Author: palmira voelkerding (Page 1 of 2)

What Are the Advantages of Custom-Written Software?

Every business is unique. Your company’s needs are going to be different from the business next door. In some cases, it doesn’t make much sense for everyone to be using a one-size-fits-all software solution.

When choosing software for your business, you’re faced with two choices. You can either pick an off-the-shelf package or have someone build and customize new software for you.

So what are the advantages of custom-written software? In this article, we’ll talk about the benefits of custom CRM software and how your business can get a competitive edge with it.

What Is Custom Software?

Basically, custom software is built from the ground up to fit your company’s needs. As the business owner or manager, you define what you need the software to do. Then, the software developer makes it from scratch for you.

The end result is a piece of software that’s entirely bespoke to your business. This means that it does exactly what you want it to do—no annoying workarounds or paying for features you don’t even need—and in turn, makes your business more efficient and profitable.

The Advantages of Custom-Written Software

At first, it might seem like a massive endeavor to build and pay for your own software solutions. But you can’t ignore the rewards that custom-made software can bring you. Here are some reasons your business should get a customized software solution.

It Keeps You Up to Date

Let’s be real here. Some businesses still use software built over a decade ago. Yours could be one of them.

You can’t just settle on something that “does the job just fine” or “works well enough.” What worked five or ten years ago, or even just one year ago, might not be the most efficient way to do things anymore. Out-of-date software can also be difficult to maintain.

By getting new software that’s fully customized, you’re marching your business into the modern age.

It Simplifies Your Business

Some businesses are forced to “duct-tape” different pieces of software and hardware together to accomplish various tasks. While individually, they may be great tools, it’s easy to see how inefficient this method is.

Custom-made software can solve these issues in one of two ways:

  • Creates an all-in-one solution that eliminates the need to run multiple applications
  • Acts as the connective tissue between the different programs you use 

With customized software in place, you can create more efficient ways of completing tasks. You increase productivity while reducing the number of user errors from juggling different programs.

It Offers a Cost-Effective Solution that Scales

As with any investment, custom CRM software can require some hefty upfront costs. But after that initial investment, well-designed software can save you money in the long run.

Pre-made software might have lower upfront costs, but overtime expenses can add up. Consider these hidden costs from using off-the-shelf products:

  • Renewing licenses
  • Training employees
  • Additional software to cover deficiencies
  • Other maintenance costs

When you use bespoke software that’s tailored to your business’ needs, you can keep your budget under control. 

The software can also be designed with expandability in mind that facilitates your company’s growth. This way, you can future-proof your business and scale it in ways that pre-made applications won’t allow you to do.

Still not convinced you need custom software? Here are 9 reasons why your business needs a custom software solution.

Give Your Business a Competitive Edge

Let’s be real. Your organization needs to keep up with modern trends to stay competitive in today’s world. More and more businesses are turning to customized solutions to stand out from their competitors.

Now it’s your turn. Take the next steps and see how a customized software solution can advance your business. Work with a team of experts who know the software business and how to get customers.

The Importance of Balanced Inventory Management

As retail trends shift quickly, a small business may find itself an opportunity to leverage new technology and improve their supply web capabilities. Many new business owners typically focus on making the most sales as well as improving their ROI. With that being said, the task of properly fulfilling the sold products may not have as much an emphasis. In fact, only 18% of small organizations use inventory management systems. While tracking is possible using manual documents, it may not be as accurate. Without an accurate inventory, many problems can ensue with inventory levels that are too little or are carrying too much. Make sure to check out the resource below to understand more about the significance of using a balanced inventory management system.

Infographic created by WSI, a warehousing and distribution company

How To Support Minority-Owned Businesses

Minorities have been disproportionally hurt by the lack of access to capital to get started or expand. In fact, minorities make up 32% of our population, while business ownership only represents 18%. Here a few ideas to help support minority-owned businesses at the local level. Firstly, consider purchasing from minority-owned stores instead of major chain brands. Also, recommend these businesses to your family and friends for further support. You could also use social media to help recommend the business to community groups and other friends. If you are interested in learning more tips check out the infographic below on how to support minority-owned businesses.

Infographic created by Clover Network, a credit card processing service provider

Customer Loyalty Through Online Order Packaging

Customer loyalty is an important part of any business. Loyal customers can help increase repeat customers and create a positive perception. One of the many ways to increase customer loyalty is through packaging. Having packages that stand out will create a stronger brand impression. Consider choosing brand consistent colors and themes because roughly half of the online shoppers say custom packaging would make them more likely to order again. Including promotions such as promo codes and sample products can also add incentives for repurchase. Make sure to consult the infographic below for more information on creating customer loyalty with online order packaging. 

Infographic created by Chicago Tag & Label, a custom label manufacturer

Benefits of Using the Universal Robotic Arm

Most industries today use robotic arms to increase their production. A versatile robotic arm is fitted with unique programs to suit your specific needs. The applications enable the robots to move around the industrial plant performing different tasks with precision. Universal robotic arms are fitted with various programs depending on the tasks they are meant to achieve. 

The robotic arm is pre-programmed; thus, you do not require programming knowledge to operate it. The language used in the robotic arm is easy to follow.

 Which Applications Are Installed In Collaborative Robots?

The universal robots are suited with unique programs to cater to specific needs. A single robotic machine can perform numerous tasks depending on the applications installed. The following are some of the programs that are installed in the robotic arms:

 1. Assembly Application

The universal robotic arm can be fitted with an assembly program for assembly tasks. The assembly application enables the robot to handle the assembly process with precision. Tasks like screw-driving, nut –driving, and insertion can be accomplished with the robotic arm’s accuracy. 

The assembly application reduces injuries that can occur during the assembly process. It also eliminates boredom associated with doing repetitive work. The UR collaborative arm can handle assembly of plastics, woods, metals, or other materials effectively.

2. Dispensing Application

The dispensing program reduces wastage and increases accuracy. A robotic arm fitted with the dispensing application performs the tasks with precision and consistency. The universal robotic arm has a built-in torque-sensing that ensures consistent flow and precise placement. 

The constant flow reduces wastage of scrap. The collaborative dispensing component also enables the arm to move with flexibility, efficiency, and freedom from one task to another. The continuous movement reduces time wastage between the processes. Another advantage of using a robotic arm fitted with a dispensing application is that it reduces waste and increases accuracy.

3. Finishing Application

For a perfect finish, the robotic arm is fitted with polishing and finishing application. This application enables the robotic arm to move on curved or even surfaces with precision. The robotic arm is flexible and can be adjusted to suit your specific needs. It also has a simple language that is easy to follow. 

Advantages of Using the Universal Robotic Arm

 Using the universal robotic arm in your industry has enormous benefits as follows:

1. Increase in Productivity

The collaborative robotic arm frequently works, thus increases production. The robotic arm never gets tired, thus working non-stop. Automated machines never get sick and, therefore, do not require sick offs.

  2. Enhances Safety

The robotic machines are best suited for dangerous tasks. Some tasks like welding are done under high temperatures, which human beings cannot withstand. Painting produces harmful fumes that are harmful to human beings. The robotic arms are never affected by high temperatures or toxic fumes. 

The universal automated arm shares a workspace with human beings without causing any harm. The robots can sense the social presence in their working space. In case a human being intrudes on its working place, it reduces its speed or halts the process altogether.

3. Improves the Quality Of Finished Products

The robotic machines work with a precision that cannot be attained by human beings. The robots produce quality products that will attract customers to your company. Happy customers will come for more products and refer their friends to them.

4. Provides Customized Solutions

 The cobots are designed to provide customized solutions for your company. The collaborative arms address packaging, welding, and sorting issues, which are unique to specific industries.

5. Reduces the Cost Of Production

The collaborative robotic arm reduces the time that is used in production. Reducing the time of production subsequently reduces the cost of production. The only cost associated with robots is the initial installation cost. Robots do not have monthly expenses like humans.

The New Look and Feel of LinkedIn

It has been a few years since the world’s most prominent social network for business professionals was acquired by technology giant Microsoft. In the beginning, there were mixed feelings about this acquisition because Microsoft’s moves in the social media space had been largely tentative. Not many people remember So.Cl, a social network primarily geared towards younger students. The Yammer social network for business professionals and work teams never quite took off as desired, and other side projects such as Garage seemed experimental.

Critics of Microsoft were concerned that LinkedIn would suffer the fate of Nokia Lumia and the Windows Phone mobile operating system, which were abandoned by Microsoft despite having experienced relative success. Thankfully, LinkedIn has not encountered such tragedies; in fact, the network has expanded and improved considerably over the years, and it has also benefited from the parallel growth of Office 365.

The bottom line of LinkedIn in 2020 is that it remains the most important social media platform for business, even more so than Twitter. Microsoft is still interested in the social networking space; this can be safely gleaned from the company’s interest in acquiring a stake in TikTok, the video sharing network for teens that prompted concerns about mass surveillance by Chinese intelligence agencies, and which appears to be headed for American ownership and control through a forced sale to technology companies based in the United States.

Some elements of networks such as TikTok and Facebook have been teased within LinkedIn in recent months. A couple of years ago, Microsoft executives were paying close attention to Snapchat, a mobile social network that became wildly popular with teenagers before TikTok arrived. This interest in Snapchat appears to have inspired the new LinkedIn Stories feature, which essentially allows users to post short video logs that are ephemeral. Facebook and Instagram had already introduced such features, which in the latter network proved to be very well-received.

Here’s something else that LinkedIn directors and analysts have noticed: Users are spending more time on forums, chats, and discussions about topics that may not necessarily be related to looking for work or recruiting job candidates. The tone is still professional, but it has become more diversified. In essence, LinkedIn is forming online communities, and this should not be surprising because it happens in many other social networks.

At offices around the world, the water cooler effect is a tradition that some managers do not particularly care for, but it is something that they cannot consciously stop. This effect has been growing stronger within LinkedIn, and network executives see this as an excellent opportunity to work on what they are calling a rebirth. A massive water cooler effect happening across LinkedIn communities is exactly what directors have in mind, and LinkedIn Stories is a great step in this direction, particularly at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has kept many employees at home and working from personal computing devices. Some users may be rightfully concerned about seeing a shift towards baby photos and videos of their cats chasing each other at home, but this is not going to happen very often.

There have been times when minor LinkedIn scandals have sparked discussion about the type of content and discussions posted on the network. It is safe to say that more than 95% of LinkedIn content is related to business and career development. The remaining 5% is a hodgepodge of trash-talking about professional sports, dating, politics, religion, and celebrity gossip. In other words, LinkedIn is a digital version of the office water cooler, and this suits the network just fine.

We can expect to see some cosmetic changes to the LinkedIn user interface in the near future; the idea is to make it friendlier and more focused on allowing users to connect with each other. The business core of the network is not going to change. You can see this LinkedIn page as an example of how things are going to remain the same, and this means that business owners should continue to put some effort into making their companies stand out in the network.

Users of Microsoft Teams, a messaging and collaboration platform similar to Slack, will find that LinkedIn now has a tab that will initiate meetings and collaborative sessions. The premium version of LinkedIn, which costs about $30 per month, will likely be improved to entice more members to subscribe; one of the improvements being considered include classes and tutorials for business professionals, but there may also be some content that non-subscribers will not be able to access.

How To Prevent eCommerce Fraud

eCommerce Fraud is a major issue for many small businesses. In fact, every $1 of fraud loss can cost your company $3.13 . It is essential to implement protections to safeguard an ecommerce store. One of the first measures you could implement is requiring customers to enter strong up to date passwords. Another way to enhance protections is to install fraud protection tools. For example, an AVS or address verification service is a great way to confirm that the address and zip code match up with the billing information. Make sure to check out the infographic below if you are interested in learning more about how to prevent eCommerce Fraud.

Infographic created by First Data, a credit card processing company

8 Red Flags You’re Owed Unpaid Wages

You got your dream job, or you found a job that you think pays a fair wage. However, you started working and realized that you might not have been paid everything that you are owed. Perhaps you’ve started your career as a social worker and you were soon disappointed after encountering endless problems in your day-to-day activities. Because of this, you need to be on the lookout for the eight red flags listed below that show you might be owed unpaid wages.

1.  You aren’t tracking your time

If you have not been tracking your time, your employee is likely guessing. This is especially important if you are a contractor and work more than what you agreed to. The bookkeeper who reconciles payroll will assign you 20 hours, 40 hours, or whatever they think is correct.

If you are tracking your time, you will realize that sometimes your paychecks are a little bit off.

2.  You’re working overtime

If you have been working overtime, you need to make sure your paychecks reflect your overtime. This goes hand-in-hand with tracking your time. Your paycheck should see a significant boost if you have some overtime hours on it.

3.  You’re Working Before Clock In and After You Clock Out

If you are working before and after you hit the clock because your employer asked you to, you need to start clocking in. You should also calculate how much you worked outside of the clock and request reimbursement.

4.  You Have to Clock Out for Every Break

You are supposed to receive a 30-minute meal break within the first five hours of your shift. If you work up to ten hours, you get another 30-minute break.

You also get rest breaks every four hours. If your employer forces you to clock out for these breaks, you are owed unpaid wages. In a more sinister scenario, your employer might require you to take a break just to go to the bathroom or take a medication that you need to remain healthy.

5.  You’re On-Call During Your Breaks

If you are on-call during your breaks, you are not on break. Period. You should be paid for your on-call time, and you might even be owed overtime if these hours take you over the 40-hour threshold.

6.  You’ve Been Misclassified as Exempt or a Contractor

If you have been misclassified as a contractor or exempt employee, you may be owed overtime. This is why it is important to track your hours appropriately and speak to an employment lawyer if you believe you have been mistreated.

7.  You Aren’t Being Paid Commissions Properly

If you are supposed to make commission on each sale, you should see that money in your paycheck. Track your commissions on your own so that you know if they have been paid properly.

8.  Your Bonuses Are Being Withheld

You may have been promised bonuses in your contract, and they should be included in specific paychecks. Track your paychecks and bonus periods to ensure you have been paid properly.

What Can You Do?

You should reach out to an employment lawyer when you need assistance with your pay because you have not been paid properly, misclassified, or denied wages to which you are entitled.

Governance Frameworks In It Outsourcing

Information technology governance is an essential framework for an organization, as it brings coordination and formal structure to the IT systems used in running the day-to-day activities of a business. Having an IT governance in place means that a corporate entity has a set of policies, procedures, and timelines on how its organization would be run. IT governance is a holistic approach to IT system management as it considers various stakeholders and presents a befitting framework on how they would work seamlessly. Usually, IT governance is theoretically developed by prominent individuals at the executive level of an enterprise. 

Despite having a fantastic team of professionals in systems engineering, data analytics, cybersecurity, and so on, outsourcing specific projects can be inevitable. In fact, if you are a small to medium business owner or manager, there is every chance that you have certain aspects of your processes being outsourced. However, outsourcing poses a challenge; your contractor does not have a holistic view of what you do, so, they might not give you a product or service that entirely fits into your framework. This is not to say your contractor’s service is bad; however, if it does not efficiently integrate into your systems, then it is a bad job in the context of your organization. Therefore, it is vital to have an IT governance framework set in place for IT outsourcing. Here are things to know when outsourcing IT projects.

1. Set an objective for your IT Strategy

When sharing your project with your contractor, it is essential to share your IT strategy with them. Let them know the existing framework you have on ground and how what you request should fit in. Make it easy enough for them to understand your basic concept.

2. Conduct a strategic alignment assessment

Before trusting a (new) contractor to handle your IT business, you should perform certain assessments for your prospective contractor. A good place to start from is to present your existing plan or strategy with the potential contractors on your list, and then you can ask for recommendations about how they intend to address the issue. You can grade their performance with the Likert scale from 1 to 5. 

3. Ensure IT Reporting

It is important to have an IT reporting medium where stakeholders working on a project can file their progress and challenges; this ensures that your contractor stays in line with the framework, and the reports should be logged periodically. This may include having a software that supports reporting.

4. Prioritize processes

Your typical framework should be prioritized. Presenting a step-by-step structure of your processes or systems operation will give your contractor a contextual overview of your procedure, and they can know what to do, and how to integrate their service into your existing framework. 

5. Understanding uniqueness

Letting your contractor know your uniqueness and the distinctive feature of your business and approach towards fulfilling your objective is crucial. However, this is not to say you should share the competitive secret that would make you stand out with your contractor. Your IT governance framework should do the talking for you. It should be able to provide detailed information to your contractor.

What Is CBD Oil?

What is CBD Oil?

CBD refers to cannabidiol. It’s one of the many cannabinoids obtained from the hemp plant. In simpler terms, it is an oil extracted from the hemp plant. You could also call it a natural compound derived from the hemp plant. In total, the hemp plant contains over 100 different types of cannabinoids.

The hemp plant has many industrial applications. It is farmed for its fibers which are used in construction, textile, and other industries. However, in recent times the plant is increasingly being farmed for the production of CBD oil. In most cases, the Sativa variety of the Cannabis plant is what is used, and not the Indica which is high in THC (the compound responsible for getting one high).

Note: CBD oil is different from cannabis oil. Cannabis oil is derived from marijuana and contains very high levels of THC. So while CBD oil has virtually negligible levels of THC and cannot get you high, cannabis oil has high levels of THC and can get you high. 

What does CBD Oil stand for?

CBD does not stand for anything else apart from cannabidiol. The letters CBD should not be mistaken for some elaborate acronym. And cannabidiol, as mentioned earlier, is simply and oil extract derived from the hemp plant. 

Now what is CBD oil by default should refer to the natural oil extracted from the hemp leaves and flowers. However, in some cases, CBD oil can also be used to refer to oil that has been infused with CBD extract, and the extract here could be in different stages of purification and of various concentrations. 

What does CBD oil do?

CBD oil is a product in the midst of discovery and exploration. There is information to show that it has been used in the past in ancient Rome, China, Europe, and other parts of Asia. At the moment, CBD oil is undergoing a renaissance of sorts and is enjoying a lot of recognition. And without a doubt, CBD oil is going to have a bright future in the coming years. All this is to say that there is a lot of research going on regarding CBD oil. There is a lot that we still don’t know about its benefits and applications. 

Wondering what are the benefits of CBD oil?

At present CBD oil has been shown to have various medical applications that include relieving pain, uplifting one’s mood, helping with sleep, improving appetite, as well as helping with various medical conditions such as arthritis, cancer, seizures, multiple sclerosis, anxiety, and more. 

CBD oil also contains other compounds such as other cannabinoids, terpenes, vitamins, THC, and oils which all have various medical benefits. When used together, these compounds can help with various medical conditions as well as general wellness. Different people are drawn to CBD oil due to different needs.

Note: Please consult a medical professional if you intend to use CBD oil for medical use. They are best-placed to offer you precise medical advice on whether the use of CBD oil can help, as well as whether it’s safe to use together with other medicines, or if pregnant. 

How does CBD oil work?

Scientists and researchers are still trying to understand CBD (oil) better considering it’s just now being looked into deeply.

That said, at present CBD oil is known to affect various receptors and endocannabinoids in the human body. When this happens, CBD affects the manner in which neurotransmitters in the body can perceive various things such as mood, pain, and other states of being. 

How is CBD oil made?

The production of CBD oil starts with the cultivation of the hemp plants. Once mature, the flowers and leaves of these plants are harvested. From here the extraction process begins. Different manufacturers go about the extraction process in different ways. They use different extraction machines, different processes, and different compounds to bring out the CBD oil. 

Once extracted, the raw CBD oil is then refined to different stages for different markets. Plant-based oils, fats, and chlorophyll are removed to remain with full-spectrum CBD oil. Full-spectrum CBD oil can be further refined to remove traces of THC. What remains from this process is broad-spectrum CBD that still contains terpenes and other cannabinoids. From here the extract can be further refined to remove the terpenes and cannabinoids. What remains is CBD isolate.

The CBD oil, at different stages of refinery, can then be mixed with other products for various markets. It can be manufactured into vape oil, edibles, capsules, tinctures, and various topical products such as balms and creams. 

What is the difference between CBD oil and Hemp oil?

CBD oil is derived from the Hemp plant. In a way, all CBD oil is hemp oil. After all, all forms of CBD oil start out as raw hemp oil extract. However, as explained above, the raw hemp oil undergoes various stages of refinery in order to end up with CBD oil in its various forms. That is, full-spectrum CBD oil, broad-spectrum CBD oil, pure CBD isolate, and CBD-infused oils.

So while Hemp oil is a raw extract that still contains various plant oils, plant vitamins, acids, terpenes, cannabinoids, THC, and other compounds, CBD oil is a more purified form of hemp oil that is already refined for human use. 

Where to buy CBD oil?

Since the legalization of CBD oil in the UK, you can buy it all across the country in cities such as London, Birmingham, Leeds, and Glasgow. You do, however, need a prescription. There are local stores that you can walk into and buy CBD oil and there are online stores where you can order your preferred CBD oil straight from the comfort of your home. 

All such stores are licensed by the government and the CBD oil must be tested and approved under the existing laws governing the sale and production of CBD oil. In particular, the CBD oil must be manufactured in a manner that is safe for human consumption and the THC levels must be within the set limits (0.2%). 

I prefer to buy from companies that give back to the community, and while most CBD companies keep all their profits, some CBD companies donate to multiple charitable causes. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that their product is better than any other, the time that they take to give back makes me feel like these companies are genuine in their intent for good, clean, high quality products and services.

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