Diversity in technology industry: no longer a nice-to-have

At X-Formation we believe our company culture is one of our most valuable assets and the key for our success. We started in 2004 with just one person and today we employ around 30 people from different countries such as Denmark, Poland, Spain, Ukraine, Belarus, and Hungary. As a result, our company is a small melting pot of cultures, behaviors and habits and we continue our upward trajectory :-).

Not only did we recognize the importance of adding international dimension to our company, but we have also become a place welcoming both men and women. (Two years ago there were only two women working in our company full-time, but this number has quadrupled since that time.)

At X-Formation we know that there is a tangible value to diversifying the enterprise and … it is ultimately customers who win. Why? Well, extensive research, including the report Diversity Matters prepared by McKinsey&Company and the study conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, makes it clear that diversity in the workplace, including gender diversity, can bring such advantages as:

  1. greater ability to keep high performers
  2. increased creativity and problem solving
  3. increased productivity
  4. enhanced communication skills
  5. more synergy in teams
  6. above-average financial returns
  7. more customer satisfaction

In many companies there used to be a concern–which was never formally expressed–could women balance work and home? Attitudes have changed, though, and the outlook is brightening now as gender equality in the workplace is the best it’s ever been. This is possible thanks to “results-only” work environments adopted by many firms that let their staff work whenever and wherever they want as long as they accomplish their tasks, changing parental roles, or flextime arrangements present in many companies (such as ours!).

There are more and more opportunities for women who work in the technology industry, whether in a regular post or rising to hold high-octane jobs because companies recognized that women:

  1. are more “supportive and rewarding” in leadership roles
  2. accept more challenges
  3. are more persuasive and score higher than men in it comes to assertiveness and persuasiveness
  4. are more comfortable showing their emotions and communicating things

Women value teams and bring in empathy and better stress tolerance, whereas men contribute with their negotiation skills and determination.

Though certain differences exist in male and female attitudes that may drive a wedge between feminine and masculine roles, having a more diverse set of employees, both in terms of nationality as well as gender, means you have a more diverse set of skills. 🙂

Customer first, everything else follows

At X-Formation we put our Customers at the very center of the entire company—this is why we encourage them to share ideas, ask questions and suggest new features in our software products and we plan what will be included in a given release based on what our Customers tell us they want and need.

We regularly review such feedback internally to be able to provide frequent, stable updates that solve real issues for our 600 Customers and thousands of their end users. With our customer-driven development methodology, we are ready to deliver the solutions our Customers want quickly and efficiently.

But our customer-centered approach goes far beyond responsiveness to customer feedback—we care about our Customers even when our business relationship comes to an end.

As a proof of how much we value close relationships with our Customers we would like to show you a letter we sent to one of them as a sign of appreciation of our long-standing cooperation.

Why happiness at work really matters

Thousands of companies around the world say they are increasingly investing in the well-being and happiness of their employees because happy people tend to work better. But are such claims mere hype or are they scientifically proven? Well, recent research shows that happiness indeed boosts productivity by 12% and that happier people are more supportive of changes and learn new things quickly so there must be a grain of truth hidden somewhere within.

Some companies seem to know no bounds when it comes to pampering employees: they offer countless vacation days, fat paychecks or free flights, while other offer only “meager” benefits in the form of flexible work schedules, gift vouchers for Christmas or charity days. But do such benefits really make employees happy? In fact happy employees credit their bliss to … minimal supervision and great work-life balance. At X-Formation we recognized it long ago — our company is the right place for people who simply wanna great job . We do the most we can to make our employees happy by offering them minimal supervision, flexible working time and great modern office.

But back to theory …

According to a Harvard researcher and international best-selling author, Shawn Achor, there is a link between positive psychology and success.

According to the author, optimistic and happy people are:

  1. 37% more successful in sales
  2. 3x more creative
  3. 31% more productive
  4. 19% more accurate
  5. Up to 10 times more engaged

Although it may seem like a no-brainer, the fact is that happy brains are more productive and motivated. Happiness fuels success, and the thrill of creative effort makes people perform better at leadership roles and achieve far better organization results.

Put simply, to keep your employees happy, you should:

  1. stop micro-managing and make your employees feel that they are trusted by encouraging them to think on their own
  2. create a pleasant environment
  3. improve work/life balance to give people time to let people enjoy their life
  4. promote growth and development by providing opportunities for training and development
  5. ask what could be better, listen and respond to your employees’ feedback
  6. give feedback
  7. encourage socialization

Remember: employees that are content are usually more willing to contribute cheerfully and they don’t moan about daily operations. Try to contribute to overall happiness level in your company as much as you can 🙂

6 Ways to Deliver Excellent Customer Experience

Have you ever wondered why Ikea, world’s largest furniture retailer, continues to do much better than upmarket furniture stores? Here’s the answer: in addition to transparency and great customer service, Ikea sells practical, ready-to-assemble, Scandinavian style furniture and home accessories.

But the real secret lies somewhere else: Ikea constantly reminds its customers that it’s OK to bring back the products that did not meet its customers’ expectations. (To be more precise: according to Ikea’s policy, you can “return any product, even if you assembled it, as long as it’s in re-saleable condition”.) It is clear that a customer ranks very high on Ikea’s priority list and… makes the entire business thrive!

Such customer-centered approach has accompanied us at X-Formation from the very get-go. Ever since we started developing our great software products, our objective has always been clear: deliver value to our customers. Over 11 years we’ve understood that when our customers feel valued, they’re more likely to remain loyal. And loyal customers are our most precious asset. We know that there’s nothing unusual or unreasonable about a customer who considers each purchase of a product or service from a self-centered point of view. After all, they’re paying a price.

Our customers’ opinions have always determined our course of action at X-Formation, and today we’d like to share with you some fundamental lessons we’ve learned over the years on how to continue on an upward trajectory and make your customers feel valued. We take pride in our customer retention rate of a stunning 96% so you can trust us on the following key findings:

1. Deliver value to your customers.

Every day do as much as you can to deliver value through the experiences you create around your products and services. Build your reputation on great quality and customer-friendly, knowledgeable employees. Try to quickly and thoroughly investigate any issues your customers may have with your products. (Think about Apple — the company has built a strong reputation based on superior products and great customer service provided by its friendly employees, not special discounts and deals.)

2. Listen to your customers and be responsive to their needs.

Let your customers’ voice be heard. Enable different channels of communication with your customers and regularly review their feedback. Keep development on track with your customers’ needs so that they know that you add new features to your products, or rework old ones based on what they tell you they want and need.

We developed our X-Formation feedback page so that our customers can ask questions and suggest new features in our products whenever they want. In addition to that, our ability to roll out frequent, stable releases that solve real issues for our user community is attributable to our customer-driven development methodology.

3. Deliver great quality products accompanied with great service.

Make sure you the products you sell to your customers have been thoroughly tested and evaluated. Deliver only quality products. Delivering simplified and personalized purchasing experience is very important, but you need to make sure you’re selling premium quality products.

Also, you should remember that when your employees are knowledgeable about the products and services you offer and put trust in the products they sell, they will handle even the most complicated transactions under challenging circumstances.

4. Remember that it’s not about the money, it’s about the customer.

We’ve learned that the total value of a customer is not about a single transaction: the real measure of customer value is about taking a long-term view of company’s relationships with customers. And we know that value must be defined from the customer’s perspective, not anyone else’s.

Customer satisfaction must come as first, everything else will follow. Make a deliberate commitment and focus on the customer. Use it to drive decisions affecting clients and employees.

5. Forget timely tips. Think Agile.

Tips abound about how to boost your productivity and do more in less time. Some of the techniques are quite obvious (write a “to do” list for each day, try multitasking, learn to say no, prioritize things, and so on), while others, such as the “Swiss cheese method” tell you that when there’s a job you really dread doing, you shouldn’t keep putting it off, but rather make “holes” in it by breaking in into smaller tasks, doing them one at a time and setting a time limit.

OK, much as we appreciate the methods, we decided to develop our own methods and workflow: at X-Formation the capacity of each team is determined per cycle (2-week sprint) and each sprint consists of a collection of to-be-performed, prioritized tasks that we put in the backlog using JIRA issue tracker.

Think of your own method. Listen to your employees, observe their working patterns and only then choose the method that will work best for them.

6. Establish great rapport with your customers.

Over many years we’ve learned that connecting to our customers on an emotional level and providing them with a unique experience by proactively anticipating what they need and expect—and exceeding those expectations every time — is the key to establishing a long-lasting relationship.

Therefore, we always strive to offer as customized and personalized customer experience as possible, even if it requires two or three of us spending lots of time on helping this one, special customer.

Remember: the more value you create, the more valuable you will become.

5 things you don’t know (but should know) about managing your software assets

Knowledge is power.

Having accurate information about the license usage across your organization can help you save amountain of expenses, because software costs can represent a large part of your company’s budget. Before anything else, organizations should see the full picture of how software assets are deployed and utilized across their networks. Read about5 thingsyou probably didn’t know about managing your software licenses.

1. The financial overhead and hassles associated with managing your licenses can be enormous.

Companies overspend by around 30% on licenses that are not being used — this amount very often represents a large part of the entire IT budget. With License Statistics, X-Formation’s software license monitoring toolwhich lets you track and report software usage in real time or through log importation, you can:

  1. prevent over-deployment of software
  2. minimize maintenance and staff training costs
  3. drive down your operational costs
  4. improve your company’s ROI

Find out which licenses are under and overused and plan your ongoing management and purchases accordingly. Sounds smart, no?

2. There are different causes of over-licensing.

Over-licensing takes place when an organization purchases more licenses than needed which can be caused by a number of fluctuating users with each having different software needs. Another reason underlying over-licensing can be attributed to “buying too many licenses just in case” which is often an unnecessary step taken by IT managers. With License Statistics you can easily get a clear picture of your license usage and prevent over-licensing.

3. License Statistics is easy to be used by everyone.

License Statistics is easy to install and use — a few clicks is all it takes to get it up and running , so its installation is simple and hassle-free; you don’t need to install different modules, components, and clients anywhere, sparing yourself lots of time and effort.

License Statistics reportsgive you a high-level overview of your license usage, including most-used features, licenses nearing expiration, features checked out for over 24 hours, license servers being monitored, and other, allowing you to make well-informed budget decisions.

License Statistics is a powerful tool which in an automated way gathers usage statistics from the monitored license servers. This is a simple answer to a difficult question: “What is going on with my software licenses?”

4. Depending on your unique needs, you can generate different reports on license usage.

License Statistics reports target the usage details you need to stay on top of to be able to plan your future software purchases accordingly, including:

  1. Current Users
  2. Usage Per Feature
  3. Usage Per User
  4. Realtime Utilization
  5. Realtime User Count
  6. Expiring Features
  7. Realtime Borrowed Licenses

5. You don’t need a crystal ball to be able to precisely forecast your future licensing needs 🙂

Once you gain insight into users that were denied access to applications, identify unused licenses and get information about important events that affect users’ access to licensees, including license utilization rising above a specified rate, features nearing expiration or licenses servers going down, you will know how to plan your purchases and budget accordingly.

If you would like to find out more about our software give us a call or download a free 30-day License Statistics evaluation.