Managing your company app portfolio

May 29, 2019

Release/Change management.  For those of you who aren't in the technology industry, in the simplest of terms this refers to the implementation of new or updated applications into a live technology environment.  This isn't something that most companies will put much thought towards, but as your business starts to use more and more technology it becomes increasingly important.

For one of our newest customers, this became a critical issue... one that was hurting their core business and causing them to hemorrhage money.  

This customer approached us after years of taking the route that most companies take.  They had maintenance contracts with the individual technology vendors that had developed their applications.  This makes sense, doesn't it?  The vendor developed that application, therefore they are experts in it... so who is better suited to maintain and upgrade it?  Except imagine that your technology portfolio expands and expands, and now you have dozens of these maintenance contracts with dozens of vendors.  Costs are beginning to pile up.  

That is exactly what happened to this customer.  Different departments contracted with different technology vendors and their application portfolio grew to a staggering 150+ applications (used both internally and sold externally).  They had so many contracts across so many different applications, it not only became incredibly expensive to maintain, it became a nightmare to do any system wide infrastructure upgrades.  They realized that they could not continue operating in this fashion, so they itemized their needs and began researching their options

The basic needs were simple:

  • Maintain 150+ applications
  • Minimize downtime
  • Source business requirements for new software and upgrades
  • Develop modifications/upgrades
  • Manual and automated testing
  • Manage upgrade and new application releases
  • Coordinate global infrastructure changes
  • Analyze portfolio performance
  • Develop advanced reports and dashboards for executive team on application usage and performance
  • Troubleshoot 
  • Train system users

 

Ultimately there were 2 viable options for this customer, either build an internal technical team to eliminate existing maintenance and development contracts or consolidate existing contracts under a minimal number of vendors.

During their research, the customer began to understand the difficulties in building their own internal technical team.  The costs associated with bringing on multiple team members was quite high, which was compounded by the cost of benefits and employee taxes.  This was further complicated by the lack of knowledge and expertise necessary to source and screen the necessary candidates.  The customer made an attempt at building an internal team, but quickly found that these aforementioned difficulties were insurmountable... so they began researching technology vendors who could outsource the work for them.

That research led them to Astir IT.  Through some mutual contacts, the customer asked us to analyze their technology environment and offer a potential solution.  We offered them an on-site resource who would act as the sole point of contact for any inquiries, issues, or needs associated with any of their 150+ applications.  This individual would be an expert in their applications and the underlying technology, and would site at their headquarters during normal business hours so they were always accessible.  Behind this resource would be an entire technical team, and together all of the needs outlined by the client would be completely satiated.  This solution would dramatically decrease their costs and enable them to gain holistic control of their entire technology environment.  This solution was also extremely flexible, allowing for exponential scaling as the portfolio and technology environment continued to grow.  

After an initial discovery period where the Astir resource learned the customers applications, Astir has successfully implemented these managed services for the customer, who has been able to refocus energy towards building the business.  Currently, Astir is still managing the customer application portfolio, which has grown by another whopping 40% at the time this blog was written.

Release/change management is often overlooked by those who aren't in the technology arena.  As your technology environment grows, this can become an integral part of your success... proper oversight of your infrastructure and software can save your business massive headaches and allow you to remain at peak efficiency.   

Astir IT , ,

Calling all IT Consultants!

December 18, 2018

It's that time of year again... the annual H1 Quota!

Astir IT Solutions, Inc. is in the midst of the largest hiring push we'e ever done and are looking to bring on the best and brightest IT talent available.  One of the many benefits of working for the Astir Family of Companies is potential visa sponsorship.  If you, or anyone you know, is looking for a preferred employer and sponsorship in the upcoming H1 Quota, make sure to contact us ASAP.

Astir IT has forged a reputation as a preferred employer, and has had much success with the H1 program.  We are looking for IT professionals who are interested in furthering, or even starting, a lucrative career in IT consulting.  We have many successful relationships with top prime vendors and direct clients, and need to expand our workforce to fill available positions.  We offer a full suite of benefits that includes a 401K, health insurance, life insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, project support, and ongoing training opportunities.  We also offer H1 and GC processing assistance for qualified individuals.

If you meet the below criteria, we would love to hear from you:

  • Currently in the US
  • Have proper work authorization
  • Hold at least a Bachelors in a technical field (Masters preferred)
  • Have at least 3 years of experience in IT

 

To qualify for visa sponsorship, you must be on a project with Astir IT at the time of filing.

If you, your classmates, your coworkers, your friends, or your family are interested, visit us at www.astirit.com to learn more about joining the Astir Family of Companies.  You can also send us your contact details and most up-to-date resume at contact@astirit.com.  

Astir IT is also hiring anyone with the following statuses:  US Citizen, GC, H1, L2 EAD, H4 EAD, and F1.  Astir is an EEO employer and an eVerify company.

Astir IT, Consulting , , , ,

Astir IT is Hiring

November 12, 2018

Hello,

Astir IT is currently undergoing a hiring drive and is looking for the best IT talent available. 

We are looking for qualified individuals who wish to begin or further a lucrative career as an IT consultant.  Astir IT Solutions, Inc. has forged a solid reputation as a preferred employer over our 17+ year history.  Today we have over 350 IT consultants placed at client locations all across the U.S.  We have many strong prime vendor and direct client relationships and must hire the best talent available in order to keep up with the high volume of requirements we receive.

Astir IT is hiring US citizens, GC, L2, F1, and H4 EAD IT consultants, as well as anyone who wishes to transfer their H1B.  We are both an eVerify company and an EEO employer. 

Astir IT offers industry leading benefits:

  • Competitive Salaries
  • Health Insurance
  • Vision Insurance
  • Dental Insurance
  • Life Insurance
  • 401K
  • Training Opportunities
  • Potential H1B sponsorship
  • Potential GC Processing Assistance
  • F1 OPT STEM Processing Assistance

 

We are also offering potential H1B sponsorship in the upcoming H1 Quota.  Ideal candidates will meet the following criteria:

  • Must currently be in the U.S.
  • Must be on F1, H4 EAD, or L2 status
  • Must have at least a bachelor’s (master’s preferred) in computer science or a related field
  • Must have recent IT work experience (3+ years preferred)

 

*To qualify for H1B sponsorship in the upcoming H1 Quota, you must be employed by Astir IT and work on an Astir project at the time of filing.

If you, or anyone you know, is interested and would like to learn more, visit us at http://astirit.com/Email_and_Contact_Info.aspx or email us at contact@astirit.com. 

H1 Quota, Recent Posts , , , ,

Data Warehousing

September 05, 2018

Hello Everyone,

To continue our ongoing series of customer case studies, today we will be discussing data warehousing.  Having a data warehouse is only half of the equation.  Your databases and data warehouses are only as good as the data that is stored in them… and if your business has bad data, then any reporting and analysis done on that data will be completely unreliable.  This is a problem that plagues many businesses, and one of our customers was no different. 

This customer had a custom data warehouse that had been designed and implemented years early; and it was plagued by bad data.  There were too many redundancies, inconsistencies, missing, and incorrect data that had flowed into the data warehouse over time.  This led to different internal departments setting up their own data warehousing platforms, resulting in an extremely fragmented environment where executives were unable to easily pull and analyze data across multiple business areas.  Just as, if not more, important was the ill effects being suffered by their sales and marketing department.

Without a unified data warehousing system with easy access to clean, reliable data, the sales and marketing organizations were unable to successfully gather, analyze, and track data on prospects and customers.  Any reporting that was requested took inordinate amounts of time, and many opportunities fell on the floor.  The customer recognized this problem and made the decision to pour resources into fixing the issue, so the marketing and sales organizations could function properly and drive more revenue.

This client had engaged Astir IT on a different IT project and approaches us for a solution to their data warehouse woes.  After diving head first into their data environment and gathering requirements, Astir IT designed, developed, and implemented a singular data repository with advanced analytic capabilities.  In conjunction with the development of the data warehousing system, Astir assisted the client in a massive overhaul of their existing data.  We helped the client cleanse their data with a combination of database query and manual exercises that rid their data of the high volumes of duplicates, incomplete entries, and incorrect data. 

Once the new system was in place, the data cleansed, and the massive data migration effort were completed, the customer gained a secure methodology for storing, retrieving, and analyzing their data.  The biggest impact to the client was the ability for their sales and marketing organizations to better track customers and prospects for more efficient and effective targeting.  Decision making speed improved and costs were reduced as resources were better allocated because of the new data warehousing system.

Data Warehousing

Electronic Data Interchange

August 15, 2018

Hello Everyone,

This is the latest entry in our series of customer case studies, where we provide examples of how Astir IT Solution, Inc. products, services, and solutions help businesses like yours.  One of our oldest customers came to us with the need for a new Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) system.  They had recently installed a new Microsoft Windows based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software and needed to improve the compatibility of their current EDI system, or install a new one. 

Upon implementing the new ERP system, the existing EDI system was plagued with issues, causing unprocessed orders and stalling supply and delivery lines.  In order to address the problem, and ultimately stay in business, the customer was forced to spend inordinate amounts of time and resources in the manual completion of set processes that were normally automated.  The expenditure was unsustainable, and a solution was needed quickly.

The customer initially approached Astir IT in order to analyze the current EDI system, recommend modifications, and implement any necessary changes.  After a full analysis, there were a number of modifications needed including custom development.  The cost and time of the proposed changes were comparable, if not higher, than purchasing and implementing a brand-new EDI system.  Astir IT was then engaged to quickly gather all functional requirements and propose alternative EDI systems.  Upon presenting all available options, the customer selected an option and engaged Astir to implement and manage the alternate system. 

Astir IT implemented the EDI system and integrated it into the customers’ technology environment.  During the implementation, all the necessary data was migrated from the existing system into the new system.  The end result for the client was a brand-new EDI system that was totally compatible with their newly implemented ERP system, fully restoring all automation to their ordering and fulfillment processes.

As always, if you are interested in learning more about how we have addressed a specific topic that you do not see here or on our website (www.astirit.com), please contact us to discuss further.

Consulting

Data Migration - Navigating a Most Difficult Process

July 31, 2018

Greetings,

Today Astir would like to share another successfully case study with our audience.  This case study involves a common situation: Company A acquires Company B and now must integrate their systems and data into their existing technology environment.  This can be a complex, cumbersome task that requires many resources and multiples more man hours to complete.  If done correctly, new sales opportunities can present themselves and revenue can be further increased.  If done incorrectly, not only do those sales opportunities get dropped on the floor, important relationships can suffer… leading to long-term revenue loss.

In this case study, a very large Astir customer acquired a similarly sized firm and needed to tackle the gargantuan task of merging their customer, sales, and marketing data into their existing systems.  The data was extremely sensitive and needed to be cleansed, validated, and migrated very quickly.  Given overlap in customers and products, there was an overwhelming need to quickly integrate this data in order to avoid incorrect and ineffective sales follow-ups in order to preserve relationships during the transition period.

Astir IT was engaged to help the customer navigate this process quickly and complete the migration with minimal impact to daily operations.  A team of on-site resources were placed with the customer and worked closely with internal teams to create a set of standard operating procedures and workflows in order to execute a smooth migration process.  Once the data migration was underway, all steps were meticulously documented and multiple back-ups were put in place to ensure that no data was lost or corrupted.  Finally, new data housing systems were built in order to create and maintain a clean, efficient access system for the resulting merged data. 

The initial set-up process and standard operating procedures put into place prior to the data migration resulted in a smooth transition for the customer, and there was zero down-time.  The Astir team remained in place for a short time after the initial migration in order to continually monitor progress and perform any maintenance and training needed.  Ultimately, the customer was able to leverage the merged database to expand their operations.

If you are interested in learning more about how we have addressed a specific topic that you do not see here or on our website (www.astirit.com), please contact us to discuss further.

Business Intelligence, Consulting , ,

Helping Customers with Data Management

July 17, 2018

Hello,

Continuing our series of case studies and presenting examples of how Astir IT products, services, and solutions help businesses like yours, Astir IT would like to discuss data management.  Data has become a more and more critical aspect of virtually every business, shaping everything from out digital presence, our sales and marketing efforts, and our strategic business decisions.  Therefore, it has become overwhelmingly important to have a proper data management system in place.  Whether you need a simple, small-scale database, or a sophisticated data warehouse with a multi-faceted front-end UI for retrieval and analysis, it is necessary that data is collected and stored correctly.  Having an incomplete, fragmented, or otherwise problematic data management system results in bad data and worthless analysis, which derails strategic business decision-making. 

One particular client had this exact problem.  They had the distinct need to replace their current data management system, as their data was plagued by inaccuracies, incomplete entries, and redundancies.  Bad data was skewing their statistical analysis, and they lacked the resources and bandwidth to implement an efficient and effective cleansing process.  The client could not risk making business decisions that were predicated on incorrect data, and eventually, they could not justify the costs associated with the necessary manual intervention needed to cleanse, analyze, and report the intelligence to executives.  They were in dire need of a new data management system that automate their processes, and provide cleaner, more consistent customer data.

In order to rectify this situation, the customer engaged Astir IT to build a new data warehouse and reporting engine.  The requirements were very straight forward: build a new data management system with a front-end reporting UI that would provide sales and marketing with actionable intelligence for their daily operations, and provide executives with clean, reliable analysis for strategic decision making.  Astir used a multi-phased approach in order to cleanse their existing data, migrate it into a new data warehouse, and establish an automated data gathering/input system that would eliminate future occurrences of duplicate or incomplete data entries.  Astir also created a user-friendly, intuitive front-end reporting engine that offered users multilevel dashboards and statistical reports.  The overall solution enabled marketing and sales organizations to efficiently track campaigns, record customer and prospect interactions, fine-tune targeting approaches, and ultimately convert sales. 

The customer executive team was particularly happy with the solution, as they gained a secure, reliable methodology to quickly and accurately measure organizational efforts and output; which could be leveraged to shape the future of their business.

Astir IT was also engaged to provide the customer with an on-site resource for the ongoing, daily management of this new data management solution.  The resource was not only highly skilled in data architecture and database/data warehouse development, he was also an expert in business intelligence.  This resource was able to successfully improve organizational buy-in by continually evolving the system to accommodate changing business requirements and expanding the scope and capabilities of the system.

If you are interested in learning more about how we have addressed a specific topic that you do not see here or on our website (www.astirit.com), please contact us to discuss further.

Data Warehousing, IT Staffing, Project Placement , , , , ,

Data Analysis and Reporting

July 06, 2018

Hello Everyone,

Data is the life-blood of any business.  It can be used to understand employee behavior, customer interactions, market fluctuations, etc., and it can alter the way business decisions are made.  Your business not only needs reliable access to the right types of data, you need that data to be clean, free of duplicates and mistakes, and available for complex analysis.  Astir IT specializes in business intelligence and Big Data and would like to present you with a case study of how we helped a client optimize their data environment.

As always, if you are interested in learning more about how we have addressed a specific topic that you do not see here or on our website (www.astirit.com), please contact us to discuss further.

We had a customer who had a data problem.  Data on customers, employees, competitors, etc. was all collected using different methods and housed in different places.  The customer lacked the expertise and tools necessary to combine, clean, and analyze the data in any meaningful way, and their strategic business decisions were suffering from it.  The customer came to Astir IT needing the creation and maintenance of operational dashboards.

After working closely with the customer, there were four (4) main operational areas that were affected by this lack of actionable data: HR, Finance, Accounts Payable/Receivable, and Operations.  Astir tackled the initial business analysis task, and helped the customer fully flush out the requirements:

  • Human Resources Analytics: Identifying headcount trends, attrition rates, employee demographics, etc. in order to provide insight into trends concerning hiring, terminations, and retention.
  • Finance Analytics: Advanced analytics in the area of bookings-to-revenue lifecycle; giving the client an accurate representation of the ordering process, backlogs, reserves, and billings in order to make inferences and trending projections for upcoming quarters.
  • Invoice Analytics: Invoicing specific analytics designed to flush out information throughout the invoicing lifecycle; such as policy violations, expenditures, supplier lists, etc.
  • Forecasting: Inference based analytics measuring planning, financial forecasting, expense data, cost center levels, account expenses, etc.

 

Once the business intelligence metrics were fully defined, a dashboard solution was implemented that initially combined, standardized, cleansed, and deduped existing data in order to populate a series of multi-tier dashboards.  In order to maintain these dashboards and ensure the customers ongoing ability to make use of the dashboards, a set of proper procedures were designed and implemented to collect and transmit data into a single repository, which was mined by the dashboards.  The customer was presented with a reliable and secure methodology to consistently measure and understand the right data in order to improve their strategic business decisions.

Application Development, Astir IT, Mobile Application Development , , , ,

Customer Relationship Management Case Study

June 25, 2018

Hello Everyone,

This entry will be the latest in our series of customer case studies.  Astir IT would like to share some examples of how we have helped customer, like you, improve their business by leveraging advanced technology.  The services, solutions, and products we have provided customer have helped them improve efficiency, automate processes, and boost bottom line.  As always, if you want to see how we’ve addressed a specific scenario that you don’t see either here or at our website (www.astirit.com), contact us today to discuss.

Today’s case study involves a customer who needed an improved customer relationship management (CRM) system.  They had a fragmented process consisting of basic spreadsheets and rudimentary, small-scale applications; which ultimately led to inconsistent, unreliable data sharing.  Their basic requirement was to better consolidate their data for improved visibility and analytics.  It would be accessed by multiple organizations, including sales, marketing, and executives, each of which had a different set of unique needs.  Overall, a cohesive CRM system would improve their lead management, marketing analytics, and enable more accurate forecasting.  

Astir IT worked closely with the customer to help them fully realize their business requirements.  For the overarching system, the requirement was to both grab and fetch data from multiple sources (consisting of multiple forms), cleanse it, house it, segment it, and perform complex analytics.  Once the data was captured by the system, it would need to be accessible by multiple viewpoints, based on the requirements of each user population.  This included:

  • Marketing:  The marketing team needed to better understand the results of their marketing campaigns.  The data being captured on existing customers and potential leads included campaign interaction data, which was critical shaping future campaigns.  The data would be presented in detailed reports from several perspectives, including grouped by population, account, and campaign.
  • Sales: The sales team needed detailed profiles of both existing customers and potential leads for sales follow-up efforts.  A complex scoring algorithm was needed to weight interactions and understand prospect viability, and customer/lead profiles would need to be robust and detailed.
  • Executives: Executives wanted a clear, concise understanding of how marketing and sales efforts were going.  Multi-level dashboards with simple, easy to navigate interfaces were critical, as they would be used to measure the efficacy of multiple departments and develop accurate forecasts.

 

Given the complexity of the requirements, Astir IT began developing a custom CRM platform for this client.  Throughout the development process, we kept members of the customer marketing, sales, and executive organization close in order to capture any evolving business requirements.  Upon delivery, Astir implemented and integrated the application into the customers technology environment to ensure a smooth transition.  Organizational buy-in was high, and the customer was able to enjoy increased reliability and visibility into their data.

CRM , , ,

Application Testing - A Client Success Story

April 23, 2018

We would like to share some of our client success stories with you so better understand how Astir can improve your business.  In the coming weeks, we will bring you a series of case studies that exemplify the benefits our expert technical resources provide clients.  These case studies will be touching upon a number of different industries, technical issues, business problems, and IT services/solutions.  If at any time you are curious about how Astir can help with your specific situation, and do not see a parallel in our case studies, feel free to visit us at www.astirit.com, or email us directly at contact@astirit.com.  We have serviced many different clients across a wide range of industries, each with their own unique business problems and technology needs.

One of our clients had released a new, in-house application for their employees to use... but began facing a myriad of problems.  Although they had the necessary development talent on staff to build the application and implement it within their technology environment, they lacked the proper quality assurance capabilities to ensure it worked according to specifications.  They needed to bring on an expert, senior level quality assurance rockstar who could fully test their new application in real world scenarios and multiple environments; including mobile devices, operating systems, and web browsers.  

This client came to Astir not knowing exactly what it was that they needed.  They knew they had a complex application that could answer their operational needs, and they knew it wasn't working properly; but they didn't know how to pinpoint the issues so their development personnel could properly develop, implement, and manage fixes.  Astir worked closely with this client to help identify their short and long-term needs, and proposed an expert consultant who had experience in both manual and automation testing.  This individual would be able to help identify and manage issue, bug, and breakage documentation; as well as the cataloguing and retesting of the fixes implemented by the development team.  The consultant would utilize a mixture of manual and automation testing to address short term issues in order to get the system up and running for their employees.

In order for the client to continue operating at peak efficiency, they would keep this resource on hand to perform more complex load testing on the application.  As new features and enhancements were planned, developed, and implemented, this testing resource would help mitigate issues and minimize any impact to daily operations.  By implementing this solution for the client, turn around times for the identification and resolution of system issues was drastically decreased and the operating costs associated with the application and the usage therein was reduced.  Ultimately, the client went from spending inordinate amounts of money on a broken, buggy application, to having an invaluable system that increased efficiency and effectiveness of employee efforts.

QA Testing, Recent Posts , ,