At Red Wing Software, we continuously investigate new technology that will help us better manage our business. We employ a process to choose the technology and the company or companies to work with when we collect and analyze data.
When deciding what new technologies to use in our operation, and the companies we choose to work with, we first determine what information we need, and how we will use the data. We quite often take baby steps when adopting new systems. We know it’s ok to start slowly. Here’s what I recommend to people that start to use our financial software: Keep track of the same level of information that you kept track of before you moved to our more robust system. A technology change is hard enough without introducing a whole new level of detail to your work load. Then, as you get comfortable with the new system, add more detail to help drill down and get better analysis at a lower level.
After we determine what we need, it’s time to start to look at the companies that offer those solutions. There are a lot of good companies that offer some amazing products and functionality that we need to sift through. Once we narrow down the list of products that can handle our requirements, we consider the people we’ll be working with. These people are going to become trusted advisors to our operation. In some cases, it’s important that the new technology we implement plays well with the other technology that we already use. This may mean that the systems have to share data bidirectionally, or at least be able to import or export data in a format that is compatible.
So, when you start to implement new technologies in your operation, decide what you need and how you will use the data, find the companies and people that are a good fit for your operation, and move forward. Every day you wait, you lose valuable data that can never be recreated.
With the holidays in full swing, now is a good time to remember all the important people in our lives. On behalf of Red Wing Software, I want to wish a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and prosperous New Year to our families, customers, co-workers, partners, vendors, and all the people that help keep us happy, safe, and free.
If you haven’t already started, now is a great time to begin planning for next year. It doesn’t matter what kind of business you’re in; there are things you can do to affect the path and destination of your enterprise.
I’m a firm believer in zero-based budgeting. That doesn’t mean we have to throw away all of our historical data and start from scratch, but what it does is make sure we look at each line item in the budget and give thought to how that line might be different than in previous years.
At Red Wing Software, we know there are some constants that we can count on being relatively stable from year to year. In our case, labor is one of those constants, since we enjoy very little turnover in the fine staff we have assembled. In other areas, for instance marketing, we might make adjustments to the number of trade shows we attend, or the size or placement of ads. We spend a fair amount of time analyzing the major line items to see how we can reduce costs without affecting quality, or increase market share of a particular product, increasing revenue.
Examining every line item when budgeting expenses or projecting revenue (and then regularly comparing actual results to that budget), helps maintain better control of the business throughout the year.
It seems like the season for change. The weather in Minnesota is changing, the leaves are changing, our office decorations are changing to fall colors, and don’t even get me started on politics. But, the change I want to talk about is the change taking place at many of our customers’ businesses.
With the announcement that Red Wing Software will be discontinuing support of our oldest products (in March, 2018), Red Wing Windows Accounting and Champion Controller, many of our customers are changing to our new CenterPoint Accounting and Payroll programs. CenterPoint is based on all the latest software technology and is both powerful and easy to use, a great step forward for our longtime customers.
We have made this change as easy as possible for our customers by moving their data from the legacy products to CenterPoint for them. After the data transfer is complete, we offer web based training on the products to make the transition as easy as possible. As with all change, there is a learning curve, but the web based training takes much of the mystery out of the process.
CenterPoint Accounting was designed to make the transition from Red Wing Windows Accounting and Champion Controller easy by including the features available in the legacy products, and a utility for moving historical data into a new database. If you are a Red Wing Windows Accounting or Champion Controller customer and want to move to new technology, call our sales staff and they can help schedule the transition and make the process as painless as possible.
I want to congratulate all of our customers that have already made this change to advance their accounting technology tools. I know it is not always easy, but, like the weather, leaves, decorations, and politics, it is sometimes inevitable.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the people affected by Hurricane Harvey. Everyone I know has a connection to someone living in the affected area, and is reaching out in some way to help.
On a brighter (or should I say darker) note, virtually everyone in the United States was able to experience the recent solar eclipse at some level. A few people in our office ventured out of their home states to travel to a part of the country that was in the area of “totality”, where the sun was totally blocked by the moon for over two minutes. Certainly, a sight to see.
Now, it’s time to look around and determine if your company is feeling the effects of an eclipse. Are there people that are being kept in the dark about business information that would help them help the company grow? While not necessarily all information about a company can be made public, there are probably things unintentionally not shared that could improve processes and expose new ideas.
On an individual level, are there bright people in the organization that are being overshadowed, and if given the opportunity to shine, could eventually become stars? (Is that too many puns for one sentence?)
Take a look around, and ensure your company is not experiencing a perpetual eclipse.
- Ken Hilton, President
I’ve mentioned before in this newsletter how important I think it is to regularly get continuing education. As I write this, I am preparing to make a trip to New York to attend a financial standards meeting, where I get updated annually on changes in recordkeeping and reporting recommendations. I typically attend three or four similar meetings each year to stay current and/or learn new things.
At Red Wing Software, we offer a number of ways to stay current on changes to our software, or just learn how to better use the features that may be new to you. In July, we had two three-day seminars in our Red Wing office attended by a number of new customers as well as people wanting a refresher or were ready to use more functionality they hadn’t previously taken advantage of.
In addition to our classroom training sessions, we offer on-site consulting (as do a number of our partners), over-the-phone one-on-one training, educational videos, and most recently, live web sessions. All of these options are listed on our web site, so you can take advantage of whatever method works best for you. And, of course, your individual questions can be answered immediately by calling our friendly and knowledgeable support staff.
Whatever option you choose for continuing education, whether on Red Wing Software products or other aspects of your business, you should set aside some time to stay current with your business tools and learn new ways to make your business better.