Should you change your business to fit around a product or service or should the product or service change to fit your business needs? It may seem like an obvious answer, but business owners are still changing their processes to fit software that that might not necessarily offer everything they require.
Additionally, many software packages are made with generic/common functionalities that can work for a number of businesses rather than being specially tailored to one, meaning that some functions might not even be necessary for a particular company that uses it. Spud Software has even developed a model to fit most industries, which is a perfect choice for many businesses. We’re certainly not ruling out that great option. But it’s time to stop thinking of all business types as “one-size-fits-all.” Your business is unique. Your software should and can be too.
So, at what point should you consider custom software?
1. You need something your software can’t provide
Since your business is unique, you likely have unique business needs. If you’re changing the way your business operates just so that you can fit into a box, it’s time to consider custom software, especially if these changes are impacting your business negatively.
We take the time to meet with you face-to-face and listen to your needs. During this period, we will learn all that we can about your business and how you operate. This will help us understand how you operate so that it fits you and not “everyone else.” Once we have enough information to get started, our team will work directly with your team. Consider this a partnership – we’ll work around your working hours and availability so that this process goes smoothly for you.
2. You need to establish your processes
It’s possible you already have great processes, but what good is that if no one follows them? Out-of-the-box software solutions may be frustrating your employees to the point where they stop using them altogether, resorting back to paper processes and individual practices.
Software establishes the process. Since we’ll have the opportunity to absorb all that we can about your business processes, we’ll design your business software solution in a way that your employees will use and understand. It will become their go-to for anything they may need to do their job well.
3. You want to own it
Are you ready to break up with subscription fees? Or maybe you’re afraid to lose data to an out-of-the-box solution that will erase everything as soon as you cancel.
When you choose custom software, it’s all yours. You can tweak it as your business evolves or as your processes change. We’re always here for support and are happy to design new features to complement your business growth.
If you’re ready to think outside of the box, give us a call at 810.695.0001 or fill out a form to begin the conversation.
If you’re reading this, you probably have used Excel, Numbers or Google Sheets at some point. Now take a moment to consider those spreadsheets you’ve accumulated and answer a few questions.
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these, it may be time to ditch Excel and find a software solution. Here are some reasons to switch:
Is the spreadsheet saved in a place where another employee could easily access it or is it saved on a desktop? Could it be accessed if someone needed to check it from home or on the road? With software in place, you provide a secure place where all employees can access what they need to get a job done. With ease of access, software allows a project to be easily handed off or overseen by a supervisor.
Let’s address a scenario: Employee X uses Excel to keep track of her current projects, but she falls ill and must rest at home for a couple days. Her work needs to be quickly picked up by employee Y. Assuming employee Y can find the spreadsheets, he’ll also have to understand her tracking process, but the fact is, she is probably taking some liberties with her project management processes (and not that we’re pointing fingers, but employee Y is probably doing the same with his own projects). Processes are in place for a reason, and software is a good way to ensure they’re being followed without staying over shoulders all day.
Data and Analytics
Even with great processes and accessibility in place, utilizing spreadsheets spreads out your data and prevents you from having real-time reports. Another question to consider is how many spreadsheets exist in your business of which you’re not even aware. This creates holes in your data and prevents you from seeing the whole picture. Reports are important for making decisions, so you need to be sure every bit of data is accounted for before a decision is made. While utilizing software, you can securely store your data in one place.
“I highly recommend you don’t trust Excel spreadsheets to run your business. There’s too much room for human error. It’s too easy to have miscalculations. Files get deleted or the file itself just gets corrupted.”
Give us a call at 810-695-0001 to discuss how you’re using spreadsheets in your business so that we can begin finding a business software solution unique to you and your processes.
Nothing is ever guaranteed in the world of business, and there are just as many paths to failure as there are to success. That’s why understanding the fundamental value of processes and how to utilize KPIs for your business is imperative for its growth. A process is a set guide that helps you achieve the result you desire, but these are just motions without stats to support them and goals to achieve.
Our owner/CEO, Derek Sommer, recently spoke about this very topic at Vision Conference 2019. He not only shared his experiences but discussed in detail several processes that have helped our company succeed over the years. Below are a few steps Derek provided at the conference that we wanted to share for anyone who was unable to attend.
Set Business Goals
First you must determine the behavior you’re trying to change or improve. For example, as a business owner, you would like your sales team to have X number of calls each week. Start with a reasonable goal. Maybe that means 30 calls each week. As they achieve these goals, increase that number until it reaches a cap, but don’t stop there. Start increasing other items like face-to-face meetings or actual sales.
TIP: You can talk to your CPA to get the figures for companies in your industry. Use this information to exceed industry standard. Determine the steps needed to make those numbers, put together the goal and timing, break it down into smaller goals and timing, track it and update as needed.
Why do you need KPIs? KPIs, Key Performance Indicators, help you reach the company goals and targets. There are usually smaller goals that need to be reached first, and KPIs help you understand those. Once you have your goal set, work backwards. Treat this as you would a marathon: You don’t just walk out the door and run 26.2 miles without proper training. You run a mile one day, a few more the next week and so on until the big race. The KPI in this example would be “miles ran each day” with the goal being a marathon.
Because humans are competitive by nature, people like challenges and objectives. KPIs communicate to the team where things stand. This in turn increases morale, as they can see how they’re participating in the bigger picture. When employees can see how their part contributes to the company, you can expect an increase in productivity. Employees can better hold themselves and each other accountable.
TIP: If you’re overly ambitious with your goals, it may have the opposite effect on your employees by discouraging them when they can’t meet the goals. Remember to be reasonable with the progression.
Maintain KPI Relevance
When you’re receiving dozens of emails and reports a day, it’s easy for things to blend in and become white noise. For this reason, it’s important that your reports are easy to read, something that you can glance at and understand where your business stands. We encourage you to understand that KPIs should always be evolving. It doesn’t make sense to keep track of KPIs that aren’t relevant to your business as it grows and evolves. These charts show the evolution of tracking our sales team from the first version to the fourth and most recent. As our business evolved, our goals evolved, and therefore we needed KPIs to reflect the new goals rather than the prior goals.
TIP: Place monitors around your office to display the KPIs you’d like to know at a moment’s notice. As a quick example for placement, Spud Software has one monitor displayed at the top of the stairs to show hours worked and hours billed. The graph displays red for every hour under what is expected and green for hours worked over what is expected. The green and red are easy to spot, even from halfway down the stairs, so it’s clear where the business stands even as passing.
Spud Software would love to help you find a business software solution that helps track your KPIs, achieve goals, allows for easy access to reporting and keeps your processes in place. Give us a call at 810-695-0001 or fill out a form when you’re ready to start the conversation.
This past Friday Spud Software’s owner, Derek Sommer, had the honor of presenting the keynote speech for the 2019 Vision Conference, which was hosted by ECO. His presentation offered invaluable insight into his thought processes and experience that will surely prove useful to many business owners and entrepreneurs who attended.
Sommer’s keynote jumpstarted the day explaining how in business, you’re either growing or dying. This subject was broken down into 3 main talking points which included identifying and eliminating roadblocks, along with preparing for growth. The thought process being that identifying your roadblocks is crucial in order to keep your business from dying. When you learn to identify your roadblocks you will in turn have the ability to properly understand how to eliminate them. This will then allow you to prepare your business for growth appropriately.
For those of you who were unable to attend the Vision Conference, here’s a summarized breakdown of these three points that were discussed by Derek.
1. Identify Roadblocks
Roadblocks, which can also be known as blind spots, are obstacles to your success. There are 3 kinds that Sommer covered during his presentation: ones you know exist and are working on, ones you know exist and haven’t dealt with, ones you know exist and don’t want to deal with. The sooner they are identified, the more time and money a business owner can save.
You should understand your roadblocks by asking for feedback and listening to your business partners, your clients and your employees. Once identified, you can narrow in on how to eliminate them.
2. Eliminate the Roadblocks
Business owners and entrepreneurs are certainly rock stars, but you must know you can’t do it all – you need a team to support you. A team can include but is not limited to your accountants, lawyers, insurance providers, financial advisors, HR/recruiting agencies, product suppliers, service suppliers and marketing/PR agencies. Use these partners to supplement your knowledge and strengthen your business.
Importantly, don’t be your own roadblock: Stop giving away your services for free or at cost for friends and family and maintain your focus on the business rather than in the business.
3. Prepare for Growth
Now that your roadblocks have been eliminated, you can prepare for growth. Sales and marketing are absolutely important. However, no matter how much money or time you invest into sales and marketing, it comes down to whether you have the people, resources and processes to handle the work. If these things aren’t in place, it will end poorly.
In order to avoid growing pains, stay ahead of recruiting efforts, have a plan for seamless onboarding, maintain your equipment, understand your financials and lead by example.
As a business owner, ensure that you’re taking the time to identify and eliminate any roadblocks preventing your business or yourself from growing. Spud Software specializes in creating business software solutions so that you can stay ahead of roadblocks and know exactly where your business stands at a moment’s notice. Give us a call or fill out a form to begin the conversation.
This week Derek Sommer will be presenting at the 2019 Vision Conference as a keynote speaker! Of course, everyone in the office is extremely excited to see our accomplished leader represent Spud in front of a wide audience comprised of business owners and entrepreneurs who hope to take their dealings to the next level. And why shouldn’t we? After all, with his 22+ years of experience as a business owner, Sommer has learned a thing or two, and on Friday, September 20th, he’s willing to share some of his secrets to success.
During his first presentation, you’ll learn how to identify your company’s roadblocks that prohibit your businesses growth, as well as methods in which you can overcome them. Roadblocks can be hard to detect, so don’t be surprised if you learn about some you’ve never even considered while you’re attending the conference on Friday. From there, he’ll share some examples of roadblocks he’s experienced during his own career as well as important ways in which you can prepare for your company’s growth upon overcoming its own obstacles.
In his second presentation, Sommer will share his knowledge of how to use KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for business growth during a breakout session. Learn how to appropriately set business goals that will positively affect your company culture and business. During this session, Sommer will also share his tips on how to maintain KPI relevance so they don’t just become “white noise” to your company.
Join Derek Sommer and 11 other entrepreneurs at the Vision Conference 2019 if you’re ready to take your business to the next level! Learn more about Vision Conference and secure your tickets here. We hope to see you there!
Now that summer has come to its conclusion, it’s that time of year once again to enjoy the annual PGA Tour proceedings. Luckily for us, we just so happen to have such an event right in our own neighborhood! It’s hard to believe that it’s only been a year since The Ally Challenge was brought into the fold, but since its inclusion it has already become a highly sought-out event in the Grand Blanc area. As a yearly PGA Tour Champions event that started in September of 2018, The Ally Challenge, finds its home at the Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club, just down the road from Spud Software!
The event made its debut in September of 2018 and though it hasn’t been around for long, it’s already become the premier golfing event in the area. Of course that’s not to say the country club is at all inexperienced when it comes to hosting a PGA Tour event. Many individuals might remember the Buick Open was previously held at the same location from 1958 through 2009, as one of the six former PGA Tour sites hosting PGA Tour Champions events.
This period of absence from the professional golfing world was not made idle, however, as the Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club sought out a replacement PGA Tour Champions event as early as the conclusion of the Buick Open. Though it took some time to find a title sponsor, today we have the Detroit-based, Ally Financial to thank for, not only becoming the title sponsor of the event, but for bringing the PGA back to Grand Blanc as well.
Everyone at Spud Software is especially excited for the tournament, as we will have several of our employees attending and volunteering at the event. If you happen to spot any of us enjoying the festivities, come give us a friendly hello!
If vacations are supposed to be a time of relaxation, then why can they feel so stressful at times? It can take a lot of effort to prepare, especially if you want to get the most out your time off from work. While it is important to plan for the basics like what to pack, the itinerary, or who’s taking care of the family pet, these issues can be flexible and pertain more towards your enjoyment of the overall vacation. When it comes to addressing your work, however, it might feel a little more complicated to figure out how to handle prepping for your absence. That’s why it’s crucial that you address important items from work early on otherwise you risk a number of issues occurring. Whether your plans are to hop on a plane to a new city or to relax at home, you will want to make sure all your affairs at work are in order. Follow these simple suggestions and your next vacation will be off to a great start.
The Right People
So just who are the right people? It’s simple enough to think about the on goings of your day-to-day, but figuring out just who should carry the weight of your workload can be a tricky situation and will vary depending on the workplace. For instance, it could be an individual co-worker who carries out your duties, but an important thing to consider is that, in this situation, they will have to add your various duties to their own, leaving them less time to do either. This isn’t ideal (especially if you’re leaving a lot of work) but sometimes your employer might not have any other options due to a lack of employees who have your specific skill set. You should talk to your supervisor as early as possible to discuss just who will carry on your work during your absence. Additionally, the workplace shouldn’t rely on this one person for smooth operations. Consider cross-training employees so that operations don’t crumble when another person leaves for a week.
With the right processes in place and, most importantly, followed, the transition between work, vacation and return should be fairly seamless. Be sure your week’s replacement understands your work processes prior to your departure. Summarize the work that will need to be completed in your absence on a list and include important details like its current status, deadlines, and the necessary resources they may need. Don’t let this be a guessing game. The more informed they are, the easier it will be for them to complete, which means a less likely chance that you’ll return from vacation with a pile of work on your desk.
Often it’s not enough to simply hand someone the instructions and let them run with it. If the person dedicated to your tasks forgets a step in your processes, they might be left unable to continue the work if no one else is there to help. Therefore, you might want to consider guiding your temporary replacement through your processes to make sure they have your duties figured out. When you think they have a solid grasp, let them do a test run to see if they can do your work without help. Practice makes perfect, so let them repeat the motions until they are confident that they can complete the work properly.
Apply to Employees
Only 24% of the business owners claim they have never felt any larger issues stem from work-related stress. While your employees may not feel the same stress of a business owner, they certainly feel the pressure. Getting time to take time away from work is vital for one’s mental health, creativity and productivity. Be sure to have the right people and processes in place so that your employees can enjoy a vacation as well. As mentioned above, consider cross training your employees to avoid issues should someone go on vacation or even have some sort of emergency to address.
An escalation plan is a set of procedures in place that prepare for potential problems that might occur. Make sure the individual(s) covering for you are aware of the chain of command should something go wrong. This means informing them of who you usually go to in the case of any issues with your work. You should also make sure to include problems that might occur and provide clear instructions on how to handle them, which can be included with your list of processes.
With the right processes in place, you shouldn’t have to be concerned about work while you’re on vacation or if an emergency comes up. Give us a call today for an honest and unconditional conversation about how Spud Software can help you so that you can spend more time picking out luggage than worrying about work.
Roadblocks are any barrier preventing you from accomplishing your business goals and more. With only one-third of businesses keeping their doors open for 10 years or more, it’s important to look within before blaming outside forces, as many harmful roadblocks are entirely mental. Before you blame your company’s problems on any one thing you should take a step back and answer these simple questions:
1. Is management focused on the day-to-day rather than looking ahead?
2. Is the sales team not hitting goals?
3. Are employees easily distracted by…SQUIRREL!...other ideas?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, your business has fallen victim to business growth roadblocks. Fear not, you’re not alone, and there are various ways to overcome these roadblocks, some of which can be fixed by simply shifting mindsets or offering more guidance as the experienced business owner or manager. Having been in business for over 20 years, these simple tricks have helped us out time and again.
1. Look ahead
Wake up, get dressed, drive to work, work, go home, repeat. It’s easy to fall into this routine of “work” instead of doing actual business. Business is more than “work” and therefore more than routine. While it’s important to have some routine in business, it’s just as important to be working toward something, which will be covered more in the next roadblock. Emphasize the importance of the big picture so that employees aren’t just clocking in at 9, checking off their to-do lists, and clocking out at 5. Cultivate an environment where your employees are comfortable enough to bring forth new ideas. While you may not use all ideas, feeling like they’re contributing can keep employees active within the company. Engaged employees are 59% less likely to look for a new job in the next 12 months, so it’s important to foster a good employee than fill a seat.
2. Work toward something
In business, occasional lulls are inevitable. Use this as an opportunity to try different tactics in sales or new approaches to your business. However, if your team is never hitting goals, you may have more of an issue than a lull. Perhaps your team doesn’t completely understand all the steps needed to take to hit those goals. Don’t be afraid to take an active role and show them how to achieve the goal rather than just assigning tasks to be completed.
If that doesn’t work, they may not be a good fit for that particular position and maybe it’s time to reorganize. Listen to your employees and don’t be afraid to mix up their roles as needed.
3. Stay focused
Simply keep all squirrels off your premises by getting a fence. Jokes aside, it’s important that each employee (including yourself) stays focused. If you find that your employees are going down rabbit holes or that they aren’t actually finishing a project, it’s possible they’re not sure what their role entails. Be sure to clearly define your expectations and again, take an active role by showing them what needs to be done. By setting goals and working toward them as a team, it’s easier to accomplish the task at hand.
With these tools to overcome roadblocks, business growth will come. If you’re considering custom software to help your business grow, we can help. We’ll sit down and help come up with a plan that works best for your business.
We’re your team. We’re here to make sure you succeed. Spud Software is here for our clients.
Well it’s that time of year once again! The sun is shining and while most people might be winding down their summer plans, every gearhead around is prepping their ride for this year’s Back to the Bricks celebration. Spud Software is always ready to help promote local festivities, especially ones that have such an impact on the whole community. After all, Back to the Bricks is one of the largest events that occurs in the Genesee County area.
What was once a single day throwback to the cruising culture of the 80’s has now exploded into a week-long collection of events and festivities which thus far, has done a phenomenal job bringing people of all ages together for the enjoyment of cars. The main cruising that occurs, in fact, takes place on Saginaw Street where most teen hangouts in the area were once found, and this communal aspect is very much so reflected in the core fundamental values the event seeks to promote. Long gone are the days when teens used to drive from hangout to hangout in order to meet up with their friends, Back to the Bricks helps us to remember a simpler time when all a teen needed was his car and some friends.
The sheer variety of vehicles you will find during the event is astounding. Vehicles can span as far back as the Model-T or be as new as 2019 Camaro. Perhaps what’s even more impressive is the amount of passion and creativity people are willing to pour into their cars. In its early years, for the most part, the event would have beautifully restored vehicles and there are still plenty of those at the event now. But as the years have gone by there have been more unconventional restorations. Of course there are the classic Hot-Rods, perhaps the most common modified cars, but you’ll also find Rat-Rods, Hydraulic Vehicles, Kit Cars and much more.
There are many employees at Spud Software who love going to Back to the Bricks. During the event you might find some of us sitting along Saginaw watching the cars drive by or even see us in our own cars enjoying the cruise. Whichever way you enjoy the festivities, if you notice someone from Spud Software at the event, don’t forget to say hi!
At Spud Software, it is our mission to continue providing our employees with the best possible work life experience. Not only do we have great health benefits, 401k, true flex time, above average pay, and an amazing culture, we will now provide the convenience and health benefits of our very own Spud Café. Chef Jeff will focus on organic, healthy options for our employees, providing them with various healthy breakfast, lunch and take-home meals throughout the week. We’re also very eager for him to show off his skills to our clients at events and meetings.
Originally from Michigan, Chef Jeff lived in Connecticut for 12 years where he got married and started his family. With his recent move back to his old stomping grounds, he was drawn to this position because it allowed for him to utilize all of his skills in a unique environment, that being a “business” setting. Very passionate about nutrition, he is planning to use this love to help everyone stay healthy, especially those of us whose jobs require being deskbound for long periods of time. In his 20 years of experience, he has cooked for Bobby Flay, David Chan, Thomas Keller, Jacques Pepin. As the boss of his own kitchen, Chef Jeff is excited to treat everyone at Spud with delicious healthy meals, tasty coffee and tacos!
Outside of the kitchen, Chef Jeff enjoys spending time with his family, riding and racing bicycles, coaching, and putting his nutritionist skills to work by helping people finish Ironmans, Ultra Marthons and even the Leadville 100 MTB and Run. You can try to catch him on August 26 in Auburn Hills as he takes on the Annual Debaets-Devos Pro-Am Bicycle Race.
Stay tuned for shameless “foodie” pictures. We're already enjoying great food and can’t wait to see what he has in store for us!
Thank you for bringing a chef to Spud! Wow what a treat. Looking forward to seeing what he offers for the take home meals. It is great to work for a company that helps to enrich our personal lives while being valued at work.
- Denice Febbraro, Project Manager