Why You Shouldn’t Build a House
For more than 40 years, Vertican has symbolized what it means to grow a business based on a build philosophy. My father built Commercial Legal Software on a foundation from which his father built a legal collections law practice. While I’m a third-generation business owner standing proud on this foundation of both visionary and revolutionary proportions, I recently found myself at a build versus buy crossroads.
As a software development company, we’ve historically managed most of our technology needs from the inside. Whether ideas about improving a process stemmed from employees or clients, we’d immediately look to ourselves to create solutions.
On the one hand, our internal client relationship management (CRM) platform, built by our brilliant developers, has made Vertican’s business model highly efficient. We cultivated our own ideas; we dealt with our own mistakes. And this ultimately improved our product suite as a whole because we were also active users as opposed to merely authors.
Then there’s the other hand. I lead an increasingly dynamic organization where there is no room for complacency. Like many growing businesses today, Vertican recently found itself nearing the cliff of unsustainable throughput. With this impact of rapid growth came the increasing need for enhancement by developing more intricate criteria and advanced workflow and automation. Ultimately these technological demands began draining our internal resources. It became clear that our external clients were more important than our internal clients (my team), simply because we didn’t have enough resources to support both. For a long while, the company chose the immediate needs of revenue and sustainability over sustenance.
This is where business owners make mistakes – where we made mistakes. Thirty years ago, building every nook and cranny of a business was not only manageable, it was the norm. An autonomous, revenue-making machine was, in part, the goal. This is not true anymore.
I knew I could no longer brute force my way through this and still scale. Nor could I expect my team to succeed without the resources to support a thriving CRM platform.
Once I looked through the lens of experience and Petra-style leadership, it was clear we’re not as technologically advanced as we should be from an operational perspective. As a result, this has made my employees’ jobs unfairly difficult. And the main reason we were unable to maximize functionality was because we didn’t invest in our internal product the way we invested in our clients.
In taking my own advice, turning to a subject matter expert (SME) like Apptivo, a comprehensive CRM platform, has been the best decision. I’d be remiss not to mention the glaring connotation of how a capital expenditure like this has a financial impact. But the notion that my in-house, really smart employees can handle it, is undoubtedly the enemy of progress.
Using existing resources to fill immediate needs only feels like it’s a less expensive option. Ultimately, it will cost more to expend your internal resources than to hire an external vendor to do the job and do it at the highest standard. Remember my fishing story? The moral of the story was and always will be that when you don’t know what you don’t know, you go out and hire people who do… that’s setting your business up for success.
Is it cliché to say we’re making this investment to best serve our clients? I don’t believe so. In 2020, where the big picture is the only one framed on my office wall, buy outperforms build.
My advice is to ask yourself the stark yet sensible questions. What are your core competencies? Is your IT team equipped to go it alone and continually enhance for the long haul, or can already existing software resolve your progress blockers? Evaluate the risk, value, and cost. You have to do the math and consult your gut.
Vertican is making a significant investment in Apptivo and this is not just money; it’s time and it’s mindset. And as the company grows, we’re going to continue to pivot away from many of the things we used to do for ourselves and turn, as needed, to the experts – in the same way our clients invest in and turn to Vertican. The bottom line is that Vertican is continually scaling, and we do this in part by enlisting experts who are outside our core competency.
Don’t get me wrong, integration with Apptivo isn’t like ordering a plug-and-play train set from Amazon. We’ve been customizing the platform to perfectly streamline with our applications to the most intrinsic detail for successful workflow and automation.
Think of what goes into buying versus building a house. You’re entirely capable of maintaining your home. If the light goes out, you fix it. But do you really want to be responsible for its structural engineering? Or would you rather decide what color the walls should be? Big difference.
In those simplified terms, Apptivo is where we’re deciding what color the walls should be. We decide how we want to use it. We map the workflow. We customize the automation. Those big decisions would still need to be made if we built it ourselves. Interior decoration doesn’t go away because you buy or build – that’s a constant and, yes, it will undoubtedly need to be updated often.
It’s easy to remain on the same long road, continue through those intersections, stay on the straight and narrow. But when you get to your crossroads, if you haven’t already, turn toward pragmatic, big-picture investments. Maintain your vision and core values while you implement those investments. With the expertise of the right people, this is how you empower yourself for success.
Lessons from an SME
Total Plan: Vertican’s Subscription Model Totally Explained
Tips for Avoiding a Potential Backup Disaster
Are you constantly uploading your photos, messages, and contacts from your phone to the cloud? Whether it’s Google Drive, iCloud, or Dropbox, we surely recognize the importance of having a backup for IMPORTANT information.
If you religiously backup your phone, you should do the same for your business. In June, Isaac discussed the importance of security in business in Staying Ahead of the Curve. With employees working primarily from home, security has taken a new turn.
Last month, one of our largest clients called us in a panic. One small piece of hardware failure and all of their data became corrupt within a matter of seconds. We prepared a team of our most experienced Client Service representatives for a fix we anticipated would be easy. Then the dreadful question of, “When was your last backup? And, where is it stored?” came up. The only person who knew the answer to this was 5,000 miles away sipping pina coladas on a beach.
There was NO emergency procedure in place. With time ticking away, we rummaged through their systems and pieced together what little data they had left. When we were finally able to find the backup, we realized the recovery process had NEVER been tested. Therefore, the backup they thought was running on schedule, wasn’t actually setup correctly. A significant portion of their data simply wasn’t there!
That’s the thing. You set up your backups and cross your fingers for it to function as it claimed it would. Without frequent testing, emergency plans in place, and different versions of backups, it’s almost impossible for them to function properly. As a business continues to operate, backup and recovery should be frequently reviewed and updated.
After 30 hours of manpower troubleshooting an almost impossible task, we were able to recover 90 percent of our client’s data. We also left them with a few tips on how to get the most out of backups. Here are a few must haves for your business:
- Complete, Incremental, and Version Backups
- Complete Backups: This backup usually contains larger files that cannot be backed up every day due to size. It should be scheduled no less than once a month. The backup must include all servers and important workstations if local data is stored in any local environment.
- Incremental Backups: This form of backup is needed because constant updates will provide your business with the most up-to-date information from minimal changes to newly created documentation.
- Version Backups: A backup which contains multiple dated copies of the same files, allowing options to go back in time to retrieve data. Version backups will protect you from time released ransomware, such as cryptolocker.
- To record what is being backed up each time.
- Frequent backup testing
- Example: Run a simple restore process by deleting a test document, test restoring it, then confirm it matches the original to ensure the backup actually works.
- Assign more than one person to perform backups.
- Assign more than one person who is familiar with the restoration process.
- Routinely review the backup plan with your operation team.
- Never a host backup and software system on the SAME network.
We receive hundreds of calls each year and the simple solution to many of our Client Service support tickets is nearly always – data backups. Validation and planning are essential parts of a business plan. Just like homeowner’s insurance, backups are the insurance policy for your business’ security. There must be a policy in place that includes review, testing, routine revisal, and updates of your backups. Give your business a backup health check and find an expert for a consultation to discuss your business’ plan.
Vertican’s Virtual Town Square event is a week of webinars, interactive workshops, round table discussions, client health checks, and social gatherings.
We have updated the week so mark your your calendars and look in this space and your inbox as we release more details.
December 7 – 11, 2020
Vertican Town Halls
Vertican has produced 11 Town Halls (five Collection-Master and six Q-Law/Q-LawE) since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether you attended and want to refresh your skills or were unable to attend the live airing and want to learn something new, they’re all free to watch! Just click here.
These Town Halls are part of Vertican’s Emergency Relief Stimulus Package. Click here to find out more.
Welcome to the place where we share an inside look at some of Vertican’s amazing team members. This issue of vConnect is pointing the spotlight on Julia O’Day, Business Systems Analyst.
What sort of work did you do before joining Vertican?
“Jack of All Trades”! In my younger days I worked for NY State as an Investigator, first with the State Liquor Authority, then the Department of State, and lastly for the Petroleum, Alcohol & Tobacco Bureau of the Tax Department’s Office of Tax Enforcement. I carried a gun and everything.
I then made a jump to technology working for a few software companies. When the dot-com industry went through some hard times I obtained my real estate license. When that industry went through hard times, I returned to technology and found a good fit as a Technical Support Specialist with Commercial Legal Software, which became Vertican Technologies. That was 11 years ago.
What is a typical day at Vertican like for you?
As a Business Systems Analyst (BSA), I primarily support two Diamond clients, so my day starts with a scrum meeting with the developers and other BSAs to talk about the status of program and support tickets. I then field emails and phone calls from our clients, troubleshooting issues and assisting users with how to best use Collection-Master and vMedia. I am also called upon to provide training and professional services for special client requirements.
What do you like most about working for Vertican?
It may sound like a cliché, but I enjoy helping people. I never wanted to be “a small cog in a big wheel.” Vertican is not a huge company so we have a lot of engagement with our clients; I have built relationships with many of them over 11 years. Prior to COVID, my favorite part of the job was traveling to train our users. I especially enjoyed that “light bulb” moment when some piece of information clicked for a customer when they learned something that was going to make their job easier.
If you could learn anything new, what would it be?
For a career-related skill I would like to learn SQL. Outside of work, I like to travel and love to learn languages. I still have some rusty high school German, a smattering of Norwegian, and occasionally take a stab at trying to teach myself Irish – that is a hard language! I think being able to speak to people in their own language is an important step toward understanding other cultures and bringing people together.
What was your very first job and how old were you?
I sold pinecones and seashells door-to-door to my very tolerant neighbors when I was eight. My first paying job was as a Camp Fire Girls counselor when I was 18. I also worked as a ship-to-shore marine radiotelephone operator providing phone communications for freighters on the Great Lakes that same summer.
Word on the street is you like to collect knives? Tell us about it and how that began.
That’s true! I have always had a fascination with sharp and shiny objects. Once at a flea market I came across an issue of “Knives Illustrated” magazine. It had photos of the most interesting and beautiful knives; I had no idea that there was a whole culture around hand-made art knives! I went to a New York Custom Knife Show and the rest, as they say, is history. I met the makers, asked a lot of questions, and was totally hooked. I now have a small but nice collection of art knives, have taken some knifemaking classes, and even worked part-time one summer for a professional knife maker.
What is something about you that may surprise your colleagues?
In my younger days I dressed up in armor and got hit with sticks as a medieval recreationist in the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA). I still dress up in my funny clothes for a trip to the Ren Faire about once a year.
What (else) do you like to do outside of work?
I live five-minutes from a 4,400-acre state park; I like to get out and hike when I can. I also love to travel and go out to clubs to dance, although both are difficult these days.
Share something exciting you did in the last 12 months.
Last fall I found a group of people to hike with and we did a hike and overnight camp; I slept in a hammock for the first time. We had torrential rain halfway through the night, but I had a good time anyway!
Do you have a favorite movie, artist and/or book?
Movie: Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, any of the John Wick series, and old martial arts movies like the Zatoichi films.
TV: Star Trek – TOS, TNG, Voyager, and Discovery best.
Music: Yikes. I like most anything, especially if I can dance to it! Classical, blues, big band, classic rock, techno…
Book: Lord of the Rings, The Prophet (Kahlil Gibran).
Please share a favorite quote.
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind. – Dr. Suess
AutoPost File Without Needing to Review
Do you find yourself pressing Enter to process your AutoPost file without needing to review the screens that appear?
Click on image to view larger version.
Dashboard is a valuable tool to quickly get an up-to-date snapshot of your Q-LawE processes. From the main menu, click on [Dashboard], and, if you are a member of multiple usergroups in Q-LawE, please select your Usergroup. You will be taken to your Dashboard, as shown below, configured with any program you select in [Edit Dashboard].
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From this screen, you can define a date range period for reporting purposes. The ability to filter to a selected State is shown on the right side of the screen. You can also see from the options on the right that you can view work that is currently due/past due under [Tasks Due].
We also offer tracking of work completed in the Tasks Done, AMR Log, Worknow Log, and Workflow Log buttons for the date range entered.
Shown below is the Tasks Due screen where you can see the breakdown in each column of how many tasks are due and upcoming.
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Locate in Scanning and Print to vMedia
Both Scanning and Print modules have a Locate feature on the menu. Within that feature there is a button that will bring up the “Last Saved Document” in the user’s session. This is extremely useful when additional pages need to be added to an existing document (for example, downloads from two different websites or emails). In Scanning, the Last Saved Document is valid until the user exits the Scanning module. For Print to vMedia, the Last Saved Document is valid until the Print to vMedia engine closes (which is 60 minutes of idle time by default; this time can be adjusted).
Click on image to view larger version.
ENTER TO WIN
September 2020 Winners
Congratulations to the winners from the September Contest!
Kevin Glasow, Javitch Block, LLC., Prize selection: Duffel Bag
Rhonda Martell, Fein, Such, Kahn & Shepard, Prize selection: Duffel Bag
Daniel Potts, Lloyd & McDaniel, Prize selection: Tile Mate
And here are the answers to our September contest questions:
1. What would you find in the middle of Toronto?
The letter “o”.
2. Who was the first President of all 50 states?
3. I left my campsite and hiked south for 3 miles. Then I turned east and hiked for 3 miles. I then turned north and hiked for 3 miles, at which time I came upon a bear inside my tent eating my food! What color was the bear?
White. The only place you can hike 3 miles south, then east for 3 miles, then north for 3 miles and end up back at your starting point is the North Pole. Polar bears are the only bears that live at the North Pole, and they are white.
October 2020 Contest
Can you solve these pictures puzzles?
This contest ended 11/6/2020. Thanks to all who entered and congratulations to the winners.