IS BESPOKE SOFTWARE RIGHT FOR YOU?

There are 1001 software packages in the marketplace promising x, y and z depending on your needs. The reality is that buying an ‘off the shelf’ product will probably satisfy 70% of them. Asking the vendor to amend/adapt/change those packages in order to meet the final 20/30% however is nigh on impossible. So, what are our options?

1. Learn to live with 70% of the functionality required and adjust your working practices to suit the system. This will inevitably require the following:

  • manual processes ie. a ‘bridge’ between the system and your needs
  • additional spreadsheet information for required reporting, etc.
  • security risk of key data being ‘outside the system’
  • additional staffing to cover the shortfalls of the system
  • danger of ‘loss of faith’ in new system

2. Carry on looking for the ‘perfect solution’ resulting in a continuation of the inefficiencies identified, hence the need for a new system

3. Look for a vendor who is willing to adapt their offering that will work for you.

For those who have a unique problem, it will require a unique solution. That’s why Clockwork offers a bespoke software design service – to make sure that our customers end up with something tailored totally to their needs. If an ‘off-the-shelf’ piece of software just won’t do the job, for the reasons outlined above, you will find that there are a number of benefits to taking this approach.

Firstly, a greater return on investment. While bespoke software can be more expensive, it can instantly deliver savings in time, money, and effort to most companies. It also forms part of your business’s intellectual property and gives you the opportunity to gain an immediate advantage by designing better systems that distinguish you from your competitors.

Secondly, when considering whether or not to have a bespoke piece of software designed for you, is the benefit of scalability. Most off-the-shelf solutions can cope with linear growth (ie. they can let you do more of the same) but they will probably struggle with lateral growth. This may hamper you should you need to introduce a new product/service or enter a new market. The good thing about bespoke software is that it can grow alongside your business, offering you a truly scalable solution into the future.

Bespoke software, however, is not for everyone. It’s the Rolls-Royce of solutions and takes more time, care and attention to allow a system to be built to specific needs. But, if it’s the right solution for you, the benefits are unquantifiable.

If you are need of a unique solution and want to deal with a vendor who believes in listening to your needs, creating a relationship that majors on trust and understanding, please enquire about our bespoke software design service.

SEVEN TIPS TO ATTAIN A WORK LIFE B.A.L.A.N.C.E

Everyone has heard the phrase ‘work life balance’ but it can be difficult to attain when there are so many pressures on our everyday working lives.

While there will always be another meeting to attend, or another deadline to keep, there won’t always be another first step, or another first day at school. Even regular fixtures, like sports days, plays, and concerts are, ultimately, in short supply.

So, the question is how do we balance it?

At Clockwork, we have used a few techniques to really make a difference to our lives. We hope they can help you to attain the same kind of work life balance.

Be there
There are very few things a child can say to its parents that mean more than ‘you were always there’. Just switch your phone off and be in the moment – they will remember it.

Allocate time
Make time for family dinners, bath time, and parents’ evenings. From the moment you get home from work until the moment your children go to bed, that is family time. Your work, phone and social media can wait until your children are safely tucked up in bed.

Life events
There will be times in your life when work is so busy that you can’t be there for every little thing at home. During these times, just make sure you never miss key events. Your family will remember that you made the effort to be there when it really mattered.

Alleviate stress
We are always looking for the latest stress relief techniques. For us we have the best stress reliever right in front our noses, our loved ones. With just one hug, kiss, or a simple ‘I love you’ any bad day can be put into perspective.

Never take them for granted
Your family will always be there to support you so ensure that you are there for them.

Create a plan
Add key dates to your diary and stick to them. You would never miss an important business meeting, and you shouldn’t miss an important family event.

Everyone
You are not alone in going through these work life balance stresses. At least some of your employees or co-workers are probably facing the same challenges. Nobody ever said ‘I wish I had spent more time at work’ on their death bed. This is true of everyone.

Here at Clockwork IT we pride ourselves on family values. If you are looking for a faceless corporate organisation then Clockwork isn’t for you. We are real people providing real solutions. If that sounds like the kind of company you wish to work with, then we invite you to join our family.

 

THE PROS AND CONS OF UPGRADING YOUR BUSINESS SOFTWARE

Changing your software systems is a huge decision for any business. To help you make the right decision we’ve created a list of the pros and cons involved:

PRO: SECURITY
New software is always more secure than its predecessors, because the longer a piece of software is on the market, the longer hackers and other bad actors have to figure out its weaknesses. With cyber-security being one of the biggest threats to businesses today (In 2016, 36% of all crimes were “cyber enabled fraud”, while “computer misuse” accounted for a further 17%) that’s a PRO you can’t ignore!

CON: NEW SOFTWARE COSTS MONEY
Software costs can fluctuate between developers and product versions. Some programs might include a discounted price for future upgrades, or you may have to buy the software outright, which can quickly add up when you have to upgrade multiple computers. Making this kind of bulk purchase comes down to whether you have the budget, which can easily dictate how realistic software upgrades are for your company. To overcome these hurdles, Clockwork IT also offers a rental option to its customers allowing them to implement a new system with minimal upfront costs.

PRO: NEW CAPABILITIES
How do businesses justify charging you for an updated piece of software? By providing something that’s substantially better than earlier versions! The latest programs will undoubtedly address previous flaws, increase functionality, and take user feedback into account.

CON: BUT DO YOU NEED IT?
Of course, while the newest software may be the best, there is no guarantee that you need it. If your “old” program still works fine, and none of the new features will be useful to you, why throw money away on an updated product? In this case, there will almost certainly be something better to spend your money on!

PRO: PRODUCTIVITY & EFFICIENCY
The bottom line is this: as software functionality improves, it should deliver greater gains in productivity and efficiency. Some companies could save thousands of hours of work with a simple upgrade – at that point, the question becomes one of economics.

CON: HURDLES
While new software tends to be better, and can improve productivity, there will always be a “learning curve” to take into account. If the new programs are very different, and will require significant man-hours to understand, as well as major input from IT specialists, you may want to ask yourself: is it worth it? In other words, do the productivity gains you think you will reap from installation outweigh the height of the hurdles you will need to jump to get to them?

At Clockwork, we only roll out new software and updates when we know they can help to make your business more efficient, saving you time and money. If you would like to learn more about the software solutions that could be helping your business towards a more profitable future, you can contact us here.

Customer Service Q&A with Andy Milner

Clockwork Director Andy Milner took a little time out of his schedule this week to address a vital component of business success: customer service. Drawing on his background in the finance world and a career that spans decades, Andy tells us exactly how Clockwork manages to deliver a world-class customer service experience every single time…

Q: What is good customer service?
A: Call me old school, but I think good customer service is as simple as getting the basics right – every time. That was true 20 years ago, in my former life at a large financial organization, and it is still true today.

Q: Can you give us an example of what you mean by ‘the basics’?
A: Yes – I can give you a few! Here’s a recent example from Clockwork’s day-to-day business, when we were presenting to a new client:

1: Be early! We arrived 20 minutes before the meeting, and used the time to set up everything we needed in the boardroom.

2: Be prepared! In this case, we made sure we knew the ins-and-outs of the organisation we were dealing with. That means doing a minimum level of research: use Google. Check out their LinkedIn profile, and the profiles of people who work there (as well as other social media platforms, if appropriate). Can you request a free brochure? Is there anyone you should talk to before you meet them officially?

3: Be personal! Every situation is unique, and needs to be treated as such. In this case, we made sure our demonstration was personalised to the client. You don’t have to go above-and-beyond, just show a basic level of care: use their name, use their logo, make sure that you are talking directly to their needs, etc.

This is very basic stuff that everyone should be doing. But they are not. In this example, the client in question also met with two of our competitors, and they both failed on all three points.

Q: In your opinion, what turns good customer service into world-class customer service?
A: That’s easy: the ability to deal with complex problems as easily as simple ones. Customers generally know when they are posing difficult questions, but if the service you provide is as helpful, personal, and quick as it is when they want something very simple done, then you are delivering a world-class service. The key to this is also simple: invest in continual staff training.

There’s no better way to convey your credibility than providing high quality customer service; conversely, if you can’t deliver on this crucial element of business, it is clear that you are lacking something vital.

That’s why Clockwork strives to be world class: we get the basics right first, and ensure that all of our clients are satisfied.

IS YOUR BUSINESS WORLD CLASS?

Over the past few weeks, the British have been glued to their TV sets (apart from the lucky few who made it to Russia in person) watching a hair-raising drama unfold. The World Cup was full of surprises – from Mexico’s shock victory over Germany to Belgium’s victory over Brazil. Also, to Britain’s great delight, England performed fantastically, making it to the semi-finals.

Now, of course, we know football didn’t quite “make it home”, but with football-fever continuing to ride high, the beautiful game offers an interesting way to think about your business.

Football teams and businesses are both strategic collaborations. The team has a “goal” to reach, and it relies on each player maintaining their position and doing their job to the best of their ability. Meanwhile, the CEO occupies Mr. Southgate’s position: that of Manager.

A Manager has to look at the way the team is working together to draft up strategies by which it can outperform the competition and achieve its goals. Meanwhile, each member of the team focuses on their own performance.

The most experienced employees – the “old guard” if you will – are the goalkeepers. Inevitably, something will eventually slip through the defenders – a speculative shot from out of nowhere – and the goalie’s practiced reflexes have to be relied on to save the day.

Meanwhile, new and younger employees tend to perform like flair wingers and attacking midfielders. They bring fresh perspectives to the team, moments of brilliance, and new ideas.

Strikers work in sales: they’re the people who get the results. They hit the target and score the goal. But they can’t do it alone, of course. Holding everything together is the operations team. They’re the holding midfielders: they can see the bigger picture, they’re keeping calm and distributing “the ball” to all departments as and when possession is required.

So where does Clockwork fit in? We’re your defenders: we’re well structured, we manage all the attacks (or, as you might know them “customer support calls”), and we pass back to the goalie whenever it’s to the team’s advantage.

The World Cup might be over, but the season starts next month, and Euro 2020 is just around the corner. After a great performance that only just fell short, Southgate will stay on as Manager and look to deliver the goods by 2022.

If you’re any less enthusiastic about your team’s performance than he is about England’s, then you need to reevaluate the way you think about business.

CLOCKWORK GOES GREEN!

Clockwork IT is proud to announce that we’re going green!

As well as reducing our own paper use, we’re also in the process of updating our entire road fleet to electric vehicles. Director Andy Milner is already driving a new Tesla, reducing his fuel and servicing cost by over £450 per month. Clockwork will be rolling out further Teslas across the entire fleet in the coming months.

While we are professionally committed to the ethical considerations around sustainability, we’re also focused on the practicalities of adopting newer, more efficient forms of technology. As our clients will already know, Clockwork takes efficiency very seriously indeed.

In the long run, sustainable technologies will simply be more cost-effective, perform better, and make life easier all round. You owe it to yourself and your business to embrace those technologies – and we can help you do it.

Clockwork’s mobile software solutions can help you become more sustainable as a company too. Our mobile software means you can send job data to your engineers remotely, helping them to cut down on the unnecessary morning commute to your offices, and shrinking your carbon footprint. At around a £1 per day not only is the return on investment obvious in terms of time and fuel costs, but you are also joining our pursuit of a cleaner, greener planet.

This is a vitally important step in protecting the planet – as of this year, transportation is the single largest contributor to the UK’s carbon emissions and is implicated in a more than £6 billion cost to the UK economy each year.

To join our quest for a more efficient and paperless environment, please contact us for an exploratory chat.

CLOCKWORK IS PROUD TO SPONSOR LUKE HOULT – A RISING STAR IN THE UK’S BADMINTON SCENE

Luke Hoult is a rising star in English badminton. He’s just completed an impressive season, winning County and National titles, finishing in the Country’s top 10 and is a triple county champion.

Badminton is a sport on the rise in England. The most recent Taking Part Survey (which measures participation in sports across the country amongst young people) makes this quite clear: while overall sports participation dropped in 2015, the number of 11 to 15 year olds playing badminton increased.

Today, 23.5% of the country’s young people play the sport.

Luke’s talent is prodigious, and we have no doubt he’s heading for bigger and better things. Sponsoring him makes perfect sense: his work on the court is exemplary of the same focus on efficiency that we bring to our clients’ businesses. And, like us, he’s still got plenty of room to grow his success even further!

Clockwork director Steve Adams says: “we are looking forward to seeing him represent England at junior level next season. We have no doubt he will continue to make himself, us, and the country, proud.”

NURTURE LANDSCAPES ADDS POWERFUL BESPOKE GRITTING SOFTWARE

Nurture Landscapes is a national contractor founded ten years ago to provide “landscape maintenance for the corporate and private sector” which distinguishes itself by offering “best in class customer service delivered by permanent staff who invest time to understand our clients’ business” and “champion care for the environment”.

The Company has grown through a number of acquisitions, and in 2016, added Truegrit Ltd. With this purchase, the Company added a nationwide gritting service to its books – but what was the best way to integrate and manage this business? Through Clockwork’s industry-leading software solution!

In partnership with Nurture we created a bespoke piece of software that connects to the Met Office data and relays their daily winter forecasts directly into Nurture’s software system. It then automatically schedules staff to get out and start gritting. Using their handheld devices, gritting staff can easily see their schedule for the night/day and capture vital information whilst on site. This includes photos and the provision of a standard risk assessment process.

Nurture are rightly proud of the system, and describe it on their website: “Information management is critical and staff are equipped with tablets featuring the latest Ice Master software that tracks and reports on each gritting visit then reports directly back to the office in real time. All information is live and accessible by our customers through the Ice Master web portal and mobile app.”

PJ CARE: A CARE HOME THAT RUNS LIKE CLOCKWORK

PJ Care is an award-winning provider of specialist neurological care and neuro rehabilitation for people with progressive or acquired neurological conditions. As such, it has an obligation to patients, families, charities and the NHS to deliver a quality service that runs as efficiently as possible.

In needing to operate “multidisciplinary care” for its residents, PJ Care recognised that there was no “off the shelf” product that met their needs. After meeting Clockwork, they quickly realised that, together, they could create the necessary solution to enable their staff to concentrate more on the patient care than worrying about administrative tasks.

The software system that Clockwork installed follows each of the homes’ residents from admission to discharge following industry standard assessment processes. New patients are assessed in person, by a highly trained member of staff, and the software records all the details. It then monitors and adjusts each individual’s care plan going forward.

The system also deals with all other aspects of the patient’s care namely; dietary requirements, exercises for rehabilitation, visit scheduling, transportation requirements for hospital visits, and much more. Crucially, it meets the high accreditation standards of the Care Quality Commission (CQC), giving it the ultimate seal of approval.

Feedback from PJ Care states that the best thing about the software system is not what it does, but that it simply allows the care staff to spend more time with their patients. Having placed all the necessary care forms on their handheld devices, one of the key reasons for the success of the system is that staff spend less time behind the desk, and are able to spend more time and provide better care for their residents. Ultimately, this person-to-person contact is the most valuable effect that the system could possibly deliver.

GDPR IS COMING – DON’T WORRY, WE’RE READY!

The European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) will come into full force this May. There is no doubt that these will offer consumers new levels of security when it comes to privacy, monitoring, security and the right to be forgotten.

It’s good for businesses too, which will finally have a clear cut set of guidelines that align their interests with those of their customers. However, for many businesses, the learning curve will be a steep one!

GDPR will be taking effect in the wake of a massive privacy furor that is playing out in the media right now over Cambridge Analytica, the controversial (and, it turns out, flat-out criminal) political consulting firm which used fraudulently obtained Facebook data in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.

As a result of this news story, Facebook’s data practices are coming back into the limelight, and a conversation about how much data companies should be allowed to hold about their customers is playing out in the public. That is probably good news for the EU, which will see public opinion firmly aligned with the stated goals of GDPR before its implementation.

All of Clockwork’s customers can be assured that the company has been GDPR compliant for a very long time. We don’t keep your data, and working with us doesn’t open you up to any informational weaknesses. Perhaps more importantly, any software we implement for you will also be GDPR compliant.

While other Companies might struggle to ensure their systems are fit to play by the EU’s new rules, we can guarantee yours’ will be.

GET IN TOUCH

We’re here to help you make your life easier. That starts with being available to answer all of your questions. If you would like to know more about how we can help you, please contact us using the contact form below.



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