Posted March 6, 2012 by Richard G. Williams
Just over 7 years ago, we made the decision to host the Firmwater LMS solution at OrcsWeb.com. It turned out to be one of the best business decisions we made, both for us and our customers.
Here’s 7 of the many reasons why we chose and continue to choose OrcsWeb:
- Solid Infrastructure
- Microsoft Technology Specialization
- Dedicated and Stable Support Team
- High Availability
- Full Service Solution
- Scalability and Flexibility
- Peace of Mind
A solid infrastructure starts with good bones. OrcsWeb is co-located within Peak 10’s data center, a world class hosting facility that includes multiple high speed connections to Tier 1 Internet carriers, multiple power sources providing uninterruptable power, top notch environmental control and physical security systems that meet or exceed industry standards.
Microsoft Technology Specialization
ORCS Web only hosts applications built upon Microsoft’s technology stack.
The Firmwater LMS is a Microsoft .NET application built on the Microsoft technology stack (Windows Server, Internet Information Server, SQL Server and Reporting Services).
By hosting with a Microsoft specialist, we benefit from ORCS Web’s broader knowledge of Microsoft technologies. We’ve been able to leverage ORCS Web’s knowledge and expertise to move quicker than if we had to do it all on our own.
Dedicated and Stable Support Team
OrcsWeb provides Firmwater with a dedicated support team which means they have familiarity with our application and are able to help us solve problems efficiently. A stable staff is one of the hallmarks of a great organization, and most members of our OrcsWeb support team have been on the team since day one.
The Firmwater LMS is hosted on a combination of OrcsWeb Cloud Servers and dedicated servers. All servers are built using Enterprise-Class hardware with Gigabit speed network connections and built-in redundancy. Managed daily backups, managed anti-virus and firewall protection secure our servers from malicious attempts to access information maintaining the security of our customers’ data.
As a result, in a typical month, we see 99.98% to 100% availability. Unplanned downtime is rare. Planned downtime is limited to that which is needed to apply operating system and application updates.
Full Service Solution
The OrcsWeb team takes complete care of our hosting environment from backups through to applying the latest Microsoft updates. We regularly call upon the team to help us with day to day administration. Requests are handled promptly, usually within minutes. OrcsWeb’s support team allows Firmwater to focus on our efforts on supporting our customers and continuing development of the Firmwater LMS application.
Scalability and Flexibility
When the need for more resources arises, OrcsWeb has been able to deploy additional resources to our servers quickly. When the situation dictates, we’ve been able to add resources within hours.
Peace of Mind
At the end of the day, we have the peace of mind in knowing that OrcsWeb is watching our back. They monitor our servers around the clock every day of the year. Day or night, they will take action on our behalf when needed and keep us apprised of actions taken.
What does this mean to our customers? Simply that the Firmwater LMS is always available and running reliably around the clock.
Read more about our experience with OrcsWeb here
Posted December 5, 2011 by Richard G. Williams
Today, Firmwater celebrates its 10th anniversary!
Founded in the tumultuous times, we’ve overcome the hurdles that have stopped many new ventures in their tracks. We started out consulting, providing web application design and development services, including playing a pivotal role in the development of several fundraising systems.
But rather quickly, the consulting work led us back to our roots of knowledge assessment and learning management. In 2003, we started developing a test and survey engine. An inquiry from some former colleagues (and a current client) soon had us designing and developing a learning management system built specifically for e-learning content providers.
Our goals at the time:
- a clean and easy to use interface for both the learner and the administrator - after all a learning management system that requires user training seems counter intuitive
- ubiquitous availability - Internet browser based delivery with any standards compliant web browser without the need for any third party plug-ins or extensions
- support for the then emerging SCORM 2004 (and earlier 1.2) standards so content can be developed using a choice of best of breed authoring tools
- provide our clients with visibility and the ability to manage all of their customers with a single logon
- deliver the software as a service, alleviating our clients of the worries of hosting and allowing us to keep the product current as the web evolves
We’ve achieved these goals and they remain central to the ongoing development of the service.
Since the Firmwater LMS went live in January, 2005, our clients have delivered their training products to over 110,000 people in over 480 organizations around the world.
The LMS has:
- processed over 2.7 million login requests,
- delivered over 7.5 million interactive learning objects (SCO’s in SCORM speak), and
- administered over 465,000 tests and surveys in which it has recorded over 10.8 million responses.
Our clients are diverse, offering training on a wide range of topics from Industrial skills and safety training, workplace violence and harassment, presentation skills, to breastfeeding education.
Our largest customer supports over 68,000 users in over 210 organizations with just two full time support staff, a testament to the reliability and maturity of the LMS. However, when they are faced with issues outside of their expertise, they know we are there to stand beside them.
We continue to invest in the ongoing development of the Firmwater LMS. There have been 29 releases since March, 2007 with the latest release out just last week (more to come on that and other releases in future posts to this site). We remain focused on developing the features asked for by our customers.
To this day, we remain focused on helping training companies transform and grow their businesses online. If this story resounds with yours, drop us a line and let’s see if there’s a fit between our capabilities and your needs. Perhaps we can help you take your training business to the next level!
To our customers, we thank you for your patronage, patience and support through the years. To our families, we thank you for believing in us, putting up with some late night or early morning hours on occasion and being understanding.
Posted October 6, 2009 by Julie Maranhao
Already using Twitter? Well, that’s fantastic. It’s good to know that you’re staying on top of technology and social media! Apparently, if you want to be in-the-know, Twitter is the place to be. Well, don’t worry if you haven’t signed up to tweet yet. We’re a tad late jumping on the social networking bandwagon too. But hey, better late than never!
And so, without much further ado, we are quite pleased to announce that we are now on Twitter! Follow us @firmwater to be in-the-know about the most important Firmwater LMS news.
Posted February 27, 2009 by Benjamin Schmidt
We are excited to announce that Microsoft has certified Firmwater as a Gold Partner - Microsoft’s highest partner award.
Firmwater offers an online learning management service, designed to help training vendors grow their business, by selling and delivering their training online.
In order to become a Gold Partner, Firmwater’s software application underwent several rigorous tests by Microsoft, to ensure full functionality and compatibility with Microsoft products. Mastering these tests gave Firmwater the Software Solutions Competency for Independent Software Vendors (ISV). Microsoft also requires several client references from satisfied clients to complete the Gold Partner award.
Microsoft recognizes that Firmwater is not only competent in its development of high-end software applications, but also worthy of Microsoft’s trust through solid services provided to its clients. Thus, Microsoft awarded Firmwater a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner.
What does this mean to you as a Firmwater prospect or client?
It gives you Microsoft’s assurance that Firmwater is a strategic vendor, whom you can trust. Not only has its software been certified by the world’s largest and most accomplished software developer, but it also ensures that Firmwater’s clients stand behind Firmwater as a strategic partner in growing their business.
As always, your comments are sincerely welcome.
Posted September 29, 2008 by Benjamin Schmidt
Here is a most interesting experiment that was illustrated in the book Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive. It demonstrates that studying negative decision making makes for better training, and for making better decisions in real life. It is excellent reading for all training developers and publishers.
Strength, courage, determination, commitment, selflessness. Some might say that our firefighters should be role models for how we behave both within and outside our organizations. Even though saving lives, and rescuing kittens from trees might not be in your job description, learning how firefighters train for their job, might just help you become an everyday hero in yours.
Behavioural researcher Wendy Joung and her colleagues were interested in examining whether certain types of training programs would be more effective than others, at minimizing errors in judgment on the job. Specifically they wanted to know whether focusing the trainee on past errors that others have made would provide better training than focusing the trainee on how others had made good decisions in the past.
They thought that training that focused on others’ errors would be more effective for several reasons, including increased attention to the training, and a more memorable training experience. The researchers aimed to test their hypothesis on a group of people whose decision making skills under stress were vital, and whose decisions carried important consequences; it’s not surprising they chose firefighters.
In the study, a training and development session, that included several case studies, were presented to the firefighters. However, the nature of the case studies differed between two groups of participants. One group learned from case studies that described real life situations in which other firefighters made poor decisions that led to negative consequences. The other group learned from case studies in which firefighters avoided negative consequences through good decision making.
Joung and her colleagues found that firefighters who underwent the error-based training showed improved judgment, and were able to think more adaptively than those who underwent error-free training. Training is all about influencing others. So, if you want to maximize your influence on employees’ future behaviour, the implications for your organization’s training programs are clear.
Although many companies typically focus their training exclusively on the positive - in other words on how to make good decisions - the results of this study suggest that a sizable portion of the training should be devoted to how others have made errors in the past, and how those errors could have been (and can be) avoided. Specifically, case studies, videos, illustrations, and personal testimonials of mistakes should be followed by a discussion of what actions would have been appropriate to take in these and in similar situations.
Of course, specific individuals don’t have to be singled out by management for their previous poor decision making. These error based experiences can be completely anonymous. However, you might find that some of the more experienced and respected employees are more than happy to donate their error-laden “war stories” to the company’s training archive.