All posts by Benjamin Brandall


14 Client Onboarding Process Checklists for Finance, IT, Medical, SaaS, Real Estate…

Client Onboarding

Client Onboarding for Professional Services

When a new client signs up, it’s not enough to leave them alone to jump into your service by themselves –  you’ve got to have a clearly written process to make sure they know they’ve made the right choice.

Settling a new client into your business and establishing a good relationship is one of the best ways to reduce churn.

 ‘If you hold a customer’s hand for 90 days, they’ll be loyal for life’. – John Jantsch

The process of perfect onboarding differs depending on your business, but the essence is the same. Of course, you’re updating your CRM and complying with legal regulation, but that’s not going to make the customer think you’re the best choice and quell the buyer’s remorse. You’ve also got to build a relationship, get to know the customer’s individual needs (once they’ve signed up, they’re not just a vague profile or target audience) then integrate them into your existing business process.

Bonus: Looking for a real example use case from the super-successful DoubleDutch team? Click HERE to unlock it.

At Process Street, we’ve put together 14 templates you can use to get new clients settled in with minimal hassle. The templates include sample documents, ready-to-send emails and industry-specific advice for criminal lawyers, marketing agencies, and financial planners.

Want to get straight to the checklists? No problem! Here they are:

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Waterfall vs Agile: Which Methodology Is Right For You?

 The following is a guest post by Uwe Dreissigacker. Uwe is the Founder of online invoicing software InvoiceBerry. InvoiceBerry helps small business owners and freelancers to create professional looking invoices, get paid online and keep track of unpaid invoices. In his free time, Uwe travels a lot, explores new cultures and loves trying new spicy dishes.

agile vs waterfall

As a business, if you want your operation to run smoothly, managing productivity and your workflows is one of the best ways you can stay on track.

Before you even get started on a project, you should first take a step back and plan out your approach.

What methodology will you use? How will you manage productivity and stay on track? SCRUM? SWOT?

Decisions, decisions

The choices can be overwhelming. Not to mention, over the course of the actual project, you’ll have to make hundreds of other choices.

If you’re not sure where to begin, it’s best to think about your project as a whole and then select the right methodology you’ll follow – Waterfall or Agile?

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How Was Linux Created? The Processes Behind Managing 13,500 Developers

You have probably used Linux today — especially if you don’t have an iPhone. And if you browsed the web today, there’s a big chance that the website you visited was served by Linux, too.

Linux is an operating system, but unlike software like Microsoft Windows and macOS, Linux was developed by a self-organized community of volunteers.

Over time, with the effort of over 10,000 developers and evolving processes to manage the scale of work, the Linux kernel has grown to over 20,000,000 lines of code in total. It forms the stable foundation for…

  • Every Android phone and tablet on the planet
  • 66% of the world’s servers
  • 100% of the top 500 supercomputers

This technology didn’t come from an orchestrated team with a thick policy book and layers of management. It came from a few carefully-chosen and culturally-embedded policies, and a shared mission.

In this post, I look at how a technology so essential, complex and important could have been produced so effectively without traditional management structure. But first…

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Why You Need Customer Service Processes, and How to Get Started Now

The following is a guest contribution from Mary Shulzhenko. Mary is a digital marketer, content strategist and a copywriter. She is passionate about writing on customer service, customer experience, small business, marketing and a variety of other business topics. She provides the original content for LiveAgent, an award-winning and the most reviewed help desk software for SMBs in 2018. You can find her on LinkedIn.

Would you agree to fly on a plane knowing that the crew was simply ‘told’ what to do but didn’t use clear guidelines and instructions? Probably not.

Sadly, that is how many organizations operate today – without realizing that it may result in a wide range of negative consequences, from employee inefficiency, to lost customers and profits.

Telling employees what to do is not nearly as effective as having a set of written step-by-step instructions they can follow, explaining how exactly routine operations should be performed. That’s where standard operating procedures, or SOPs, come in.

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How to Make Software Rollout Easier for You and Your Team

The following is a guest post from Ryan Gould, Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Services at Elevation Marketing. An expert search, social and content marketer, Ryan leads Elevation Marketing’s digital strategy department, helping brands achieve their business goals, such as improving sales and market share, by developing integrated marketing strategies distinguished by research, storytelling, engagement and conversion.

software rollout

Without software, you’d be hand-writing purchase orders, using a Rolodex for a CRM, and doing your newsletters via smoke signal.

Alright, maybe that last one is a little far-fetched, but there’s no denying that in the business world, technology is absolutely necessary and enables amazing things.

…But not everyone on your team gets enthusiastic about the prospect of learning a new tool. Even if that tool will help them improve productivity, do a better job, and escape the white-collar equivalent of hard manual labor.

IBM research on the barriers to software adoption (Source)

Your goal when rolling out software is always the same: to help your business improve operations, boost efficiency, and enable sales. These days that means staying up to date on technological trends as well.

Deciding which tool is right for you will always hinge on fundamentals, like whether it can automate your vendor payments, purchase orders, employee onboarding, lead management, etc. However, there are other considerations, such as whether your solution integrates with cloud software and is responsive on mobile devices.

But, even after you’ve selected the solution perfect for your operation and your employees – after all the sales demos, comparison docs, and review reading – you’ll find it’s that the human element that trips you up.

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What I Learned Evolving My Startup’s Team Structure (Featuring Lego)

The following is a guest post from Brett Farmiloe. Brett is the CEO of digital marketing company, Markitors, and advisor to career resource, Organizational Leadership Degrees. He is a regular contributor to Huffington Post and Forbes, and also enjoys tending his backyard vegetable patch.

startup team structure

Workplace structure.

What popped into your mind after reading those words? A large office building with hundreds of employees and multiple layers of management? Something gargantuan and sluggish?

That is certainly how I pictured the classic workplace structure, especially before starting my own company. Now I truly understand that all businesses, no matter how small, have a set structure of who reports to who – and for good reason. While it may sound unnecessarily methodical and plodding, it adds an element of organization to your organization.

Something I learned through years of trial and error was that organizational structures are a fluid beast – they need to evolve and grow as your company does.

Below are some of my tips for ensuring the success and longevity of your business, with lessons from Lego, Zappos, and my own company.

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9 Places to Find The Best Copywriting Examples for Your Swipe File

Copywriting Examples

Your boss has just asked you to write an email telling your customers their free trial has ended and encouraging them to upgrade to premium.

Where do you start? What do these emails look like? If you had a swipe file, you’d have a reference point straight away.

Swipe files are collections of material kept by creatives for easy reference, consisting of great material you can learn from. If you’re just starting out, you’ll probably want to start making one and be prepared for your next assignment.

It’s best to amass your swipe file as you go, quickly adding quality copywriting examples when you see them and tagging for easy reference. Keep reading to find out how to do this using Evernote. But first, let’s look at where you can find awesome material to get started.

Swiped.co

While relatively new, Swiped is actively archiving a large selection of new and classic ads, emails, pop-ups, sales letters, direct mail examples and more.

If you’ve already got some material for your swipe file, go ahead and upload it to Swiped! It survives on user uploads and is an amazing labor of love by Mike Schauer.

Swiped Copywriting Examples Home Page

It was created because archives of ads are sparse, and if you’re a copywriter or advertisers without a hefty swipe file you’ll have to rely on the rare chance that someone has uploaded the advert you want to reference somewhere on the web.

As it turns out, most people don’t really like ads that much. More often than not, you won’t find what you’re looking for.
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How to Host a Website on Google Drive for Free

How to Host a Website on Google Drive for Free

We’re a big fan of cloud services on this blog, and Vinay has written on Process Street about Dropbox vs Google Drive in the past as well as a great guide on how to migrate to the cloud.

If you’re wondering how to host a website on Google Drive for free, well, I just did (and it took me 2 minutes!) so I’ll tell you all about it.

Even though the new Google Drive has made it harder to host websites, there’s still a pretty easy workaround I came across. It comes in the form of a Google Script written by an expert in the field, Amit Agarwal. First I’ll show you this way — the easy way — then I’ll explain how you can do it without the script.

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Business Process Reengineering: What to Do If Your Business Is Failing

Business Process Reengineering

What is business process reengineering?

Like most buzzwords, business process reengineering (BPR) is a dull way to describe an interesting topic. Put simply, it’s the act of rethinking the way you do the important things in your business. It’s when you say “this is so inefficient it’s killing us”, and sit down to strategize how you can improve your processes in a radical and fundamental way.

In this article, I’m going to run through some case studies and explain how Taco Bell, Ford, and Google have reengineered their business processes to create change for the better in their businesses and save them from death by inefficient process. And so can you.

You need to cut out the work that doesn’t add value,  but where do you even start when cutting down on the amount of processes you execute in your business? Let’s look a little deeper into the aims of BPR.

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4 Things SaaS Companies Need to Know About Regulatory Compliance

The following is a guest post submission from Nathan Sykes. Nathan is the founder of Finding an Outlet, a site dedicated to the latest in B2B IT news and trends. Follow him on Twitter @nathansykestech to read his latest articles.

regulatory compliance

As cloud-based solutions, like SaaS and remote technologies, become more prevalent than ever we’re starting to see regulators and auditors get more serious about IT governance standards. As standards become more stringent, companies become more aware of the requirements set upon them and, in turn, ask providers to help with IT audits.

As you might expect, this means the pressure gets offloaded onto SaaS providers, who don’t generally perform audits or mind regulatory requirements outside of their own responsibilities. But the landscape is changing rapidly, not just in regards to audits but additional regulatory and legal constraints too, right along with financial limitations and tax requirements.

What exactly is changing in the SaaS legal landscape, and what do you need to know about it?

Sales tax and nexus

In October 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in South Dakota v. Wayfair that internet-based and e-commerce retailers can be required, by law, to pay and collect sales tax in states even where they lack a physical presence. This completely uproots decades of legal precedence, not the least of which relates to the concept of nexus.

How nexus applies

Source

Nexus is essentially your physical influence or presence within a state. If you have “nexus” within a region, then you can be required by law to collect and pay sales taxes lest you incur fines and compounding interest. The idea is used to declare and determine where a business may have a physical presence even outside their home state.

Determining nexus has always been particularly tricky because each state varies regarding qualifications. What gives you nexus in one state may be completely different in another. And this supreme court ruling just made it even more difficult, especially for SaaS providers who operate and serve on a broad level outside of their home location(s).

As a result, South Dakota now has an economic nexus law — among 25 other states and counting — that increases the tax burdens of online businesses, SaaS and cloud service providers included. What this means is that general tax burdens will grow, and companies will need to expansively research tax burdens on a state-by-state basis with more scrutiny than ever before. This has happened before, further muddling the definition of nexus and sales tax when it comes to online services, so it’s not unreasonable to think it will be expanded even more in the future.

A major issue with these tighter laws is that they tend to have low limits: 200 total transactions — as opposed to customers outright — in a state will commonly develop nexus. But since SaaS providers deliver subscription-based pricing models and deal with multiple invoices per client, you can end up with nexus in a state faster.

This further facilitates the need to have an accountant or experienced professional deal with taxing and monetary collection policies. Don’t overlook this, especially if your business is spread across varying locations and your service coverage is far-reaching. You will need to identify and understand where sales tax is necessary, and failure to do so will lead to severe consequences not the least of which is heavy legal fines and court costs.

Provider-focused auditing

Security and data governance audits are less an optional state of checks and balances and more a legal and regulatory requirement these days. Therefore the onus has shifted to providers to help deal with and prepare for some of these experiences.

SaaS regulation barriers to cloud adoption
Source

Increasingly, SaaS clients require records on IT security audits, clear-cut data storage, handling and protection policies, performance standards, end even risk management or disaster recovery plans. In other words, you may be initially audited by clients — in a way — before any legal audits take place.

Common auditing concerns

More than proper planning and documentation, it helps to have these elements established long before your clients even ask, so that when the time comes, you can provide the necessary assurances.

Here are some things to consider for future and present audits:

  • Do you have a corporate security policy?
  • Is there a dedicated security team in place to handle events and failures?
  • Do you have a formal procedure for reporting a security violation or data breach?
  • Do you regularly conduct penetration testing or have a third-party handle the process? When was the last relevant test performed, and what were the results? What are you doing to remedy any flaws or vulnerabilities discovered?
  • Whether through external means or internal discovery, what are you doing to both identify and remediate vulnerabilities in your system and network?
  • How often are applications or software tools updated? What is the process for doing so and how does this affect security? What about customer or client downtime? How long will the update process take?
  • Do you have a process for announcing and sharing scheduled maintenance sessions?
  • Is there API access or external integration support? How does this relate to data security and protections?
  • Are all API units authenticated, data encrypted, and monitored?
  • How do you physically secure access to your data facilities or operations sites?
  • How do you comply with HIPAA/Sarbanes-Oxley/PCI DSS 3.0/ and other similar-level regulations? Do you have documentation to support this?
  • Are all your processes — including data backups — documented in full with details on how you handle operations?
  • How far does your disaster recovery plan extend? What will you do if your customers are affected by a breach? How will you continue to ensure their privacy and security?

Legally mandated data protections

GDPR or the General Data Protection Regulation in the European Union is designed to protect businesses from overreaching and provide more assurance for citizens in regards to personal data and privacy. For example, one new requirement from the law forces companies to offer a “forget me” option that allows European citizens to not only download and see any personal associated data collected about them but also delete it in full.

Since SaaS in the enterprise is not inherently a consumer-level business it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking GDPR doesn’t apply. But it does, in some cases even on multiple levels. With some providers, for example, the protections may extend to customers, a customer’s customers and sometimes beyond. This means that even if your company or business doesn’t serve affected customers, but one of your clients or service users does, then you’re obligated to comply where applicable.

Under GDPR, the purpose, nature and storage duration of data must all be supplied and honored. That is, if you say you’re going to keep data for two years, then you should immediately purge it after said period. You must also define and adhere to the type of data being processed, while also considering the responsibilities, rights and requirements of customers — who generally serve as the source or inherent “owner” of specific data sets.

This extends to security protections, as well. Customers must be informed of a breach or security issues as soon as it a company is aware of it. Providers must ensure that protections are in place to prevent data breaches and fully secure customer information. Failure to do so will result in hefty fines.

Here’s a GDPR and protections checklist you can review to ensure ultimate compliance:

It’s important to understand, however, that no matter how comprehensive this checklist may seem, there’s much more that goes into ensuring compliance. Therefore, it’s crucial you do your due diligence to research and understand the new regulations and how they apply to your business and operations.

General data practices

Outside of the legal and regulatory space, there’s also the matter of protecting your data and digital assets internally.

Throughout most of your auditing and data protection strategies, you’re focused on external data channels that often stem from your customers and umbrella users. It’s easy to forget that you — as a business — have your own proprietary data and trade secrets that you need to handle properly.

Here are some questions you should be asking:

  • How often do you back up your sensitive data and where is it stored?
  • How often are backups completed? If there is a data breach, failure or complication what could be lost?
  • What security measures do you have in place to retain control of your systems and network?
  • How will service interruptions affect your customers, their data and their users?

Protecting data that belongs to your customers and clients is vital, but you need to protect the content that relates to your business or organization and its primary operations as well. If you offer a cloud-service application, for example, where is the source code housed and is it handled or edited in a way that won’t compromise the entire business?

The landscape is tumultuous; be ready to evolve

As is evident through many of the discussions in this guide, the world of cloud computing and SaaS is changing considerably, along with the rest of the enterprise market. There’s a general focus on network and user security, data protection, customer rights and moral responsibility in some cases in regards to products and service offerings. Sometimes, as is the case with GDPR, regulations extend beyond your direct clientele and stretch further down the chain to include anyone affected by internal data usage and collection.

That’s why compliance internally is crucial to the success and continued operations of your business. The last thing you need to deal with are repercussions handed down by government bodies, your customers or the community at large.

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