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Thoughts on what businesses actually need from the Cloud, not what vendors wish they needed.

Chris Bliss

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Latest Blogs from Chris Bliss
It’s a tough time to be a Value Added Reseller (VAR). For those who don’t know, VARs are a breed of IT consultant popularized in the 1990’s and still near-ubiquitous in certain channels. They’re hard to miss: Without going into too much detail, the VAR model is one of selling software ...
So, the new Basecamp is out, released with much applause (and yes, a few groans). We reviewed it last week and found it super promising. Exciting stuff. What’s more exciting than the sexy new project management tool, though, is how it was released. 37signals, the company behind Baseca...
*Update: Jason Fried, founder of 37Signals, has informed us that their API will be rolled out soon. Stay tuned folks! Basecamp, the gorilla of web-based project management software, has had a makeover. Originally launched in 2004, the project management giant has rolled out massive upd...
In the good ‘ole days when software still need installing and executives regularly printed their emails, software “support” was a strange thing. Sure, Microsoft had helplines you could call, and Quicken came with a manual, but it wasn’t “support” per se: more like a robotic attempt to ...
Over a year ago we spoke with Jon Ferrara, CEO at Nimble, the up-and-coming CRM and sales platform for small teams. Nimble wasn’t much to look at back then, but a year is a long time in the world of software – long enough to gain 30,000 users, 2,800 companies, and a host of new [...
Having worked in corporate America, I have first hand experience with the misguided corporate obsession with Microsoft products. I also have first hand experience of surpassing my mailbox capacity and having all incoming and outgoing emails bounce. I spent probably 15 mornings in three...
Financial management for small businesses is changing rapidly, with multiple systems helping businesses manage accounts in ways never before possible. Many people are familiar with Mint.com: InDinero is the new kid on the block that is looking to do the same thing, but for for SMB. As ...
The going is good, and we’re still screwing it up We’ve been helping companies utilize new and powerful technology for just under three years now. It has been fantastic. We’re growing rapidly and seeing the sea-change in how some businesses are using software. But wha...
Customer relationship management (CRM) software is a confusing space. On the one hand, there’s been explosive growth of powerful cloud-based CRMs, especially for small businesses. That’s awesome. On the other hand, most CRMs you see are crap: they’re either overly complex, overly simpl...
A few days ago we received a trial invite to Thinkfuse, an up-and-coming piece of software focused on group communications (read: project status reports). Without going into a full review (Thinkfuse is still in testing mode), suffice it to say that Thinkfuse represents exactly what we ...
Imagine there are two supermarkets in your neighborhood with the same fruits and vegetables, meats and dairies, and the same selection of home goods and produce. They are equal distance from your home and the pricing is comparable. Why do you choose one and not the other? Our guess: yo...
Online accounting for small businesses is a messy space. There are dozens of competitors with significantly different feature sets and price points, often targeting different subsets of accounting without offering a complete package (“just invoicing” or “just expenses”). In an industry...
Maybe it was just a targeted AdWords blitz, but we’ve recently seen more and more buzz surrounding Nutshell, a lead management tool aimed at small and mid sized businesses. Having launched our new review process last week, we’ve been eager for some fresh meat and, well, the self-descri...
Cloud Computing: What It Really Means for Your Business Monday, December 12, 2011 from 8:00 PM to 9:30 PM Buy your tickets here. Having worked for years in the exciting space between business and cloud computing, we’re happy to announce a new class on the subject at New York City’s Gen...
Zendesk, an innovator and industry leader in cloud-based help desk software, is kicking off its new webinar series this Wednesday, November 30 with Secrets of Building 21st-Century Customer Loyalty. The webinar’s keynote speak will be Micah Solomon, the best-selling business auth...
  As regular readers know, we review dozens of SaaS applications every month. Our intent? Finding the best the web has to offer, particularly for small to medium sized businesses. It’s our job to find the real gems, the applications and services that make business better. Hence to...
We work with dozens of clients, big and small, every month.  Sometimes – say once a year –  there’s a client whose situation perfectly encapsulates all the tensions involved with cloud computing. We just had that client. Here’s their story. Small company, big needs The comp...
Capsule CRM is a great cloud-based CRM tool for small businesses with heavily automated or repetitious sales routines (see our review here). It’s lightweight, easy to use, and affordable. That said, it’s also a touch finicky to correctly setup and implement, particularly when complex w...
submit_url = "http://www.vm-associates.com/2011/10/11/smb-erp-makin-big-interview-brightpearls-chris-tanner/"; In our quest to find software that doesn’t suck, we’ve been increasingly impressed with Brightpearl, a cloud-based ERP company that’s targeting the SMB marke...
submit_url = "http://www.vm-associates.com/2011/09/28/sales-long-life-short/"; Selling anything can be a mess mired in stress, anticipation and anxiety. Especially in Professional Services. People waffle, other stuff comes up, budgets drop… a lot. At VM Associates, we just closed...
submit_url = "http://www.vm-associates.com/2011/09/21/assistly-reviewed-zendesklike-helpdesk-solution/"; Update: As chance would have it, Assistly was acquired by Salesforce today. Not sure exactly what that implies yet, so stay tuned… Assistly is a self-proclaimed “All in one sy...
submit_url = "http://www.vm-associates.com/2011/09/12/google-docs-apocalypse-losing-24-minutes-isnt-time/"; Last week Google Docs experienced 24 minutes of downtime, leaving users and businesses without access to their documents. According to TechCrunch, a popular technology news blog,...
Our latest product review is of Pipedrive, a new sales management and CRM tool that features a user-friendly sales pipeline, extensive customization options, embedded Facebook-like features, and easy collaboration amongst team members. With sales at the spine of every business, new sol...
Believe it or not, Gmail’s robust email service includes some features that can enhance your email marketing, and at no cost to you. Are you ready to be enlightened? Read more →
submit_url = "http://www.vm-associates.com/2011/08/11/flowdock-reviewed/"; There has been a lot of buzz in the cloud computing world recently about Flowdock, a new application that claims to be the “Teamwork Revolution” application. At VM Associates we are always looking to demo new pr...
submit_url = "http://www.vm-associates.com/2011/08/08/vm-associates-zendesk-officially-friends/"; Business geeks like us are a picky bunch. When we choose software vendors to partner with, it’s a major decision with major implications. Partner networks generate leads but they also refl...
We’ve been absent from the blogosphere for awhile now and thought we’d make our reentry with a simple definition. Cloud computing. What is it? How is it different from, well, normal computing? What does it mean for business owners? Where is it headed? Generally speaking, “cloud comput...
submit_url = "http://www.vm-associates.com/2011/02/23/project-management-doesnt-sense-crm/"; Project management has become a buzzword over the last few years and for good reason. It makes sense to centralize information, and web-based project management solutions allow that. Conceptual...
submit_url = "http://www.vm-associates.com/2011/02/17/guest-post-cloud-ready-accountants/"; The following is a repost, used with the author’s permission, of Hunter Richards’s February 2nd post, “Is the Cloud ready yet? Let’s ask the accountants.” The origi...
It’s easy to always say no. Your systems function, the processes are clear, it works. Why invest in cloud computing if nothing is broken? What’s wrong with inaction? We hear that sentiment all the time and it’s easily understood. Business owners are risk adverse and they don’t want to...
submit_url = "http://www.vm-associates.com/2011/01/17/community-feedback-good-kinda/"; In the good ‘ole days when software still need installing and executives regularly printed their emails, software “support” was a strange thing. Sure, Microsoft had helplines you could call, and Quic...
submit_url = "http://www.vm-associates.com/2011/01/12/business-headaches/";
submit_url = "http://www.vm-associates.com/2011/01/12/software-suck-2/";
submit_url = "http://www.vm-associates.com/2011/01/10/shove-pipe-sell-capsule-crm-reviewed/"; CRM’s are a dime a dozen these days and it’s rare to find one that stands out. Recently we spent some time with Capsule CRM, a pipeline-based sales tool, and we’re happy to say that although i...
submit_url = "http://www.vm-associates.com/2011/01/07/pro-tips-5-user-interface-features-worth-avoiding/"; As cloud-computing breaks into the business mainstream, software vendors are increasingly targeting end-users and individuals, not middle-management. As a result, more execs, mark...
submit_url = "http://www.vm-associates.com/2011/01/05/dont-be-an-affiliated-software-seller-ass/"; To all the Cloud Vanguards (consultants, CIOs, etc.): Please, PLEASE, don’t be an Affiliated Software Seller. Don’t take kickbacks, don’t work off of the margin, donR...
submit_url = "http://www.vm-associates.com/2011/01/03/pipelinedeals-reviewed-slick-inthebox-sales-automation/"; We’re always on the hunt for innovative business software and the holiday season has been no exception. This week we demoed PipelineDeals, a self-proclaimed “simple and power...
submit_url = "http://www.vm-associates.com/2010/12/31/expensesrus-interview-david-barrett-cofounder-expensify/"; We really like Expensify and thought we’d share a recent interview we had with David Barrett, their co-founder and expensing extraordinaire. Here’s what he had t...
submit_url = "http://www.vm-associates.com/2010/12/29/doctors-smoking-cigarettes-lastgen-solutions-long/"; Plenty of business execs know that old-school software solutions are costly and inefficient: that legacy solutions perpetuate legacy processes: that last-gen is bad and next-gen i...
submit_url = "http://www.vm-associates.com/2010/12/27/yesterday-dangerous-live-tomorrow/"; It’s rare we get upset at prospective clients, but it happens sometimes, especially when they just don’t get it. Point in case: we recently visited the aging president of a mid-sized non-profit w...