Software Companies: Generate New Revenue Streams and Decrease Costs with Custom e-Learning Content
It's no secret that software companies operate in a very competitive space where rivalry is increasingly fierce and where profit margins can be razor thin. New, smaller software companies are sprouting up each month and the leading software companies continually make strong advancements forward leveraging massive cash flow reserves. This cycle makes it difficult for the mid-sized software company to compete because (a) they don't typically have the cash flow necessary to take giant leaps forward in the industry and (b) because they need to continually move forward to stay ahead of the smaller software companies that are vying for their slot in the marketplace. Consequently, making the jump from an unknown to a mainstream brand can prove to be very difficult for the mid-sized software company.
Finding ways to create new revenue streams and to decrease current costs is imperative to the success of companies caught in this cycle. They need to be thinking on their feet, thinking ahead and thinking creatively, all at the same time. This can be a daunting task, as any software executive will tell you.
Despite all of the challenges that face the mid-sized software market, there are several ways to create these much needed revenue streams and to decrease current costs. New advancements in technology and its use in training and development make generating these revenue streams possible.
Setting the Stage
It is almost taken for granted that when an organization purchases a software package from a reputable vendor, a certain amount of end-user, customer training will be either bundled into the purchase price or made available to them for an additional cost. If training isn't available to the end-user customer, the learning curve on the new software package is going to be fairly steep, depending on the complexity of the software.
Typical training expense categories associated with most mid-sized software companies include:
1. The salaries of offline trainers
These expenses should be under a watchful eye and should be consistently viewed as expenses that could be alleviated to some degree to not only improve the company's attractiveness in competitive bid situations but to increase the profit margins of the supplemental training services provided by the company.
At the same time, in the background, mid-sized software companies should be looking for ways to create new revenue streams that they aren't currently capitalizing on to work in collaboration with their cost-reduction initiative.
Step 1: Lowering Training Costs Using Custom e-Learning Content
The first step to any well laid-out cost-reduction plan is to decrease the costs the organization currently incurs in order to get a better handle on profit potential from sheer cost savings. Previously we outlined what our target cost categories are?now we're going to lower the costs associated with those categories by leveraging custom e-Learning content.
Take this scenario: A mid-sized software company that develops intranet portal systems currently employs 3 trainers that are onsite with clients for end-user training 3 days per engagement and they each average approximately 50 engagements per year for a grand total of 150 days on the road per trainer or 450 days on the road collectively.
For these trainers, the onsite training program for the end-user customer may look something like the following:
Day 1: Software Introduction and Primary Functions
Lowering the costs: By leveraging custom e-Learning content, the company used in the above scenario, can effectively reduce the onsite time required for each trainer, thereby reducing all costs associated with the training program across the board.
By using a professionally designed, self-paced, custom e-Learning module to focus on the Software Introduction and Primary Functions training that normally occurs on Day 1 and then delivering that learning module online to their end-user customers at the time of purchase through an e-Learning Management System (LMS), this company could decrease travel time for all 3 trainers by 1 day per engagement. This would decrease travel time for each trainer by 50 days per year, or 150 days collectively during the year. In addition the end-user customers will already be familiar with the software package before the trainers ever set foot in the front door.
This would successfully:
Enable the company's trainers to perform more training engagements OR enable the company to decrease the number of in-house trainers it employs.
Taking it one step further: Reducing each trainers travel schedule by 1 day is good, but it isn't good enough. Software companies employing this cost-reduction method should take it one step further to enhance their end-user customer's experience. They need to make sure that their end-user customers are learning what they need to know to ensure time isn't being wasted covering the same topics when the trainer visits the customer site in-person.
To do this, the software company needs to look at how they plan to deliver the online training to their end-user customers. They will want to make sure that the end-user customers can track and manage the online training portion of their sessions, whether it is self-paced custom e-Learning content or real-time online trainer/student collaboration. Selecting this delivery platform can be difficult but it should include the following basic functions:
1. Student Knowledge Assessments
By selecting a delivery platform that addresses all four of these facets of end-user customer training, the mid-sized software company can not only decrease their own costs but enhance their client/vendor relationship by delivering more than what is normally expected or experienced in today's software market. What's the bottom line? The customer is pleased with their user's performance and the value they received from the software company.
Step 2: Creating Revenue Using Custom e-Learning Content
Now that we have lowered our costs, the company needs to look at how they can use their new learning technology to generate new revenue streams for their organization.
Take this scenario: The mid-sized intranet portal software company used in the scenario above now has their own proprietary basic end-user e-Learning module to cover 1 day's worth of what was previously onsite training. The company has effectively reduced their overall, offline training costs. Now it is looking for ways to generate new revenue streams using this technology to (a) make back their initial purchase costs and to (b) create more profit potential for the entire organization.
Creating the revenue: One way for a mid-sized software company, such as the one we're using in our example, to create this much needed revenue stream is to create subsequent, more advanced, self-paced, custom e-Learning training modules. Attractively priced, these learning modules could be made available to their end-user customers online without incurring any additional offline training costs.
In order to do this efficiently and without incurring additional offline training costs, the company needs to make it easy for the end-user customer to purchase the more advanced training content and make it easy for the end-user customer to track their own learners as they attend the training courses so they can readily see its effectiveness. By investing the money today to build the more advanced, custom e-Learning content, this mid-sized software company could realize profits from the training modules within 12 to 24 months once they begin marketing and selling it to their existing client base. Such profits would be dependent on development timeframes, how they market their new training service and their chosen modes of delivery.
Taking it one step further: Making the more advanced e-Learning content convincing and attractive to purchase from the client standpoint takes some ingenuity. People are very susceptible to purchasing something that is located right next to the checkout lane at Target. Similarly, it stands to reason that client of this mid-sized software company will be more apt to purchase additional e-Learning content if it is readily available to them and if they can purchase it without any hassle.
One way to accomplish this is to publish the new, more advanced, self-paced e-Learning modules to the company's LMS portal and then make the modules available for purchase via credit card using e-Commerce or via standard invoice with a single phone call. This essentially acts as the product stands we all see at Target next to the checkout lane. Since everyone needs to pass through checkout lane, it makes sense to put additional products available for purchase there. In other words, if the mid-sized software company is delivering portions of their beginner training program online to their end-user customers, this more advanced e-Learning content should be available for purchase right next to those basic training modules, thus, increasing its visibility and increasing the attractiveness to buy from the client perspective.
The Completed Solution
Because of the tight software market and the strain put on mid-sized software companies to perform, if these companies can decrease the costs associated with their current training programs and create new revenue streams at the same time, it becomes a win/win situation both for the vendor and for the customer. The software company gains a competitive edge and continues to move forward while the client gains an easy-to-engage training program and added value from their software vendor.
Synapse SE Staff Contributor
For questions about this article, please contact:
Shawn Torkelson, Synapse SE, 612.501.2620, www.synapse-se.com
Microsoft Great Plains: exchange & brokerage ? implementation notes
If you company is small or mid-size special products or materials exchange broker, you probably have custom in-house made exchange application. Nowadays exchange is done over the internet, so you might have advanced web-based exchange application. Microsoft Business Solutions Great Plains could play the role of the backend: accounting, sales and purchasing ordering, backordering, allocation, collection. In this case we expect tight integration between your exchange application and Great Plains. In this small article we consider industry / market niche specifics and the ways to realize these requirements:
What You Must Know About Spyware Right Now
Spyware is like the new technological nuclear weapon on the internet. Spyware can not only damage the health of your computer but it can also steal your personal identity other personal information. Spyware is software that is hidden inside legitimate downloads that you come across on the internet. An example would be the growing number of file sharing programs and free mobile ring tone advertisements that you come across on the internet. If you have teenagers in your household, it's imperative that they know the dangers of using these programs as what takes 2 minutes to download and listen to, can take a good few hours to remove the damage left behind after being infected with spyware.
SyncUp ? A File/Folder Synchronizer For Windows
SyncUp, a file synchronizer is designed to assist the home and advanced users. The product has a simple and familiar windows explorer type interface for easy file handling. Further, the Scan Results provides a detailed preview of the files for synchronization.
Basic Tips and tricks for Windows XP
Running Applications in Compatibility Mode With Windows XP, you can run programs as if though they were being run under a different operating system. (This is known as "emulation".) Simply right-click a shortcut, select "Properties" and then check "Run in compatibility mode" and select the operating system you wish to make the program believe it is being run under. This fools or tricks the program into thinking you are really using a previous version of Windows, such as NT, 2000, 98, or 95. This is especially useful for certain games that won't run properly. Be careful *not* to use this with certain system utilities, such as antivirus, defrag, registry, and disk tool applications.
MCP Market News: Microsoft SQL Server & SQL Reporting Services
Are you ready? SQL Server 2005, the next-generation data management and analysis software from Microsoft, will deliver increased scalability, availability, and security to enterprise data and analytical applications. SQL Server 2000 Reporting Services is a comprehensive, server-based reporting solution that can author, manage, and deliver both paper-oriented and interactive, Web?based reports.
Microsoft Great Plains - Typical Problems And Fixes ? Overview For IT Administrators
How to delete the user? This is the first problem you encounter - when user shuts down the computer - Great Plains doesn't have the command to log off the user and when user tries to login the next day - she gets error message that user is already logged on. The fix:
How to Evaluate Staffing Software
If you are in the market for new staffing software, I suspect that one of the most daunting of tasks will be to sift through the many vendors that are now servicing the staffing industry.
Does Microsoft have any real competition?
Does Microsoft Have any Real Competition? Copyright (c) 2003 Gregory S. Diehl In a word, yes.
Screenshots Vista Windows
Features Additionally, Vista will include many other new features.
History of Java
The java programming language is becoming more and more popular each day. It is the language without which one cannot even hope to a land a job these days. But has somebody even wondered how this language came about? There are many stories about, many books have been written. Here is my version (not approved by Sun Microsystems).
Microsoft C# vs. VB.Net
Not All Project Management Software is Created Equal
The purpose of Project Management Software is to provide an environment in which a group of people can work together on joint projects. Most projects involve the development and implementation of new ideas, and these ideas have to be presented, evaluated, and revised.
Linux Dual Boot-How To Format
Just the thought of a duel-boot scares many people away, but over the years it's developed into an easier process. Most people are running Windows, so I'm assuming it's your choice of preference:
OEComplete ? A Personal Information Manager
OEComplete is a utility for managing the personal information of the user. It is designed to be flexible and affordable even for the home user. OEComplete allows setting up appointments and tasks, and creates notes for easy reference. Recurrence, reminders and attachment enhance the competence in addition to import and export facility.
Microsoft Great Plains Upgrade ? Version 8.0 Overview for IT Director/Controller
If you have Microsoft Great Plains as main accounting and ERP system you need to know some technical details on Great Plains version upgrade and what is going on behind the scenes, which options do you have in case of Dexterity, VBA, SQL customizations, ctree/Pervasive migration to MS SQL/MSDE. As of right now it is reasonable to upgrade to Microsoft Great Plains 8.0 Is upgrade required? Not actually, but you have to consider these factors ? Technical Support discontinuation - the old version may not be supported - currently if you are on version 6.0 - support is already discontinued. You can not have Microsoft Business Solutions help you, but obviously you have MBS partners who can still help you. If you are on Ctree or Pervasive SQL, then your support expires December, 31 2004. ? Tax Updates/Magnetic media expiration - if you have US Payroll module and depend on it with W2 and other forms - you must stay with the version, which is supported and has tax updates. If you are on Ctree or Pervasive SQL - then you will not have tax updates for these platforms at the end of 2004 and your W2s maybe inaccurate. If you have a lot of employees - you may have issues with government.? Following the Technology and Microsoft rules - Microsoft wants you to be on the newest platform and provides you the best support when you follow this rule? If you do have heavy customization - we recommend you to skip one version, for example if you are on version 7.5 - do not upgrade to 8.0 and wait for the next version What is upgrade in the language of technology? Upgrade has server and client sides. ? Server side - upgrade converts tables from old format to the new one. In general words - Microsoft Business Solutions developers may change table structure, append additional fields to add new functionality, things like that. Upgrade copies the table with changes to temporary table, then drops original table, recreates it with new structure and copies all the data from temp table to the newly created one. ? Workstation side - workstation is written in Great Plains Dexterity and has Dynamics.exe - engine and DYNAMICS.DIC - dictionary. These two plus all the additional files will be replaced with the new ones. Other dictionaries, such us REPORTS.DIC and FORMS.DIC should be also upgraded and upgrade will try to deal with them automatically. In some cases modified reports (in REPORTS.DIC) could not be upgraded and need to be recreated in the new version. What is customization upgrade? You should consider different types of customizations: Dexterity, VBA/Modifier, SQL, ReportWriter, Crystal Reports? Dexterity Customization - being very short - Dexterity may have so called Custom Forms - these do not need upgrade - they should work as is. Then Dexterity may alter existing Great Plains forms (so-called Alternate Great Plains forms) - in this case Dexterity customization should be redone for these forms/screens. Plus additional consideration should be given to Dexterity triggers, shadow tables, etc. ? VBA/Modifier customization - Modifier allows you to modify existing Great Plains windows - it creates so called modified Great Plains windows, stored in FORMS.DIC. Usually modification is placing new buttons or fields, which in turn will be given VBA scripts (stored in DYNAMICS.VBA). VBA scripts may call something nice, like Crystal Report, or have some data access logic. Usually the old version of DYNAMICS.VBA workds with the new version. You may need to rearrange buttons on the modified form.? SQL - you may have some stored procs for data integration, EDI or the like - if the addressed tables will be changed in the new version then you need to analyze your SQL code. The good news is - Microsoft Business Solution doesn't make a lot of changes since version 7.0, because Microsoft is now trying to merge the products it owns: Great Plains, Solomon, Navision and Axapta - and so has different priorities? ReportWriter - MBS doesn't change tables, but it keeps changing Dexterity formulas used in ReportWriter original reports - this is the problem in so-called Modified Reports upgrade - usually you have these reports modified: SOP Blank Invoice form, SOP Blank Picking ticket, etc. If report can not be upgraded - it should be redone in the new version with some exceptions.? Crystal Reports - the nice thing about Crystal Report - id doesn't need to be upgraded (if the fields in the tables exist in the new version - which is usually true statement)What is upgrade for third-party modules? Your Great Plains may have so-called third party modules: Mekorma, Kampdata, Horyzon, Wennsoft, Avalara, Truepay, Trinity, Intellisol to name a fewThird party modules may have their own utility for upgrade. You just need to know that your third-party is ready for the new Great Plains version - if not - you just wait and stay on the old version. What is migration from Ctree/Pervasive.SQL 2000 to MS SQL/MSDE? MBS has migration tool. You need first to install Great Plains on SQL Server with exactly the same account/segments structure and then install migration tool (it is Dexterity chunk) on your ctree/Pervasive workstation - then, when you integrate the chunk - you will map it to target SQL-based Great Plains Company, select all system and company tables, click the button and it will move all your tables one-by-one. In the case when your Great Plains ctree/Pervasive has third parties - you need to check if the vendor has migration tool - otherwise you have to do manual move, use SQL Linked server to your legacy data Do I need consultant? It is probably good idea to have consultant to do the upgrade. We strongly recommend you to use consultant in the following cases? You have Dexterity customization? You are doing migration from Pervasive/Ctree to Microsoft SQL Server/MSDE, especially when you have third-parties without migration tools? You have a lot or ReportWriter Modified Great Plains Reports? You have old version of Great Plains: Dynamics or eEnterprise 6.0 or prior - in this case you can not appeal to Microsoft Technical Support - it is discontinued ? Your Great Plains has more than 20 users and you have to have upgrade done over the weekend - if it fails - you have business problems? You don't have support - in this case you have to select your Microsoft Business Solutions Partner and pay for the annual support/enhancement plan - you will get new registration key and will be ready for the upgrade Good luck with upgrade and if you have issues or concerns ? we are here to help! If you want us to do the job - give us a call 1-866-528-0577! firstname.lastname@example.org
Five Tips For A Great Software Demo
Whether you need to close a sale, gather end-user feedback, show progress to your customer, or simply explain how your product works, sooner or later, you will need to demo your software product.
Create ASP in Minutes
DBxtra goes ASP
Separate Anti-Keylogging Protection: Who Needs it Most?
If there still are few unprotected computers left, I haven't seen any. Every emerging threat causes means of defense to appear. Anti-viruses and firewalls were the first. Now most computers have also an anti-spy program installed. More and more often experts say that some computers need autonomous anti-keylogging protection as well.
6 Easy Steps for a Smoother CD/DVD Order
It's all about turn times in the eMedia industry! The speed with which your vendor can get your CD or DVD project completed is vital to many customers. However, responsibility for these projects meeting their completion dates starts with the customer and ends with the vendor. It's a partnership that shares the responsibility. Just follow the 6 easy steps below:
Business Plan Software Review: Ultimate Business Planner?
One of the main reasons business owners and entrepreneurs use business plan software is to simplify building their financial models. Even with an explosion in business plan software packages on the market today, "doing the financial projections" is still often cited as the most difficult part of completing a business plan. Yet, software can still simplify financial forecasting.
|home | site map|