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Posts by Steve Smith

Office Productivity Trends for 2017: Moving Away from Paper-Based Systems

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The reliance on paper has a long road in the world of business, and it’s one that hasn’t completely ended. You’re perhaps one of those businesses still relying on paper to process your finances, and it’s undoubtedly led to significant problems. If you’ve had incidents of losing important documents, or far too many mistakes and financial discrepancies, it’s time for a change. Read more

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5 Ways Cloud Computing Improves Business

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Cloud computing is a concept that has gained a lot of traction in the last several years. Simply put, it refers to the ability to store and access information over the Internet rather than a hard drive.  It may seem like a straightforward concept, but cloud computing is revolutionizing the way businesses function.  In particular, small and medium-sized businesses are using cloud computing to take away the burden of having to buy, execute, and manage the intricacies of an IT infrastructure. Those businesses that take advantage of cloud computing become more competitive by focusing on what they do best.  So how can cloud computing impact and improve your business?

Cost Savings Read more

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3 Simple Tips from the DMV on Excellent Customer Service

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After 10 years, it was finally time to renew my driver’s license.

This is actually a lot easier now than it was before, because you can fill out all the paperwork ahead of time to speed up the process. However, I still had to visit our local DMV office because they need to check your eyesight, and since you can now get a federally accepted license (soon to be needed for all domestic flights), you need to prove your citizenship.

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3 Predictions for Document Automation in 2016

document-automation

People like to make predictions on what they believe will be coming in the future, especially at this time of the year.

The people who wrote “Back to the Future” in 1985 made some bold predictions — and got about 50% of the right! We do have flat screen TVs, biometric identification, holographic displays (maybe not quite as advanced), and drones. Unfortunately, they did get a few predictions wrong too, like rejuvenation masks, self-lacing shoes, hover boards (not the kind with wheels), and flying cars (which would be really cool!).

As I look forward to 2016, I do not believe there will be dramatic changes when it comes to document automation. I say this primarily because there are many companies who still have not adopted this technology that has been available for more than five years now. Instead they are still using the same methods available back in the days of Marty McFly! However, if your company is a trend setter, here are three technologies to take advantage of to stay ahead of the curve.

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Esker’s Jimmy Fallon Thank You Notes with COO Steve Smith

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For the Jimmy Fallon Thank You Note fans out there–Esker has created our own series of Thank You notes. To make this even more authentic, we have included our US COO Steve Smith above, doing his Jimmy Fallon Thank You Note signature “wind up” as he completes the notes. What would your company’s Thank You notes be? Share them in the comments!

Enjoy!

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Thank you, office desk, for continuing to house stacks of paper for the office hoarder. 

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 Thank you, Customer Service Teams, for always being so nice to customers when they call and request to modify a sales order that cannot be found anywhere in the office. Read more

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The Secrets to Work Life Balance

Learn more about Steve Smith.

In today’s professional world, employees are being asked to always do more.

This all comes with an immense amount of pressure. Employees find themselves working into the evenings—checking emails in bed, approving invoices, researching new software solutions.

A Lesson in Work Life Balance

As a member of our Esker Board of Directors, the Esker Americas COO, a worldwide traveler and, most importantly, a husband and father, I wear many hats. Over my years, I have established a theory of work life balance, much of it based on some of the poor practices I used early on, and what I’ve learned working for a French company.

I am very fortunate to have a wife who selected one of the most difficult, and yet rewarding, careers–a full-time housewife. Our two boys always had someone there to care for them, take them to their sporting events, attend school functions, and have an adult by their side when they came home. She also does the majority of the housework, and takes care of most of the yard, so in many respects I have it made! This allowed me to put more focus on my career and to be the sole income earner for the family. On the flipside, it also helped create the workaholic in me.

I did my best to be with my kids when I could, but looking back I could have done much better. I love working, and I love my job. For many, going to a beach and relaxing is a slice of heaven. For me, it’s boring. So quite often when I do take time off, I sneak away and check in with work. I justified this because it was my responsibility to provide for my family, yet what I wasn’t seeing was my family wanted more of me than the money I helped provide. I’ve learned that separating the two is crucial, and showing your family they’re more important than your job is imperative.

Working for a company that is headquartered in France has been a great learning experience. There is a misperception in the US that all French people only work 35 hours a week and are on vacation the majority of the time. This simply is not true. The French folks whom I know work just as hard as Americans do. The big difference, however, is that they “Work to Live”, not “Live to Work”. They get away from work during their free time, focus on their families and themselves, and come back refreshed when it is time to work again. This does not make them less committed to their jobs. They simply have a better work life balance.

Achieving Work Life Balance

So, after 52 years of life, with two full grown boys who are now on their own, what can I say I have learned?

  • Work to Live! When you’re at work, give it everything you’ve got, but when you punch out at night or take a vacation, focus on what is really important in life – yourself and your family.
  • Take advantage of your time off, and pull away from the stress any job can bring. You’re doing your company a favor as well by coming back relaxed and refocused.
  • If you have a family, make them your number 1 priority. No job in the world is more important than them. Believe me if you have children, they grow up very fast, and you’ll regret not spending as much time with them as you can.
  • Turn the smartphone, tablet or laptop off, and focus on enjoying your free time. If your company cannot survive without you during that time, they clearly have a problem – not you.

So start working to live, and gain the work life balance you desire. If your company is really that good, they’ll not only support you, but they’ll see productivity gains because you’ll have your priorities set properly, and your job focus will be fine-tuned.

Looking to build better business process efficiency so that your staff can be freed up from those hours of overtime? Many companies don’t realize that their internal business document processing is a lot of manual paper pushing–and a major cause of hidden costs and inefficiency. This whitepaper discusses the pain that paper causes and what can be done to free up time and resources… Bringing your workplace a better work life balance.

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Clearing Up the Cloud

Learn more about Steve Smith.

The world of business and technology produces a fair share of buzzwords. More often than not, these words flood into our lexicon only to have their true meanings washed away altogether due to overuse and appropriation. Recently, it appears this has happened to the term “cloud computing.” Everyone is talking about it, boasting about its benefits, but does anyone truly understand its meaning with all of the indiscriminate usage and the increasing fuzziness surrounding the term? It seems consensus on the Cloud is indeed cloudy.

Esker’s Worldwide CEO and President of the Board of Directors Jean-Michel Berard clears up the cloud in this executive insight article.

 

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Why You Should Care about (and Attend) EAUC 2015

Learn more about Steve Smith.

One of my personal pet peeves is when we invest in a new product or solution, and never take full advantage of it (and I’m guilty of this as well!). Let’s face it, everyone is busy these days and taking the time to learn something new is never easy. But there are situations where it can really have a significant impact if we do.

Next April, Esker will be hosting our user conference in Madison, WI (EAUC). As a company that strives to help our customers improve and build a more efficient business, we are constantly working to advise companies on how they can better their business processes to achieve a competitive advantage. This is an opportunity to take the time to maximize your investment with Esker and gain valuable experiences, such as:

  1. Networking—with current customers, prospects and Esker professionals.
  2. Learn best practices in your profession from others.
  3. Getting a look into what is coming next with Esker, and meet with our product management to influence what new features may come in the future.
  4. Learn what your company can do to best utilize Esker and perfect your Esker skills.
  5. Discover industry trends and how you can stay ahead for your company and personal growth.
  6. Get to know the Esker Culture—because we like to have fun!

So take time to further educate yourself with other professionals in your field. It can only help your personal growth and increase the return on investment your company has made in our solution.  And we promise, you’ll have a great time if you do!

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Order Management: The Business Lifeblood

Learn more about Steve Smith. Article originally featured in Industrial Distribution’s February 2014 publication.

I’ve always said that orders are the lifeblood of most companies. If someone is not ordering the goods or services you provide, then the rest of your problems will quickly go away, and so will your company. Orders can come directly from companies or distributors, and both can present unique challenges. Fulfilling orders in the quickest and most accurate way can give your company a huge competitive advantage and keep the orders flowing — ultimately keeping you in business.

Challenges in Keeping Up with Orders

We work with a large number of manufacturing companies that rely heavily on distributors to push their products out to the market. In the past, it was not unusual for distributors to maintain large inventories of products so they could ensure their customers were receiving their goods as quickly as possible. However, for many distributors, times have changed, and they no longer sit on large inventories of products because of the expense and risk that the products may become obsolete. The ability of their suppliers to fulfill orders quickly is more critical than ever. For the suppliers, getting these orders processed can be difficult and you may have a hard time keeping up for a number of reasons:

  1. Orders are unpredictable. It would be great if orders were received in a steady stream, all 100% electronic and without any errors, but that is simply not the case. Orders are generally received in peaks and valleys, with a large number coming in at particular hours of the day or during certain periods (e.g., month end, seasonal, etc.). Yet distributors and their customers expect them to be fulfilled as if it was the only order they receive. Read more

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6 Miles Up a Mountain with no Customer Service…

Learn more about Steve Smith.

For over six months, I had been planning a three day backcountry ski trip in Colorado. This is when you ski up a mountain and stay in huts overnight. If you’re not familiar with this—The 10th Mountain Division, which was a military skiing division created back in WWII, built and continues to maintain huts that are high up on the mountains of Colorado. Today, these huts can be used for recreational use for the adventurous, avid skiers. They’re very remote, with no electricity, running water or cell service, yet they are still very nice units to spend the night in (or so I’ve heard—more to come on that).


Skiers in powder snow, Colorado

To get to the huts in the winter, you can ski up to the mountain incline with special skis that you manually put “skins” on, which is a fabric that gives you traction while going uphill. The bindings on the skis are also flexible, which allows the back of your foot to lift up, much like a cross country ski. However, when it is time to ski downhill, you can lock it in the binding, take the skins off and down the mountain you go, just like normal skiing. So, what does this have to do with customer service?  Let me explain.

No Customer Service—just when you need it

I’m from Wisconsin, where we have no mountains or need for skis that allow you to go up the steep incline of the mountain, nor do we need the avalanche beacon, shovel and probe that is necessary on these “hut excursions.” I rented my equipment from a company in Leadville, CO, that equipped all of these items that I needed for my journey. One of the employees was nice enough to come in an hour early, so I could get my equipment in plenty of time and make it up to the hut before dark. We had a seven mile journey ahead of us, so time was of the essence. There were four of us who started out at about 11 AM with 50 lb. backpacks filled with supplies, and we began our trip uphill. Read more

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