Software Telemarketing – Best Means in Handling Sensitive Business Information

One of the best functions that ERP software manufacturers and resellers provide is a means of transmitting and organizing business information in the most streamlined manner possible. Providers of that kind of software focus their role in rooting deficiencies in a company’s ERP.

However, do take note though that since ERP is an integral part in the stability of a company’s structure, it’s not surprising that plenty of companies aren’t willing to admit that there could be something wrong with it. That information is sensitive. It may not be as sensitive as information pertaining to national security, but if you’re a mega-corporation, it can come a close second to that. Some of them would even go as far as desperately search for an adequate ERP software developer whilst declining to answer any questions (like ones posed by a competitor’s spies) on the possible flaws in their ERP.

Do remember though that it’s never a wise course of action for a business to just wait around for a desperate buyer. The competition will leave them behind. Therefore, how does one go about sparking interest in their product without triggering this defense mechanism of denial?

Telemarketing firms exist as a solution to that. In the practice of B2B lead generation, telemarketing agents are trained extensively to know exactly the right questions to task and are determined enough not to let rejection stop them. Furthermore, they have largely invested in databases chock full of businesses who might have problems that only good ERP software can provide. Couple that with expert data analysts who organize and refine their information to suit a client’s preferences, you have a means that is fast, wide-covering, and also cost-efficient.

To top it off, all those employed by such companies are sworn to the secrecy of whatever sensitive information they obtain (be it from you or from the contacts they have). The security of their information is critical to their standing. They will not just give it to anyone and those they contact are guaranteed both privacy and discreet use of what they have been given.

Controversial as this may sound, every company has secrets it doesn’t want leaking out. Be that secret come in the form of information about a future product, outlines for marketing plans, or problems with the company’s ERP unnoticed by the general public, sensitive information like that can be exploited by their competitors (or worse). It is therefore understandable that they take whatever measure to make sure that information remains within company bounds. If that means declining questions or even straight-face denial, then there’s not much choice.

The downside to that though is it also locks out the inquiries of people like you, who are honestly just wanting to know if there is anything your software can do for them. Outsourcing to a telemarketing firm can help bypass that by lending you not only a private database of people on the look out for aid but also the expertise of agents who ask only the right questions without triggering any alarms.

Selling Your Business – Informing the Employees

When is the best time to inform employees that you are selling your business? Business brokers and merger and acquisition professionals are asked this question all the time.  The short answer is, “Wait until the transaction is completed,” and with good reason.

Most owners understand that much of the value of their business is embodied in their employees. Employees make the company possible, and many owners develop a close relationship with some of their employees.  Those relationships sometimes lead business owners to want to disclose the potential sale of their business to one or more of their employees.  “They deserve to know” is a common refrain.

There is an enormous risk in sharing this ‘inside information’ with employees.  Confidentiality needs to be maintained.  Once it is common knowledge that your company is for sale (and it will become common knowledge once employees know), it loses value: vendors are less like to sell to you or increase credit limits; customers are less likely to buy for fear of a lack of continuity of the relationship; and employees are less likely to stay.  Once the cat is out of the bag, if you are able to get it back in at all, the damage is already done, and it can take years to redevelop those relationships that made your company valuable in the first place.

While change is scary to some people, nothing is scarier than the unknown.  For example, with one or more employees knowing what is ‘in process’ or being considered, at a minimum the information will be shared with a spouse or close friends.  Invariably, their reactions are to share stories of mass layoffs, companies being relocated, wage and bonus reductions, etc.  It is human nature to fear the unknown and to expect (and perhaps plan) for the worst.  Planning for the worst often involves looking for alternative employment, sharing the news with other employees and, perhaps, outright resignations.  Also understand that when a concerned employee interviews within your industry, the first question they are asked is, “Why are you planning on leaving your current employer?” The answer will put an afterburner on the wildfire of rumors within your industry.  Remember, most buyers expect to have key employees on board when they acquire a business: If one or more of them have departed or indicated that they intent to depart, the value and marketability of your business has clearly been damaged.

Therefore, the best time to make announcements concerning the sale is on the afternoon of the day on which the transaction closes, after the closing is complete.  An employee meeting should be pre-planned to ensure 100% employees attendance.   Once everyone is gathered, you explain your reasons for considering a ‘transition of ownership’ (don’t use the word ‘sale’ or ‘sold’), and that, after a diligent search, you have found the perfect new owner(s).  You can also talk about how there will be a transition period where you will be involved in the operation of the business working with the new owners. The new owners should then be introduced to discuss their backgrounds, share their reasons for wanting to own the company and demonstrate their enthusiasm to do whatever is necessary to grow the business and create more opportunities for everyone. Last but not least, the new owners should honestly indicate that they plan no dramatic changes, that they value the current workforce, and that they want to meet individually with each employee (unless the number is just too large) to get their ideas and suggestions on the best way to grow the business.

In general, anyone who buys your company will want to keep your employees since they represent a significant portion of the value (and continuity) of your business. Massive job losses only occur in extremely rare cases where a new owner relocates the company a great distance, and then usually only after a period of transition.  Experience has taught that when the transition is handled well, virtually all employees perform better under the new management, for the simple reason they want to impress and be on good terms with the new owner.  New owners typically arrive with additional capital, new ideas, perhaps a synergy with an existing business and, almost invariably, a desire to grow the business.   Growth spells new opportunities for employees who want to develop their careers and, in almost all cases, they look forward to working with a new owner.

By keeping the sale of the business totally confidential until the transaction is closed, you are able to both preserve the value of your business and greatly reduce the fear of the unknown from your employees, thus making the transition of ownership a more seamless operation.

Protect Your Business Information – Prevent Document Deterioration, Misuse and Loss With EDM

Security concerns are in the news a lot lately. The government has issued public alerts against terrorist activity. Military experts are debating how to maximize armed forces’ safety amid intensified conflict in Afghanistan. Medical experts are producing vaccine to combat Swine Flu. Each issue focuses on the need to ensure public safety. Yet most businesses – including agencies that rely on timely, accurate information to make decisions about public safety – overlook a serious risk that jeopardizes their effectiveness and ability to survive. The threat? Inadequate document security.

Businesses need secure access to accurate information to make smart decisions. Usually information is scattered: on paper (subject to deterioration, misfiling, security breaches, and loss); trapped in the minds of executives, managers and workers (subject to unintentional alteration and selective memory); and stored in electronic documents and software applications (subject to inconsistent rules, conflicting policies, and difficult to lock down). A recent 2009 AIIM report entitled Electronic Records Management – Still Playing Catch-up with Paper shows 60% of managers surveyed couldn’t be confident their records hadn’t been altered, deleted, or inappropriately accessed if they were challenged. More than 70% had no provisions for long-term electronic record archival; 31% had twenty or more content repositories that could be usefully linked (and presumably weren’t, complicating access and security). Many respondents described their electronic records as unmanaged; most lacked email management policies. It doesn’t take an expert to uncover a foul brew of document security concerns. Ignoring document security invites trouble.

Set clear policies Document security has two sides: human and technological. Management has the onerous job of weighing rules and regulations against operational needs and determining acceptable risks versus those that jeopardize their business objectives. Identifying unacceptable risk is a precursor to creating governance policy.

Communicate policies frequently – in writing Rules are futile unless they’re communicated – frequently, understandably, and in writing. Understanding what constitutes risk, acceptable behavior, and the penalties for disobedience dramatically reduces employee blunders. Convey your rules and reasoning clearly. Document your communications. You’ll reduce company risk by demonstrating intent to comply.

Well-laid plans, smart hiring decisions, and regular communications minimize risk, but they don’t guarantee document security. Where 100% document control is hindered by human limitations, web-based electronic document management (EDM) excels – governing, observing, and tracking file use, 24/7.

Emulate policies electronically Everyone hears about planned security breaches. Yet typically, compromised document security is unintentional:

People view sensitive information while searching for unrelated information. Employees inadvertently destroy original files without noticing copies or imported documents are faulty or illegible. New employees don’t know the rules and handle documents improperly. Temporarily removed or inappropriately stored documents can’t be located on demand for audits, subpoenas, or processing. Workers delete documents deemed worthless, learning afterward that retention rules changed or they were mistaken. EDM ensures security from the moment of capture, preserving file integrity throughout the business lifecycle and providing a central repository for stored information. Readability and integrity are verified upon capture. Digital storage eliminates deterioration, misfiling, or loss. Files are readable, properly stored, and secure. Customizable security determines who can retrieve, view, edit, annotate, manage, move, or delete files. Administrators can set rules for data use and walk away, knowing employees can access whatever they need.

Remove temptation and filing mistakes Companies are increasingly subject to strict regulations governing information use. EDM enforces your governance policies, letting you:

Restrict file access by creating pre-defined searches to retrieve files staff need. Restrict document viewing to specific personnel by job role and document type. Associate individual editing and annotation rights to pre-specified users and file types. Ensure only authorized persons can delete batches, files, and/or pages of documents. Assure consistent indexing Employee logic varies for document classification and search. EDM enables standardization, making filing consistent and search 100% successful.

Assign documents to batches during scanning or importing. Index documents by document type, customer ID number, and other unique identifiers. Associate related documents for a comprehensive view of information. Validate the integrity and accuracy of scanned and imported files through automated validation; request alerts when documents require intervention. Digital capture gives you control over your content.

Prevent document alteration Document alteration poses huge security risks, especially in the face of litigation and audits. ECM allays fears of inappropriately altered documents. You can:

Restrict document annotation and alteration rights to pre-designated persons. Ensure file alteration and editing rights reflect current policies. Store business-critical emails as unalterable documents. Avert inappropriate file deletion Missing and lost documents typically comprise 7.5% to 11% of all document requests, with workers spending anywhere from 20-50% of their time looking for information. MIA documents cost time and money to recreate; if they’re needed for an audit, subpoena, or industry mandate and not found, penalties can accrue.

EDM ensures documents aren’t deleted until they’re scheduled to be migrated or destroyed. By limiting user rights, you ensure against accidental and intentional purging. Automated retention assures document migration, purging, and deletion follow your rules. Regulatory changes? No problem: EDM grasps new instructions immediately, adhering to governance directives.

Adjust rules as hierarchies change Between a quarter and a third of employees change jobs or positions annually. Promoted employees suddenly need access to additional information. Demoted workers lose rights to access particular documents. Some are fired or leave, creating concerns they may take information with them, and new problems arise as knowledge must be transferred to new hires.

EDM tackles these issues with ease:

Users and feature rights are pre-designated electronically, making appropriate files accessible immediately to new employees. Administrators make documents instantly inaccessible to departing employees by deleting user rights and features, eliminating the risk of inappropriate file use. Rules and rights are easily reconfigured, ensuring new employees can access repositories and files they need without the risk of stumbling on sensitive information or overlooking policies for document access and use. Lock down email Email management eludes many managers. Critical communications about customers, partners, third-party vendors, staff, products plans, licensing information and more often are trapped in email Inboxes, inadequately archived and difficult to find.

By managing business email within EDM, you can:

Index and archive critical emails as documents of record. Restrict access to email content, while disclosing contents to authorized persons. Regulate printing, migration, and deletion of stored emails to specific users. Avoid disaster The topic of avoiding business disasters drew attention this year when the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) recommended that companies limit how many executives can travel simultaneously on the same corporate or commercial plane. Experts recognized that a single calamity involving the loss of multiple top-tier executives constituted unacceptable risk, as it could destroy a company and result in considerable job loss. The same is true with the loss of your business-critical documents.

Document preservation is the left hand to the right hand of document security. Careful planning, quality EDM, and appropriate professional services ensure you have:

Effective backups and fault-tolerant, redundant systems that ensure you stay connected to your information. A disaster recovery plan that outlines the hierarchy of document importance to ensure business continuity and accelerate document recovery. Uninterrupted access to your business-critical information if a disaster prevents staff from working onsite. Physical data recovery in case a real disaster strikes or your system is shut down. Forge ahead If your company makes the headlines, don’t let it be because of a security breach or shutdown. Creating a document management strategy and investing in EDM means your past, present, and future documents will be in the right hands, whenever and wherever they’re needed. By leaving the arduous task of document management to EDM, you’ll have more time to focus on taking your business to the next level. Good luck!

How to Start a Business Information As a Unique Christmas Gift

Starting a business in no “walk in the park” for most of us. There are expenses to consider, the likely hood of success verses failure. A person has to take their time to research their idea, find out every scrap of information they possibly can about this business. In truth starting a business from scratch is a whole lot of hard work. Just when you think you have asked every possible question there is a dozen more pop up. Would it not be a unique Christmas gift to find a way to help your friend or loved one with some of that much needed information?

When searching for a business to start many of us do not have thousands and thousands of dollars in liquid assets to invest in a franchise. Today’s new business owners have had to get creative and find “real” businesses that can be operated from home. This is where the word “real” applies, there are many scammers out there trying to get your money. You will see overwhelming amounts of sites that offer to make you rich while you are lazy, asleep, in your pajamas – you name it! And get this – it will only cost you 29.00 to start your business. Get real; it is not going to happen so easily.

Creative people need to think outside the box to find a business that they can work from home. Look at service businesses especially. Mobile gyms, mobile pet care, mobile car wash, mobile windshield, mobile oil change and mobile lawnmower repair. People are starting cleaning businesses, delivery service and daycare centers in and from their own home. These businesses allow you to start and run them from your own home at a much lower cost than your typical “sticks and bricks” businesses.

Back to the unique Christmas gift, that is easy. If you know someone who is looking to start their own business but needs guidance, support and most of all information why not do a little research yourself and print it out, put it in a binder and present that as a gift? Or better yet, if you can find a “How to Start” manual that applies to the subject your friend or loved one is interested in buy it as a gift. It not only shows that you are a crafty shopper but a person who cares about their dream. It shows your support for their idea.

Just a thought…