Thursday, October 24, 2013

Generating quotes with Google Apps Script and Solve360

Norada's Solve360 CRM is a low cost but very fully-featured cloud-based CRM, and while it integrates deeply with Google Apps, it still needs some custom work every now and then to unlock its full potential. Luckily, we can offer it a helping hand by leveraging the Solve360 API and Google Apps Script.

Rick Klassen of Klassen Specialty Hydraulics contacted us at to see if we could streamline the "tedious" quoting system that they had been using: searching for a similar quote, editing it manually to reflect the new requirements, and then saving it to a new folder on a local server, all followed by opening a spreadsheet that doubled as a database and adding the details of the new quote. And forget about trying to create a new quote from a mobile device or when you were out of the office!

We found that with a bit of custom work, we could make Rick's life much easier, and that's exactly what we did. Here's how.

To start, we need to establish the conditions that allow Solve360 and Google Apps to talk to each other--we want to automate repetitive things, so an activity template is used in Solve360. We insert it, and kick off the first of two scripts by clicking "Create new quote":

Insert an activity template to get started.
Now we can use Google Forms to gather the information we need.

The first stage of our quote generator. This particular utility has a number of these pages, with various branches of logic.

Once the user submits the Google Form, the second script is executed. The second script processes the latest submission, reading it from the spreadsheet in which Google Form submissions are saved, and performs a number of actions on it. In a later blog post, we'll detail exactly how some of the scripts work.
The user receives the above email and in one click can view the completed quote, an excerpt of which is below. It's a live Google Document so the user can continue to make changes to the quote.

Finally, the Solve360 record for the contact is once more updated. This time we can see that the script has added two follow-ups with different dates, created a direct link back to the above Google Document so it can be reached quickly and easily, and inserted an Opportunity record that allows you to track the progress of the deal as it moves forwards.

Here are the final activities that the script adds to the Solve360 record.
As Rick told us, "We have a powerful and flexible solution that not only saves time in the quote creation process, but takes care of the data entry, management, and even reminds our sales people to follow up - all automatically." Creating quotes can now be done from anywhere with an internet connection, and everyone who needs access has it right away.

"These days my colleagues and I can create quotes in a snap (from desktop or mobile), and we each get an email whenever a new quote has been created so we can collaborate on it in real-time, then send it to the customer. This can all happen in a matter of minutes from start to finish."

All this is done in the background, completely transparently to the user, and takes the hard work out of creating quotes, leaving you to focus on the important things—like closing the deal.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The future of malware - Google Apps protects you

In the last few weeks, a relatively new "ransomware" package has been making its way through the world's computer systems, spreading via email. The email messages where the malware lives appear to come from legitimate sources (banks, accountants, and more) but are really just highly sophisticated phishing messages.

Of course, your best course of action if you aren't expecting a message to have an attachment is always to not open that attachment and instead call the sender directly to verify it. While Google has very, very good spam and phishing detection, it's not perfect, and the last line of defense is you.

The message you'll see once your files are encrypted.
The malware, called CryptoLocker, works by scanning your computer and any network shares for a huge variety of files, including Office documents, pictures, PDFs, and Outlook PST files, among others, and then encrypting them with a nigh-unbreakable 2048-bit RSA encryption key. Once the encryption process is complete, you'll be presented with the message above, demanding a $300 payout to unlock your files and warning you that attempting to remove the software will immediately destroy the private key stored on the remote server.

According to a number of posters on a month-old reddit thread detailing the malware, paying the $300 ransom does work and you will be provided with a key that will decrypt all your files.

The advantage of Google Apps

But it would be much easier to simply not have to worry about this kind of thing at all, wouldn't it? Thankfully, Google Apps protects you from this kind of attack by blocking the sending or receiving of any and all .exe files, even those contained in archived zip files. The best defense is, as always, staying vigilant, but it's nice to know that you don't have to worry about opening any suspicious .exe files, since Google stops them from ever getting to you.

Can your current email system do that? If it can't, it might be time to consider switching to one that allows you to focus on the important things and not worry about whether or not every message you receive contains a hidden malware payload.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

SMBs use multi-clouds to ramp up customer service

Mike Zafiris, an team member, is quoted in the article "SMBs use multi-clouds to ramp up customer service" on Tech Page One, a technology blog from the Dell editorial team.

The article explains some of the general advantages of using cloud computing for businesses, as well as a specific use case for field technicians (something we've helped out other clients with).

Check it out here: