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13 Mar 2018
Improve CRM User Engagement

Five Ways You Can Get More from of Your CRM Software

Do you believe that you could be getting a better return from your customer relationship management (CRM) software investment? The reason you purchased a CRM solution in the first place was to reap the benefits of a centralized database to use throughout the many departments of your organization. Perhaps you aren’t taking advantage of some features of your CRM software; maybe your employees aren’t using the software to its full potential. Here are five tips to help you get the greatest return from your CRM purchase.

1. Update Your CRM Data

One of the first things you can do to get better value out of your CRM software is ensure that the software is up to date, which may mean purchasing an upgrade to the latest version. Contact your CRM provider for the most recent updates relevant to your unique business needs. Updating your CRM software also ensures that you get the latest security updates. If you’re using a cloud-based CRM solution, you should be receiving the latest security patches, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re getting the latest features.

2.Integrate CRM into Other Business Apps

CRM solutions are typically stand-alone products; however, you might find it helpful to integrate the software with other data-collection and analysis tools. For example, CRM and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software can integrate e-commerce functions, marketing tools, and sales platforms. If you’re using the same vendor for both ERP and CRM, contact the vendor to see how you can integrate the two applications. You may have to include a large data migration in preparation for this integration, so do some research to see if the effort will lead to an increased return on your CRM investment.

3. Enforce the Use of Your CRM System Across the Organization

Are all your employees using your CRM system? One problem many organizations experience is that some of their employees decide to avoid the CRM software and create their own little database of customers on the side in a separate spreadsheet, database, or Microsoft Word document. Some workers may even go so far as to keep an old Rolodex on their desk. You could approach this lack of adherence in several ways, one of the most effective being to enforce a strict CRM policy that forces everyone to use the system, with consequences for failing to do so.

4. Share CRM Data and Responsibility

CRM isn’t just for those in the sales department. Marketing can benefit from understanding what customers are buying, research and development can benefit from learning how customers are reviewing the company’s products, and quality control can benefit from pinpointing areas of your products that the company could improve on. Sharing CRM data goes hand in hand with integration. With an integrated CRM system, multiple departments can find use for customer data.

5. Train the Entire Workforce to Use Your CRM Solution

If you decide to integrate your CRM and ERP solutions, you will need to train employees in different departments who have not used CRM in the past—or had a need to. You can resolve this issue by offering quick training sessions on the basic use and functionality of your CRM software so everyone has a general understanding of how to use the system and how they can use it to improve their job functions.

1 Mar 2018

Five Ways to Improve User Engagement with Your Cloud ERP Solution

Moving to a cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform as so many enterprises have brings with it new opportunities to improve user engagement, regardless of whether the cloud-based ERP application is replacing a legacy solution or is the first ERP solution you’re rolling out for your organization.

Here are five ways to improve user engagement with cloud ERP.

1. Create a Cloud ERP Road Map

If you’re making the transition from a legacy on-premises ERP application to a cloud-based solution, it’s important to create a cloud ERP road map to improve user engagement. You can break this road map down into quarterly or monthly feature releases depending on your ERP vendor, solution, and industry. Important information for the road map includes:

· Feature documentation, including a short, descriptive snippet of the feature and links to documentation and training (if available online);

· Date the feature becomes available to users;

· Planned integrations between the ERP software and your other back-end systems; and

· A feedback channel for the new feature or planned integration, such as an email or form link.

This cloud ERP road map should be a living document, available online, that’s accessible to your ERP user community for comment and feedback.

2.Provide Training

Offering your users training for the new cloud CRM platform is an important part of improving user engagement. Even your more seasoned ERP users can benefit from training on the new features your cloud ERP solution offers.

Classroom training isn’t feasible for every organization, of course. If it isn’t the right fit for your business, consider online training or deskside one-to-one training during the cloud ERP launch. At least, be sure to provide job aids for your cloud ERP system to help your users transition to the new platform.

3.Go Mobile First

Today’s cloud ERP platforms come with robust mobile clients. Including mobile users as part of your cloud ERP rollout ensures that users can access your ERP system anytime, anywhere from their mobile device. Before placing a cloud ERP mobile client in your enterprise app store, take the time to account for any security requirements your security and mobile teams may have in place.

4. Establish an API Steering Committee

A move to cloud ERP brings with it opportunities to use its application programming interface (API) for integration with your other back-end systems. There are two ways it can go. One is that you do nothing with the API. The second way is that you do too much with the API, such as creating integrations that your users aren’t really asking for.

Consider establishing an API steering committee, even if it meets only a few times. Draw members from your business units, IT department, developers, and management.

Use the committee to:

· Educate employees about API integration between the ERP system and other applications;

· Gather and define API integration requirements for ERP and other systems

· Define an ERP integration road map to chart future integration priorities.

5. Build Cloud ERP Advocacy Among Your Business Users

A natural outcome from activities such as a road map and API steering committee should be advocacy for your new cloud ERP. However, your advocacy work isn’t done after those two activities. It’s important to interact directly with your ERP users before, during, and after you launch your cloud ERP system. Advocacy-building activities might include:

· Lunch-and-learn sessions about the cloud ERP system during which users can learn new features and your IT group gets feedback on the new platform;

· Department visits by your cloud ERP administrator to chat with users and get their feedback; and

· Responsive IT service desk communications related to any cloud ERP user issues that may arise.

Cloud ERP in Your EnterpriseDon’t throw out a cloud ERP and forget it: If you do, you’ll be short-changing your corporate ERP efforts and—worst of all—your users. Spending the time to improve user engagement with your cloud ERP system translates into happier, more productive users better equipped to serve your customers and business growth.

20 Feb 2018

4 Key Areas of Focus for SME Data Security


Over the last several years, disastrous data breaches have dominated the news. Organizations of all sizes and from several industries have been victimized, such as Yahoo, Equifax and Target. It has started to appear that no data can be considered entirely safe. The fact remains, though, that businesses cannot function these days without taking advantage of technology like cloud services, web applications, and databases.

In the current digital environment, the name of the game is risk management. That means a top-to-bottom approach to data security that encompasses all levels of business IT infrastructure. This is necessary because if recent breaches have illustrated anything, it is that there are multiple vectors of attack for hackers to exploit. For companies in the SME space, it can be difficult to make sure all bases are covered, so here are 4 key areas to target to enhance data security.

Web Applications and Hosting

A recent cloud security report found that 73% of reported security incidents revolved around web applications and hosting providers. Many of them exploited flaws in widely used CMS platforms that tend to go unpatched. Additionally, hackers often targeted hosting providers themselves. By infiltrating at the server level, they are able to gain access to multiple customers at once. To address these threats, make sure that any public-facing web applications or sites are protected by a web application firewall, and that the relevant hosting providers have a policy regarding security and vulnerability patching. If they don’t, head to Hosting Review and find one that does.

Cloud Security Configuration

Many of the most notable recent data thefts are attributable to one specific thing; incorrectly configured cloud storage. Companies like Accenture and government agencies like the NSA have had embarrassing incidents recently for this very reason. They’re not alone though. As many as 53% of companies that use cloud storage services have exposed data in the same way. Sometimes, mistakes as simple as setting incorrect permissions are to blame, and in other cases, reused credentials are at fault. The causes are simple, and so are the solutions. Conduct a review of the access settings and passwords on all cloud storage systems, to make sure they all meet strict standards and that access is as limited as is practicable.

3rd Party and Vendor Access

Oftentimes, data breaches aren’t even a result of security vulnerabilities on the targeted network itself. Many attackers gain entry to business networks through compromised 3rd party systems. The difficulty here is that most business networks have multiple points of entry to facilitate data sharing with partners and contractors and that places business data at the mercy of someone else’s security policies. In fact, that’s exactly how the aforementioned Target breach happened; hackers got in through an HVAC vendor. To decrease the risk, take steps to limit and monitor the access of outsiders into business systems. Do not allow installations of screen sharing software, and use routing and firewall rules to prevent outsiders from accessing anything but what they need to do their job.

MSP Security

Many SMEs outsource their IT management to Managed Service Providers (MSPs) in order to save money. In theory, it’s a great way to reduce internal costs associated with technology management, but it also carries a degree of risk. Like other outside vendors, an MSP needs access to business systems to do their job. Unlike other vendors, however, they need near-total access and there’s no practical way to limit this. This threat has remained mostly under the radar, but it’s global, and it’s massive. Other than bringing IT management in-house, the best option is to contract with an MSP that is either UCS or SOC2 certified. This means that their security practices have been audited by an outside firm and found to meet the highest standards.

Remain Vigilant

There are no easy answers or silver bullets when it comes to data security. For SMEs, that is a fact of life. Mitigating the threats through a comprehensive security review that encompasses the above-mentioned areas of focus will go a long way, though. Threats will evolve and change on a near-constant basis too, so the overall response must do so as well. Reevaluate all security policies and practices as often as possible and take steps to stay in the know about emerging threats. After all, the true price of data security, like liberty, is eternal vigilance.

19 Feb 2018

Documentation in CRM


Documentation is a vital part of CRM. In addition to the formal documents your IT people will use, there are the references to guide your people in how to use the system.

Don’t neglect this important part of your documentation. From cheat sheets outlining how to do common operations, to user manuals covering the entire system, documentation reduces friction and makes sure your people can do their jobs easily and correctly.

The lowest level of documentation is the cheat sheet. This is one or a few pages outlining the basic commands to get the fundamental jobs done.

A good example of how not to do a cheat sheet is the man pages for Unix and Linux. These are invaluable to experienced users but they’re just about useless for novices. They are extremely compact and written in a notation that it takes some training to understand. You should not have to worry about compactness and you want your cheat sheets to be easy for anyone to understand.

Also unlike the man pages, cheat sheets aren’t intended to be complete. They cover only a few of the most important jobs, preferably on a single sheet of paper. Concentrate on the topics your employees are most likely to ask about.

One step up from the cheat sheets are the FAQ files. These strive to answer all the commonly asked questions about the system and tell users how to do more complicated and less common jobs. These should be written in clear, simple English, not in computerese. They should start with a list of the questions so the users can quickly find the subject they are interested in.

Unlike cheat sheets which should be distributed on sheets of paper, workers can keep by their computers, FAQ files are kept on line and should be easily accessible to everyone. It should take just a few seconds for the user to go to the cheat sheet and not much longer to find an answer to a question.

Generally FAQ files are structured as questions and answers. The questions are usually in the form of “how do I …” and the answers are as long as they need to be.

Don’t try to cram too much information into a single answer. Instead split the topic up into related questions. Also, don’t be afraid to repeat information in different answers. You don’t want the users to have to scroll back to another question to understand the answer.

Finally there is the user manual. Unlike the cheat sheets and FAQ files, this is designed to be complete. Ideally it contains all the information you need to operate the system, laid out in an easy-to-access form.

Writing a good user manual is a job for a professional technical writer and you’ll probably have to hire one to get it done. Sometimes the vendor’s documentation will suffice, but often not because it is aimed at the IT staff and doesn’t include the configurations you have included in your system.

None of this is of any use if it isn’t kept up to date. As the system changes, your documentation needs to change as well.

12 Feb 2018

Keep your Information Safe from Hackers in 5 ways


The internet is a wonderful place, full of knowledge and entertainment, and most of us are doing more and more digitally with each passing year. For all that the internet is wonderful, there is a dark side: Hackers, both lone individuals and criminal syndicates, are preying on the vulnerable and unwary.

You’ve probably read about some of the high profile hacks targeting large companies and compromising the information and identities of hundreds of millions of people. Those kinds of hacks and intrusions happen on a much smaller scale as well, with hackers targeting individual people with the purpose of identity theft and fraud.

Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to make yourself less vulnerable to hackers. Here are five ways you can protect yourself.

1. Update Software Regularly

The makers of operating systems and other software you use are constantly discovering vulnerabilities in their structure which makes a person running that software vulnerable to attack. Often, these discoveries come as a result of a successful hack that the makers learn about.

When they discover a vulnerability, they update the software to close the loophole hackers can potentially use to exploit your computer. However, if you don’t update your software, you’re still going to be running the version containing those vulnerabilities. It’s especially crucial to update your OS and web browser, as those tend to be focal points for hackers trying to compromise your computer.

2. Avoid Open Wifi

When setting up your internet connection, make absolutely sure to set a password for your wifi connection rather than letting it be open. If you leave it open, anyone is able to leach off your connection and do whatever they want, which can include downloading illegal files.

Another tip for keeping your internet connection safe is to replace your router every couple of years. Routers sometimes end up with vulnerabilities that don’t get patched over time, so using an outdated router can leave you open to attack.

3. Use Security Software

Make sure to install security programs on your computer. You should have both anti-virus and anti-malware software, as well as anti-spyware program and a firewall. Often times, operating systems come with a firewall prepackaged, but if yours didn’t have one, find one.

If you want to go the extra mile to keep your computer safe, there are programs and software such as a Managed Detection and Response Service that can help detect and respond to cyber attacks. There are a wide range of security programs on the market, so doing some research and picking the right options for yourself is important.

4. Maintain Password Integrity

One of the main ways hackers gain access to data is the simplest way possible: Logging in as a user with that user’s password. Sometimes, hackers exploit people with weak passwords. More often, they steal a password from a database somewhere. There are a couple of things you can do to lessen your vulnerability.

First of all, create a strong password. Longer passwords are better than shorter, and it’s advisable to use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and other characters. Avoid common phrases like ‘123456’, ‘password’ or ‘qwerty’, as these are all too often used as passwords .

If a hacker can get a password of yours for one account, then use that password to access others , as people tend to reuse passwords for multiple accounts. Resist the urge to do this, as doing so will mean that one password being stolen means all your accounts are compromised.

5. Guard Personal Info on Obsolete Devices

Just because you’ve thrown away a computer, phone or tablet away doesn’t mean that it’s gone entirely. If a hacker gets his or her hands on an old device of yours and your personal info is still intact on it, you are at risk. Old devices can store your passwords, personal identity information and more.

If you’re going to sell or throw away any hardware that contains your personal info, makes sure to destroy any and all traces of your personal identity or information before getting rid of it. Using d-ban to erase your hard drive makes it extremely difficult for any hacker to find you information. However, the safest route is to physically destroy the hard drive of any device you won’t be using anymore.

9 Feb 2018
ERP - Enterprise resource planning word lettering typography design illustration with line icons and ornaments in blue theme

Five Cool Tips for a Faster ERP Upgrade

If the upgrade is a move to the cloud, you’re in pretty good shape; by dint of using a cloud system, you’ve already made the single biggest move toward a faster ERP upgrade. But if you’re upgrading to a newer version of an on-premise system, things haven’t gotten much easier and they might actually be harder.

“The model is changing to cloud-based ERP in a big way, and vendors may tend to encourage or discourage upgrading as they solidify their cloud platforms”

With major ERP vendors moving to unify code between ERP and accounting/operations offerings, making older code extensible and optimizing for cloud processing, upgrading is still a moving target and will be for a few more years

Not every business can wait, though. If yours is among those that can’t wait, here’s how to speed up that ERP upgrade.

ERP - Enterprise resource planning word lettering typography design illustration with line icons and ornaments in blue theme

1. Move Past Custom Code

The biggest pain point for ERP upgrades in 2018 is the question of whether to continue with customization or move toward standardized solutions.

“By far it’s making decisions about customizations and whether or not to continue with them, or alter internal processes to utilize best practices contained within the system”

If upgrade speed is an important factor, that’s a vote for retiring those customizations.

“Reduce customizations” & “Adopt industry-specific best features provided by your ERP manufacturer to implement more quickly as well as avoid challenges during your next upgrade.”

2. Automate Testing

Many businesses can underestimate the need to test the upgraded functionality before putting it into production. Good testing takes time, but it ultimately speeds up the upgrade by helping to avoid unexpected problems down the line when an upgrade goes into production.

One way to make this testing more efficient, speeding up the ERP upgrade process even more, is through testing automation.

“Automated testing is a must, as manual testing is often too time-consuming,” advises Christian Pedersen, chief product officer and senior vice president for ERP maker SAP’s S/4HANA Cloud. “Test automation helps to upgrade application quality, and saves time and cost. It has the potential to radically improve any ERP upgrade.”

3. Lean on Your Vendor and Consultants

If ever there is a time for outside expertise, it is when you’re upgrading your ERP system. This can come from your vendor or an outside consultant, both of which probably are far more experienced at the upgrade path than your internal team.

“Use your software maintenance support and ask the vendor for the preferred process”  “Be sure you know all of what is covered by software maintenance, and maximize the use of support and tools provided.”

4. Get Your Planning in Order

Every consultant and vendor will tell you the same thing: Plan the upgrade to an inch of its life before you take the plunge—or suffer the consequences of a slow upgrade.

“For upgrading an on-premise solution, proper planning is necessary for a successful implementation”

Before starting the upgrade, he says, businesses need to make themselves aware of the system requirements and check components, add-ons and business functions to ensure compatibility with the upgrade version. Planning the upgrade and scheduling the various upgrade tasks also is essential.

“Develop a project plan that’s easily communicated and updated”

5. Start with a Technical Upgrade

ERP upgrades often contain both technical improvements and upgrades to business processes as a result of the new tech.
One the one hand, pure technical upgrades are often perceived as simpler and lower cost, but they are viewed as a burden to the business. So there’s a pressure to roll out functional or strategic enhancements including innovations in the upgrade to increase value.

The problem is that these strategic enhancements increase upgrade complexity and time for testing. So a smart way to speed up an upgrade is to start with the easier technical upgrade, then schedule the strategic enhancements for later. Resist the urge to do both at once.

“Don’t upgrade and do a business process improvement at the same time” “This will take much longer for certain.”

So if you can wait for your vendor’s migration to the cloud, do it. If you can jump straight to a cloud solution, that’s also a viable option.

In those cases when you neither can wait nor upgrade to the cloud, however, minimize customization, automate your testing, get those plans in order, start with a technical upgrade, and get help. All five of those elements will speed up the upgrade process significantly.

8 Feb 2018

Mobile Application Development Trends To Stay In 2018


Smartphones have become an inseparable part of our daily lives. Waking up with a morning alarm,  using Whatsapp,  listening to music, reading  News, watching YouTube videos, checking mails, updating project status and so on, everything is seamlessly executed from our mobile devices. Currently 2.1 Billion people worldwide owns a Smartphone and according to latest report Says-

Adults aged 25 plus use their phone about 264 times a day, including texts and calling . For people aged 15-24, the number is 387 times every day. If average sleeping time for this age group is taken 10 hours, this equates to some sort of Smartphone activity every other minute.

This is unbelievable yet true. Hence, use of Smartphone and mobile apps is not going to get reduced in 2017 anyways. Only the mobile app trends might show new colors.  In this blog post, we are going to discuss about the current mobile app development trends that are going to stay in 2018 too.

1) AMP Is Changing Web App Landscape:

It’s been a year since Google has started the AMP Project.  Apart from that, recently Google has announced that there will be a separate search index for mobile web. This revolutionary step changes the Mobile app development trends completely especially from SEO and Web app perspective.


Google AMP supported web apps will load much faster on mobile devices and reduce bounce rate in large number. It will also benefit publishers with increased ad visibility and more visitors. Hence, this advanced technology will certainly be on the list of mobile app development trends in the coming year.

2) Artificial Intelligence Is Real Now

Gartner found, there will be a more than 300% increase in investment on artificial intelligence next year compared to 2017. Through the use of advanced analytics, cognitive interfaces into complex systems, and machine learning techs, AI will provide business users access to powerful insights never before available to them.

For the advantages of Ai, big bees like Google, IBM, eBay, Facebook have started acquiring startups those who are adept in Artificial Intelligence.

3) AR & VR Will Show Some Magic

If you are a little aware of modern mobile app development trends, then Augmented Reality(AR) and Virtual Reality(VR) apps are nothing new to you. In 2017, AR & VR  have been revolutionary in gaming and entertainment industry. Games like Pokemon Go, iOnRoad, Sky Siege and myNav  are bright examples of AR games whereas,  VR devices like Samsung Gear VR, Google Cardboard and Oculus Rift are gaining popularity.

According to a research from Digi-Capital, here is the expected market for AR & VR software in upcoming years:


Although it is not expected that VR will show a rapid growth, however, AR  application development will certainly run towards it’s peak by the time 2017 ends. Therefore, tighten your seat belts for some AR & VR magic in the coming year.

4) Cloud Driven Mobile Apps Are On Rise

From customers to the tech professionals, everyone has heard about the cloud technology and how it’s impacting our collective lives. Today, cloud computing has finally found it’s place with mobile apps. Now, we can expect powerful mobile apps which directly fetch data from cloud and take minimum space in your smartphone internal memory.

Google Drive, Dropbox, & OneDrive  are only the tip of the iceberg. A Cisco research says– Globally, cloud apps will drive 90% of total mobile data traffic by 2019, and Mobile cloud traffic will be 11-fold with compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 60%.


Enterprise Apps & Micro-apps Will Advance Further

The Prime goal of an enterprise mobile application is to help you restructure, streamline and manage crucial business processes on the go. Whereas, A micro-app aims to suffice very targeted operations and takes less load. However, both are successfully accomplishing their endeavors and are expected to continue further.


An example of enterprise mobile apps can be the Evernote through which your teams can collaborate on projects from their mobile devices. On the other hand, Facebook messenger or to-do list app are good examples of micro-apps that concentrates on only one task.

An Adobe study says 77% business owners found enterprise apps advantageous & 66% are increasing their investment further. Also 430 billion enterprise app market is expected by 2021. Moreover, micro-apps with features like lightweight, targeted, HTML & adhoc based, are rising these days. Hence, these mobile app development trends are expected to stay constant in 2018.

30 Jan 2018

5 Tips To Protect Your Website From Hackers

Technology has evolved tremendously over the past few years, and so has associated cyber threats. Chief among these concerns include the now rampant, complex, and far-reaching cases of hacking. Hardly a month goes without a reported incident of hacking on a massive hacking even for trusted regional and global institutions that most internet users consider secure like Microsoft, Uber, AOL, and even eBay.

In all these cases, hackers have always come up with an almost undetectable viral strategy of attacking a target with the WannaCry and Heartbleed bug vulnerability cases being the most popular. How then can you learn from the mistakes of hacked corporations to strengthen your website’s security features and prevent a possible hack? Implement these five strategies.


1. Toughen the access controls

By having your admin pages indexed by the search engines, you are presenting your site up to hackers. Therefore, hide your website’s access areas and make them hard for a hacker to find. You can read a WebDev Guide on how to achieve this.

Additionally, employ other equally effective internet security features like installing applications that hide your website’s CMS thus adding an extra layer of security. Most importantly, limit the number of login attempts within a particular period.

2. Enforce strong username and passwords

How secure is your administrator username and password? Did you know that weak usernames and passwords lead the pack of the factors encouraging website hacks? If you seek to keep hackers at bay, or at least ensure they don’t access your site through the admin panel, use powerful, multi-character, and hard to guess passwords

Ensure that these login credentials expire after a short period and that they are never written down. It is advisable that you use a password generator and manager application that not only stores your passwords over the cloud but also generates a random password for every login.

3.Invest in a reliable and up-to-date firewall

A web application firewall also goes a long way in protecting you from hackers as it stands between your site servers and incoming online data. It is, therefore, imperative that you invest in a solid and up-to-date firewall that can identify and block spammers and unwanted traffic as well as malicious hacking bots.

Remember that due to the fast rate of technological advancement, hackers can still come up with hard to suspect bugs that permeate through this wall and give them access to your servers. To prevent such instances, add on another layer of protection like limiting file uploads to your servers. Set up your system to only store external files outside the root directory where they can only be accessed through a script.

4. Vet your software providers

Some of the world’s far-reaching hacks started with a faulty software. To gain access to your access even in the face of healthy access controls, hackers code seemingly genuine software and web applications necessary for your business.

Unknown to you, they intentionally leave executable backdoors open that they later exploit to access the site after you install the software. To avoid this, carefully vet your software suppliers. Also, have your internet security team vet the software and web applications before installation.

5. Make web security a company culture

When all other web penetration strategies fail, hackers turn to individuals interacting closely with your networks such as company employees. A hacker can then access your site through an employee account by sending them executable bugs through emails or injecting them directly into their electronic devices.

To avoid such a scenario, instill an internet safety culture in your company. Discourage employees from clicking on unknown emails and attachments while on the Company’s network. Additionally, initiate a security feature that scans devices for malicious codes every time they are attached to the company network.

26 Jan 2018
Business people collaborate to put pieces together find solution

5 Tools to Help you Understand Back End Website Development

For a website or a software program to work, it needs two major components – a front-end and a back-end. And while the consumer-facing front-end part of development is fairly straightforward and quite fun even, the back-end is where most people, both novices and intermediate developers, have a hard time understanding and masterfully wielding. Luckily, today’s developers have a range of tools within reach that they can use to build a strong server-side foundation. Here’s five tools that’s worth looking into if you want to learn back-end development:


It’s been more than 23 years since the inception of PHP, and yet it is still the most popular server-side framework used for managing data. PHP is a scripting language that comes pre-packaged on most web hosting platforms. It rose into popularity because of its simplicity and the amount of support you can get including extensive documentation and active developer forums. In addition, for over three decades, the development community behind PHP has created a strong selection of well-built frameworks including Laravel and Phalcon. While PHP is used mostly for server-side operations, the scripting language is flexible enough to render content in HTML.


Node.JS is a JavaScript library that’s designed as a platform for building apps. While JavaScript is a popular front-end language that gives your website functionality, Node allows you to write and run JavaScript syntax outside of your web browser, which means you can also use it to build full-scale desktop-based applications. There are various ways to start writing in Node.JS, one of which is by installing it with an NPM, a JavaScript package manager. Aside from Node, there are dozens of equally powerful and reusable code packages that you can install and use for building and managing specific parts of your server or database. Sequelize, for instance, is a module that allows you to interact with databases using JavaScript syntax.


Described as an agile minimalist web framework, Express is a JavaScript library that was created seven years back. Originally, it was designed to give developers a compact dynamic server to make testing routes and templates more efficient. Installing Express is similar to how you install Node. You need a package manager to save the module into your project folder as one of your project dependencies. If you have prior development experience, you’ll find Express to be similar with other frameworks in other programming languages, like Python and Ruby.


While Slack is a messaging platform that you can use for different business environments, it’s widely popular in the tech space. The robust messaging and collaboration app not only streamlines communication, but can also teach you a thing or two about back-end development, whether it’s server-side rendering, database management, local development environments, or load testing tools. If you are working on back-end with a group, Slack is definitely a tool that’s worth using. There’s other collaboration services you can try out, such as Asana and Jira, both of which are both well-rounded platforms in their own right.

Ruby on Rails

Ruby on Rails is a web application Ruby framework that bundles all the technologies you’ll need to build a web application with its own database. This highly efficient and agile framework helps launch sophisticated and demanding applications with quick turnaround, making it a very attractive framework of choice for small, resource-strapped tech startups and development teams. Rails simplifies the workload for back-end engineers with its rich library of gems, which are prepackaged pieces of reusable code. But what makes Rails an even more popular framework for developers is its ability to “do more with less”, Ruby’s philosophy when it comes to an elegant codebase.

Final Thoughts

There is a huge and constant demand for back-end developers who know their stuff. With these five tools teaching you how to configure your server, maintain a clean database, and test your features, you’ll avoid buggy production code that fellow developers and users hate.

25 Jan 2018

Non-sales Executives Need Access to CRM Data: Here’s How They Can Get It


No one doubts that the customer relationship management (CRM) system is a central store of data vital to a company’s operation, but that system doesn’t store all the data about a company’s operations or its financials. In fact, the business’ enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution, not its CRM application, is typically the company’s system of record. That said, the CRM database contains a lot of data about activities that people across the company find interesting.

A business’s ERP system records the facts of which items or services were sent to which customer, what the price was, and how much profit they generated, but the CRM system contains data about the future. Planning and projects are based on future projections: Future sales data are gleaned from the CRM database. Using the CRM system to access those data isn’t typically part of the accounting department or quality control manager’s job description, however; nor are CRM data stored and organized in a way that enables everyone to gain insights.

Flowing Down

The typical and most logical way to distribute CRM data to those who need them is to use a top-down data approach. Executives in departments other than sales can interpret and communicate information from the CRM system to their departments so that everyone is working from the same data. Just saying it does not make it happen, though: The chief financial officer (CFO) is no more able to use and report on data in the CRM system than the accounting clerk is. There has to be a translation layer and a means of distributing the information.


CRM systems are designed to store data in detail: records of individual contact events, emails, notes on conversations, and so on. Most CRM systems also emphasize grouping and categorizing contact events, customers, and salespeople. Reporting and monitoring within the sales department tends to be based on groupings because examining individual customers repeatedly is tedious.

These aggregations and summary views may be exactly what non-sales executives need from the CRM system. If that’s the case, they may simply need a sign-in or link to the standard report.

Customized Views

Standard reporting in the CRM application typically won’t be what non-sales executives want to see. Even if the standard report is good, executives might want something different to assert the uniqueness of their department.

Many companies bring in their companywide business intelligence (BI) tool to create custom reports. Non-sales executives are likely already getting reporting through the BI tool, so adding the CRM system as a data source with customized views is a just another project for the BI team.

Advanced Analytics

Typically, non-sales executives need access to CRM data to make projections based on sales predictions. Making predictions automatically is the arena of advanced analytics. The predictions might be built into the CRM system, or they may come from a separate group and technology. Whatever the case, non-sales executives have the opportunity to direct what’s predicted and the format in which it’s delivered to their department. This process is a better fit for changing projections and planning based on CRM data because it removes the human interpretation element. The potential downside is that a company could end up with several different predictions in the same area.

Direct Access

With all the formal systems for aggregate reporting and advanced analytics, many executives will still want a personal sign-in to the CRM system. Think of this desire as a need to extend their control.

Few of these high-level executives will attend training on how to use the CRM system, but they’ll still want the ability to look at the detailed records of customers and prospects. Fortunately, most CRM systems have limited-access user roles; users assigned such a role can only view records without being able to make changes. Combine this limited access with a more formalized reporting or advanced analytics process, and non-sales executives get the CRM data they need.