Small web hosting firms and hosting resellers are always looking into new ways in which to grow their businesses.Â However, even the most organized individual can be overwhelmed with the many urgent tasks that surface each day for online business.Â Having to attend to everything yourself makes it challenging to attend to all that needs to be done, let alone being in a position to put attention on business development.
Needless to say, at some point, business people need to look into automating as much of their business as it is possible to do, without disrupting the service level.Â One way to shave some much needed time off of management tasks is to look into the many kinds of software available that can address some of the functions required.
The information below will deal with some of the parts of a business that can benefit greatly from software automation.
Web hosting software automation is just one way that an online business can delegate some of its more technical aspects to a more suitable method.Â The solutions can be usefully divided into the front and back end Â – as well as the functionality factor, including customer facing software as to business processes. While each tool set may not operate in isolation, they do communicate with each other in order to keep things running efficiently.
The simple process of billing can be handled with billing software that creates invoices and bills customers automatically. The software will keep track of what was paid, and when and which invoices are in an overdue status.Â There are tracking devices that keep pace with account usage, and add the appropriate fees to client accounts that have exceed the allotted storage or bandwidth.
One way to get around a potential automatic billing problem issue is to warn clients ahead of time as they approach a limit. Giving customers a chance to upgrade before penalties are incurred is the most proactive approach.Â That scenario demonstrates how billing software may seem to be a predominantly back end process, but can become a much more customer-facing element.Â Therefore, billing software can almost be looked upon as a potential business maintenance development and management tool as well.
Web Hosting Automation Panels
Web hosting resellers may find it easiest to deploy control panel software. Â Control panel software generally offers a GUI interface for both the user and the customer.Â It also allows for handling most any problem and can be adjusted as needed with very little effort.
Functions to Seek in the Control Panel
1. Operating System.Â Ensure the control panel will work with your operating system and the OSes of your customers.Â This will avoid unpleasant surprises in both the short and the long term.
2. Ease of use. Having access to many features is always great, but unless you have the time to delegate toward figuring them out, they can be more trouble than they are worth.Â It is never a good idea to have bells and whistles that just serve to confuse everyone who comes into contact with them.Â Even though you wonâ€™t be using the same control panels as your customers, many companies provide control panels for both the reseller and the customer. Be sure to consider what the technical expertise of the people who are going to be using them might be and find the most optimum balance.
3. Account Creation.Â The account creation function is an obvious item that can be easily automated.Â Ensure that safeguards exist, however, to prevent spam attacks by those who may find it advantageous for them. One method to guard against spam is to have prospective customers type in a word that canâ€™t be automatically read and typed in by a computer.
4. Administrative Functions.Â Those admin functions that are associated with account creation and account management are other aspects that can easily be automated. This can include the following:
- creating packages
- adding and suspending sites
- modifying passwords
- monitoring and logging bandwidth and disk space usage by account
- parking domains; and
- installing SSL certificates
The above are just some of the many functions that bode well with automation.Â A control panel could and should make these functions as quick and relatively painless as possible.
5. Billing and Invoice Management.Â Â As mentioned previously, one of the more obvious functions that a control panel should automate easily is billing and invoices. In most cases, the billing management system will operate so easily that it is hardly noticed.Â Ensure that it is running in place properly so that there are no complaint related issues.
6. Credit Card Processing.Â The handling of credit cards is very closely related to billing and invoice management. Ensure that the control panel can handle the merchant gateway, and others that may also be in the mix.Â For example, ecommerce sites often involve dealing with other merchant gateways to be aware of.
7. Emails. It is often necessary to email customers for all sorts of reasons.Â These can include the usual billing or making them aware of possible bandwidth overages, but also to warn clients about server maintenance.Â This is when email automation can be particularly useful.
8. Help Desk.Â Any automation concerning help desk functions will most likely do a lot to increase customer satisfaction, and that is always a good thing.Â Keep in mind that while automated emails are great, customers also need to know that there is access to live human beings that can efficiently handle any issues.
9. Domain Registration.Â Automating domain registration is very nice to have, though it is not absolutely necessary.Â Customers who like to register a lot of domain names will appreciate it.Â In any case, if you plan on doing it, be sure to check how well the control panel integrates with most domain registrars.
The above are just some of the ways in which web hosting automation can make your life as an online business owner much more effective and productive.
As the recent recipient of the 2009 Editors Choice Award for best CRM provider, Parallels understands that the SaaS Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is probably the largest Software as a Service (SaaS) market.
Parallels is a worldwide leader in virtualization and automation software that optimizes computing for consumers, businesses, and service providers across all major hardware, operating systems, and virtualization platforms. Founded in 1999, Parallels is a fast-growing company with 800 employees in North America, Europe, and Asia. Parallels virtualization and automation solutions are used by more than 10,000 hosting providers and their customers worldwide.
To learn more, please visit:Â www.parallels.com.