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Feb 20 2013

Tips on how to support the users of cloud software applications

supporting client crosswordTraditional business applications can be expensive and complicated to maintain and operate. With exacting hardware and software requirements it’s no wonder that businesses are looking to make cost savings and improve efficiency by moving services to the cloud.

However, when a business evaluates a potential SaaS (Software as a Service) cloud vendor they need to look beyond the IT benefits and determine what value and support is given to the people who will be working on a day-to-day basis with the software. After all if a supply chain user is unclear on how the software works, is unsure where to go to ask a question or how to log-in, they might simply ignore the application undermining the very business activity that the software was intended for.

In the AEC sector with software supporting collaborative processes across the Plan-Build-Operate lifecycle, user apathy/alienation presents a considerable risk to on-going capital projects. The nature of the AEC market involves integrating services from architects, contractors, project managers, sub-contractors, consultants etc. who in order to contribute to the project, will need to use the chosen software platform. If a user does not understand how they interact with the application, then by non-compliance they increase the risk of costly oversights and project delays.

At CONJECT we understand the importance of ensuring all users are engaged and supported during these business critical activities.  Built up from over a decade of experience we currently support an active user community of over 140,000 global users. These are our tips on how to successfully support a cloud based service:

  • Offer a knowledge portal within the application – embed an easy to navigate resource within the online application. Ensure it has text search options, downloadable PDF’s and video streaming of common processes and user guides. Make it highly visible within the application and ensure it’s available to all users.
  • Provide an interactive helpdesk – even with a self-service resource, there are support matters such as identify verification and access issues which require personal attention. Experienced and knowledgeable team members should be available and on-hand to take phone calls, reply to emails and interact with users online within the software application itself, via a messenger style interface.
  • Ensure the platform is configured correctly – before deployment check that the system is robustly set up and that all users are notified of their log-in details, their access rights and who to contact in the first instance if they have a query. Make sure users aren’t overwhelmed with email notifications or underwhelmed with too little communication.
  • Monitor and check that the system is being used – report on user activity, are the numbers of users, the volume of transactions, and the frequency of log-ins consistent with expectations? Such statistical analysis can give early warning of potential issues, enabling account management to take proactive steps to ensure effective delivery of service.
  • Add specific content to the application – where possible we embed further content within the software to help improve our users understanding of the AEC activities they are participating in. For instance, as licensed providers of NEC3 software, we include official content from the NEC3 authors Thomas Telford. This includes workflows, diagrams and glossary terms. This volume of reference resource increases users understanding of the contract and its associated activities.
  • Measure and improve customer satisfaction – implement a post-service scorecard so that customers can provide feedback. Employ a mystery customer to evaluate the customer experience – strive to continuously improve and anticipate the user’s requirements.

About the author

Michelle Mason

Michelle Mason leads the UK and MEAP Marketing team, with far too many years in B2B marketing to mention. A CONJECT newbie, Michelle is eagerly climbing a steep learning curve.

View my LinkedIn profile:
http://uk.linkedin.com/in/michellemason04

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