xamun

Xamun Release Notes - Corporate Edition

Xamun Features List

Xamun Corporate edition is now available! Read more about how Xamun incorporates the art of collaboration in the consulting business.

 

My Day

My Day is a feature of Xamun that lets you create, monitor and manage your daily business activities, tasks, and schedule. Manage your daily weekly tasks and have it readily assigned or approved. Monitor your business end by viewing your billable and non-billable tasks via the individual team member feature.

Contacts Management

This feature will help you in the basic set up of your contact management. Create and easily sort through your contact profiles. Integrate your LinkedIn account and synch your public contacts in Xamun. Same goes for synching and importation of contacts from MS Outlook and Constant Contact. Better manage your contacts by customizing groups according to your preference.

Support Management

Support Management is your ticketing application within Xamun. Create, manage, and assign tickets to the parties involved and attach files to support ticket requests. You can also archive ticket history for later reference.

Personal Dashboard

Set up your personal account information and settings in Xamun’s personal dashboard. Share messages, links, files, and tag comments with like or dislike on threads among team members and networks.

Your personal dashboard connects you to all the aspects of your business including leaves and training. Monitor the team’s organizational chart; receive training schedule notifications; track personal and team evaluations; and monitor their leaves and training.

Tenant Management

With Tenant Management, you can now set up and update your company information. Detail out your company departments, position, employment status, and initial employee information listing.

License Management

In this section, you can see your license acquisition and billing information update. Monitor and manage your available licenses and allocate, assign or reassign them accordingly.

Client Management Setup

In Client Management Setup, you can lay down your preferred sales processes and methods and your sales business rules and workflow. Define target quotas and incentives per individual or team.

Client

The Client module is your customer relationship management application in Xamun. For this release, you can now use lead management, opportunity management, account management, sales management, sales contract management, and sales invoice management.


Resource

The Resource module will enable you to access your Human Resource data. In this release you can access the following sections:

  • Employee Master File Management
  • Time off Management
  • Recruitment Management
  • Resource Skills Training Management
  • Employee Performance Evaluation and Management
  • Resource Package Adjustments and Movement

Resource Management Setup

This section will help you in establishing resource organizational information and structure; managing resource business rules and workflow; and defining your resource settings and standards.

Projects

Projects module is your project management application that helps you in performing your tasks in the most efficient way possible. Included in this release are the following functions:

  • Project dashboard monitoring
  • Project progress management
  • Project resource request or assignment
  • Task management (individual, team view)
  • Task board management
  • Milestone, release management
  • Impediments management
  • Leaves management
  • Timesheet management
  • Contacts management

Project  Management Setup

This section allows you to establish project type, methodology, task estimation, cycle, duration, work hours, main contacts, and initial velocity.

Strategy Management

The Strategy management section is integrated to four applications. Finance will allow you to view and monitor the Profit and Loss graph. For this release, you can now integrate the finance module to your existing Xero account.

Access the client module through Strategy and monitor your opportunity and accounts pipeline. You can also view your Projects and Resource modules. For this release you can monitor your project progress, resource recruitment view and resource position headcount.

Resource Allocation

Resource allocation allows you to monitor and manage resource requirements, match projects to resources according to availability and skills, monitor and manage resource utilization by position, view resource performance evaluation and initiate resource recruitment.

Get heard on Xamun with Get Satisfaction!

Get Satisfaction is known as a customer community software platform that caters to customer-centric discussions and information exchange. In its conception, it showed results of customers wanting to help each other out by answering questions, posting queries and offering suggestions.

As a business solution, Xamun found GetSat to be an intuitive and friendly environment that in turn reflects our philosophy as a company. Such philosophies that mirror ours are: receptiveness to opinions and ideas, transparency in discussions, and providing simplified answers to complex questions. If you’re following our twitter feed, you’ll see that we’ve housed a more elaborate FAQ section on GetSat where you can post follow up questions and discuss best practices on approaching certain roadblocks. The community is up and being maintained by our earnest Support Team and we will continually build other sections such as videos, tutorials, etc.

You don’t have to sign up for Get Satisfaction although it is greatly recommended especially if you like to proactively participate in the community. You can easily log in with your Twitter, Facebook, Google Account, Windows Live, and OpenID and you can already start posting!

We like to hear what you want to see on Xamun’s Get Satisfaction community. We hope to see you there!

Xamun versus ERP

As we launch Xamun in the market, there a lot of speculations that it is just another ERP system trying to compete with other cloud-based solutions. Well, we want to prove you wrong. There are probably quite a few similarities but there still lies a huge difference between the two. Some similarities are:

  • Both integrate multiple applications that helps in managing and executing the different activities and processes in the business
  • Both are flexible and modular
  • Both streamline processes and workflows
  • Both improve efficiency, performance and productivity
  • Both effortlessly communicates data among the different departments
  • Both enhance tracking and forecasting in the organization

Major differences are:

  • Xamun is focused on the consulting industry while ERP is for manufacturing and supply chains
  • Xamun is on-demand while ERP systems are mostly on-premise
  • Xamun is simple to use while ERP is complex and requires extensive trainings
  • Xamun is easy and quick to implement while ERP takes up to years of implementation time
  • Xamun gives higher and faster ROI while ERP gives other wise
  • Xamun’s features are industry-specific while ERP has so much but not all are relevant to an organization
  • Xamun has rich user interface while ERP looks mundane

The things listed are just some of the things you need to watch out for on the upcoming Xamun. Don’t just judge it, use it and experience how we prove it!

Originally posted here.

Project Management Software for Consultants and Freelancers: Is it enough?

Project management is one of the central cohesive sources of support of project managers and consultants alike. If the project is the heart, project management methodology is the process that maintains and sustains the project. Luckily enough, the present market provides project management software that help consultants on achieving essential activities, deadlines, and tasks that need to be delivered. The question though is that are their requirement boundaries meeting the consultants’ needs?

There are approximately 140 project management software available in the present market, most focusing on functionality like collaboration, scheduling and other threshold features. They mostly meet the basic essentials of project management but are those all that they need? Among the 140, 87% are designed for collaboration, 82% run online, and 67% are developed with issue-tracking systems. Other features include Schedule Management (76%), Resource Management (72%), and Document Management (75%) while license types fall evenly on proprietary, SaaS, and open-source.

Recent trends are now considering interface as a basic requirement for effective project management software along with easy navigation and project status overview; providers like Basecamp and Teamwork offer satisfying results for project consultants who work in the corporate segment. But this only reaches the project maintenance part. How about freelancers who require a network of community for opportunities? Project maintenance is one thing but sustainability is another. It’s great that they can manage their projects but the business side is left bare.

This is where social network integration comes in. We know that communication within the team is vital to project management but joining networks to reach out to clients and prospects is equally important. Integrating social network and leveraging on its power will help in this evolution. And with that, expect the additional task of tracking and updating leads and no other apps seem to be offering that kind of package. There is also the headache of feeling segmented; sure there is the option of integration but the stress of jumping among apps and getting lost on tabs is a pain. What’s also missing is the function to be able to gauge skill standards and a similarly important part of the business aspect, billing and invoicing. To put it safely, the signs are here: in the future of a strengthening consulting industry, the rising number of freelancers, and the cloud migration, there is a genuine need of converging these needs in a single platform where freelancers and consultants alike can optimize their benefits.

Use of CRM in Improving Customer Experience

CRM or Customer Relationship Management is a solution geared towards effective management and relationship building and strengthening with clients, customers and sales prospects. It is a tool that organizes, automates, and synchronizes business processes. Experts have recommended that using CRM software is a tool to improve customer experience.

Here are some key highlights on how CRM improves CX:

  • Systematic process of passing leads and service requests – Through this CRM attribute, no lead gets lost, everything gets in the system and if the lead becomes unqualified, it will still be kept as reference. This way, no bridges are being burnt.
  • CRM keeps track of your appointments, follow-up calls, and discussion logs – Being updated results to work efficiency and minimal cost which will benefit both you and your client.
  • CRM captures customer and prospect interaction (from customer issues to important notes, alerts, scheduling of tasks etc.). Being on the same page with your client improves customer experience.
  • CRM helps you in personalizing the customer experience – Incorporating your CRM software with the entire company will help you in studying customer behavior. Keeping track of your client information, not just on the surface will help you in attending to what they need and want.
  • Some CRM software such as Xamun offer Resource Allocation and Billing which provides the required resource billing info to make dynamic and effective proposals.
  • Xamun also has a partial/installation payment terms which makes the payment terms and processes flexible in accordance to the need of the client.
  • CRM also provides better profiling and customer targeting.

The features stated above are just few of the offerings Xamun CRM has in store for you. To learn more about CRM and its features, check out Xamun.

How to Choose the Right CRM for your Business Part I

Along with the birth of the consulting industry and its continuous rise on the economic ladder is the convergence of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions in the market. CRM or Customer Relationship Management is a solution geared towards effective management and relationship building and strengthening with clients, customers and sales prospects. It is a tool that organizes, automates, and synchronizes business processes.

Acquiring a CRM solution is an investment for the consulting industry, therefore, acquiring the best solution is an important task. A CRM solution is a vital aid in discovering new customers and keeping in touch with prospective clients; increasing customer and sales revenue; effective selling of related and/or premium products; and simplifying marketing and sales processes.

Here are a few helpful tips on choosing the right CRM solution for your business:

Identify the needs and wants of your company.

When your company’s number one need is acquiring a CRM solution, a critical eye is needed on choosing one because a hasty decision can cause a negative implication on your company. An efficient and thorough research will help.

Choose a solution provider that is innovative and adaptive.

As always, research is the key. Read about the partner’s history and testimonials. Consider their experiences, customer services and product innovations. Choose a provider that will be able to adapt to the dynamic demands of your business and evaluate them accordingly. Remember, you don’t need a vendor, you want a partner.

Xamun Clientage is innovative and adaptive to the dynamic needs of a consulting company. Xamun’s manageable drag and drop dashboard features sales forecast, sales pipeline, activity scheduler, a chat facility and status update and ticketing. No more complicated features and confusing menu selection. By using Xamun, you will breeze through the magic of experience. Read more about Xamun CRM features here.

(To be continued)

So the question or the inspiration that has been going around in my mind for sometime is, what is that magic that Apple brought into iPhone and iPad that others in the industry missed. Admittedly they made a great hardware, but it’s not the hardware, or not hardware alone that makes the product irresistible. It is the ‘magic of software’, the User Experience or UX that makes it different. The transitions, the easy to use functions, and the ease of finding what you want without having to get drowned in 50 other things, the color, the candy like buttons with wonderful sounds – that’s what makes it irresistible. The hardware is there for support.
—  Arup Maity via Thoughts & Prejudice
Xamun Clientage Goes Global

BlastAsia, Inc. CEO, Arup Maity attended the Microsoft World Partner Conference (WPC), held at Washington, D.C. from 11 to 15 July 2010. WPC is an annual premier conference held for Microsoft partners for them to experience Microsoft’s latest product innovations and solutions and learn new skills that will improve their performance for their clients.

According to Arup Maity, “It was great to visit Microsoft World Partner Conference and get a view and comparison of other CRM and products for service industry.” He noted that most existing solutions are complex to learn, navigate and use.

This puts Xamun on its best light, offering its ground-breaking features. An excerpt from his blog would best explain it:

So the question or the inspiration that has been going around in my mind for sometime is, what is that magic that Apple brought into iPhone and iPad that others in the industry missed. Admittedly they made a great hardware, but it’s not the hardware, or not hardware alone that makes the product irresistible. It is the ‘magic of software’, the User Experience or UX that makes it different. The transitions, the easy to use functions, and the ease of finding what you want without having to get drowned in 50 other things, the color, the candy like buttons with wonderful sounds – that’s what makes it irresistible. The hardware is there for support.

Maity and the Xamun team believe that the magic of software is in the user experience, not in the complexity of the architecture and codes or the depth of configurable functions that most software engineers take proud of. Taking it from Occam’s razor by philosopher William Occam, “Entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity”. Contrary to popular belief, “keeping our head in the cloud” is not just a dream. It is Xamun that will bring and keep the magic alive. As concluded in the Microsoft WPC 2010 conference, the cloud industry is moving in. Data shows that more than 3,000 partners migrated their business to the cloud in 2010 and more than 10,000 customers and 5,000 applications are ready to deploy on Windows Azure, a top-of-the-line security program that Xamun uses. Joe Matz, corporate vice president of Worldwide Licensing and Pricing at Microsoft said, “As the cloud becomes more and more compelling to businesses, our goal for the foreseeable future is to embrace this trend with our partners, evolve our licensing programs accordingly and continue to evangelize the cloud as a shared opportunity for success and reinvention.” Go here to read more about Xamun CRM and its security feature  or Xamun’s official website. Xamun is also active on Tumblr. Don’t forget to follow us here.

References: Arup Maity Official Blog; Wordpress. Accessed on 23 July 2010  WPC 2010: Microsoft Celebrates Partner Opportunities in the Cloud, Showcases Innovations in Licensing and Financing; Microsoft.com Accessed on 23 July 2010

6

September 9, 2011— BLASTASIA INC receives the Microsoft Partner Technical Champion of the Year along with nominations for two other categories including Microsoft Solution of the Year. Along with this new achievement, BAI is also a Microsoft Gold Web Development and Silver Midmarket Solution Provider Partner.

The Microsoft Annual Partner Network (MPN) Summit and Awards Night was held in Executive Lounge, Marriott Hotel which honors partner companies who have contributed forward business motions in delivering Microsoft solutions.

BlastAsia, represented by CEO Arup Maity, is now on the works of releasing Xamun, an online business management and collaboration platform made specifically for consultants.

Congratulations BAI! Click here for more photos!

The Magic of User Experience with Microsoft Silverlight

Before the dawn of the internet and the influx of websites which now caters to everything and anything thinkable or otherwise, the word user experience or UX hasn’t been heard of. However, UX has always been embedded in the business culture. UX isn’t always about technology. It can also refer to people’s experience with a cup, a shopping cart or an airport. The word user experience was initially spread by a user experience architect Donald Norman in the mid-1990s and is now closely related to a customer or client’s experience on a website.

User experience is defined by the User Experience Network as the quality of experience a person has when interacting with a specific design, system or application. UX in a technological aspect mainly focuses on the human-computer interaction (HCI) through the elements of experience, affectivity, meaning and aesthetic value. UX is also based on a person’s subjectivity such as utility ease of use, and efficiency of the system.

Incorporating UX’s philosophy, software giant Microsoft released Silverlight, a ground breaking development platform for creating rich media and business applications for the web and mobile devices. Silverlight is a free downloadable plug-in that runs on a .NET framework that is compatible across multiple browsers to bring a new level of interactivity wherever the Web works.

Below is a promotional video of Microsoft Silverlight:

Silverlight functions as a tool for the UX team to ensure that the project is at par with UX’s criteria. Silverlight also aides in the ease of use or usability of the application, in the information design or the intuitiveness of the features, the structure rendered by the information architect, the visual aesthetic or design, and its functionality.

According to Renlester de Guzman, an in-house software engineer, the technology brought by Silverlight ultimately advocates the wonders of user experience. From a developer’s aspect, Silverlight also improves the presentation of the application and creates an exciting and challenging atmosphere for developers. John Vinny Marquez, also an in-house software engineer, elaborates on Silverlight’s flexibility and the use of vector graphics. Marquez coins Silverlight in a philosophy of “Think it, you can do it.” The breakthrough of Silverlight erases limitations on the creative process and being true to its advocacy, Silverlight also brings the ease of use because of its integrated framework.

As developers, both Marquez and de Guzman adopt the UX philosophy and apply it, as seen in the whole Xamun application. Finding the balance of needs between business and technology and the use of Silverlight, Xamun offers user manageability on both quantitative and qualitative level without sacrificing its aesthetic value. According to Marquez, as an element of UX, Xamun’s user interface takes UX in another level. Xamun’s UX, through Silverlight, is manageable with additional flare of design details without the over use of technology and unnecessary pages, no distracting features that will derail the user’s thought process and intuitive functions that minimizes the need for technical trainings.

User Experience is in itself a process. Xamun advocates the magic of experience and for the team, this is a continual and progressing process: learning and catering to the needs of users and innovating services.

References: User Experience Best Practices

8

In line with BlastAsia Inc., CEO Arup Maity’s birthday party, we also took time to gather and celebrate our annual midyear Acquaintance Party where we welcomed new members of BAI family and took a moment to thank everyone for their continuous inspirational work!

Congratulations and Happy Birthday Sir Arup!

UX: A factor in the productivity formula

Can you imagine if we are still building homes, buildings, and infrastructures the same way our ancestors did millions of years ago? How about finishing a dissertation using a typewriter or sending an important message via telegraph? It’s laborious but something gets done. However, compared to today’s fast paced lifestyle, what gets done isn’t enough. Businesses today don’t just go for quantity there has to be quality. Some companies settle for quality solely. How about having both? User experience is an important factor for increased productivity that is believed to have been forgotten – or completely disregarded.

The last article featured UX or user experience and how it is both a process and a philosophy and more often, when user experience is mentioned, it automatically brings out the image of a client or customer. This brings us to the other end of the process: the employee or the person who develops an application, system or design. An employee’s interaction with a system is highly relative to the quality and quantity of one’s productivity. An inferior UX will limit an employee’s productivity.

Here are some criteria that should be considered in order to incorporate UX to an employee’s productivity:

  1. Usability – Does the employee find the system, design or application easy to use? Why complicate it when you can find something that is practical, easy and of high quality.
  2. Intuitive – Offering an application that has intuitive features doesn’t only increase the employee’s productivity but it also lessens your expenses on technical trainings.
  3. Structure – Is the content (text, multimedia, images) of the application, system or design well put? The structure of the information and content must be well-balanced.  The content must be logical and must cater to the goals of the user. The content must also be up-to-date and accurate. The overuse of these elements could be a distraction for the user and could cause set back.
  4. Visual design – The overall design of the application should be aesthetically pleasing and it should encourage and entice the employee.
  5. Functionality –Make sure that the application is not cluttered. Some websites or applications have unnecessary pages and “functions” that are not needed. Having extras on an application can be confusing and interacting with loose functions can be time consuming.

For a writer like me, using Microsoft Word over other document software is more favorable because of its usability and intuitive functions. I can comfortably sort and write articles, compartmentalize topics, and do research compared to the traditional process that is confusing and limiting. Another scenario would be for developers who are now leaning towards Silverlight because of the business and technological balance that it offers.

In reflection, UX does not solely depend on the UX team alone; when the company adapts the philosophy of UX, it will also mirror its core value: finding a balance among its criteria which leads to the holistic development and increased productivity of the whole company.

Protection through Prevention

Protecting your CRM data from security threats

Flickr.com | carbonnyc - David Goehring

A consultant’s assets and strengths lie on the knowledge and information that they have and protecting these is as crucial as making sales or garnering prospective clients. As technology advances it also seems that data security threats have been progressing as well. However, challenges like these can’t be fully avoided but it can be prevented.

Being prepared for common data security threats like viruses, hackers, and natural calamities that would definitely affect your customer performance and processes is important. Here are some suggestions that can help you effectively prevent data security threats from getting on to your confidential CRM data.

For traditional and on-premise solutions the usual security threat encounters include server or hardware malfunctions. For this challenge, it is important to consider its “age” The older the hardware, the higher the chance that it will experience failure like most technological equipment. The system’s unavailability lags the accessibility to the CRM data which in turn would affect the marketing and sales processes. To help maintain the availability of the CRM data, a continuous monitoring and having a back up or mirrored environment would ensure the smooth flow of performance from your solution.

To prevent hackers and other types of people who commit cyber crimes from stealing information from your company is by tightening security on private and confidential information such as credit card or social security numbers. You can do this by applying security techniques such as multiple levels of authentication and role-based login verification which highly occur on traditional solutions; adding spy-ware, mal-ware, anti-virus software packages, data encryption, and firewalls can also be of help.

Natural calamities are sudden and avoidable. It is best to always be prepared because disasters like fires, floods, earthquakes etc., can immensely set back a company. Having back-ups of your CRM data and uploading it to a server or data storage device in an off-site location is recommended for easy information restoration if the servers are destroyed.

On web-based solutions, it’s best to work with your solutions partner and have the safety measures laid out according to the needs of your company. Having a web-based solution is fast and accessible but this type is also prone to hacking. Consider the type of anti-virus that they use and that they offer individual servers. It is also important to immediately contact clients to inform them if ever a hacking ensued. The technological advances of today make it possible for a SaaS solution to minimize security threats. Having encryption and secure sockets layer, firewalls and government approved certificate authority ensures a tight-security web solution. The latest top of the line security applications used on the market for web-based solutions is  Windows Azure.

For additional and related readings, you can go to: CRM Systems and the Data Protection Act

Xamun Concept Launch on WPC

The month of July is just around the corner and we are more than excited to finally introduce the first and the only enterprise solution built for the consultancies. As we all know, July 15 of 2010 is the soft concept launch of Xamun. In accordance to this, we have lined up a few events for the product launching and one of these is the upcoming Microsoft World Partner Conference to be held in Washington, D.C. on July 11-15, 2010.

The WPC is an annual event gathering all Microsoft partners around the world to attend forums and learn more about the new programs, strategies and cutting-edge technologies of Microsoft. This event is just perfect to officially introduce this one of a kind solution to other Microsoft Partners.

Click here to learn more about this event.

Originally posted here

3

22 March 2012. Held at SM Megamall Megatrade 3, Microsoft Philippines launched its 3 day event dubbed as the Microsoft Innovation Universe that focused on bringing together some of the country’s top IT vendors as well as established and up-and-coming innovators. 2012’s feature included innovation booths showcase, technology breakout sessions, and latest gadgets and hardware from Microsoft Partners.

Voted by WHO DUNN I.T. attendees, Xamun grabbed the Best Innovator Booth award as they presented their latest cloud innovation. Xamun, a consulting management software and marketplace, is an online business solution geared towards enabling consultants into mobilizing their work and giving them the freedom to choose when to work and where to work. Bracketing the consulting process, Xamun is made up of four tools that aids in solving usual business pains: Client for customer relationship management, Project for PM, Resource for HR, and Strategy, a decision support system that projects data from the three modules in one view to help you track the health status of your overall work.

For more information, you can visit Xamun's website.