frequently-asked-questions               Fast FYI

FAQ - RidgeGarrett Application Services

1 - Why should you partner with RidgeGarrett?

There are several reasons to strategically partner with RidgeGarrett beyond the reasons outlined in the FAQ: "Why not get our apps direct from the OEM vendors?".

The landscape of software applications and technology changes very fast -- that's our space. We keep on top of changes in everything related to applications and services we deliver to your company. We implement best practices into our own work, and keep you informed for yours. Our goal is to keep "usability and productivity" at the forefront of every consideration we make to help your company continually do more, with less.

We'll keep an eye toward your current business process and regularly suggest areas of opportunity to do things better and faster. The Enterprise2.0 mindset in everything we do. Partner with us, and learn how a well planned Web Strategy can transform your business to thrive in the new world.

Make RidgeGarrett your trusted business technology apps and services provider. It's time to do more...with less.


2 - Why not get our apps direct from the OEM vendors?

 Great question!  Control of your technology strategy is key.

Here are just a couple good reasons why you should partner with RidgeGarrett:

  • Remember, it's not about the software! It's the business value of a software app that justifies your adding it as part of your overall business process. The OEM vendor will of course, make sure their baseline application is working as they have released it. However, they have no concern for any customizations or integrations you have made in order for it to enable your unique business process. Same goes for the add-on modules that are part of your production application. As a partner of your company, we continually help you to stay on a path to success.  
  • Consider the longer term needs of any growing company. It's likely that sooner than later you'll need to add capabilities to your plan as your business increases. It's easy to see procuring all applications from the OEM vendors presents a variety of down-side issues. Let's say for example, your company acquires only 3 new apps over the next 3 years. Here's a few things you'll have to work with, if dealing direct with multiple OEM vendors:
    • 6 points of contact for each service, hosting support, implementation, integration, training, billing and invoicing. These alone may yield 18+ new touchpoints for your company to maintain. With RidgeGarrett as your partner, we handle all those details as part of our Services Agreement. It's seamless to you so you can focus on doing business, not technology.
    • The OEM vendors are responsible only for their own app, as we mentioned earlier. Each vendor has a myopic view of your business with respect to their own goals.  RidgeGarrett takes a 10,000 ft view of your entire business and technology plans, and then approaches each application deployment, implementation and integration with the end goals in perspective.
    • OEM vendors require you to keep up with their versioning and software release updates, regardless of whether the update contains functionalities you need or want. Many additional expenses occur when you are required to beta test every vendor's upcoming releases before they update your app -- multiply this by the 3 applications you're procuring over the next 3 years, and what you'll have is an ongoing nightmare. RidgeGarrett manages your applications, and continually stays abreast of the upcoming versions and releases by the OEM vendors. We'll control the upgrade schedules for your apps instead of being at the mercy of the vendors. This is a very important point to consider, as not every single version and release may necessarily be of interest to your company.


3 - How did you choose the apps offered in the App Suite?

We've done the vetting of the vendors, and have chosen what we feel are top business applications in their respective space.  Our business model is not specifically focused on one particular product for any specific vertical market. Rather, we take a customer-centric focus to deliver a variety of applications that are typically needed in all companies. This unique capability gives RidgeGarrett the ability to develop long lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with customers as they quickly realize we can be their primary provider of enterprise applications, integrations and app customizations. Our business model allows us to go "deep and wide" across a customer account, instead of the usual "one and done" mentality of space-centric software vendors.


4 - Are there overlapping functionalities between apps in the App Suite?

Absolutely there is. Will you need every app in our suite? Absolutely not. Which is yet another reason why it makes sense to partner with RidgeGarrett.

For example, below are a few typical questions needing answers before you deploy any application...the 10,000 foot view of your overall business strategy must be in perspective!

  1. Each application has some level of built-in reporting capability. How will this reporting be utilized in the immediate departmental sense, and how does it differ from the reporting capabilities afforded by a Business Intelligence application?  What are the differences, and how do these differences effect the departmental users, management, and executive levels who need the information generated by both applications? Do we truly need both applications?
  2. If the Business Intelligence app includes ETL capabilities to feed data into the application, why would we possibly need a different solution for our overall data strategy? Couldn't we use one for the other? What is the difference? Do we truly need both applications?
  3. What is the difference between a website Content Management System (CMS) and a Document Management System? What are the exact reasons it makes sense to use either one? Don't they control the same information? 
  4. The Human Resources Management (HRM) application will collect employee information and documents, so can't we just use the Document Management System instead of deploying another application?
  5. If we're leveraging the Business Intelligence application, why would we want to have our own Wiki? What's the difference and what are the benefits of the differences, and who are the beneficiaries of each one?

Remember, you want technology to drive your business. Not your business driving technology! When your company deals with multiple OEM vendors for your business applications, many of the above questions remain unanswered. The end result is typically a growing array of duplicated work efforts and more silos of data and information. This is exactly what you were trying to avoid in the first place.

RidgeGarrett will keep the 10,000 ft perspective in view for every decision that effects life on the ground for your company. We get it. Partner with us and you'll have it. It's time to do more...with less.


5 - Does RidgeGarrett Guarantee our apps and data are secure?

Rest easy, your apps and data are secure when you partner with RidgeGarrett. Our state-of-the-art Data Center where your applications and data reside, is a very secure environment, with full backup and redundancy of all data and application information. Same goes for your Private Cloud that may involve your apps, data, and virtual servers, too.  We guarantee our infrastructure capabilities. Have you read our Service Level Agreement (SLA), yet?

Of course, we do highly recommend a Secure Virtual Private Network  tunnel be utilized for all data passing between your office locations and the Data Center or your Private Cloud. Your remote workers obviously need to be connected via the VPN too, whenever accessing corporate business applications and information from remote locations.

Rest easy. RidgeGarrett provides the security and data availability you need. We can also help you sleep better at night with a comprehensive plan for enterprise data backup and recovery, too!

6 - Does RidgeGarrett maintain Partner Agreements with the OEM vendors?

In some instances, it does make sense to have partnership arrangements in place with an OEM software vendor. Other cases it does not. Our decision to RidgeGarrett establishing a partner relationship with any vendor is heavily weighted against requirements put in place by the vendor on their partner community. Most of the vendors who are considered leaders in their respective space include (as part of their partnership requirements) annual fees and other marketing-type event activities which must be facilitated and paid by, the partner.

Our philosophy is to leverage those available events as we deem necessary instead of being forced to follow protocol that may not be in your best interests of time, money, and educational value.  As your company's partner, we'll recommend specific events and other training activities that bring the most benefit to your company, on an as-needed basis. Again, the idea is always to remain in control of your overall technology plan and not be governed by outside entities that add costs and complexities to your strategy.

7 - Do you recommend the Premium or Community version?

Most often, customers will desire to upgrade their applications to realize the full benefits of the premium versions of the software. This is very typical across all vendors who offer Open Source software.

When a request is made to upgrade an application, RidgeGarrett will handle all details of the upgrade and conduct all necessary functional testing to ensure nothing between the systems integrations is effected before we roll the upgraded version into your production environment. Once assured the application upgrades are functioning correctly, we'll determine an appropriate time to do the swap outside of the your normal working hours. The application upgrade will be seamless to the end users, and ready to go for the next business day needs. A notification email will be sent to appropriate users and management prior to the upgrade, and again after successful rollout of the new production version.

Any training requested for the new functionalities will be conducted after the swap, ideally soon as possible in order to ensure end users become productive quickly as possible. 

9 - How are upgrades made by the OEM vendors handled?

 Typically, we recommend updates or upgrades to your apps under one of the following circumstances:

If the OEM vendor recommends an update due to a security issue, we'll recommend an immediate fix.

Our Protocol:  RidgeGarrett will apply the fix in a "test environment" to avoid interrupting your application usage. We'll conduct the necessary functional testing to ensure nothing between any app modules or system integrations is effected before we roll the updated version into your production environment. Once assured the app is conforming with all integrations between systems, we will determine an appropriate time to do the swap outside of your normal working hours. The application upgrade will be seamless to end users, and ready to go for your next business day needs. A notification email will be sent to appropriate users and management prior to the fix, and again after successful rollout of the fixed application.  If you're dealing with 3 OEM vendors for your applications you can multiply this scenario X 6...and then you'll you have an expensive recipe for madness.

When the OEM vendor releases an updated version of their app containing improved functionality or additional features, we may or may not recommend an immediate upgrade to your own app, depending on what the changes made by the OEM include.

Our Protocol:  We evaluate every update made by the OEM vendors for all apps we deliver for you as our customer. Knowing your business process and tools currently in use, we'll advise you whether or not we feel it is in your best interest to incorporate those changes into the current working version of your app.

Keep in mind, same as with the traditional enterprise software companies, Open Source OEM vendors sometimes release new versions and updates simply to keep their own recurring revenues from consulting and training flowing as needed. The bottom line is, when obtaining your Open Source apps directly from the vendor, you're business is at the mercy of their schedule, not yours. With RidgeGarrett, we control the application release schedule to ensure your best interests are always at the forefront of every action.

10 - Can we define the Support levels we need?

Yes. The Services Agreement will include a tailored Support plan for your exact needs. Depending upon which apps or services we'll deliver for your company, the support you need will be a perfect fit. Your written Services Agreement will include specific details of every item we're accountable for.

11 - Are we locked-in to a long term Contract?

RidgeGarrett does not require any type of long term contract to utilize our apps or Services. We believe that a true "win-win" partnership is based on beneficial performance by both parties involved. We're confident to offer this type of arrangement based on what we feel are the benefits we're able to offer you as a partner. We will, however, offer you incentive options to commit for longer terms than the standard month-to-month timeframe.

12 - What is SSAE 16 Compliance?

SSAE 16 OverviewSSAE16

Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements (SSAE) No. 16, Reporting on Controls at a Service Organization, was finalized by the Auditing Standards Board of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) in January 2010.  SSAE 16 effectively replaces SAS 70 as the authoritative guidance for reporting on service organizations. SSAE 16 was formally issued in April 2010 with an effective date of June 15, 2011.  

SSAE 16 was drafted with the intention and purpose of updating the US service organization reporting standard so that it mirrors and complies with the new international service organization reporting standard – ISAE 3402.

For service organizations that currently have a SAS 70 service auditor’s examination (“SAS 70 audit”) performed, some changes will be required to effectively reporting under the new SSAE 16 standard.  

Benefits to User Organizations 

User organizations that obtain a Service Auditor's Report from their service organization(s) receive valuable information regarding the service organization's controls and the effectiveness of those controls. The user organization receives a detailed description of the service organization's controls and an independent assessment of whether the controls were placed in operation, suitably designed, and operating effectively (in the case of a Type II report).

User organizations should provide a Service Auditor's Report to their auditors. This will greatly assist the user auditor in planning the audit of the user organization's financial statements. Without a Service Auditor's Report, the user organization would likely have to incur additional costs in sending their auditors to the service organization to perform their procedures.  

For more information about RidgeGarrett Data Center Compliance, contact us. 

Fast FYI - Insights that drive Business, better!

13 - Should our Website be enabled for Mobile Commerce?

Why Mobile Commerce Is Set To Explode

Revenues from Smartphone and Tablet Shopping

Shoppers carry mobile devices everywhere they go, and they're already using their phones to redeem coupons, research products, and pay for things online and offline.

With mobile, it's now feasible to track an individual from the very first intention to shop for an item, to the actual purchase at point-of-sale. 

The size of the mobile commerce opportunity in dollar terms, including mobile payments, tablet commerce, and SoLoMo (social-local-mobile) marketing - are contributing to a big increase in mobile commerce. If your business web strategy does not include the ability to capture these growing trends in mobile shopping, you risk losing to a competitor's site that does. 

A brief overview of the rise of the mobile shopper: 

  • Mobile commerce is big, and getting bigger: 29% of U.S. mobile users already have used their smartphones to make a purchase. Mobile sales were 6.6% of Cyber Monday e-commerce sales in 2011, up from 3.9 percent in 2010. Bank of America predicts $67.1 billion in revenue from smartphone and tablet retail purchasing by European and U.S. shoppers in 2015. Many other statistics - such as YOY quadrupling in traffic from tablet visitors to retail websites - suggest a similarly huge wave of mobile commerce to come. 
  • Mobile payment solutions will help drive growth: Mobile payments are about the extra value that can created as a direct link between brands and consumers. That's the direction being taken by Passbook, which sidestepped payments to start with coupons, loyalty rewards, and ticketing. Established mobile payments players, such as Square and Google Wallet, are building on transactional solutions to offer shopping-related services.
  • Continuing growth of tablet usage: It has long been known that consumers use their tablets to research purchases. But tablets are also used to complete purchases, much more so than smartphones. Tablets drive more traffic to online retailers than smartphones, and tablet consumers spend more per transaction than PC-based shoppers.With tablet sales set to explode in the coming years, this trend will only increase. 
  • The nature of mobile makes it uniquely attractive to marketers: Commerce has always struggled with two basic challenges - increasing consumer traffic and influencing shopping decisions just as the consumer's about to buy.  With location targeting, shoppers can be enticed into stores for items they're in the market for. With in-store mobile marketing, an indecisive consumer can be nudged toward a specific brand or product. 

The overall rise in mobile commerce will continue well into the future as more and more people are enabled (and expected) to conduct their business on-the-fly. With Federal mandates to make broadband access more affordable and available to every person, mobile and social commerce will continue it's upward trek for a long time to come.

14 - Inbound Marketing: The difference between earning and begging for business.

Inbound Marketing is based on the concept of earning the attention of prospects, making yourself easy to be found, and drawing customers to your business website for further interactions by producing content customers value.

By contrast, traditional forms of outbound marketing are based on the concept of buying attention through the use of information channels that include 3rd party bulk mailings, radio and TV ads, sales flyers, email spam and cold-call telemarketing, among others.

Outbound marketing continues to become less and less effective due to the growing number of sales messages prospects are exposed to every day. For this reason, online marketers are now focusing toward inbound marketing strategies -- the process by which you build and distribute valuable content that enables new customers to find out about your business without direct involvement on your part.

Tools that can be used as part of an Inbound Content Marketing strategy include:InboundMarketingPictograph

  • YouTube Videos
  • White Papers
  • Product Tearsheets
  • Company Blogs
  • Dedicated Website landing pages
  • Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing (SEO, SEM)
  • Social sharing of content via Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.
  • eCommerce & Online product catalogs
  • Back-linking to industry leading websites relevant to your business
  • Press Release distributions to national news and affiliate outlets
  • Web-sitemap optimizations and submission to major search engines


15 - Why Content Marketing is King!

content-is-king-2When it comes to marketing strategies, content marketing has just been crowned king, far surpassing search engine marketing, public relations and even print, television and radio advertising as the preferred marketing tool for today's business-to-business entrepreneur.

HiveFire (a Cambridge, Mass.-based internet marketing software solutions company) surveyed nearly 400 marketing professionals about the state of the business-to-business, or B2B, market, and discovered that marketers are retreating from traditional marketing tactics such as search marketing and have made content marketing the most-used tactic in their brand-enhancing tool box.

Fact is, according to HiveFire's B2B Marketing Trends Survey Report, twice as many B2B marketers now employ content marketing as they do print, TV and radio advertising, according to the survey.

So what exactly is content marketing? It's the creation and publication of original content -- including blog posts, case studies, white papers, videos and photos -- for the purpose of generating leads, enhancing a brand's visibility, and putting the company's subject matter expertise on display. HiveFire's researchers found that an impressive 82 percent of B2B marketers now employ content marketing as a strategy in their marketing programs. Coming in at a distant second place is search engine marketing at 70 percent, followed by events at 68 percent, public relations at 64 percent and print/TV/radio advertising at 32 percent.

Seventy-eight percent of respondents said driving sales and leads was the top marketing goal of their organization, followed by boosting brand awareness and establishing or maintaining thought leadership (both at 35 percent). Another 28 percent said their primary goal was to increase web traffic and 24 percent said it was to improve search results.

Part of the popularity of content marketing is its ability to generate qualified leads while engaging prospects in a branded environment. B2B marketers also believe most of their customers and prospects are online, which is why they're focusing their marketing efforts on the Internet.

Finally, the survey shows that "content curation" -- which is defined as the process of finding, organizing and sharing content -- continues to gain strength as a top marketing strategy, up 17 percent from six months ago. Seen as a way for marketers to fuel their marketing programs, content curation does have its problems. Nearly 70 percent of content curators say lack of time hinders their efforts, with 66 percent saying a lack of original and quality content is a major drawback. Another 38 percent say difficulty in measuring results is the stumbling block and 37 percent say lack of staff to do the work is the hindrance.

Despite these issues, the survey makes clear that content marketing is only going to become more important going forward, whether you market to other businesses or to the public at large.

Article credits to Mikal E. Belicove, a market positioning, social media, and management consultant specializing in website usability and business blogging. His latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Facebook, is now available at bookstores.  


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