Monday, June 29, 2015

SmartSimple is now an Amazon Web Services (AWS) Advanced Technology Partner

SmartSimple is pleased to announce that we have achieved the prestigious rank of Advanced Technology Partner on the Amazon Partner Network. 

SmartSimple has been using Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud, also known as Amazon EC2, to host many of our clients’ SmartSimple systems since 2012. We’ve also taken advantage of Amazon’s GovCloud service to ensure we meet FedRAMP standards for our U.S. government clients.

What does all that mean?
To really understand what all these acronyms and terms are all about, let’s start with the basics of what exactly cloud computing is.

Cloud Computing
At its most basic level, cloud computing is defined as any computer service hosted over the Internet. Cloud computing enables organizations to use computing resources much as they would any utility – for example electricity – rather than having to build and maintain their own servers. Cloud computing services can be private – using an in-house system for specific internal users only – or public, where a third-party provider delivers service over the Internet. This is particularly beneficial for organizations like ours that provide Software as a Service to our clients, because we have the flexibility to work with whichever hosting solution works best for them.

What is Software as a Service (SaaS)?
SaaS means that, instead of installing and maintaining software, you simply access it through a web browser. So, for example, SmartSimple is a software solution that you run on Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari. We manage access to the application, including security, availability, and performance. That means our clients don’t have to install, maintain or update their SmartSimple system on their own.

Now, let’s talk about Amazon EC2, GovCloud and FedRAMP.
Amazon EC2 Is a service that provides resizing computing capacity, making it much easier for developers working in cloud computing with a global reach with millions of potential users, which is what our developers do here at SmartSimple. Amazon EC2 also simplifies the process we use to create and enhance features for your organization, without compromising data integrity.

Amazon’s GovCloud is designed to provide extra protection for US government agencies and customers working with sensitive material in the cloud by meeting their specific regulatory and compliance requirements. FedRAMP is a U.S. government-wide program that provides a standardized approach to security assessment, authorization, and continuous monitoring for cloud products and services.

So what does SmartSimple’s partnership with Amazon mean to me?
Good question! The advantages for you as a SmartSimple client are the high level of security for your data, as well as dependable access to your information in through a leading edge, best in class service provider. Amazon provides the power, servers and scalability that give you the power to do as much good as possible without worrying about data integrity. This means your SmartSimple system operates with optimum speed and accessibility, providing all the great features you and your user community rely on to manage and do your work.

With AWS, all your work is stored safely in the cloud on Amazon’s proven network of data servers. That means that, no matter what happens, your information is always secure, available to you when you need it, and accessible from wherever you happen to be.

AWS servers are securely located in 11 different locations around the world, including the U.S., Asia, Europe, Brazil and Australia. These web service locations jointly make up the cloud computing platform.

To learn more about Amazon, and other SmartSimple service partners, be sure to visit our website. There’s also plenty of information available on our Wiki, our blog and, as always, our Support Team is here to help as well.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

SmartSimple’s Eric Lauer Hits the Road

He may not have roadies or concert t-shirts, but that doesn’t make Eric Lauer’s summer tour any less exciting.

As SmartSimple’s recently appointed Director of Customer Experience, Eric has been reaching out to our clients, touching base to make sure they’re getting the most from their SmartSimple system.

Director of Customer Experience, Eric Lauer
“A big part of this role is taking a much more proactive approach to the customer experience than SmartSimple has in the past,” says Eric. “We’ve been busy working to create an industry leading product, meeting prospective clients and showcasing how we help streamline grants, research and claims management. It’s now time to take a step back and take the pulse of our user community.”

When Eric took on his new role back in January, he wanted to get a read on how people were feeling about their SmartSimple system, features and services. “The first thing I wanted to accomplish in my role was to get a feel for what clients thought about SmartSimple and what their users thought of the platform, as well as where we could be working to improve our services,” adds Eric.

“What I began to notice was everyone appreciated the personal touch; they liked that someone was actually taking the time to reach out and talk to them about a service they were using. Clients were excited and eager to talk to me, share ideas and get their input in front of a live person, not just as part of a survey, where they never know if anyone is actually listening to what they have to say.”

This gave the SmartSimple team a great idea; if the response to a simple phone call could generate so much goodwill, how much more impactful could personal visits be? Thus the concept of The SmartSimple Road Show was born.

“We decided New York would be the first stage in the tour,” continues Eric. “We have a good number of clients in and around Manhattan, so it gave us the best opportunity to interact with several over a relatively short period of time.”

Eric was joined by Director of Business Development, Gary Modin, and Pre-Sales Technical Analyst Karim Fahmi. “Having a few of us made it possible for more visits and allowed the clients a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with not just our sales team, but our technical team as well,” adds Eric.

The New York tour included such clients as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Poets & Writers Inc. and The Wallace Foundation. “The feedback we got was great. The fact we were willing to go to their offices and see their operations personally were well received and appreciated. It also gave us some fantastic insight into exactly how SmartSimple is being used by the people who interact with it every day,” says Eric.

The next stop on the tour is Chicago, and the team is already pumped and eager to go. “We have wonderful clients in the Chicago area, and with the feedback received from New York, we have some new ideas for this leg of the journey. I’m looking forward to making these trips a regular part of my schedule,” concludes Eric.

Eric and the team will be in Chicago the week of June 22nd, and we’ll be sharing their experiences on the blog – stay tuned! In the meantime, check out the SmartSimple events page to find out about upcoming conferences and to sign up for our upcoming webinars.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Working Together – The SmartSimple Process Part Two – In the Beginning…

Welcome to the second part of our blog series Working Together – The SmartSimple Process. This series will outline every step of the process from deciding on a new way to administer your granting or claims management practices to the launch of your very own SmartSimple system.

Getting in Touch
So you’ve done some research on what software is currently available for your market. Now that you have an idea of what’s available, you want to see the SmartSimple system in action; it’s time to reach out to us a request a demonstration of what our platform can do for you.
A SmartSimple Account Manager will be your guide throughout the process.

Meet Your Account Manager
Most likely, the first person you will meet and speak with is a member of our Account Management Team. These are seasoned professionals with extensive experience in the vertical markets we support, as well as in cloud based solutions. Your Account Manager will work with you during the entire process, and is your dedicated resource from the start of the implementation process to the launch of your system and ongoing day-to-day use.

The Scope Questionnaire
After an initial conversation with your Account Manager to get a feel for what you need in a grants, research, or claims management system, they will ask you to complete our online Scope Questionnaire prior to the initial demonstration, to determine where your organization currently is in terms of how you manage grants, research or claims administration.

The Scope Questionnaire gives us a snapshot of what your current system and/or process looks like; are you using another grants management software solution? Have you cobbled together a few different programs to make things work? Are you still using paper applications and hours of manual data entry to get your work done?

The Scope Questionnaire is divided into several sections, with questions that include the number and types of grants you fund, how your review process currently works, monitoring and payment of awards and the size of your organization and community. This ensures we have all the details we need to make sure the best features and functions are highlighted during your personalized demonstration.

Next Steps
The third article in our series will cover all the information on getting started with SmartSimple, including the creation of your Statement of Work (SOW), meeting your implementation team and the implementation process. Stay tuned!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Getting the Most out of SmartSimple - Webinars

Did you miss our latest webinar in our Getting the Most out of SmartSimple series? Check out the link below to see what you missed on how to get the most out of our Autoloader feature.

Be sure to check out the events page on our website for upcoming webinars this summer.

May Upgrade Video is now Live!

Check out the features brought to you by the SmartSimple team from our May upgrade.

Our next upgrade is scheduled for July, with more enhancements and new features to share - stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Making Support Tickets Smarter and Simpler

Our team of support professionals are here to help!
So you’d like to do something you haven’t tried before in your SmartSimple system, or you have an idea for something you’d like to do but aren’t sure it can be done. You reach out to the great folks on the SmartSimple Support Team, and a ticket is opened to initiate the activities needed to find a solution for you.

Since you can keep track of your tickets on your system, you check and see the status of your ticket is “Open”. But what exactly does that mean? Of course it means someone is working on your question, but exactly what is being done or how it’s being handled may not be clear to you.

We understand that not knowing exactly what’s going on with a query is frustrating – especially when it’s with the system that you and your community use every day. While we can’t always provide immediate answers to every call or email we receive, we can make it easier for you to know exactly what is going on with your ticket and how it’s being handled.

To that end, we’ve expanded the categories for our ticketing system, so you have a clearer picture on what is happening with any and all requests you submit to the Support Team.

Now, when you check the Notes section in your SmartSimple system, you will see a range of statuses that include:

·         Open
·         Escalated – Subject Matter Experts
·         Escalated – Level 2 Support
·         Escalated – Development
·         Awaiting your Feedback
·         In Testing
·         In Enhancement Queue
·         Closed

These expanded categories give you improved insight into exactly how your ticket is being handled, if your ticket requires escalation to other experts or teams at SmartSimple, or if we need your feedback to either finalize a fix or close the ticket.

Of course, you’re still welcome to contact the team at any time for more information. Simply email Support or call us toll-free at 866.239.0991.

Remember, you can also visit the SmartSimple Wiki or check out our YouTube channel for instructional videos and recordings of recent webinars. And remember to check out our events page to register for upcoming webinars.