Every Friday morning Alice has three hours of copying and pasting, sorting, filtering, cleaning and reconciling. It's dull, repetitive and a sure-fire way to embarrass herself in front of customers when she inevitably mis-aligns the names and email addresses.
Bill has a stack of 200 forms to enter into the computer, and probably the same again tomorrow. He thought he had bad handwriting — what a job.
Charlie spends his day telling anxious customers: "Sorry, I don't know what went wrong with your enrolment", "Sorry, all refunds take two weeks" or "Sorry, the computers are slow today". It's demoralising to be relentlessly ambushed by problems and embarrassing when he can't solve them.
Humans are great at helping customers, being creative and funny, making smart decisions with limited information, handling unexpected situations and resolving conflict — all the things computers are terrible at. Don't make your people do spreadsheets all day.
Let your customers interact with your business without having to constantly hold their hand. Reduce phone calls and emails by giving them the ability to change their own payment details, register, enrol, book for an event or find out how to get to your offices.
Deliver data directly into your accounting system. Take online payments at 2am and renew subscriptions without staff involvement. Let customer service staff process refunds on the spot. Reconcile everything automatically so that payment system errors are immediately visible.
Make decisions based on up-to-date, accurate and relevant data. Make stakeholders feel valued and involved by not having to chase you to find out what's going on. Represent your information interactively on maps. We love maps.
Stop fighting for your piece of pie; go and find a bigger pie. One where the people live in other cities or countries, speak different languages and use different currencies. Let your customers type in their own information. Automate the repetitive work so that you only need to deal with the exceptional cases.
Catch an accidental double payment straight away and contact the customer. A surprised and grateful person on the other end of the phone — wouldn't that be a nice change?
“The registration system is smooth and incredibly easy to use. I have no doubt that this helped us reach our record 45,000 registrations in 2011. Ben’s guidance and responsiveness is a great asset to have on any project.”
“The team were thorough, dedicated and easy to work with. They provided user-friendly solutions to the complex problems of our event. I recommend them.”
Established in 2004, Sturm (formerly Software Freedom Labs) is a software development business based in Brown Hill, Australia.
Through creative use of computing, we enable organisations to get more done in less time. Engineering isn't usually described as "creative", but that's how we like to see it. We learn about your business processes then engineer complex computing systems so staff can get on with more interesting work.
While we'd happily talk your ear off about the technical details, we understand that our work is never really about technology.
During the 1980s, the software industry discovered that you could extract more money by artificially restricting what customers can do with their software. This is known as "proprietary" or "non-free" software and is unfortunately still the dominant practice. While undoubtedly profitable, it is highly unethical.
By contrast we use and write 100% Free Software (sometimes called Open Source). This doesn't mean we work free-of-charge, but it does mean we behave ethically towards you and that you're always in control.