Keeping our users informed
October 31,2010 by jkay • Leave a Comment
We think it's important that our users have visibility of what's going on at Workbooks, and we want to be transparent about the status of the service.
So, starting on Friday 5th November if you login to Workbooks via the Customer Login button on our website you'll be greeted with information about the running service alongside the Login box.
On the left: what's going on at Workbooks - our twitter feed - with updates about all aspects of the company, the software and the latest enhancements. On the bottom: links to our latest blog posts and feature requests.
And, below the login prompt: how the service is performing. When things are healthy there'll be a green tick here; if they aren't you'll see a red cross. Our goal is to deliver as close to 100% availability as we possibly can; the statistics presented when you "Click to see details" are measured independently by a third-party company, ippatrol.
If you have any suggestions about information you'd like to see on this page, please let us know.
By the way, if you want to go directly to the login screen and bypass our new login page you can still go directly to https://secure.workbooks.com/ and bookmark that link.
The Autumn Release is Go For Launch!
October 28,2010 by Product Management • Leave a Comment
Having just had our Release Sign-off meeting I'm pleased to confirm that the Autumn release will be deployed on Saturday night after 9pm.
The freedom to work anywhere
October 22,2010 by jkay • Leave a Comment
I've spent the day working a long way from the office with a very slow wi-fi connection. For some of what I had to do I needed access to our development systems - those are behind a 'VPN'. The other things I had to do were on Workbooks.
When your network connection back to the office has dropped out for the tenth time and Workbooks has simply just worked you realise just how liberating it is to put your data on the web in a SaaS application like Workbooks rather than having to use point solutions to get access to your data. Note the impressive performance of the network I was using....
Workbooks Autumn Release - Coming Soon!
October 13,2010 by Product Management • Leave a Comment
Towards the end of October we will be releasing the autumn update of Workbooks. As with all other releases, the upgrade will happen automatically, meaning our customers won't have to do a thing. Saying this however, we thought you all might like to see a sneak preview of what's to come in the latest release.
The new release has some really exciting new areas of functionality, including a new import engine and our much anticipated API, as well as some minor improvements based on feedback from our customers and prospects.
The new areas of functionality include:
User Interface (UI) Improvements We have made a number of changes to the UI. The most significant is moving the tabs from the bottom of the forms to the top. Internally we have called this ‘Tabtastic’ we hope you like the change.
In addition, we have improved the usability of the ‘Watch’ flag. In the new version this has been moved from a tick-box on the form, to the top bar making it much more visible.
We often get asked "What does the ‘Watch’ flag do?" By default if you ‘watch’ a record it always appears in your “My” lists for instance, “My People” or “My Organisations”. These lists contain all records which are either assigned to you, or that you are Watching.
If you want to change the behaviour of the “My” lists you can add a filter to just include those records assigned to you, or to just those that you Watch.
We have also added a ‘New Employee’ Button under the People tab in an Organisation record. This should speed up the process of adding a new Employee to an Organisation.
Custom Fields in Grids
We have added the ability to create custom fields in the line items grids. The line item grids are used in many records, including Opportunities, Orders, Invoices and Purchase Orders. By adding a custom field into a grid, you can use it to track information against a specific item.
To give you an example:
You might want to track the delivery status of a line item in an order. So you could create a new pick list called ‘Delivery Status’ with type options ‘Not Delivered’ and ‘Shipped’ and then create a custom field in the Order Line Items, referencing this pick list. You can then track the status of each item separately.
As with all custom fields they are reportable. In addition, if you have the same custom fields in different transaction documents, they will automatically be copied across when you ‘Copy Document’.
API Support, Outlook and Sage
This release of Workbooks exposes our API to third party developers. We have been working for many months on the API and it now allows third-party engineers to integrate Workbooks with different systems.
The first two API applications coming to market will be the Outlook Connector and Sagelink.
The Workbooks Outlook Connector will ship 4-6 weeks after the release of the autumn release of Workbooks and will allow you to synchronise Outlook contacts, tasks and meetings with Workbooks and allow you to share emails stored in Outlook with Workbooks. The Connector is developed for us by a company called InvisibleCRM who specialise in developing desktop connectors for CRM systems.
The Outlook connector will require an additional licence at a cost of £60 per user, per year (£5 per user, per month) and can be purchased directly from us.
The Sagelink product is developed by Eiger Group, a specialist Sage Integrator. Sagelink will be available within 4 weeks of the release and allows customers to synchronise Order and/or Invoice information from Workbooks directly with Sage Line 50.
You would install the Sagelink product on the same PC that runs Sage and it connects to Workbooks using our API over the Internet. The Sagelink product can be purchased directly from Eiger Group, it will cost £1,000 for a single Sage implementation, plus 2 to 3 days of consultancy to setup, depending on the complexity of your requirements.
Chrome Frame & Internet Explorer
In this release we have also included support for Google’s Chrome Frame. Chrome Frame is a plug-in to IE6, IE7 and IE8 which allows Internet Explorer to run Google’s Chrome JaveScript rendering engine.
The effect of this is to dramatically improve the performance of Workbooks in these versions of IE if you download the plug-in.
Generally we don’t recommend you use Internet Explorer with Workbooks, but if you want to, installing the plug-in will make it run a lot faster. Workbooks will prompt you to install the plug-in, so you just need to follow the instructions.
New Import Engine
Finally in this release we have completely rewritten the import engine, so it’s not only a lot faster, but also much more flexible. The new import engine also supports the import of opportunities and adds additional matching and de-duplication capabilities.
All this new functionality is now available on our beta site. You can access it by visiting: https://beta.workbooks.com and logging in with your usual username and password. Please note this is a copy of the production database, so it will be a few days out of date, but you will be able to see the new functionality.
Most of these improvements have been implemented as a direct result of our 'Ideas' site. Here at Workbooks we strongly believe in continuous improvement, and strongly encourage our customers and prospects to tell us about the features, no matter how small, they would like to see in Workbooks. So if you have a suggestion, we want to hear it! Please tell us here.
Another happy Workbooks customer
October 08,2010 by rawnet • Leave a Comment
Last week we visited another Workbooks customer to capture their thoughts following the successful roll out of Workbooks Business Edition in their Organisation. We were over the moon to be met with some fantastic feedback. Here's what Northdoor had to say about Workbooks...
A qualified lead costs £248
October 04,2010 by jcheney • Leave a Comment
In a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) business, a key performance indicator is the cost of customer acquisition - how much does it cost to acquire each new customer?
Here at Workbooks we track all sorts of metrics: cost of leads, conversion metrics and marketing ROI to name just a few.
Let me share some interesting numbers: At present it costs us £248 to generate a qualified lead and we convert 1 in 10 of these into a sale. An average sale for us generates £5k of revenue in year one, so at present it costs around 50% of the year one revenue to acquire a new customer.
This blog post isn’t about the economics of our business, rather I wanted to use the information to highlight how you can use Workbooks to measure the effectiveness of your marketing activities.
Above is a dashboard (created in Workbooks) that I use to measure these metrics. I have hidden some fields but you'll get a pretty good view on what’s going on. Let me explain how we track this data.
The first stage of our sales process is to qualify a lead. Each month we get hundreds of leads into the business, these are mainly from people completing forms on our website (such as the free trial) or from other third-party websites that promote Workbooks.com. Some of these enquiries are people actively looking to purchase; many others are not prospective customers at all. Once we have spoken to the prospect and established their interest, they are either ‘qualified’ or ‘qualified-out’.
We use the Marketing Campaigns functionality of our product to track marketing expenditure on a monthly basis. So by writing a report which combines the total marketing costs and dividing that cost by the number of qualified leads generated, I can calculate a cost per qualified lead. In this case I have represented this as a dial chart.
In the top right chart you can see we track the cost of leads by campaign, monthly. This gives me some insight into which campaigns generate leads most cost effectively.
As you can see from my stats, our SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is improving, but our Google Adwords campaigns are far too expensive! We will continue to run google Adwords for a few more months, to see if we can improve the results!
On the bottom left you can see the Campaign ROI report. This report takes information from Invoices in Workbooks and compares it to the marketing expenditure. It totals all invoices which are attributed to a specific campaign and divides the total sales by the marketing spend. As you can see our referral program delivered the best return on investment.
The final chart in the bottom right takes the total number of won opportunities as a percentage of the total number of deals - either won, lost or qualified out. This gives me our pipeline conversion metrics.
As you can see not all our marketing is effective, but the good news is I can actually tell which marketing is working and which isn’t! And of course this enables me to modify and ultimately improve the effectiveness of our marketing!
Aiming for Continuous Improvement
September 23,2010 by jkay • Leave a Comment
While each release of Workbooks is built around a small set of key features, we know that smaller changes can also make a difference. The technique of "Continuous Improvement" is one we apply to the service. Continuous improvement implies a continual effort to improve things by making many incremental changes, each of which is evaluated and tested separately.
We've already blogged that the next release of Workbooks improves the way tabs are laid out on forms.
Today's example is that we're also changing the user interface for "watching" items so that it becomes more intuitive. In Workbooks, items which are "watched" by you and items which are assigned to you are shown in your "My" views - views such as "My People", "My Organisations", "My Cases" and so on.
What was previously a checkbox which could be lost within a form and whose location wasn't always consistent has now become a neat and obvious "Watch this" button complete with a star icon which toggles when it's clicked. Much better.
Capturing leads from your website
September 21,2010 by jcheney • Leave a Comment
We have just spent the last couple of months redesigning our corporate website - which I am pleased to say is now complete. So please take a look and let us know what you think.
Whilst we were building the site we were able to use one of the features of our own product which is Web2lead. This functionality allows you to have a form on your website that captures the details of a potential customer and automatically creates a lead inside Workbooks. As part of the configuration you can automatically assign the lead to a lead queue and notify the relevant people.
You can see a video on web2lead below:
In our website we've used hidden fields inside the HTML code to identify which part of the website generated the lead, e.g. whether it was the White Papers or the 'Contact Us' form. By tracking which of our 'calls to action' are most successful we can tune our website accordingly. We have also embedded code inside the forms to extract Google Analytics data. This allows us to track where the lead originated, for example whether they found us on Google or Bing. More importantly, it allow us to track which search term they typed into search engine, so we can track which of our online adverts are most effective. If you'd like advice on how to integrate your website with Workbooks please get in touch and we will be happy to comment further.
In our website we've used hidden fields inside the HTML code to identify which part of the website generated the lead, e.g. whether it was the White Papers or the 'Contact Us' form. By tracking which of our 'calls to action' are most successful we can tune our website accordingly.
We have also embedded code inside the forms to extract Google Analytics data. This allows us to track where the lead originated, for example whether they found us on Google or Bing. More importantly, it allow us to track which search term they typed into search engine, so we can track which of our online adverts are most effective.
If you'd like advice on how to integrate your website with Workbooks please get in touch and we will be happy to comment further.
Customer Video - CRM Success
September 17,2010 by jcheney • Leave a Comment
We recently visited one of our customers - EST Marketing. Who kindly agreed to be interviewed in front of a camera!
Here is the result.
Introducing Google Chrome Frame to our Internet Explorer users
September 16,2010 by jkay • Leave a Comment
NOTE: Google are winding down Chrome Frame and plan to cease support and updates in January 2014. For this reason, our late Summer 2013 release of Workbooks will no longer include support for Chrome Frame. Going forwards therefore, if you are using IE, please ensure it is IE9 or above.
Web browsers just keep getting faster.
Google Chrome just had its second birthday - Google celebrated by releasing a new version which is three times faster than their first version two years ago. It's fair to say that Chrome's arrival has really stirred things up. In those two years web browsers have become able to run ten times faster on the same hardware.
Other vendors have risen to the challenge and, while Chrome set things off, all the main browsers have made dramatic improvements, the latest being Microsoft with their forthcoming IE9 browser which will be no slouch when it is released next year.
At Workbooks we're taking advantage of this by delivering a compelling Desktop user interface which sets us apart from our competitors.
If you're using an old version of Microsoft Internet Explorer you might find the Workbooks Desktop running a little slower than we would like and you may be unable to upgrade to the latest and greatest browser. So we are pleased to announce we've decided to support Google's Chrome Frame plugin for Internet Explorer as from the next release of Workbooks.
Chrome Frame allows web applications to take advantage of Google Chrome's speed while allowing users to continue to use Microsoft Internet Explorer to access other sites. You'll see the prompt shown here on the right when you login to Workbooks using Internet Explorer. We hope you opt to install this plugin and we're sure you'll appreciate the improvement.