Document Management

There was a time, not so long ago, when metal cabinets heavily loaded with files were the only solution to preserve and file documents. This time now belongs to the past and paper is gradually replaced by the more convenient electronic format, less bulky, and easily sent to multiple recipients.image pour blogue  documents
Storage and classification of documents in electronic format are performed on directories located on the computer disk, in emails, on server, or in cloud mode.

Indeed, though this solution is rather convenient when one wishes to manage a virtual library, limitations will soon appear. We will get back to this topic a little later.
Demand generating supply, new tools and concepts quickly appeared on the market.
Indeed, terms such as Electronic Document Management and Content Management (better known under the term Enterprise Content Management -ECM) are now common. There are numerous document management systems.
Collectively known as content management solutions, they meet very diverse needs. Let us mention a few of them:
• Document management
• Web  content  management (WCM Web Content Management)
• Multimedia document management (DAM (Digital Asset Management)
• Archives management,
• Email management ,
• Content analysis of digital documents (Content Analytics  or Content Analysis). The aim is to manage the content of numerous unstructured documents in order to automatically analyze and identify trends in those documents.
What are the benefits of document management?
Utilizing a document management system offers numerous benefits. However, it is mandatory that the solution is integrated in a software suite which brings together the various modules required for appropriate and effective project management. In fact, quite often, organizations will have a whole range of management tools:
• Time Management
• Budget Management
• Management of the deliverables
• Management of changes occurring in projects
• Management of work in progress and billing
• Management of time banks
• Document management etc.
The problem that arises does not involve the tools themselves.  The problematic rather lies in the fact that those different systems do not communicate with each other. Therefore, the benefit of these solutions is dissolved in the time needed to forward information from one application to another with all the risks of mistakes and forgetfulness that this delicate operation involves.
Ideally, the document management tool must be available on a versatile software platform, easily operated by the project manager, that is to say; no need to use multiple software, and direct access to all components of the project:
• Budget
• Project WBS
• Allocation of resources
• Monitoring the availability of resources
• Transactions (timesheets, expenses)
• Management of vendor invoices
• Billing
• Financial Reports
• Notes on project
• And  other documents related to the project itself.

The direct benefits are time saving and centralization of information.
Abak360 was recently fitted with a versatile document management module. It is thus possible for the user to centralize all documentation relating to a project directly in the project folder (receipts, pictures, layouts, and any other type of documents). An employee who enters his/her time and expenses also has the ability to electronically attach receipts to the expense account.

For further information do not hesitate to contact us.

Installation of your management software: local or hosted mode?

Small and Medium Enterprises of today are generally equipped with a growing number of software of all types. If many of these solutions can be quickly installed by the users on their workstations, it is quite different for server based software. Among those  programs  we include management software and particularly time management software, time and billing software and project management software.

 Why choosing hosted mode?mode hébergé

Therefore, the question about the location of software arises. Will it be installed on the client server or is it better to consider a hosted mode?

The reasons for the final choice are multiple and depend on various factors, including:

Technical factors:

  • Is my IT structure compatible with the technical requirements? Memory and technical characteristics are elements that need to be validated before the installation.
  • What is the condition of my IT infrastructure? Is my server recent enough to consider using my new software for the years to come? Should I consider short-term investment on new servers?

Economic factors:

  • Often SME’s do not have an IT department within their organization. Therefore, each intervention on the computer equipment has to be conducted by an external company. Rates are very often quite high. Moreover, the customer will depend on the availability of the service provider.
  • Numerous SME’s do not have any server. The implementation of such equipment can be expensive.

Organizational Factors:

  • More and more often, SME’s and even larger companies, focus on gainful activities directly related to their field of expertise, and prefer to delegate administrative and maintenance tasks to specialized companies (software hosting, outsourcing, document management, etc. )

Hosted Products

In terms of hosting software there are two types of solutions:

The SAAS solution : SAAS, means software as a service. Software is hosted on a server based outside of the company. The term SAAS includes a range of several management solutions (CRM, ERP, Time Management, Project Management, etc.). The service is offered as a subscription in rental mode. The application is accessible through an Internet connection.

The ASP solution: ASP means application service provider. In other terms, the provider (most of time the software editor) proposes a hosted mode for software that are initially designed on a client / server architecture. The proposed applications are not developed in the Web. The principle of data access and pricing of the hosting package are similar we find in SAAS solutions. However, in a world where mobility and flexibility are systematically associated with Internet, proposing a ASP solution may seem outdated and obsolete.

What about Abak hosting solution?

Abak offers its customers a range of applications including client/server software called Abak Classic, an Abak Web application and an Abak Mobile application for smartphone users. This package includes a huge number of functionalities. Keywords are flexibility and ease of use.

Abak installed in hosted mode presents itself as a hybrid halfway between SAAS and ASP. The main advantage of this configuration is to enable the user to choose his software mode with no impact to the logged data, Abak Web and Abak Classic sharing the same database.

Who is the provider of data hosting service?

There are three types of providers:

  • The software editor.
  • An internet service provider with whom the software publisher has an agreement.
  • A service provider designated by the customer.

In our case, Abak has an agreement with Oricom, http://www.oricom.ca/ , an important provider of Internet services for the Quebec region.

What are the benefits of a hosted mode?

  • There is no need to involve a technician or an IT service provider for the maintenance of computer equipment to the requirements of the software product (prerequisite, technical compliance). This results in substantial savings.
  • If the client does business with external technicians, he no longer needs to setup   appointments for an operation to be performed on his computers.
  • The business data is of primary importance. The risk of losing it due to viruses, mishandling, fire or any other reason is not an option. Hosted mode data is completely safe.
  • The provider of hosting services is a professional who follows and stays aware of the  latest technical developments in his field of expertise.
  • Software always runs on the latest version.
  • The client no longer has to worry about backups
  • In case of an internal computer crash, the client data is preserved.
  • Finally, data is easily accessible, wherever the user might be (using Abak Web for example).

How to choose a provider of hosting services? 

Before going towards a hosted mode, it is recommended to answer the following questions:

  • Is the service provider the software editor himself?
  • Should it be the case, what is his experience in this field?
  • What is the percentage of customers in hosted mode?
  • What happens to data in the event of bankruptcy of the publisher or the internet provider for example?
  • Are the source codes available via an escrow agreement?
  • Is the data encrypted?
  • If the software publisher is not the provider of data hosting service, it is important to know who the end supplier is.
  • What is his experience? What about his reputation?
  • Where is he located? A customer in North America, whose data would be hosted in a remote foreign country for example, could be confronted by all kinds of problematic situations (technical, contractual, financial, language, time zones etc.)
  • How secure are the premises?
  • How often are backups performed?
  • What are the hosting costs?
  • Where are kept the backups? It is important not to store backups in the same location as in the server room.
  • What are the procedures to recover a copy of the most recent backup in case of crash.
  • Who is the first line of contact support; software vendor, or provider of hosting services?

Ideally the user should not have to deal directly with the provider of hosting services. The software editor should first set all the details for his customers and inform them on how the hosted mode works. This is the procedure followed by Abak when we host our time management, billing and project cost management software. Feel free to contact us for further information. More than 35% of our actual customers have chosen the hosted mode.

Cyber Abak_October 2013

Hello everyone!
We hope your vacation has been enjoyable. It is time to return to work, to plan the last quarter of 2013 or for some of you to close the year on September 30th. Times are quite hectic for the Abak team. We started the last quarter at full speed. What’s up? 7.7., the new version of Abak, of course, but also several new events with are related to our merger with Sirius Conseils. We shall unveil those events in the coming months, through social media, our web site and the next CyberAbak. In the meantime thank you for your loyalty.

Abak Group Sirius – what news?

Contest Sirius-Abak

Version 7.7: What’s new?

It’s time to move to Abak Web

Training sessions AbaKast fall 2013

Join us on social Medias

Survey

Holidays

LAUNCH OF « WIN A TRIP WITH GROUP SIRIUS » CONTEST

As you already know Abak Software is part of Sirius Conseils Group.

To promote the launching of its new image, Sirius Conseils Group organizes a contest open to Sirius and Abak customers. For more details on this contest, please click on the following link.

Feel free to participate !

http://www.siriusconseils.com/_pdf/20130923_SIRIUS_Launch-Rules-Contest.pdf

Outsourcing

The principle

The basic principle of outsourcing is to subcontract activities, especially administrative tasks, to a company specializing in such services. The goal of outsourcing is to relieve the client of the stress of activities that might, as important and imperative as they are, however prove to be a drag on growth. These activities require ongoing attention, sometimes skills the client doesn’t have, and quite often those tasks do not generate any profit.Impartition

In regards to Abak customers, outsourcing is the ideal solution for:

  • Small businesses: very often those companies consider subcontracting as an opportunity to minimize administrative tasks and to enable them to concentrate on lucrative actions. In addition, it also happens that these organizations do not have in their staff the resources with the required skills to perform those administrative and financial tasks.
  • Medium-sized enterprises: they sometimes face a situation that will temporarily mobilise a large portion of their workforce (getting a major contract for example). Hiring additional staff being not necessarily justified, companies will move towards outsourcing services.

Earnings

Why use outsourcing services?

Here are a few examples of benefits generated by outsourcing:

  • Free the organisation from non-profitable and repetitive activities,
  • Allow client to focus on strategic activities,
  • Work of better quality carried out by specialists,
  • Reduce cost of salaries,
  • Reallocation of resources to key activities,
  • Competitiveness improvement by focusing staff efforts on strategic activities,
  • Limit investment in new resources.

Risks

A coin has two sides. It is therefore necessary to consider the risks of outsourcing:

  • There might be hidden costs. This is why it’s important, when subscribing, to list the required services and to know their costs.
  • Depending on the volume of assigned work, the client might become dependent on his supplier and then progressively lose control of his schedule. The latest being dependant on the delivery of services from the outsourcing firm.
  • Some companies improvise themselves as providers of outsourcing services. Poor quality of work can be the result, requiring a careful monitoring. In such circumstances all the benefits of outsourcing are lost in monitoring activities.
  • Reputation: the risk of delivering a work of poor quality performed by an outsourcing service can spoil the reputation of the company.
  • Control – having to continuously control the work of the outsourcing service monopolizes valuable time.
  • Very often, the client shares confidential information with the outsourcing firm. Controlling this information is then essential.
  • Mistakes. The outsourcing firm can make mistakes and consequences might vary depending on the gravity of the mistake(s).

Preliminary Selections

Here are some advices for selecting an outsourcing firm:

  • The potential provider needs a good reputation and must be recognized as a specialist,
  • The outsourcing firm must have a proven financial stability,
  • References: do not hesitate to ask and check the references of the potential providers,
  • Sign a confidentiality agreement,
  • Begin outsourcing services through a probationary period,
  • Sign a contract that lists the range of services and exclusions, as well as the applicable rates and terms conditions of billing and payment,
  • Ideally agree on a fixed monthly cost.

Abak Software Inc. proposes outsourcing services which are related to the functionalities of Abak Software:

  • Creation of projects in Abak
  • Billing
  • Management of work in progress
  • Reports
  • Project follow-up
  • Budget management
  • Time Banks Management
  • Validation of expense accounts

Do not hesitate to contact us for more information.

Cyber Abak – June 2013

Hello everyone!

The summer days are on the horizon and holidays are approaching fast. No lack of work on our side and we are working hard to finalize this summer the new version of Abak that will focus primarily on our Abak Web application. In any case there are many other interesting things to explore in this CyberAbak so enjoy the reading.

Do you underuse your time management, billing software?

You have been working with your software since a few years but do you use it to its full potential? Does it still answer your expectations and fulfill  yourfrustré needs?

Most software are normally updated at least once a year and include new features and improvements. The world of software evolves quickly and continuously. Update after update news functionalities are activated and quite often the user has no time to get used with those improvements, and new features and hence cannot really get the benefit of those improvements.

Under which circumstances would you under-utilize your software?

Employees leaving the company
In each and every organization, the staff is called up, sooner or later, to be replaced. Part of their knowledge is then passed on to the successors. This transfer of knowledge is often imperfect, incomplete or erroneous. This fact applies also to the resource(s) who manage(s) the time, billing and project management software. Hence, quality and accuracy of the passed on knowledge might decrease throughout the years, affecting the proper use of software. It is recommended to  write a procedures handbook where the knowledge can be consigned.
Software not updated
Users often tend to forget to update their software. Most programs offer one or more updates per year. Each update includes improvements and new features. Therefore, the users quite often do not use the software to its full capacity, thus depriving them of valuable and useful features.

Additional training required
Quite often the users who maintain their software updated, will partially use the new features, and will not ask for additional training. The risk is then high that new features and software improvements will be misused or partially utilized.
Evolution of the company needs
Each and every business grows throughout time, and therefore company needs and requirements evolve too. Most of the time those needs, such as time management, billing, financial management of the project require a changing features tool. However, the user continues to use the software as he did years ago without using all the benefits that software can provide.

It is therefore recommended, in parallel with regular software upgrades and updates, to  validate the following:

Does the staff know well how to use software?

  • Are my software updated to the most recent version?
  • Do we need to refresh our knowledge of software by means of additional training?
  • Does our time, billing and project management software still answer your growing needs?
  • Do we have an updated and customized procedures handbook ?

 

A look at your current situation conducted with your software provider is recommended.

Reluctance to change, a major obstacle for companies

Types of change

Any change that occurs in the ecosystem of the business generates reactions. There are among others, two main types of changes:

-       Technological changes: for instance we introduce a new mode of production in the factory, or new management tools.

-       Changes related to duties and obligations of employees.MH900198749

In some cases the change will not only have an influence on the technological aspects of the business but will also have an impact on human resources. This is the well-known case of the implementation of new software that modifies the management process, but also the habits and duties of employees. The introduction of a time, billing and project cost management software like Abak is a good example.

 

Possible reactions

The occurred change will have a serious impact on the day to day operation of the company and will also generate very different reactions from the workforce. Those reactions can be of two types:

-       Positives reactions: every change has its supporters. It is seen as a progressive innovation which, at medium and long term, will be productive (time saving, standardization of data entry, improvement of the billing process, optimized management of projects, etc…). Generally, executives and management staff are in favor of these changes.

-       Reluctant reactions: employees will have to complete their timesheets and their expense accounts regularly and in a consistent manner. Furthermore software will generate automated reminders when time sheets are not completed on a specific date. What will be the reactions of the employees?

. The introduction of this tool is a more or less hidden reinforced control tool of employees activities.

. This will result in a work `overcharge’ because the time sheets will have to be filled regularly.

. The employee will have to detail his/her activities and not only declare these succinctly.

. The implementation of such a system can be seen as a lack of confidence from the management towards the employees.

What to do ?

Before the implementation of the time management, expenses, billing and cost management project software, it is recommended to ‘take the pulse’ of the team. We inform the staff of what is coming and we do it in an open dialog.

For example we organise one or more meetings that will focus on several topics:

-       What are the day to day recurring problems. For example: difficulty managing time banks, under billing, loss of valuable time; all factors that affect the efficiency of the business and its competitiveness.

-       The example of companies which have optimised their process by implementing new management tools.

-       The desires of the direction to facilitate the work of everyone in an organized, functional and effective way.

The final goal is to invite employees to think on how to improve the current situation and to present the solution considered as a useful tool for everyone whose use will simplify the daily administration, optimize the billing and project management and employees time bank. Time gain, ease and process optimization are all keywords that will contribute to the general acceptance of that new software.

Cyber Abak March 2013 – Spring is on its way !

Hectic times for the Abak team.  Winter has brought us numerous new customers, our trainers time schedule is quite loaded, and our development team is working hard to launch the new version 7.7 in late June 2013 version that will primarily focus on Abak Web.
Enjoy reading !

*         News in brief
*         Sirius Products
*         Abak Web
*         Abak Pro
*         Support
*         Training – Pro’s tip
*         Hourly rate increase
*         Upcoming Abakasts
*        Holiday

Abakast 101 – Understanding how to use Abak efficiently

Being efficient means time saving.

Learn all the tricks, follow our recommendations.

Improve your efficiency with Abak and save time.

Understanding how to use Abak efficiently

February 28, 2013

1h30 – 3h30pm, Eastern Time

Participate to this Abakast session. You will learn how to improve the way your work with Abak.

Register now

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 179 other followers