Archive for November, 2010

Proposal software, inc. launches best-in-class U.S.-based call center

November 30th, 2010

Proposal Software, Inc. (PSI), The Leader In Proposal Productivity™ bid management software, and developers of PMAPS® the leading Proposal Management and Production System, in cooperation with Synergy, a leader in target support solutions, has launched a best-in-class U.S.-based call center, featuring Microsoft-certified and trained technicians offering 24|7|365 access for its PMAPS WebPro® customers worldwide. The Call Center offers translation capability for support calls in 150 languages.

“Our leading-edge U.S.-based call center affords our PMAPS WebPro customers immediate assistance from anywhere in the world, anytime,” said company CEO, John Laurino. He added, “Our Call Center representatives are all Microsoft-certified technicians and have extensive training that is unmatched in the proposal software industry.” According to Laurino, each call is recorded, and all calls are integrated into a CRM dashboard that leads to more efficient call handling and faster call resolution.

Our selection of Synergy was very deliberate for the quality of their people and supporting technologies. “Synergy has been providing custom high-touch user support for 40 years,” said Synergy President, Clark Crook. He added, “We are thrilled to partner with an organization that is equally dedicated to best-in-class customer service.”

According to Beta Research Corporation, 80 percent of customers reveal that the quality of service they receive from call center representatives reflect the quality of the company and its products or services.

Proposal Software Inc. (PSI) provides the best-in-class comprehensive and enterprise-enabled proposal management platform in more than 220 of the world’s largest and most successful financial services, asset management, healthcare, legal, business services, manufacturing and technology organizations over five continents. These companies rely on PMAPS daily to run their mission critical B2B new business processes from responses to ‘major account’ RFP/RFI/RFQ’s to everyday product and service sales proposal fulfillment.


Sharpen up your support act: a guide to helpdesk software and services

November 30th, 2010

Service desk, previously known as helpdesk, software has been around for as long as businesses have used computers, with large organisations realising early on that they required some method of recording IT failures and tracking end user requests for assistance.

However, while application developers continue to add new functions, process models and delivery mechanisms into their wares – such as Web 2.0 collaboration tools, customisable agent interfaces or dashboards, IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) compliance, software-as-a-service (SaaS) and cloud computing – their fundamental feature set has remained the same.

With features and functionality for incident management – including incident, problem, change, inventory/ configuration repository and self-service – now fairly commoditised, the differences between suitable applications tend to revolve around price; licensing (for example, by seat or service desk user, by service desk ticket, per month and so on); associated reporting tools used to analyse incident trends and helpdesk performance; and ease of installation and integration with other IT service management tools, particularly IT asset management, service request management and configuration management databases.

It is also a crowded market, with hundreds of software companies providing tools of varying functionality and sophistication. Traditional enterprise-class helpdesk software from the likes of Axios Systems, Epicor and Numara Software competes with larger systems management suites from giants such as BMC Software (Remedy), CA, EMC, HP and IBM, as well as those aimed at smaller organisations, such as Spiceworks and Zendesk.
Portals and knowledge bases rule

Self-service web-based portals that allow users to log in and register their own trouble tickets and search online knowledge bases or community forums, rather than ringing through to a helpdesk operative, have rapidly been assimilated into the array of contact methods service desk software now incorporates.

Integration with email and voicemail for service request recording purposes is still a vital function however, and some products, such as IBM Tivoli’s Service Request Manager, can tap into computer telephony integration products, such as Genesys, to provide a greater degree of automation for callbacks.

While only a small percentage of people like to contact the helpdesk through social networking tools, software developers are preparing for a future when they envisage those numbers will grow.

CA Service Desk Manager uses the Open Space social networking/collaboration package as the basis of a self-help knowledge base that can search internal company databases or external data from Google or CA’s own web site, for example.

Zendesk has also signed an agreement with Twitter to let its customers monitor their tweets over customer service questions and concerns, which can be converted into “twickets” by Zendesk staff as an alternative method of logging problems, using Twitter to communicate with the end user.
SaaS and the cloud

As well as an outsourced service, helpdesk software can be delivered on demand through a SaaS or cloud computing model.

One specialist SaaS service desk provider is, which combines solid functionality with a good user interface and simple deployment with an easy-to-understand subscription licensing model.

Most helpdesk providers have followed suit with SaaS versions of their existing service desk applications, including BMC Remedy and CA. CA Service Desk Manager on Demand is an ITIL pre-configured application providing workflow-driven incident automation, problem, change, request and knowledge management through a monthly subscription fee that includes technical support and upgrades.

Axios Systems provides an on-demand service – assystSaaS – accessed via a web-based portal, which also links into a configuration management system
and database.
Systems management tools

In many cases, IT departments do not have to invest in specialist, third-party software tools to provide the more basic elements of the service management requirement – they can simply buy into additional modules for broader systems management tools they may already be using.

IBM’s Tivoli service desk manager is one part of a much broader suite of applications and, as such, it integrates into asset management and SLA management. It also features an enterprise adapter and integration composer, which enables customers to build APIs into other asset inventory and system management tools from SAP and Oracle. These allow it to send information about time and money spent on service tickets to specific financial accounting and cost management systems, and deliver agent performance statistics into HR applications.

Microsoft SharePoint 2010 also provides a helpdesk application template for handling service requests, offering role-based dashboards which display information relevant to service representatives and managers, including service history. There are even completely free, ad-supported products such as Spiceworks, which are aimed at managed service providers handling multiple customer accounts, but can be harnessed for enterprise deployments as well.

Clearly, while helpdesk managers may debate how best to stay in contact with the end users to whom they provide services, they are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing a suitable service desk platform.


HP Aims to be a force in the software industry

November 30th, 2010

Hewlett-Packard is making a serious, concentrated push into the software business—perhaps its most serious to date—by capitalizing on its strengths while reaching out to all players in the software development life cycle.

At its HP Software Universe 2010 conference here, the systems, software and services company launched its latest software suite, ALM (Application Lifecycle Management) 11, which represents more than two years of R&D, according to Bill Veghte, executive vice president of HP’s Software and Solutions organization.

“The need for innovation and agility is key for applications today, and we think the releases we are doing—from Quality Center to ALM 11—are the right way,” Veghte told eWEEK. “Our new ALM solution is platform- and IDE [integrated development environment]-agnostic.”

Veghte, who spent nearly 20 years at Microsoft as a top executive in the Windows organization, said ALM 11 delivers an architecture designed to accelerate the reliable, secure delivery of applications and services. The platform automates application modernization— from requirements management through quality and performance, he added.

“The competition in the ALM space has started to heat up over the last year,” said Dave West, an analyst with Forrester Research. “This HP release is essentially an announcement around the Mercury tools that came into HP through an acquisition four years ago.”

HP acquired Mercury Software in 2006 for $4.5 billion in a deal designed to bring together the strength of HP’s OpenView systems, network and IT service management software with Mercury’s strength in application management, application delivery, IT governance and service-oriented architecture governance. Another goal at that time was to increase HP’s software business to more than $2 billion in annual revenue.

But HP has far exceeded both goals. Under Veghte, HP’s Software and Solutions unit is a $3.6 billion business, and the new ALM 11 solution is evidence of HP’s maturity in the software field.

“As organizations begin to depend more on software, the ability to create and deliver it effectively is a key differentiator,” said Forrester’s West.

West cited a recent Forrester study commissioned by HP that showed that 69 percent of IT decision-makers have earmarked 25 percent of their annual IT budget for application modernization, while 30 percent said they will dedicate more than 50 percent.

“Historically, people haven’t done a great job with ALM; it used to be these huge offerings,” he said.

However, West added, “Most organizations have aspired to an ALM discipline but haven’t been able to implement it because of the need to support lots of different teams and development processes on complex projects.

“One interesting thing about this announcement from HP is the broadness of the offering. It’s not just SDLC [software development life cycle], but it includes operations and management and other disciplines.”


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