AUGUST 2010


IN THIS ISSUE

On the Road Again

Stop the Whining: How to End Corrosive Complaining

Tana's Tech Tip


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Earth-Friendly Feedback
Have you checked out the Environmental Reports in Veri-Shred's Management Reports?  These nifty reports provide the customer with detailed information on the number of trees saved, water saved, landfill space and more.

These estimated figures are calculated from official U.S. EPA calculations and actual prices from wholesale suppliers of paper, electric, water, and landfill companies.

Note:  A weight must be entered into the Service Order counts, either manually or by the scanner, in order for these reports to print.


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Upcoming Events

ASI Users Seminar
Sept. 14-15 , 2010

Hyatt Regency at the Arcade
Cleveland, Ohio

PRISM/NAID Joint European Conference
Sept. 27-29 , 2010

Westin Athens, Astir Palace Beach Resort
Athens, Greece

Shred School
November 3-5, 2010

Spartanburg, SC

ARMA International
November 7-8, 2010
Moscone West
San Francisco, CA


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Face Time vs. Facebook
Scott Bidwell, President/COO

The average American today spends more than eight hours a day peering into a screen -- TV, computer, or cell phone -- and the average teen sends or receives well over 2,000 text messages a month. There's no denying it , there are multiple ways and opportunities to stay connected, whether personally or in business. Certainly, the convergence of the Internet and wireless technology make it easier than ever to stay connected. There's been a lot of hoopla in recent months about how all this emailing, browsing, uploading and downloading is affecting our comprehension and learning. It seems that while we're multi-tasking fiends, grabbing information left and right, we're becoming less able to think deeply, critically, creatively. Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains writes, “ As we rush around the Web, we seem to be training our brains to be quick but superficial.”

These multiple forms of information exchange are certainly convenient and perfectly appropriate in many instances. In others, the opportunity for in-depth learning and the active exchange of ideas and information are better served through one-on-one or face-to-face communication. I have found that many of my longest-lasting professional relationships were initially forged from an initial in-person meeting.

It is the opportunity to help facilitate similar relationships and education that compel us to offer the ASI Users Seminar. In this forum, ASI clients and colleagues come together to learn from one another. In turn, they are able to infuse their businesses with new ideas for operating more creatively and efficiently. This year's Users Seminar provides the platform for the unveiling of powerful new applications for both records centers and shredding operations such as:

•  Veri-Shred/UPS Roadnet Anywhere integration

•  ASI Mobile 3 for records centers

•  Latest enhancements for VCKweb.NET

Outside of one-on-one training, nowhere else can ASI users gain the level of detail and education through demonstration that they receive during the ASI Users Seminar. Additionally, this year's agenda features sessions about privacy liability and a regulatory update critical to your business. If you have not registered, I encourage you to register today. It's a chance for you to enjoy the benefits of in-person learning where information can be a source of enlightenment, rather than distraction.

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On the Road Again

Shredding operators are well aware that remaining profitable requires their vehicles be dispatched continuously - yet efficiently. In a tough economy and with fuel costs at a premium, it's never been more important for a shredding operator to know the financial impact each time a truck goes on the road. Would you like to reduce your fuel costs by 10% or more? Do you know how much it costs to service your customers? The right route optimization software can make a big difference in operational profitability.

Attendees of this year's ASI Users Seminar will have the opportunity to hear about one of the industry's most advanced route optimization solutions, Roadnet Anywhere from UPS Logistics Technologies. Attendees will also see for themselves how this superior fleet management software works with ASI Veri-Shred software to provide an integrated solution for daily route planning, driver dispatching, real-time GPS tracking and reporting. Register today to take advantage of this unique opportunity to learn how Veri-Shred and Roadnet Anywhere can provide a simple, yet powerful integrated solution for your shredding operation.

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Stop the Whining: How to End Corrosive Complaining
Margaret Heffernan

If you run a company full of smart people, they will find faults and mistakes everywhere, and they'll complain. That's fine. It can become destructive, though, if it evolves into a culture of complaint.

I learned this lesson when I had my first experience working as a consultant, for a Massachusetts software start-up called Vertigo Technology. As you can tell from the name, the founders had high expectations of their own success — expectations which were unrealized when the company closed down in the late 1990s. It had been packed with many brilliant people, many of whom went on to achieve big successes elsewhere.

But this company was destroyed by its own internal demons. Everyone found fault with corporate strategy, tactics, products, sales, marketing, right down to the Standard Operating Procedure guidelines for taking a shower on company premises. (No, I'm not joking.)

At first, I found the company's openness exhilarating. How democratic that everyone could speak their mind! But after a year or so, I came to see that everyone spent more time arguing abstractions than producing profits. The company became what venture capitalists call “the living dead” — bringing in enough revenue to cover costs but never building a company anyone would want to buy.

Later, I realized our fatal flaw lay in chronic complaining: We didn't distinguish between the faults that have to be fixed and the faults you can't afford the time to fix. The memory haunted me when I started my first technology company. Determined to curtail the whining, I introduced a rule: all complaints to me had to be accompanied by at least one proposed solution.

The rule was a big success. Here's why:

  • It made people consider why things were the way they were, and what the costs of fixing them might be. Many aspects of a business aren't perfect but just aren't worth fixing. The cost, in terms of time, attention and resources, is too high, the return too slight. But it takes time for a leader to explain that, and it's better if your employees figure it out for themselves. They learn to prioritize, just as you have had to.
  • It helped me, as the chief executive, distinguish the wheat from the chaff. Nothing is more important in running a business than creating an environment in which everyone feels welcome to raise questions, concerns and doubts. If you create the conditions in which legitimate concerns are raised easily, each employee is an early warning system. But you want everyone focused on fixing the faults that have real impact.
  • It generated good ideas. Instead of my software engineers complaining that the sales team made impossible promises, they asked to go on sales calls to ensure promises were practical. That didn't just save a lot of anger and disappointment; it meant we could also offer easy product enhancements the sales team had never dreamed of.
  • It made every employee act and feel like an owner. They took responsibility for a business they felt invested in, rather than behaving like whining children.

So many companies become the walking dead when they focus on complaints rather than solutions. Does your company have a culture of complaint? If it does, what are you doing about it?

Margaret Heffernan has been CEO of five businesses in the United States and United Kingdom. A speaker and writer, she is the author of The Naked Truth , How She Does It: How Female Entrepreneurs are Changing the Rules for Business Success , and the upcoming Willful Blindness .

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