All new Colony – a little preview…

A little preview of our all new Colony v6

We are super proud of our latest version of Colony, now fully web-based we wanted to give you a little preview…. So here it is… 🎥🎬A little preview to show how simple allotment management can be using Colony. This short preview shows how users can offer a plot to a new applicant from the waiting list. Take a look..👀

This is just a short taster to give you a little feel of how all new web-based Colony looks and feels. This latest version brimming with new features including dynamic reporting tools, email templates and our easy to use GDPR Toolkit with built-in Anonymisation tools for simple compliance with customer data records and consent.

With its proven features including tenancy, waiting list, invoices and enquiries management, alongside heaps of extension options – from paperless inspections modules to self-management platforms, as well as APIs for integration with digital portals such as Firmstep and your website – there really is no better time to starting benefiting from the most comprehensive allotment software on the market today.

If you enjoyed the preview of our all new Colony v6, and want to see more of what Colony has to offer, from the comfort of your own desk, then request a demo today!!

Watch this space for our next video, showcasing our all new ‘Home Monitoring Screen’.😲😲

Questions YOU need to ask when choosing a contract software development company

Image of hands typing on laptops

It’s a big decision, so you want to make sure you are getting it right. If you are contemplating choosing new business software soon, and looking at using a contract software development company, here are some questions you need to ask to help narrow down what is the right choice for you.

What do you want the software to do?

It sounds like a no brainer, but a list of must have functionality is a great starting point for figuring out what is important to your business. Whether you are working from a myriad of spreadsheets or a mix of different applications, think about what will make life easier, save on time, and enhance your customer service. For example if you choosing accounting software, you would want to have items such as; Simple invoicing, Financial reports, Ability to send receipts.

Look at supplier location

Different countries have different laws and requirements. It’s always best to find a contract software development company in your own country, or at least in a country which has data sharing agreements in place, and a regulatory environment you are happy with.

What do other customers think?

Do some research, if you are looking at ‘off the shelf’ software read customer reviews, see what other customers think. If you are looking at a bespoke piece look at other pieces of software the contract software developers have built, read their customer reviews and case studies.

What are the ongoing costs?

Any reputable software company will give you a full breakdown of all costs upfront, to make sure there are no hidden extras or surprises down the line. If you are choosing an ‘Off the Shelf’ piece, many software companies have a short trial period, and then start charging either by month or annually. Some software comes with certain additional costs, such as per feature and per user . Ensure you get the full costs up front, so you can determine the ongoing costs from the off set.

Should I pay for a consultation report?

When looking at a bespoke piece of software, many software companies will look at writing a proposal or consultation for an upfront fee. Project consultations can save you money in the long run, by fully scoping out your project, looking at where you can potentially save time and money and give you a written report with full costings, detailing how your new system will work. Many companies will then refund the cost of the report, if you then choose to go ahead with the project. If you decide you don’t want that company to complete the project, you have a detailed report documenting how your system could work, that you can give to another developer to implement.

What security is included?

GPDR is so important, there has been news of security and privacy leaks by software companies that have ended up costing millions for their business customers. You want to ensure the company you choose understands GDPR and have the tools in place to support you and your company.

In summary

Business software should always be about taking the stresses and strains out of running your business. A good contract software development company, will look at your workflow, process and applications and write a system around streamlining your processes, securing your data, making planning for the day, week month and year a walk in the park… whilst ultimately keeping you in full control.

MCPC & Memmori Joining Forces

We are SUPER excited about our latest collaboration with a local tech company

Here at MCPC Systems we are thrilled to be joining forces with an up and coming local tech company. We are embarking on a new and exciting joint venture together, looking to build strong foundations for the future. As MCPC systems is a well-established software house, dedicated to software development, and Memmori a new and unique digital service, it made perfect sense to join forces. So we are combining our expertise to work on an new and innovate project together…. as they say collaboration is the key to success!

Memmori – who they are and what they do

Memmori is a new and alternative digital memorial service, founded by Jim Duckett. Jim is a driving force in changing the way that we view and carry out the funeral and memorial process. His digital service, Memmori, looks to help provide solutions to some of the greatest issues facing funerals today, such as the environmental impact of burials and the shrinking availability for space.

In contrast to physical memorials, Memmori will allow users the opportunity to build their own digital legacy by creating personal journal entries, photos, videos and links to existing social media content. Memmori’s aim is to change the way we remember our loved ones, whilst raising awareness and educating users. Giving users the opportunity to take control over funerals, personalise their experience whilst also bringing costs down.

Local companies working together

Here at MCPC we value the ability to be able to work with local, like minded companies. We believe that working together is beneficial to our local communities, our own working processes, builds our knowledge and ultimately adds value to both customers bases.

MCPC are industry-leading software developers for asset managementleasable assets and allotments. Alongside this we also create bespoke software that helps keep businesses one step ahead. We build software for all types of businesses, charities and organisations, and our bespoke software means there’s no compromises – you get exactly what you need! Making us a perfect fit for collaboration, as flexibility is key.

So…watch this space to see how we are combining technologies and expertise, collaborating with a local tech company to create something super special.

Learn more about Memmori here https://twitter.com/mymemmori

Case Study – Attire Menswear

Tie rack in suit hire company

Business: Attire Menswear

What it does: Attire Menswear hires out a wide range of men’s formal wear from wedding suits to dinner suits and everything in-between.

Owner:  Mike Hughes

No of outlets: 3

Website: www.amsuits.co.uk

Our challenge: To help Mike develop suit hire software that meets the needs of his expanding and changing business.

Outcome: A bespoke system to keep control of stock whilst saving Mike valuable time, by optimising and streamlining his workflow and operations.   

About Attire Menswear

Attire Menswear began life as a much smaller affair, with the use of a van, attending wedding fairs and word of mouth Mike has built his business from scratch.

From the very beginning Attire have grown their reputation as a quality and reliable suit hire company though their customer service and attention to detail, this ensures their customers recommended them again and again.

After a few years in the trade, Mike got to the point where he was hiring 100+ suits a week, while still managing his business from his garage at home. With the business growing he decided to buy his first shop in Wallasey and Attire Menswear grew from there.

The Problem

Attire now have three sites, (Wallasey Liverpool and Deeside) but over the years the business has changed. Originally, they hired from a trade supplier to supplement their own stock. These days, he has all his own products on site which are hired to customers. With this in mind, he needed a system that would complement and enhance his current business systems.

  • Managing a huge volume of stock (not just suits, but ties, handkerchiefs etc) that are hired out in groups to customers and then returned.
  • Managing the pick-up and return dates for each booking.
  • The current system only allowed stock to be input to an order one at a time, then save to the order, come out of the system and add the next item, which was extremely time consuming.

In Mike’s quest for a new system he looked at ‘Off the shelf’ systems but found they weren’t flexible or were aimed at the retail sector: ‘Our stock is coming back and that’s what makes us different to the typical retail sector’ Mike explained. Realising he needed bespoke software built by someone that was willing to listen to exactly what he needed, Mike contacted MCPC Systems.

Mike’s frustrations in inputting orders and navigating around his old system was costing him valuable time. Time, which as a multi-site business owner is precious, time which could be spent with customers, preparing orders to go out or just making some extremely rare free time that Mike could spend with the family (or playing golf!).

The Solution

In his initial meeting with MCPC he explained his frustrations, which were fed back to the development team. Mike then met with his lead developer Sam who built the system by listening to Mike’s requests, learning how Attire works, and working together to get the perfect fit.

Mike is delighted with his new Suit Hire Software: “Sam listened to how I work and built the system around that”.

” Through Sam understanding my needs, an order that would have taken five minutes to input, now takes one.”

Attire’s stock is now logged in one secure system with the customer’s bookings and details. The system has been branded with Attires own logo, colours and themes, keeping the brand at the forefront.

Attire can now start the next busy wedding season, with a bespoke new system that will support the business as it continues to grow.

Mike says of his experience with MCPC: “MCPC were flexible and looked at the way I worked to build the system; Charlotte (MCPC’s Director of Business Development) came back with a great costing, within my budget and Sam learnt my processes so the system was bespoke to us – this is why I chose MCPC to build my system.”

Image of Suit Hire shop

Want to know if bespoke software is for you? Take a look at our bespoke software page.

Are you ready for Making Tax Digital (MTD)? Read our latest blog to find out how it affects you!

You’ve probably heard a lot about Making Tax Digital (MTD), but have you thought about how it will affect your business or the software you use?

MTD– What it all means

Making Tax digital is a key part of the governments proposal in transforming HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) into a world-leading digital tax authority, whilst aiming to make it easier for individuals and businesses to get their tax right and keep on top of their financial affairs.

Here’s what the government say:

‘If you run a VAT-registered business with a taxable turnover above the VAT registration threshold (currently £85,000) you are required to keep digital VAT business records and send returns using Making Tax Digital (MTD)-compatible software. The vast majority of businesses will need to do this for VAT periods starting on or after 1 April 2019. Businesses with a taxable turnover below the VAT threshold can also sign up for MTD for VAT voluntarily.’

(www.gov.uk/government/publications)

So how will this affect the software you use?

As MTD comes into play, you won’t be able to keep and submit manual records after April 2019. Instead, HMRC will only accept VAT returns sent using software that supports MTD. So now is good time to start thinking about your accounting software – that way you can avoid any potential complications or issues that may arise from upgrading your software during the financial year.

You will find it’s far easier to submit returns using online accounting software compared to traditional desktop software. If you still haven’t yet found the right software don’t panic, do your research and start to shop around to find the best fit for you and your business. A good place to start is the government website where they have listed all software that currently comply:
https://www.tax.service.gov.uk/making-tax-digital-software

If you aren’t able to upgrade your accounting software to be MTD compliant then bridging software could be is the most efficient short-term solution. This could be for example an API enabled spreadsheet, (this basically means a link that connects your spreadsheet to HMRC’s systems) this should then allow you to report digitally. You can also use your tax adviser or accountant, who will be able to register you for MTD via an agent’s portal.

In summary, here are the key points to consider for MTD

  • No more Annual Tax Returns – tax returns will be done quarterly. This is to make it easier for individuals and businesses to get their tax right and keep on top of their affairs.
  • Starts April 2019 for businesses with a turnover which is above the VAT threshold, those that meet this criteria are required to keep digital records and submit quarterly.
  • You will need to submit using software – so there has never been a better time to give your spreadsheets the boot, and take a look at upgrading to software that supports MTDs.
  • There are a few exemptions from MTD, referred to as the ‘digitally excluded’. They include those who cannot engage digitally on the bases of age, religion, disability or remoteness of location.

Free Event: ‘Shake your Assets’- Reducing overheads and boosting your bottom line.

Image of allotments, play area, beach huts and cars.

‘Shake your Assets’ – Our first event in the tourism sector.

Do you work in the tourism sector and would like to reduce business risk?

Make more from your assets?

Increase turnover?

Boost customer reviews?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then Join us MCPC Systems, to be part of our first asset management event for the tourism sector.

Not to be missed, you are invited to a morning of interactive workshops, where we will be exploring ways to reduce your business resources to increase turnover and in turn boosting your reviews. As well as listening to inspirational speakers, you will be meeting and networking with like-minded people in the tourism sector from across North Wales.

Tea, coffee, pastries and lunch are provided.

When: 26th March

Where: Glasdir Conference and Meeting Venue North Wales,

Time: 10.30 – 2.00pm

Don’t miss out on this exciting, insightful event, book your free place today on Eventbrite.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/shake-your-assets-tickets-56106133957

Our allotment management software is moving to the cloud!

It’s almost time for the launch of our cloud based allotment management software..

The wait is almost over, here at MCPC systems we are sooo excited that our very own Colony – the UK’s leading and most comprehensive allotment management software, is moving to the cloud to become a fully web-based application.

Our most popular and successful application can now be accessed using any internet enabled device from any location. Our new cloud based Colony will be fully hosted on our Microsoft Azure database servers, this means that there will be no installation requirements, no more updated versions, as system updates including enhancements, new features, bugs and patches, will be automatic and undertaken by us here at MCPC Systems.

We value our customers and listen their feedback in our user group enhancement forums. The feedback and recommendations from these groups, have been used to develop our new cloud based Colony, which will also Include new additional features such as the ability to email invoices, email merge templates, dynamic reporting tools and much more.

The change in the way Colony is accessed, used and hosted also means a change in the pricing structure. With a reduced initial outlay, the new cloud based Colony, could now be more affordable than you think. So, if you haven’t already had a quote, contact us today to find out how Colony can help you manage your allotments with style, simplicity and ease. 

Take a look at our cloud based allotment management software site…

Our developers are busy working on our new cloud based Colony and we will be launching on the 3rd December, however if you want a preview of the new site…. be our guest…

https://www.colonycloud.co.uk

 

Saving your business from software rage

Get better database hosting with MCPC

What is ‘software rage’?

Software rage is a condition that’s often experienced by staff in all types of businesses. It most commonly results in mounds of excessive paperwork, spreadsheet workarounds, and sudden keyboard or mouse bashing. At its most severe, software rage can result in drastically lowered productivity, key business processes being missed, and staff charging into your office with a notice letter.

Who’s at risk of software rage?

Critically, software rage is not limited to occurring in staff of any particular role or responsibility, so it’s important that you regularly look out for potential cases of software rage across your business to prevent its emergence.

What causes software rage?

The critical risk factor in your staff developing software rage is their dependency on ineffective working processes caused by useless software systems – or equally, no software system at all.

Where you don’t have an appropriate software system in place, software rage is usually prefigured by ‘Spreadsheet Chaos’ and/or exhaustion from wading through the ‘Filing Cabinet Jungle’. Desks will often be groaning with piles of paper, and staff can commonly be heard saying ‘I’ll just have to check the spreadsheet to find out – but someone’s already got it open’.

Where you’ve already got some software in place, software rage can be caused by poor usability, a lack of important features, and the need for staff to – you guessed it – ‘export that data to a spreadsheet’ to get the info they need. You may have tried to get your staff to call the software supplier to help, but by now you’re used to hearing ‘they said it’s going to cost £[insert figure here] to fix’, or worse, ‘well I tried, but they never called me back!’

Symptoms of software rage

If you notice any of the following symptoms in your business, you’ve almost certainly got a case of software rage and you should seek help immediately:

  • staff tutting at the computer screen, rubbing their heads and/or frantically clicking every button available on the screen
  • key business opportunities being missed because it got ‘messed up’ in the system
  • tasks taking way longer than you would have thought necessary because the information, data or process wasn’t available to hand when you or your staff needed it
  • being unable to work out your key performance indicators because ‘the system’ couldn’t work it out for you
  • individual members of staff or whole teams developing ‘their own ways’ for doing things instead of using the software or system in place

Treating software rage

Software rage can be treated promptly and easily by firstly:

  • Asking any affected members of staff to step away from their computer, placing any dented keyboard or injured mouse at arm’s length, (so as to avoid any further damage)
  • Close down all 28 open spreadsheets
  • Inform Fred, Jo, Sally, Harry and Sam to also save and exit their shared spreadsheets
  • Then finally, and most importantly, call a quality software company with plenty of experience of treating software rage successfully

Here at MCPC Systems we are a dab hand a treating software rage, as we see it all the time. Our treatment usually starts with an in-depth look at your business processes and current systems to assess the causes of the problems you’re experiencing. We are able to build the plan for a fully bespoke solution that’s tailored to any business, processes and staff, which will vanquish software rage in any business once and for all and help you get ahead of the game for the future.

Is your software GDPR ready? #3 – Locating your data

Where is your data actually located?

This one will apply if you use, or if you’re thinking of investing in, cloud software or storage services.

We’re so used to buying into this idea of the ‘cloud’ as if it’s somewhere untouchable and almost, quite literally, in the air – but actually, all it really means is your data is stored on a server that’s not on your premises and the hardware is not managed directly by you.

As dreamy as it is to think of all that data floating around in a protected extra dimension up in cyberspace, unfortunately, it’s all very much down to earth and subject to GDPR.

Why? Because how and where you store your data comes under scrutiny under GDPR, as defined in the 6th principle that states that data must be processed and stored “using appropriate technical or organisational measures”.

Basically, under GDPR, neglecting scrutiny on your data hosting providers can leave you in as bad a position as if you left your filing cabinet full of customer information open on the shop floor under the Data Protection Act.

Keeping your cloud services GDPR compliant

The question you need to ask of your cloud service providers is: where are their data centres and who manages them?

Any good software or app provider will be upfront about this, and even where they use reseller or mediated hosting services to provide cloud hosting to you – such as Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services – they will be happy to tell you which country or territory their data centres are in and who manages them.

Your providers should also be able to tell you what – if any – additional processes, accreditations and or standards they have in place for managing their data centres and servers. A great example of this can be seen on Mailchimp’s page about how they protect the security of your data.

Importantly, if you use any plug-ins on your website to process personal data (for example, your ‘contact us’ forms), you will want to look into whether they use any cloud servers as well – looking at the providers’ Terms & Conditions or Privacy Notice on their website is a good place to start.

You’ll also want to check whether your service providers are meeting their own obligations under GDPR – for example, whether they have registered with a relevant regional supervisory office as data controllers. In the UK, where the supervisory agency is the Information Commissioner’s Office, it’s really easy to search the register of data controllers with just the company’s name.

Although it might seem like this can cause more headaches – when, after all, you’ve already bought, or you’re looking to buy, software in order to solve some headaches – ultimately, the data you’re handing over belongs to you, and you are responsible for choosing the right cloud service providers to look after it on your behalf.

Why the benefits of cloud services with GDPR still outweigh the risks

With the right cloud services provider in place, the benefits to your ongoing GDPR compliance can far outweigh the risks. First and foremost, you’ll get the benefits of saving the time, resource and money required for looking after physical servers on your premises: your cloud servers will always be kept up to date with security patches and software updates (and you will save on the cost of replacement at the end of life).

Secondly, you will have the confidence in the ongoing security and care of your software and data by knowing that the servers are managed effectively and properly to the expectations set out by GDPR.

This isn’t to say that, even with the right cloud service providers in place, you can guarantee that there won’t be any breaches or problems in the future – threats to cyber security are ever-growing and changing at an astonishing rate.

However, it does mean that in the event that your data is compromised through your cloud service providers, you will be able to demonstrate that you made an informed decision when you chose to use them and have therefore done your part in meeting the principle of data protection by ‘design and default’.

We’re hiring! Could you be our Business Support Assistant?

We're hiring!

Vacancy: Business Support Assistant (Part Time)

We’re looking for an enthusiastic individual with a shining personality to join our close-knit and busy team in Chester!

Who are MCPC Systems?

We are a friendly, independent and family-owned software house that develops, supplies and supports bespoke software applications to local government and SMEs.

We are committed to helping organisations, whatever their size, get the very best from their services and operations using quality, cost-effective digital technologies. Our team ensures that customers get so much more than a software package when they choose us. 

Key details of the role

Salary: £11,734 (£22,000 FTE)

Term: Permanent employee, subject to 3 month probationary period

Location: Saltney (just outside of Chester), Flintshire with home-working opportunities

Hours: 20hrs per week (flexible, with opportunities to increase hours down the line)

Start: ASAP

Must have a car

Your responsibilities

    • Supporting our business development by prospecting, generating and following up sales enquiries in line with our marketing and sales targets
    • Setting up meetings and product demos, and compiling quotes and proposals for customers
    • Managing our blogs and website content, and our social media accounts (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & YouTube), and tracking their performance
    • Building our local and industry presence and network by attending networking groups and meetings in the area
    • Supporting other members of our team with general administration tasks
    • Helping to retain our existing customers and contracts through account reviews

What we’re looking for in you

    • A commitment to MCPC’s vision, mission and goals for the future of our business
    • Excellent communication and customer service skills, including in person, telephone and email manner
    • Fantastic organisation and administrative skills
    • An interest and savviness for social media and content marketing on platforms including WordPress, LinkedIn, Twitter and Mailchimp (with willingness to undertake further training if needed)
    • Good general education and/or experience in maths, English and business administration
    • An enthusiasm for teamworking and building relationships with other members of our team, our clients and industry influencers
    • Sharp attention for detail and problem-solving
    • Proficiency in Windows desktop and all the usual Office applications (Outlook, Word, Excel)

Naturally for our line of business, some knowledge and experience of computing, software and development for Windows platforms, alongside an understanding of public sector/local government, is an advantage. However, don’t let this put you off!

If you meet our other criteria and have a shining personality to mix with our small team, we’ll provide the training and learning opportunities you need to succeed in this role.

How to apply

Please send your CV and cover letter to Charlotte Girow, Director of Business Development: charlotte.girow@mcpcsystems.co.uk

Closing date for applications: Friday 6th July 2018

Interview dates: w/c 9th July 2018

Start date: ASAP

Data protection

We’re committed to protecting and processing your personal data in line with the standards set out by GDPR. When you submit your application to MCPC, and if you enter employment with us, we’ll process your personal information as we have set out in our Privacy notice for employees, workers & contractors.

Polite (but important) notice to recruitment agencies and vacancy advertisement services

This vacancy is open to direct applications only. We work with an established and approved list of recruitment agencies and vacancy advertisers, and we ask you not to contact MCPC or any of our staff for direct marketing of your services or candidates in relation to this advert.