Migrating Your Software: Real Data that can Help You!

Since we are a software company, we work with customers nearly every day who are moving to a new system, and are often bringing some information over from their old system to the new one. (This is referred to as ‘migrating’.) Of course, we all have our own opinion when it comes to migrating. Your company may have migrated with great success and had no issues, and another may have run into some problems along the way that left a bad taste in their mouth. There are so many variables involved in migrating your software, all of which can affect the success of your migration. Here are some statistics from a survey taken by real customers of Red Wing Software and customers of other software products. Understanding the experiences of others who have been there can help you make your own migration successful.

The most important factor for a smooth migration is the support team. This answer got 59% of the responses - more than double that of any other choice selection! There are many things that can help with your software migration: training, help documents, videos, and more. But the support team is probably your most helpful resource during a migration. Anytime you have an issue or question, or need to know how to do something, you can just pick up the phone and give them a call. That’s why using support should be a big part of your plan to get the software up and running. You may feel like you are calling too often or bothering the support team, but that is their job, and they deal with the exact things you are dealing with every single day. Every call you make is an investment in your future with your new software.

36% of respondents said training was the number one thing they could have done to improve their migration experience. If you are thinking of getting training prior to migrating, you might want to consider this number! Once you start the wheels moving in the process of your migration, it’s hard to stop it and get training at that point. So think ahead when it comes to training. If you or your staff don’t know anything about the software and need to familiarize yourselves, plan to either attend training, or at least do some online tutorials, well before the actual migration process begins. Then you can get all of your questions answered and understand processes, which will greatly reduce your stress level once you start using the software.

Only 9% of people said they had a plan to help them stay organized. You might think you are far too busy with everything else involved in your software migration to come up with a migration plan. But just think about it, how lost would you be in your daily life without a calendar to keep track of what there is to do. Even if you just jot down some notes on paper, it’s a good idea to put a plan together for your migration. Key components to include are: who will do what, how long each step will take, and what will happen if one of the steps falls through or is completed late. When you are prepared for whatever happens, the migration process will go much more smoothly.

You know you have to make the switch from your old program to something newer! In the end, your company will reap the benefits of newer technology. Why not make your migration a successful one by heeding the comments of those who have been there and done that?

Accounting Software Companies – How Do You Choose?

Accounting software is clearly an important part of your business. If you have ever searched for an accounting software product and a company to work with, you have probably noticed that there are so many accounting software companies available. Do you choose a basic, mass-marketed product like Intuit’s QuickBooks? Maybe you will opt for a large-scale customizable product like Sage MAS 200? Or maybe your business is a perfect fit for mid-market accounting software such as Red Wing Software’s CenterPoint Accounting. The process of narrowing down your search to a few vendors can be grueling if you don’t have the right tools. Answer these questions to help you decide which type of vendor and product is right for your business.

Who am I comfortable working with?

There are so many accounting software companies. Some are very large, with their support call centers in several countries, and you likely won’t speak with the same person twice. Others are smaller, with fewer technicians, where you get to know their technicians and they get to know you. Both systems have their own set of benefits. A larger company may be available longer hours or even 24/7, while the smaller companies may have a more limited support schedule. Consider which type of service you want for your business.

How customizable is the product for your business?

In the accounting software world, there are really two kinds of ‘customizable’. The first is open source code, where the actual code of the software can be altered in nearly any way. Changing source code can get expensive, and you might have problems finding support if your programmer is unavailable. On the other hand, having open source code can provide precision features to be created to fit your business processes exactly the way you want. The other type of customization involves the changing of features within the software to fit your own needs. Many businesses can fit their processes very well by simply editing features within the accounting software to meet their needs. A system like this does cost far less than an open source system as it is likely less expensive to support and keep up. Ask your potential vendor if they provide open source code, or customizable features, as this can make a big difference in cost and processes.

Do the training options fit my needs?

Some people prefer to learn about their new accounting software at their own pace, others would rather attend a live training session, and still others simply use the online help within the system. Each software company offers their own set of training options, so it’s important you find a company who offers training in a manner that fits your company best.

Consider these questions early on in your search for accounting software companies, and you will have a much easier time weeding out the companies that are not a good fit for your company, and focusing on the ones that work best for you.

Google Analytics: What it can Tell You

A huge number of businesses use Google Analytics to monitor the activity on their Web site. If you are not one of them, you may wonder what all the fuss is about, and whether you are missing out on something useful. Well, without knowing you or your business, I can venture a guess and say ‘yes’ you are missing out on some very useful and important information if you are not using Google Analytics. You can gather some amazingly useful information with Google Analytics, which can inspire you to take important action!

Have a reference point.

Your Web site can be an extremely useful tool for your business, no matter what type of business you have. But if you don’t know who is visiting, how they got there, your number of daily visitors, or anything else, you won’t know if any of your marketing efforts are making a difference. Even if you install Google Analytics now but don’t look at it right away, you can always go back and look at the data later on. By using Google Analytics even in the most basic way, you will start to understand how many people on average visit your site and how they got there, and you can also begin to see how the things you are doing impact the visitors to your Web site. Here are just a few examples of how it can help!

Know how people find your site.

Google Analytics allows you to see which keywords or Web sites people used to find your site. When you know which traffic sources are working, you can try to increase the traffic from those sources. For example if a large number of people are finding your site by searching for the term ‘blue widgets’, you could create a whole Web page about blue widgets. You could write useful articles about blue widgets and post them for people to see on Facebook and Twitter. You could submit that same article to your blog and to a free article submission site (like www.ezinearticles.com) with a link back to your Web site. Knowing how people find you is a great start to something that can be extremely useful in enhancing your marketing efforts.

Know which pages are sticky.

You put the time and money in to building a Web site. Now, how do you know that people are finding what they are looking for? You might be thinking “people would let me know if they couldn’t find the things they need on my Web site.” This is not true. Web searchers will not tell you anything at all; they will simply go away and look someplace else. Analytics will show you how much time people spent on each of your pages, and also where they came from and where they went next. This helps you understand whether your Web site is effective! For example, if people came to your site, viewed the home page for 20 seconds and then left your site, you should probably question whether things are easy enough to find.

Discover which call to action works best.

Do you know which action you want people to take on your Web site? Every business is different, but you should always have your call to action clear for people to see. Maybe you get the best response from having people fill in a form, or a request for proposal. Well then, that is what you should have as a call to action on your Web page(s)! Using Analytics can help you track and understand the actions people are taking on your site, which can in turn help you decide which actions result in the most sales.

I doubt I have even seen anything as useful as Google Analytics for such a low price: FREE! The biggest cost you will incur is that of your time (or your webmaster). It’s basically just a matter of signing up, and getting a piece of Java script code added to all the pages you wish to track. Install it today and open up a whole new world of data to help your business focus on what works!