McLeod Software

 

Transportation Insights

McLeod Users Conference 2016 

Posted by Jonathan May 09/16/2016

 

Two Major Releases since UC2015

McLeod Software has continued our rapid pace of development and investment in our products.  Since our last User Conference in Birmingham, nearly a year ago, we have had two major releases of our flagship LoadMaster® Enterprise and PowerBroker® systems, with a broad range of new capabilities and integration solutions in each release.  In this document, we will hit some of the highlights.

McLeod IQ

McLeod IQ gives our customers the ability to access and analyze LoadMaster, PowerBroker and other 3rd Party data simply using Microsoft Excel, or with a wide variety of popular reporting tools. McLeod IQ

utilizes the Microsoft Business Intelligence stack to create a multidimensional cube that aggregates all of the customer’s important metric data in a way that is easier than ever to understand, report, and analyze.

This new product was built using Microsoft’s data cube architecture and lets our customers view their important Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) against any type of dimensional data (i.e. Customer/Location/Driver), to let them explore relationships and correlations that are not normally easy to see from standard reports.

For McLeod customers who already had the most robust reporting tools in the industry, this adds a new way to “slice and dice” the data, giving them the ability to change the way they decide to calculate their KPIs.

McLeod IQ also provides access to the data warehouse for users to pull in other data sources that may not be part of their McLeod system, such as the information from their mobile communications and maintenance systems. Users can access the data warehouse directly using a drag and drop feature with pivot tables in Microsoft Excel.  Customers may also decide to use the full Microsoft Power BI suite of analysis and reporting tools with McLeod IQ.

With the ability to explore relationships between different variables, customers can take their analysis to a higher level and see things that should influence critical decisions about the business.

 

Logix Solutions

Another major new family of products was introduced in the last year, McLeod Logix Solutions.  These applications are integral to the LoadMaster and PowerBroker systems, built with McLeod’s FlowLogix workflow automation product. Each Logix Solutions product provides an out-of-the-box, end-to-end business process automation and business process management solution. These products have the additional advantage of being customizable using FlowLogix Designer and eForms Designer, which allows McLeod or our customer to easily and inexpensively make adjustments and changes to the flow of work, the data collected or used, checkpoints or validation points, and changing the outputs or exception queues for that business process.  There are five new Logix Solutions products for 2016 and many more on the way.

Logix Solutions Automated Collections

The new Logix Solutions Automated Collections module is a comprehensive collections automation solution that can be added to the LoadMaster or PowerBroker system. It is equivalent to gaining a free staff member to manage collections. With this automation, customers will see their DSO drop right away, while they unburden the daily routine tasks in the collections cycle.

 

Logix Solutions eRate Confirmation

The Logix Solutions eRate Confirmation module lets PowerBroker users structure a sound, but completely paperless and fax free, process to quickly send and receive carrier rate confirmations.

 

Logix Solutions Carrier Onboarding

The Logix Solutions Carrier Onboarding module adds another powerful layer of business process automation to give PowerBroker users the ability to cover more loads faster and onboard new carriers with a fraction of the effort or typical delays.

 

Logix Solutions Billing & Settlements

The Logix Solutions Billing and Settlements module delivers all of the business process automation carriers and brokers need to accurately compose and get their bills out the door, while skipping most of the non-value added work and only dealing with the exceptions that need attention.

 

Logix Solutions Accounts Payable

McLeod’s Logix Solutions’ new Accounts Payable module delivers business process automation that our customers have been asking for to help manage their payables process. As with all Logix Solutions products, this module automates the routine and allows  people to deal only with the exceptions that need attention.             

InGauge  and the TCA Benchmark Program

Working with TCA inGauge, TCA’s online benchmarking service, McLeod Software has created automated reporting functions that let our customers generate, with the click of a mouse, the monthly data exports from their LoadMaster system, which are necessary for the Benchmarking program. This includes an automated data export for all 334 items submitted monthly by the Best Practice Group members and the 72 items submitted by the on-line subscribers in this program.

This new product makes the accurate export of the required data as simple and fast as it can possibly be; it has been tested with the InGauge system used to collect the benchmarking data. This saves labor hours and ensures consistency in creating the data imported by inGauge.

Google Places

McLeod customers can now leverage “Google Places” to help them clearly identify stops. This new integration with Google Places API has been added for LoadMaster and PowerBroker. As a user adds a new location or customer, a search string can be sent to Google Places to return the appropriate match. Once selected, all of the available master file data is updated with the information. This simplifies the data entry process and provides a mechanism to prevent duplicate records by utilizing the Google Places ID.

McLeod Market Insight

Market Insight collects rate data from hundreds of active McLeod customers every day, and compiles detailed average rate data for lanes between 130+ markets in the U.S. Because all of the contributors are current McLeod LoadMaster or PowerBroker users, this view of the market rates represents companies of substantial size, and gives a different perspective for McLeod customers when compared to the data sourced from other rate aggregators.

We continue to add enhancements to Market Insight, and one goal this year was to help our customers understand current market rates at a deeper level to help guide their internal pricing decisions. Power Matrix is a new Market Insight tool designed to help our customers become smarter and more efficient with their lane pricing. This feature will generate a spreadsheet, complete with average linehaul rates for quick state-to-state pricing based on a variety of available parameters. including time frame, rate type, and trailer type, in order to generate a matrix that can be printed or referenced in situations where an average rate-per-mile is quickly needed.

Another new Market Insight tool, the Bulk Rate Template, has been created to allow users to submit a spreadsheet of city, state, lane pairs and receive Market Insight rates of their choosing. The new template will calculate billing and fuel miles for the lane pairs during the process. These enhancements make it easy for users to provide flat rate quotes a customer bid proposal.

 

Pricing & Bid Management

Adoption of McLeod’s Pricing & Bid Management product for PowerBroker and Loadmaster has continued to grow, spurred especially by the uptick in shipper RFPs this year. New features added during the last year make this product more attractive than ever. Pricing & Bid Management provides an environment inside the customer’s system to import shipper RFPs, work them, then export the finished bid in the shipper’s required format.

The Pricing Scoreboard within McLeod’s Pricing & Bid Management module presents each lane in the bid as a row in a configurable grid within the LoadMaster and PowerBroker environment to make it easier to sort columns of data in any order and compare rates by lanes. A new Excel export lets customers move the data to that tool in the same format.

Market area definitions have been added to lane segments, so customers can use them to group lanes within the scoreboard and make it easier to sort, see, and address similar lanes. The Bid Processor import tool will complete missing city/state/zip detail by validating the imported details from the shipper RFP against the city table, and compare the detail against the system’s city table to find missing fields. Completing the lane bids in the scoreboard with valid cities ensures accurate mileage lookups and the correct assignment of market areas in the bid process. This is important since shipper RFPs tend to shortchange lane mileage from what the carrier or broker actually needs to cover.

PNN & Carrier Preferences for Brokerage

PowerBroker’s Private Notification Network (PNN) module helps brokers identify the right carriers in their existing carrier base to offer the types of loads that fit their preferences. PNN automates the entire process to save time and help brokers cover more loads faster. In the last year, the capabilities of this module were improved and expanded based on user feedback. PNN has a brand new version of the Available Loads report, sent to carriers, that makes it easier to read and understand along with new built-in hyperlinks for loads, which carriers simply click on for the loads they are interested in.

PNN’s carrier preferences have been restructured to create a more detailed carrier lane definition for a carrier’s preferences. Using the more detailed data in lane definitions, it is possible to set up very finely tuned lane filtering for the broker’s existing carriers, and get faster, more accurate representations of the lanes that are truly of interest to those carriers. The new automation and presentation options in PNN make it simple to identify the loads that match the freight a particular carrier is looking for and offer it to them.

Helping Brokers Better Manage and Grow their Carrier Base

Another significant area of investment in the last year has been finding new ways to help brokers grow and sustain their base of high quality carriers. New features in PowerBroker put McLeod customers ahead of the game by having the best tools in the industry.

Carrier Relationship Management

Just as McLeod’s Customer Relationship Management system, integral to LoadMaster and PowerBroker, is about finding new customers, we have added a new product within PowerBroker that shares most of the same capabilities, but aimed solely at building and executing the broker’s carrier recruiting strategies. These new Carrier Relationship Management capabilities allow management teams to establish defined action plans to contact and maintain carrier relationships.

And just as Customer Relationship Management works, each carrier can be assigned a salesperson and/or a carrier relationship manager. Marketing programs and recurring calls can be set up and tracked. The module provides a CRM type workflow for carrier recruitment. 

 

Carrier Onboarding Automation

Earlier in this document, we referred to the Logix Solutions Carrier Onboarding product that is now part of PowerBroker. This solution not only to automates the onboarding process, but also makes it easier for carriers to do business with McLeod PowerBroker customers, because  they no longer have to print out forms, fill them out, then fax them back.

With absolutely no paper required, the solution utilizes our Carrier Packet eForm and is driven by a detailed workflow. The evaluation of prospective carriers is fully automated, utilizing PowerBroker and specific rules the broker sets to determine if the carrier meets the requirements. Criteria collected from

3rd party carrier services, as well as insurance information in PowerBroker, are all used in qualifying carriers and determining if they are acceptable within the broker’s defined levels of risk tolerance.

The system is setup to automatically review, approve, or reject the prospective carriers quickly, while giving the broker visibility into the entire onboarding process. Following carrier activation, the management solution monitors PowerBroker for expiring insurance documents, and automatically sends an eForm to those carriers, prompting them to submit the updated paperwork.

New Integration Solutions

McLeod Software is differentiated in our industry by the number of fully supported integration solutions we offer with industry leading products offered by our over 87 certified integration partners.  And this list continues to grow. Below are listed the new integration solutions and enhancements to existing integration solutions that have been added since our last User Conference.

Load Tracking for PowerBroker

In-Cab Mobile Communications

Trailer Tracking

VoIP Phone Systems

Fuel Cards

Carrier Onboarding, Monitoring, and Loadboards

Preparing for the Food Safety Modernization Act 

Since the new food safety rules for transportation were published back in the spring of this year, McLeod Software has been studying how the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is going to impact our customers. We have been in discussion with our refrigerated carriers and brokers, who will need to work with their food shippers to put in place the right training, procedures, processes, and reporting for compliance. These changes have great potential to add to the total cost of handling refrigerated food shipments. While our current LoadMaster system has all the elements to support the FSMA requirements for carriers, we see a great opportunity to help both our carrier and brokerage customers with robust automation that helps them deal with the wide variety and diversity of shipper FSMA requirements they are likely to face. 

Upcoming Products Announced at this Conference

McLeod Software continues to be the industry leader in providing mobile applications that expand our customer’s ability to use their system away from the office. We have over two hundred current LoadMaster and PowerBroker customers who have deployed McLeod Anywhere, our mobile application that extends the functionality of LoadMaster and PowerBroker to phones and tablets.

At last year’s conference, we introduced our Customer Branded Driver App for carriers, and it has already been deployed to thousands of drivers across the country. This year we are pulling the wraps off even more mobile solutions for our customers.

McLeod Logix Anywhere

This product will take FlowLogix applications and use cases to mobile devices and web browsers with a development environment that lets customers structure workflows or whole applications, using McLeod FlowLogix, then deploy them across the full spectrum of mobile devices.

McLeod Carrier Mobile App for PowerBroker

This new mobile app for iOS and Android devices offers the same capabilities of the current PowerBroker carrier portal, and much more. It can be used by the office staff at the broker’s carriers to see and accept load offers and view settlement information. A separate component app can be downloaded by the carrier’s driver to provide load tracking, collection of trip documents, and capturing OS&D Claims.

ATA Honors Tom McLeod with WEBB Award 

07/08/2016

During the 78th Annual Convention in Las Vegas, Nev., the Alabama Trucking Association gave McLeod Software founder Tom McLeod its highest honor for a member, the H. Chester Webb Award for Distinguished Service.

Known simply as The Webb Award, the honor is given annually to recognize individuals for service, leadership and contributions to Alabama’s trucking industry, the Association and the communities where they reside. “All that ATA has accomplished in its eight decades of serving and protecting the state’s trucking industry are the results of dedicated businessmen and women who sacrifice time and resources from their personal endeavors to make our industry better and safer for all,” said ATA President & CEO Frank Filgo. “Many of these leaders do this without any expectation of return; it’s simply their way of giving back.” Filgo, a Webb Award winner himself in 2015, described McLeod as a “selfless leader who shies from the spotlight, but is always prepared to do the right thing even if the payoff for him personally isn’t there. “He personifies the ideal Alabama Trucking Association member with consistent efforts and dedication to the Association through the years,” Filgo said. “He is intelligent, strong, deliberate, reliable, and loyal to the core. 

Starting the business out of his home in 1985, McLeod’s company now employs more than 360 people with offices in Birmingham, Ala. Salt Lake City, Utah, and Chicago, Ill. For more than 30 years, McLeod Software has been a leading provider of transportation dispatch, accounting, operations and brokerage management software and document management systems. Despite his company’s incredible growth in recent years, his dedication to this state trucking association is as strong as ever. He’s been one of this Association’s most supportive members, volunteering time, money and expertise to the group’s many projects and events. McLeod has served on the ATA Board of Directors since 2002, lending his talent and resources to numerous committees and special projects. Several years ago, Association leaders proposed a complete overhaul to its annual ATA Golf Classic, the sole fundraiser for the ATA’s political action committee, TRUK PAC. McLeod Software was among the project’s first major financial contributors. The company’s $15,000 donation spurred sponsorship totals and participation that year that were, at the time, the most the Classic had ever collected. Since then, McLeod has appeared as the Classic’s marquee sponsor three more times (2013, 2014 and 2015). At the national level, McLeod serves on the Truckload Carriers Association Board of Directors, spearheading that group’s Scholarship Committee. He is also active with the American Trucking Associations and its Technology & Maintenance Council. His articles on fleet management and technology have appeared in numerous industry publications, including Transport Topics, Commercial Carrier Journal and Fleet Owner.

McLeod IQ 

Providing Insight Into Your Data
06/10/2016

Many of the challenges companies face today are related to the limited visibility into the factors that drive their business and not understanding a lot of the complex relationships or cause and effect relationships that exist in the business. The ability to capture and record information is not the problem.  The issue has become making sense of it by putting it in the context you need to understand it, and seeing the trends, both near term and short term.

Providing Insight That Matters

We developed McLeod IQ to provide insight into key indicators that are important to your business. With IQ Solutions you have the ability to access and analyze LoadMaster®, PowerBroker® and 3rd Party data with the reporting tool of your choice. McLeod IQ utilizes the Microsoft Business Intelligence stack to create a multidimensional cube that aggregates your important metric data in a way that is easy for you to understand, report and more importantly analyze it. The data cube architecture shows your important KPIs against any type of dimensional data (Example: Customer/Location/Driver) thereby showing you relationships and any correlations that are not normally easy to see from standard reports. McLeod IQ is built with flexibility in mind.  We understand the importance of being able to “slice and dice” the data and the ability to change the way you calculate your KPIs.  For example, if you have a KPI called Margin % by Ship Date and want to see it by delivery date it’s as simple as selecting the new date from the cube.  The data is captured at the lowest level to allow for drill down on the aggregated data meaning you can spot things at the summary level and drive deep into the details with ease

McLeod IQ also provides access to the data warehouse for users to pull in other data sources that may not be part of your McLeod system. The data warehouse structure is setup to provide a layout that is familiar to a LoadMaster/PowerBroker user. Report users can access the data warehouse directly and pull data into Microsoft Excel or other 3rd party applications with the understanding of the data relationships. Both the cube and the data warehouse use a copy of the production environment to help minimize any potential impact on the performance of your server. 

Discover Trends

Do you have the ability to see important trends in your business? Do you have a good understanding of your lanes, what carriers you should not be using, and how long it takes to go from order to cash? McLeod IQ provides several key measures that can be setup to show trends and help you forecast and plan for growth. Having the ability to see fluctuations and trends early on in the process can help you make adjustments in time frames that make a difference in the outcome.  You also have the option to define your own goals within the reporting layer or utilize the goals set within the LoadMaster/Powerbroker application to be pulled into the cube for trending and analysis.  The refresh of the dashboards and reports can be configured according to your cube refresh schedules and system architecture allowance.

Taking Action

McLeod IQ Solutions gives you the ability to see things that should influence critical decisions about your business.  Criss Wilson, with Barton Logistics states, "The cube allowed Barton Logistics to mine the transaction data to discover the patterns associated to the business that was not generating target margin.  Once we understood what was costing us money, we began to understand the reasons why.  Once the reasons why were known, we changed our approach, our thinking around it, and our processes that supported it. The business in question moved from unprofitable to profitable as our actions took effect.  The action items ranged from: adaptive (new processes); to corrective (process do-over/fixes); to perfective (graphic measurement of results). Combined we're making money on a range of transactions where once we didn't."  McLeod also offers business intelligence consulting to help you understand the key factors that drive your business and assist with setting up interactive dashboards and reports.

Trust Your Data

Have you ever wondered where those report values are coming from? With McLeod IQ Solutions, you gain access to the aggregated cube and data warehouse and also receive detailed documentation that shows you exactly what information is available and where it is coming from within the LoadMaster/PowerBroker System. You will be able to validate the report data using the documentation to view the source data and ensure accuracy of your reports. The documentation also provides instruction on how to produce dashboards and reports using Microsoft Excel and Power BI.  

Effective Employee Management 

By Joel McGinley, Managing Partner of TranStrategy Partners
Posted by Jonathan May 05/13/2016

Effective employee management is essential to achieving your business goals. Here are your employee management absolute musts:

  • Ensure that all of your employees are functioning at a level that will take you where you want to go.

To do this you need to assess what they are capable of - the qualities they bring to the table, whether they have the skills and knowledge your business needs, and whether you have the right people in the right jobs. Making this assessment is analogous to being a football coach and determining whether a particular player can play a certain position and/or what it might take for him to be able to play it. As a result of your assessments, you may decide that you need to provide certain employees with training, move other employees into different jobs, or even get rid of certain employees.

  • Get your employees the training they need to deliver consistently high levels of performance. 

If they don't know how to do what they should be doing, they are not goingto raise their hands and tell you. They will fake it instead and do the best they can, which will create your business, it's your responsibility to provide your employees with the information and skills they need to accomplish their jobs. Since I began my career, I've visited more than 500 different brokerage operations across the US, and by and large I've found that they were doing a consistently bad job of employee training. Consider Brokertrain as an exceptional freight broker training program. The online platform gives personnel the knowledge and skills they need to become effective members of a powerful team.

  • Have a compensation structure in place that will help you achieve your goals.

 Make sure that your compensation plan and your business goals are in sync - the plan should help move your business toward those goals. For example, if you want high margins, base your employee bonuses on achieving those margins, and if you want to increase your company's load count, then your compensation plan should reward for increases. People will do what will earn them the most money, so make sure that everyone in your business understands your goals and what they can do to help achieve them.

  • Establish clear expectations for your employees.

As entrepreneurs with high expectations for ourselves, we assume that everyone else has the same expectations for themselves. But that's not the case. Therefore, if you want your employees to achieve a high level of performance, you must let them know what you expect from them and you must do that on an ongoing basis, even once your employees are operating at the level you've set for them. You risk that they will become complacent and slip backwards otherwise.

 

Will ELDs Help of Hinder? 

Posted by Jonathan May 05/06/2016

By David Roush, President of KSM Transport Advisors, LLC.

There is a common assumption that the impending mandate to move from paper logs to electronic logging devices (ELDs) will steal time from carriers. Paper logs have a reputation for allowing drivers to squeeze in a few more minutes here and there so they can get more done before taking a break. The use of ELDs will eliminate a driver’s ability to alter their time. Conventional wisdom suggests that carriers will encounter more headaches around getting freight delivered on time. Although this is certainly true in many situations, and many fleets have documented reduced capacity with ELDs, there is a flip side. When each driver’s hours of service can be managed electronically, dispatchers have an opportunity to optimize driver availability.

Having visibility into driver hours means that it is possible to devise a more efficient plan and avoid aggravating delays that occur when a driver unexpectedly runs out of hours. This visibility allows you to see which driver has the hours required for each load and assign the loads accordingly.  Instead of impeding the flow of operations, ELDs could increase productivity among the carriers who strategically use this technology. And, when productivity goes up, profit follows. It is all about time.

Food Safety Modernization Act  

The impact of the FSMA ruling on the transportation industry
Posted by Kristan 04/27/2016

FMSA - FDA Final Ruling

On March 31st the FDA submitted the final rule to the sanitary transportation of human and animal food to be published in the federal register.  The rule was formally published on Wednesday, April 6 and will go into effect on June 6th 2016.  Companies will have one year from this date to comply, and small businesses (<500 employees and $27,500,00 in annual receipts) will have 2 years to comply.  

Several changes were made with the final ruling after gathering feedback from the industry.  These changes include:

  • Record Keeping
    • The FDA clarified their position to request records on carrier’s procedures (SOP’s) that are in place to meet shipper/receiver requests.  The FDA is not asking for temperature monitoring records for the past twelve months, just the fact that they have SOPs or guidelines in place on how to provide those records if requested. 
  • Training
    • The proposed rule indicated a requirement for at least a half day of training for those handling food products.  In the final ruling, the FDA states that the length of training will be left up to the shipper and carrier.  FDA plans to provide a one hour web based training seminar on the basics of the rule and provide a certificate of completion. 
  • Adulteration/Claims Issues
    • Initially the FDA proposed that if the temperature for the food product being shipped went outside the contractual range, the food would be deemed adulterated and rendering it useless.  The FDA agreed to amend the language to state if a person notices an issue (temperature fluctuation, faulty device, etc) they must alert a qualified representative and the food held until a determination can be made on the safety. 
  • Temperature Monitoring
    • In the previous ruling there was mention of a requirement for continuous monitoring of temperature readings, but the final rule has been modified to allow the shipper and the carrier to agree on temperature monitoring mechanism and the carrier is not required to demonstrate actual temperature records unless requested by the shipper.   The FDA made this change because the submittal of records every delivery was unnecessary.  This change does not preclude the shipper or receiver from contractually requiring the documentation. 
  • Increased Shipper Liability
    • The final rule now places primary responsibility to the shipper to determine appropriate transportation operations (i.e. temp control for foods, relevant temp, proper clean out procedures, and whether previous cargo should be reported (no more 3 previous loads)). This shipper may assign some of this liability to the carrier through a contract.
  • Additional Items
    • The definition of a “shipper” has been modified to “anyone who arranges for the freight”. This change will have be impacts on manufacturers and brokers as they can now fall under the definition of a shipper.
    • Parcel package carriers are exempt
    • All transportation by a farm is exempted, not just raw agricultural commodities. The reason for this change is that many products fall under the FD&C Act.
    • The exemption for very small businesses (under $500k in gross annual rev) still stands.
    •  Intra company shipments are not provided any relief and fall under all requirements of the STF
    • The additional definition of a “loader” has been included. FDA included the loader in its covered entities to alleviate confusion for the LTL industry where part of the truck was being offloaded, and then reloaded without the shippers knowledge. The loader is now required to follow the STF requirements to ensure the food is moved safely (i.e. clean trailers, correct temp, equipment in good order, etc.)

Did You Know How Fast McLeod Software is Growing? 

Some insights from VP of Human Resources, Sheila Storch, and CFO, Kasey Burleson
11/05/2015

I've been hearing a lot of talk recently about McLeod's company growth. Can you tell me about that?

Sheila:  It’s an exciting time at McLeod Software. Since 2010, the company has grown rapidly; by July of this year, we were over 375 employees and on our way to over 400 total employees by the end of this year. Over the last five years, we have hired approximately 250 additional people to help support our customers and their business needs. 

Kasey: McLeod has experienced substantial growth since 2010 from investing in all areas of its business.


What is the driving force behind such explosive growth over the last five years?

Sheila:  Our market share has grown dramatically. While growing our share of customers in the midmarket segment of our industry, we have also had a breakthrough with our enterprise accounts business, serving the largest carriers and logistics companies in our industry.  

Kasey:  McLeod has invested heavily in product development throughout its history. Those investments have created significant customer and revenue growth that have allowed McLeod to continue to invest even more aggressively in product development and in its services operations.  Investments in LTL development have led to much of the recent growth.


Are there certain areas of the company that have experienced more employee growth than others?  What can we expect to see from that growth?

Sheila:  We’ve continued making strategic investments in both product development and customer service operations. To that end, we’ve spent considerable time hiring the best developers, project managers, customer trainers, and account managers who come from the industry. We are working hard during this period of growth to ensure that our current and prospective customers continue to receive the best service and support they have come to know and expect from McLeod.  

Kasey:  McLeod’s product and services teams have grown the most.  We have seen the most recent growth in our specialized services and in our LTL services.


I read a lot about the challenges many companies are having to recruit and retain top talent in the industry. How has that impacted McLeod’s ability to grow?

Sheila:  Like many companies across the country, we are not immune to the effects of the labor shortage in the high tech sector. However, where we are unique, is that we have been very fortunate to be able to recruit and retain some of the brightest and most talented people in this industry – many of them from both employee and customer referrals.  Today, approximately one-third of all hiring comes through employee referrals.  Even more impressive, is that we’ve been able to retain close to 90% of our employees, over the long-term, even at our rapid rate of growth.


Kasey Burleson is the Chief Financial Officer for McLeod Software and is a Certified Public Accountant. He has been with McLeod Software for 8 years and is responsible for the company’s Accounting department.

Sheila Storch is the Vice President of Human Resources for McLeod Software. She joined McLeod Software in 2013 as an executive with a consistent record of delivering human resources (HR) solutions that increase sales and support corporate growth.

 

Protect One of Your Most Valuable Assets - Your Data 

McLeod's New Virtual Database Administrator Monitors Critical Systems So You Can Sleep Well at Night
10/28/2015

By Ben Barnes, Systems Director at McLeod Software

Consider these simple facts:
• Your company’s data is vitally important to your business success.
• All of your software systems depend on access to your server’s database.
• Without the proper attention to your database by highly-skilled IT personnel, you run the risk of diminished systems efficiency, costly downtime, and corrupted data. In the worst cases, you may lose critical data entirely.
• It may be cost prohibitive to hire an in-house database administrator who can address these issues.

McLeod is now offering a better solution - the Virtual Database Administrator (vDBA). McLeod vDBA remotely monitors critical database operations. If functional problems arise with the database, vDBA generates alerts that go out both to the McLeod vDBA team and designated staff at your company. Actions can then be taken to address minor issues before they become major problems. This ensures system availability, trouble-free operation, and optimal performance.

We’ve all learned the advantages of preventative maintenance on our cars. None of us would expect to drive 100,000 miles without having a skilled mechanic inspect and maintain the car’s engine, brakes, and other systems as needed. Databases need preventative maintenance as well, but too many companies are failing to address this need.


The Risks of Database Neglect

Databases are working constantly in the background, and without proper maintenance their performance degrades. Your database loses speed and efficiency, and in the worst cases, it crashes. Keep in mind that if your database crashes, LoadMaster, PowerBroker, and DocumentPower cannot function.

One of the essential business challenges is learning how to manage risk. What risks are you taking with your data? How much would it cost you to have your system down for one hour or longer? How much time are you losing trying to handle systems maintenance without the right IT personnel on staff?

It’s not easy to put a dollar figure on lost productivity, but it’s safe to say that unplanned system downtime is extremely expensive for businesses of any size. The same is true for the costs incurred when data is corrupted or lost. In the end, every successful business must take steps to avoid these outcomes.


The Benefits of McLeod vDBA

McLeod vDBA offers a wealth of advantages:
• Your systems are monitored around the clock. We install monitoring software that operates 24/7, ensuring that steps can be taken proactively to manage and restructure the database, so that it never degrades. End users never encounter any problems.
• You have access to technical support when you need it. You have access to support from highly-skilled and experienced database management professionals when you need it, so you avoid the high cost of hiring specialized IT personnel that you don’t need as full-time staff.
• You receive regularly scheduled reports. We provide a Monthly Health Report that has historical performance evaluation, database log events, and general system statistics.
• You get the benefits of McLeod expertise. Our vDBA team has direct access to the developers of your McLeod system. You don’t waste time trying to determine the root cause of system problems, because we’ll be able to see if software, data, or the database is causing the difficulty.


Sleep Well Knowing McLeod is Monitoring Your Systems Around the Clock

Your data is the lifeblood of your business, so you need to protect it. Let McLeod help. McLeod vDBA will monitor your systems around the clock and our team of highly-trained technicians will work with you to ensure optimal performance. You’ll sleep well knowing that your data is safe and available.

 

 

30 Years Strong 

Tom McLeod and Rusty Watkins Reflect on the First Three Decades of McLeod Software
10/21/2015

Tom McLeod founded McLeod Software in 1985. Rusty Watkins joined the company in 1986 and continues to serve as Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer.

What do you remember about the early days of McLeod Software?
Tom: When the company first started, it was just me. At one point I had a programming contract that would require all of my attention for four months. I knew that I could sit down and do it, but after that was done, I would essentially be out of business, because I wouldn’t have any time to go out and generate business. The other option was to hire someone to help with the programming, which would allow me to go out and try to sell the next deal. That’s what I did, and the rest is history. I focused on bringing in people and looking ahead to the next month.

Rusty: At the start there were only a few of us and everybody did everything. Each of us needed to know how to support the product, how to train on the product, how to sell the product, and how to develop and design the product. It was definitely not a boring time.


So many new businesses fail in the first few years. What allowed McLeod Software to survive?
Tom: We had the good fortune of starting the company at the right time. The use of computers in business was increasing rapidly, especially with small and mid-sized businesses, which was our target at that time. If we had started five years earlier or five years later, I don’t know if we would have been successful. Timing is essential. Part of it depends on you, and part of it depends on things you have no control over.


Do you have a business philosophy that has guided you over the years?
Tom: I came up with three basic rules for business success. The first is “Spend less than you take in.” You must be fiscally responsible. As long as you make more money than you spend, you get to keep playing the game. The second is “Do what you say you’ll do.” Your customer has an expectation, and if you can deliver on that better than your competitor, then you will win in the marketplace. The third is “Know what you’re doing.” You’ve got to be good at what you’re doing. There were 50 or 60 regional players developing software for the trucking industry in the late 80s and early 90s, and many of these didn’t succeed because they failed to follow one or more of these rules.

I later added a fourth rule, which is “Treat everyone—customers, employees, and vendors—with respect and dignity.” Following this rule alone won’t guarantee business success, but it does help. Your people stay longer, you keep your customers longer, and your vendors work with you better, if you treat them right.

Rusty: Tom’s rules may seem overly simplistic, but they proved to be essential to our success. I think there’s one more rule that has helped us succeed, and that is, “Don’t be afraid of innovation.” Tom has always encouraged people to try out new things. He wants people not to be afraid of taking reasonable risks.


In the late 90s, you decided to make the rewrite all of the software code from the ground up in a new language, Java. Why did you make this move? Was it a nerve-wracking transition?
Tom: We were having success with our product in those early years, but it was a character-based, green-screen application. It was obvious by the early-to-mid 90s that everyone was moving to graphical user interfaces—Windows look and feel. We started evaluating technologies, and our first move was to get our dispatch system ready to go in 1998 in a language called Delphi. Our plan was to rewrite one module at a time, and build it on top of our old database, but something new developed in the computer programming world around that time. The entire market was moving to support a platform based on the Java programming language. We decided to stop the Delphi-based project and start over, which was a bold move, but we wanted the platform that would enjoy the most support from the industry, including all of the vendors. It helped that business was fabulous in the late 90s. Extra sales were being driven by Y2K. We were so busy with meeting demand for our products that we didn’t get started in earnest with rewriting everything until the spring of 2000.

It was nerve-wracking, but mainly because it was taking much longer to do the rewrite than we had predicted. We underestimated the amount of time it would take. If I had been told how long it was going to take, I would have said, “Just shoot me now. We’re never going to make it.” But we hung in there. We had great staff managing the development. We revamped our entire development process, including some wonderful improvements in the way we do design work, testing, and quality assurance. That put us on a sound footing for the years leading up to today, as we’ve continued to build out a very robust product.

Rusty: We were confident that we were making the right decision technically, because we had spent so much time doing the research, but we were in the midst of a down market in the early 2000s. The challenge was surviving on the current product in a down market while you’re putting so much company time and energy into developing the new product. It can be nail-biting. The anxiety was less in the product itself and more in the market. Are we going to be around to see this new version? We did manage to squeak by and come out in a positive way on the other side.


What are the company’s biggest achievements over these thirty years?
Tom: I’ve proud of the fact that we’ve been able to create a good working environment that has attracted such a wonderful group of people to work here. A significant number of the people on our staff have worked here for many years. I’m also honored by the customers who have stayed with us for so many years. We have a very high retention rate.

Rusty: The company has grown substantially, and our growth has been almost entirely organic, as opposed to growing through the acquisition of other companies. I think that underscores the quality of the products we’ve made all these years and the way we’ve conducted business.


What do you see ahead for McLeod Software?
Tom: I have the lofty goal of wanting to structure things so that the company is able to carry on the tradition of high standards, high service, and the highest quality products for years to come.

Rusty: The main thing as we move forward is to keep to our principles. As we grow larger, we don’t want to lose that sense of family, that personal touch that we have always had at McLeod.

 

 

Driver Retention - Plain and Simple 

Basic Guidelines for Reducing Driver Turnover
06/11/2015

By Randy Seals, McLeod Software Customer Advocate

In my trucking career I’ve known tons of drivers. For many years part of my job was hiring drivers, and I never once encountered a driver who took the job with the intention of quitting. They want it to work. So if you want to keep them, here are some simple things you can do.

Provide them with good equipment.
Don’t expect your drivers to be thrilled about the job or take pride in your company if your equipment is in need of repair and unsafe. Make truck maintenance a priority, but don’t stop there. Truck driving is a grueling occupation, so think about their comfort too. Drivers who can count on driving safe, reliable, clean, and comfortable equipment are not eager to give it up.

Make sure they get home regularly.
Too many of us don’t fully appreciate the sacrifices drivers make by being away from home so much of the time. They miss birthdays, anniversaries, and a million other important family events. They can’t always get back quickly when an emergency occurs. It’s a tough life and that’s why you need to help your drivers get home regularly—especially when they need to be home.

Make them part of the team.
Drivers are on the front line. They know things no one else at the company knows, and yet too many times we forget to include them. Don’t make that mistake. Ask them for their opinions, get their advice, make use of their perspective, tap into their store of knowledge. Listening is half of it. The other half is talking to them. Explain your corporate goals, share information, bring them behind the curtain so that they understand the decisions that are being made and the changes that are occurring.

Get everyone involved in driver retention.
People throughout the business may have contact with drivers, and every encounter is an opportunity to promote driver retention. Educate everyone in the company about the challenges that drivers face and the policies that are in place to support them. For example, make sure the maintenance crew understands that properly maintained equipment is not just about avoiding breakdowns and losing points on safety inspections. It’s also about supporting the drivers.

Give them the miles they need.
Drivers are trying to make a living, so keep your side of the bargain and make sure you’re providing your drivers with enough work to earn the income they need. This won’t be the same for every driver, so make a point of finding out what each driver wants and do your best to meet those requests.

Treat them with respect.
Drivers are often treated as an insignificant cog in the works, but not a single piece of freight gets delivered without a driver. Drivers are just like you and me. They want to be treated with respect. They lead a lonely life out on the road, so it may help to give them reminders that they are valued members of the enterprise. Send them birthday greetings, learn about their families, find out what their interests are, and just make a point of communicating, not by text or mobile comm, but on the phone and in person. Regular attention in this way can be the difference between retaining or losing a driver.

Show them the money.
Money matters to everyone, including drivers. If your company is growing, if you’re adding trucks and hiring new drivers, if the top management is driving expensive new cars, the drivers can see what’s going on. Don’t expect them to be thrilled by a small increase in pay. Share the wealth. If you don’t, don’t be surprised when they switch to another company that understands that driver pay is one of the top priorities.

Don’t ever forget that your business won’t run without your drivers. Treat them well and the best ones will stay with you.

 

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