflow.” But beware of one caveat—small medical practices are the most vulnerable to cyber attacks, so security is paramount.

Much of our advice has centered around the implementation and use of health IT. If you are a small medical practice searching for the right medical software, check out the below listed resources:

Or, you can fill this short questionnaire to receive custom price quotes of different medical software delivered to your inbox.


3 CX Lessons You Can Learn from the Equifax Debacle

Over the coming months, years, maybe decades, the Equifax breach will be examined from many angles. While it will take a thorough IT analysis to tell us specifically what, when and how it all happened, all indications thus far suggest Equifax was simply asleep at the wheel.

But there are still many IT security questions left to answer before that side of the case is closed.

In the meantime, we can analyze Equifax’s handling of the breach from a customer experience perspective—there’s plenty of meat left on that bone.

Since much of the online fury and rage is directed at the company’s customer experience (CX) failures following the breach, an analysis of it can offer many valuable, teachable lessons.

In short, it seems Equifax scrambled to alleviate some of the snowballing animosity, but their post-breach actions have instead made it much, much worse.

3 CX Lessons You Can Learn from the Equifax Debacle

Lesson 1: Be quick to admit your error. The longer you hide a problem, the more trust you lose.

One of the first things the public learned about the breach was that Equifax waited two months to disclose it. While never really excusable, the delay might have been more forgivable had Equifax used that time to get all their ducks in a row.

The Equifax ducks, caught off guard with no row in sight. Source: Giphy.com

But they didn’t. Upon admitting to the breach, Equifax directed concerned consumers to a new website for remediation.

The website’s main feature was a “check if you’ve been affected” field. People quickly learned that it seemed to work by flipping a coin rather than providing accurate information. This attempt at restoring the public’s faith in their company’s IT aptitude clearly had the opposite effect. One wonders if Equifax thought this would go unnoticed.

Despite the fact that it had months to prepare the new website, Equifax found it raised many other customer experience red flags. This left many visitors with the impression that the new site was itself a scam phishing site, bringing us to Lesson 2 …

Lesson 2: Quick fixes often make things worse.

Among the red flags on the new site was the fact that it used an unknown URL (https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/). Phishing attacks have been around for years and the public has been warned—repeatedly—to examine a site’s URL for any, um, phishiness. Malicious sites often use URLs that are very similar to the URLs of legitimate sites. Perplexingly, that’s also what Equifax chose to do.

Further, some visitors reported that their browsers were warning them that the site was indeed a phishing site. Early analysis suggests this may have been due to a snafu with the SSL certificate Equifax used on the site. A more well-planned response could have easily avoided this.

Warning given to some visitors of the (legitimate) Equifax breach site. Source: Krebs on Security

Let’s take a few steps back and view this in context. (Context is, after all, a critical component to understanding CX.) Essentially, Equifax used this red-flag ridden site to collect more information from citizens already concerned about the company’s apparent untrustworthiness with their personal information. This was CX tone-deafness of epic proportions.

Lesson 3: Don’t try to profit from a crisis or prematurely absolve yourself.

Meanwhile, other users discovered that the site was using another underhanded tactic: The offer for a “free” trial of their credit monitoring service that would automatically turn into a paid subscription unless users remembered to opt out. Many more CX-conscious companies have already started moving away from this tactic. Either by design or simple oversight, Equifax used it at the worse imaginable touchpoint.

Further, the Terms and Conditions of the free monitoring service included a clause that would prevent subscribers from suing Equifax in the future. After more public outrage, Equifax tried to backpedal, issuing a statement that said, in effect, “Oh don’t worry about that part. It’s in the Terms but we won’t count that part. Don’t worry, it’s cool.”

“Trust us, we got this!” Source: Giphy.com

A week after the breach was made public, the dust is far from clearing. The company’s messaging and its apparent IT strategy reminds observers of a headless chicken while experts are equally flabbergasted. Yet, we’re told, this particular headless chicken is the one we should trust to clean up the mess.

Why Equifax’s Troubles Have Only Just Begun

The biggest blunder of all is actually more of a pre-existing condition: Few of us ever signed up to be “customers” of Equifax. We were opted in by the financial industry. This aspect will be at the root of Equifax’s many upcoming and ongoing CX challenges.

Customers enter into relationships willingly and with some understanding of what to expect. When we’re made into customers without our explicit consent, our feeling of autonomy gets violated. We don’t like that—it primes us to be skeptical, combative and very wary of any and all of the company’s future actions.

Compounded with the myriad CX problems created by Equifax’s bungled response, U.S. citizens are rightly feeling like caged and prodded animals. We don’t like that either, not after we’ve seen how Equifax treats its ducks.

The Takeaway for SMBs

This story is really only beginning to unfold and it’s likely the fallout will linger for years. SMBs can capitalize on the debacle by learning from Equifax’s numerous mistakes:

  • Be quick to admit to errors, but …
  • Never issue hasty resolutions.
  • Pay attention to context from the customer’s point of view.

Customer experience is about much more than how customers interact with your products and services. It’s about predicting and understanding customer needs and concerns and then demonstrating that your company has them in mind.

So the next time you think you might have a potential CX issue on your hands, keep these lessons in mind so your company’s reputation stands a fighting chance.


CRM Challenges: Will Replacing Your CRM System Help?

Here at Software Advice, we hear from thousands of small and midsize businesses (SMBs) about a variety of woes they face with their software systems:

“How can I make my accounting easier?”

“What’s the best HR system on the market?”

“What do I do if a cat has crawled inside my computer monitor?”

(One of these might be made up.)

The most common problems that we hear about, though, have to do with customer relationship management (CRM).

Small businesses frequently want to know how software can help them to better interact with their customers, and just as frequently want to know how to solve problems with their existing software.

In this article, we’ll address three of the most common CRM challenges faced by our SMB buyers and analyze whether or not their solution requires a system replacement or upgrade. We’ll then summarize those findings in a handy flow chart.

Challenge 1: We need better ways to track our leads & clients

The vast majority of SMBs who call us at Software Advice to ask about CRM software do so because they are having troubles with organization. After all, CRM is all about finding a more organized way to interact with customers. All three of the top challenges reflect this problem in one way or another.

The top concern for our buyers is that they need a better way to track their leads and their clients than their current system provides.

That system might be CRM software, spreadsheets or even manual methods, but the common link is that the method simply isn’t allowing them to keep track of their contacts in a way that gets the most out of those relationships (enabling better sales and retention down the line). They might lose important contact information, forget vital information about a particular customer’s preferences or even lose touch with the customer entirely.

For businesses that rely upon relationships with customers (that is, most businesses), this can be potentially catastrophic. Therefore, it’s crucial to work out all the kinks in your system to prevent it from happening.

Should I Replace My CRM System?  NO 

While replacing your current method of tracking your customers with a CRM system might help mitigate this problem, it shouldn’t be your primary focus. In fact, adding or upgrading CRM software won’t solve problems that are endemic to your company’s process, and might even exacerbate them.

Organizational problems ultimately go deeper than any software system will be able to resolve, no matter how useful or robust it is.

For example, if there is a spirit of unhealthy competition amongst your employees, and that’s creating a toxic atmosphere that makes working as a team difficult and losing leads easy—then a new CRM system isn’t going to help at all. In fact, by creating an easier way for team members to try and one up each other, a new system may just make things worse.

However, if the problem isn’t one that strikes to the core of your business’ practices or atmospheres, then replacing your CRM system will work.

For example, if you’re losing track of contacts because they mysteriously drop out of the system, or because the current method of taking notes on interactions is too complicated to follow, you’ll want to replace that software with a better system.

A view of the lead pipeline in amoCRM
 

Challenge 2: We need better automation of follow-ups & reminders

Once your business is organized enough to keep track of all your different contacts—from prospects through to returning customers—you need to be able to regularly and properly follow up with all of those contacts according to your own best practices. However, in the busy corporate environment, out of sight very quickly becomes out of mind.

The second largest CRM challenge faced by our buyers is setting up a workflow schema that keeps on top of necessary follow-ups, so that revenue isn’t lost by simply neglecting to get back in touch with a prospect or client as promised.

Fortunately, automation is what CRM software is all about.

Should I Replace My CRM System?  YES 

You may simply not have the tools necessary to automate your follow-ups and reminders. A simple spreadsheet or proprietary CRM system is great for keeping data organized, but it can’t sync with your calendar and email system to create custom reminders of important times, dates and information.

If you lack the tools to properly automate your follow-ups, you definitely need to upgrade or replace your CRM system so that you can gain access to these crucial features.

Calendar/reminder functionality in Less Annoying CRM
 

However, as is the case with problems tracking leads and clients, problems with follow-ups can be a matter of corporate hygiene. Your team might already have the tools necessary to set up automated follow-ups, such as calendar reminders and automatic email reminders, but are neglecting to utilize those tools properly in the rush to work on something that seems less tedious and more immediately important.

If this is your situation, you don’t need to update your system—you need to retrain your team on using the follow-up functions you already have in your CRM.

Challenge 3: Our company is growing and needs a system that keeps pace

Though less directly related to problems with organization than the first two challenges, many of our small-business software buyers contact us because their business is getting slightly less small, and they need software that keeps pace with their growth.

Outmoded software, or software that is intended for a small, lean organization, can prove to be a giant stumbling block as an organization expands, so it makes sense that our buyers are concerned about having a CRM system that doesn’t get in the way of that expansion.

A small CRM software suite may work for a small business, but a growing business needs a larger system.

Should I Replace My CRM System? YES 

One of the most confusing aspects of CRM (and something that we’re happy to help you with) is figuring out just how robust of a system you need—especially when significant growth is on the horizon.

It’s imperative that your CRM keeps up with you, so you will need to either replace your system or upgrade your current one by contacting the vendor you purchased it from.

Smaller businesses may be just fine with simple contact management, interaction tracking and automated follow-ups, but this won’t be enough as they grow.

Here are just a few examples of features that become essential down the road:

  • Reporting and analytics. Generate reports that track and analyze the performance and productivity of your company and employees based on the data in the CRM system.
  • Workflow automation. Create task lists, reminders, calendars, alerts and templates that will help streamline your dealings with customers.
  • Sales force automation. Automate sales processes and keep thorough, accurate records of your sales teams’ interactions with all sales prospects in order to close more deals.
Read our recent article “The Essential CRM Features Your Small Business Needs” for more information about what features you need in a CRM system now and later as you grow.

A look at the robust features available in the Salesforce sales executive dashboard

Flow Chart: Should I Replace My CRM System?

Use the handy chart below to help you decide whether the CRM challenges you’re facing mean it’s time to replace your system!

Next Steps

Now that you’ve learned whether or not it’s time to replace your CRM, you may want to start shopping around for some good software options. Here’s a few suggestions on how to do that.

  • Email me at andrewfriedenthal@softwareadvice.com for more information. I’m happy to help you figure out what your own CRM needs might be or connect you to one of our expert software advisors for a free, no-obligation consultation!

6 Ways Amazon Is Changing Supply Chain Management

In the span of two decades, Amazon has gone from a lowly online bookseller to the most formidable and dominant force in retail. Amazon’s innovative approach to supply chain management has been key to its success, ensuring that it can get millions of items to customers at the right price and faster than anyone else.

A behemoth in retail and e-commerce, Amazon is a trendsetter and an innovator—so it’s critical that small to midsize businesses (SMBs) keep up with what the company is doing.

As such, we’re highlighting some of the most forward-thinking trends in Amazon’s supply chain strategy.

While it could take time for these innovations to trickle down to the SMB front, they all present competitive challenges and opportunities on the horizon.

Two-Day Delivery Is So 2005

Amazon’s 2005 launch of Amazon Prime—an annual membership that offers free two-day shipping on hundreds of thousands of items—was a game changer. It further established Amazon’s online retail dominance.

As other online retailers began to catch up and started offering free two-day shipping, Amazon took it a step further and began offering one-hour deliveries with Amazon Prime Now.

With a separate mobile app, customers can arrange to have deliveries made during specific hours of the day. In select markets, customers can also order groceries and even take out from local restaurants, making Amazon a direct competitor to delivery services such as Favor and Instacart.

And the 2017 acquisition of Whole Foods places them in an even better position to own the grocery delivery space, not to mention the brick-and-mortar retail space—they’ve already dipped their toes in with nearly a dozen physical book stores open across the country.

Though the inventory for Prime Now is limited and only available in select cities, its size and availability has grown since its debut in December 2014.

Game of Drones

Amazon made waves back in 2013 when CEO Jeff Bezos announced that the company is developing a drone-based delivery system, dubbed Amazon Prime Air.

Customers with eligible orders (packages must be under five pounds) who live within 10 miles of an Amazon fulfillment center will be able to receive their packages via drones within 30 minutes or less.

Though many considered the 2013 announcement to be little more than a publicity stunt, there’s no question that Amazon considers drone-based delivery to have great potential for its distribution system.

Prime Air is still in development and is currently facing some legal hurdles. While it was initially expected to make its public debut as early as 2017, regulation changes are slow and there’s no specific date when Amazon will launch this service.

The good news for SMBs is that Amazon has the weight and political influence to pave the way for more businesses to legally operate drones for commercial delivery purposes.

Need More Detergent? It’ll Be There in a Dash

In 2015, Amazon unveiled Dash buttons—little Internet of Things (IoT) devices that allow users to simply press a button to order a household staple such as detergent or coffee.

Like one-click purchasing, the Dash buttons represent Amazon’s desire to make buying things as easy as possible. While the Dash buttons might seem like a gimmick, online ordering via IoT devices may be here to stay.

3PL? More Like 3PLoser

Same-day shipping and one-hour shipping are not something that traditional third-party logistics (3PL) providers such as UPS, USPS and FedEx are well equipped to handle. Bucking all conventional wisdom with regards to outsourcing distribution, Amazon has begun to more heavily rely on its own fleet of delivery vehicles to fulfill same-day deliveries.

Gartner notes that other companies should explore Amazon’s approach to insourcing distribution: “By making its own deliveries, the online giant can claim a piece of the pie owned by FedEx, UPS and the United States Postal Service.”

Anything You Can Make, Amazon Can Make Cheaper

Amazon is no longer just a retailer and distributor. It is also a manufacturing giant. Somewhere along the line, CEO Jeff Bezos realized that not only could Amazon sell products for less than its competitors: it could also make them much cheaper than its competitors.

The AmazonBasics line includes a wide variety of household items, including dog poop bags, iPhone chargers, Bluetooth speakers, backpacks, batteries and more.

Amazon’s dog waste bags are a popular item

By streamlining manufacturing, distribution and retail of these select products, Amazon has a significant competitive advantage due to the scale it operates on. It wouldn’t be surprising if the AmazonBasics line expands, or will be offered in-store now that Amazon owns the nearly 500 worldwide Whole Foods locations.

I, For One, Welcome Our Automated Warehouse Overlords

Amazon caught some serious flak several years ago over working conditions in its fulfillment centers. While Amazon has made some efforts to improve working conditions, it may eventually remove the human element from its fulfilment centers altogether.

In 2012, Amazon acquired Kiva Systems, a provider of robotic and automated warehouse solutions. In 2015 the company was rebranded as Amazon Robotics. These automated robots can pick, pack and sort shipments—all without the need of human assistance. Take a look:

Key Takeaways

While a lot of these techniques may seem futuristic or out of grasp for businesses that lack Amazon’s scale and resources, there are a number of reasons for SMBs to pay attention:

  • Amazon is making significant strides in improving and shortening delivery times by subverting traditional 3PL models and investing in new technology like drones and warehouse automation.
  • For SMBs that compete with Amazon in the e-commerce and retail space, it will be difficult to compete with things such as drone delivery and same-day delivery. In that case, it would be wise to invest in things where SMBs could have a competitive edge, for example: customer service, product knowledge or niche product selections. Of course, small businesses need to ensure that they are also making appropriate investments in supply chain management technology.
  • Regardless, SMBs should look to Amazon’s example as what the future of supply chain management could look like.

What other companies are trailblazing the way with supply chain management? Email me your thoughts at taylorshort@softwareadvice.com.


How to Save Money While Buying Project Management Software

Whether you’re purchasing a new project management tool or upgrading an existing one, it’s important you get the best software for your business. However, an unfortunately common notion is that the more expensive the software, the better it is.

This leads many small to midsize businesses (SMBs) to buy expensive software, which just sits on everyone’s computers gathering cyber-dust, without anyone having a clue how to use it.

Don’t let this happen when you get new software

To avoid this scenario, businesses should closely examine whether the software offers functionalities relevant to their business needs. They should check if the vendor charges support and maintenance fees. They should compare software providers to determine the industry benchmark of software pricing. And that’s just the beginning.

We understand that not every business has the time to do all of this. That’s why we wrote this report, which looks at exactly how SMBs can save money while buying project management software.

Use a Features Checklist

To save money while buying a project management tool, you need to remember that not every project needs project management. What matters is not whether the software has a ton of functionalities, but whether they are of use to you.

To make it easier for you, we’ve created a checklist which clubs functionalities into essential-for-all (critical functionalities, every PM tool should offer) and essential-for-some (important for specific business use cases) categories.

For more details, read our guide on the essential project management features your small business needs. Included is a quick summary of what these features are:

Feature type Feature name
Feature Description
Essential-for-All Features Task Management Allows teams to create, assign and track tasks on a centralized dashboard
Collaboration Helps teams communicate better with chat boards, shared calendars and more
Project Planning Offers Gantt/Pert charts that help businesses plan projects more effectively
Essential-for-Some Features Bug/Issue Tracking Helps software development teams track and resolve a product’s errors
Document Management Enables teams to share project-related files with each other
Time Tracking Helps to track employee performance and create billable-hours reports

Questions to ask yourself as a business when considering features:

  • Does the software plan, you subscribe to, include the Essential-for-All Features mentioned above?
  • Are the functionalities built-in or offered as third-party integrations for which you have to pay extra?
  • Would buying the software as a bundle result in cost savings?

You can use the above features checklist when making a purchase decision. Also, you can call us at (844) 680-2046 for a free consultation with a software advisor to ask about the pricing of a specific tool you have in mind.

Compare Alternatives

The good thing about project management software is that there are many vendors that publish software pricing on their website, making it simple for you to understand what you get for the price you pay.

But you need to look at other products in the market, so you don’t end up paying more for software than what you should. It takes a comparison of about four or five similar vendors to understand which one best suits your needs.

To help you compare software and make the most cost effective decision for your SMB, we have identified software alternatives that compare products with similar capabilities.

Here are three tools, and their alternatives, that rank high on our Project Management FrontRunners Quadrant:

Note: you can learn more about our alternatives methodology here.

Best Trello Alternatives

What is Trello?: Trello helps teams track projects and tasks using a Kanban dashboard. Most users of the tool at Software Advice consider it an easy-to-use solution that makes task management simple with a visual dashboard.

Project collaboration in Trello
 

Business need: Businesses who prioritize team collaboration will find Trello useful, as it allows teams to share files and chat with colleagues on a centralized dashboard. The solution is relatively inexpensive making it suitable for small businesses on a tight budget.

Top alternatives: Asana, Evernote, Jira, QuickBase and Slack

Best Jira Alternatives

What is Jira?: Jira is a popular project management tool, especially designed for software development firms. Software Advice users observe that the tool makes it easy to track issues and assign tasks to team members.

Task management in Jira
 

Business need: Jira, as mentioned earlier, is ideal for software teams looking to track tasks and bug fixes using automated workflows. The solution offers an intuitive interface with drag and drop functionalities that small businesses can use without any prior training.

Top Alternatives: Rally, Trello, Slack, Box and QuickBase

Best Microsoft Project Alternatives

What is Microsoft Project?: Microsoft Project is a project management tool with a wide-array of functionalities ranging from project planning to portfolio management. Reviewers at Software Advice have rated the tool highly on its integration capabilities.

Project templates in Microsoft Project
 

Business need: Microsoft Project is ideal for midsize and growing companies. The solution comes with a wide-range of functionalities and offers seamless integrations with tools such as Excel, Outlook and more.

Top Alternatives: Asana, Basecamp, Trello, QuickBase, ProWorkflow and Wrike

Try Workarounds

As a small business, not all your projects will require project management software. This does not mean that you will be able to manage everything using Excel sheets. However, it does mean that you can try workarounds by using a combination of tools. Here are two workarounds that you might find useful, which can save you from paying for an expensive project management tool.


Priority business need: Task management

 WORKAROUND:  At times you can manage projects by using simple task management tools such as Todoist and Wunderlist. They come with functionalities such as project breakdown into tasks and subtasks, creating and assigning to-do lists, reminders and deadline tracking. These tools are relatively cheaper than robust project management tools and some of them even come with a free version.


Priority business need: File sharing

WORKAROUND:  Projects often require a document management system, especially if you have a collaborative approach to project management. There are many tools such as Box and Dropbox, which let you securely share files online. If sharing files and gathering feedback from team members is more important than task management, then these tools can work for you.


While the above two are common workarounds for project management tools, creative thinking will lead you to countless others.

For example, collaboration is different for every business. If all you need is a shared calendar where all team members can track and assign online meetings, then a simple Google calendar might suffice in place of a needlessly complex full-featured project management tool.

Want to understand a specific workaround tool for your project management needs? Give us a call at (844) 680-2046 for a free consultation with a software advisor.

Check Out Free and Open Source Tools

Open source project management tools can be an option for small businesses who want to avoid the upfront costs of paid software. Similarly, free tools are a consideration for businesses with limited functionality needs.

However, there are many things to consider before you decide which of these tools best suit your requirements. For instance, free and open source are not the same designation. There are differences in functionalities, customer support and many other aspects. Here’s a quick summary of the top things to keep in mind while selecting either of these tools.

Open Source Project Management Tools

These tools come with a freely available source-code, using which businesses can create a customized project management tool that meets their business requirements

Pros:

  • No license fee, as the source code is free
  • Customization of features is possible by making changes to the source-code
  • A strong user community, if available is useful for making feature upgrades

Cons:

  • Service can be an issue, if you are totally dependent on the user community
  • Software can be vulnerable to threats, unless you have an experienced IT security team
  • High total cost of ownership (TCO), as you have to take care of software maintenance and data management
 TOP PRODUCTS: 

Taiga: Open source tool suitable for agile project management with functionalities such as task management, collaboration and bug tracking.

Redmine: Cloud-based open source project management tool suitable for business who need functionalities such as automated workflows and time tracking.

Scrum screen in Taiga

Free Project Management Tools

These are cloud-based tools that usually come with a forever-free plan, which businesses can use without paying an upfront fee.

Pros:

  • No software cost—lack even the installation charges typical of open source tools
  • Simple and easy to use, as most free tools can be used without any prior training on how software operates
  • Option for upgrade is available for those who want a tool that scales as their business grows

Cons:

  • Functionality can be crippled as free solutions limit the number of users and features
  • Additional costs can accrue, related to support requests, data storage and other functionality
 TOP PRODUCTS: 

Asana: This project management tool comes with a forever-free plan that lets you create unlimited projects and tasks.

Trello: This tool offers a free version that can be used to create unlimited Kanban boards.

Kanban board in Asana
 

Want to know whether an open source or a free project management tool is right for your business? Give us a call at (844) 680-2046 for a free consultation with a software advisor.

Additional Tips and Next Steps

While this report intends to give you general tips on saving money when buying project management software, you can also read detailed buyer guides on functionality and industry-specific project management tools. Here are additional three tips that can help you save money while buying software:

1. Understand software bundles

Project management software bundles seem like a no-brainer at first: you get more functionality at a discount. A PM software vendor Atlassian, for example, offers a bundle that includes Jira for tracking feature development, HipChat for communication and Confluence for collaboration.

But here’s the thing: You don’t always need every tool in a software bundle.

SMBs should pick and choose add-on tools carefully so that they are only paying for what they will actually use.

2. Use the free trial and demo

Most cloud-based solutions offer free trials and demos to let users know they are paying for the right software. To make the most of these opportunities remember the following certain key points:

  • Get a detailed understanding of features. During the free trial—and especially when the representative is giving you a demo—explore as many functionalities of the tool as possible to see if it can scale with your business needs.
  • Make notes when using the tool. Documenting your experience will help you ask pointed questions to the representative later on during your trial period.
  • Gather feedback from users. Create a dummy project and check out how easily all teams that will be using the tool can collaborate and track the tasks. Maintain a spreadsheet or survey to gather bulk feedback from involved team members.

3. Choose the best deployment option

The two popular software deployment options are on-premise and cloud based. While historically on-premise solutions have been used by most companies, recent improvements in cloud computing have made cloud-based solutions more popular.

Here’s a quick comparison of these two deployments:

On-premise
Cloud-based
  • One-time license fee, which can be an expensive initial investment
  • Installation costs could be high
  • Data needs to backed up by the business
  • A pay-as-you go solution, which can be more expensive in the long-run
  • No installation costs
  • Vendors usually take care of data backup

This guide is meant to be a handy tool for those who want to save money while buying software. However, if you’re interested in a software demo or want to better understand your business needs, then call us at (844) 680-2046 for a free consultation with a software advisor.

You can also fill out this short questionnaire to get custom software price quotes delivered to your inbox.


How to Save Money When Buying Medical Software

Different medical practices have different needs. Some are looking to purchase $2.5 million CAT scanners, while others, like yours, are looking to purchase or upgrade medical software.

But every practice wants to save money.

Don’t get blind-sided by medical software costs

If you’re looking for deals on high-end medical equipment, you’re on your own. But if you’re looking for a comprehensive set of tips on cutting medical software costs, you’re in the right place.

Read on for recommendations and tools to help with your software purchasing experience.

Use a Features Checklist

To start with, it’s important for you to know the exact requirements of your medical practice. It does not make sense to invest in features that are not useful for your practice.

To help you out, we prepared an “Essential Features Checklist” for small practices searching for an electronic medical record (EMR) solution.

These features are categorized into two distinct types:

  • Essential-for-All Features” are must-have features that would be useful for new small medical practices
  • Essential-for-Some Features” are meant for established practices looking to kickstart growth

Below is a quick summary of these features; you can match these with the specific requirements you are looking for in an EMR system.

Feature type Feature name
Feature Description
Essential-for-All Features Charting/patient records Allows physicians to digitally create and store copies of patients’ clinical records and other documentation.
  Automated coding assistance Generates codes (such as ICD codes etc.) related to information in patient charts for quick reference in future.
  Decision support Electronically checks for drug, allergy and food interactions. Also posts alerts and can search for alternative treatments based on known interactions.
Essential-for-Some Features Order entry Allows medical service providers to enter, store and transmit orders for medical tests, prescriptions and other services.
  Clinical interoperability Enables secure transfer of clinical patient data among different EHR systems so that multiple authorized providers can access that data.
  Patient portal Provides patients secure, 24-hour access to their personal medical information, results, services and messages from their medical care team.

Want to know more about the features of a specific EHR/EMR solution? Call us at (844) 686-5616 for a free consultation with a software advisor.

Try Workarounds

As a solo physician or the owner of a small medical practice, you might not require a complete medical software suite. This does not mean that you have to operate manually using paper charts and manual prescriptions.

Instead, it means that you can break down your needs into individual issues that can be addressed by leveraging inexpensive standalone software solutions. Let us discuss few workarounds in detail:


Priority practice need: Medical billing

 WORKAROUND:  Suppose your small medical practice requires a medical billing solution to automate your billing, collections and claims process. In this case, it does not make sense to buy a complete EHR suite. You would only require a medical billing solution such as Kareo Medical Billing or athenahealth Medical Billing.

These solutions would serve your requirements as they come with features such as billing and claims management, delinquent accounts management, billing analytics and advanced claim processing.


Priority practice need: Patient scheduling

 WORKAROUND:  Like most practices, if you require a patient scheduling tool, then solutions such as TherapyAppointment and AppointmentsEverywhere will serve your needs.

These solutions are capable of providing real-time information related to patient appointments and appointment reminders functionality. Hence, you can save money by avoiding a complete software package.


Priority practice need: Therapy notes

 WORKAROUND:  In case your small medical practice requires just therapy note software, then go for specific software solutions such as TherapySource and ClinicSource. This way you can avoid buying an expensive EHR suite.

Therapy note software allows mental and behavioral health care providers to refer to several medical forms required to document patient encounters.

Want to learn more about workarounds of medical software in detail? Call us at (844) 686-5616 for a free consultation with a software advisor.

Check Out Free and Open Source Tools

Free and open-source medical software can be a good option for small medical practices that want to escape the large upfront costs involved in licensed software.

This type of software might seem like a no-brainer, but small medical practices should be mindful of their potential drawbacks. These solutions may lack essential requirements such as system reliability, a user-friendly interface, effective customer support and routine software updates. You’ll want to look closely at the available solutions to make sure they fit your needs.

Free Medical Software Solutions

These are limited-feature versions of paid software that vendors offer to customers with limited budgets. Basic features are offered up front, but these can be upgraded to paid versions once business needs grow.

Pros:

  • Zero software cost.
  • Simple and easy to use, as most free tools can be used without any prior training.
  • Option for software upgrade is always available for customers who want to scale up as their practice grows.

Cons:

  • Limited number of software features and users.
  • Additional costs such as data storage and extra required functionalities may come up.
 TOP PRODUCTS: 

Practice Fusion: Cloud-based EHR that offers a suite of integrated features such as charting, e-prescribing and patient scheduling.

iSALUS: Fully integrated EHR solution that offers several features to support small and medium-sized practices.

drchrono: Patient care platform that enables customization at the point of care as well as on the go.

Practice Fusion e-prescription
 

Open Source Software Solutions

In this type of software, the source code is freely available and can be modified and enhanced based on customers’ specific practice requirements.

Pros:

  • No license fee, as source code is free
  • Customization of features is possible by modifying the source code
  • Strong user community exists that can help during feature upgrades

Cons:

  • Service, support and upgrade does not exist—you are often totally dependent on the user community
  • Software can be vulnerable to cyber threats, unless you have an in-house IT security team
 TOP PRODUCTS: 

OpenEMR: Cloud-based solution that offers EMR, medical billing and patient scheduling.

OpenMRS: Library of API calls and databases that is compatible with practices of all sizes.

OpenMRS SMART patient record
 

Want to know whether free or open source medical software is right for your practice? Give us a call at (844) 686-5616 for a free consultation with a software advisor.

You can also read our article, “5 Easy Steps to Pick the Ideal Free or Open Source EMR” for more information on how to select an open-source EMR solution that is best-suited for your small medical practice.

Additional Tips

In addition to the above mentioned tips, you can also consider 3 other money-saving tips as mentioned below:

1. Check out demos & free trials

During your time demoing software, be sure to learn about all the features and costs involved and note down important points about your experience. You’ll also want to collect feedback from different members of your team that will be using the software.

2. Look into software bundles

Make a list of the features you need—they can often be purchased as add-ons to create a cheaper software bundle. But beware: It becomes really tempting for software buyers to purchase additional modules since the difference in monthly pricing does not appear to be too significant.

But check the total cost of ownership (TCO) and you will realize how much extra you would eventually pay. A small practice like yours should not risk going over budget. To evaluate software bundles, check for features that are add-ons and decide if they’re worth a long-term investment.

3. Choose the best deployment option

If you are low on budget, you should opt for cloud-based deployment that allows you to pay less initially when you start, and pay-as-you-go as you scale up. On the other hand, on-premise solutions offer complete control over your IT infrastructure—but have high upfront costs. It’s possible for cost of ownership to converge over time, so be sure to weigh out what’s needed for your business.


More than ever, software buyers are looking for ways to save money. By employing a variety of money-saving methods, such as those mentioned above, software buyers can cut costs at a number of different places in their budgets. These methods will not only help you avoid upfront costs but also recurring costs, if planned properly.

While this report intends to give you general tips on saving money when buying medical software, you can also read our detailed Buyer’s Guide on medical software.

Additionally, you can fill out this short questionnaire to receive custom price quotes of different medical software delivered to your inbox. Call us at (844) 686-5616 for a free consultation with a medical software advisor.


Tech Answers: What’s a Good NPS Score?

In our Tech Answers series, we pore through search engines, social media and online communities to find three burning software questions that need definitive answers.

If a business has ever asked for your opinion, there’s a good chance they asked for it like this:

That is the classic Net Promoter Score (NPS) question and it’s one of the most popular and powerful ways of measuring customer satisfaction. Introduced by Frederick Reichheld in a 2003 article titled The One Number You Need to Grow, NPS has gained great popularity for both its simplicity and its predictive power.

The article was the culmination of a multi-year study in which Reichheld’s team looked for correlations between old customer satisfaction survey results and company growth.

What they learned is that of the immense variety of satisfaction metrics, surveys and question types, NPS is the strongest predictor of a company’s future success. If you want to know which company in XYZ industry will be growing fastest next quarter, just see which company has the highest NPS this quarter.

Despite its simplicity, questions about NPS abound.

In this Tech Answers, we highlight three common questions about NPS and provide actionable answers any small to midsize business (SMB) can follow.

Q1: How Do You Calculate NPS?

ANSWER:
NPS scores are calculated by subtracting the total number of “detractors” from the total number of “promoters.”

Calculating NPS is simple. The 1 to 10 scale is broken into three sections and each response is categorized as either a detractor, a promoter or a neutral party depending on where it falls:

To arrive at the final score, simply subtract the percentage of detractors—those who marked 1 to 6 on the survey— from the percentage of promoters—those who marked 9 or 10. (The neutral scores are ignored.)

Here’s the formula:

Now that you know how the score is calculated from the data, you might be asking: So how do we actually collect the data? That, too, is easy! Many SMB customer service platforms include survey tools for exactly this purpose.

There are also tools for adding NPS and other surveys to your website. Some live chat applications can be set to offer an NPS survey to customers at the conclusion of the chat.

Simple survey tool in Whisbi’s service and support platform could easily be adapted to measure NPS
 

It’s important to remember that survey results can be greatly influenced by the timing of the survey question. While it’s difficult to give advice that will work in all cases, you should keep these guidelines in mind:

  • The value of NPS scores comes from an SMB’s ability to compare them over time, so it’s best to avoid frequent changes to the wording or timing of the question. For the most accurate analysis, you want to eliminate variables, not create new ones.
  • The timing of the NPS survey question can be very important. First, it should be timed carefully to the customer journey. Don’t solicit NPS responses from customers who don’t have much experience with the company.
  • The timing should also be considered with regards to the company’s product roadmap. Don’t try to gather responses immediately after rolling out a new product or service, especially if the roll-out could be a little bumpy.

Depending on the nature of your small or midsize business, you might find that NPS information can only be gathered by integrating a third-party solution into software you already use.

Q2: What’s a Good NPS Score?

ANSWER:

NPS scores vary widely by industry and business model and should be considered good or bad only relative to direct market competitors.

While we can’t say exactly what a good NPS score for your company is, we can help motivate you to determine one by sharing the following stat, from the creators of the NPS methodology:

“Though the scores themselves varied widely by industry, Net Promoter leaders on average grew at more than twice the rate of competitors.”

So there’s no such thing as a universal “good score.” Instead, businesses should seek to become NPS leaders within their market and among their competitors.

With that in mind, there are certain qualities that can help a company derive the most benefit from its NPS initiative. NPS scores should be:

Accurate

A good NPS score is an accurate NPS score. It’s one that represents the opinion of the average customer at multiple points along the customer journey.

Generally, companies expect their NPS to improve over time. But this is complicated by the fact that, from the customer’s perspective, any particular company’s NPS score is relative to its competition. Your company’s NPS could go down as newer better competitors enter the market. Without accurate historical NPS scores, your business could miss out on this important indicator.

Reliable

A good NPS score is one your company can rely on, and that’s why the methodological points in Q1 are so important. Flaws with survey design (like those related to timing, discussed above) or inconsistent deployment will yield erratic, unreliable results.

When the results are unreliable then two things might happen. Best case scenario is the company scraps its existing survey method in favor of one that yields consistent, reliable results. The worst case scenario happens when SMBs make changes to address a failing NPS despite having reservations about its accuracy. These companies are essentially rolling the dice.

Reasonable

Lastly, it pays to have staff gut check any NPS surprises. Scores should be generally in-line with what the company knows about its typical customer interactions or customer journeys. When used internally, NPS should be in the same ballpark as the buzz around the office watercooler.

Hang on … NPS can be used internally? That’s right! Thanks to its success in customer-facing scenarios, some companies have begun using NPS to measure employee satisfaction as well. For example, some IT service departments now use NPS to gauge the quality of service provided to other departments.

One member of the Gartner Connect community shared his experience (available to Gartner clients) after implementing NPS in in an internal context:

“Initial results (based on early data) show a very low NPS Score near -50. Instead of being disappointed I am very satisfied with the qualified comments which accompany the survey, by the shift of responses from hardcore fans to hardcore naysayers, and by the establishment of a baseline which better reflects ‘coffee machine talk.’

By aligning survey results to buzz we have a better basis for dialogue with the larger mass of less than perfectly satisfied users and influencers.”

Q3: What Are Good Sources for NPS Benchmarks?

ANSWER:

Companies can benchmark to their own historical NPS data, use an NPS benchmarking survey addendum or pay for third-party benchmarks.

If you read the answers to the first two questions, then you already know the value of using historical NPS data to gauge how good or bad a current NPS is. Historical NPS data is the most readily available and cheapest NPS benchmark for most companies.

Historical benchmarks aside, there’s another category called competitive benchmarking and this is what most businesses have in mind when looking for benchmarks. Competitive benchmarking is used to gauge performance within a specific market segment ot relative to a company’s competitors.

A handful of companies provide detailed industry-specific NPS benchmark reports:

Delighted.com has a basic free online tool for quickly checking your company’s score against an industry benchmark. The example below shows an NPS benchmark for supermarkets. Twenty is considered a low score, 39 average and 59 high.

 

An industry benchmark for supermarkets, provided by Delighted.com

NPSbenchmarks.com shows average benchmarks per industry and includes recently added scores and scores for individual brands:

Example NPS benchmark data from NPSbenchmarks.com
Remember, NPS surveys are designed to be simple and fast for customers to complete. In other words, they’re not much of a burden. Your SMB can use this fact to its advantage by occasionally doubling the length of the survey with a benchmarking NPS survey addendum.

To do this, simply add a second question to the NPS survey, something along the lines of:

“If we are not your favorite or primary business (or partner, supplier etc.) then who is? Why would you recommend them over us?”

This free-form question can help provide valuable context for evaluating your company’s NPS relative to its competition.

How to Leverage NPS at Your SMB

NPS is one of the most popular and powerful metrics around. It greatly simplifies the process of collecting feedback (by asking only a single question)—yet research has shown it’s also one of the most highly instructive and reliable of KPIs. Consider these best practices when implementing or improving your company’s NPS initiative:

  • Carefully select the touchpoint at which the NPS survey will be given, as this can greatly impact results.
  • Consider adding a follow-up to the NPS question that’s given selectively to respondents who give low scores.
  • Don’t set a fixed NPS target or goal. Instead, aim for continuous improvement over time.
  • Historical comparisons aside, your company’s NPS score is only good or bad relative to your competitors scores, so pay attention to those whenever possible.