mrc's Cup of Joe Blog

Join us in exploring the world of modern development, evolving technologies, and the art of future-proof software

The key to business dashboard integration

EducationI’ve recently noticed more and more companies asking this question: “Can you integrate this dashboard with Sharepoint?” While it seems like a basic question, it highlights an underlying trend. I’ve noticed a shift in the business dashboard landscape. Business dashboards are no longer good enough. The question is not, “Do you have a dashboard?” Now, the question is, “Where can you integrate/access your dashboard?”

What do I mean? I’ve noticed that more and more companies want dashboards that:

  • Integrate with other business software (like Sharepoint).
  • Are accessible from any web browser.
  • Are accessible from a smartphone.
  • Integrate with other web services.

The risks of application modernization

Education You probably know the benefits of application modernization – more capabilities, decreased maintenance cost, increased integration with web services, etc… All in all, most companies stand to gain more than they lose from modernization.

If that’s the case, why isn’t every company rushing to modernize? Well, as with any big undertaking, there are risks, and these risks hold many back. However, most of these risks come from a lack of experience…a fear of the unknown. I’d like to go over 3 of the most common modernization fears and then explain how to avoid them:

Building and using Pivot Tables (explained via video)

EducationPivot tables are great analytical tools—they sum up large amounts of data and let you view it in just about any way possible. More importantly, they help you quickly analyze business information, discover trends, and make better and more informed decisions.

Pivot tables are typically found in spreadsheet software, such as Excel. Spreadsheet-based pivot tables are great as single-user tools, but you run into problems if you want to distribute, share, or let multiple users alter or view one spreadsheet. Also, if security or data accuracy are necessities, spreadsheet-based pivot tables aren’t ideal. …

How to build a secure extranet in one day

EducationAn extranet is an extremely useful resource for many companies. For those unfamiliar with the term, it is a computer network that allows controlled access from outside the company. For example, here are a few ways extranets are used:

1. Extranets can be set up for customers to log in and view important data.
2. Extranets can be set up for employees to log in outside the office. For example, your sales force could log in to the extranet and view their sales numbers.
3. Extranets can be set up for distributors to log in and view orders, purchase more products, and view new products. . …

How to reduce the risks of modernization

EducationWe recently published a couple of educational white papers which aim to reduce risk for companies beginning modernization projects.

The white papers address a common problem: While many companies recognize the need for modernization, few completely understand their options, the hidden risks, and the steps involved. An uninformed company heading into a new modernization project stands to risk significant sums of time and money. …

Five essential elements every Business Intelligence solution should include

EducationBusiness intelligence is a confusing subject. Generally speaking, when a company realizes they need business intelligence (BI), they aren’t clear on everything a BI solution should include. Why not? BI isn’t the same across the board. As a result, comparing BI solutions is like comparing apples and oranges. Each solution contains different elements.

So, how do you know which elements to look for in a BI solution? I think a few elements are pretty standard, like simple ad-hoc reporting, the ability to use multiple databases, and exporting data to Excel and PDF. Besides these basic elements, I’ve put together a brief list of 5 essential elements that every good BI solution should include: …

Critical questions to ask before buying a report writer

EducationReport writers are pretty easy to understand, aren’t they? If your company stores data in a database (as most companies do), you need reports. To create all these fancy reports, you need a report writer.

However, beyond the basic features like exporting to Excel and creating pretty graphs, you’ll find that report writers vary in capabilities. While they may all address the same problem (your need for data), each one offers different features. Figuring out what’s best for your company can be difficult if you’re unfamiliar with essential report-writing capabilities. …

6 reasons why IT projects fail

Save MoneyA successful IT project is one that is delivered on time, at or under budget, and working as originally planned. According to the Standish group, only 32% of IT projects are considered successful. Believe it or not, that’s an improvement over years past.

Why are most IT projects unsuccessful? I found a nice article entitled “Why IT projects fail” which lists 6 of the most important reasons for failure. I couldn’t agree more with the first point: Lack of user involvement. If your project will be used at all by end users, they must be involved early on. After all, a new system or application that end users can’t (or don’t want to) use is a waste of money. …

Keys to a successful BI implementation

Save MoneyBusiness intelligence (BI) can provide incredible advantages when implemented correctly, such as agility, better decision-making, and even increased profitability. BI is not without risks, however.

How can you implement a BI solution with the greatest chance for success? Let’s take a look at our options. In the past, there were really only two: Build it yourself or buy a pre-packaged solution. …

Where is the best place to outsource?

Save MoneySomeone in one of my LinkedIn groups asked this question: “Where is the best place to outsource?” Now, he was from an outsourcing company and was only trying to raise awareness for his company, but the responses made me smile.

Most responses mirrored my advice: Avoid outsourcing if at all possible and keep it in house. I understand…many companies outsource because they feel it’s their only option. They can’t afford to keep the work in-house and outsourcing makes perfect financial sense on paper. …