Thursday, July 30, 2015

July Upgrade Videos

Check out the new video overview of SmartSimple's upgrades for July, 2015, as well as our recent webinar, outlining all the great enhancements for the summer:

We've got more webinars coming up for August, so be sure to check out our events page to register. If you have any questions on any SmartSimple features, be sure to contact our Support Team by email or by phone at 1.866.239.0991. If you're interested in learning more about the SmartSimple platform, visit our website to request a demo.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Dedicated vs. Non-Dedicated Servers – What’s best for me?

More and more business today is being done in the cloud. While this offers amazing flexibility and accessibility advantages, everything you use in the cloud still needs to be physically stored somewhere, and that’s the role a server plays in your system.

There are two types of servers you can use; a dedicated server or a non-dedicated server.
Google's server farm in Douglas County, Iowa

What’s the Difference?
A non-dedicated server means your server is “hosted” in a shared environment with other, separate organizations.  A dedicated server is your organization’s own server and only contains your data.

Why would my organization choose one option over the other?
The answer to this question really depends on the classification level of your data, the governance rules of your organization and your country’s data sovereignty laws.

That’s really not as complicated as it sounds.

Data classification is all about how sensitive your data is and, therefore, the level of information security required for keeping it secure and limiting the ability to access that data. The main consideration should be based the level of sensitivity and the impact to your organization and clients should it be disclosed, altered or destroyed without authorization:
·         Public Data – little to no risk should the information be accessed.
·         Private Data – a moderate level of risk should information be disclosed.
·         Restricted Data – serious impact should there be any unauthorized activity.

Governance refers simply to the outline of the structure that decides how your data is classified. There are a variety of factors that will impact the creation of your governance structure and data model, based on the kind of information your organization keeps and the expectations for that information’s security.

For example, a financial institution would class most of its data as restricted, since it’s comprised of confidential and highly sensitive information about its clients. A disclosure could lead to serious issues such as identity theft, so they would need to choose a dedicated server. Whereas, in contrast, an advertising agency may have some confidential information about its clients and employees, but, by and large, there is no inherent risk to any one person or the general public should information be disclosed. Thus, using a non-dedicated server would serve their overall purposes.
Colored pipes bring water in and out of an Oregon data center.

Data Sovereignty is the laws of the country in which your data and server are located. For example, some countries will openly allow data to be accessible globally, so working in the cloud is acceptable and a shared server option is viable. However, in other countries this is illegal or can only be allowed by permission from the government, so dedicated servers are needed.

Something else to keep in mind; for countries like the United States, current laws, such as The Patriot Act, allow the government to access your data at any time for any reason regardless if your server is dedicated or non-dedicated.

If you have additional questions about servers, feel free to reach out to our Support Team by email or by phone at 1.866.239.0991. And be sure to check out our website for upcoming webinars to learn more about SmartSimple functions and features.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Upgrades for July 2015

SmartSimple’s July, 2015 upgrade is set to take place on Thursday, July 23rd. What’s new for the summer? Keep reading!

Conditional Versioning
Early in 2015, we launched an exciting new feature called Versioning. Versioning offers a quick and easy way to add, edit and delete fields in your applications and forms. This means you have the flexibility to create as many versions as you want or need.

The feedback we’ve received from clients has been so overwhelmingly positive we decided to enhance this feature even further with what we call Conditional Versioning. Now, the particular “version” of an application or form seen by a particular user can be based on any criteria you set; use geographic locations, roles, organization types and more – the options are endless!

To fully explore this feature, SmartSimple will be hosting two webinars on Tuesday, August 25th at 10am EST and Thursday, August 27th at 2pm EST to guide you through and ensure you get the most out of being able flip between versions on the fly. You can register for either session on our website.
Interactive Report View 

Interactive Report View – Phase 2
Phase 1 of the new Interactive Report View feature was introduced in our May upgrade, offering users the option to display and render data through an actual report.

Phase 2 expands on this diverse reporting feature, giving you the ability to take reporting to the next level. By being able to group the data you want to see in the manner you want to see it, Phase 2 offers the added flexibility of not only selecting and arranging your data fields how you need. You can also save any report list view and share it with other members of your team. This means you can share specific reports with specific people in an interactive view.

Allocation Chart Feature
A new and more graphic rendering of your budget data, The Allocation Chart feature offers the ability to see a detailed, graphic representation of how your allocated funds were used in an easy to understand and visually impactful format. There is nothing specific you will need to configure; this feature is automatically set up and ready to use.
Allocation Chart

You can read more about these and other system enhancements on our Wiki, in our newsletter and our upcoming YouTube videos. You can also learn more about the July upgrade during one of our webinars. Be sure to visit our events page to reserve your spot!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Working Together – The SmartSimple Process Part Three – Getting Started

Welcome to part three in our Working Together – The SmartSimple Process series. Today we’re going to cover the steps and activities involved with the implementation of your own SmartSimple system.

You’ve weighed the options and have made the decision to make SmartSimple your new grants, research or claims management system. Now it’s time to get started.

The SmartSimple project team structure
Meet your Implementation Team
Now that you’ve chosen SmartSimple, your Account Manager will introduce you to your Implementation Team. This team consists of a Project Manager and a select group of business and technical resources who will manage your project from implementation to launch.

Along with our team, we’ll need some people from your organization to be our guides to your existing process. The key roles that are required to participate from both sides are:
  • Executive Sponsors – Responsible for being the project sponsors and escalation points for the project.
  • Core Project Team/Project Manager – Responsible for running the project and approving deliverables.
  • Technical Resource Team – Responsible for specific technical functional areas of the project.
Requirements Review and creating your Statement of Work (SOW)
Before we can start building your SmartSimple system, we need to get an idea of how things are currently managed at your organization, so our first step is to conduct a thorough requirements review.

This usually involves a few days where we come to your office to meet with key members of your team. We’ll sit down and talk to you in depth about how you work, who does what, pain points with your current system and what you find works well. We also take time to review any process documentation currently in use. All this helps us with the next step, the SOW.

Project teams meet weekly, bi-weekly or monthly as required.
Your SOW defines the project, and is based on the information provided at the on-site visit. The SOW outlines the details of the project, including fees, effort and timelines. This becomes the guide to your implementation.

Let’s go!
Depending on the scope and size of the project, your team may meet weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. During these meetings, updates on the work being done is reviewed, testing tasks on the growing system are assigned and issues discussed. Regular user testing at each stage of implementation is vital to make sure any concerns are addressed before you go live.

Stay tuned for the next article in our Working Together series, the training process. In the meantime, be sure to check out the events section of our website for upcoming webinars.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

On the Road Again – Eric Lauer Visits Chicago

You’d be hard pressed to find SmartSimple’s Director of Customer Experience, Eric Lauer, in one place for very long, and this summer he’s taking in the scenery and enjoying the hospitality of our clients as he continues his tour across the United States. His most recent stop was to visit with the folks in Chi-Town.

“The Chicago area is an important one for SmartSimple,” says Eric, “Not only do we have a large number of clients in the region, but there is so much philanthropic activity. Chicagoans are an incredibly engaged and generous people who care deeply about their city.”

Among the organizations Eric visited were The Spencer Foundation, The Irving Harris Foundation and Feeding America. He also stopped by the Chicago Community Trust, who very generously co-hosted our Fall Community Conference in 2014 and will again be working with us for our 2015 conference.

“Much like my trip to New York, this was an opportunity for me to touch base with our Chicago clients and get some feedback around their own personal experiences as SmartSimple customers,” continues Eric. “I’m still in the process of gathering information and input from our clients in order to make sure that, in my role as the Director of Customer Experience, I am providing the kind of support and assistance our clients need.”

Eric’s position is very unique in the SmartSimple hierarchy, as he plays the valuable role of liaison between our clients and our internal teams. His position offers clients a direct, named contact within the company for them to reach out to at any stage of their engagement with us, and if they need some extra help outside our Support Team.

“Our Support Team works very hard to respond to a wide range of questions and issues relating to their systems over the course of a day,” adds Eric. “They’re dedicated, passionate and always willing to go that extra mile for our clients.”

That said, there is something about that personal touch that Eric excels at, which our clients really appreciate. “Staying in touch with clients is, of course, important, but doing so in person goes a long way. I find I can help them accomplish so much more when there is that opportunity to meet face-to-face,” Eric continues.

“I have to say that while the clients are very receptive to the personal visits,” concludes Eric. “It’s the perfect opportunity to share our ‘state of the nation,’ and allows me to identify areas where we’re doing a great job as a company as well as areas where we can improve our service offering. That means we’re not only on the right track, but working proactively to continue moving in the right direction.”

Stay tuned for more insights by Eric from the road! If you’re interested in learning more about SmartSimple, check out our website for upcoming webinars or to request a demo.