Rapid Development – Rapid Gains

April 23, 2009 8:53 am, Published by

One of the great things that we keep saying about Software as a Service is that it allows for the rapid development and deployment of new functionality. Why is this important? Well in the current economic climate it means we can quickly develop new features in response to customer requests and, most importantly, deploy those features to give our customer quick wins in terms of efficiency.

A good example of this is some upgrades we’ve recently made to the order management process. Feedback from customers told us that here were some speed issues in this part of the application and that this was slowing them down. We’ve gone through and made some changes that are showing significant speed improvements on the pages and yet again are adding to the already significant time savings that LearningSource offers our customers.

While it may seem like a little thing – every little bit of efficiency helps an organisation and LearningSource is a great example of a service that is driving these efficiency gains. We’re proud of the fact that LearningSource is the only product that we’re aware of which integrates course enrolment from a website with the backend systems of a training provider – it really is a hands off automated process that will drive efficiency gains for our customers.

The Business Centre Goes Live

April 20, 2009 8:46 am, Published by

The Business Centre is a Wellington-based provider of services that offers;

  • Direct business advice and support
  • Access to Business Coaches and a wide range of Industry Experts
  • Financial and Accountancy services that are affordable yet provide the relationship and support small businesses need to succeed
  • Channels to help small businesses advertise and promote offers to one another

They do this by offering a large range of courses and a busy schedule – making them a perfect organisation to be helped by using LearningSource’s platform. We’ve been talking to James Fensom (director of The Business Centre) since we first started thinking about building a solution for training providers. His help has proved invaluable at giving us an insight into what makes the life of training providers difficult, and where we can help with that.

Given the history, we’re happy to see The Business Centre roll out their own LearningSource solution and especially so given the fact that, in these tough economic times, we can make their job easier and directly help with the great work they do to help small businesses.

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Xero and SaaS

April 14, 2009 8:47 am, Published by

xero-logo-lowres-rgbRecently Software as a Service (SaaS – see here for a great explanation of the term) in New Zealand got some fantastic validation with Xero, the online accounting application, releasing some fantastic sales figures, along with news that they’d successfully raised another $23million in funding.

On a personal level we’re really happy with Xero’s success – they’ve been something of an inspiration to us, showing how successful software businesses can be built from New Zealand. What’s really interesting as well is that a large part of the recent funding round was made by one of the founders of a traditional accounting application. It really shows the potential, promise and customer gains that can be made by moving to a SaaS model – something that here at LearningSource we’re baking into our product as well – we tell more about SaaS as it relates to training management software over on this page.

As well as industry figureheads, Xero has been providing us with some really useful ideas in terms of how a training management solution should work. There are some exciting developments leading on from this collaboration that we’ll be announcing in the next few weeks – stay tuned.

In the meantime we send our heartiest congratulations to Rod and the team at Xero for a job well done!

An Invite for ’Opportunities to Innovate’ seminar

April 9, 2009 11:39 am, Published by

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Challenging times call for innovative solutions. We’re getting the message again and again that training providers are looking for solutions that both drive efficiencies for them, as well as adding value to the core services they provide. We’re so confident of the gains that LearningSource can bring to an organisation that we’ve decided to run some public sessions around these themes.

So we invite you to attend a morning or evening session discussing how new technology and fresh thinking can provide you with ways to;

  • reduce your administrative and management overheads
  • provide exposure to new markets and new business opportunities
  • enhance the value of existing classroom courses through online communication and collaboration
  • manage your entire business operations within a single application, accessible any where anytime

Locations and Dates

Auckland CBD

Monday 27th April 5:00pm – 7:00pm for drinks and nibbles
NZIM Northern (Level 4), Phillips Fox Towers, 209 Queen St (view map)

Auckland Parnell

Tuesday 28th April 7:00am – 8:30am for a breakfast snack
Parnell Trust Jubilee Building, 545 Parnell RD. Parnell, Auckland (view map)

Wellington CBD

Thursday 7th May 5:00pm – 7:00pm for drinks and nibbles
Level 28, The Majestic Centre, 100 Willis Street, Wellington (view map)

Register your interest by sending an email to Phil Hartwick.  We hope to see you there.

Vision Manawatu goes live

April 9, 2009 8:17 am, Published by

Vision Manawatu, the agency responsible for promoting economic growth in the Manawatu region, has now rolled out LearningSource.  They run an extensive number of events and training courses for local businesses and LearningSource has been implemented in an attempt to reduce administration time and cost.

Over the last couple of months we have worked closely with Nikki Mills from Vision Manawatu to scope and develop some of the unique functionality they required to go live.  This included a custom migration of all the data from their old system into LearningSource. It’s great to see all the work come to life.

More than just cost cutting however, Vision Manawatu plans to enhance and extend their current training services by offering online access to course resources and supporting online communication and collaboration. Part of the way this is achieved is through the utilisation of CourseSpace, an individual space that provides learners with easy access to course resources and opportunities to participate in online activities such as discussions, wikis, and the course blog. The CourseSpace;

  • Provides easy access to course resources
  • Facilitates online communication and collaboration
  • Supports a continual growth of course content
  • Allows for extended value to be added to class learning

We’re please to have gotten Vision Manawatu up and running on our platform, and are looking forward to seeing the difference truly collabortive features like CoureSpace can add to the training relationship.

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Tracking communication

April 2, 2009 10:04 pm, Published by

We do a lot of work behind the scenes to make LearningSource robust and scalable so that it will work for large numbers of training providers. Every once in a while we create a piece of functionality primarily to make our life easier, and then realise that it’s also a real boon to our customers. Our new "communication log" is a good example of this.

When internally testing software updates, and believe us when we say that internal testing is a massive component of what we do, we have to send lots of different emails to test various parts of the system. Previously there was no way of tracking all of these emails – the new communication log records all emails being sent from LearningSource.

Beyond making life easier for our internal testers however, the real purpose of the feature is to provide end-users with a simple list of all the emails being sent so that they can easily see when an email was sent and what information the email contained.  You can also also use the feature to resend an email – for example, resend Course Instructions if a customer missed the original email.

We’ve got a number of added features that will leverage off the Communication Log, we’ll be rolling them out in the months ahead – watch this space as we complete the remaining functionality.

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The Microsoft BizSpark Programme

April 1, 2009 8:00 am, Published by

We just received notification that LearningSource has been accepted into the Microsoft BizSpark programme. Microsoft introduced the BizSpark programme in an effort to give new start-up businesses access to their software resource, but more importantly, to give high-potential businesses an introduction into the network of business partners that Microsoft has.

In Microsoft’s own words;

BizSpark is an innovative new program that unites Startups with entrepreneurial and technology resources in a global community with a common goal of supporting and accelerating the success of a new generation of high-potential Startups.

So why is this important, and why should current and potential LearningSource customers be pleased with this move? Well acceptance to BizSpark entails a process where both the quality of the solution, and the quality of the business itself, are assessed. As well as this to be accepted a business needs to be recommended by an existing BizSpark partner. Both of these facts together show that LearningSource has been built on a robust foundation that gives certainty both about our product and about our company – a seal of approval if you like.

We’re really pleased to have been accepted to the programme – partly because of the ability it gives us to leverage both the products and the networks that Microsoft have, but also because of what it says about us as a company. It’s yet another validation for us that both our product and our business are heading in the right direction – exciting times indeed!

Calculating the Savings

March 27, 2009 9:57 pm, Published by

We had a good review meeting with New Zealand Trade & Enterprise Escalator last week.  They’ve been using LearningSource for nearly 3 months now, having been with us from the start.  One of the key questions asked at the meeting was their estimate on the savings LearningSource is generating through its automation of their processes. 

The figures even surprised us.  Ben Grant (Client Services Manager) estimates that the time savings LearningSource provides equates to a day’s worth of saved administration time each week.  He extrapolated this further and worked out that the cost savings were more than $700 per month.

What’s surprising is that Escalator only run between 8-10 courses each month.  Not bad going considering there are still a number of new features on the way that will reduce their course administration overheads even further.

Quick Statistics

  • Escalator run 8-10 courses per month.
  • Course administrators save the equivalent of one day per week in administration time by using LearningSource (equates to over $700 per month).

New Zealand Trade & Enterprise Escalator

Google Analytics

March 22, 2009 7:29 pm, Published by

Our new website was launched about three weeks ago and we have been doing all we can to get the word out and visits up. Our team were quick to setup the site with Google Analytics. While Google Analytics may be old hat for those in the tech industry, some of the training providers who use our software may not have heard of it.

This is a post for their information – Google Analytics is just brilliant.

It’s amazing the amount of information you can pull from the reporting, from a map of the world illustrating where visitors are coming from, statistics on the average time they spend on your site, right through to how they clicked through to the site in the first instance. You can use this information to understand your website visitors, and to ultimately improve your website content.

Google Analytics Dashboard example

Google Analytics Dashboard example

While the over analytic among us could possibly get too wound up in the detail and end up over analysing the information from just a month’s worth of data, for a new business such as ours (well newly in the open anyway) just being able to see how effective an email is by the number of hits received on the website after it has been sent is invaluable.

The other key statistic we monitor is the total number of unique visitors to our site. At this stage, a key focus for us is building awareness of what we do and spreading the word about our new services. Tracking the total number of specific individuals who visitor our site helps us measure our success.

If you haven’t setup your website on Google Analytics, I would highly recommend you do. It’s a really easy thing to do – if you have any problems feel free to contact us for some friendly advice.

And the best thing about Google analytics? It’s Free!

Keeping everyone informed when details change

March 21, 2009 11:36 pm, Published by

Customer feedback has time and again highlighted areas where automating services can make a big difference to training providers. In a nice case of the user being involved in the design of a product, LearningSource customers identify problem areas and then we use our design and technical knowledge to come up with the most user friendly solution.

A key ‘pain point’ highlighted to us by training organisations is keeping everyone informed when details of a course change. For example, updating the presenters, attendees, and venue contacts when the course venue is changes. In most cases this involves manually creating and sending emails to each individual involved which can be a significant inefficiency.  A new feature just released addresses this ‘pain point’. Now when an administrator changes the details of a course, the venue, the presenter, or the date, LearningSource automatically sends an email to everyone involved informing them of the change.

We thought hard about the best way to ensure the changes were obvious and that they’d be noticed by the recipient – to this end we’ve designed the notifications so that they clearly illustrates the specific details which have changed. Check out the images below as an example. See how the old information is crossed out and the new details highlighted in red.

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We’ve had some really positive feedback about this new feature from existing customers, what previously took them a significant amount of time writing and sending emails, making phone calls etc, is now just a click of a button.