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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Appraisal Management Software Services for Real Estate Companies

Appraisal Management Software is one of the most quintessential software for real estate industry. It is the software which appraisers use to value a property. Real estate business often relies on advice of " experts " to perform a lot of functions. Each day, large number of property appraisals are conducted for whatever reason there may be. Using a software helps the auditor to perform an unbiased, fast and precise property value calculation.


What Is Appraisal Management Software ?


Most of the people searching for appraisal management software are looking for a cost effective way to make estimate about the value of any property. A manual property evaluation is often based on tedious mathematical calculations, which are somewhat crude. In real estate, just like in any other field, people are beginning to realize the impacts that manual actions have.

                                                                                                                                    (Source : pnwra )


Concise Definition
An appraisal management software calculates the value of a property based on preset ( already loaded ) mathematical functions and a given set of data, provided the property evaluator ( a.k.a the auditor ). The mathematics involved is rigorous and complicated, but a breeze for the computer to handle. This gives the auditor enough time to survey the property, take important readings and just let the software perform the calculations.

In general, there are three kinds of people who would need an appraisal management software.

  • The government. They need it to calculate property taxes and other taxes. 
  • The banks and credit organizations. They use it for mortgage calculations when lending out property loan. 
  • The property lender and buyer, when they work out a deal, with the property dealer in between. 

Types of Appraisal Management Software 

There are not many types of appraisal management software.

  • Regular appraisal management software. This is what most people use. 
  • Mass appraisal management software. This is called CAMA ( Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal ) software. It is used by government agencies to appraise ( evaluate ) properties in a large area all at once. It may have certain errors, but it is great for large scale work. 
There are lesser software products in the CAMA category.


Features 

Appraisal management software are not great at their features, at least as it stands as of now. There are few software products in this category. As a result of relatively less competition, the UI features have not been able to pick up. Nevertheless, they are able to do the job for which they are deployed.

This is a list of the features of appraisal management software.

Using this software makes life pretty much easier for any Appraisal Management Firm. What are these ? Well, these are analogous to law firms. Group of real estate evaluators join together to work under a common business name. In fact, the greatest demand for appraisal management software comes from these firms, as they wish to maintain consistency within their company and also speed at work.

Property Financial Templates
AMS comes pre loaded with financial templates for all the different types of real estate there can be. This includes things like -
Office property
Apartment
Houses
Commercial Property
Agricultural Land
Horticultural Land
Mixed use real estate

and many others. The more and diverse the financial templates, the easier it is to provide a better property evaluation. Most software even differentiate between different types of homes, which is good, as people do too.

The benefit of having a financial template is just like having presets in your music player. the auditor selects the appropriate template and rest of the questions are asked by the software itself, so easy.


Real Time Land Rates
In many locations, land rates are decided by the government, or some local organization. These change with time, just like stocks or bonds. Minute changes in rates can lead to big differences in monetary value, especially for high worth properties, like a massive lake front villa. The software pulls in latest land rates and uses them for computation.


Keeping Property Specific Data
The AMS can also be used to store valuable data regarding a property, conveniently into spreadsheets. These are geared to be least prone to errors. The software picks up data from these spreadsheets and uses them for calculation.

In some software, the fields of the spreadsheets are customizable. This allows auditors the option to record even more data about a real estate property.


Minimizing Errors
The software is designed to find out internal consistencies. These are based on rationale and mathematical logic.

This is how it works.
The best practices from real estate property evaluation are specified to the software.
Compliance regulations are also fed into the software, specific to the location. This depends on whether the property is in California or New York.
Then the software runs an internal check every time a new data is entered. It cross checks the data for consistency with specified norms.

This helps to minimize ( almost nullify ) errors. You see, errors can be costly to an organizing, tarnishing their reputation.

Share Appraisal Information
Using the software, individuals can share appraisal data among colleagues, firm authorities, lender , buyer or any other person involved. This tremendously boosts transparency involved in this manner.

Support for third party calculations
The appraisal management software also has support for other calculations, like mortgage. The software uses real time data to estimate mortgage down payment, interest rates and period of pay over as per the buyer's negotiation with the bank.

Appraisal Forms
The software provides the option of filling appraisal forms from within the software. This saves a lot of time for the appraiser and other parties.

Different Land Valuation Models
Appraisal management software has in built models for evaluating property using the most commonly used models. These are -

  • Market value - In this, the house is valued at its "auction" price. 
  • Value in Use - This model takes into account the value the property is generating for the owner. 
  • Investment Value - Based on the value the property provides to an investor. 
Other models are insurable value and liquidation value. 


Presence of all models help to serve different kinds of customers.

There are other approaches like cost, sales and income approach.

Process Credit Cards ( from within the software )
Appraisal management software is used to process credit / debit cards from within. This allows secure and private transfer of funds from a party to the appraiser.

Order Management 
Appraisal firms can use this software to manage all their appraisal orders. These orders can be categorized just like any other orders into categories like "Pending" , "Complete",  "In Process" , "Cancelled" etc.


  • Add comments to orders.
  • Attach documents pertaining to an order
  • View order history
  • Email reports to clients from within the software
Red Flag Notifications
Set potential red - flags as per the procedure of your appraisal firm. The software then searches for red flags within data. These are the deals which need serious attention. 

Compliance Management
Appraisal management software helps auditors stay compliant to the guidelines of various regulatory bodies on real estate appraisal. 

Now, it is not easy to be a 100 % compliant with all the guideline, but still they serve as useful notes for the "Land Valuer ".

Manage Revisions ( prime focus feature )
If there is one feature that I want you to stress on, it is this - Revisions. About 30 % of the times, an appraisal is sent back for a revision. This means that the client is not satisfied with the work and wants a recheck. An appraisal management software ought to have this feature, or you run the risk of losing 30 % of your clients, and get negative reviews. 



Applications 

Appraisal management software is applicable in all kinds of property ownership changes. Special applications of this software are -

  • For the government. They use it to decide property tax, government homeowner's insurance and all other monetary aspects related to property. 
  • Settling property disputes, as in the case of divorce and company lawsuits involving mergers, takeover and acquisitions. 
  • An individual can use this software to find out true worth of his or her property. People who have many properties regularly use this software to keep track of the worth of their property investments. Investing in property often promises huge return on investments, and as such is done by millions of people. 
  • Banks use these software to decide on mortage rates. 

Buyer's Guide

Real estate appraisal management software is not a very high profile software industry. The industry is highly specific but the demand for it is increasing.

There are not many software products in the appraisal management category, in comparison to other industry software. To choose the right software product for your appraisal management software, it takes a lot of background work. These are some tips that can help.

Determine what kind of buyer are you ?
The answer to this question can be -
Local governmental authority
Appraisal management firm
Individual appraiser
Investor
Property developer
Real estate website owner ( yes, appraisal management data can be uploaded on websites using widgets )

Depending on your requirements, there might be a software that is just right for you.

The value for money question ?
Appraisal Management Software are really expensive, partly because of the low competition in this software niche. As a result, the going gets tough when one treads the path to choose a suitable software.

Where are you located ? 
Different countries, even states have different rulles and regulations regarding real estate surveying. Make sure that the software product you are going for is geared for that location which needs to be surveyed.

As a starter auditor, you may as well go with free and open source appraisal management software with the least third party add ons.

Well established appraisal management firms ought to try out desktop based software , both for Windows or Mac ( whichever OS the auditors use ). Take software trial is the best piece of advice. That is what they are meant for.

Large corporations dealing with appraisal management for hundreds of clients can look into online appraisal management software. They are readily employed and provide cost benefits to the buyer. This is especially useful in firms with large number of auditors using their own device (BYOD).

                                                                                                                                   ( Image credit  - dol.wa.gov )


Market Trend For Appraisal Management Software 

Appraisal management industry has a market size topping $ 6 billion. The appraisal management software probably occupies only a small fraction of this revenue because of its low adoption rates in the industry. Many appraisers tend to go the conventional route and do manual evaluation.

However, the emergence of appraisal management firms would boost the sales of these software as they ensure faster speed of work, as well as efficient management of orders.

Affordability is also a big issue in appraisal management systems. If these software become more affordable, they are sure to get more clients.


Problems with Appraisal Management Software, today

As of now, I feel that there are 2 big problems with appraisal management software which may be the cause for low adoption rates by people in the industry.
  • Average UI - people really look for classy and sleek user interface in their apps, software and products. The software products in this category need to mature and present themselves in a new, revamped user interface. 
  • Compliance management - Revving up the features for compliance management too can boost adoption rates. 
[Continue Reading...]

Asset Management Software - Manage Digital , IT & Fixed Assets

Asset management software is a broad category of software which enterprises use to manage their assets. The most common types of assets to be managed are hardware assets, software assets and fixed assets. There can be many other types of specific assets which need to be managed. For this, Asset Management Software of today have ventured into various niches and provide some sort of automation for every kind of enterprise or organization.

What Is Asset Management Software ?

Concisely speaking, an asset management software is used to perform financial and inventory control operations to efficiently manage two things.
  • The Asset Life Cycle - Every asset has its life cycle. It is first purchased, used, serviced or repaired during a given period, and then disposed off. All of these activities leave a mark on the financial statements. It is utmost important to manage life - cycle of assets, like computers, printers, servers, network cables and things like that. 
  • Expansion - To efficiently plan and accommodate increment in assets , it is important to have complete information about present assets and how they function. This helps you stay on top of the game even in future. 
asset management software used in data centers
                                                                                                                                   (Source : dellphoto )

This software helps to control IT costs at any stage of business. Companies that employ asset management software are able to take advantage of a robust internal asset check, continuously updated information and ability to act proactively in an unplanned situation. It helps to save the money which would have gone waste due to incomplete or even incorrect manual reporting.

It is also quite helpful in planning for future asset investments. Many organizations today want to tap into green energy, making their systems more sustainable from energy point of view. This involves massive scale replacement of assets for their "energy efficient" counterparts. Collectively, these assets help the company to save money on power as well as post a "greener" energy usage. All this can be a breeze with Asset Management Software.

Types Of Asset Management Software

There are various types of asset management software depending on the kind of assets that they manage. These functions may be bundled into one huge software, or you can take specialised software for each type.
  • IT Asset Management Software - This includes monitoring and management of digital assets, mainly software and hardware components but not digital data. Software Asset Management (SAM) is in itself a huge management software niche which software makers target. To manage data assets , DAM ( Digital Asset Management ) software is used. 
  • Fixed Asset Management Software - These are the assets which are not easy to move and convert into money, that is "fixed" or "tangible". This includes property, machinery and the company buildings itself. Fixed assets too need to be monitored. 
  • Mobile Asset Management Software - This software is used to maintain and upkeep moving devices and components. It is used mainly in warehouses, railways, roadways, airways and other transportation services. 
In general, organizations go for a separate fixed asset management system and a separate ITAM ( IT Asset Management ) solution. This way, it is easier to focus on IT assets and also manage fixed assets separately.

Features To Look For

Before purchasing a software, any organization should prepare a chart mentioning what features they want from the software. With so many product offerings in each category of software, one is sure to get a huge number of useful features. But, the idea is to search for the best suitable software with the "seemingly" highest value for money.

Asset Life cycle Management
From planning stage, to procuring and right to the last stage, disposal. This allows you to keep track of your asset as it went through your organization. Quickly browse through all your assets and note their stage. Software automatically signals which assets need to substituted.

Asset Tracking
A comprehensive record of all assets on board, on reserve and on the buying list. This is perhaps one of the most useful organizational lists. Track all your assets and note any kind of information. Track repairs and warranty claims.
  • For fixed assets, RFID based smart tags are used for tracking. It works in a pretty good range. For global tracking purposes, GPS ( global positioning system ) is used.
Asset Procurement And Planning
The act of planning for future assets in done using this option. Procurement can also be automated using contacts with vendors. Budgeting is included in this feature.

Management of Contracts
This is very important in Asset Management . All the contract documents are safely vaulted in this option and visible only to authorised personnel. Contract data is also required for a company's legal activities.

Vendor Management
Dictate relations with vendors and arrange for inventory. This is a feature missing in many ITAM but it is highly useful. Integration with Inventory Management Software yields fantastic results. Vendor management pulls data from vendors, resellers, OEMs and other third party relations in supply chain.

Managing the Finances
Behind everything is finance. It needs to be accounted properly. ITAM software focus on financial functions. This allows the organization to gauge the true cost of running their business, which ultimately reflects in their product pricing. A proper evaluation can lead to lower pricing , which means more sales. When customer earns higher revenue, the value for money aspect changes too.

Proper management of finances can lead to significant monetary savings in the long run.

Compliance Management
IT companies need to follow compliance rules set by the industry associations. These can be ensured from within the Asset Management Software. One of the most well known recommendations for IT industries is from the ITIL.

Software Asset Management ( SAM ) Functions
SAM is itself a full fledged software. It tracks software licenses, their usage, secures software data and sends notifications when a software license is about to expire. It also manages their installed endpoints, software updates and versions.

Management of DAM Silos
In IT, Silos are considered roadblocks. These are organization segments which do not share information with other departments. Such silos can be managed , or even eliminated.

Asset Failure Prediction
With smart systems and sensors in place, an asset management software can detect and provide early warning before a systme fails. This includes critical devices like network cables, servers etc in a data center. This feature is used to perfection in data centers. Shutting down "about to fail" components before they cause major losses can save lot of money, especially in case of natural disasters, like hurricanes.


fixed assets, like container yards
                                                                                                                                Source : keepitsurreal

Integrations 

An enterprise is a dynamic unit. It interacts with its various departments for smooth, cohesive business growth. As such, software products are required to import and share data between them. The Asset Management Software should integrate with these software -
  • Help Desk management software
  • Inventory management software
  • HR management software
Of these, the most important is integration with Inventory .  So, look out for these integration features in the software you seek.

Applications 

This software product is applicable in all kinds of business environments. It is useful in all types of industries, like Aviation, Telecom, Web services, Software manufacturers etc. All organizations can benefit by using an Asset manager. The choice of going with a mediocre or a high-end fully feature laden software goes with the enterprise.

Buyer's Guide

The toughest part is to make the "Go" decision for implementing an Asset management software. Most companies take a long time to analyze how an Asset Management Software will change the way assets are managed at the enterprise. During this investigative phase, the enterprise should weight cost versus estimated monetary benefits. Once the decision is made, it is then time to choose the best asset management software from a large pool of vendors.

The choice of best suitable Asset Management Software depends on "need " of organization. Different software products have lots of similar features, but at least one of their functions stand out. As a result, if you are in need of that function, it is best to choose the software that expertises in it. But, then there are monetary constraints.

The focus of an asset management software product can be on any one of these.
  • Vendor management
  • Procurement management
  • IT life cycle management
So, if you want an Asset management software with strong vendor management controls, then look specifically for details of this feature on software websites.

There are three kinds of ITAM offering to choose from.

Desktop based software 

These software are installed on premises and not hosted on an external server. As such, the company has complete control over any functionality of the software. Desktop based software products are however expensive during the first install. These products are ideal for Large corporations . In a self hosted product, software vendors provide Dedicated Support which is extremely helpful.

Free / Open Source Software

If you are not looking to invest right away in Asset Management, these software offer many of the goods of ITAM. There are many free and open source Asset Management Software. Although most of them lack in advanced features, they are still good for inventory management and asset tracking.

Web Based Software

Web based Asset Management Software are ideal for small business. They can be installed within minutes, up and ready to go. With an online software, there are low initial IT setup costs and no hassle of securing the data. Most of the services are provided by software vendor. It works on all platforms, both PC and Mobile. Software learning curve is generally not steep, so employees can learn to use pretty fast, unlike the Desktop based software.

SaaS ( Software as a Service ) based Asset Management Software are popular and have high adoption rates in the business sphere. SaaS brings the advantage of flexible pricing for various scales of enterprise.

The selection of a suitable Asset management software depends on -
  • What kind of buyer are you , what industry type are you in ( finance, telecom, shipping etc ) and what kind of assets need to be tracked ? 
  • The buying budget. 
The different types of buyers

The Enterprise Buyer
Any large scale corporation usually manages millions of desktops and mobile devices, besides servers, VMs and other services. They would generally need as self hosted server install to manage all their hardware and software assets. 

Service Sector 
These companies should go with ITSM ( IT Service Management ) software, specially engineered for service sector industries. It has all the features that are needed to provide quality service and set up profitable pricing for the services. Integration with help desk software accomplishes this task.

Apps and software vendors
Companies that sell software or apps to need asset management tools. They can go with a SaaS based Asset Management which can be installed on their servers. As the company's clients grow, they would need to monitor more assets, so SaaS can be scaled accordingly.

Shipping and Transportation companies
Those involved in shipment business need to manage a strikingly different set of assets. The fixed asset management software should provide real time asset tracking. GPS based asset tracking is almost universal.

Present Market Trend in 2014

To any potential buyer, it is important to know the current market trends in software industry. The same goes for the software vendors themselves. It sets the playing field for the competition, which is great for the buyers, as they get new and advanced features in their software.

According to Forrester research, the market for Asset Management has already crossed $ 1 billion. It is accelerating at a fast pace. However, still many of the top 5000 companies have still not employed any sort of asset management. Companies seem to be happy with ERP (enterprise resource planning ) software to manage their resources. This is fine, until you need to look at assets in their life-cycle view. Present adoption rates are quite low, but are expected to pick up sharply as enterprises realize the need for Asset Management.

Implementing asset management software is not easy task, and not sans the hassles. But, it promises considerable improvements in the way assets will be managed.

Fixed assets and digital assets together account for a significant chunk of a company's total assets. They can take up about 80 % of the total expenditure. A fine tuned Asset Management Software assist the company in digging into this expenditure and recovering money. The cost savings are real and quite striking.




Comments on different types of Asset Management Software


Digital Asset Management 
DAM is used to manage data, which includes content, images, fonts, videos, databases and other brand specific assets. It is somewhat different from ITAM. It provides distinctive advantage in the face of competition, as the enterprise can duplicate its digital assets in various locations and over multiple websites.

The choice of going for a DAM depends on the need of managing data. If your enterprise is able to handle its data well, then there is pretty much no need of a DAM.

Software Asset Management
SAM is highly crucial in enterprises which install and run a huge number of software, and that too in diverse applications. A simple update checker will just not do it. Frequent software updates and bugs can give you the headache of a lifetime. An SAM helps to efortlessly manage software licenses, their data and update them as per the settings.

Mobile Asset Management 
This is about managing devices and components on the go. A Mobile Asset Management is mainly aimed at repair personnel, who use it to inspect, record and repair components in moving devices. 
[Continue Reading...]

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Color Management Software System and Color Calibration Tools

Color Management Software is an essential software product used in any enterprise in Entertainment industry, and in many other industries. It is used to ensure the exactness or near exactness in any visual graphics generated or captured. Different devices have different color depiction mechanisms, and it becomes difficult to exactly duplicate color. In the years before the advent of computers, the act of color duplication would take up a lot of time, brilliant knowledge of dyes and chemistry and many other skills. Now, you just need a software product to ensure high quality graphics across different devices.



What Is Color Management Software ?

It is a software product which is indispensable for graphics consistency. Color Management Module (CMM) allows the publisher to ensure close similarity in graphics ( images, video etc ) across different devices using a standard color profile. Most commonly used color profile is the ICC color profile. ICC stands for International Color Consortium , which is a leading organization on color management.


developer using color management software
                                                                                                                               ( Source : rauckhaus )



Types of Color Management Software 


There are actually no types or categories in color management software. There are however, many product offerings in the market at present. However, color management software vendors often focus on one application of the software. It is like setting yourself apart from the pack, and letting customers know that you are expert in one particular field.



Features 

A color management software is the all inclusive package to manage color in any location and in any environment. Ideally, a customer would want to work it on all OS, all printers, all kinds of projection devices, digital cameras and all that stuff. But, we all know that is quite difficult. However, most software work for most common devices. For complete details about integration, one has to look at the features of the color management software.

Scanning And Identifying Color Codes
The software is used to scan and identify accurate color description of an image, solid object , video or other graphics.

Color matching functionality
Once the parent image is designated, it can send the color codes to multiple printing locations or devices, even across the globe. So, if your company's art shop is say in USA, but the printing is being done in multiple locations, then the software can handle the job of creating almost exact looking images from different devices.


Print Management
The color management software is used to manage printers and command them to print the image with specific color codes. This in essential because printers from different manufacturers have different color palettes. The blue from one printer might be turquoise blue from another. So, in order to over ride this difference in printing, color management software is used.
A special technique called color proofing is used in color management software to check quality of print before they are actually sent to print.


Duplicate the graphics on visual display
We are all aware of the different technologies used in display devices. And they seem to be all different in a subtle manner. The same image or video or game graphics look different in color on a LCD monitor versus an LED monitor, versus the new 4K screen. Computer monitors are different from TVs in their basic architecture and the way they display graphics in color. As a result, color management software is needed to ensure that display from monitors and screens looks the same, even though they are using different technologies inside.

If color management software is not used, they would disply images in false color, which shows in front of the viewer.

This action is also called "monitor color calibration" and this is done using colorimeter and spectrophotometer ( in combination with the software ).


Powerful Color Search Function ( find that new color you just saw )
A color management software has a very wide color range palette which help to search a particular color accurately. Sometimes, an enterprise may need a very specific color which can be obtained from the software. Once the exact color is identified on the color management module, it can be duplicated across the entire enterprise.


Design Powerful Identity and Branding Graphics
A color management software is highly useful in designing complex color coded holograms, branding images, logo and other such features.

Identity markers on products need to conform to color originally specified so that consumers are assured of identity.


Projector Profiling
This is a relatively new advancement in color management software. It ensures that images and videos on the computer are displayed color exact on projectors. This is highly valuable feature for presentations.


Color Error Check
The color management software integrates with color scanning devices ( colorimeters, spectrophotometers ) to analyze color at every stage of production. This error check helps to identify color related errors at intermediate stages. If that faulty product would have gone further into production, money would be wasted, as it is already faulty. The color management software identifies such erroneous products as the error occurs and takes them out of production, savings lots of money on processing.


Quick Share Color Data
Color data can be shared privately and securely from one system to another. It facilitates standardization of color across an enterprise.


Color Palette ( for the designers )
The most powerful feature of a Color Management Software is its Color Palettes. This is a huge collection of colors with their ICC color profiles and color codes. This is at the heart of a color management module. The better and more vast this collection, the better are the results from the software.

Color Palette is used by artists, graphic designers and web designers to design their art work. Any designer is always looking for those new and vibrant colors. Each year many new colors and launched and presented by color management systems in front of the media. These receive international attention and are used by designers in their latest creations.

" A robust and diverse color palette is the foundation of a color management module."


rudimentary color wheel

                                                                                                                   ( Source : Robson)


Interoperability

Color management software should ensure color consistency across the three basic realms.

  • Across different operating systems. This includes Windows, Mac, Linux and their many versions. 
  • Across different image file extensions, like TIFF, JPG, PNG and image editing software like Photoshop
  • Across different web browsers, like Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari. 

So, we see that a color management software boosts a really impressive list of useful features. They are surely going to make color consistency pretty easy for an enterprise or an organization.




Applications Of Color Management Software

Exactly what kind of business environments or organizations need a color management system in place ? Well, color management software is used in many industries.

Textile Industry
You see all those bright, vibrant and multi-colored clothes out in the market. And the shades of color on a shirt from a given manufacturer are the same, even though they may be manufactured in different locations. The key to this is a Color Management Software running underneath, making sure that colors are exact and consistent.

In fact, the biggest market for color management software is actually the textile industry. The present market for color management software is about $ 40 million, and a sizeable chunk of that is taken by textile industry.

Any other enterprise
Just about any company would need color management software to manage their branding graphics. This includes logos, hallmarks, watermarks, old fashioned monograms, fonts, formatting and video content. The graphics should be same on their website, their apps, their product packaging, their products themselves, on employee T shirts and many other such things.

Designers ( all kinds of )
Color Management Software is also used by individual designers. They use it to design things like -

  • Fashion design, the preliminary stage to designing high end clothing. The sketches require brilliant color schemes so that they attract and woo customers. 
  • Web and graphic design , including website logos, color schemes, fonts and other graphics. 

Photographers too make use of color management software, especially when they make use of more than one types of camera. 

Display technology manufacturers rely on color management to produce high quality displays. So, whether it is CRT, LCD, LED , all of them need color management. 

Film Industry
Color Management Software is heavily relied upon in film making. 

Printing Technology
Color Management Software are used by printer manufacturers so that their printers adhere to standard color codes. Printers generally make use of CMYK color combination, which is a subtractive color technology.

List of other applications -
3D printing
Biometric Scanners
Automotive Industry
Cosmetics ( ladies really need to get more shades of lipsticks and nail colors ! )
Lighting industry ( interior decoration and s. other illumination projects )
Water fountain designing, at theme parks.
Online as well as offline advertising agencies.These high tech ad servers test different colors in A/B testing to find out which color links are best for genuine click.




Buyer's Guide

There are about a dozen popular color management software in the market, which are popular in the industry. The choice of a suitable color management software for your applications depends on many factors.

Things to consider are -

  • Your budget. 
  • The features of color palette. 
  • Availability of tutorials and free documentation for using the software. 
  • Whether the software will work on devices you are using. This includes OS, printers, monitors, digital cameras. 
  • The capabilities of colorimeter or any other color analyzing device that comes with this software. 

Color Management Software is either desktop based or online software. 
  • Desktop based software are ideal for individual designers and developers. 
  • SaaS based online software are ideal for large corporations which have employees working on BYOD environment. SaaS model ensures that the software can be installed very quickly and it connects to every system all across the globe. So, you can use it in your design studio and also in various production houses. 
Price  - 
The cheapest color management software start from about $ 80. They can go up to $ 499. But, most software lie in the range of $ 200 to $ 300.

It is always better to use a software trial before buying it. You can test most of the features and decide whether the money spent would be worth it.


Market Trend 

The market for color management software is rising slowly in all industry niches. It is an indispensable software in some sense, as needs of companies grow. With lots of things to manage, they would eventually need a color management system in place to automate the task of ensuring color consistency and coordination.

With growing demand for color management software, there would be even better and refined software products on the market, at cheaper prices. This would make them more affordable.

Color management for the solo designer
If you are a graphic designer, you should probably consider deploying a color management system. There is an increasing demand for color management systems for individuals. With this software, one can design better and present fresh designs. This is what designers strive to achieve, to get the next best graphic design.

Color management for enterprise
With adequate color management software in place, a company can impose high quality graphics on their products which reassure customers of great quality and value for money. In today's world, perception has high value. The way customers perceive a company greatly influences their buying behavior.

You see, color too has a psychology of its own. Some colors are hot, some are cooling. Some colors are more conducive to customers when they are about to buy something. This implies that color has a BIG say in how customers interact with your business, and as such, must be paid due attention to. 
[Continue Reading...]

Ticket Management Software System and Tools for Trouble Tickets

Ticket Management Software is one of the most widely used software product the world over. It is so useful and so applicable in almost all kinds of industries. A Ticket Management Systems is used primarily at help desks and in bug tracking. It has evolved from the pre computer era techniques of using cards for every "issue" that comes.
Now, a "ticket" is generated for every issue, which then gets modified, added, subtracted, manipulated and many others things that can be done with a ticket.

The ticket management software lowers down issue solving time by several minutes, which is a great boost for the productivity of an organization.

Ticket management systems have evolved a lot in the recent years. They are now even more complex, advanced and powerful in their features. With the advancement in technology, we can expect to have even more enticing features.

                                                                                                                                 (Source : dellphotos )


What is Ticket Management Software ? 

A ticket management software is simply a software to manage "issue ticket" . This is also called incident ticket, or popularly , a trouble ticket. It is used to resolve customer issues. Each problem is given a ticket ID, which helps in tracking it. However, the real power of a ticket management system is in its search functions and collaboration features.

Ticket management software is also used for bug tracking and resolving by software companies. It is one of the most important tasks for a software company to perform.

Many times, these two applications of ticket management software are bundled together, so you can resolve customer complaints and bugs from a single platform, which makes sense too.


Types

Although there are many different types of ticket management software depending on their architecture and underlying programming language, we are actually more concerned about the features. Based on that, there are not many types of ticket management software.

  • Conventional ticket management software, used only for remedy issue tracking. 
  • Bug tracking system.
As I said earlier, you can find both these features in modern ticket management systems.

                                                                                                                  (Source : metrolibraryarchive )



Features

Ticket Management Software is loaded with very useful and highly productive features. It is the difference in the performance of these features that sets one software product apart from other.

Here is a list of the features you should be looking in your ticket management system.

Ticket creation
The software automatically creates ticket and its ticket ID. There are many ways for customers , or even employees to generate tickets. This includes email, telephone, voice chat, video chat, CLI ( command line interface ) , website contact form and many others.

Customers also get updates about their trouble ticket using  email, RSS, ATOM and even Twitter and Facebook.

Functions that can be performed with tickets.

  • Ticket search using its ID
  • Notes, for the employees to create notes along side a ticket for reference. 
  • Comments - employees can comment about a ticket
  • Attach documents, like PDF, Images , Video etc along side a ticket.

Ticket Invisibilty
The background activities that take place at the help desk should stay invisible to the user. He or she is informed only when it is required. This is termed as ticket invisibility to the customer. 


Full Text Search ( very important )
Have you ever seen your support team frantically searching for a ticket, and not finding it. This is not good for the reputation of the company. Full Text Search is used to search for keywords in the entire ticket database, not just their title. So, this function searches within all forms of text - what the customer wrote, notes, comments, files everything.


Index and Search in Files
This function indexes ( stores ) files that can be used by support team and makes them available within search. Now, employees can get data from any file directly by searching, instead of remembering which file it ought to be in.
There are powerful search technologies that go behind this.

Language translation
This allows your support team to work coherently, irrespective of the language in which ticket is queried. At the last stage, the message to the customer is translated in the required language.

Integration with help desk software
Ticket management is just one part of help desk. There are many other functions. The ticket management software should integrate perfectly with the help desk software. As a result, user accounts and roles work in this software too.

Notifications and Alerts
Support staff get important notifications and alerts as specified in the software.

Powerful Internal Communication
Employees should be able to share files, chat and communicate with email, all from within the ticket management software, or the help desk software.

Attach screencasts 
Support staff can attack screencasts. Advanced software also facilitate the sharing of screens. This allows them to resolve tickets faster.

Ticket cling
An employee can cling to a ticket, to ensure that ticket does not wait for an employee to be addressed. This clinging also prevents support staff collision on a ticket. This feature is very important. You can imagine the chaos which would befall if multiple employees keep working on a ticket.

Tackling multiple tickets at a time
Most ticket management software are designed to have many columns. Each column has a ticket which the support staff is managing.
This greatly boosts productivity at the help desk.

Multiple and Customizable Workflow
The workflow regarding ticket management can be adjusted by the company. After all, the software ought to have some level of customization options.

Create Custom Fields
As part of the customization , ticket management software should have the function to create custom fields and enter data in them. An extra bit of information can be crucial.

SLA ( Service Level Agreements )
SLA is the legal agreement between customer and the enterprise. SLA related data is available to support staff to deal with SLA related issues. Most of these issues are related to guarantee, warranty, replacement and things like that.

Tickets that are related to SLA, are considered to be somewhat "red-flags" by most enterprise. These kind of tickets are highlighted, often in a red color.

Documentation and Reporting
Support staff can attach documents and generate reports about a particular ticket. Functions to create reports quickly and concisely.

Macros ( for common queries )
Ticket Management Software is used to generate macros on topics which are asked often, like a recent server downtime, or a technical glitch. This macro is then used to respond to all such "trouble tickets".

Integration With Knowledge Base
The ticket management software integrates with Knowledge Base, which is actually a database of all the specific knowledge the organization possesses, except some really confidential data. However, it contains enough information for support staff that they can answer customer tickets.

These are just the common features. There can be even more useful features when you set out to test a software product.



Applications

The ticket management software is applicable in all business environments where a help desk is needed. It has many advantages for the enterprise, and with improving technologies and latest trends, it is becoming a more involving and very fruitful software package.

Bug tracking software are specifically targeted for software vendors, and as such have a lot more programming specific and troubleshooting features.


Buyer's Guide

There are numerous ticket management software on the market. They are available for all kinds of platforms and in all types. The choice of the best ticket management software depends on what features you need the most, and the budget, of course !

However, another thing to consider is the ease of use and user interface of the software. Since your support team is going to use it, they should be comfortable with it.

An analyst's way to decide the best software -
This is a technique that I suggest. Deploy trails of different ticket management software. Run fake tickets simulating the actual ticket environment. Now, note the the reduction in MTTR ( mean time to resolve ). The software which helps you cut down customer service time the most should be the best for you, apart from other features.

Freeware and Open Source Ticket Management Software
There are some really impressive free and open source ticket management software which you can try. However, they may have limitations in the number of devices and platforms they support. If the platform they support is what you need, they are worth deploying. Open source ticket management software has the option that you can custom code it to your needs, not possible in any other kind of software.

They may have limitations on whether they would work on Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS or other platforms.

Client server self hosted software
This kind of software is ideal for large enterprise with personal servers. These are actually more than a ticket management software, but kind of like a geared system which manages tickets in a large, global enterprise.

SaaS or Cloud Offering
If you are looking for fast deployment and downright low IT setup costs, SaaS is the software model for you. These are cloud based software applications which are priced like a subscription. They work well on all platforms, BYOD environment and on all devices ( well, most of ). They can be deployed within minutes, all the data being managed by the software vendor.





Market Trends ( What's Going On With Ticket Management )

Well, the ticket management software seems to have evolved significantly. These are the major improvements in functionality in these software in recent years, and definitely worth checking out.

Run book Automation
This process is actually an algorithm which is used to automate routine processes. These actions run as if they were run by machines, not humans. This shaves off many seconds from the MTTR ( mean time to repair ). MTTR is actually a KPI ( key performance indicator ) in help desk industry, this is what everybody is trying to optimize.

Social Media
Ticket management systems have gone social. They now integrate well with social media , like Twitter and Facebook. These improve acceptance of ticket management software in a more social world.

Support Employee Ratings or Points
The whole backend of ticket management software is made to resemble some sort of gaming environment. Employees are given points or scores based on their performance , which they need to maximize.


Using Market Research To Your Advantage

According to a Forrester study, these are the latest research data regarding customer service and ticket management software. Ticket management is inherently part of customer service. As such, whatever inputs we have about customer service management applies to ticket management, automatically.

These are the inputs from the Forrester study.

  • Companies are looking for real time collaboration. What is this ? Well, it is a new realm of faster, collaborative communication between all the different teams in an organization. It helps to unlock Synergy
  • 70 % of the customers are interested in SaaS based customer service. So, that is a big input. 
  • Proactive Outbound Communication - This is a new concept in communicating with the customer. About 30 % of the companies are putting their money into this. You ought to look this up. 


The Other Ticket Management Software 
We are talking about managing tickets to an event, like a football match. That software is also called ticket management software, or ticketing software. It actually comes under the broad domain of event management software. You can read more about it on event management software. 
[Continue Reading...]

Monday, March 24, 2014

Waste Management Software System and Services

Waste management software is widely used in all kinds of waste management and recycling industry. If we look at it from a global perspective, waste management software helps companies save lots of money. It is a utilities software which ensures better and efficient workflow in a waste management business.
Our world is filled with wastes to the brim. And that too many types of waste. This created a demand for waste management companies. However, waste management is no easy business and many times, businesses run in losses.
The idea behind waste management software is to provide a stand alone application which can bring about significant savings for the company so that it stays profitable.

waste management software
                                                                                                                    ( Source : 51009184@N06 )

What is Waste Management Software ?

This software product is aimed at optimizing the waste management business. It contains a plethora of features to save money and time at loopholes and bottlenecks. It helps to streamline the entire workflow, thus eliminating redundancy and stagnation in the waste management company itself.

The aim of these software products is to transform a waste management process from one of chaos and manual control to one which is highly efficient and controlled by software. This software can take in data from numerous instruments used in waste management software and govern various tasks. Plus, it collects useful data over a period of time. Then it performs statistical analysis to provide useful insights for the company.

Initially, these software were created to assist waste management companies in deciding their pricing with customers. They have come of age since.



Types
There are actually no types in waste management software. However, with time, we are sure to have specialised software for every type of waste management.

There are actually many types of waste management. These are -

Solid Waste management
Hazardous waste management ( which also includes nuclear waste )
Biomedical Waste
Animal wastes
and many other types

As more and more companies spring up for management of a specific type of waste, software too would differentiate and target niche markets. At present, there are few specific waste management software.


Features of Waste Management Software

This software package contains a brilliant list of features. You wouldn't all these features in a single software, so you need to be sure about which features are more important for your business.

Almost all the features of waste management software are aimed at saving money, and also time.

Optimizing Waste Collection
The primary feature of waste management is to optimize waste collection feature. The software provides employees with the most optimized routes for waste collection for saving distance travelled. This converts into money saved.

  • GPS based tracking of waste collection devices. Their paths are analysed by software and then it presents the most optimized movement schedule. 

Manage All Customers
Waste management companies collect money from customers, for their service. This payment can be made electronically as well, which is an improvement. Waste management software lets the company create a profile for every customer. This includes customer details and secure payment information, like credit card details. 

Advanced encryption is required for security purposes. Using this, the company can collect money online. 

Contract Management
A contract is created in the software for large scale waste handling. You see, in waste management business, there can be buyers or even sellers of large amount of wastes. Buyers can be like incineration plants for generating electricity. 

Contracts are essential for the success of a company. The total value of contracts is significant for the revenue of the company. 

The software provides many features for effective contract management. These are - 
  • Creation of contracts
  • Opening of tenders
  • Categorizing business partners into various categories , as per the requirements of the company.
  • Managing contract documents
  • Enforcing contract regulations
  • E-sign documents
  • Managing subcontractors

Business Partners Management
A separate feature of waste management software is about managing details about business partners. They can categorized into classes, like Active, Inactive etc depending on whether the company has an ongoing deal with them. 

Calculate Pricing 
As I mentioned earlier, pricing of services in waste management is a crucial task. This decides the revenue potential of a company. The conventional way of deciding pricing is through gut feeling and preliminary market research. 

However, waste management software provides the option of calculating a suitable pricing model through statistical analysis. This involves advanced mathematics which the software performs to come up with a pricing model which is both profitable as well as affordable for the people.

The same model is also used to calculate pricing of contracts.

Order Management
This is a regular feature found in all waste management software. It is used to manage regular and custom orders.
The software has the following functionalities.

  • Order creation
  • Waste disposal orders
  • Order entry
  • Order processing
  • Order output
  • Order executed
These features monitor the movement of a waste handling order from the point of entry, to the point of execution, which can be something like disposal, recycle, sold etc.

This facilitates brilliant management of waste as it moves through the company.

Route Sheets For Drivers
Based on mathematical analysis, the software provides a route sheet to every driver for the day's work. If there is on board computing facility on the vehicle, this route sheet can be altered automatically to guide the driver.

Waste Identification and Cataloguing
Details about every waste containment is managed using RFID tags. The data from these tags is then archived by the software.

Invoice / Memo creation
As soon as a waste management order gets processed, an invoice gets generated which can be mailed directly to the other party.

Weight Management
When a vehicle arrives loaded with waste, it needs to be weighed at entry. This weight record can be transferred directly to weight management software where it is processed and archived for future use.

This is not an exhaustive list of features. With time, more and more features are being added to waste management software to make it the ultimate management tool for waste management companies.

Managing Special Costs like HAZMAT
Waste management companies have to regularly deal special costs like HAZMAT ( hazardous materials ) and HAZCHEM ( hazardous chemicals ). To manage these wastes, special personnel are employed who work in engineered impervious suits. The jobs are challenging and tough and this may cost the company a little more.

These special operations can be managed in this software.

HAZMAT suit - waste management software
                                                                                                                                     (Source : ssoosay )

Compliance Management
There are many regulations regarding waste management set by governments and international associations. These need to be adhered to. However, with so many regulations to keep track, you may inadvertently miss some. The waste management software helps to keep compliance with all these laws and regulations.


Applications

Waste management software has a pivotal role in nearly every kind of waste management firm, whether owned by a private company or the government.

The only issue is about choosing the right software product for a specific kind of waste disposal facility, like water wastes management.

The implementation of waste management software in these industries has created a huge pool of jobs for people.


Buyer's Guide

Choosing a suitable waste management software is really a very tough task. Even after considerable research, it can be difficult to pinpoint to one software product and finalise it. The best option, as always, is to use software trials when the company is ready and manually optimized. This way, the data that you get after using the software should be free from manual basis, and more realistic.

There are not many software products for waste management, in comparison to other software categories.

There are hardly any free waste management software available. There are a few open source waste management software.

Almost all the software in this category are desktop based software with limited licenses. We should expect emergence of SaaS based online software, especially for emerging companies. There are also limitations on the operating systems supported, like Windows, Mac, Linux etc.

How to review a software product ? 
The golden rules to finding the best software always remain the same. You got to take a software trial and also look for important software updates. Technical support and tutorials are also important, because it is your employee base that has to use this software.

Integrations to look for 
Software products perform better in cohesion. What software integrations should you look for in a waste management software ?

  • Accounting management software - The invoices and payments are automatically added to the accounting software. 
  • ERP software - This is what many companies look for. 




Market Trend

Alas, there is hardly any data ( free data ) regarding implementation of waste management software in companies. This leaves us in the dark and this is pretty frustrating.

However, we do know about the waste management industry as whole.

These are some statistics ( Courtesy : IBISWorld )

  • Waste management industry has a total revenue of 48 billion
  • The annual growth rate is meagre at 2.1 %, however it is expected to rise. 
Although many waste management companies have employed some sort of software to manage their operations. Still, I presume that adoption rates are pretty low in waste management industry.

Most waste management companies feel the crunch of low profits because of improperly designed pricing plans. Well, this can be a thing of the past.

As the industry grows further, we should see a tremendous growth in the market for waste management software.


Latest Developments In Waste Management


Did you know that some cities employ a Fully Automated household waste collection system. It is called Automated Vacuum Collection (AVAC ).

It is an ambitious project, one which sees future in sight, and very promising. In this system, household waste is collected automatically through vacuum suction. Pipes reach houses, where you dump the waste and it reaches the waste management facility miles down using these tubes. This saves a lot of money that gets spent in fuel costs and it is also high - tech.

In the near future, it is hoped that all major cities would have this system fully functional. These systems are controlled by sophisticated software. At present it is a costly technology. 


Waste Management Software And Our Environment
Our earth is our home, it is the place where we live. It is the wastes and the carbon emission that threaten the delicate balance of environment. Waste management software have a huge role to play in helping companies lower their environmental waste burden, manage it safely and reduce their carbon footprint as well.

Waste management software manufacturers should come with integrations with energy management software to help the world save precious resources and generate more power from wastes. 
[Continue Reading...]

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Digital Rights Management Software ( DRM ) System for PDF ebooks

Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) is by far the most controversial software in all of software history. Implementation of DRM technologies has even lead to protests by people worldwide, against some of the most popular technology companies. Still, DRM seems to be pivotal to the business practice of many companies.

Aside from all the debate, DRM is a software used to protect piracy of original content. This is the intent of the software. However, many publishers go a little far with this ideology and may even compromise the user experience, which can be detrimental.

DRM software are supported by the DMCA ( Digital Millenium Copyright Act ). At present, they are used in more than half of all games, music, movies, software and pretty every other digitally consumable content.

                                                                                                                              (Source : angermann )


What is DRM ? 
It is not easy to provide a concise definition for this. DRM is actually a group of technologies ( include software packages ) to control unauthorised copying of copyrighted content. It applies to content online, as well as offline.

In reality, DRM software exercises a high level of control on how the user interacts with a digital product.

DRM software is not easy to implement effectively, because of the sky high amounts of piracy performed almost on a professional scale.

There are actually 2 ways in which DRM is implemented.

  • Limited licenses - the digital product is locked with limited licenses. It can then be installed and run on few computers, only. For example, many popular games came with just 3 PC licenses. If you have 4 PCs in house, it won't run in the 4 th one. 
  • Encryption - It involves introducing a tag with an encryption code, which prevents copying of content. 
There are actually no standards in DRM category, so software vendors strive to cater to the varied needs of content creators. 

Types of DRM Software 

There are actually no types of DRM software, per se. However, they are differentiated based on what they are used to protect. In fact, a separate DRM software is used for each kind of digital content that we use.

Thus, there are DRM software to protect -

Videos
Music
Games
E-books
Website Content
Software Licenses
Confidential Files
Patent information

Each of these digital content requires a different DRM technology, and as such, a different software to manage them.

If you are a publisher of some digital content, let's say videos. Then you need to find a DRM which is the least intrusive for customer experience, and one which does the job for you.

Features

There is not much information about DRM software on the web, because companies generally do not reveal their trade relations with someone like a DRM software vendor. Then people will know that their product is protected by DRM.

However, these are some of the features in a DRM software. For understanding the features, we need to know for what purpose it is being used.

DRM Software for Software Licenses

Any software, app or cloud service vendor would like to track license. Any kind of software license has certain constraints regarding its use. But, how do they monitor it ? Well, that is done by a Software License management software, which is in totality, nothing but a DRM software.

This is how DRM is implemented in software industry.

  • An activation key is sent with every software license. The key is like a cookie, it tracks user information. Software vendor gets many details about end user's computer. 
  • This activation key is often updated via internet, while the software downloads its updates to reach the latest version. This is what happens in most anti-virus software and even OS. 

DRM for Images 
Copyright violation of images is tackled by implementing blockades. These are performed by a software or a browser based app. It prevents downloading of images via screen capture software. Images are also touched with a watermark. If the watermark is removed, then the image quality degrades, often making it unfit for the person copying the image.

However, DRM is dwindling in case of images with the coming of attribution. Many image creators acknowledge the benefits of allowing some images to be distributed free in return for attribution links.

DRM for Television
Conditional Access system is by far the most popular DRM for television. This too is managed by an advanced software by the media companies.

DRM for pdf, ebooks
To implement DRM in documents, there are often two strategies employed.

  • Using a wrapper, it is an additional bit of code wrapped on to the file which provides details about the user. This data is read on the DRM software. 
  • Using a watermark. This too performs the above task. It can also limit the number of prints, copies or even sharing in emails. 
  • Some software even perform self destruction. This is really aggressive DRM technology which people hate. You open a documents, and it has a timer set to it and it destructs in some time, like 2 minutes. This is really too much. 
                                                                                                                                  (Source : actualitte )

DRM for Enterprise
This is one market for DRM which requires even advance levels of technology. Companies cannot stand losing out crucial data and seeing it get leaked all over the place. Therefore, DRM software employ high level encryption to protect enterprise data. In many cases, some top notch anti-virus makers provide these features. 


There are many other ways to implement DRM. This is done using custom codes that work as locks, deals, self destructors.

However, many of these strategies seem to be too conservative. They seem to hinder the user experience, which in itself can lead to lower sales in the long run.

It is important the enterprises come up with less obvious and more "silent" DRM practices which do not jeopardise user experience.

Applications

DRM Software are used by all kinds of content creators that we have mentioned above. However, the decision to use a DRM technology vests completely with the company. With extensive research and analysis, a company can make out whether implementing DRM would be good or bad for the company and its products.

Buyer's Guide
Well, it is pretty difficult to decide on this one. If your company has decided to go with DRM, then there are some options.

There are a few major vendors of DRM software and included technologies. Then, there are many small scale vendors specializing in providing DRM for only a specific kind of content, like only for videos.

Code it yourself 
Many large tech corporations code out their DRM technology themselves. They do this to stay ahead of every tactic being employed in the piracy world. However, most of these technique affect user experience.

Custom coding allows the enterprise some freedom and experimentation in implementing DRM technologies, even in searching for new technologies.

Market Trend In DRM Software
Digital Rights Management witnesses a steady rise even after the controversies and enormous amount of discussion on it.

According to a study by IBISWorld, these are some statistics regarding DRM Software products.


  • The market size for DRM software is about $ 2 billion. This is tremendous. 
  • There are only about 100 major businesses in this industry. This shows that there is only a medium level of competition. 
  • The annual growth rate is 0.8 %
The market for DRM Software is expected to rise sharply for enterprise file safety, license management and less so for digital content like videos, games etc. 



The DRM Debate and Business Ethics
The debate on DRM seems like it is not going to be over in the near future. There is so much at stake for everyone. There are enterprises who say that without DRM, profitable business is not possible, and then there are others who think the other way. 

Many publishers are now thinking of averting DRM by using other means of revenue collection, apart from the main content. 

At present, a large number of ebook formats, pdf files, images, videos, games and especially software come plugged with a DRM, but all of this may eventually change for softer identification and log techniques. DRM may fade into obscurity, or rise to stellar prominence, depending on how things turn out to be in the coming years.

DRM Removal Software
With the implementation of DRM software, there are many small scale software vendors that provide DRM removal software. People use these software to unlock DRM protected content. You can easily find DRM removal software for almost all kinds of DRM protected content.

You see, that is a big issue with DRM implementation, as it is easily violated. If DRM has to be successful, companies have to come up with better ways to protect, or even monitor their content.

What is the Work around ? 
DRM really puts companies in a really peculiar situation. However, some digital content publishers use an innovative way to generate significant amount of revenue without implementing DRM. And that is by implementing pre - order.

Well, people are ready to pay a genuine price for any digital product in pre-order if it is really popular and if they need it. Then the companies implement DRM for a few weeks post the release of content, after which it is discontinued. The whole idea behind this concept is the attention drives sales.


DRM Software for Enterprise crucial data and patents
This is one aspect of digital data which needs much more attention. An enterprise has some of its biggest assets in the form of its patents and confidential information.

How do they keep it protected and enforce their ownership on this content ?
This form of content is made confidential by the use of advanced encryption. Nothing can break into this encryption, and even if something does, these are coded to self destruct the content.

The authentication of this content is done by secure online signatures. These signatures are not like regular signatures, but instead they contain high level of data, which is never easy to match.

Obtaining digital certificates from a certifying authority grants them further more powerful identity on the internet. Only a secure connection can then access that content.

Enterprises install highly advanced DRM software as well as security software to protect content which is quintessential for their competitive edge in future.
[Continue Reading...]

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Compensation Management Software System and Benefits for Employees

Compensation management software is a new age software product which enterprises use to manage custom compensation to employees based on their performance. This software provides a host of features to manage incentive compensation. The aim behind creation of this software is the need for creating more diverse and efficient compensation systems. I mean, we have all been bored by the year end bonuses as the only compensation. Now, employees are smarter and there is even higher competition in firms. This calls for a new compensation system to be deployed within the enterprise, one which is not too obvious to the employee.

Years and years of market research has provided companies with the concept that " Employee goals should be matched with company goals. " This alignment, like that of a magnet, spurs on the company towards new heights. Compensation management software is the key to achieving this in a span of some time, like 2 years.

hardworking and talented employee - compensation management software
                                                                                                                       (Source : Wikipedia )


What is Compensation Management Software ?

It is a software package designed to allow the HR team ( or even higher management ) to design custom compensation plans ( in fact, many of them ) and run them throughout the organization. The software is designed to pull in data from "employee performance management software " or take its own data. Then it runs its procedures to calculate who needs to get which compensation package.

When it is installed, it is designed to keep the best talent highly motivated, sufficiently compensated above salary and thus retained.

Businesses have a huge problem dealing with employees who shift jobs. When a brilliant talent does this, the company loses lots of money and a valuable person too. This software helps to prevent such incidents.

"Incentive Compensation Management Software promises huge returns from a specified budget. "

Types

At present, there are no specific types of compensation management software. They have differences in features and specifications, but the ultimate goal is to provide a platform to manage compensations.


Features 

Features make the software what it is. A compensation management software should have all the features that you are looking for. However, it doesn't work out this way, and companies have to work with the features provided by the software vendor.

Nevertheless, Enterprise Compensation Management (ECM) software has a huge list of features which are sure to be enticing and useful.

Here is a list of the most commonly encountered features.

Set Up Compensation Budget
The first step in employee compensation management program is to set up the total budget for compensations. You can set this value according the company's profits, how much you are willing to spend and on how many people. Note that this is not a rough estimate. The software will adhere to this budget value.

Apart from a master budget, you can also setup budgets for individual compensation programs.


Set Up Compensation Plans 
You can set up different compensation plans under different names, depending on how you want to compensate employees for their excellent effort. An example of compensation plan is the "Sales Incentive". Most sales teams have compensation plans, and this what gives them motivation to strive harder to get sales.

Assign budget to each compensation plan and set the following parameters.

  • Compensation Cycle - how often will this compensation be released, i.e. , yearly, bi - annually, quarterly or sporadically. 
  • Compensation Category - you can assign these compensation plans to categories for effective management. 
  • Set the review time and the selection time - review time is when the software collects data. Selection time is when the software decides the winners. 

Eligibility
For each compensation plan, there should be some Eligibility Criteria. It consists of measurable entities ( taken from performance management software ) and some contraints ( like age, position, team etc )

For example, you can set up a compensation plan like " Leads Champion " which compensates the top 3 lead gatherers in the enterprise. Evidently, the compensation plan is only meant for the "Sales team ".

Guidelines
Each compensation plan has a set of guidelines attached to it. These are meant for the person reviewing the data and the one who decides the award. These can be specified in a separate section.

Make Notes And Comments
Management authority can create notes and add comments to each compensation plan to improve it. Collaboration helps to align compensation plans to company goals, which in turn makes employees to work for company goals.

Employee Profiles
Enter employee data for all the employees. Enter details about their position, present salary, other benefits, organization team. This data can also be pulled in from performance management software, if integration exists.

Compensation Planning
This is about planning further compensation plans. These can be devised in this software and one can run simulations to see how they would work out. This is somewhat exotic feature, but it is brilliant.

Generate compensation reports
Compensation management software keeps record of all compensation plans created to date, their activity and those who got awarded. One can generate a report on any compensation plan within seconds. This is good for administration purpose.

User accounts and roles
The compensation management software has to be managed by someone. In most firms, it is not the HR, but a different employee called the Compensation Specialist. He or she is the person managing all the compensation plans, as per the instructions of senior management.

Different people have different levels of access to the software.

Budget tracking
This function tracks spendings on compensation as it is done. Management can view details about the expenditure on compensation, and edit compensation plans as they run.

Graphs and Charts
Compensation management software can perform lots of analytical tasks. It generates charts and graphs which are insightful and meaningful. Using these statistics, company can further fine tune its compensation plans to save money and still retain talent.

You can get graphical charts on employee performance per compensation plan. This is a commonly used chart.


This is by no means a complete list of all the features a compensation management system has to offer. You can get many more features as you do personal research and undertake software trials.


Applications

Compensation management software should ideally be implemented in all kinds of enterprises, belonging to all industries and of all scales - whether small, medium , large or international business.

At present, this software has high adoption rates in some of the most well known IT companies only. It is applicable in all enterprises looking to run differentiated compensation.


Buyer's Guide To Compensation Management Software

There are numerous compensation management software out there in the market. Some of them are actually bundled with talent management software. The choice of going with a separate compensation management software, or with a talent management software which includes this feature is that of the company.

Here are some tips on buying the best compensation management software.

Integration to look for 
This software should integrate with 3 other software products -

  • Payroll management software - At the end, all the compensation data needs to be exported to payroll management to calculate total payment given to each employee. 
  • Employee Performance Management Software - The compensation software inevitably needs data on employee performance. This is what it uses to rank employees and give them appraisal scores. 
  • HR management software - Employees come to HR teams to discuss their issues regarding pay. So, they need to know what is going on. 
So, do check for these integrations. 

There are some nice free and open source compensation management software which can be tried. Most of the compensation management software are client server hosted software. They are installed in the entire enterprise and run by a small team, reporting only to the Top Management. 

However, more and more companies are looking forward to trying web based SaaS compensation management software. It has the advantage of low IT setup costs and starts working within minutes. It is also priced better than desktop based self hosted software. 

Another advantage of web based software is that they can run from any OS ( Windows, Mac, Linux ) and any mobile platform. Self hosted software however have certain limitations, like they may not work on Mac, or Windows and things like that. 


Benefits

There are some powerful benefits of implementing such a system in place. 
  • Get the attention of talented, hard working individuals who speak through results. Compensate them effectively. 
  • Improve administration in the business. 
  • No overspending in compensations.
  • Employees are more motivated to their jobs as they have the incentive to work for. That is why incentives should be enticing. 
  • Preserve talent for the future. 
  • Improved employee satisfaction, because they know that they are being compensated for their performance. 
  • It prevents errors in payroll, which are frustrating to the employee and employer both. 

Market Trends 

This is something for higher management to read. 

According to a benchmark study by Ventana Research, approximately 17 % of enterprises have employed fully functional compensation management system. This is expected to rise to about 25 % in the coming year. The market for compensation management software is growing steadily. 

According to an Oracle white paper, more than 80 % of the companies are providing some form of compensations beyond basic pay. But, are they managing it well ? That is the question.

Have a look at these statistics.

  • Only 17 % of enterprises who use compensation management have integrated it with Talent Management software. 
  • About 50 % of companies still use spreadsheets to manage pay and compensations. This has been identified to lead to errors. It is time taking and poor management. 
  • The difference in pay between a "Excellent" employee and "Below Standard " employee is only about 5 %. However, the business impact of their work differs by about 100 %. It is about time the "Excellent" employee got monetary compensation for his/her work. 
Compensation management software
                                                                                                                 (Source : nagarazoku )

The last statistics sums it all up. This is by far the most common reason for "highly" talented people leaving the company, which should be prevented. This can be done by investing in a compensation management software. 


Compensation Management Software can also be referred to as Performance Appraisal Management Software. Both have similar concept underneath them. 
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