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The ProWorkflow solution – www.proworkflow.com is a web based project management solution developed in New Zealand by a tight virtual team. Our servers are in California, the CTO (Founder) in New Plymouth, CEO (Founder) in Rural Christchurch with some staff, and a top developer in Fiji!  We’re a tight team and we have focused on process automation so our costs grow slower than sales – what we call a low inertia business.

From day one, we set out  to build a global business founded on our low inertia business model.  We’ve never just been NZ focussed, it is as easy to reach Los Angeles, London or Levin so why not?

We’ve worked hard to setup automation for trials, sales, support, billing, licensing, client account maintenance and support; leaving our staff free to really talk to customers.  The model has run in profit from day one and the organic growth has allowed us to invest revenue back into the business to support top class infrastructure to support our SaaS application.

“Remember that in SaaS, the app is to SaaS what the hamburger is to MacDonalds – people forget that. The app is a small part. To go global the BUSINESS MODEL and INFRASTRUCTURE and SYSTEMS need to scale… The actual application is the least of your worries. Automation and infrastructure leave people to do what they do best, interact with people to solve problems.”

 

Supplementing our top team, the backend system called “ProCodeManager, which has seen nearly as much development as ProWorkflow is the ‘Engine’ behind the business and provides us with information on every bit of activity in the business, including dashboards for all user activity, follow up, account management, and financial performance.  PCM also highlights issues, ie: mail backing up, server errors etc. So it helps keep us all  on the ball!

The company has no debt, no cash needs beyond sustainable growth, market salaries, corporate governance, no need for funding, sufficient cash in bank to consider dividends, a 7 figure revenue and a growing happy user base.  We can see the growth and customers tell us PWF really helps in their business – a great place to be,  The PWF solution is essentially  ‘recession-friendly’ as it allows customers to  focus on efficiencies. Saving money in hard times is a handy substitute for revenue growth. Furthermore big business is breaking into small businesses in the USA (and all over), creating a much larger market of SME’s (our target market).

As about 75% of our revenue is charged in USD from offshore customers and the US Dollar has finally returned to a realistic cross rate that has been a shot in the arm for us, we really would like to see the New Zealand government taking more note in policy of our wild currency fluctuations.  It would help us plan better.

In our view the key metric for business is revenue per employee, we are driving for a target of US350k per person, at this level we are relatively immune to what the world does in terms of economic activity.  We are exposed to some risk through broadband connectivity so the better and faster our connections to the world the better for us.

Expenses are relatively fixed and we should be able to drive about 300-500k of revenue per staff member.

With hard work and determined effort  we have made page 1 on Google for the term “Project Management Software” and are now finding an increasing number of referral based sales as we’ve been around a few years now. We’ve been aligning our marketing spend to our product releases and the tidiness of PCM and will tweak it more as our organic growth increases.

We released Xero and QuickBooks integration last year, a Time Tracking Widget in Q3 08 and have just finished the ProWorkflow API.  We have a growing number of developers lining up to get into the API, either to integrate with their intranets or to build cool apps! We plan to build an app library for the ProWorkflow solution this year.

The ProWorkflow affiliate program is about to be launched late Feb and our plan is to drive this hard. We want to reward those who refer sales to us.

As our biggest user base is in the US, and the US has been dropping around 500,000 jobs each month, we have of course noticed some slowdown over recent months.  But once customers move past the shock of revenue falls, efficiency soon gets on the radar – so growth, for us, is back.  For us 2009 is about pushing out to new customers, keeping on keeping on with our efforts to supply good products, build on top class infrastructure from a low inertia operation.

So yes, we are in great shape. Slim, trim and rocking!  We will continue to work hard to support our customers and help then find efficiencies – a real substitute for revenue growth until the global economy bounces back

And my advice on company survival does not change in hard times or at any time.   Grow sales faster than costs, automate process, focus people on the stuff only people can do, have a real value (savings or revenue growth) proposition for your customers, if you can, be international from New Zealand.

Remember, if you have to SELL a product, you’re doing something wrong. Instead, you should be FACILITATING a purchase. Think about that for a bit…

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About the author:
Julian Stone, CEO – Project Management Software visionary for:
ProActive Software, ProWorkflow, ProWorkflow Blog & Julian101
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Posted - February 3rd, 2009

Most tech-aware people would have heard by now that on 30th Jan 09m Ma.gnolia http://ma.gnolia.com/ suffered a massive data corruption and loss scenario. Basically, the poo hit the fan and they lost all their users’ data and had no restorable backups! If you go to their website now you’ll see a sad looking holding page: (click to enlarge)

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I’d say at a guess that it’ll be the end of them. It’s not easy to claw back credibility after an event like that. However, they were just a bookmarking service. You imagine this happening to a major SaaS application provider, ie: Project management, accounting, documents, etc. 

I’m trying to drive a little healthy fear into people as there are many online apps that haven’t addressed their infrastructure and backups. They may look good on the front end, but could just be a one man band with one server and no backups behind the scenes.

Make sure you do your homework when choosing a SaaS vendor for your business applications. At ProActive Software (www.proworkflow.com) we take the security and sensitivity of your vital business and project info very seriously and have professional infrastructure and top security, setup at who we consider the USA’s top data center – www.fastservers.net.

Here’s our data security page: Read about ProWorkflow Data Security.

Regarding backups, the ProWorkflow solution has automatic monitored backups that run 4x daily with a 14 day retention. That means we keep 56 copies of every customers’ database backup for up to 2 week rollbacks! The latest 4x backups are kept on the subscription servers and others are kept on the Fastservers remote backup servers.

In addition! We also allow customers to download their full database backup file at ANY time from within the application!

As it happens, sometimes you need the backups to restore for silly things, like if a customer intentionally (or accidentally) deletes a pile of their precious data…

Here’s an example of a ‘non-stressful’ backup restore we hade to do today. No big dramas… But was the easiest way to fix the issue for the customer.

Good Morning PWF,

We seem to have lost an entire category and our custom “look and feel”. We are looking for our Member Bank Projects category. Is there a way that you kind find and restore?

– CLIENT

Hi there,

Re: Look’n’feel. Just checking your audit log, it seems that XXXX (your Staff) has reset your look’n’feel settings. We’re not able to simply bring these back as it was a chosen option, however we could do this by restoring a backup.

Re: Projects Category. The Project Category was deleted on 2 Feb 09, and subsequently all projects and tasks within this category were deleted as that was the chosen option.

We’re either able to run a script to bring this info back, or restore a backup from before this time (all data entered since that time will be unavailable if we go with this option).

I’ll give you a call and check how you’d like to proceed.

– PROWORKFLOW STAFF

Hi PWF,

I think we’ll have to go with the restore of a backup. I understand that anything that happened this morning after the restored backup will be lost.

– CLIENT

Hi there,

Your account has now been restored from the latest backup which was made at 4.30am on 2 February.

– PROWORKFLOW STAFF

Hi PWF,

Perfect!  You guys saved my life…or at least my sanity :-)

– CLIENT

SO it pays to have backups eh!

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About the author:
Julian Stone, CEO – Project Management Software visionary for:
ProActive Software, ProWorkflow, ProWorkflow Blog & Julian101
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imageI’ve just read a brilliant post talking about how hard it is to actually run a startup  and the stresses and challenges we all face. This is one of the most candid posts I’ve read on the topic. I know for us it’s been a long hard slog and there’s still a way to go. Every day is a battle to some degree, but a battle worth fighting.

Whether it’s hard customers, lack of sales, server trouble, cash flow or staff, being in business is all about knocking over obstacles and pushing forward when there’s many reasons not to. The reward comes down the track – not on day 1.

Read the post!

 

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About the author:
Julian Stone, CEO – Project Management Software visionary for:
ProActive Software, ProWorkflow, ProWorkflow Blog & Julian101
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Posted - January 21st, 2009

I took a look at this site ‘GeniusProject’ and the second page I looked at seems to have the words smallest thumbnails! Maybe this is a new concept in image previewing – I’ll call it “Micro Previews”. These are small image previews for people with VERY good eyesight or who sit VERY close to the monitor.

Just a reminder people – Make sure your links work!

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Or better yet! These guys below have just grayed out the background and shown the enlargement at the same size! Brilliant! Same sized enlargements!

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About the author:
Julian Stone, CEO – Project Management Software visionary for:
ProActive Software, ProWorkflow, ProWorkflow Blog & Julian101
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Posted - January 21st, 2009

Looks like www.Bill4Time.com have stolen the layout and left navigation from www.gotomeeting.com. As far as I know they’re two totally unrelated companies (correct me if I’m wrong) so this is blatant design laziness. I blame Bill4Time for this design piracy “do your own design!”.

We use GoToMeeting and thoroughly recommend them – Show them love!

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About the author:
Julian Stone, CEO – Project Management Software visionary for:
ProActive Software, ProWorkflow, ProWorkflow Blog & Julian101
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