Google

31 December 2012

Indian Tragedy Causes Mass Demonstrations Against Gender Violence

The last days of 2012 were days of sorrow for many Indians, after a young girl was cruelly raped and beaten  to death. This tragic crime has affected people over the whole country, and many have taken to the streets to show their grief and rage.
Indian Black Saturday img1
Barbaric gang-rape
On December 16 a female paramedic student was raped and brutally assaulted by six men in New Dehli. She was severely hurt, and a wave of anger and shock at the men's cruelty spread over India. People of all ages and classes gathered in mass demonstrations  in New Dehli and many other places to demand forceful actions from police and authorities.

The rapists are now under arrest, but the protests continue and are not only directed against the criminals. The demonstrants also blame the mentality prevailing in parts of the Indian society for not only this crime but  many others involving violence against women.
Indian Black Saturday img2
International interest
News media all over the world covered the manifestations following the rape. The Swedish news-program "Rapport" reported directly from New Dehli, and the images in this article come from their videos.

We learned that many women in India have to struggle against society for independence and security and that a lot of Indians, both men and women, want to change this situation. These words from kalmstrom.com Office Manager Vipul Dindulkar illustrate the frustration that many Indians feel:

"What happened to that girl was highlighted just because it happened in the capital. Every day more than 400 females are reported being raped in India, and I am sure there are more cases that are not reported. The government has no political will to stop it. Right now the government has to make some tough decisions due to the mass protests, but in a democracy people should not have to go out on the streets to force   amendments in the constitutions."
Indian Black Saturday img1
Black Saturday
After having fought for her life for twelve days the raped girl died in a specialist hospital in Singapore this last Saturday. The day is already called "Black Saturday", and in India it was a day of mourning. People once again went out on the streets, but this time the manifestations were quiet and dignified.
Indian Black Saturday img1
National Day Against Violence
The Asian Centre for Human Rights wants the 29th December to be a "National Day for Protesting Violence Against Women". This day should be a reminder about the need to fight violence against women. "No other incident has either evoked or shocked the conscience of the nation as this particular incident," said  Director Suhas Chakma in a statement, according to several Indian newspapers.

Feeling of solidarity
I communicate with my Indian colleagues on a daily basis, so I followed the events with a special interest. My first reaction was horror and disgust at the men who were able to commit such a terrible crime and an intense compassion for their victim. Today my feelings are mixed, because I also feel proud of all Indians who refuse to accept what has happened. It has been comforting to see so many people united in a feeling of solidarity and fight for a more humane society.
Indian Black Saturday img1
Action already taken
At the kalmstrom.com office in Indore men and women work side by side as friends, and that is how we all want it to continue. The young girl who died last Saturday became a martyr. Her sufferings were not unnoticed but instead gave rise to a movement that I hope will bring something good.

Actually, our developer Anshul Takalkar told me today that in some Indian state's the governments have already changed the legislation and appointed new officers (male and female) to help women. "This situation is a tragedy for us, but it has united India and we are all asking for justice. Now I hope our country will be safer for women."

28 December 2012

Kanban Board in SharePoint For Smooth Project Management

Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint logotype
Now we have the gold version ready! Are you among the many who have waited for Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint? In that case you don't have to wait any longer, because now this Kanban style project management tool for SharePoint is released, and you are welcome to download and try it.

For dispersed teams
To use Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint you only need a SharePoint site, and therefore the solution is very suitable for geographically dispersed workgroups. The team members can reach their Kanban board from anywhere!

Another benefit of using SharePoint for project and task management is that Kanban boards for several workgroups are easy to reach for managers who supervise them. Please have a look at the introduction video below to get an overview of Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint.



Getting rid of the Beta bugs

Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint was released as a Beta in November, and after that not only the kalmstrom.com QA Engineers but also Beta evaluators have reported bugs and suggested enhancements.

Now all the basic features of the new kalmstrom.com SharePoint solution are in place and work smoothly. A warm thank you to all who have shown insterest in our virtual Kanban board and spent time on evaluating the Beta version!

Kanban boardStandard SharePoint lists
Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint is a sandboxed solution that is uploaded to a SharePoint site collection and activated on each site where it should be used.

Standard SharePoint lists are used for the configuration and in the Kanban board, and the tasks are normal SharePoint list items. This means that all who have used SharePoint before will feel at home from the beginning, and the learning period will be very short.

Also the administrator can rely on earlier experience when managing Kanban Task Manager in SharePoint. He or she can handle the lists as usual, and permissions are set just like on any other lists.

Documentation and support
On the Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint download page you can find another video demonstration that shows the installation and configuration of Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint. There is also a detailed manual and a slideshow, both downloadable. If you still have questions the kalmstrom.com team is here for you. We give free support to evaluators as well as users, so never hesitate to contact us!

Use with the Outlook version
The SharePoint version of Kanban Task Manager works well with the Outlook version, when SharePoint is selected as sharing option for the Outlook tasks. Then the two Kanban Task Manager versions actually use the same settings and configuration and only the place of the Kanban board is different. Users may even switch between the two versions without problems.

This is how we already use Kanban Task Manager within the kalmstrom.com team, and maybe it would suit your workgroup too?

Free for Community Members
The two versions of Kanban Task Manager are already among our most downloaded applications, and with today's release of Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint we look forward to many new users of the kalmstrom.com Kanban boards, both among old and new Community Members.

Is your organization already using another kalmstrom.com product? In that case Kanban Task Manager is free, as Community Members may use as many of our solutions as they wish for just one subscription fee. We are looking forward to hearing from you!

26 December 2012

Microsoft Accreditations For Business Intelligence And Cloud Management

Pre-sales Technical Specialist  that is how I can titulate myself after passing two Microsoft assesments in the last days. My best teachers are the kalmstrom.com technicians, who patiently answer my questions and share their knowledge, but I also try to improve on my own, often with the help of Microsoft tutorials.

kalmstrom.com build on Microsoft
As I am selling and marketing the add-ons and applications from kalmstrom.com Business Solutions I need to know a lot about the platforms they take advantage of. In the first place our developers make use of Outlook and SharePoint, but a range of other Microsoft products may also be used with the kalmstrom.com software. I wanted to learn more about some of them, and when I had a few quiet days around the holidays I  seized the opportunity.

Microsoft Sales Excellence Community
In July 2012 Microsoft launched its Partner Sales Skills Excellence program and the Sales Excellence Central web site. The website is a hub for learning and accreditations, in the first place intended for people selling Microsoft's own products. But all Microsoft partners are welcome to follow the courses and do the assesments, and to me this proved to be a good way of learning, and after passing an introductory Sales and Marketing assesment I had many interesting competencies to choose from. This time I took two of them.
Microsoft Pre-Sales Specialist Accreditation proof
Management and Virtualization
My first assessment was in the Pre-Sales Technical program and tested my knowledge about Microsoft's management and virtualization solutions, with emphasis on Office 365, Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012. I know Office 365 fairly well as we use it within kalmstrom.com, and I also use Hyper-V and virtual machines frequently. It was interesting to learn more about the parts I was not as familiar with.

Business Intelligence
In the second assessment I had to show what I know about using SharePoint and SQL Server for analysis and statistics purposes. During the studies I realized how heavily Microsoft rely on Excel, and I understood better why our CEO and applications architect Peter has decided to use Excel reports in all kalmstrom.com applications. Most of them currently have an OLAP solution, but the Excel reports will be easier to use without giving less information.

Proof of expertise
Besides giving me a better understanding of Microsoft products I meet in my work, the accreditations gave us two more award tiles for the kalmstrom.com About us page. Learning is part of the job description for all members of the kalmstrom.com team, and getting a proof of expertise is just an added bonus.

21 December 2012

Festivities In Dark Swedish Midwinter

Today is the shortest day of the year on the northern hemisphere, when  the sun at noon is at its lowest altitude above the horizon. In Sweden this time is filled with festivities intended to ease the darkness and bring light into our lives despite the cold and long winter nights.

The country with the polar night
In the northern part of Sweden, above the polar circle, the sun does not raise above the horizon for several weeks in December and January, and also the rest of Sweden is very dark. The kalmstrom.com office is situated in the southern part of the country, and here we actually had six hours of daylight today. But as the globe angles away from the sun, the rays do not give any warmth and the light is weak.

Swedish snow landscape

Winter solstice celebrations
Nowadays the winter solstice occurs on December 21 or 22 each year, but with earlier calendars it has been on both 12 December and 24 December. These days have been celebrated in Sweden since ancient times.

Lucia
In modern time Swedes celebrate Saint Lucia in the morning of 13 December, but when the night before the 13th was really the longest one of the year people feared that supernatural powers were ravaging outside and that it was best to stay awake. Young men who wanted to show their courage went from house to house early in the morning, singing and shouting to keep the dark forces at bay.

Midwinter festival

The holiday we now call Christmas has its origin in the Yule festival on the darkest day of the year and was celebrated long before the Nordic countries were Christianized. The harvest and autumn slaughter were over, and people prepared for the dark and cold winter that lay ahead of them. To make life a bit easier they gathered to feast on the fresh meat.

Christmas celebrations
Today I am sorry to say that we celebrate Christmas much the same way as before, by eating too much. Giving presents is another strong tradition, and the Swedes seem to buy more and more every year.



The Kalmstrom clan had a big gathering a week ago, when Peter's eldest son turned 18. (On the image above kalmstrom.com CEO Peter is dressed as Santa Claus, holding the same son seventeen years ago.) Because of this and the bad weather for travelling, some of us have chosen to have a more quiet Christmas this year. This means that Sigge and I will be at home here in Sweden, and Peter and Siret will be in their home in Spain.

Our Indian colleagues are Hindus and do not celebrate Christmas, but the 25 December is a bank holiday so so they will have a chance to spend a bit more time with their families.. The Swedish team members will be online on and off, so should you get problems or have questions one of us should be able to answer e-mails during the holiday too.

The kalmstrom.com team wishes all Blog readers the best of holidays!

18 December 2012

Resource Booking Tool With Support For The Latest Office


Calendar Browser logo
Today kalmstrom.com Business Solutions has published version 8 of its popular resouce booking tool for the Outlook calendar. The new version of Calendar Browser supports both the 32-bit and the 64-bit versions of Office 2010 and 2013, and it has Excel reports for the study of passed resource usage.

Book resources in the Outlook calendar
With Calendar Browser the resources within an organization or a company can be booked via the Outlook calendar, so resource booking is not more difficult than adding an appointment to the calendar. This makes Calendar Browser very easy to use, but it is still a powerful tool with many good features, like resource descriptions, search for free resources, ordering of supplies, a bookings overview and Excel reports for analysis and statistics.

64-bit support
Office 2013 logoMost Members of the kalmstrom.com Community do very well with the 32-bit versions of Office 2010 and 2013, but we have had some requests for 64-bit support. Therefore we are upgrading all our products to support both versions of Office 2010 and Office 2013.

Maybe you don't know what version you have? Don't worry about that. The kalmstrom.com developers have managed to make everything work even if you don't know the version! Calendar Browser will detect it and act accordingly.

Excel reports
Excel iconCalendar Browser V8 has a new archive and statistics tool. This tool will first archive old Outlook calendar appointments to a database and then generate Excel reports from the data.

A number of default reports are included, and as all the Excel features may be used with these reports they are very easy to modify. Also custom reports can be created, and all the Excel reports, also the modified and custom ones, will be refreshed with new data at the next archiving. Please see the demo below for an introduction to the tool.



Free upgrades
Upgrade logoWe urge all Community Members to upgrade their Calendar Browser installations. When the central installation is upgraded each client will be prompted to upgrade the client tool  if that has not already been done centrally with the MSI file included in the download. Please refer to the Calendar Browser Revisions page for a full list of the enhancements.

Try it!
Do you have a good system for resource booking in your organization, or maybe you want to try something new? Maybe you like our idea of resource booking in the Outlook calendar?

Upgrade logoYou are very welcome to download Calendar Browser V8 from the kalmstrom.com website and try it for 30 days without any obligations. The possiblity to create example data for the test makes it quick and smooth to see how Calendar Browser can imnprove the resource booking process in your organization.

12 December 2012

Senior Developer New Head Of The kalmstrom.com Support

The kalmstrom.com Support staff is highly praised for patience and good problem solving capacity, and we intend to continue the good work now when another of the kalmstrom.com developers has taken over the responsibility for the support work.

Senior developer head of support
Jitu Patidar has been with kalmstrom.com for nine months, and as he is a senior developer with good earlier experience he has now learned the kalmstrom.com applications so well that he can take over the responsibility for the support management.

That Jitu would help with support e-mails and remote sessions when he knew the products was intended from the start, so when the earlier responsible had to leave us we already had a great developer ready and able to take over the task. After a short introdution period Jitu is now managing his added responsibility with dedication and skill.

Marriage and move
Kanak Joshi, who earlier made sure that all support cases were taken good care of, has left the kalmstrom.com team to marry and move to another town.  Priyanka Kokne, a junior developer, has also moved with her family and therefore had to resign her promising position at kalmstrom.com. We thank both Kanak and Priyanka for their good work and wish them all the best on their new locations.

Replacements
We have known for a while that Kanak and Priyanka would leave us, so we have taken steps to ensure that results and progress will not suffer. We have already hired two new team members, one of whom has already started and another will start next month, but as kalmstrom.com is an ever growing company we are happy to say that we are on the lookout for more talented people with interviews being conducted on weekly basis.
                Jitendra Patidar image          Jayant Rimza image
Current support staff
Now most of the kalmstrom.com support services are taken care of by four people:

Jitu supervises the cases, answers e-mails and chats in English and performs remote sessions.

Jayant, our Lead Developer, mostly helps with difficult cases in the background, but he also takes care of remote sessions.

Vipul answers e-mails in English, and Sigge answers in German and Swedish. Sigge can also answer urgent cases in English outside office hours.
                Vipul Dindulkar image          Sigge Kalmstrom image
Other team members also join in when necessary, because the support is a priority – not only for the sake of the user with a problem but also because engaging in support cases is a good way of understanding how the kalmstrom.com applications can be enhanced,. The kalmstrom.com QA Engineers study the support cases thoroughly.

Support to users and evaluators
A subscription to one of the kalmstrom.com Solutions includes support and free upgrades, and we also give support to evaluators. When people take the time to try one of the kalmstrom.com products, we feel we should make an effort from our side also, to give the best possible chances for a successful trial period.

You are always welcome to the kalmstrom.com Support. Jitu and the team will take good care of you!

07 December 2012

Light Therapy In Northern Bus Stops

Sweden is known as the land of the midnight sun, but this time of the year people in the northern part of the country  hardly see the sun at al. To combat problems due to lack of sunlight, the town of Umeå  has installed phototherapy lights in some of their bus stop shelters.

Winter blues
The short days an the lack of light in Sweden wintertime can result in what we call "winter depression". When this disorder affects people who are otherwise mentally healthy they feel tired, weak and low-spirited without any real cause. When they are exposed to specific wavelengths of artificial light, so called light- or phototherapy, these symptoms are often alleviated.
Swedish bust stop shelter
Bus stop shelters – new engergy resource
In Umeå, 400 kilometers north of Stockholm, the energy company decided to do something about the winter depressions, and in a pilot project they have installed phototherapy lamps at 30 of the town's bus stops. The projects is meant to give people an energy boost when they stand in the brightly lit shelter waiting for a bus.

Clean energy
The light in the bus shelters is said to be harmless, with all of the ultraviolet radiation filtered out, and the electricity that powers the lamps comes from renewable sources.

Blinding
I have not been to Umeå myself this year, but I saw in Swedish television that commuters and passers by were quite happy with the extra light in the bus shelters. Drives have complained that the lights are blinding, though, so some of them have been subdued to avoid accidents.

I have also felt the tug of the winter blues, so I welcome this experiment. Maybe the time spent waiting for the bus is too short to give any real benefits, but I think the sheer knowledge that you are getting some extra light can cheer you up a bit when you are feeling low.

04 December 2012

kalmstrom.com Application Development In Focus

Application news dominated the kalmstrom.com Blog in November, and as we also got our Application Development Silver Competency last month this is understandable. Applications are what we do!

SharePoint version of Kanban Task Manager

Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint logotypeIn November we released Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint Beta, and the two articles about this new kalmstrom.com tool for keeping track of projects and tasks in SharePoint had many readers. So far we have very few reports about problems, so we hope to release the finished version soon.

Resource booking in Outlook
Calendar Browser iconAnother product that will be released soon is version 8 of Calendar Browser, our application for resource booking inside the Outlook calendar. This is one of  our most mature and popular Outlook add-ons, and the update will make it compatible with both the 32- and the 64-bit versions of Outlook 2010 and 2013. Calendar Browser V8 will also continue to support Outlook 2007 and Office 365 Outlook, and it will have Excel reports for analysis of resource usage.

Folder HelpDesk for Outlook
Folder HelpDesk logotypeThe kalmstrom.com helpdesk for Outlook and Exchange will come in a new version in the beginning of 2013, and the development work has already begun. In November I wrote two blog posts about this application, one about our general plans for Folder HelpDesk V13 and 14 and one about how Folder HelpDesk can track time spent on a ticket.

Pay for one, use all
The kalmstrom.com applications are licensed with a subscription. Subscribers become Members of the kalmstrom.com Community, and I know our Community Members are looking forward to these enhanced products.  You see, if a Member organization wants to use another kalmstrom.com product besides the one they frst subscribed to, they can do this without any extra costs at all – with support and upgrades included!

03 December 2012

Get Super Performance From An Average Laptop

Today I welcome the CEO of kalmstrom.com Business Solutions, Peter Kalmstrom, who wants to share with you how he is getting really fast and powerful computers for half the normal cost without too much engineering. As I use one of Peter's ehnhanced machines myself, I can confirm that it works very well.

Peter KalmstromSuper performance at low cost
I travel a lot, so regretfully my computers tend to get banged about quite a bit and need to be replaced often. Thus I don't want to invest a lot, but of course I want – and need! – the utmost in performance. Here is my "recipe":
  1. Focus on the screen – how large of a laptop do you want?
  2. If you plan to run virtual machines, also check that the processor is powerful enough to handle them and has virtualization features that can be enabled.
  3. Buy the cheapest possible computer with the right screen (and processor).
  4. Take out the hard drive and replace it with a solid-state drive (SSD).
  5. Take out the RAM and replace it with more RAM.
  6. Done!
I have tried this several times, and the price tag is less than half compared to a laptop pre-configured with (almost) all of the options I now have. My method does not work if you are a hard-core gamer, though. In that case you need a graphics card with higher performance than you will get in a cheap laptop, and they cannot be replaced like the hard drive and RAM.

Taking out the hard drive and RAM
Earlier the hard drive could often be found buried under the keyboard or motherboard, and to remove it included removing not only dozens of screws but also other parts of the computer.

Nowadays the hard drive is often placed directly under an access panel, just like the RAM, and then you will have no problems. If you can do Lego or assemble IKEA furniture, you can do #4 and #5 too. You will probably find information on how to do it in the laptop manual, and there are also a lot of instructions on the net.

Choosing the right replacements
Selecting the right memory and hard drive might be a bit tricky. Look for the cheapest SSD with transfer speeds of over 500 Mb/s.

My choice
I chose a PC with a 17.3 inch screen in full HD, which is what I really want. It only weighs 3 kgs (which I can handle during my travels) and it has space for two 2.5 inch hard drives and a DVD-player. I then added a primary SSD of 240 GB and a secondary 750 GB Hybrid drive.

Reinstall the OS
After changing the hard-drive you need to re-install the operating system which is not so easy, but if you have read this far you probably know how to do it! Windows 8 installs in 10 mins on the SSD.

I hope you have found my tip useful. If you want to see more, please have a look at the Tips section of the kalmstrom.com website. There you can find tips and tricks like this one and tutorials on SharePoint, Outlook, Excel and more.

29 November 2012

Excel Reports On Resource Usage In New Calendar Browser for Outlook


Calendar Browser logo
In a few weeks kalmstrom.com Business Solutions will release a new version of Calendar Browser, our resource booking tool for the Outlook calendar. One of the important enhancements in version 8 will be the integrated Excel Reports.

With Calendar Browser you cannot only offer an easy booking in the Outlook calendar of rooms, cars, maintenance, lecturers or what ever resources your organization needs to have available for the staff  you can also study the bookings over time and make sure the resources are used efficiently!

Archive and analyze
Calendar Browser buttons in OutlookCalendar Browser uses resource calendars for booking, so to book a resource is as easy as to make an appointment in the personal Outlook calendar. There is a search feature that shows free resources for the time you need them, and each resource can be described with text, images and links.

For managers Calendar Browser has an archive features for old appointments, Outlook calendar bookings that have already been used. This feature saves the old appointments to a database and creates various reports on them. Earlier Calendar Browser had another reporting tool, but in version 8 we will use Excel reports.

The Calendar Browser Archive dialog

Use all Excel features

The reason we have switched to Excel reports is that they are easier to use than the old tool. Excel is a powerful platform for statistics and reports. and most managers already know how to use it. If not, there is a multitude of tutorials on the net. The Calendar Browser Excel reports are standard Excel reports and can be used with all the functionality of Excel.

Excel is also very suitable for use with other Microsoft platforms, which further increases the benefits of using Excel reports for the Calendar Browser statistics.

Many standard reports
Calendar Browser creates two sets of Excel reports from the Outlook calendar bookings, Cost reports and Appointment reports.

The five Cost reports show costs for resources and the supplies that can be booked with the resources.

The seven Appointment reports display various other aspects of the resource usage, like how many hours each resource has been booked or the number of resources used per project.

The default reports may be changed, and the changes can of course be saved. Both pivot tables and graphs are included, and with the inbuilt Excel graphic tools you can make nice presentations, like the one below on cost for resource usage per organizer.

Calendar Browser Excel report

Custom reports
We believe that the default Calendar Browser reports will be sufficient for most organizations, but if needed managers may very well create custom reports from the data in the database.

Just select a new sheet in the Calendar Browser Appointments or Orders reports file, add a pivot table and customize it as you like. Then save this report, and next time you archive appointments your custom report will be refreshed with the new data just like the default reports.

You are welcome to read more about the upcoming version 8 of Calendar Browser in two earlier blog posts,   from September and October.

26 November 2012

Application Development - New Microsoft Competency for kalmstrom.com

For more than a year kalmstrom.com Business Solutions has been a Microsoft Silver Partner as Independent Software Vendor. Now this competency is changed into Application Development, which really suits us much better.

Microsoft Silver partnerships
Calendar Browser iconIt is not too difficult to become a Microsoft Partner, but only around 5 % of all partners reach the Silver level. Therefore it was a great day for the kalmstrom.com team when we acieved our first Silver Competency.  To be acknowledged as a Silver Partner we had to show Microsoft:
  • that our products are good enough ‒ by passing certain Microsoft tests
  •  that we have sufficient knowledge in the team ‒ by passing certain Microsoft exams
  • that our customers like the products ‒ by giving references.

ISV Competency

TimeCard iconWhen kalmstrom.com Business Solutions first reached the Silver level it was as Independent Software Vendor, commonly called ISV within Microsoft. But how many outside Microsoft know what an ISV Competency is?  I asked the Microsoft representative that very question, because even if their definition on an ISV applied to kalmstrom.com I did not like the anonymous term.


New name - Application Development
Kanban Task Manager iconNow it seems as if Microsoft listened, because the term ISV Competency has been replaced by Application Development Competency. This is good news,  because now all who learn that kalmstrom.com Business Solutions has earned the Microsoft Application Development Competency will understand what we do and excel at ‒ buildning applications based on Microsoft products.

Or, as the Microsoft definition of the Application Development Competency says: "This competency recognizes partners who are expert in developing innovative applications on the Microsoft platform and potentially using Microsoft development tools. These applications can be custom or commercial, on-premise or in the cloud."


Suitable definition for kalmstrom.com
Folder HelpDesk iconWe are happy about the name change and the new definition, because both apply very well to kalmstrom.com Business Solutions and what we do. For twelve years now our CEO Peter has developed both standard and custom applications on the Microsoft platform, using Microsoft development tools, and during the years he has gathered a group of talented people around him that has grown into the kalmstrom.com team.

Business Intelligence
KBase iconkalmstrom.com Business Solutions also has another Silver Competency, for Business Intelligence, and here we have been satisfied from start. The name says exactly what we have earned the competency for. Most of the kalmstrom.com products have an integrated statistics and reporting tool that helps managers analyze data extracted from work with the products and understand how tasks can be performed more efficiently.

Aiming for more
HelpDesk OSP iconMicrosoft has recently announced the launching of a new competency for SharePoint, and as SharePoint is an important platform for our future development we will try to achieve this competency also. It will take some time, but I am sure we will get there!

22 November 2012

Ticket Time Tracking - Folder HelpDesk Gives Four Options

Folder HelpDesk Ticket TimeHelpdesk and support center staff have important tasks to handle, and for the issue tracking manager it is crucial to understand what incidents will take long time to solve and what are quick or can even be answered with a FAQ.

Therefore all good helpdesk systems should have a way to measure the time spent on a ticket. The kalmstrom.com incident management application for Outlook, Folder HelpDesk, has for a long time had three different options. From today's update there are four!

Ticket time always in database
Folder HelpDesk adds a lot of information about incidents and issues to the selected database – currently Access, SQL Server or SQL Azure but a SharePoint alternative will be added next year. The time tracking data is of course included and used for the statistics reports integrated in Folder HelpDesk.

Folder HelpDesk logotypeThe user specified time is shown in the ticket also, while the two admin specified values are shown in the settings and added automatically when the ticket is closed. The fourth, new, option for ticket time tracking is only shown in the database, as it is a pure calculation.

1. Minutes worked defined by responsible
Folder HelpDesk converts incoming e-mails into tickets that are shared in an Outlook public folder or shared mailbox. It is also possible to add a blank ticket to the list in Outlook, for example if someone calls about an issue.
Work done field
In the ticket the responsible person may add how many minutes he or she has worked on the case. This can be done several times, and the sum is added up in a field that cannot be changed  important for example when several people work with the same ticket. This is probably the most accurate way of measuring, but it takes some time to add the minutes for each ticket.

2. Admin defined by incident type 
Often the manager or administrator knows approximately how much time each type of incident takes to solve, and then a value can be defined in the Folder HelpDesk settings. This value is added automatically when the ticket is closed, but only if no value has been added manually.
Folder HelpDesk settings
3. Admin defined for all tickets
The administrator can also define how many minutes will be applied to all tickets where an incident type value is not defined and no value is added manually. Maybe the time spent on each ticket is not very important, or values for incident types are only applicable in some cases? Then this method is convenient.

4. Hours open
In the update of Folder HelpDesk released today the tool will make better use of the Hours open entry in the database, as it will track the first closing time instead of the latest. The value will now be calculated from the creation of the ticket until it is closed for the first time. Reopenings will not be counted, so the helpdesk staff can reopen the ticket for reference anytime without affecting the value for Hours open.

In the calculated value for Hours open all time the ticket was open is included, not just the time when someone actually worked on the case. It is an interesting value for managers, both as such and to compare to the value entered for Minutes worked. The time is given in hours with two decimals.

Upgrade
Folder HelpDesk upgrade iconFor more information about the new update, please refer to the Folder HelpDesk Revisions page. As usual Members of the kalmstrom.com Community are welcome to upgrade their installations of Folder HelpDesk without extra costs.

Please also read my earlier article about future updates of Folder HelpDesk to learn about our plans for the kalmstrom.com tool for issue tracking in Outlook.

Try it!
Folder HelpDesk Test iconIf you need a tool for issue tracking and incident management that is powerful and yet easy to learn and use, you are welcome to evaluate the full version of Folder HelpDesk for Outlook for 30 days. We give free support to evaluators, as well as to subscribers, so please contact us if you cannot find the answers to your questions in the Folder HelpDesk documentation.

16 November 2012

Beta Release Of Kanban Task Manager For SharePoint

Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint logotype
The other day I wrote about the approaching Beta release of Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint, and to my delight it came even quicker than I thought.

I hope you want to try the latest kalmstrom.com application, a sandboxed SharePoint solution for project and task management.

As Kanban Task Manager runs totally on a SharePoint site it is very suitable for geographically dispersed workgroups, and managers who supervise several workgroups will have them all easily within reach.

With Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint the colorful tasks can be dragged and dropped between phases, filtered for project or responsible and searched with a tool especially designed for the Kanban Task Manager.

Most of what you need to know is gathered in the installation video below, but on the website there is also a slideshow and a manual.

You are very welcome to download the Beta version of Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint from the kalmstrom.com website, and we look forward to hearing your comments!



14 November 2012

Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint - Activation and Configuration

Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint logotypeDue to the extensive interest for a SharePoint version of Kanban Task Manager, kalmstrom.com Business Solutions will shortly publish a Beta of this tool for task and project management.

Today I can show you how the solution is added to a SharePoint site, activated and configured.

Admin does the tricky part
In the demo below, SharePoint expert Peter Kalmstrom, who is our CEO, shows how easy it is to "install" Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint. I use quotation marks around install, because it is not a real installation but rather an upload and activation, standard procedures that every SharePoint administrator understands.

The "installation" and configuration is handled by the administrator, so the users only have to log in and start creating tasks.

Drag and drop SharePoint list items
Even if they can be dragged and dropped and are nicely colored, the Kanban Task Manager tasks are standard SharePoint list items.

If you are used to SharePoint, I am sure you will recognize most of what Peter shows in the demo. Kanban Task Manager uses the best of SharePoint, and the configuration lists and tasks may be handled just like any other lists or items.




Beta release
My earlier blog post about Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint have had many readers, and some of them have contacted kalmstrom.com for more information. Therefore we have decided to release a Beta
version of the new tool. It still lacks some functionality and is
Kanban boardnot fully tested, but all the important features are there and with the help of interested Beta testers we soon hope to find any remaining issues.

I will soon come back with more news about the release of Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint! Until then you are welcome to watch the demo and read more about Kanban Task Manager on the kalmstrom.com website!

12 November 2012

kalmstrom.com Office Manager Makes Work Run Smoothly

Good office management is crucial to any company, and we are lucky to have a very capable person in this position. This week Office Manager Vipul Dindulkar has been with us for one year.

Support assistance
Vipul is the only team member whose main tasks are not directly connected to the kalmstrom.com applications, but he is involved in the answering of support e-mails and I think most Members of the kalmstrom.com Community know him in that respect.

New office
When Vipul joined the kalmstrom.com team his first task was to find a bigger office for the Indian team members, and after some searching he found the place that Peter could inaugurate during his visit to Indore in December last year. It is a nice office with room for a growing team.

Employee care
Another task for Vipul is to recruit new team members and to take care of the ones already employed. He is the one who performs the first interviews and arranges everything around the hiring, he pays salaries and insurances and keeps track of leaves and vacations.
Team Photo 1
Our Relations Manager, Siret, is grateful to have Vipul as her right hand at the Indian office: "Vipul is my eyes and ears in Indore, and it is mostly thanks to him that our Indian team has such a nice, comfortable and relaxed work environment. Vipul is often the one to suggest changes and improvements to better the work experience for the whole team", says Siret.

Team builder
Vipul is the one who organizes dinners, outings and other pleasures that allow the team members to meet and get to know each other better outside work. We encourage such activities, because we want our employees to feel happy with both work and work mates. Vipul also makes sure everyone's birthday and other special occations are remembered and celebrated.

Recently Vipul organized a course in medical first aid, and there will be more courses in health and safety to come, as the health and safety of the team is one of Vipuls number one priorities.

Authorities and supplies
Office management includes a lot of contacts with authorities, and Vipul  makes sure everything runs smoothly, that we have all the necessary permits and that the taxes are paid. He also takes care of everything that need to be bought and replaced, from small things to computers and electricity backup.

As you see Vipul has many tasks to juggle and he is managing them all. Thanks for good work, Vipul! We are glad to have you in our team!

08 November 2012

Issue Tracking Tool Gets New Glory In Two Step Rebuild

Folder HelpDesk logotypeThe kalmstrom.com team has long reaching plans for product development, and to our flagship application for issue tracking they mean profound architectural changes that will make it even stronger for future development.

Issue tracking in Outlook
Folder HelpDesk is the most used of all kalmstrom.com products, and first created in the year 2000 it is also one of the oldest. The popularity of this tool for user support and incident management comes from the convenience of having everything in Outlook. We currently have version 12 of the software.
Folder HelpDesk animation

Folder HelpDesk converts incoming e-mails into tickets, manually or automatically, and the ticket list is also found right inside Outlook.

During the years many good features have been added, but even if the build of the product has been modernized several times there are still some old code and limitations we want to get rid of. The modernization will be done in two steps in version 13 and 14.

New sharing options

Even if we will keep the features that users all over the world have come to like and rely on, the kalmstrom.com technical leaders have decided to make profound changes to the Folder HelpDesk architecture in both version 13 and 14.

The Folder HelpDesk foundation will continue to be Outlook, where there is a lot of functionality for us to build on, but Folder HelpDesk will no longer rely on a shared network folder or public folder.

Instead we will give three options for sharing and storage of data: an Access database, an SQL Server database and a SharePoint site. Folder HelpDesk will also be entirely based on the VSTO tools and .NET, which will give us many new opportunities.

Compatibility enhancements in V13
Work with Folder HelpDesk V13 has now begun, and here the build will be changed to give a much better support for Office versions. Currently Folder HelpDesk is only compatible with the 32-bit version of Office 2010, Even if that is enough for most users we want to support the 64-bit version also - and now we have to consider Office 2013 too.

Many users of kalmstrom.com applications are eager to try new versions of the Microsoft products we build on, so we know that some of them will get Office 2013 even before the final version is released. Therefore we will make Folder HelpDesk V13 compatible with the 32 and 64 bit versions of both Office 2010 and 2013. It will of course also work fine with Windows 8.

No more OWC
In the current version of Folder HelpDesk you need to install the Office 2003 Web Components to use the settings and statistics tool. Even if the 2003 OWC version is suitable for later versions of Office too, this is of course not a good solution in the long run. In version 13 we will therefore replace both the settings forms and the statistics application with better options and thus get rid of the OWC dependency.

Kanban Task Manager Settings form

New settings dialog
The settings dialog in version 13 will look like the one in our new application Kanban Task Manager - which is not dependent of OWC. The screenshot here above comes from the project and task management application.

Another benefit of the new settings form is the possibility to change the names of different values, like category or type, without getting problems with the statistics and search of old tickets. The old tickets will just take the new name, and the statistics and search can continue as before.

Excel reports
Excel iconInstead of using the current OLAP Reporting Tool as the default platform for statistics and reports, version 13 of Folder HelpDesk will have integrated Excel reports. An extensive number of standard Excel reports will be created, and as they can be used with all the Excel features the possibilities are nearly endless.

Even if OLAP Reporting Tool is a great application that has served well for many years, it is unfortunately a bit complicated to learn. The new Excel reports will be much easier to use.

Common solutions
If you have followed this blog, you might recognize some of the Folder HelpDesk changes and enhancements from articles about Kanban Task Manager, KBase or Calendar Browser. You can for example already find Excel reports in Kanban Task Manager, and they will soon come in KBase and Calendar Browser.

This similarity is intentional, because we want the kalmstrom.com products to have more common elements than they currently have. This simplifies development and troubleshooting for our technicians, and it is also very convenient for users.

A membership of the kalmstrom.com Community gives the right to use more than one kalmstrom.com product without extra cost, and those who take advantage of this offer in the future will recognize some parts in their second or third application and find them easier to understand.

Merging of two issue tracking applications
For several years already kalmstrom.com Business Solutions is offering an issue tracking application for Outlook and SharePoint. When we now plan an addition of a SharePoint option for Folder HelpDesk these two products will come closer to each other, and eventually we will combine the good features of both into one single software.

This is a long term plan, though, and before it comes true we will make sure that HelpDesk OSP is kept up to date with Folder HelpDesk.

New features
When you have read this far you might ask yourself if there will be only architectural and compatibility changes in version 13 of Folder HelpDesk?

Not at all! We will add several new features, some of them kindly sponsored by Community Member Swiss Post. I will tell you more about them in a later blog post, but you are already welcome to the Folder HelpDesk Plans page for an overview.

Release next year
We plan to release version 13 of Folder HelpDesk in March next year, but Swiss Post will get their version earlier. We always give sponsors a chance to test and approve of "their" features before release.

We hope to have version 14 ready at the end of 2013, and by that time kalmstrom.com Business Solutions will have an extremely powerful helpdesk application. This is an exciting perspective, and I am looking forward to telling more about it and to seeing it become real.