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Ticket management - Case study

Challenge

A leading tech support company was managing their Customer calls and tickets through manual process.

Challenges for the Management

1. Expiry of Customer contract was not easy to track. They were ending up servicing customers whose contracts had expired.

2. Tracking of IP addresses signed up for servicing was not easy. Technicians were

ending up servicing the IP address customer had not paid for.

3. Tracking sales data was not easy.

4. Management were not able to generate any meaningful reports to see sales

data by executive.

5. Credit card details were not protected and were accessible for all to see. This

was posing a considerable security challenge to the management.

6. Cutomer addresses was not being maintained properly. All address data was

being maintained in a single field. This resulted in data being unusable.

7. Management was not able to generate meaningful reports.

Challenges for the Technicians

1. Tracking customer tickets was not easy.

2. A customer's ticket history was not easily available.

3. while taking up a new ticket request, searching the customer was a challenge.

Solution

customer evaluated many ticket management tools available and zeroed in on

middlepathCRM.

Apart from Lead management and Sales force automation, middlepathCRM has a

very comprehensive Ticket management capability.

middlepathCRM tool brought the following benefits to the customer:

Functionality benefits:

1. Tool provides a seamless tracking of the customer tickets by allowing,

a. Workflow management

b. Reassignment of tickets

c. Status management

2. The tool provides complete history of previous tickets for a customer

3. Customers can be searched based on customer name, phone, email

4. Managing customer contract expiration is easy. New tickets cannot be created

for a customer if the contract has expired.

5. All the IP addresses being tracked in ticket. Technicians have the info available

to serve only valid IP's

6. The tool tracks and generates useful sales reports enabling management to

have a comprehensive view of sales data

7. The tool has an access control by role, enabling data access to be controlled

8. The tool captures all the data for a ticket including address of customer for

better reporting

9. The tool generates meaningful reports to see by country / state / city.

10. The tool is easy to use and the company was able to start using it without

any training required

11. The tool is avialable as a pay per use basis, which enabled the company to on

board users on the system at their pace avoiding a CAPEX

12. The company is able to decrease or increase the users as and when needed

resulting in cost effective solution

SFA - Case study

Challenge

 

A publishing house with a set of established products was having difficulty in getting insights and control over their sales team€™s activities. Lack of visibility about the field activities resulted in inaccurate reporting of new customer leads and existing customer visits. Lack of all the data at one centralized place which could be accessed anytime, anywhere, allowed the sales team to be less accountable for their activities.

It was too late when the time of closure of the orders came, by which time some of the team members would move out after taking salaries for more than 6 months without any results and without any concrete data in the company€™s hands for company to pursue the leads.

Getting customer related information like addresses, contacts were time consuming and difficult as all the details about different customers were with different people and it was unstructured. There was lack of communication within the team. Most of the communications were happening through phone and data was not available for reference, veracity and accountability.

Solution

Based on our previous experience with some of the customers we decided that the solution should be very simple and should be cloud based. The biggest worry here was to collect data from field executives about customers in their territory and their daily visits report. Most of the filed executives would be reluctant to use the systems like this because they think there will be visibility to the management about their activities. Considering all this we came up with a web application with two simple and very user friendly screens to capture their customers details and daily visit details.

The UI of this application was so simple and easy that the executives started using it without any training. There was also a strict instruction from the management of this publishing firm to enter visits daily and based on this data entry sales executives attendance were being considered. After the first two screens we came up with reports which started showing daily visit details of executives, time they entered the details and many other things about their visits like next follow up date, etc.

We also came up with some reminders for the field executives about their next follow up and many other important meetings with the customers. Eventually many comprehensive and customized reports were developed to make use of the data captured by the executives for better decision making. We also developed a very simple expense management process where all the approvals for the expenses claimed are automated. One of the report allows the managers to look at the executives visits and guide them about next steps (all these are recorded in the system) to be taken, where necessary. This made the communication within teams more effective.

Now all the customers€™ details are with the publishing house at a single place, structured, more meaningful and accessible anytime anywhere. Now they have huge set of structured customer€™s contacts data with them compared to before where only a very small part of these data used to be with different filed executives. Unlike earlier where some of the executives would quit towards the end of the financial year, now the management has started taking necessary actions proactively towards underperforming executives based on the their performance right from the beginning.

The subscription model (pay per user) of the solution enabled the Publishing house to increase and decrease their filed executive€™s numbers as and when needed resulting in cost effective solution. Overall, the solution developed enabled the management to do a continuous monitoring and tracking and they could also guide and motivate the sales team as and when needed.

Hybrid App using phoneGap

What is PhoneGap?

PhoneGap is a free and open source framework that allows you to create mobile apps using standardized web APIs for the platforms you care about.

http://phonegap.com/

http://phonegap.com/about/feature/

What is Apache Cordova?

Apache Cordova is a platform for building native mobile applications using HTML, CSS and JavaScript

Apache Cordova is a set of device APIs that allow a mobile app developer to access native device function such as the camera or accelerometer from JavaScript. Combined with a UI framework such as jQuery Mobile or Dojo Mobile or Sencha Touch, this allows a smartphone app to be developed with just HTML, CSS, and JavaScript

http://cordova.apache.org/

 What is the difference between PhoneGap and Apache Cordova?

In October 2011, PhoneGap was donated to the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) under the name Apache Cordova. Through the ASF, future PhoneGap development will ensure open stewardship of the project. It will remain free and open source under the Apache License, Version 2.0.

PhoneGap is an open source distribution of Cordova. Think about Cordova’s relationship to PhoneGap like WebKit’s relationship to Safari or Chrome.

 http://phonegap.com/about/faq/

http://phonegap.com/2012/03/19/phonegap-cordova-and-what%E2%80%99s-in-a-name/

 Getting Started

Go through the following links before advancing further

http://cordova.apache.org/docs/en/3.3.0/guide_overview_index.md.html#Overview

http://cordova.apache.org/docs/en/3.3.0/guide_support_index.md.html#Platform%20Support

http://cordova.apache.org/docs/en/3.3.0/guide_cli_index.md.html#The%20Command-Line%20Interface

 First decide the platform you want to start the App development, Android, IOS or some other.

Install SDKs for each platform you wish to target.

So if you decide on Android

Install Android SDK.

http://developer.android.com/sdk/index.html

 Then install node.js

http://nodejs.org/

Following installation, you should be able to invoke node or npm on your command line.

Install the Cordova utility type the following on your command line(in order to complete this successfully make sure that you have  installed platform specific SDK and node.js)

$ npm install -g cordova

NOTE: The -g flag above tells npm to install cordova globally. You may need to add the npm directory to your PATH in order to invoke globally installed npm modules. On Windows, npm can usually be found at C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\npm and on Unix at /usr/local/share/npm.

How to start with the App development next?

So here I have chosen Android platform to start App development.

In you command line go to the directory where you maintain your source code, and run a command such as the following

$ cordova create hello com.example.hello HelloWorld

The first argument specifies a hello directory to be generated for your project. Its www subdirectory houses your application's home page, along with various resources under css, js, and img, which follow common web development file-naming conventions. The config.xml file contains important metadata needed to generate and distribute the application.

The other two arguments are optional: the com.example.hello argument provides your project with a reverse domain-style identifier, and the HelloWorld provides the application's display text. You can edit both of these values later in the config.xml file.

Add Platform

Before you can build the project, you need to specify a set of target platforms.

As I have decided to go with Android I will go with the following command.

Make sure your command line is in the directory where you maintain your source code, and run  following command here  hello is the directory  generated for your project.The name hello varies on the name you have given at the time of creation of the App through command line.

$ cd hello

$ cordova platform add android

The above step prepares the project for android platform.

You should also Install JDK and JRE.

http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/java/javase/downloads/jdk7-downloads-1880260.html

You should also install Apache Ant

http://ant.apache.org/bindownload.cgi

After all this  set the following Environment Variables.

 Computer->properties->advanced Setting->Environment Variable

You could see a variable with name Path.

Click on it and edit it.

So you could see it holding a value already.

Append the path where you have copied the SDK

Suppose if you have copied and installed Android SDK in Documents then the path may look  like the following

You have to append the two paths one after the other

1. sdk\platform-tools

2. sdk\tools

Example

C:\Users\Documents\adt-bundle-windows-x86_64-20131030\sdk\platform-tools;

C:\Users\Documents\adt-bundle-windows-x86_64-20131030\sdk\tools;

Next copy the downloaded Ant files to Program Files folder and get the path and append it to the Path variable.

Example

C:\Program Files\apache-ant-1.9.2\bin.

Building the App

Run the following command to iteratively build the project

Make sure your command line is in the directory where you maintain your source code.

$ cordova build

How To take this App forward

What the above steps do for you is create a project structure for you.

You can open the above created project using Eclipse and start editing and adding new files to complete your app.

You can also include UI framework related files to the project.

 

Thanks

Pavan

Retain selected Jquery tab after postback

It was with  jquery-ui-1.10.0 I first started working with jquery tabs. Naturally I came across with this problem of retaining tabs across postbacks.

I started with searching for solutions and I found many but none of them were working for me. Reasons were some of the options were deprecated in this version. I tried with options which are not deprecated but no luck. After some struggle and frustration I managed to get a fix for this and I hope it helps.

      

 $(function () {

             $("#tabs").tabs(

                {

                    activate: function (event, ui) {

                         var selectedIndex = ui.newTab.index();

                        $('#ContentPlaceHolder1_hdntabindex').val(selectedIndex);

                     }

                });

             $("#tabs").removeClass("ui-widget")

         });

  

  $(document).ready(function () {

            var s = $('#ContentPlaceHolder1_hdntabindex').val();

            var indexToSelect = parseInt($('#ContentPlaceHolder1_hdntabindex').val());

            $("#tabs").tabs("option", "active", indexToSelect);

        });

This is simple. Capture the selected tab in the activate event. Find more about this event at

http://api.jqueryui.com/tabs/#event-activate

Keep the selected tab index in a hidden variable .This happens only if the tab is changed.

Then in the ‘document.ready’ just use the value in the hidden variable to set the tab index

This is how I managed to retain the tab index.

 

Author - Pavan (Middlepath Technology Solutions, Bangalore)

SMEs and middlepathCRM

Small and Medium Enterprises are a mystery.  Just like Indian traffic is. They are chaotic, not many people know how they work but at the end of the day it works. So far, not many people have figured out how the SMEs work. Without knowing how they work, how can we work with them? Ask anyone or check out any statistics or data, SMEs are the backbone of any economy. They are one of the biggest employers, they are one of the biggest contributors to the GDP of a nation and they are also one of the biggest exporters. So, it is pretty much a done deal that we cannot live without them.

MiddlePath Technology Solutions with the help from CARMa has decided to tackle the issue of bringing IT to the SMEs.  Now the question is, okay, we can bring the cow to the water but how do we make it drink the water. We all understand the benefits of IT. Even many of the SMEs understand the benefits of IT. But, still the IT adoption rates of SMEs are abysmal. Given the importance of SMEs to the nation and given the importance of IT to the organizations, we cannot afford to have SMEs not adopt IT. 

At a high level, this article barely scratches the surface of the big mountain of problems that are plaguing IT adoption rates of SMEs. Both IT vendors and SMEs have to work together closely to come up with innovative ideas to solve this “deadlock” situation. And make the SMEs realize the game changing benefits of deploying IT.

Given the importance of the SMEs to the economy and the nation, maybe we should take the cue from the famous poem which says that the soldier protects the very people, who protest against them, and we should go ahead and help SMEs adopt IT in spite of their reluctance for the same.

As a first step, MiddlePath Technology Solutions under the guidance of CARMa has started developing solutions for the SME segment.  We have tried to consider various pain points of SMEs while developing IT solutions for SMEs. Highly qualified professionals with lots of experience and International exposure have come together at MiddlePath Technology Solutions to develop IT solutions for SMEs. We have made it a part of our development process that, even people who have never used computers in their lives before should be able to learn and start using our products in the minimum amount of time with minimum amount of training. We are developing the IT solutions for SMEs from scratch so that we don’t repeat the same mistake of customizing the solution originally built for bigger organizations. Our guiding principle and value system is to be transparent and ethical in all our transactions. Most important of all, we want to do all these at competitive prices. We understand that the road we have chosen has been taken by many other entrepreneurs before us with little success.

First off the block is a Sales Force Automation product which has been developed considering all the pain points we understand from the SME sector. To make it more affordable for the SMEs or as our mentor Nandini says, “With cloud option, IT is no longer capital expenditure but revenue expenditure” our product is available on cloud. Next we are in the process of developing full-fledged CRM system for SMEs. And in the long run we want to develop complete suite of products for SMEs including the whole ERP so that our long term objective of improving the IT adoption rates at SMEs for a better economy and for a better nation are met.

Now that YOU have read this long and winding article spending your most valuable time, YOU are also invested in our lofty objective.  Please tell me, how we can work with you to achieve our objective. Please check us out at www.middlepathts.com or feel free to contact us at "info@middlepathts.com"  better yet, call us at +91-9901815240.

And please spread this message as we fully understand that the objective we are trying to achieve cannot be reached with only our team at MiddlePath Technology Solutions working on it alone, without all kinds of help and support from many more people and teams like yours.

I sign off with my one last favorite quote from my hero Mr. Spock from Star Trek, “Live Long and Prosper”.

Right CRM Solutions for SMEs

Are Indian SMEs ready for the whole 9 yards of total CRM solution? Many SMEs do not even have an IT department. To them, does the total CRM solution including all the bells and whistles make sense? Or should they go in for only those solutions that solve their current pain points. In a world where future is given so much prominence, can theSMEs go in for solutions which solve their current problems without any overheads or should they go in for full-fledged CRM solutions as they might solve future problems which the companies are yet to come across. 

This is really a tricky situation for SMEs. On the one hand, they have to balance their work force who may not be very IT savvy and on the other hand, they have to look out for future problems. When the rubber hits the road what is actually important? I take the contrarian view and propose that the SME companies go for bare minimum simple systems that solve their current problems. One needs to consider various factors like, what are the skill levels of their employees,how much of an IT maturity that their organization has, whether they can bite off more than they can chew with their ITsystems. There are instances where some of the employees of the SMEs searching for the specific keys on thecomputer keyboard especially those from the older generation and those from the rural areas. Combine employee skill level challenges with the infrastructure challenges our country has with respect to availability of internet connectivityin the hinterland, speed of the bandwidth available, etc. We have a solid case for recommending SMEs to not go for abigger system than they currently need. With cloud computing, this case becomes even stronger as the SMEs are not constrained by hardware and software. 

And with cloud computing SMEs do not even have any initial investment. Pick and choose the best fit software that solves their current problems and as and when they face new challenges, if the software they are using has not grown with them and does not meet the latest challenges, they have the option of choosing a software which meets their needs.  Most of the vendors are offering migration support, it should not be a big deal to move from one software to another unlike in olden days. In fact, in olden days the migration was difficult for the very reason that the software being used was bloated with unwanted features and functions. Only big hurdle could be the training of these not so skilled employees of SMEs. With most of the vendors offering online videos for training, it is not very difficult for the SMEs to move on to bigger and better software on a need basis rather than going in for one to start with which may tilt the scale more towards the failure of IT adoption at SMEs. 

This is what I feel the best foot forward for the SMEs in adopting IT solutions to solve their business problems. I will be more than happy if you the reader of this article can take up this discussion further in enforcing my observation or you can justify otherwise. Overall it allows the SME users to understand various view points and choose the one that agrees to what rings in their brain as true. 

You can check out the simplicity and only what is absolutely required functionality for SMEs in our software middlepathCRM at 'www.middlepathts.com'  Feel free to leave a comment on this blog or contact us at "info@middlepathts.com

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