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Simon Hollingworth

Key Considerations for Data Flow Mapping
Key Considerations for Data Flow Mapping 150 150 Simon Hollingworth

Your Data Flow Map will be entirely unique to your organisation so it is hard to give a fool proof method for doing it. That being said, there are some key things you need to think about along the way, and we’ll look at those now.

You can read out blog about How Data Flow Mapping Can Get You Compliant with GDPR here.

The key elements of Data Flow Mapping

The key elements of what you will be looking for will focus around what the data is, what format it is kept it, how it is transferred and where it is stored.

  • For data think; name, email, address, health data, criminal records, location data, bank details etc.
  • For format think; Paper copies, USB drives, databases
  • For transfers think; post, telephone, email, social media, internal, file share services such as Dropbox etc.
  • For locations think; on site (in the office), in the cloud, or with a third party.

Getting the most out of Data Flow Mapping

Now you know what it is you’re looking for, and how to assess it, how do you go about finding these things out? We have listed some questions below, along with some techniques and methods you can apply to help get the most out of it.

Asking yourself the following will help get you moving;

  • How is Personally Identifiable Information (PII) collected? By phone, email, online forms, paper forms etc.
  • Who is responsible for collecting it?
  • Where and how is that data stored?
  • Who has access to where the data is stored? (Hint: if it is paper copies stored on site, think about who has keys or even just access to that room)
  • Is the information shared with anyone? Partners or third parties for example.
  • Do any of the systems information is stored on transfer it to any other systems? If so, you’ll need to make sure these are included in your map as well.

There are a few different ways and settings in which to ask these questions as well. Our favourite, and probably the most productive is workshops. Setting out some time to sit down and focus on this means you can achieve quite a lot. Key things to think about here is to involve the right people – i.e. you want people that have access to the data and an understanding of at least part of its journey through the organisation.

Other techniques you can think about; start by inspecting existing documents and plot where they sit on the map. Try questionnaires to your staff to see how their daily tasks interact with the data, and maybe consider observing work in the office or wherever you’re based to see how the path of data is affected and interacted with day-to-day.

Data Flow Mapping should be seen as one of the earlier stages of becoming compliant with GDPR. After all, how do you know what needs to change if you’re not sure what the current situation is? It may seem obvious to say it, but this process will highlight any strengths and weaknesses and the short and long-term actions you may need to take to address them.

GDPR is coming, and will impact every organisation. With less than a year to go its important that people get a handle on their data, or risk the ICO’s wrath. If you’d like to know more about how Data Flow Mapping can help you become GDPR compliant, talk to us today.

How Data Flow Mapping Can Get You Compliant With GDPR
How Data Flow Mapping Can Get You Compliant With GDPR 150 150 Simon Hollingworth

Data Flow Mapping is the process of documenting the flow of information from one physical location to another. It enables you to track data from its entry point into your organisation, right through to its exit point – and everywhere in between. Getting a handle on how, where and why data moves through your organisation is central to complying with GDPR. Let me explain why.

Risk is one of the critical themes of GDPR. It is mentioned over 60 times in the regulation. With such a keen focus on risk, you need to be able to properly risk assess your data, your systems and your processes. Until data flows have been assessed and mapped they cannot be effectively secured against known risks – which will lead to data breaches and large fines from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). With fines due to be reaching up to 20 million Euros, or 4{7465c2450dcd042996416963879c72771606ba211532680daeb6e67dd6282842} of turnover (whichever is higher), you really cannot afford to take this lightly.

For an over of GDPR, read our blog: What is GDPR?

So how will Data Flow Mapping help your business comply with GDPR?

Data Flow Mapping will do a number of things that will help you to get compliant with GDPR. Not least of all because, should the worst happen and a data breach occurs, being able to show the ICO evidence that you have done things like Data Flow Mapping to reduce those critical risk levels will mean lower fines and less harsh sanctions.

Data Flow Mapping will also:

  • Produce a data inventory of your organisation’s Personally Identifiable Information (PII)
  • Create a picture of your data’s origins, paths, exit points, access points and storage locations.
  • Improve your data lifecycle management.

Once completed, it will become clear where the risk points are, and how you can reduce them. For example, you’ll be able to discover if a department has access to data that it shouldn’t, or whether you are holding on to data for too long if it doesn’t have a clear exit path. As we have already said, reducing these risks is what becoming GDPR compliant is all about.

Later this week we’ll be talking in more detail about Data Flow Mapping, how to get the most out of it, and the best approaches to use with it. Keep your eyes peeled.

GDPR is coming, and will impact every organisation. With less than a year to go its important that people get a handle on their data, or risk the ICO’s wrath. If you’d like to know more about how Data Flow Mapping can help you become GDPR compliant, talk to us today.

Free Power BI Interactive Demo Available Now
Free Power BI Interactive Demo Available Now 150 150 Simon Hollingworth

Experience the interactive power of data visualisation – see the full picture in one pane.

We’ve been pushing the value of data visualisation tools for a little while now – and that’s because we mean it, there are huge benefits to be gained from them. We’ve done blogs on what ‘Business Intelligence’ software actually is, and how data visualisation enables organisations to get the full view – transforming the way they work. But now it’s your turn to see the value for yourselves – first hand.

Why you should try Microsoft Power BI

You can access the free demo here.

Microsoft Power BI can connect to hundreds of data sources, simplify that data, and present it in meaningful and insightful ways. No more collating spreadsheets from different departments that don’t quite match up. Use Power BI instead to produce visually engaging reports and share them with your organisation, whether that’s other staff members or even customers.

Once published you can share these reports on the web and they can be accessed from mobile devices. Give everyone who needs it a better view of your organisation. Empower your users, colleagues and customers with relevant data.

Experience the power of data visualisation

Getting up close and personal with Microsoft Power BI really is the best way to experience it. Our free demo comes pre-loaded with real company data so you don’t have to worry about that. This means you can jump straight into the digital dashboards.

Play around with the different visualisation options available, zoom into maps to pinpoint geographical data, click on charts to drill deeper into specific data sets, and look at different ways of analysing data trends. There are so many options in Power BI and our free demo gives you the chance to see the value for yourself.

Download the free demo today

If you’d like more information on our data visualisation services, click here.

Alternatively, if you’re ready to realise the potential of data visualisation for your organisation, talk to us today, we’d love to hear from you.

Why Insurers Need to Reconsider the Insider Threat
Why Insurers Need to Reconsider the Insider Threat 150 150 Simon Hollingworth

When companies think of the insider threat, their thoughts will usually go to people inside the firewall who are the cause of data breaches or security lapses. This can be either intentional or accidental, and both should be of equal concern and can be equally damaging.

Most companies, especially those concerned with the insider threat will have measures in place to try to mitigate and minimise these risks. Ensuring employee’s update passwords, store USB drives securely and have a good understanding of system security.

The insider threat from legacy technology is however, too often overlooked.

The risk of legacy systems

With companies, especially insurers, spending so much on their technology it is perhaps understandable that they are reluctant to maintain this investment through updates and replacements year on year. When you know replacing a system is going to be extremely costly it becomes a much less attractive proposition. This is a dangerous trap though.

With each year that the system ages, it is another year out-of-date with current security threats, both internal and external. As systems and technologies evolve, so do the threats to those systems and many of the systems that companies rely on are simply not up to the task.

The growing skills gap

As systems age and get more out of date every year, so do the skills available within the company. Increasingly, companies are finding that those who implemented the systems, and maintained them are approaching retiring age or have left the company already. This leaves a worrying skills gap – companies are relying on aged systems that no one has the skills to upgrade or maintain.

It is a tough sell to convince new employee’s to learn and take on out-of-date code and technology as well, meaning the solutions are rather limited.

The risks here a real. You can spend millions of pounds securing your network but if it relies on an out-of-date system that is not being properly updated and maintained because no one knows how, access points will undoubtedly appear.

How to minimise the risk of legacy systems

A data security audit

This will give you an idea of where your data is stored, and how securely, and whether any legacy systems are affecting this. This is particularly crucial in the run up to GDPR going live next year.

Health check or IT audit

If you want to fully understand the vulnerabilities of your systems, then a health check is a relatively low cost way of doing so. This will also provide you with appropriate next steps to remedy any glaring issues.

Business Process Mapping (BPM)

This will help to identify any weaknesses or inefficiencies in your wider processes. Eliminating these helps to reduce the risk of legacy systems by keeping things as simple as possible, where there is less chance for things to go wrong.

If legacy systems continue to remain in place, with no checking and little to no maintenance, they present as much of an insider threat as rogue or careless employees do. The insurance industry, as do others, need to take note and start to properly assess the extent of the problems they face.

For more information on managing your legacy systems, ring for a free consultation on 020 7127 4558.

Alternatively, talk to us today, we’d love to hear from you.

5 Top Tips for Better Digital Dashboards
5 Top Tips for Better Digital Dashboards 150 150 Simon Hollingworth

Business Intelligence (BI) and the benefits it can bring to your business has been well covered. If you need to catch up, our last few blogs have been all about ‘BI’ and the things it can do for organisations. Now we’re turning our attention to the actual design of your dashboards. It’s all very well having them, but you want them to be engaging, and tell the right stories.

It can be easy when building a dashboard to get distracted and feel like you should have every type of graph showing every bit of data all on the same page. Unfortunately this can often have the opposite of the desired effect and make your data harder to read. The idea here is that your dashboard makes it clear, concise and easy to understand.

Lets see how you can best do that.

1 – Who’s your audience?

It’s important to ask yourself firstly who the dashboard is for. This may seem too simple to be worth mentioning, but it is often easy to forget. As with most aspects of business, to be the most effective you can, you need to target the right audience.

Some good examples to think about here; is this for the sales team looking at the sales pipeline, or is it actually for the leadership team checking top-level KPI’s? If you include the same information on both dashboards you’re wasting space and will end up confusing the picture. Keep it simple, keep it concise.

2 – Group data where you need it

One of the key elements of UI/UX design is that things are where people expect them to be. The same principle applies in dashboards. Put data where it makes sense for it to be – group it together logically. If you have a stack of financial data, don’t space it between graphs that monitor server down time for example. Again, you’re trying to make the picture clearer, not more muddy.

Worth considering here is that people’s eyes will naturally be drawn to the top-left hand corner. This makes it a good place to stick your most important piece of data. You can always move your logo somewhere else.

3 – Less is sometimes more

Cluttering your dashboards with every type of graph you can think of isn’t a good thing. Nor is including every single metric that may be of use. Decide what your most important (emphasis on most here) metrics are, and make room for them only.

In tools such as Power BI you can drill down further into these graphs anyway – so even if data isn’t immediately available on the first screen, you will be able to find it on subsequent screens.

Some other presentation tips for you:

  • Don’t go mad on the colour schemes – keep it simple
  • Red and green are obvious choices for positive and negative performance
  • Try to keep the number of metrics below 12 per dashboard
  • Choose the right charts – pie charts are god for comparing sections of a whole, and scatter charts are better for analysing performance and identifying outliers.

4 – Make it responsive to different devices

Making your dashboards easier for your users to access and make sense of is the recurring theme here. The point of BI is that you can access the full view of your data anywhere, anytime. So accessing it on any device is crucial. Your BI software should respond and resize to whichever size screen your users are logging on from.

Tools like Microsoft’s Power BI are HTML5 compliant and provide access on any device, adapting to the screen size and reordering your dashboard correctly. If people need data on the go, out in the field, then this is something you definitely need to consider.

5 – How up to date does it need to be?

Be honest with yourself here. The idea of having real-time data displayed is very attractive and initially you may think you want all your dashboards to be real-time or near real-time. However, getting hold of real-time data and processing it can be a lot of wasted effort if you only really need weekly or bi-weekly updates. Even daily updates would be a big drop. This could save you bags of time and money.

You may decide that some dashboards need to be real-time, and some only need weekly updates. This is perfectly achievable, and is the right approach to take. This is a good step to making your dashboards more relevant.

If you’d like to find out more about the benefits Power BI could bring to your organisation, explore our Business Intelligence Services.

Or for a free consultation, talk to us today.

Software Solved at the Institute of Fundraising Technology Conference
Software Solved at the Institute of Fundraising Technology Conference 150 150 Simon Hollingworth

Software Solved at the Institute of Fundraising Technology Conference

On Friday 12th May Software Solved will be exhibiting, and speaking, at the Institute of Fundraising Technology Conference at the America Square Conference Centre in London. The conference is an opportunity for people in the charity sector to see the ways in which technology can transform their fundraising efforts. We are extremely excited to sponsor this conference, and for our Managing Director Anthony Peake, to be speaking.

The importance of digital strategy & transformation

A robust digital strategy has the potential to transform the way the charity sector works – including the ways in which they raise funds. From working with our charity partners we know that tight budgets mean that any digital projects have to really be worth it. That’s exactly why we’re so excited about digital transformation. Done well, with a software partner who understands your organisation, the results can be dramatic.

Digital transformation is more than just technology

A thorough digital strategy will encompass all aspects of your organisation. From people and processes, through to data and, yes, technology. This transformation process should involve your users and your people at every stage of the process to make sure you are continually refining and redefining the final outcome. Not only will this make the final result more effective, but you’ll have excited and inspired your users too.

System integration is key

A lack of system integration can cause all sorts of problems, prime amongst them is that the quality of your data is inevitably compromised through repeated manual entry. Besides this, it also makes processes a lot more drawn out and unnecessarily complex for you and your users. Ultimately, a high level of system integration will help to eliminate inefficiency and duplication from your workflows.

Visualise the bigger data picture

With only one year left until GDPR the onus is on organisations, charities especially, to link up, clean up and look after their data better. This doesn’t mean locking it away so no one can see it and make use of it though. Gaining meaningful insights from your data is central to any digital strategy – after all, most charities rely on it for some form of fundraising at the very least. Effective data visualisation has the power give you the right information at the right time and in the right format.

We’ll be at the Institute of Fundraising Technology Conference this week talking to charities about their digital strategies. If you want more insights on digital transformation in the charity sector, come and see us, or even better, go to the seminar Anthony will be speaking at. It starts at 12:50pm – don’t be late!

If you won’t be at the conference but you’d still like to find out more about what digital transformation can do for you, talk to us today.

Alternatively, you can download our white paper on digital transformation in the charity sector here.

Software Solved at the Engaging Digital Comms conference
Software Solved at the Engaging Digital Comms conference 150 150 Simon Hollingworth

Software Solved at the Engaging Digital Comms conference

This Thursday the 27th of April Software Solved will be at the Engaging Digital Comms conference at the Museum of London. The conference is a chance for people in the charity and public sector to gain some new insights from the industry about the ways in which digital can transform their communications and wider strategies. We are delighted to be a sponsor of the event, helping charities and the public sector transform the way they work through digital transformation.

Digital strategy & transformation in the charity and public sector

We’re passionate about digital transformation, especially in the charity and public sector where tight budgets mean extracting maximum value from resources is key. A comprehensive digital strategy covers several areas – that’s why we call it transformation. We’ll take a look at these areas now.

System Integration

Many of the charities and public sector organisations we work with have a variety of different systems, built at different times and updated at different rates. This can lead to all sorts of issues, making processes far more complicated than they need to be – costing organisations valuable time and money. Getting your systems to talk, or system integration, makes processes simpler, smoother and more efficient. If your organisation has unwieldy spreadsheets used to transfer data from one system to another, system integration is ideal for you.

Data visualisation

We know from working with our clients that their data is central to the way they work, especially when it comes to things like fundraising and engaging stakeholders. Most organisations have no shortage of data, but getting a handle on it and being able to use it effectively can be a problem. Centralising, and effectively visualising data can lead to more accurate and more efficient decisions.

Mobile and remote working

Part of an effective digital strategy is engaging your users. Whether this is to drive fundraising, raise awareness, or allow your staff to work better will be down to how your organisation works. The link between them is that all of them can be achieved through the use of mobile apps and remote working. Giving your users, stakeholders or staff access to their systems, in a way that is intuitive and easy to use, no matter where they are in the world will immediately make them more productive and increase their engagement.

User journeys

Transforming user journeys is all about making websites, portals and systems intuitive and easy to use. It’s critical to make sure that information is easy to find i.e. it’s where people think it should be. User experience (UX) is a buzzword in the industry right now, and so it should be. But improving user journeys doesn’t necessarily mean a complete system overhaul, a few clever tweaks here and there can make all the difference.

Everybody would like to work more efficiently, with better tools, and digital transformation facilitates this. If you’re at the Engaging Digital Comms conference this week, come and see us to talk about your digital strategy.

If not, but you’d still like to know more about what digital transformation can do for you, talk to us today.

Software Solved – why we changed our name
Software Solved – why we changed our name 150 150 Simon Hollingworth

As many of you already know, we recently changed our name. We’ve dropped the ‘MSM’ bit and are now simply Software Solved. We felt this better reflected our position as a market-leading provider of a full range of software solutions.

We have been trading as MSM Software Solved for the past year and we are delighted to confirm the legal change to Software Solved. Having gathered feedback from customers, suppliers and industry analysts, the response has been overwhelmingly positive and it is the right time to make the change. Our clients, partners and suppliers told us that MSM Software Solved was disjointed and that in line with our core offerings, Software Solved is clearer and explains exactly what we do.

Software Solved services

Other than the name, nothing is changing within the company and our focuses on innovation and ‘re-innovation’ remain the same. These focuses allow us to deliver bespoke, tailored, technology, designed around the individual requirements of the end user (innovation), as well as providing optimisation of legacy systems and new applications (‘re-innovation’).

Our services cover four pillars; software, mobile, cloud and data. Which means we can solve the entire range of our clients’ technology problems. Our innovative solutions are increasingly seeing us involved in system integration, data visualisation, digital strategy and user-centred design.

Developed with you

We spend time with our clients to ensure we deliver high quality solutions that are designed around the user at every stage of the process. Our development methods mean our solutions are easy to use and meet the needs of the user and the business, every time.

With offices in Exeter, Bristol and London we’re perfectly placed to get to know you and your organisation. Once we know who you are, and how you work, we deliver software solutions that are tailored to your precise requirements. We develop our solutions with you, that’s the Software Solved difference.

If you want to develop your IT solutions, talk to us today.

Software Solved included in Government Digital Marketplace
Software Solved included in Government Digital Marketplace 150 150 Simon Hollingworth

The team at Software Solved are delighted to have secured inclusion in the Government’s Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework.

This means that Software Solved is one of a niche group of technology experts that can provide the public sector with a variety of IT products and services.

We are approved to provide services to government departments in two areas:

  • Digital Outcomes – such as a customer portal or case management system
  • Digital Specialist – such as a Business Analyst or Digital Transformation Architect

With strict entry criteria, it is a major accolade and testament to the outstanding work the team deliver day in and day out. With user-centred design and system integration being the drivers of digital transformation, we’re delighted to be recognised as a leader in the field.

The Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework gives the public sector access to smaller and more agile companies. Moving away from the traditional major players allows government departments to adopt innovative technology that is better fit for their needs.

And it isn’t just about new technology. We can help the public sector make the most of their legacy technology and system integration to ‘re-innovate’ existing solutions, making them fit for purpose.

The Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework is The Crown Commercial Services (CCS) key procurement framework and replaces the Digital Services 2 (DS2).

To see how Software Solved could help your organisation access new technology or maximise investment in existing systems, get in touch today.

Hard work and winning attitude: Team GB dragon joins as new MD
Hard work and winning attitude: Team GB dragon joins as new MD 150 150 Simon Hollingworth

Hello and thanks for reading my blog. I am delighted to be Managing Director here at MSM Software Solved. It is an exceptional software development business with a superb client base and I can’t wait to get stuck in.

A bit about me: who is Anthony Peake?

Let’s start with the business end. I come to MSM Software Solved with 30 years IT industry experience developed at blue-chip organisations such as Oracle, BT, GE and Apple. I am driven by helping organisations of all sizes achieve their strategic vision through creativity and exceptional results. For my new clients here at MSM Software Solved, this experience brings a commitment to delivering innovative and high quality software solutions that not only meet your business demands but are also easy and intuitive to use. And my commitment to organisations for long periods is proven by the stability of relationships and operational excellence I have brought to them.

I have a proven track record of committing to the organisations and clients for long periods to ensure stability of our relationships and excellence of delivery of my teams, and I am pleased to bring that commitment and stability to MSM Software solved.

I am lucky that work has taken me across the UK, EMEA, US and Asia but I have now firmly settled here in the South West with easy access to London. Prior to my appointment at MSM Software Solved, I was Marketing Director and Board Member of Goss Interactive, a multi-award winning website provider and digital transformation consultancy. With digital transformation being a key goal for many clients at the moment, I welcome you to utilise my experience whenever you wish.

Why not link in with me and find out more about my background.

A bit about me: what’s a Team GB dragon?

You may hear me talk about this so I thought best to mention it at the outset. My passion outside of work is dragon boat racing and I’m ecstatic to have been selected for the Great Britain Dragon Boat squad to race in the European Championships 2016 in Rome in July.

I have been undertaking extensive water and land based training as part of the British National Training Squad and the perseverance has certainly paid off. I apply the same commitment and focus to everything I do so I’m more than confident that I’ll fit in very well with the exceptional team at MSM Software Solved.

My goals for MSM Software Solved: mobile, cloud and data

My approach to leadership is practical and down-to-earth so it’s important to share my vision with you. The objectives I have for MSM Software Solved are intrinsically connected to those of our clients. I firmly believe that with excellent client relationships and the continuous delivery of outstanding software solutions, we can work together on innovative mobile, cloud and data solutions to help achieve your growth plans as well as ours.

Specifically I will be focussing on expanding our team and can already confirm that recruitment is in progress to ensure that the quality and service can continue to remain at the high level you have come to expect from the team in the past.

I will be looking to further consolidate MSM Software Solved’s position as a leader in the fields of bespoke mobile, cloud and data software solutions. Part of this will of course include more exciting award wins. That can only happen with the opportunities you provide and I’m thrilled to be a part of these joint accolades. If you haven’t seen it, do read about the latest Insurance Software Award win.

To close, I hope you’ve found this introduction interesting and a little bit intriguing enough to start a conversation. This is an exciting time for MSM Software Solved and I’m looking forward to working with my team and our clients on innovative software projects.