Archive for the ‘Technology Outsourcing’ Category

Your Online Virtual Assistant Is a Multi Purpose Assistant

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

The internet is filled with bogs and articles screaming out for the undeniable need of an online virtual assistant especially for the small business owners. If you are a small business owner and have searched for a virtual assistant you might have come across these articles and blog posts. But do you even know how useful a virtual assistant could be to your business? Virtual assistants are not just about handling your regular data entry and replying formally through the official emails, they are professionals who can do a lot of work to help your business reduce operational cost without cutting down quality.

Here are some of the things a VA can assist our business with.

Website building and maintenance
It wouldn’t be news to you about the importance of having a website for your business. But do you know how much you would need to invest to hire an IT department equipped with the best website developers? Surely you can’t afford to have a team of website developers in your budget and you’ll need to have it built and maintained as well. Your VA can provide you complete technology services and even a backup when you are done with the building of the website and need it to be maintained for proper long term functionality.

Ranking and popularity
Your website is not built to be a part of the shadows. It has a purpose and should be available to every customer who wishes to reach you according to your business. Competition over the internet is tough and there is no way you can have your website ranked high in the search engines without applying the proper route popularly known as internet marketing. You’ll need to have the SEO done along with the social media for the world to know that you are an active business and it is safe to have transactions with.

Business services
Do you need a secretary to keep you updated with your weekly and daily schedule of the meetings, birthdays and anniversaries? Do you have enough to handle outdoors that your business is suffering by not being updated regularly? Let your online virtual assistant handle the stressful tasks of updating your task sheets and the invoice records as well as keep you posted with all the upcoming events important for your personal and professional life. By providing you the business services you need, you will have a back office to keep your business well maintained without even hiring a physical team.

How a Virtual Personal Assistant Takes Your Business to the Top

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Perfect professional skills and the ability to multi task, these are some of the reasons why companies are keen to hire a virtual personal assistant than someone else for their tasks. Having a single resource able to manage and effectively complete multiple tasks save the company time and money. What do you think a virtual assistant is capable to do? Here are some of the tasks he can effectively complete with perfection and professionalism.

Content moderation and marketing
We all know that content is King! There’s no denying to the fact if you want your money minting website to rank high in the SERPS. You’ll be needing fresh, unique and SEO friendly content on a daily basis to have it spread around the internet building quality back links for your website. Your virtual assistant would keenly provide the exact articles and blogs for your website so that your business website starts growing and climb to the highest rankings possible.

Press releases
You are not a mature business unless you act like one. A lot of things happen in your company which is worth sharing with your customers and in some way, to make your competitors envy your growth and expansion. Your virtual assistant would definitely handle the task of spreading the news in an appropriate manner which would help in publicizing your company in the corporate world and also act as a catalyst to boost your rankings on the internet.

Website maintenance and building
How old is your website now? How long has it been when the website was built and made live on the internet? Surely you can’t boast about professionalism and style with a website built in the design which looks like your grandfather gave you in inheritance. You’ll need a fresh and attractive design which would be appealing to the users as they come to your website. We all know if you customers like the website, they certainly like your business too. So you can use the technology services of your VA to upgrade your website or build a completely new one.

The secret success for a small business to become one of the top leading enterprises in the state is keeping operational costs as close to zero as possible in the start. Unless the business starts earning enough to make you confident about expanding your physical employees, the business owner should use the full services of a virtual personal assistant. But this does not mean you should let go of your VA once you have grown through his help and abilities. Some huge names in the business world still use their VA’s even though they are a multi-billion enterprise. But it all depends on your confidence and the will to continue your business with him.

Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC): Why Small and Medium Businesses Should Make an Effort to Understand it

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

The field of Software Engineering is relatively new and introduction of scientific approaches for software development has been a recent phenomenon. As software use proliferated in late 70s and early 80s, and as programming languages evolved from assembly languages to higher level procedural and object oriented languages, software development experts in industry and universities started looking for ways to improve quality and reliability of their products. The result was introduction and refinement of Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) and other formal development methodologies that were based on SDLC.

Today most of the big corporations and military organizations either follow industry standard processes or their slightly modified versions to guide their internal development. Rational Unified Process (RUP) is an example and is one of the most widely used development process, though more and more companies are experimenting with Agile Process that promotes faster development cycles. Readers can search for SDLC on the web to get more details on different stages of SDLC and the importance of each phase. While big corporations recognized the importance of SDLC and adopted it early, the Small and Medium Businesses were not really aware of the changes. The reasons were obvious. Either they were too small to need any automation that software brought, or if they needed any software they bought it off the shelf rather than developing it internally.  Understanding SDLC was not really of any use to them. The exception to this was any SMEs that were specifically developing and selling software to other companies.

However, the technology landscape started to shift earlier in this decade and more affordable software development platforms started becoming accessible to SMEs. We covered the popularity of open-source technology stack in an earlier blog and how it helped SMEs adopt new web based software. SMEs are now increasingly using web based applications and mobile applications to run their daily operations. In this environment where more software systems are becoming part of their business operations, it is becoming important for SMEs grasp the importance of Software Development Life Cycle and why they add value to their business.

It is important to note that most SMEs still are not developing their own software. They do not have internal development resources to do so but they are increasingly partnering with outside providers to develop internal systems. Understanding SDLC principles will better equip them to select and sustain better relationship with their outside software development partners. They would better understand different phases of development and what to expect after the provider finishes each of these phases. Completion of each phase can formally require a document that would need to be signed off by both parties. For example, if the provider mentions that it has finished the testing phase, then the customer can ask for formal documentation, such as written test plans, that would indicate that thorough testing has been performed and the results have been added to those test cases. In addition, SMEs would also better comprehend what their responsibilities are in making these software projects a success.

Documenting requirements would force them to think hard about what exactly they want in their product. Discussing test plans would also make SMEs aware of the importance of formal testing, both on the provider side and also on the customer side. We have seen, quite a few times, when SME owners driven by cost or time pressure, insisted on rolling their projects or changes to their existing systems to production environment without going through their own acceptance procedures. While life as an SME owner can be chaotic, it is imperative that they grasp the importance of following processes, since these processes will actually reduce chaos in their operations and will serve them better down the road.

Moreover, SDLC, is not a technical document – rather it’s a process document. So, as such, it is not a very technically challenging read and most readers should be able to understand the basic concepts of phased approach to software development. Time and effort they put in understanding SDLC would definitely be a worthwhile investment for their businesses.

Moving to the Cloud

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Wikipedia describes Cloud Computing as “Internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software and information are provided to computers and other internet enabled devices.” It is an internet based delivery model, through the “cloud”, that allows home and business users to easily access hardware and software capabilities remotely over the internet.

Companies, wherever feasible, have always tried to offload non-core operations to outside providers who could run them with better cost base and efficiency. Big companies, long time ago, got away from generating their own electricity and started consuming it from the electric grids. Further advancements in technology have kept pushing the envelope of what companies can outsource to outside providers. Today every major industry relies on a chain and tiers of outside providers and suppliers that help to optimize the operational efficiency and lower the cost.


Cloud Computing is continuation of the above trend. It represents a significant refinement of the delivery model which takes advantage of better technology and faster internet to provide computing services for companies that are charged based on consumption and hence provides better economics for these companies. Today these companies can procure computing power in a scalable manner and without significant upfront cost.

Potential Issues

It is inevitable that going forward more and more companies would be looking to Cloud Computing for their hardware capacity and software services needs. Therefore it is critical that companies are aware of potential issues of this delivery model and have risk mitigation strategies in place to address them.

  • The data security issue – all of the data will be hosted on the servers of the service providers. This change, by itself, is enough for companies to think twice before moving their operations to cloud.
  • Trust level – how much a company trusts its provider is the key to how fast the cloud adoption would proceed.
  • Service Level Agreement (SLA ) – whether Service Level Agreements would support the business objectives of the companies.
  • Internet Connectivity – whether internet connectivity is stable and fast enough to support securing cloud services over the internet.

Things to consider

Like every technology and business transformation endeavor, the shift to Cloud Computing has to be planned carefully. Below are some points to consider when planning a switch to Cloud Computing.

  • Review your business strategy and make sure that it is compatible with Cloud Computing model. For example, a company that processes financial transactions may not want to give up control of their data and server operations since a breach could be fatal to their business model.
  • Review the license agreements and user manuals before subscribing to any service. While bigger companies would always perform this due diligence, the smaller companies some times get locked into the contracts without reading the fine-print.
  • Make sure the provider has proper backup plans of your data.
  • Verify where the servers are physically hosted, where the data is stored, and what level of certifications and storage policies are being implemented on the provider side. The physical location of the servers could impact the regulatory requirements and in some cases the speed at which you receive the computing services.
  • Understand the pricing structure before subscribing with any cloud provider. Different kinds of pricing models are currently being used by providers like per user cost model, total usage cost model, and fixed weekly/monthly cost model. Make sure you do your home-work and select the model that will cost you the least while meeting your requirements. Also find out how feasible it would be to switch from one pricing plan to another.
  • Make sure that the provider allows data export out of their systems. It is critical for you to maintain back-ups of your data on your side and also be able to switch to another provider if needed.

Switching to Cloud Computing model represents a significant change of direction for any company but is not the best option for all of them. Knowing what issues to consider and how to address them would help you decide whether this is the best move for your business.

Cloud Computing: A Paradigm Shift for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Cloud Computing has been generating a lot of buzz lately. The topic has been appearing more and more frequently in technology magazines, blogs, and big technology outfits like IBM, HP, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon have all setup offerings to capitalize on the growing acceptance of Cloud based services. The term Cloud Computing does not refer to one particular service; rather it encompasses collection of offerings that provide customers with an option to rent these services as opposed to spending large amount of capital to buy them upfront. While this subscription or rent based model appeals to enterprises of all sizes, it’s the Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs) that stand to benefit the most from this paradigm shift. With no startup capital required, the SMEs can quickly ramp up their computing capacity, try out new enterprise applications in areas such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Business Intelligence (BI), or experiment with renting entire software development platforms to build and host their own customized applications.

Flexible Infrastructure

Research shows that enterprises waste a significant percentage of their physical computing capacity. The initial planning often results in procurement of hardware to anticipate the future growth in usage which, more often than not, does not materialize. This disconnect between computing capacity and the actual requirement is not limited to larger organizations. SMEs also face a difficult choice of either procuring expensive dedicated hosting solutions or, if they cannot afford that, resorting to cheaper shared hosting solutions that give them little control of their hosting environment. Moreover, keeping their physical computing setup in sync with their changing business requirements is a constant challenge. In most cases, improving capacity meant moving to a more powerful machine with more memory and that required migrating all the running applications causing headache and downtime. Cloud Infrastructure Services provide an ideal solution where SMEs can sign up with little or no upfront costs and they are billed on how much computing power, memory, and data transfer they have consumed. Amazon Cloud Services (EC2) is an ideal starting point for SMEs looking to explore Cloud Computing. They have wide range of services that cater, or can cater to an entrepreneurial entity to large companies looking for hundreds of virtual servers.

Software as a Service

Cloud Computing encompasses more than just flexible Infrastructure services. The term also includes increasing number of enterprise applications that are hosted on the servers of Cloud Computing providers and then rented out to companies who use them as a service. The data generated by the users of these applications is also stored on the servers of the providers. While some critics question the wisdom of storing important business data on outside servers, the approach does have strong appeal to SMEs who do not have resources, both financial and human, to store data on in-house servers and secure it properly. has been one of the biggest successes of this model. Their CRM software has tens of thousands of customers who access the service through internet and store their data on its servers. Through its Google Apps for Businesses, Google is targeting companies to host their emails, document creation and editing, and Calendars. Business Intelligence (BI) applications are also making their way to clouds making this important segment accessible to SMEs. It is widely expected that other software vendors, like SAP and Oracle, will come out with offerings that follow the same delivery paradigm and are targeted towards SMEs.

Software Development Platforms in Cloud Environment

Another segment of Cloud Computing provides entire development platforms that companies can rent and then build and deploy their custom applications in the cloud. Increasing number of Cloud Computing companies are providing virtual machine images that have some of the common development platforms installed and ready to use. Examples include LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) web starters, Java, Ruby, and Flex pre-build environments. IBM has also made its flagship WebSphere Application Server, which is popular for building Java enterprise applications and web services, available on the cloud. SMEs which previously could not afford this IBM product can now rent its usage and deploy custom applications that can host mission critical applications.

Cloud Computing offers substantial cost benefits to SMEs in terms of how they maximize return from their IT investment. But like any other business expense, the whole process of adapting to Cloud Computing needs careful planning and execution. SMEs can partner with reliable outsourcing providers who can guide these companies through the whole process of finding reputed Cloud Providers, picking the right subscription plan, and developing, deploying, and maintaining their business applications and infrastructure using these Cloud based services.

Some Powerful Online Tools: Best of all, most are FREE

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Now that we are past 2010 New Year celebrations and are approaching end of January, it is time to take a pause and ask an important question: am I using all the FREE tools to my advantage? If the answer is no, or maybe, then read on. In this short blog, we discuss some of the simple, yet powerful tools, that when used properly can give you a competitive edge. Let’s start with a few that have proven their worth.

LiveZilla Live Chat Support

If you are running an online business and do not have live chat support then you are losing an important channel to connect to potential customer and, thus, are losing sales. LiveZilla live chat support tool offers great value – its FREE! It is a solid tool with good number of options and, best of all, it’s an open source application that can be easily customized and branded to fit your requirements. Research consistently shows that if the visitor has a question when visiting your website then he or she is likely to ask it to your chat support – assuming of course that it is available. Bottom line, chat support increases your probability of generating sales. Some technical expertise is required to install and configure the tool but its well worth the effort.

Google Analytics

The saying goes something like this – “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” For an online business, the ability to gather and analyze relevant sales and marketing data, is a must. Google Analytics enables you to understand website traffic sources, keywords used, and a whole range of data about your website visitors. The tool is FREE and provides intermediate level analytical information that can enable you to fine tune your marketing efforts. The cost to you is only few hours of setup time.


Skype is probably one of the best voice calling tool available in the online market place. Skype-to-Skype calls are FREE and now include video calls as well. With a large user following, this tool offers a great way for businesses and individuals to connect with each other and to potential customers. Skype also advertises reasonably priced plans which allow the users to place calls to land lines and offers other great features such as voice mails, ability to send SMS messages, and Call Forwarding. Skype is also available on popular Smart phones which is very useful for cost conscious businesses and users.


There are quite a few popular desktop sharing and meeting tools such as,, and to name a few. Another interesting tool that is very useful for one time use or single session is Twiddla. Say you are working with a vendor to update your website and you quickly need to point out a required change. Simply go to Twiddla, generate a meeting session (with one click), and pull up your website. Send the meeting link to the other party and now both parties can mark up the site together. Once the meeting is done you can save the edited file. This tool is very useful for one-off online meetings. And best of all, its FREE.

Google Docs

This is another powerful and FREE tool available from Google. Lets say you do not have Microsoft Word installed on your PC. You receive a Word document from a potential client and need to edit it and send it back. You can go to Google Docs, upload the document, make the edits, save it as a Word document, and send it back to your client. This is very useful for SMEs who do not want to install Microsoft Office, for cost or other reasons, on some or all of their PCs. Google Docs does lot more than just editing of common document formats. Other benefits include ease of sharing and collaboration. For example, you can setup a spreadsheet and other individuals, who are authorized, can update that on a daily or weekly basis. The document can be saved in Excel, OpenOffice, or PDF format. All you need to access and start using Google Docs is a Gmail account.

Stixy Bulletin Board

This is a web-based bulletin board that can be shared with friends, family, and colleagues. On this board you can put widgets; a widget could be a note, task, appointment, photo, to-do item, or a document. There are no rules on how you can arrange your bulletin board. Its completely up to you. We found the tool interesting to use. However, this is a not a formal project management tool but a casual sharing platform. So far Stixyboards are FREE or at least we couldn’t find any pricing structure given.

Gliffy Diagram Creator

Gliffy is an online diagram creating software tool. You can draw up professional quality flow charts, diagrams, floor plans, technical drawings, and more. Moreover, you can collaborate and share diagrams with your team. The tool has a good size object library that should fulfill most, if not all, of your requirements. The basic version of the plan is FREE with certain limitations, but if creating diagrams is important to you then a single seat license for $5/month might be worth the cost.


This is an online backup tool for your PC data. The key benefit is the ability to restore you data from anywhere. If you are an entrepreneur or a small business whose employees are on the move then this is definitely worth a look. The IDrive basic plan allows only 2 GB of FREE space but this should be enough to back up your important mission critical data. The tool has a number of features that allow you to pick and choose when and what data you want to back up on regular basis. Features include True Archiving/Sync, Continuous Data Protection, Mapped Drive Backup, Versioning, Timeline Restore, and many more. It also offers personal, family, and business plans. The paid plans are reasonably priced.

Disclaimer: Our endorsements are based on our experience in using the above tools. If you decide to use any of the above tools it is your responsibility to review its terms and conditions as Kaya Systems, its management, and affiliates will not be held responsible in any event since we have no control over any of these tools.

How VA Providers can help SMEs in Speeding up Technology Adoption

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

The world of Virtual Assistance has evolved from providing basic administrative and clerical support to handling increasingly complex tasks for clients. Today’s virtual assistants are increasingly becoming a gateway and a liaison between the client and the other specialized resources within their company. One area where this model can really gain traction is in addressing the growing technology pains for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

An SME can have myriad of technology needs, which are sometimes as diverse as for a large corporation, though obviously smaller in scale. These requirements can be generally divided into two categories. Firstly there are “must-have” needs such as email and desktop support. The second category includes applications in areas such as CRM or BPM (Business Process Management), which help make these companies more productive, more informed, and more responsive to the changing world. It’s this second category where SMEs have generally lagged the larger corporations in adoption for obvious reasons. The SMEs do not have the scale to invest in human resources, software, and consulting cost to implement these solutions. A lot of times SMEs are busy just trying to manage their must-have technology needs that they don’t get time to seriously think more about incorporating technology solutions to streamline their businesses.

However, during last few years, the environment has become increasingly favorable for SMEs to start looking into incorporating more technology into their daily business tasks. Firstly there is the rise and acceptance of open-source technologies as a viable alternative to more expensive commercial software from companies like Oracle and SAP. LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) based technology stack provide robust frameworks on which we can build applications. Also available are open-source customizable applications that target certain verticals such as Joomla for Content Management or SugerCRM for Customer Relationship Management. The result is that the product development life cycles have been reduced drastically thus enabling fairly rapid development and deployment at a much lower cost.

Secondly the evolution of VA companies have provided these SMEs with one-stop shop where they can ask providers to look into operations, spot potential areas which can be automated, suggest particular existing or new applications that can fit the bill, and then make development resources available to develop and maintain those applications. Today’s crop of VA companies has amassed a strong knowledge base working with SMEs which they can leverage. Plus they can rely on in-house research teams to supplement their knowledge base when working with a particular company. Quite simply, this range of services is not available through specialized offshore development houses or dedicated technology consulting companies.

Combine the low cost of open-source or subscription based software with the flexibility of reasonably priced VA rate plans and you create a very attractive model for SMEs to speed up technology adoption and gain competitive edge – at a time when they need it the most.