Sometimes what seems to be an insurmountable problem can have a simple solution, if only we look at it from a different perspective. Here are a couple examples that I have been directly involved with. The first happened at a recent event I attended in Indianapolis, and the second happened early in the development of the ratio/index analysis functionality in our software and forever affected how we look at new software features.
I was recently at a conference attended by a large number of Certified Public Accountants. They were all highly educated, extremely sharp people. At the final break, the sponsors of the event provided milk and cookies as an afternoon snack. The cookies were large, and the milk was in individual serving bottles with a small opening in the top. I was talking to one of the participants as he stood with a cookie in one hand and milk in the other, when he said, “It sure would be nice to be able to dunk this cookie, but it won’t fit in the top of the bottle.” I just politely suggested he dump the milk into one of the glasses that were neatly stacked next to the big bowl filled with milk on ice, and he could dunk the cookie.
Over twenty-five years ago, I was having an intense discussion with our (then and current) Development Manager on how the data in our Ratio/Index analysis program should be displayed. This was as close to a knock-down, drag-out fight as we’ve ever had over a software feature. I thought the trend information on the reports should be presented in reverse chronological order so the most recent information was closest to the line titles, and he thought that was crazy, because financial information should always be in chronological order. One of our partners, at the time, entered the conversation at about the breaking point and after hearing just a small portion of the discussion, he suggested, “do it both ways and let the customers decide how they want to see the data,” totally ruining a perfectly good argument.
Next time you are confronted with a problem that seems to have no solution, step back, take a breath, and look at the issue from a different angle.
Summer is now in full swing. I was reminded of this recently while enjoying one of my favorite summertime outdoor activities, golfing. We were finishing the thirteenth hole when we heard thunder in the distance. I quickly grabbed my smartphone and checked out the radar for the area. A thunderstorm that had not been there ten minutes earlier was now just to our north and heading southeast. It appeared we would be spared, so we kept playing. As we finished the last hole, the sky let loose and everyone scrambled for a safe place to spend the next hour.
I mention this as a reminder of how fast storms can erupt, and how important it is to make sure you’re prepared for unexpected events. Do you have a safe place to retreat to in a hurry when things get dangerous? Does everyone in your organization know how to recognize when to take action? Is all your important information backed up and stored off-site? Do you have a disaster recovery plan in case it is needed? I certainly hope you never have to deal with a serious emergency, but it is always a good idea to have a plan.
On this Independence Day, and for our friends to our north, Canada Day, please celebrate safely.
Last month, I had the opportunity to meet with two different groups of customers. The first group consisted of organizations from around the country that use our CenterPoint Accounting and Payroll software to support a large number of their customers. These organizations are extremely proficient in the use of the software, and are always looking for new ways to be more efficient in their work. To that end, they continually push
Red Wing Software to provide new functionality to our products. It is important to us to have customers that help make us a better company, and we sincerely appreciate their input.
The second group attended a CenterPoint Accounting and Payroll training in our classroom in Red Wing, MN. I had the pleasure of having lunch with four of these customers, two from North Dakota, and two from Oklahoma. It is always interesting to learn more about their businesses and how they use our software. We claim to be the friendliest software company on the planet, and I think it’s because we have the friendliest customers.
A few days later, we observed Memorial Day in the United States, which reminded me of how the sacrifice of many keep us safe and allow us the freedom to travel hundreds and even thousands of miles to gather and conduct our business or just enjoy the company of others. There are few places in the world that have this freedom, and we should remember that this freedom does not come without cost and sacrifice. Thank you to all that serve globally, nationally, and locally to keep us safe and free.
- Ken Hilton, President
A few days ago was Administrative Professionals Day. At Red Wing Software, we are fortunate to have a dedicated front-office staff that takes care of our customers and the back-office functions for the company. It’s not often you can call a company and the same people that have helped you for over two decades continue to help you. Thanks to Roxie, Pam, Melissa, and Carole for taking care of us and our customers with dedication and professionalism, and to Stephanie and Cindy for stepping out of their marketing roles and providing backup when the need arises.
A few years ago we needed to fill a full-time position in our front office, but only for a few weeks while one of our full-time staff was going to be out. One of the primary responsibilities for this person was to answer phones and direct callers to the appropriate individual or team. We often use a staffing company to help with hiring and we contacted them to help find the right person for the job. The staffing company does a good job of prescreening applicants to make sure they fit our requirements and help us save time in the process.
After interviewing a number of applicants (eight in all) that we didn’t feel were the right fit, the staffing company was concerned. It was important to us that we didn’t settle, we wanted to make sure the new hire represented our business well. Remember, the person that answers the phone for your company has one of the most important roles in the organization. To the customer calling in, the voice answering the phone is the voice of the company. It is important to have that voice represent what your company is all about. In this particular case, that “temporary” position turned into full-time, and we were glad we took the time to hire the right person.
- Ken Hilton, President
Data security and privacy is an important topic at Red Wing Software. We understand whenever data is shared with us, or any other trusted advisor, you expect and deserve complete confidence that your information is protected from inappropriate use.
On a number of occasions, and as a regular part of our customer service, customers give us access to their private/personal information by providing us access to their computers using a support tool. Sometimes, when our support staff is helping troubleshoot an issue, they will take control of your computer, and step through processes that help you find mistakes in data or help interpret information on reports. This can only be done by you initiating the process on your end so we can access your computer, and only works for that individual session.
We also provide data migration services for people moving from a legacy Red Wing product to our newer technology. This usually involves the customer sending their financial data files to us over a secure internet connection, so we can move their information from the old product to the new one. Then, we use the secure connection to send the new data back to the customer.
We have policies in place for how customer data is handled and how it can be received from the customer and returned or removed from our computers. We have a team created that meets regularly to ensure that these policies are always followed and we are using the latest technology for securely handling our own, and our customers’ personal/private information. Please rest assured that your information is safe with us.
- Ken Hilton, President