Saasu Blog - Archive for category 'Blog'
Old category—posts to be edited and then category to be deleted.
Old category—posts to be edited and then category to be deleted.
Another great software as a service area that crosses over into tangible products is the garment printing industry. Particularly for quality branded corporate clothing.
We started looking for a decent virtual store provider last year and were very impressed with cafepress.com, so much so that we set up the Saasu.com Store with them.
Have a look. If you buy something and send us a photo of yourself wearing it we will give you an extra month’s free subscription or an extra user or file on your saasu.com paid subscription.
Seth Goddin has a great quote in the opening page of his new e-book which launched today. It is the simplest way to describe the problem at hand. “The web is a haystack, the biggest haystack the world has ever known. The reason that Yahoo and Google are so important is that they help us find what we want in the stack. And your lens or blog or page or store is just a tiny little needle.”
A major hardware and software vendor is warning of a data centre power disaster sometime in the future. I feel that there is an ulterior motive.
This vendor loses a lot of revenue when SaaS Utilities are created allowing 1000′s of businesses to share infrastructure.
Data centres do go down every now and then, but it is very rare. Usually they are back up quick smart, so this is not a big prediction in my view, just scaremongering.
Wouldn’t you love to pay lots of bill at once?
Saasu has released our Direct-to-Bank File (DTB) payment feature. Simply (a) tick all the unpaid purchases you would like to pay in your Saasu Purchase List, (b) create and save your payment and (c) click the icon/link that becomes available to create the direct to Bank File and save it to your desktop.
Industry terminology is like a verbal business card for all the players in the industry. Terms define who we are and how clients and prospects recognise us collectively. They are important because they are a key marketing channel.
For example – Do you recognise these terms and know what they mean?
Here at Saasu.com we are amazed at the word games other players in our industry are using to try and confuse the market.
SaaS means Software-as-a-Service. It is our preferred term and the one the industry uses mainly. Lets stick to it!
Particularly at a time when SaaS is still growing so we have a collective responsibility and need as providers to you our clients and prospects to educate you and (at least we believe) to not confuse the issues.
At Saasu.com want to make things clear not complicated. (more…)
It’s funny where you pick up great insights. I was watching a national gardening program and one of the winners of their annual Gardener Of The Year prize was asked by the host how she succeeded in building such an amazing garden. Her answer floored me…
I just keep improving the worst part.
Well it seems obvious now, to the point of making me feeling a bit sheepish. I love this bit of wisdom. It fits the Saasu philosophy of simplifying life so perfectly. Why waste time deciding where to focus, there are so many forks to take.
It is a different approach, there could be inefficiencies. When landscapers build gardens they get the volume discount on time and effort. For example, if you are landscaping an entire garden at once you’ll need less waste skips and get more efficiency into the big clearing and weeding exercise. You can create inefficiencies through not doing things in bulk. My first business I owned as a teenager was a landscaping business and I learnt this lesson quickly.
So do the potential advantages outweigh the disadvantages in your business?
I think you have to list them and evaluate. As an example in our web application business:
What would this approach do for your business, your product, your daily time allocation for work or family?
We recently posted on this topic and the head of MyCFO, Martyn Dominy commented on his personal experience which really deserves re-posting here in it’s own right…
I have personally been involved in running and operating four factoring facilities and thought some of my experience might be interesting for others.
Issues to consider are:
Disclosed versus Non Disclosed:
there are two types of factoring facilities – disclosed and non disclosed. Disclosed is when the factoring company sends the invoice to your customer and your customer knows the debt is factored. The factoring company also phones your customer and has direct contact with them. The other is non disclosed – you send your invoice to your customer and the bank, then the bank funds you 80% to 90% of the invoice value. When your customer pays the bank, the bank releases the balance owed to you.
The next point to consider is concentration ratios. Banks will often say that once a particular debtor reaches 30% of the factored amounts, they will stop funding you on that particular debtor. This can be critical in a cash flow critical business – i.e. recruitment firms running contractor books. You must have spare cash or excess working capital to cover this type of situation. The concentration limits will change once that particular customer pays you.
90 Day Funding Issue:
If a particular debtor falls into 90 days DSO plus, some discount finance companies will no longer forward you funds on that debtor. It is very important to ensure your debts are collected quickly. This has the ability to severely restrict your ability to access funds.
If you have companies within your group that engage in commercial transactions with each other, most of the banks will not factor or pay you money on those transactions. This is a very key point to consider as you are effectively removing access to cash flow if you have intercompany or intergroup transactions.
Some of the banks won’t factor international transactions. If you deal with a lot of offshore clients, this could create cash flow issues for your business as you will need to find other means of cash to fund these transactions.
Most of the large players (St George, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac etc.) will set an upper limit for your facility. If your business momentum grows quickly, you may find yourself reaching the limit quite quickly. This can mean re negotiating and re applying for a new facility limit – a process that is time consuming and costly as you would need to go through the whole credit approval process again.
GE Finance actually offer a product that is slightly different and in my opinion, probably superior to the mainstream providers. They offer a service that is similar to Commercial Bills. They set an amount that you can draw down upon to fund your business – the liability to the bank is then reduced as you issue invoices and receive funds from the customer. It is a bit like an overdraft – rebadged and rebranded in a different way.
The mainstream providers will insist that you invoice your customer first, then access the funds. GE is slightly different in that you can draw down and then invoice your customers.
Administration of Facility:
You must stay on top of your game if you are running one of these facilities. They are complex in nature and time consuming. A business running a debtor book of approximately $8m should almost have a full time person collecting cash and maintaining this type of facility. The banks have very strict compliance rules and expect to have your accounts audited every 2 to 3 months. This is where a real time accounting system like Saasu can help. Your banker could have their own log in code to view your financial performance at their own leisure – this saves you time and resources as the bank won’t need to spend as much time on site with you.
You must ensure payments, receipts etc are recorded in real time when running a discount finance facility.
A typical interest rate in todays value is around 10.65% less 1.5% discount – cost is about 9.1%pa – depending on your risk profile. You will also pay a monthly admin fee around $2000 to $5,000.
The interest charge is similar to an overdraft (overdrafts don’t have the headaches but often are required to be secured with property). Under discount financing arrangements, the debtor book secures the debt. If you have a first class portfolio of blue chip clients, then you wont have any trouble accessing discount financing.
In my opinion, if you have access to an overdraft facility – use this instead of discount financing. If you use discount financing, you must ensure that you have spare working capital to cover situations like:
- Concentration limits being invoked
- Slow paying customers that fall past 90 days
- Lack of technically experienced resources in your
Your experience and operational efficiency using discount financing will depend on the requirements of the individual bank. Engage with each party you are talking to at a deep level. Don’t just speak with the Business Development Manager trying to sell you a financial solution – insist on speaking to the folks that actually operate the facility and get a deep understanding for the administrative requirements. This is key in the whole process.
You may need to adjust the way you do things to meet the reporting requirements of the bank. They will have specific requirements around file formats, your accounting system will need to be re programmed to cater for this – otherwise you will be on a crash course from the beginning.
I hope these comments have helped and would welcome any calls or emails if people need further help with Discount Financing.
Productivity is king, I have noticed I am most productive when isolated with controlled connectivity. Let me explain. By controlled connectivity I’m referring to having control in who connects to me and when. In this situation people can’t get me immediately on a land line, mobile, Skype or Instant Messenger but they can send me e-mails, leave voice mails or a message with our receptionist. This means I can work on that one thing I really need to get done.
Labs developers in our business have to get in a ‘zone’. I’m guilty of exploring ideas with our labs developers, which interrupts them out of their zone. This definitely has benefits for the business because we can get a quick, highly qualified feedback on IP allowing management to get new information that helps us decide whether to drop the idea or keep exploring it further. But what’s the hidden cost?
Where I used to work in an investment bank trading floor it was interruption extremes. Multiple phone lines going, sales people asking for prices, brokers shouting down open voice lines. Zero zone time. Coupled with other peoples conversations, laughter, TV’s blaring CNN or Bloomberg it all made for a testy space to think. You couldn’t write VB spreadsheet macro until after hours when it was quieter. You couldn’t think up interesting structured products or trading ideas during work hours. I used to do that late at night or 2am in the morning in front of the PC. That was my zone time.
I’m more and more convinced that some of the answers to solving this issue are in controlling the environment by having rules of interruption. Secondly, looking at it case by case. Asking ourselves who disrupts and why. Is it lack of training? Is it something they do to distract themselves? Is it to impress?
Great ideas in life come to you when you are thinking in chess mode. 3 steps ahead isn’t easy when you have a barrage of people and device interruption.
Let’s start with the least admitted but most common – You! Yes it’s you, that little voice in your head that says “go and get a coffee” or “no don’t do this task its boring, do something fun” or my favourite “that can wait until tomorrow”. This little shoulder devil is your worst interrupter of all. He will take you away from that task at hand that you had diligently decided was important. Probably a task that you scheduled and planned to do. Recognise this interrupter and give him the “Shh! Shh! Shh!”. (Picture Doctor Evil (Austin Powers) giving his son Scott the. Shh! Shh! Shh!)
This allows the answerer to answer in their own time. It allows other people to answer the questions which helps with turnaround time for the questioner. It allows prioritisation by a project manager, team leader or the like.
How easily can someone find an answer to something in your organisation? For example if someone has a broken printer can they find the warranty themselves or do they need to ask someone? If a new sales person has a question about their client that goes back to when their boss used to look after them can they get notes on his conversations? Do you have access to original voice mails or emails for those conversations and negotiations? Systems answer these question, people don’t need to. The more available something is the less chance there is someone will need to interrupt you. We attach warranties, licenses, brochures or even voice mails and contracts against their related transactions in Saasu.
Create a culture where people “search first and ask question later” or try their own research path before disrupting people. Train them to assess the cost benefit of research versus asking. It’s quite simple really. If you spend 5 minutes and can’t even find a clue then maybe you should interrupt or log a support inquiry and move onto something else in the meantime.
When you right down an answer to a question you can reproduce it a million times. When you speak it it’s lost forever. Procedure manuals and corporate intranets might seem a bit like a waste of time for smaller businesses but that attitude is most likely coming from a place of “sales is more important than anything” or “building my widgets comes first”. The reality is that most of us can type at least half as fast as we speak. Accordingly an answer to a question can be written on the fly. Simply adopt the policy that if the question is likely to be asked again that you answer it in writing instead of voice. Copy and paste to you intranet, wiki, faq, procedures manual or help system. This solves the problem for future people asking the same question and is a ready supply of training content for your organisation. Make sure this system is searchable.
I’ve lost count of how many times someone has asked me an accounting question for info that could easily have been gotten if the information had been available to them online. This was obviously a major reason we built Saasu as an online system and more recently the reason we are building in Employee Self Service (ESS). Actively build ways for people to solve the problems. By doing this you are coincidently getting more resource as interruption falls in your organisation.
You throw a promise in the air only to have it come back and hit you in the back of the head. You say you’ll do something and you don’t so a person later interrupts you to call you on your promise (and probably at an inconvenient time for you). Not phoning customers or suppliers back has the same effect. They ring you and guess what, it’s probably not at a great time but being a service oriented business you have to drop it and help them.
The multi-tasker can have too much on the go at once that it becomes very inefficient causing self interruption. This person will really notice the difference when they are forced to work on one thing due to a circumstance. This happens to me when I take my kids swimming. I only have my Blackberry an accordingly I half an hour of uninterrupted email answering and archiving. I get more email done in this half hour than I do all day in the office.
Devices are just like people but just more persistent. People know sometimes to leave you alone when you have the “grumpies” on your face. However your phone couldn’t care less. It will buzz until you through it across the room. Limiting how devices interrupt you is my number one tip. It may have a slight accessibility cost but the net output you pickup helps more people and more powerfully, in a leveraged kind of way. It’s simply better, try it.
A good example is a big todo list. Often you’ll have things people have asked you to do, little interruptions during the day can end up creating a big to do list for you. We’ll get straight with the interrupter. Tell them you’ll get back to them but I’m not sure when (I put them on my do later list which doesn’t have a time line).
If your a good multi-tasker you can get a lot done. The problem is that multi-tasking in itself is a skill. You are doing several things at once, it requires mental and physical agility. The question is can you take the interrupter throwing you an extra ball to juggle or is five balls your limit? Leave a little room for “overflow workload” as I call it.
This one can really make a persons day miserable. If everyone comes to you because you know your u-know-what then you start to feel irritated, used, resentful (that you are continually saving the disrupter) etc. I have seen very good people leave organisations because their success has lead them to be an authority and accordingly they become everyone’s help desk for all their problems. Now that job begins to weary very quickly. Identify staff who like like becoming a victim of this and act fast.
I don’t understand why we don’t use these more. We can do it with Skype and a hotel room but that’s about it. Get one for your office door to give you that hour you need on a mentally critical task. E-mail needs a virtual secretary it in my opinion. A great feature for a e-mail client would be an auto responder that tells you what the average reply time of the recipient is and not to expect an immediate answer. In sales this is a big no no though. There’s nothing stopping you responding with a 20 second email that reads “Thanks Jim. I’m just working on something. Back to you soon.” At least then they know you are busy and you have managed their expectation about getting an answer.
Have people learned to ask themselves this question before they interrupt someone who’s obviously in deep thought or occupied with something that would have them better left alone for the moment.
Are they asking the person who’s nice and helpful or are they asking the person who knows the best answer? This is what creates helpful person syndrome that leads to the helper sometimes, flipping their lid and leaving as everyone piles their problems on them.
You have so many interruptions and problems of your own that you enter a weird realm of not being bale to prioritize. You focus is so shattered by all the interruption that you can’t think clearly. I imagine it’s a bit like a shell shock. I used to get this in my younger days but the trading floor environment taught me triage techniques which help you get around this. What you do is you stop, better still isolate yourself. an ask this one question 3 times. The repetition clears the mind. “What’s the No1 Priority? What’s the No1 Priority? What’s the No1 Priority?”. It will come to you pretty quickly after this because you have altered you mind trajectory. Just prior to doing this the little voice in you head is asking just as many questions as it’s hearing. This “question noise” in your head is the problem.
People who have been interrupted one to many times get this disease. It makes them angry, blame the interrupter and just want to leave their job. The cure is to get a combi-van and go on a surfing holiday!
Got any more? Let us know.
We are looking at sustainable business design. We want to be sure we are doing the right things in the new Saasu offices in the Sydney CBD, Australia. The offices will house labs, accounts and operations.
The work environment and how we work in it is one of the biggest sustainability factors we will face. However, it is second only to the impact we have at a global level by selling an environmentally sustainable product such as the Saasu web finance engine.
If Saasu prevents thousands of old style software licenses from being sold then we can facilitate behavioural change in the workplace that has a positive impact on the environment. Scanning instead of photocopying, emailing instead of mailing and signing in to the website instead of manufacturing CD’s and paper help manuals. The list goes on and on. This has a potential impact of saving thousands of trees, reducing energy consumption and many other ecological knock-ons.
Indirectly teaching thousands of people to do their work in a different way through SaaS technology helps humans achieve sustainable business practices and save money doing it!
Do you want a paper based help manual or a living tree as your legacy?
It’s your choice when you decide how and what you buy. That is the power of those who can and want to help by carrying and using a “green wallet” as we call it here at Saasu.
Aspects to be explored include; Ethical, sustainable, visually appealing, human habitable, brand building, a great vibe.
Keep researching new ideas, use your blog, share your ideas, create conversations which will generate IP that will help the environment for all. Try these websites to get yourself in the mood;
Credit to Grant Young who has always been an environmental inspiration to our company.