How to Find Quality Enterprise Programmers and Accountability

What is enterprise programming?

The simple definition of enterprise programming is a large corporation or company whose business has nothing to do with software development but decides to hire enterprise programmers to build a system that is specific to their company.

How is enterprise software different from other software?

The most obvious difference is the fact that enterprise software is created on a much larger scale and is generally for a huge user base that is able to support all personnel within the organization. It tends to come with much more variability than small-scale software. If the software provides critical solutions to help the business run smoothly, complete most of the day to day tasks, and be successful then its an enterprise software.

Some of the main components that make up enterprise software are that it can work across all business locations and through all departments. It usually interacts with other third party software, is highly scalable and robust, and involves various tools and applications. In other words, it’s quite complex.

What is the first step to successful enterprise programming?

Let’s start this off by saying that developing anything on an enterprise level is very complex and challenging compared to other types of programming. There is a laundry list of tasks that need to happen in order to ensure the software is programmed correctly.

The enterprise programmers must understand the architecture before the coding starts. There are a million lines of code which makes things very difficult if the development team doesn’t know what your current architecture is. Fully discuss your business goals so that the entire team can lay out a detailed plan to follow.

Constant testing of every line of code is key to ensuring this is successful. Testing can take up a lot of time so instead, the team should focus on little tests instead of everything at once. This saves quite a bit of time in the long run. Also, get rid of old tests you don’t need anymore.

Remember, enterprise programming is incredibly massive so things tend to get jumbled around. It’s like a spider web and everything must work together seamlessly otherwise your company won’t be able to rely on it. Communication with the software developers is a must in order to ensure the best product.

What are the best enterprise programming languages?

Every day the hottest programming trends change so it can be difficult to stay on top of it. However, software development companies must do this to ensure every customer receives the highest quality product. Over the years new programming languages have surfaced. Even with the addition of new languages, the older ones can still be valid because it depends on what your needs are. Here are some of the main languages used today:

1. Java 2. Ruby 3. C 4. Python 5. PHP 6. Perl 7. C++ 8. MATLAB 9. SQL

The last couple of years Java has been on top. However, this doesn’t mean it’s the best for your enterprise software. The best thing to do is to have a brief understanding of these languages then discuss your goals with the team as they will be able to provide the best programming language to use.

Should I hire dedicated programmers or build a team in-house?

This is a common question for any size business. There is a lot to consider before you decide on building in-house or outsourcing. If you decide to create a department within the company you do have more control over everything and you can go right to them at a moments notice. It also provides a team that knows your business inside and out which helps make fixing issues and adding new functions simpler.

However, the cost of this tends to be much higher, not just in payroll, but also in time. A lot of time and effort has to go into creating and managing the team. Just the hiring process alone can be tiresome. A task that many decide isn’t worth it.

Hiring a team of dedicated enterprise programmers through a software development company does save a lot of money on overhead costs and reduces the amount of time and effort you need to put in. On average you can save anywhere from 50 to 70% going this route.

Development companies already have the processes in place to complete the project and they have their own project managers to ensure every person is completing their tasks correctly. These companies also have security and maintenance systems, a QA team, availability, and expertise in place to build what you’re looking for.

Although hiring a team through a development company has a lot of benefits, it doesn’t mean there is no work on your end. This is your companies project and you should be involved quite a bit. Your company should have long detailed conversations and documents about what you are looking for and ensure the team understands. It would be similar to what you would do if you hired in-house but without all the extra tasks and costs.

How do I hire the right enterprise programmer?

Hiring a programming company is similar to how you would hire an app development or web development team. The first conversation you have with the company will help you determine if you should hire them or not.

  1. Are they providing a meaningful discussion of your business goals? They should be able to provide you with ideas and thoughts on what technology can be used to help solve problems. You don’t want to just hear “yes we can do that”. If that is all you hear, terminate the conversation and move on to the next company.

  2. Ask to see samples of their work so you can get an idea of their skill set.

  3. Do they understand the importance of UI/UX with regards to any type of development project?

  4. Can they provide a detailed specifications document? Review that document outlining the project and their step by step process of completing the project.

  5. Do they offer a lasting relationship? They should provide constant maintenance and ideas for incorporating new technology as they come out.

  6. If they pass all of the above, give them a test project to see how they do. This should be something you actually need. However, depending on what it is don’t expect it for free. This task is going to help you decide if that company is the right fit for you.

Do keep in mind the person that picks up the phone may not be the technical person. If they can’t answer your questions they should know to bring on one of their technical leaders on the call to discuss the project with you as well.

What do I need to discuss with the programming team?

  1. You should define your requirements. Ensure you have a project document which describes everything you are looking for. Then as mentioned the enterprise programmers will detail out the technical specifications. This should include items like the technology stack that you wish to have and delivery deadlines.

  2. Define the ongoing work approach and methods that will be used such as Scrum or Kanban

  3. Determine a time table based on your availability. It’s best to have a set schedule (such as 2 pm every Thursday) to meet and go over the progress.

  4. The enterprise programmers should have collaboration and communication tools to use which will help keep everyone in the loop on daily progress. You can provide a tool that you prefer using as well.

  5. Control over your IP. There should be complete transparency at all times when it comes to your codes.

  6. There should be an option to do month to month and not just a whole project contract.

Can my small business get enterprise quality programming?

You may be a small or mid-sized business and wondering if you can get the same level of programming that enterprises do. The answer is yes. It’s all about communication, budget, and needs. As a smaller business, you may just need 1 programmer to hire in-house or a mid-size company may want 3 dedicated programmers from an external development company. Either way, it’s all about hiring the right people who get what you want and do things the right way.

No matter what size business you are its crucial to find quality enterprise programmers who are accountable for every step of the process. Companies like SDI offer substantial services with experienced programmers to get the job done. To learn more contact Sakshi Sharma at 408.621.8481 or sakshi@sdi.la.

How Entrepreneurs Can Avoid Hidden App Development Costs

How to Avoid Hidden App Development Costs?

There is a great deal that goes into making an app. You’ve got this idea that you are really excited about but don’t know all the ins and outs of what’s needed to get it created, especially if it’s your first app project. The first step is having the idea and a basic concept of the main functions you want to include. Then you research and try to find the right app development company to figure out how much the app development costs would be.

One of the main issues you want to avoid when it comes to app development is avoiding those hidden costs. More often than not you get into a project and find that there are all these additional fees you must pay to keep the project going. It can be shocking and costly. Then you feel taken advantage of (rightfully so) and decide to pay it or move to a different company to finish it. Either way, the goal is to prevent this from happening.

Know Your Budget

Before you get too deep into it, make sure you have a well thought out financial plan. Many entrepreneurs don’t realize everything that’s truly involved when it comes to app development prices. Do an analysis of your budget and list what you want to be accomplished before you start calling up app development companies. Keep in mind, there are multiple things you should do before hiring a development company.

Hire A Local Company

It’s easier for you to communicate with those who are in the same country as you. This is not to say that a foreign app development companies are bad and shouldn’t be considered, it’s just a bit trickier. Problems can consist of language barriers, time zone differences, and so on.

2 more important factors you must seriously consider are contracts and costs. The US has strict guidelines that companies must follow with regards to business dealings. When it comes to contracts everything is spelled out as to what will be done in the project, how much it will cost, and what will happen if a disagreement takes place. These must be followed in order to ensure your project gets completed on time and on budget.

The other side of finding the right company locally is the cost. It’s not about being the most inexpensive either. Locally you may even pay a little higher but you get your project done the way you want, without unexpected fees. When comparing costs you want to make sure you don’t go for the cheapest because often times you will end up paying more because of these hidden app development costs.

Specification Documentation

Before you or your app development team start the process, the app development company should provide you with a specification document which outlines the following:

-Design Practices to be used in the app -List of all the functions to be developed in the app -Technology to be used to build the mobile app -Testing details that will be included -Any maintenance that will be needed -A detailed cost which includes design -Optional technology stack information -Optional cost list of making changes

While you’re discussing with the development team about what you want you should ensure that what you are asking for is what your market wants. Think about what your audience really needs and how it can solve a problem for them. You want to truly understand the functions they need and want because you and the development team will be following this specs document to the letter.

Technology Stack Information

This part is key to understanding what is included in your first version and what will be done in later versions. Of course you can do everything you want in the first version, however, if it’s over your budget you can consider adding a technology stack which details out what will be done in future versions of your mobile app and the cost associated with those items.

This is going to be the most important part of keeping your app development costs exactly where you need them to be with nothing hidden. If you go beyond the scope of the document and ask for additional items then it’s only logical that there would be an additional cost. You don’t want your app development company to starting telling you in the middle of the project “in order to complete it please pay us more” any more than they want to hear you say “do the additional tasks for me but I won’t pay any more money for it.”

Minimum Viable Product

Another option you have to create a minimum version of your app to show investors, also known as a proof of concept (PoC). This is usually the most affordable option. It just has the core function of your app so that you can show the investors why this app should be made and have them provide you with the funds. It’s one of the best ways to present your idea to investors without having to spend too much.

This also helps you test the market. You never know how people will react to it. You can do a test with this PoC to see the response and then expand your app as the market grows for it.

Stay Focused

Once the final decisions have been made about what version 1 will be for your app it’s important to stay focused on what was discussed and in the specifications document. This is the part that can be the most difficult for people because your constantly thinking about what else you can do to make it better. Although that is great and you can work with your development team to keep note of these ideas, you have to be careful. These ideas mean changes, which means additional app development costs you weren’t expecting.

1. Design

The app design phase will be first in the development process. You will spend some time going back and forth before finalizing what the design should be and that is fine. UI and UX is very important and should be done correctly. There are however problems that arise in this phase. You start to come up with some ideas you think is better and discuss it with your development company. Next, you decide you want these other things and then decide to make changes to the finalized design.

The problem with that is, there will not only be additional app development costs but also additional design costs. Changing your mind about something is not a problem but expecting it to be free is. The good news is there are companies that provide some changes for free but you should ask them ahead of time what the charges would be for design changes.

2. Development

This lends itself to design in that often times a change in the design phase means a change in the development phase. Again, if you don’t want any unexpected app development costs it is crucial that you stick to the plan and stay focused. Much like in design if you decide you want to add something or make an important change don’t expect that for free. Sneaking additional stuff in is called project scope creep and it should be avoided to ensure your project gets done on time and on budget.

It is not uncommon to want to change things. Many people start talking about it with others and get their feedback and then decide to do things a little differently. To avoid any surprises in these types of costs as well as any other secret costs that development companies try to drum up, you should know the answers ahead of time.

You want to ensure you have a specifications document that lays everything out. Understand any additional costs that comes with making changes and adding functions. The most important factor is hiring the right app development company like SDI who will provide all the information and help you create an app that you and your users will love.

If you want to speak with a specialist about getting your app created you can talk with one of our experts Sakshi Sharma at 408.621.8481 or email her at sakshi@sdi.la.

Why Payroll Companies Should Only Communicate Through A Client Portal

Why does a payroll company need a client portal?

Payroll companies that offer a client portal provide a higher sense of security with regards to communication. It also comes with easy access to all their payroll information to view, make edits, sign, and submit anything they wish.

As a payroll company, you want to provide services your clients love and rely on. The largest piece, of course, is keeping their information safe. You’re dealing with people’s private details that should always be secure. This is not just for payroll companies but also for CPA’s and accounting firms who need to keep client data processing secure and efficient.

There is a decent amount of competition out there and your customers can switch at any time if they feel you don’t provide the right tools or don’t feel you are properly protecting their information. Below are just a few bigger companies who provide payroll services.

Payroll companies

  • Gusto
  • Paychex
  • ADP
  • Square
  • Quickbooks
  • Paycor
  • Many major payroll companies have portals in place to help the company manage the business better and provide employees useful tools which helps keep everything secure and in one place.

    The problem that still exists is that even with the portals many companies are still exchanging private information through emails.

    The Benefits Inside the payroll industry, your clients expect you to go above and beyond otherwise they will seek their services elsewhere. They want on-demand access to all of their employee payroll information, a quick way to change details, a highly secure system, and more. As the payroll company, you have client portal software solutions which increase efficiency in your daily workflow including things like customer service which can decrease costs. Let’s take a look at some of these benefits.

    Communication It is much easier to access information that they need and contact you. Your team members can collaborate easily and have discussions with any client they need to in order to provide even better customer assistance and service.

    More important is the level of security that comes with this communication. Email exchanges and phone calls are no longer safe. Therefore, no information should be shared through it. Of course, there will always be people trying to call in for customer service issues. Email, however, should never be used anymore.

    Security With the levels of hacking and attacks we’ve seen, it’s no wonder people are nervous about having any personal information stored. Client portal security is much higher than that of email so communication and the processing of information are protected better. There are also ways you can protect your business better just in general. Portals just make everyone’s life easier and provide a better sense of security.

    Flexibility Both you and your client can access the client portal from any device, at any time, anywhere in the world (as long as you can access the internet). You and your clients will always know what is going on because you have this ability. Your clients can also complete many activities without any interaction from you.

    Documents It is very common to use a lot of paper to store client files and details about their account. By keeping everything digital it will save a lot of money on paper and ink. It also helps save you time on tracking documents down, finding people to have them sign items, and sending out mail. Client portals make it easy to send one another documents, you can e-sign them instantly, find a document with a couple clicks all while keeping everything more secure.

    Central Location It used to be that we had our computer which had multiple programs for which we needed to use to complete a task. We would flip back and forth between them trying to run client payroll, complete W-2’s, and other details. If we needed to communicate there was calling, emails, or some other program. Now with an online client portal, everything is in one central location saving time and effort.

    Easy Integrations A great client portal allows you to use 3rd party software within the portal itself. This really creates a great structure for everyone to do what they need all in one place. A great example is integrating Quickbooks into your client portal for easy accounting tools.

    Customer Service It doesn’t matter whether you are a big payroll company or a small payroll company, you always want happy customers. When you are a smaller company sometimes it can be hard to compete so the best way to help is by using digital tools. Besides just making the payroll process simpler and easier, it provides other items for your customers they may not have thought about. Tutorial videos on how to use everything is an example.

    Time So much time goes into exchanging large amounts of emails and even phone calls. The communication details are generally about running payroll, issues, what needs to happen with documents, and various other transactions.

    For example, a client may call saying I need to change an employee’s direct deposit information. The client has to wait for you to email over the document. They print it, fill it out, sign it, and send it back through email. Your team must then go through the process of entering the new information in and filing the paperwork. Depending on how fast everyone does it, it can take hours, days, or even weeks.

    This is a complete waste of resources and this is just one of the thousands of transactions that happen. The overhead costs alone and the time wasted are just unacceptable in today’s world. You can’t compete with other companies if this is your process. With a client portal that “wait time” is completely diminished. Again, on top of that its a huge security risk to send this sensitive information over email.

    Money It’s already been mentioned, but one of the largest benefits of using a client portal is how much money you can save. It’s not just about the savings on overhead costs which include materials like paper, phones, call charges, and mailing, but also about the time wasted. That time you save can be put towards creating marketing campaigns or any activity that helps you bring in more customers. That’s the ultimate goal.

    Of course, purchasing a ready-made portal or creating one from scratch requires money. There will be a decent upfront cost for implementing it. Yes, there could be a recurring fee to keep it running as well. However, you will be able to cut many other monthly and/or yearly recurring costs. In the end, you will end up saving a lot more.

    These are some of the reasons why your payroll company needs to have a secure client portal. Technology has made it so much easier to remove many of the payroll headaches to allow both parties to benefit. They are here to make things easier and more secure for everyone. Remember even if you are already using a portal don’t communicate with your client through email anymore.

    If you are interested in learning more about client portals and how to go about implementing it, you can contact the software development specialists at SDI. You can call or email Sakshi Sharma at 408.621.8481 or sakshi@sdi.la.

    How to Migrate Your Business to The Cloud

    How do you migrate your business to the cloud?

    1 Know what you want 2 Research how the cloud works 3 Decide what to transfer over 4 Find the right developer 5 Select a vendor 6 Determine security measures 7 Set up ways to stop migration 8 Create backups 9 Manage every step 10 Plan for failures 11 Test 12 Train employees

    We will go into more details about those items later. If you’re just thinking about moving to the cloud but aren’t sure if its the right decision then it’s time to brief you on why it might be the right choice. The cloud has become an important part of today’s business. Small to large companies have been comparing their options and deciding to switch to the cloud for good reason.

    Why you need to switch

    1. Cost – This is a huge factor because you can save on both capital and operational expenses as well as becoming more efficient. The average savings are around 23%. What helps you save even more is the ability to access technologies like machine learning. Having infrastructure and managing it is costly but the cloud removes many of those costs.

    2. Improved Operations – The cloud allows you to take advantage of technologies that can drastically help improve your business operations such as the ability to make changes quickly and efficiently.

    3. Access to data – You can easily access your data on the cloud. With a typical server, it is difficult to share and access your data from anywhere. The cloud allows you to access it anywhere, at any time, from any device you wish and share anything you want. You can see someone making changes in real-time. If any devices like phones, computers, or anything else gets destroyed it doesn’t matter because everything is saved in the cloud, not the device.

    On another note, you also have many cloud data warehousing options for you to choose from. This simply allows you to collect data from every aspect of your business, then helps you make better business decisions.

    4. Space – You have an unlimited amount of space, With companies like Amazon Web Services (AWS), you pay as you go and you don’t have to worry about calling to add more storage space because it automatically does it for you as you use it. It tracks the amount you use every second because every second it changes.

    5. Downtime – Since spacing isn’t an issue you end up seeing less downtime. With traditional servers, if you run out of space then problems occur for which you must call, add more, then wait for it to come back up. It’s costly and inefficient.

    6. Collaboration – The tools available in the cloud are vast and make it so easy to communicate with all your team members, share files, and so much more. You don’t even need to have a physical phone in the office anymore.

    7. Scaling – Every business runs differently so the tools that work for you don’t necessarily work for someone else’s business, even if it’s in the same industry. You can easily scale up or down with the apps and tech you need.

    8. Security – With so many cyberattacks, protecting data is a necessity. This should be the most important for any business. The cloud is more secure than those traditional servers you’ve got. Since storage is in the cloud you don’t have to worry about someone stealing a device. Unless they know your login information. Don’t get me wrong, it can still be hacked but there are way more heavy-duty security options here.

    9. Improve innovation – Many times projects slow down because the processes to complete them take a decent amount of time. Collaboration tools are minimal as well making it harder to have meetings and discussions with others outside your office. With the cloud, it speeds up the workflow time, helps team members work in a new way, communicating better with others outside the building, and more. This, in turn, can increase innovation within an organization. Using newer technology can also attract more people to want to work for you.

    Is moving to the cloud right for your business?

    If these points are any indication, then the answer is yes. There is a long list of benefits to migrating and the ones just mentioned are some of the main ones. If you are still unsure and want to learn more about the cloud and what it can offer your business specifically, you should contact a software development company such as SDI who can explain this in more detail and determine specifically what your company would need to ensure it runs at its maximum potential.

    How to move to the cloud

    If you ready to migrate your business to the cloud but aren’t quite sure where to start then follow these steps to completing your cloud migration.

    1. Know what you want

    It’s your business and you know how it runs. You need to do a deep analysis of what you use and what you wish you had. This can be anything from storage, security, apps, communication tools, etc. This will help you start the process off right because there are a lot of options out there and it can be overwhelming if you don’t know exactly what you need.

    2. Research how the cloud works

    You don’t want to go into it blindly. Don’t just take the development teams word for it. Do some research on your own to understand first what the cloud is, what it has to offer, and the process of migrating. This is not a figure it out later situation, it’s a let me understand everything now so there is no surprises later situation.

    3. Decide what to transfer over

    You should create a formal workload migration plan. You may not want to migrate every single aspect of your business. There may be tasks that you currently do that do not need to be done on the cloud and that is fine. There may be a process that works really well so there’s no need to change it. This is the time to figure that out.

    4. Contract an experienced software development company

    Migration isn’t just a one-click button and you’re done. You need a proper team like SDI to do the heavy lifting causing you less stress and saving you a lot of time trying to figure it out on your own. Doing it on your own can be incredibly tricky if you are not experienced.

    5. Find your cloud vendor

    You should already know what you need so now it’s time to contact various vendors and see what they have to offer. Ask people you know for recommendations to get someone that is trustworthy. You could also go with major companies like AWS or Microsoft Azure. You can get quotes from these vendors and see which is best for you. Your development company can help you with this step as well as all the ones below.

    6. Security

    During migration, you can be very vulnerable to attacks. You need to be aware of any security risks that could happen such as ensuring everyone is logged out of their accounts and everything is completely closed down before you begin. There are tools to help you with this as well.

    7. Stop Migration

    You need to have the ability to stop the migration for any reason. To do this you can create milestones so if you are facing problems in certain areas you can stop and do a piece at a time. In order to do this, you must create a structure for it.

    8. Have a backup

    You never want to start anything until you have backed up all your companies data. You can use Google, Amazon, Dropbox and more to store all your data during migration. Even better would be to have it backed up in multiple places just in case. You never know what could happen and having this could be a lifesaver.

    9. Manage each phase

    It is your job to stay informed with the process. You should know what is going on at all times. Remember migrating to the cloud is a huge task and there are a lot of moving pieces. You should be organized in the process and be managing each phase of migration just in case.

    The software development company you use should work closely with you through the whole process. The key is to stay organized and have everything in one platform to do everything. This will make everything from migration and what comes after easier.

    10. Plan for failures

    The key to ensuring your business continues running smoothly is to account for any possible failures. If you plan for this, then you can create the solutions ahead of time so if and when something does occur you don’t have to worry.

    11. Test Everything

    This is a pretty obvious one, of course, once the migration is done you want to check everything to make sure it’s working correctly. Beyond that, on your website, you should do a traffic test. Pretend that a million people come to your website. See what problems occur and then fix it. This is similar to planning for failures.

    12. Train your employees

    This is going to be something new for not only you but for the entire company. All your employees should be trained on how to use everything. There will be some growing pains for a bit but once everyone has a grasp on how the process works it will run smoothly. If they aren’t properly trained they won’t use it correctly and migrating would essentially be a wasted effort.

    That is the general list of steps to the migration process. Now is the time to seriously consider moving your business to the cloud. Experts like SDI can migrate your current platform onto cloud services like AWS and provide a flexible solution that is cost-effective and operations optimized.

    Why all CPA’s must have a secure client accounting portal

    Should I create an accounting portal for my CPA business?

    All CPA’s should have a secure client accounting portal as it is mandated that all financial information shared between clients and the CPA via email be uploaded to a secure portal.

    Tax season is a very stressful time. There are many people you must manage and each of those people have a stack of documents you must sort through. You and your clients need an easy way to communicate and manage documents in a quick, simple, secure way that increases efficiency. That is what an accounting portal can provide for both parties.

    The most important reason, however, to have an accounting portal is for security reasons. Most CPA’s have spent years communicating through email. Important documents have been passed back and forth between CPA and client. This has caused serious issues over the years because emails have been hacked and private information has been stolen.

    Although CPA’s and accounting firms have added encrypted emails to help with this, it’s still not quite enough. A more secure way of passing documents back and forth is through a client accounting portal. The IRS has become more strict about how CPA’s should be communicating with their clients. Your CPA website should include a client portal. If you already have a website with a client portal that is old and outdated, you may want to think about updating your website.

    What are the IRS rules for receiving information from clients?

    1. You must have an Extended Validation SSL Certificate (EV SSL) which is something you would install into your website to give it more protection against hacking.

    2. An External Vulnerability Scan is something you must do at least once a week to ensure that your website is secure and it must be done by a third party that’s completing it in accordance with PCIDSS. This scan will go through your entire system to check for any breaches. If you do have one, it must be reported right away which means the day of the incident.

    3. Information privacy must be maintained as well as having safeguard policies. Certain standards must be met in order to process and store people’s personal information and documents. Having the accounting portal helps greatly with this. The only way you can run your accounting business online is to have accreditation, a license seal, and privacy seal.

    4. There has been quite a bit of fraud with regards to bulk filings of client income tax returns. There has to be a high level of protection against this bulk filing fraud.

    5. You must have your domain name registered with a company that is accredited by ICANN and in the United States. It should also be locked and public.

    6. This was mentioned in number 2 but the last rule is to report any incident to the IRS within the same day of the incident. Do NOT wait because you could face issues with the IRS if you do.

    CPA Website Features

    -Newsletters -Blogs about Accounting and Tax details -Login fields that access the accounting portal with strict password requirements -Contact details -Information about the portal and about your company

    Accounting Portal Features

    -Complete data security -Permanently delete any and all data and files -Request, store, view, edit, e-sign, and send documents -Collect payments via various transfer and/or payment methods -App integrations with other software like QuickBooks -Collaboration tools in the cloud -Simple drag and drop options for uploading files -Convert papers into a digital document -E-signature requests -Receive notifications for tasks -Run various reports -Bulk Printing -Secure bulk distributions of returns -An easy client user interface to prepare taxes themselves -Access limitations

    Security

    Both the website and the portal must have strong encryption, anti-virus, anti-spyware, firewall, backups, data security, secure wireless network, and 3rd party fraud monitoring. This is not to be taken lightly. You must ensure that you select the right companies that can meet all the IRS regulations.

    This is a difficult subject because fighting cybercriminals is a team effort. Identity theft is at an all-time high so the IRS works closely with states and tax professionals to ensure information is secure. Every person within your organization including yourself should be informed about the types of security threats the company could face, teach them how to prevent it, and how to handle it if something does happen. Everyone should be able to recognize the signs of a data breach and the steps to take next.

    The Consequences

    What happens if your CPA website, accounting portal, and/or email gets hacked? What happens is that your client information gets stolen which puts your company at risk for various problems. Your reputation could take a nose dive which means your current clients could leave and new clients would be at an all-time low. You could also be subject to an investigation. If you didn’t follow all the rules and regulations and/or took shortcuts you will be met with serious problems.

    Client Accounting Portal

    If you don’t already have a portal for you and your clients, it is time to create one. You can no longer discuss or send documents back and forth through email or any other form of communication other than through the portal. However, just because you have a portal does not mean you are completely secure. Again, you have to make sure you follow every guideline and you are implementing the correct security measures. If you are not then you and your clients are not properly protected.

    There are multiple ready-made accounting software and mobile apps for you to choose from. Many of them have proper security measures in place. It can make implementation a lot easier. If you are unsure about how to proceed such as which one to choose or if creating one from scratch would be better you should talk to a proper software development company like SDI.

    Companies like that can not only help you determine which course of action would be best for you and your clients but they can also implement everything for you. The company you choose should know all the IRS regulations and be able to provide advice on what you should do and help you get it done. If you want to learn more about this you can contact Sakshi Sharma at 408.621.8481 or email her at sakshi@sdi.la.

    Migrating to the cloud will reduce both capital and operation expenses

    Can migrating to the cloud lower capital and operating expenses? The quick answer is yes it can. There are many reasons why the cloud can be more cost-effective than traditional options such as lower setup and maintenance fees, less IT staff, better employee productivity, and more.

    Cloud computing is for every size business. In fact, more small businesses use it than large ones. Over half of the businesses using the cloud say they switched to reduce their IT costs. In the end, it did reduce it by over 30%. Not only did it provide them with the tools they needed to run their business but it saved them money. What’s great is there are multiple cloud options for businesses to choose from.

    When it is time for you to look at either continuing with the infrastructure you have or switch to the cloud consider the costs. Keeping your current system comes with both capital expenses and operating expenses. Let’s review these and compare it with what comes with the cloud.

    Capital Expenses Capital expenditures are what you spend on fixed assets which can include equipment and maintenance. It’s the actual physical items you have for your organization. They depreciate pretty fast as well. Then there are all the maintenance costs if problems occur.

    Operating Expenses This is simply the general costs of running your business. It’s more short term items like office supplies that you constantly use up. All the pieces like domain and hosting of your website are part of this as well.

    Many companies try their best to reduce both Capital and Operational expenses without changing the companies production quality. This is something that is pretty difficult if you keep using the same infrastructure. The decision of what to purchase and/or get rid of isn’t as black and white as it used to be. The capabilities of the cloud have truly made a huge difference in operational and capital expenses.

    Infrastructure The cost associated with creating your own infrastructure is massive. Physical servers take up a lot of space and cost quite a bit to maintain. Setting them up has a pretty hefty price tag as well and requires quite a bit of time. There is a lot required of physical servers which include very strict security measures and various certificates.

    The key here is that purchasing any hardware and even software is a thing of the past. The SaaS model can be a better way to go but it can be hard to determine what the real cost of this is.

    The Advantages There are many advantages to migrating to the cloud:

    1. Everything is bundled together. You’ve got everything in one place. You don’t need to have multiple items from different vendors. It can all be done with one company.

    2. The up-front investment is much lower or even non-existent in comparison to setting up your own equipment.

    3. Migrating to the cloud is the responsibility of the vendor. Take Amazon Web Services (AWS), for example, they take care of everything for a low cost and it’s a smooth process.

    4. Support is completely done by the vendor as well. You don’t need to hire a whole IT team to constantly monitor and make changes.

    5. Buying new equipment isn’t necessary with the cloud. Equipment only lasts so long and when its time to replace it, that cost would be yours unless you are on the cloud.

    6. The cost is, of course, is the biggest factor. With your own equipment will end up paying more in many different areas. It’s not just about the usage but also the people, the setup, and even the actual employee productivity.

    The Cost You don’t pay one price each month but rather you pay depending on your needs and your cost fluctuates based on that. If you are truly looking to reduce your IT costs then this is how it can be done:

    1. Flexibility You can access your data from anywhere, at any time, on any device. Multiple people can work on the same project but be in completely different places. Everything is tracked in the cloud and can be reviewed at any time later. This type of flexibility makes the process of completing projects much faster. Employees end up being more efficient and productive because completing a task becomes much easier. An increase in efficiency and productivity means lower costs.

    2. Ease of Setup and Management The price comparison of owning your own equipment versus just setting it up on the cloud is no contest. The cloud will save you setup and maintenance costs. The provider already has this for you. Maintenance on the cloud can be either free of charge or a minimal cost. No setup fees or IT teams save a lot.

    3. Storage Usage With traditional systems you try to gauge what you might use, sometimes you need more and sometimes you need less. Either way, you could be overpaying or need to go through the whole process of adding more which takes time and more money. The cloud scales allowing you to simply pay for what you actually use. There is no need to call anyone, the system does everything automatically. You can use as much or as little as you want.

    4. Security Keeping all your data secure is crucial. Security regulations, paying for a team to keep everything secure, and always having to make updates can be costly. The cloud vendors do this themselves. They keep their systems secure and always update when needed. Data security is one of the most important factors to take into consideration and its why many businesses are migrating to the cloud. In the end, it reduces their capital expenditure.

    With all that in mind we are seeing a bit of a decline in the pricing as well, and like anything else, it will continue to do so. The reason is that people are realizing how amazing the cloud is and cost-effective. Since demand is rising we should definitely see even more savings as the years go on.

    How to Switch If you want to get set up on the cloud or start migrating to the cloud, you want to use a team who is skilled. SDI specializes in building and migrating websites and systems to the cloud. You have quite a few cloud options out there so a team of experts will be able to analyze your businesses needs and match a cloud company to you. You can contact Rob LaPointe at 408.802.2885 or email him at rob@sdi.la for more details.

    Why a Client Portal is Mandatory for Tax Preparers and Accounting Firms in 2019

    Why is it mandatory for tax preparers and accounting firms to have a client portal? Over the years there have been major issues with data breaches. Client information has been compromised from not only small companies but also large very well known ones. This issue has prompted the need to create secure client portals as the only means to exchange information.

    There have always been rules in place that accounting firms must adhere to in order to protect their client’s personal information. Unfortunately, there are numerous ways this information can be stolen. Hacking is, of course, the big one which can be done through the website and especially email. Information stored on a device can easily be stolen, deleting the information incorrectly, and of course plain old fraudulent behavior.

    Your accounting business no matter how secure you think it is is not immune to these problems. For years this has been happening, so what steps can be taken to lower your chances of being a victim.

    Remember this doesn’t just affect your clients and their information but the backlash and cost to your accounting firm could be substantial, especially if you are a small to medium size firm.

    Lawsuits – Clients can take you to court for any kind of a data breach.

    Federal Compliance Fees and Penalties – If you haven’t followed it to the letter, you could wind up paying substantially to the government.

    Poor Insurance Coverage – You need to consult thoroughly with your insurance company to make sure there are no loopholes they can find if a breach happens. If they do you will not be covered and end up paying a lot.

    Loss of Reputation – If a breach happens people will lose their trust in your company, making it hard to keep and earn more business.

    Federal Regulations There are multiple things you must understand about the Federal Regulations first to ensure you are following the proper guidelines. The government has implemented 6 privacy and security standards that will provide better protection to taxpayers and their private information that is collected. Although these regulations have been around for years, it’s really being enforced due to so many problems.

    1. Extended Validation SSL Certificate (EV SSL) SSL certificates are common to have for most websites. However, there are basic inexpensive certificates that you don’t want to use for your accounting website. Ensure that you are purchasing the actual Extended Validation one.

    2. External Vulnerability Scan You should consistently be scanning your entire network and every component/system within your organization to ensure there have been no breaches. These scans should at minimum be done weekly. If there are any vulnerabilities, steps need to be taken right away to fix it. You must report everything and keep records of all your scans.

    You must also ensure that scans are in accordance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCIDSS). These scans must also be completed by a third-party company outside of your organization who is on the list of Approved Scanning Vendors (ASV). Your hosting company must comply with PCIDSS as well.

    3. Safeguard Policies and Information Privacy For companies who run their income tax business online where taxpayers provide all their personal information that is processed and stored they need to have these standards in place. You must follow guidelines that the government has set forth regarding a written information privacy policy as well as safeguards in place.

    You must also have proper accreditation and/or a license seal and a privacy seal. These can be acquired from a consumer protection vendor but that vendor must be IRS approved.

    4. Protection from Bulk Filing of Income Tax Returns that are Fraudulent This is also for companies who run their income tax business online. You must have proper technology that can successfully protect your website from bulk filings of income tax returns that are fraudulent. Without this, you cannot run your business.

    5. Domain Name Registration For your online income tax business, your domain name should not only be registered with a company that is in the United States but it should also be accredited by ICANN. You also can’t have a private domain name as it must be public and locked.

    6. Reporting If you have a security incident which can be anything from hacking to improper dispensing of information you must report it right away to the IRS. By right away that means the day it happened and no later. If your website is causing the issue then you must stop using and collecting any client information. Once the issue is successfully resolved you can resume website use.

    What can you do to help keep everything secure? Well, many businesses communicate primarily through email. Accounting firms and tax preparers can no longer pass any information back and forth with their clients. All details and information must pass through a secure client portal. Again, this is to help protect your business and your clients.

    A huge problem has been emails. Many companies send emails to clients every day. It’s not enough to just have encrypted emails, you have to have a client portal. If you are an accounting firm and you do not have a client portal it’s time to create one.

    You will find many companies out there who provide ready-made client portal software specifically for accounting firms and tax preparers.

    If you are looking for a simple solution to integrate into your website, a ready-made portal is a great solution and cost-effective. You can use a software development company like SDI to help you update your website to include this new client portal. The only issue with this is there is less flexibility if you want to customize anything. You have to use what the software has and you may have access to features that you don’t even need for your company.

    The other option is to create a custom portal for you and your clients. Creating a custom SaaS for your business has a lot of benefits. You will have the ability to customize features and functions exactly the way you want them. It can create a better user experience for both you and your clients. This option does take a little more time and money but you get exactly what you want. You should make sure that when you hire a software development company that they know how to follow the proper federal guidelines and regulations when implementing this.

    Key Features No matter which route you choose to go with, the main point is that you must have a client portal. Some of the key features you want to include are:

    1. Upload documents – Drag multiple documents and files at one time into the system. It should also support many different file formats and sizes.

    2. Organize – Create folders where you can easily house all your files.

    3. Tracking – The software should track everything that happens so you know who made the action, when they did it, and exactly what they did.

    4. E-signature – With one click you can sign any document to send out without the need to print, sign, and scan.

    5. Communication – You need a simple and very secure way to communicate not only with others within your company but also with the clients. Assign tasks to employees and partners as well.

    6. Permissions – Flexibility to give employees and even clients access to certain functions within the software or take them away.

    7. Encryption and Security – Bank and government level encryption is needed. All documents and communication must be completely secure.

    8. Review – Preview any documents in any format you wish.

    One thing to remember is that your clients have a lot to choose from when it comes to tax software and even apps. You want to ensure that you use or create something that is really easy to use. Taxes are no fun but your software could make it a little more pleasurable.

    There are so many options and features you can include into your portal beyond just these. If you haven’t already implemented a client portal for your accounting firm then it’s now time to do so. Even if you have one, it might be time to update it to match client demand and changes within the industry. If you want to learn more about which ready-made software is best for your accounting firm or create a custom software then contact Sakshi Sharma at 408.621.8481 or sakshi@sdi.la.

    7 Reasons Why Small Businesses Should Be Using Amazon Web Services

    Which cloud services will work for my business?

    There are many options to choose from and your choice depends on the type of business you have. If you are a small business Amazon Web Services could be at the top of the list as they offer a unique and easy way to manage your cloud infrastructure.

    This year small businesses will account for more than 30% of public cloud usage. This will continue to grow because of the huge impact Amazon Web Services (AWS) is having in the market. They provide an incredibly useful and flexible public cloud that works for a variety of services like storage, security, networking, computing, mobile development to run apps, and much more.

    Most of their digital infrastructure can be hosted in the cloud making it much easier and cost effective. In order to understand if Amazon Web Services is the right service for your small business, you have to know what your needs and budget are. If you don’t know that, then don’t make a purchase yet. You want to take the time to compare AWS with other companies like Azure to determine which is best.

  • IT Usage
  • There are tools to help you monitor your current cloud and/or physical server usage. Use these tools for a month to see what your business uses in order to determine what system will work best for you.

  • The Cloud
  • Every part of your business which includes not only mobile apps but web apps, documents, videos, images, data, websites, and more can be on the AWS cloud. Whether you have a light load or a heavy load their cloud infrastructure can handle it. You can also access your cloud easily from anywhere. Amazon makes it incredibly easy to do so. Yes, there are other cloud data warehousing options out there for you which you should look at. You can compare them to AWS to see which is best for you. Others, however, can be quite costly.

  • Security
  • Besides cost, this is always at the top of the list when deciding who to go with. Security is incredibly important for any business as there is always sensitive information that no business wants to get out. AWS follows very strict guidelines to ensure proper data security. They always monitor all activity and provide backup capabilities for all your data.

  • E-Commerce
  • If you have a small e-commerce business Amazon Web Services provides some amazing features for you. All the transactions that are done on your website plus website hosting can be done in a secure and simple way. It requires very little effort from your end as everything is pretty much done on its own through AWS. It also provides a lot of flexibility through its SDKs so that you can provide your customers exactly what they want and need.

  • App Hosting
  • Amazon Web Services also makes it easy for you to manage your mobile and web applications. Your apps can run and work better because with AWS you can deploy and scale better. Apps will be more stable and provide you and your customers a much better experience. Now you do have the option to do shared, dedicated, or cloud hosting which depends on your business so you should look into all of them before deciding.

  • Instances
  • There are multiple options for you to choose from so that you have the right amount of instances which suit your business needs. Many providers have this option as well but Amazon Web Services offers you various options beyond most. It’s not just about adding or removing as you go along, there’s much more to it and AWS has the solutions you need for that.

  • Cost
  • Ok, now we are at the most important one, THE COST! There is no one size fits all here so the cost to each business is different. Let’s break it down here:

    It’s expensive and a lot of work to have and maintain the hardware, infrastructure, and systems administration. There is no need for any of that with AWS. You only pay for what you actually use and no more. Again, it requires little to no work on your end.

    1. Auto Scaling can be used with Amazon EC2 to provide more or less capacity depending on slow times or spikes in demand. This means that you don’t waste any money because it literally bends to match the ups and downs of customers transactions.

    2. The cost of data storage is usually a big chunk of the cost no matter what size business you have. Imagine having an endless amount of storage that is scalable. AWS provides you with a storage system with no up-front cost and again you only pay for the storage you actually use.

    3. Spot instances for Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) give you the ability to name your price. You can get the computing capacity you want at the price you want. This is a great alternative to the On-Demand model. This, of course, won’t work for everyone. It’s only for those with interruption-tolerant tasks.

    4. ElastiCache can help with web application performance at a lower cost. You don’t have to manage, maintain, or purchase anything else with this. This web service makes it easy to operate an in-memory cache. ElastiCache frees up your time and saves you money.

    5. Migrating your infrastructure can not only be time-consuming and frustrating but it can be complex and have a pretty hefty price tag to it. AWS, on the other hand, makes the process quick and easy all while keeping the cost pretty low for both established businesses as well as startups.

    6. When it comes to instances, depending on your utilization you can have reserved capacity at a cheaper cost even more so than from 3rd party resellers. For this, you would use Amazon EC2 because you pay an upfront fee. You still pay hourly but it would be way lower in price.

    7. Their IT solutions will help you do just about anything for building and launching apps for a reasonable price. Most companies have various fees and upfront costs that you pay but AWS minimizes those and continues to strive for you only pay for what you use model.

    If you are a small business, more often than not you are paying more than you should. Other companies have options to choose from but each option comes with a certain number of items. You pick the one that seems like it closest to what you need but is that really a solution. You should have exactly what you need, no more, no less.

    Storage Also with AWS is the more you use, the more you save. For example, if you fall under the standard storage category you would pay $0.85 per GB for 1 TB of storage in the first month. In the next month if you use anything between 1 TB and 49 TB its $0.75 per GB. On the far end if you use more than 5000 TB it only costs $0.43 per GB.

    The standard storage is the most expensive but there are other types which are much less, this is just to provide you with an example of how using more lowers the cost. They also offer customized plans and bulk pricing for those with requirements beyond their standardized ones.

    You always want to monitor your infrastructure to keep costs down. There are multiple different options like EC2, S3 CloudFront, Elastic Load Balancing, and more for you to choose from. As you grow you may or may not need these items but constantly changing can help save you money. You should also be using their Identity and Access Management solutions which will help you manage all your costs within AWS.

    Amazon Web Services has a lot to offer just about everyone. You can manage your console from any device including your phone. You can access your services from anywhere at any time. Amazon CloudWatch is another great tool to help you track your usage of the cloud. This in turn assists in managing costs as well.

    Amazon Web Services is truly the way to go for just about any business but particularly for small businesses because there are so much flexibility and options, it allows you to create an infrastructure that is secure, reliable, and very specific to your business. With all this, it maintains a fair cost ensuring you are not overpaying for services.

    It is really easy for startups to use AWS Activate to start this process. You will be offered all sorts of tools and credits to get set up for free. You can also contact the AWS experts at SDI for more information. You can speak with Rob LaPointe at 408.802.2885 or email him at rob@sdi.la. You can discuss your business goals and find out exactly what will work best for you.

    What Is Blockchain Technology And How Can It Help Businesses

    In the 90s the internet was all the rage and how it was going to impact businesses. Today, the same thing is happening in the business community but with Blockchain technology. There has been a great deal of talk about “Blockchain” and its impact on most of the businesses. So do you know anything about what blockchain is and how you can apply blockchain technology to your business?

    Blockchain is an undeniably impressive invention from a person known by the pseudonym, Satoshi Nakamoto. He conceptualized blockchain. What it contains is a secure history of data exchanges, utilizes a peer-to-peer network to timestamp and verify each exchange, and could be managed autonomously without a central authority. Blockchain is essentially a global, public, cryptographically secure ledger that auto-records and verifies large volumes of digital transactions.

    The blockchain database is not stored in any single location, meaning the records that it keeps are truly public and therefore easily verifiable. There is no centralized version of this information that exists for the hacker to corrupt or play with. Hosted by millions of computers currently, its data is accessible to anyone on the internet.

    Starting from banking to healthcare, blockchain business applications are exponentially transforming the way data is stored and accessed. As of today, about 84% of companies have already started to experiment and go with blockchain technology to be on top in this competitive business environment.

    How Does Blockchain Work?

    A blockchain is implemented with three technologies:

    a) Private key cryptography

    b) Distributed peer-to-peer networks with shared ledgers

    c) The basic protocols for performing transactions and record-keeping in a more secure way. Here’s how blockchain works:

    Before we dive deep into how blockchain works, you must be aware of the concept of “keys”. With a valid set of cryptographic keys, you will get a unique identity. Your keys are the Private Key and Public Key wherein they are combined to give you a digital signature.

    Your public key is how others are able to identify you and your private key gives you the power to digitally sign and authorize different actions on behalf of this particular digital identity when used with your public key. This is what we refer to as wallet address (public key) in the world of cryptocurrency and your private key is what allows you to effectively authorize transfers, withdrawals, and other actions with your digital property like cryptocurrencies.

    Blockchain – Benefits

    1. Payment processing and money transfers

    Within the realm of e-commerce or any kind of international transfers, the most logical use for blockchain is to expedite the transfer of funds from one party to another. With Blockchain, you’re able to transfer funds directly, securely, and instantly to anyone you want globally with very low fees. That’s because there are no intermediaries slowing down the transfer of funds between several banks and therefore there is no need to charge outrageous transaction fees.

    2. Monitor Supply Chains

    The blockchain is particularly handy when it comes to monitoring and handling supply chains. By removing paper-based trails, businesses should be able to pinpoint and sort out the inefficiencies within their supply chains quickly, as well as to locate items in real time. Furthermore, blockchain technology would allow businesses and even consumers, to view how products have performed from a quality-control perspective as they traveled from their place of origin to the retailer.

    3. Smart Contracts

    Smart contracts help you to exchange money, property, shares, or anything of value in a transparent, conflict-free way while avoiding the services of a middleman. The smart contract code verifies and enforces the negotiation or performance of an agreement or transaction. This is the simplest form of decentralized automation. By harnessing the power of Blockchain, businesses of all sizes will be able to use smart contracts to bypass regulations and lower the costs for a subset of our most common financial transactions.

    4. Supply Chain Management

    Applying blockchain to a supply chain process could resolve recurring problems by creating a permanent history list of a product. Much like Artificial Intelligence, blockchain provides many industry-spanning benefits – reducing costs, pinpointing human errors and avoiding any delays. Blockchain technology actively provides digitally permanent, re-auditable records that show stakeholders the state of the product at each value-added step. As a business owner, you could save years of time and millions of dollars through this next-gen disruptive technological tool.

    5. Human Resources Management

    Starting from recruitment to payroll management, human resources is basically a building block for any organization. Blockchain can help businesses receive clearer insights and transparency by storing and processing information in a decentralized ledger. This cutting edge technology helps businesses of all sizes to get vital & more accurate business data, honest turn around rates, automate and reduce the burden of traditional human resource management processes.

    6. Enhancing Marketing Process

    In this digital era, marketing and advertising play a major role in any business growth today. With blockchain technology, marketing and advertising are going to visualize a complete transformation where all relevant performance and audience information are processed and actioned through a decentralized ledger. With this disruptive technology, you can reduce the risk of fraudulent traffic reports, cut out the intermediaries needed to accomplish the advertising request, and allow multiple ad requests to be taking place at the same time.

    In recent years, the advent of Blockchain Technology has drawn the attention of many app development firms. SDI possess exceptional blockchain app development experience to provide you with the desired solution. Get a full spectrum of Blockchain Development services to expand your business potency using Blockchain technology by getting in touch with Rob or Sakshi at +1.408.802.2885 / +1.408.621.8481 or email team@sdi.la

    How Social Media Purchasing Can Increase Sales And Brand Awareness

    How can social media increase sales? Social media purchasing is something that goes beyond just posting ads or making posts to help people find your business. This, simply put allows users to purchase a specific product directly within the social media platform.

    If you have a business for which you sell products you probably already know that having an online presence is important. What you may not realize is how many options are available to you to increase your sales. You’ve got your e-commerce website which you maintain and try to get potential customers to find you and make a purchase. Social media purchasing could be the option that truly makes a difference in your sales.

    There are many different marketing tactics you can use to help make it easier for customers to find and purchase your products. It’s important to try everything to ensure people do actually land on your website and/or buy. Maybe you have paid ads online, blog consistently, manage your SEO, and/or post on social media.

    The Impact of Social Media You may be using social media already to help market your business, brand, and products. With the introduction of social media purchasing, users can buy products directly from a post. Your normal marketing posts are definitely still needed but if you aren’t creating these types of click to buy options for your brand you could be missing out on additional sales.

    The Audience Millennials are primarily the ones using social media so they will be more comfortable making purchases this way. They average about 1.5 hours a day on social media. Over half of them are already searching for products through various social platforms. Although it has started off slow, we are going to see a continuous rise in the number of sales we see.

    Like anything else, people have to get used to social media purchasing. Eventually, once people get used to it, it will become the new normal for buying. This is similar to the way that people went from only buying in a physical store to buying it through their online store. It took people a while to get used to that, but now people prefer doing it online.

    To give you a little perspective on how this is truly changing things. Approximately 40% of businesses who have an online presence are using social media to help get them sales. A quarter of business is specifically using Facebook. As far as the users of social media there are about 30% of them that say they would make a purchase through social media.

    Let’s take a look at what some of these social media giants have to offer your company:

    Pinterest The ability to sell with your pins is a key feature here. Yes, customers could always click on a pin and go to your website and do whatever they want there. Now, however, it’s changed a bit and is called Buyable Pins. Brands can show various products through various pins. Customers can simply click the “Buy it” button to purchase that product. It’s quick and simple which people want and helps brands sell more.

    Instagram Their new shopping experience allows users to see what is called Shoppable Posts within their feed, and with one simple tap they can learn about the products and make a purchase from the pop up that appears. Businesses can show videos or pictures to entice people to click and buy. It’s an easy, painless way to make a purchase. This is something every e-commerce business should consider integrating because it can definitely help get your name out there. Many brands have already seen increases in their revenue because of this.

    Twitter Years ago Twitter released product pages where people can easily find the products they want and buy them. Twitter still works heavily off of #’s and getting influencers to mention a product. Twitter offers an easy way to use #’s and communicate with customers which makes things more personal and helps them make their purchase decision.

    This is honestly still the best way to increase brand awareness and sales, even over the simple “Buy Button” Twitter offers. It’s a great tool to use because it allows customers to simply click a button to buy a product while browsing around Twitter itself.

    Facebook Like the others, users can see the product advertisements and make a purchase directly on Facebook without having to leave. Even better is the Facebook Marketplace where users can now find all sorts of products to purchase. Users know when they go there it’s about looking for things. It’s a great option for businesses to put their products on there.

    Snapchat They provide a simple path to making a purchase. Users just click on a video and are directed to install or open the app, and then leads them to their website. From there they can make their purchases. This is all done without actually leaving the app because it’s the app that is guiding the user to their destination. One unique thing to note here is that Snapchat is using AR to really enhance this shopping feature which creates a better user experience.

    Shopify No, this isn’t a social media platform. However, Shopify is a great tool to enable social media purchasing. This is the tool you should use to connect your website with all these great purchasing options through social media. Many people especially those in e-commerce is familiar with Shopify.

    They offer a fantastic service that provides brands the ability to allow purchasing through social media platforms. The technology being used to allow customers to easily make these purchases on social media is heavily connected with Shopify. Find, promote, and connect are all apart of Shopify’s tools to help you sell more.

    What Does All This Mean Social media is no longer just a place for you to promote your business, or get people to find you. It’s grown way beyond that to something better and more useful.

    This doesn’t mean that you just create some of these shopping ads and your sales automatically skyrocket. This is still in its beginning stages so there is much more you need to do to make this successful. The images, videos, and text you choose should be well thought out and calculated. All of that has a significant effect on whether or not people will click to purchase. It’s all about a personalized experience no matter what device the user has.

    Although social media purchasing is rising at a slow pace, what’s not slow is the fact that people are actively searching for information about products which means they have an interest. You must provide enough details about your products because over 50% of people on social media are interested in the information.

    Keep in mind that most people still prefer to buy big-ticket items like furniture and major appliances in the stores versus online. That doesn’t mean that doing this for large items is going to hurt you but don’t expect too much. How you present everything can sway them to buy yours vs others whether it be online or in the actual brick and mortar store.

    Don’t worry if you are unsure if this will work for you or not. The stats say that social media purchasing is on the rise, its a slow but steady rise so it’s definitely time to really consider doing this for your brand. If you want to learn more about implementing purchases through social media you can contact Sakshi Sharma at 408.621.8481 or email her at sakshi@sdi.la. It’s time to increase those sales and get your brand name out there.