On Failure

teambuilding-on-failure

Last Tuesday, our team set aside office work and gathered for a teambuilding seminar.

Unlike our previous activities, however, we spent the day reviewing the basics of sales and exchanging insights about our performance. It was about time that we had this kind of discussion together, as it is a great opportunity to recharge and make sure we are all moving in the same direction as a company.

One of our main topics was this generally pesky concept called failure. You know, when sometimes a situation does not go the way we expected or planned them to? When this happens, we normally ask ourselves: why did it (we) fail? What else, what more, could we have done? What did we not do? What if we did this and not that? Questions, questions.

We all have different opinions about failure. Some people view it as a loss, usually financially, or as a sign of weakness. Others believe that it does not even exist at all. That failure is, supposedly, just a state of mind. However you choose to look at it, I think we can agree that failure is inevitable. Everyone goes and continues to go through it — in their career, relationships, various areas of personal growth. It is necessary, especially if we aim to be successful, and it should not stop us from working harder. We can learn from what went wrong and we will do better next time. There will always be room for improvement, like there’s always room for dessert.

Below are some lessons from the team that might motivate yours as well:

“Keep in mind the reason for our failure.”

“Don’t wait for a memo to give you a wake up call.”

“There’s no excuse for rudeness in the workplace, no matter how wrong they are or how right you are.”

“Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.”

“Cramming does not work for everyone. Know your priorities.”

“Learn when to suck it up, and when to let go.”

Source: Blog

Akubo Tip: How to Merge Contacts

Merging duplicate contacts can be a time-consuming task as you transfer all the update information from one contact to another and delete the duplicate contact.

For this article, we will help you how to merge contacts.

On the main page of Akubo, click the menu icon on the Contacts tile. Then click Helpful Lists, go to Find Duplicates > by Name.

 

1

You will see the list of duplicate contacts. If all the information are the same and you don’t have to merge, you can select the contact and click Delete. But if you have to merge contacts, you’ll have to export the contacts, merge them in Excel, and import it back to Akubo. Here are the steps on how to do it:

1) If the duplicate contacts are not yet in group, then it is suggested that you grouped them. On the listing page of Duplicate Contacts, select all contacts then click Add to Group. Create a group of duplicates.

2

2) On the main page of Akubo, click Others, then Import & Export.

3) On the Export drop down menu, choose CONTACTS to CSV.

3

4) For contacts to export, choose the group with duplicate contacts. Then choose the fields you want to be included in the exported file. Don’t forget to choose ‘Contact ID’ and ‘Group’.

4

5) Click Export.

6) You can open the file on MS Excel and you can start merging the information of contacts. When you import back the contacts to Akubo to make it easy to identify which contact to delete, add a group under the Group column. Use comma as a separator.

8

7) After you merge the contacts on Excel, go back to the main page of Akubo. Click Others and ‘Import & Export’.

8) Under the Import drop-down menu, click UPDATE CONTACTS using Excel or CSV file.

5

9) Click Choose file and select the exported file that you updated, then click Upload.

10) Next step in matching the columns of the spreadsheet with the fields in the database. Matched columns will be in green.

6

11) On the Import settings ‘Merge by checking these columns’, select Contact ID.

7

12) Click Import.

13) To delete contacts, click the menu icon on the Contacts tile and click Groups. Select the ‘delete_contacts’ group and on the listing page, select all the contacts then click Delete.

Source: Blog

Goodbye 2016, Welcome 2017

A few weeks ago, our team member (Joy) who manages our blog asked me to do a year-end review.  I don’t think we’ve done this before, but all of us go through some kind of year end reflection as we head into the new year and I thought why not share my thoughts with everyone especially our team, customers and friends.

In the beginning of 2016, our small Akubo team did a planning session.  This was the first time that we did a session just with the smaller Akubo team.  Not sure if many of you know that Akubo has grown over the years to have multiple product teams within the company.  The core product is our web CRM product (Akubo), but we also have other project teams in house that work on our other projects (Twerkle — our upcoming HR software, Clearbugs — our bug tracking software, and our consulting group which does special projects for clients).

The planning session was meant to review the previous year and to set goals for the coming year.  As typical with most planning sessions, we talked about goals like customer acquisition, customer growth, customer retention, partners, office space planning, etc., and we also talked about internal issues such as employee morale, employee purpose and other things that matter to our well-being as a group, as a company moving forward.  We held our planning session in a condo we rented from one of my friends over at Rockwell (Makati).  Ideally going out of town would have been great, some of the team members suggested Tagaytay, but we had a client training scheduled the next day so the travel time would not have been in our favor.

Did we achieve everything we had planned to do?  No.  Did we achieve anything we had planned to do?  I’m not sure we had kept track of what we had planned and what we accomplished, so I’ll just say that in our next planning session, we will try to be more diligent in writing down our goals and checking in during the year to see how far we’re moving along.  So for our reflection, let me just recall the various highs and lows we had during the year and what we learned along the way.

For our highs, we released Akubo V2, which had been a work in progress for almost a year.  The original UI (user interface) had been around for over 5 years and had started to look dated, and some of the UI technologies and user preferences have also evolved, so we needed the makeover.  But it’s a challenge to switch to a new UI when the changes we were introducing were drastic.  This was not a simple color change, or an additional menu or button here, we completely changed the entire look and feel.   If this was a house remodeling, we essentially built a new house to replace the old house (instead of just repainting the walls and changing some of the cabinets and fixtures).

The challenge was 2-fold.  First was the technical challenge of building a new UI and finding and fixing all the bugs that would come along with any major software project.  And we’re not yet done finding those bugs.  We released the beta in March and in November we switched it on for all our users, and the bug reports have been steady.  There are bugs that only surface upon general release and on Christmas day one of our partners sent me an urgent email informing me of a critical bug … so I quickly went in and isolated the bug and informed our devs that we had something waiting for us to fix after the holidays.

The second challenge was to convince our current customers that the switch would be to their benefit.  Many of our customers had been with us for more than 5 years and were very familiar and happy with the old UI.  We had released the beta in March but many of them didn’t even try it out until we did the full switch over in November.  Some customers asked us to retain the old UI but we decided not to because it would require us to maintain old code indefinitely, and it would also give some of our customers an excuse not to switch over to V2.  We totally understand — change is hard especially when you’re already comfortable and happy with the status quo — but on this last day of 2016, I am happy to say that our transition to V2 has been very successful and I couldn’t be more pleased with how our team managed this transition.

Our other highs for the year were our customer trainings which is as much of a learning experience for us as it is for our customers.  In the later part of 2016, we decided to start doing smaller trainings (less than 10 attendees) and so far we really liked the experience of being able to have more closer interactions with our customers and having more targeted topics for our smaller group of attendees.  We expect to continue doing this in 2017.

I earlier said our highs and lows for the year because more often than not, the lows provide the most valuable experiences for learning and growing.  Our lows for the year were many and I will just highlight the ones that really taught us valuable lessons.  We lost one of our major customers — we had worked with this customer for more than 2 years and they decided not to renew their subscription because of various reasons, one of which we know was our inability to keep up with their needs.  Did we over-promise?  Maybe.  Did we not communicate with them regularly?  Most likely.  What could we have done better?

In various conversations with other customers, especially the ones who are still with us, they have always said that communication and support is key to them.  When we launched Akubo almost 7 years ago, our selling point was good software at a very good price.  But over the years we’ve seen that many of our customers didn’t really care much about the price … some of them even said we’d like to pay more for Akubo if you can give us more technical support, or give us an option to pay more for priority (and personalized) support.  So we’re listening and we are in the midst of discussions internally about introducing an option for a Premium level of Akubo that will provide a dedicated account rep (advocate) for a customer, and a full suite of support and training options that will be included in the Premium levels of Akubo.  This is a new opportunity for us and we are excited about it, but we want to take a judicious approach because we also want to assure many of our clients who will not be able to afford Akubo Premium that we will always take care of you and value serving the many small non-profits and businesses who are out there providing valuable services to their clients and constituents … and we’re happy to help them do that through their Akubo Basic subscriptions.

What about our other products groups (Twerkle, Clearbugs, Consulting), were there lessons learned?  Yes, and it’s been many highs and lows as well.  The highs were product releases, getting new clients, learning new technologies, coming up with new ideas, and welcoming new team members and partners.  But again, the lows have also given us valuable lessons and have helped us grow.  We missed deadlines, we lost some staff, we lost one project from a partner, failed launch of new products, etc..  The challenge is to keep our teams motivated when product launches fail especially if they’ve been working on a project for many months only to see it limping along and not getting the traction we hoped it would.

This is where the rubber meets the road so to speak and we make decisions on whether to forge ahead or quit and move on.  One such example is our political database product Kampanya.  This was something we had envisioned 4 years ago, and late last year we decided to launch it during the campaign season in the Philippines. We had one candidate who was using it, and much of the product had been built for his team … and he did win his election, but we had wanted to also sell this product to other political candidates.  We had a good catchy name (so I thought) and we had a captured audience (again, so I thought).  Although we got a few interested parties, no one signed up and we now have to decide whether we should pursue this again in 2 years (when the campaign season starts up again).  Part of me still wants to because I know there is a need for this, so we’ll revisit Kampanya in 2018 and hopefully have a better response.

I think the most valuable lesson from all of our highs and lows for 2016 is resiliency.  Taking the lows with resilience, learning from them, and bouncing back with a good attitude.  To end my reflections, let me share some points from a list I had prepared for an offsite we did back in 2015.  I didn’t directly share this list to my team as these were more like talking points for me, but here they are and many points will always be true in 2017 and beyond … for leaders, take special note of the last point.

– Accept Risk
– Pursue something that makes us uncomfortable
– Make room for what we don’t know — this opens us up to innovation
– When faced with a challenge, get smarter
– Hire people who are smarter than you — find the risk takers?  those who make you uncomfortable?

Happy New Year!

Robin

Introducing the new Akubo User Interface

We recently released the new Akubo user interface (UI) and we want to show you the basics of what’s new and what’s changed.

blog_newui_1

The new UI has new tabs, and some previous tabs have been renamed or moved.

The Details tab and Relationships tab are now in the middle section where you’ll also see sections for Notes, Education and Work.  The Notes section is what used to be the Notes field contained in the Details tab.  The Education and Work sections are for storing the school and work history of a contact.

Some of the previous tabs have new names —

Donations is now called Giving and you can now see a summary range of the giving history and there are new buttons for  adding donations and editing/deleting donations.blog_newui_2Activity Log is now called Connection and you can filter the list by the type of activity.

blog_newui_3

And we have some new tabs —

The List tab is where you can create different types of lists.  For example, you may want to track the interests and concerns of a particular donor.  The first step is to create your list types in the Custom Fields section in the Settings page settings.

blog_newui_4

Once you have your List types defined, you can create lists for your contacts.

blog_newui_5

The Files tab is where you can add files to a contact record.  You can add various types of files including PDF, Microsoft Office files and image files.

blog_newui_6

The Memberships tab is where you can add a contact to a membership (e.g. alumni member, club member).  You will need to first create your membership types in the Memberships sections before you can add contacts to a membership.

blog_newui_7

Once you have your membership types defined, you can add your contacts to a membership.

blog_newui_9 blog_newui_8

blog_newui_9

We hope the new UI and the new features help improve the overall experience of using Akubo.  We welcome feedback and suggestions!

Events: Manage and Promote your events using Akubo

Yesterday we released Events, Memberships and the new UI.  This is the general release of these new features and almost all Akubo accounts have already been upgraded.

In this post we give an overview of the Events feature and how you can use it to manage and promote your events.  The idea behind the Events feature is to not only promote your events and manage attendance, payment and donation information (all in your database) — but it is also an easy way to grow and update your database.

The Events feature is accessible from the main page of Akubo.  On the toolbar, you’ll see an icon called Events & Memberships.

events1

The first page that opens is where you would see a listing of your Events, and a button for Creating your Event. 

events2

You can create free or paid events — we support payment options such as paypal, authorize.net and stripe, and you can also offer payment options by check or pay at the event.  Besides payment information, we also allow you to collect other information besides just name and contact information such as what is your handicap (for golf events), or do you have a food preference (for choosing between vegetarian or non-vegetarian dinner selections).

After creating your event, a public page is created for your event — you can share this public page on your Facebook and Twitter pages, and also link to it from your website or your email announcements.

events3

The manage guests page shows who have registered for your event and includes payment and registration information.  You can also easily mark a guest as attended (checked-in) so you can review attendance and event registration.

events4

Although we primarily designed this as an online event registration tool, we added an option to register manually so if you have guests who want to register by phone, or mail in their registration, you can easily add their registration to your Akubo events. 

events5

You can also export your registration list to Excel if you want a printed paper copy to use at the ticket table at your event.

events6

When you’re ready to close out registration (event is full, or it’s the day of the event and you want to stop accepting registrations), you can specify the date for closing out event registration or manually close it out from the Manage Guests page.

events7

We hope this feature becomes one of the many ways you can use to connect to your contacts.  Please send us feedback and suggestions so we can make this the best event management tool for you.  And if you’re curious what else the Akubo team is up to, please check out our other software products — Clearbugs (bug tracking software for solo and small team developers), Esturya (learning and communication apps), and ngoPH (a resource for Philippine NGOs).

We’re hiring: Sales Engineer

Akubo is hiring!  We’re looking for a creative, hard working and action-oriented person to join our team whose job is to introduce Akubo to clients in and around Metro Manila.  You will be communicating, meeting and presenting to companies and organizations ranging from NGOs, schools, associations and businesses.

About Akubo

Akubo is an innovative and growing tech start-up with offices in Maryland, USA and in Bacolod City and Quezon City.  Originally started as an in-house project for Tapulanga Foundation (a small NGO based in Negros Occidental), today Akubo helps organizations around the world from small non-profits and businesses with less than 500 contacts to organizations that have 1 million contacts.

At Akubo you’ll work with a great team of software engineers, customer care engineers, writers, graphic designers and artists who are all committed to delivering the best products and support to our customers.  If you’re looking for a challenge, meaningful work and a chance to make a difference, Akubo is the place for you!

This position will be based in our office in Quezon City.  Send your resume, cover letter and references to Myla Mestiola (myla@akubo.com).

Position: Sales Engineer

Responsibilities:

  • Research in finding leads and new client opportunities
  • Work with clients to better serve and understand their needs
  • Grow and maintain relationships with clients
  • Collaborate with the team to come up with client acquisition and growth strategies

Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Business or related field, and/or experience in sales
  • Goal oriented and self-motivated, but also a team player
  • Can manage/work with staff from different areas (graphic design, software development, marketing, customer care)
  • Very comfortable with technology

2015 — Happy New Year!

As we welcome the new year, we wish to thank each and everyone of you for your support in 2014.  It was a year of change and challenges for Akubo as we grew our development and support staff and expanded our reach and capacity in multiple areas.  Your support continues to inspire us to innovate and find new ways to make Akubo even better for all of you.

We just want to share some of the new things coming up for 2015.

We’ve been working on a new user interface (which some of you have already been using in beta) and we plan to do the general release this month to everyone.  The new user interface is designed to help improve navigation and visibility of information on a per-record basis.  As Akubo has grown over the years, the amount of information on a per-record basis has also grown with additional fields and tabs, so we needed a redesign to help improve the overall experience of adding and editing user records.

We are releasing 2 major feature enhancements.  We are introducing Events Management.  This feature will allow you to create and manage events within Akubo.  Events you create on Akubo come with a public website page where your guests can register for your event (free or paid) and all the registration information is stored back onto your Akubo database.

The other major feature enhancement we’re introducing is Membership Management.  This feature will allow you to manage memberships (e.g. Alumni memberships, Club/Association memberships, etc.) and you will be able to also track membership dues and collect information from your members through a website portal that your members can login to.

Of course our #1 goal is customer satisfaction and everything we do whether it’s a bug fix, or a feature enhancement or trainings, we do for you.  Akubo is where it is today because of the feedback and support we get from you, our clients who make our business possible.  We hope to continue serving you in the coming year.

Have a wonderful and blessed New Year!

Your Akubo Team

 

We’re hiring: Product Manager

Akubo is hiring!  We’re looking for a creative, hard working and action-oriented person who can manage 2 product lines for Akubo: Esturya apps for learning, and NGOph, a website resource for Philippine NGOs.

This position will be based in our office in Bacolod City.  Send your resume, cover letter and references to Myla Mestiola (myla@akubo.com).

Position: Product Manager

Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Business or related field, and/or experience in product management
  • Goal oriented and self-motivated, but also a team player
  • Can manage/work with staff from different areas (graphic design, communication, software development, marketing, customer care, and sales)
  • Can help develop ideas for growing and evolving the products
  • Very comfortable with technology
  • Has a passion for making a difference through their work

Introducing PH Geography

PH Geography Banner

Out of the 80+ provinces in the Philippines, how many can you remember? If you can barely list down half, our newest app might just help you learn our lands better!

We’re happy to announce the recent launch of its new educational app — PH Geography: Learn and Play Map, the third release under our Esturya for Kids series!

Last year, the Akubo team formed a collaborative project with Seventh Films, a local production house led by acclaimed filmmaker Jay Abello. We’ve started on a mission to inspire nationalism and love for our rich culture. So together we built Esturya for Kids (“Stories for Kids”), a series of learning apps that combines several things we love: code, design, storytelling, and all things Filipino.

Simple yet visually rich, PH Geography is built to do what it should do: to give primary school children and adults alike a colorful, easy way to learn our country’s provinces and capitals.

MAP 1

To keep its simplicity, the app has no complex features or unnecessary games. Instead, the user can choose to either study province names in the Learn mode first, or switch to Guess mode for a short memory quiz.

MAP 3

PH Geography joins the first two apps in the series, Inting and Butud, which are both interactive storybooks that teach kids the Philippines’ widely spoken dialects, Tagalog and Ilonggo.

“Esturya is our special projects unit,” Robin Abello, head of the Esturya for Kids series and founder of Akubo Software, says, “where we also do R&D and learn techniques that we use for our other products.”

You can download PH Geography for free at the App Store. The Inting and Butud storybooks are also available (Ilonggo, Tagalog). For more information, visit www.esturya.com!

For Canadian Customers : Canada’s new Anti-Spam Law

For our customers in Canada (and our non-Canadian customers who send commercial email to Canada-based recipients), with the new Canadian anti-spam law becoming effective July 1st, we are implementing a feature that you can use to request a confirmed opt-in from your email recipients.

The feature is implemented via a special tag [optin-link] you can include in your email and the tag will be displayed as a clickable link that will allow your customers to confirm opting-in to your email communications.

Below is a sample email message that may be sent to your recipients and this sample message includes the special tag at the bottom of the message.

Please confirm that you want to receive emails from 
<your organization name>.

Effective July 1, 2014, Canada's new anti-spam legislation requires us to secure your consent so that we can continue communicating with you electronically with messages that may include information of a commercial nature.

Our relationship with you is something we value and we hope we can continue providing information that is relevant to you.

Please use the following link below to provide consent and confirm opting-in to continue receiving our emails.

[optin-link]

The special tag will appear as a clickable link and it will take your recipients to a page where they can confirm opting-in to continue receiving your emails.

IMPORTANT:  After you’ve sent out the email requesting your recipients to opt-in, you can then restrict emails from Akubo to be sent only to your recipients who have confirmed opting-in.  To do so, click on the checkbox labeled “Only Send Emails to Confirmed Opt-In Recipients” in the Email Preview Page.

opt-in

As you add new email recipients to your Akubo database, you can send them the confirmation email (make sure you don’t have the checkbox labeled “Only Send Emails to Confirmed Opt-In Recipients” when you send out this confirmation email), and once you’ve received their confirmation, you can include them in your future emails.

We also added 2 new options in the Helpful List section for viewing a list of your email recipients who have confirmed opting-in, and viewing a list of your email recipients to send the email optin-in request to.

opt-in2

Hope this helps ensure your email communications with your customers, constituents, donors and supporters comply with Canada’s new Anti-Spam law.  Please let us know if you have any questions by emailing us at support@akubo.com.