The Most Popular iPad and iPhone Apps for Video Production

Ever since the release of the iPhone and later the iPad, there has been a continual roll out of applications or apps aimed at the video production market. Some have come and gone but many have now become an indispensable part of our kit, providing convenience and in some cases replacing high priced production equipment.

Pre Production

Some of the most useful apps have been designed for use in pre production and planning. Often taking the place of expensive desktop software and in some cases adding additional usability.

Scripting apps such as script pro allow users to write scripts with the aid of pop up menus and short cuts straight onto your iPad.

It is also compatible with industry standard software such as final draft. It also senses when an external keyboard is plugged into the iPad and eliminates the onscreen keyboard for an even larger view.

Another extremely useful app is Hitchcock storyboard composer. This is a very well thought out storyboard app which allows the user to upload multiple images from your libraries, add music, notes and of course shot descriptions. It also emulates camera moves such as pans, tilts and dolly movements. Your storyboard can then be exported as a PDF or even played back as a movie.

Production

Perhaps some of the most popular apps are those used for production, such as movie slate or DSLR slate which replace the need for costly clapper boards.

The movie slate app does everything you need a clapper to do and then some. You can make comprehensive voice and image notes, export reports and ingest shot data in editing platforms such as final cut pro. You can also sync timecode between cameras, between other iPads or iPhones, with a clock time and even sync with an iTunes song, if you’re shooting a music video.

Telepromptor apps are also gaining in popularity too. The pro promtor app lets you edit the presentation text and has a customizable scrolling screen of text where you can adjust size and speed. Another handy feature is the ability to sync between iPads so your presenter can talk to numerous cameras displaying the same text.

There are also several editing packages available such as iMovie, a portable version of the popular desktop software for Mac. It’s surprisingly flexible with many of the usual features. Users are able to edit existing footage or shoot more with the built in 1080p HD capability of the iPad camera. This is of course not going to be as good as a professional camcorder but is very useful for shot planning, location scouting and story boarding.

And when you’re finished, the sharing possibilities are endless. Upload to YouTube or Vimeo, to a cloud or website or even play it on a big screen TV using airplay.

The iPhone and iPad have brought lots of new possibilities to the world of video production and i for one think video production is the better for it.

Project Management Applications For Small Businesses

If you manage a small business or project, using email communications, Excel spreadsheets and company hard drives for managing and storing project information might be okay on a temporary basis, but as the number of your projects grow (and your number of collaborators grow with it) you’ll need to consider a more sophisticated system to incorporate in your business processes.

In fact, it has been proven that for small businesses having a collaborative tool providing multiple features including task assignment, time tracking, CRM, document management, mobile connectivity and third party invoicing can make a huge difference in company’s bottom line.

For large organizations, systems like Primavera, MS Project or SharePoint are the most popular software programs for project planning, reporting, document sharing, progress updating and tracking. They are used worldwide and have their own benefits and disadvantages.

On the other hand, for small businesses or small projects (such as creating new websites, new software programs, new mobile apps or even a minor manufacturing projects) Primavera and MS Project might not be the best solutions, the most important disadvantages being higher costs, heavy platform environment, learning curve, the need for sophisticated support team and unavoidable staff training.

Deciding which project management application or software to incorporate into your small business processes can be a daunting task as there is quite a wide selection to choose from and they are all continually evolving and advancing. To make matters more difficult, each software creator provides different packages to choose from, depending on the number of projects, the number of users (collaborators) and the storage space offered.

On the lower end, developers seem to categorize their packages based on one of these two choices:

– Unlimited collaborators, but limited number of projects

– Unlimited projects, but limited number of collaborators

But, they also offer unlimited projects/collaborators packages at much higher monthly rates.

Even if you select a low-end package to start with, as a growing business the high-end packages should be an important criteria for your selection because in a few years when your number of projects/users grow you would want to be able to keep the same platform, and avoid having to transfer all your files to a less costly solution.

Storage is also another differentiator for choosing your package. Depending on the type of projects your organization is managing, and the size of files your team members share on a daily basis, this could become a make-or-break factor in your selection.

The ability to use the software on your mobile smartphone or tablet is another factor to take into consideration, if that is indeed important to you or your organization. Some applications are just web-based, others use HTML5 code that fits and adapts to any screen size, and others provide their own iOS, Android or Windows Phone apps for the most popular devices such as iPhone or iPad.

Another factor to consider is whether you want (or need) to work with Gantt charts that are simpler versions of MS Project and Primavera. Some project management apps offer visual Gantt-based (rather than a task-assignment based) software.

To make your selection a little bit easier, outlined below are some project management apps we briefly examined for small businesses (in no particular order):

Product Name: Basecamp (Web-based + Mobile App)

– Lower End Package: 10 Projects, Unlimited Users, 3 GB Storage, $20 / month

– Higher End Package: Unlimited Projects, Unlimited Users, 100 GB Storage, $150 / month

Basecamp keeps all your project documents and communications in one place. You can control who sees what on the projects and who can communicate with whom. The user interface is quite user-friendly and provides quick access to the latest project progress, communications, To-Do lists, etc. Basecamp also provides iOS and Android apps for mobile phones and tablets.

Product Name: Mavenlink (Web-based + Mobile App)

– Lower End Package: Unlimited Projects, Unlimited Users, 20 GB Storage, $25 / user / month

– Higher End Package: Unlimited Projects, Unlimited Users, 100 GB Storage

Mavenlink is fully integrated with Google Docs, Tasks and Contacts. It allows you to centralize your project information, files and communications in a shared environment. Real-time messaging ensures your team members stay on the same page. You can also stay connected using your mobile smartphone as the software offers an HTML5 mobile version as well.

Product Name: Apollo (Web-based + Mobile App)

– Lower End Package: 18 Projects, Unlimited Users, 5 GB Storage, $23 / month

– Higher End Package: Unlimited Projects, Unlimited Users, 75 GB Storage, $148 / month

Apollo helps you keep track of what’s happening on your project, tasks, and calendar using interactive timers. In the activity screen you can see who did what, and even communicate with other people. Files can also be kept within the platform. Mobile versions of the software for iOS and Android are also offered.

Product Name: Wrike (Web-based + Mobile App)

– Lower End Package: 5 Users, Unlimited Collaborators, Unlimited Projects, 5 GB Storage, $49 / month

– Higher End Package:: 50 Users, Unlimited Collaborators, Unlimited Projects,100 GB Storage, $199 / month

Wrike is another project management software providing task management, time tracking, document sharing, and real-time news-feed. It also provides Gantt-chart integration as well as Outlook and email integration to facilitate communications.

Product Name: Projecturf (Web-based only)

– Lower End Package: 20 Projects, Unlimited Users, Unlimited Storage, $40 / month

– Higher End Package: Unlimited Projects, Unlimited Users, Unlimited Storage, $120 / month

Projecturf provides a user-friendly web environment giving instant access to various projects using tabs. It allows you to grant and change access permissions in every section, and even remove some section if they don’t apply to a project.

Product: Project Bubble (Web-based only)

– Lower End Package: 10 Projects, Unlimited Users, 5 GB Storage, $24 / month

– Higher End Package: Unlimited Projects, Unlimited Users, 100 GB Storage, $99 / month

Project Bubble allows you to assign tasks and sub-tasks to team members, as well as define user permissions. It also allows you to enter the amount of hours you expect a given task should take (planned) and compare with the amount of hours is actually took (actual) to compare your actual costs with your planned budget. A timesheet feature is also offered for team members to help track the hours

Product Name: TeamGantt (Web-based only)

– Lower End Package: 5 Projects, 5 Users, 1 GB Storage, $10 / month

– Higher End Package: Unlimited Projects, Unlimited Users, 20 GB Storage, $79 / month

If you like using simplified Gantt charts, then TeamGantt might be the solution for you. The software also incorporates simple task commenting (by team members) directly in the Gantt chart. You can still take advantage of sharing documents and many other resources, and even view multiple projects’ Gantt charts in one screen to help with your resource planning.

In a nutshell, if the essence of project management is the breaking down of multi-faceted projects into smaller tasks and milestones assigned to various collaborators, then project management applications and software should assist you in organizing and breaking those complex operations and individual tasks down into specific data available at your fingertips; thus, providing more efficiency into the process than contemporary paper documents and spreadsheets offer. Therefore, your decision to purchase a project management software for your small business should be a long-term strategy for your organization:

1- Make a list of features you need today (and maybe in the future)

2- Assign weights to each feature based on its importance to your business

3- Review each software platform (start on their website)

4- Use a simplified QFD chart to compare various programs and narrow down your choice to just a few

5- Test the waters by emailing/calling each software provider to evaluate their customer support and agility to respond to your requests in a timely manner.

A final note of caution: Not all these project management software programs will survive today’s competitive marketplace, and one can easily predict that only a few will remain in a few years. So make sure your selection is not just based on price and short-term advantages, but also looks further on the horizon. If you like the content of this article, please share it on social media.

CRM Software – Comparing Microsoft Dynamics CRM To Salesforce

CRM Software solutions are an integral part of the sales, marketing and customer service of most organisations. Today, CRM Software dwells far further than these functions to manage all business requirements. This has been termed by the people at Microsoft as xRM – (x) anything Relationship Management. Choosing which solution is right for your company is not easy and often companies compare different CRM offerings. Two of the major CRM software applications on the market today are Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Salesforce.

There was a time with these two CRM software applications the choice was more black and white. You either looked at software deployed in-house (Microsoft Dynamics CRM) v the software-as-a-service model (Salesforce).

Now that Microsoft has moved into the cloud with their software as a service model and Salesforce now has a development platform with its “Force” offering your options are now blurred.

Salesforce was founded in 1999 with a vision to create an on-demand information management service that would replace traditional enterprise software technology. Salesforce calls itself “the enterprise cloud-computing company”. Sales Cloud™ and Service Cloud™ are Salesforce’s applications for sales and customer service. Their approach to the cloud computing deployment model has led to them developing the force.com cloud platform that allows developers and users to build business applications on top of the Salesforce offering.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM, created by Microsoft product team with vast resources was designed with a long-term vision that will allow Customers to use CRM with multiple Microsoft products and choose deployment options to meet organisational needs.

IT researcher Springboard found Australian and New Zealand was already the most mature market for SaaS applications in the Asia-Pacific region.

According to BRW Magazine the market is tipped to grow 45% a year in Australia and New Zealand from $UA 1.7 billion in 2008 to $US7.7 billion by 2012. The magazine also referred to customer relationship management software as the most popular SaaS application (35 percent) and that “companies in Australia are using SaaS because it’s cheaper, rather than because it’s easier to use. Only 9 percent cited “ease of use” as the reason for choosing SaaS.

Choice and Flexibility

With a multitenant CRM solution, Microsoft Dynamics CRM offers any number of deployment options, depending on your needs. On-demand, on-premise, and partner-hosted models are available for Microsoft Dynamic CRM. If your deployment requirements change so too can your CRM software deployment options as each deployment option is built on the same modern architecture and data model. For example, you can take your configurations and data hosted by Microsoft and move to In-House or to a Microsoft Partner web based CRM software hosted model. Salesforce platform offers SaaS by the Cloud and you don’t own the software and configurations. If you want to change to an in-house solution you need to move to another CRM application. You need to factor the cost of getting your data out of Salesforce. Depending on the level of subscription you purchase for Salesforce there have been reports of your data being held hostage. This is, depending on your level of subscription you need to upgrade your subscription in order to export your data.

Cost

Salesforce claims to cost significantly less but Microsoft Dynamics CRM insists that the comparison is not for like services. A-la-carte pricing that is additional to potential price hikes at contract renewal time can significantly affect the total cost of Salesforce. When assessing comparable online products between the two opponents, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online is available for less than 50% of the Salesforce fee. The latest pricing in the USA indicates that “Microsoft CRM [Online] runs $44-59 per user per month, compared to $125 for Salesforce” Professional Edition.

Entry price for Salesforce is cheaper but if you want more functionality you obviously have to pay more. With Microsoft CRM you have access to the complete system from the moment you first purchase. Your purchase decision should never be based on solely on price as its only one component in the decision making process. Those that buy first time around on price usually call back 6-24 months later asking for help. From personal experience decision makers who purchase solely on price first time around re-purchase the second time around on service. To compare in-house versus hosted pricing you need to calculate over a 3-5 year period and not just 1 year.

Ownership of Data

Salesforce, as a software-as-a-service provider, does not own the data collected by its customers. Instead, its data centres are outsourced to Equinix, a third party company in the USA and Singapore. With Microsoft CRM for in-house, and partner hosted options, customers have full control over the security and physical location of their data. You can swap and take your data between these options. Microsoft CRM Online hosted by Microsoft will be released in Australia late 2010 and the data will be hosted in Singapore. Again, you will have the ability to move from hosted to in-house but the online model will have some restrictions around customisation code. In order for Salesforce customers to get development platform capabilities they must buy the unlimited version.

Ease of Use

Microsoft Dynamics CRM is designed for easy user adoption because of its similarity and compatibility with Microsoft Office and Outlook. Simply put, it is designed to minimize the need for training, reduce application switching, and produce high productivity. With the launch of Microsoft CRM 5 or 2011 its release name), Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 the GUI (interface) between the three product suites becomes very similar in look and feel. This provides users with an easy to learn experience and greater chance of user uptake.

Salesforce graphical interface is modern and should be easy to use for most users. The integration to Microsoft Outlook and Office is reported as not as strong as Dynamics CRM especially for MS Excel and Outlook. Those using Google Mail will find Salesforce to their liking.

Both Salesforce and Dynamics CRM have similar modules including sales force automation, customer service and support, marketing automation, document management, contract management, product catalogue management and reports. Although each module for each product has its strengths and weaknesses side by side you need to evaluate each application module against your business requirements (and not user likeability).

Often an organisation short lists three CRM applications to be presented to its users. Evaluation should not be based heavily (if at all) on the users liking the look and feel of the graphical interface. The users of an organisation tend to agree on one CRM application as by nature we feel most comfortable with what we already know. If you ask a salesperson who has been using a paper diary for 30 years, what is better? A paper based or CRM system the answer is always paper! Over the years I have witnessed three different systems put in front of users at different organisations and there is never a clear winner for the CRM application chosen.

At present, Salesforce has a lot of easy to use business add-on products for its core offerings built on its force.com platform. Microsoft has a host of ISV Partners who have built add-on products to Microsoft CRM but it’s not as easy to find these add-on’s spread out across the globe on various websites. Microsoft has just launched PinPoint that allows you to search globally for Partner software solutions. Also, Microsoft CRM Dynamics Online does not provide the same access to write custom code in a sandbox because Microsoft did not want outside code in its own application, but with Microsoft Azure, ISVs can execute their own code.

Access to CRM and Email

Microsoft CRM is available either through a web browser, through a mobile device or through a plug-in to MS Outlook. Salesforce integrates with Microsoft Outlook, Lotus Notes, or Google App’s. Salesforce will run on a mobile device, through a web browser and if you want some level of Email (Outlook, Lotus Notes, or Google App’s) integration, however you will still need to download and install a Salesforce connector.

Scope and Support

According to Wikipedia, Salesforce offers support for 16 languages, while Microsoft Dynamics CRM offers support for 25. Microsoft Dynamics CRM’s ecosystem includes 750,000 solutions partners; 2,200 users groups, and 400 community web sites globally. Standard support included in Salesforce’s subscription fee allows for a 2 business day response time. With Microsoft, support is dependent on the licensing module used to purchase the software and the support offered by a Microsoft CRM Partner. You can choose from ad-hoc through to dedicated support.

The Future and Investments

It has been reported in online publication The Inquirer.com that Microsoft will spend US$9.5 billion dollars in 2010 on research and development making it the largest R&D technology spender in the world.

In 2008, Salesforce spent $63.8 million, or 8% of its revenue, on research and development, much of which went towards expanding the Salesforce’s cloud computing abilities. In addition, 91% of salesforce’s revenue comes from subscription and support fees from their cloud computing services.

The CEO of Zoho, Sridhar Vembu first made this good point in April 2008 by noting the disparities in R&D and sales & marketing spending by Salesforce. Using the financial data from the last 12 months, Salesforce’s sales and marketing spending of $605 million was almost 5 times its R&D spending of $131 million. It has been reported in businessinsider.com that Google, R&D spending of $2.8 billion was almost 1.5 times that of its S&M expense of $2 billion.

There is no doubt Salesforce is a leader in the SaaS market. The question will be whether the heavy weights including Microsoft (with Azure and BPOS) and Google with its GoogleApps MarketPlace will be able to stay in the game as the heavy weights begin gaining heavy market share in the cloud.

SaaS versus In-House

A note on SaaS versus In-House deployment. “In 2009, within enterprise applications, SaaS represented 3.4 per cent of total enterprise spending, slightly up from 2008 at 2.8 per cent,” said David Cearley, vice president of Gartner. This market will reach $8.8 billion in 2010, according to the company’s forecasts.

From a market perspective, most of the spending for SaaS is occurring in the content, collaboration communication, and customer relationship management markets. Collectively, they represented 65 per cent of the global enterprise applications software market in 2009. Many of the bad practices that occurred in the on premises world are now moving their way into SaaS.

The biggest example is shelfware. “Shelfware-as-a-service is the concept of paying for a software subscription that is not being accessed by an end user,” said Cearley. “This most commonly occurs in large organisations, but it could happen to any company, especially those that have downsized their workforce, or one that has oversubscribed to trigger a volume discount.” “SaaS may not have delivered on its early grand promises – of the current SaaS deployments we estimate that a total of 90 per cent of SaaS deployments are not pay-per use – but it has reenergised the software market and added choice,” Cearley said.

First Steps in Choosing Your CRM Solution

Your first step in determining which solution is right for your company is to document your CRM requirements. Secondly, research to see what CRM applications are going to meet your requirements. Third, bring in a CRM consultancy firm and/or CRM Vendor to discuss your requirements and demonstrate their knowledge and application to you. Whether you go hosted or in-house should always come after you’ve gone through the above steps.