30 December 2013

Returning To Sweden

I am writing this blog post on the plane from Frankfurt to Stockholm, the second last part of the long journey from India. My children and I are tired, but we feel very satisfied with our Indore visit.

SharePoint development
Much of our discussions and learning sessions during my two weeks at the Indore office centered around the SharePoint platform.

We planned the SharePoint version of TimeCard Workgroup in detail, and now I am looking forward to getting it on the market. TimeCard for SharePoint logotypeI hope it will be an increasingly popular solution as people work more and more from other places than the office.

We also planned the next major version of Calendar Browser. It will have a SharePoint option, so that users can book resources via a SharePoint calendar. I will tell you more about our future development in my next blog post.

New experiences
If you have read my earlier blog posts about the Indore visit, you have learned that it was not all work. We had two full days where we only enjoyed ourselves, and I got to see more of the big city and its surroundings.
Bread baking
I brought my three children to Indore this time. While I was working they explored the city, and team members helped them find their way to the most interesting places.

The visit was a highly positive experience for them, and the near contact with team members and their families gave them a valuable understandig of Indian culture.  In the image above Sushma Rimza teaches Joakim and Elsa to bake "chapati" bread in her kitchen.

The team
Thank you, team members!
As you understand, we can thank the Indore members of the team for a wonderful stay in their city. Their efforts and dedication have made our visit a success, and I am very grateful for to them. A warm thank you to all!

Everyone showed the same enthusiasm, both at the office and outside it, but I still want to send a special thank you to the head of the Indore Office, Lead Developer Jayant Rimza, and to the whole Rimza family. You have become my friends, and I really appreciate your kindness and hospitality.

I also want to mention our Account and Office Manager, Vipul Dindulkar, who arranged all the practical details around our visit and made everything run smoothly. We are already looking forward to next time!
By Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

26 December 2013

Indian Christmas Celebrations

This year my children and I had a different Christmas, as we are spending their school holidays with the team in Indore.

Appreciated Efforts
The Indore members of the team are not Christian, so other holidays are more important to them. But this Christmas they really made an effort to give us a special memory.

We had decided to gather in the office on Christmas Day for another outing, but when we came in we got a surprise. The office was decorated with a Christmas tree, balloons and a row of small lamps along the ceiling. There was also another Rangoli decoration on the floor.

All the others were already there, and they surprised us with Christmas gifts. The boys got elegant, traditional garments called "kurta", that they wore for the dinner party the same evening. team team
Boating and kite-flying
Later we went to a large park at the Pipliyapala Lake, where we tried the art of kite-flying and took a boat tour on the lake. team
I really liked this park. It was very clean and well kept, and there were beautiful gardens. And I enjoyed seeing my employees looking happily upwards when flying the kites, like Preeti, Ankita and Vicky in the image below. That is what I want them to do in work as well – but methaforically, of course! team
Christmas dinner
In the evening we gathered for a festive dinner, to which wives and husbands were invited. Lead Developer Jayant Rimza also brought his little son to the party. In the image below you can see him with his dear uncle, Lead QA, Vijayant Rimza. team
Once again we all had a memorable day, full of laughter and new impressions. Now there will be some final hard working days before my children and I go back to Sweden.
By Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Manager Business Solutions

23 December 2013

Hard Work And Much Fun In Indore

After a week with intense work at the office, the whole team went on a 12 hours excursion where we only enjoyed ourselves.

SharePoint sessions
We arrived in Indore last Monday, and in the afternoon we were greeted by the whole team at the office. Tuesday to Friday I have spent my time at the office, discussing product development and lecturing about SharePoint. Most of the team already know SharePoint well, but as the SharePoint development is increasing, they all need to be experts. team
While I have been working, the kids have been shopping and enjoyed themselves in the center of the city, where both the office and our hotel are situated. Now and then they also came to the office, and Oliver caught us in a crowded situation where all wanted to see how one of the senoir developers had solved a problem in the next version of our resource booking tool, Calendar Browser.

We have other ways to share our screens, so there is absolutely no need for everyone to gather around a laptop, but it is a funny picture! team
Saturday morning we all gathered at the Indore Zoo, known for its special species like white tigers, Himalayan bears and white peacocks. After lunch the rented bus took us to Lal Bagh Palace, home of the Holkar dynasty and now turned into a museum.

We continued to, Nakhrali Dhani,  an ethnic village resort, where we saw many examples of Rajasthani & Malwi cultures and where we also could play games and dance. In the evening we had a traditional dinner, sitting on the floor at low tables. It was a fantastic day, but we were all very tired when we finally came back to the hotel.

In the photos below you see some of our developers in a cricket match we all took part in - Jitu, Shanu, Arpeet and Sharad - and another developer catching the ball - Sandeep. At the billiard tablet is our office manager Vipul, who arranged this memorable outing. team team team
Bonds of friendship
In a day like this my kids and I get a chance to learn more about Indian culture and traditions, and we can be together with the team members in a relaxed way. But as several team members are new, this is also a good opportunity for them to get to know each other better.

I finish this blog with a photo that symbolizes these friendly encounters. My daughter Elsa and QA Engineer Ankita lagged behind, so deeply engaged in their talk that they did not notice the rest of us had moved on. I wish you all a loving, peaceful and merry Christmas! team
Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

19 December 2013

Enhanced Kanban Task Manager In Two Outlook Versions

Kanban Task Manager for Outlook logoKanban Task Manager for Outlook has moved the traditional kanban board into Outlook, which gives many advantages. Now we will soon come with an update of the workgroup version, and as we have received many requests for it we will also release a single version.

Custom parameter
Kanban Task Manager shows subject, responsible, project and some of the description text on each task on the virtual kanban board in Outlook. In addition to that you may opt to display the priority on the task. The responsible, the project and the priority are also the parameters you can filter the tasks by, separately or in combination.

In next version of Kanban Task Manager for Outlook, it will also be possible to add a custom parameter. Just write a name for it in the settings, and a new list for this parameters will be created.

Here you can fill out the values users should select from in the additional dropdown that will be added to each new task. The value of the custom parameter will be shown on the task, and it will be possible to filter by it.

Kanban boardHide what you don't need
When an employee has left the company or a project is finished, you don't need those entries in the Kanban Task Manager settings anymore.

You might however want to keep them in the statistics, and that is impossible if you delete them. We will therefore make it possible to hide projects and responsibles from the kanban board.

We will do the same for phases. In next version you can to hide one or more of the Kanban Task Manager phases from the virtual kanban board, for example the finished phase.

Even tasks can be hidden instead of deleted. The delete button will from next version be a "close" button, and the administrator can decide in the settings what this button should do. It can either delete tasks, as before, or move them to a specified phase. Maybe to a hidden "Finished" phase?
Kanban Task Manager in Outlook
Details pane and drag within phases
Another new feature is a details pane, that will show more of the text when you right click a tas. We will also make it possible to drag tasks within phases and not only between them.  The order within the phase will be kept, no matter how you move your tasks around!

Free upgrades
Upgrades are free for subscribers, so if you are already using Kanban Task Manager for Outlook you will get it all these new features without any extra costs.

Example data
You cannot evaluate Kanban Task Manager without some data in it, and even if it is easy to paste lists of responsibles and projects into the settings it takes some time to create tasks to test the solution with. We will therefore give an option to create example data for the evaluation.

Single version
Soon after the update of Kanban Task Manager for Outlook has been published, we will also release Kanban Task Manager Single. It will work inside Outlook and use Outlook tasks, just like the Workgroup version, and it will have the same features. But as it will be intended for one person only, there will be no sharing of data.

I hope to come back to you in January and tell you about the release!
Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

Welcoming Ceremony At The Indore Office

It really feels good to be back in Indore, a vibrant city with lots of friends! Here is also much greener than I remember it, thanks to plentiful rain this year.

After several delays we finally landed in Indore at noon their time. We had not had much sleep during the flight, but I was eager to meet the Indore team and see the new office, so after a short stop at the hotel we went directly to the office.

There we were received with a traditional welcoming ceremony. The whole team was gathered in the reception, where the floor was decorated with a "Rangoli".

These ancient patterns have been passed down through the ages from each generation to the next and are typically created with materials like colored rice, colored flour or sand and flower petals.

 A "pooja thali" was performed by one of our QA Engineers, Neha Gupta Kaushal. She had a round tray with fragant flowers and sweets and a red powder that she used for adorning us with "tilak", red marks in the forehead, as a blessing. She also hung garlands around our necks as another welcoming gesture.
We all felt happy, and the ceremony was a warm and dignified start of our visit in Indore.
Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

18 December 2013

Team Work In TimeCard Workgroup For Outlook V5

TimeCard for Outlook logotype I am proud to announce that version 5 of TimeCard Workgroup has been published. This Outlook add-on was one of my earliest solutions, first developed for a Swedish town. It has been a joy to see it grow to the fully fledged time reporting tool we have today, thirteen years later.

Report where you plan
 The idea behind TimeCard is that you should report your time from the same place as you plan it. Then there will be no double entries, and the reporting will be quick and more correct. I developed TimeCard as an Outlook add-on, because many people already know Outlook and use the calendar to plan their time.

TimeCard makes it possible to add time reporting data to the Outlook appointments and to report the hours directly from the calendar to a database. A version for SharePoint calendars will be released in the beginning of next year, and it is built on the same idea – don't use a separate tool for reporting, when you can report from your planning tool.
Documentation update
As I have already given a presentation of the new version in an earlier blog about TimeCard Workgroup V5, I will not repeat myself here but instead show the updated introduction demonstration. On the TimeCard Workgroup Demonstrations page you can find more demonstrations, both for administrators and users.

The TimeCard Workgroup manual has been re-written, and we have also created a separate user manual where the administrator information has been removed.
TimeCard clock
I am really satisfied with version 5. The new design will make the central as well as the local configuration easier, and expenses feature now gives summaries in the Excel reports.

The user roles are made very clear: either you are an administrator and can see and change the global settings and the statistics for all – or you are a user and can only see your own personal settings and your own statistics. All depends on what setup file you have used when installing TimeCard Workgroup.

Many pieces put together
It never stops delighting me to see how the team members work together towards a common goal. We are now 15 people, and we have all been engaged in the TimeCard development. There are of course responsibility areas, but we often engage in each others tasks and the spirit is helpful and encouraging.

 The last weeks of a major product update, when everything is put together, are often hectic. That is the main testing phase, when our QA team keeps the developers busy with bug fixing and Kate "bullies" everyone to  try to get the new documentation ready in time for the release. Thank you all for your skill and dedication!

Upgrade or try upgrade iconCurrent subscribers should already have received an e-mail from me, where I tell about the new version. Should you have missed it, please contact us for information and to request a new key for TimeCard V5. The new key is necessary to register version 5, but the upgrade should not be a problem. TimeCard will know that you have an earlier version and upgrade it when you run the installer.

Premium Members of the Community have also received their updated copies of TimeCard Workgroup.

Have you not tried TimeCard yet? download icon If you need a tool that helps you keep track of how your staff spend their time, I suggest that you download the solution and try it for 30 days. With verseion 5 we have made the evaluation easier, as you can now make use of example data to see how TimeCard Workgroup works when in use. You are always welcome to contact us if you have questions!

By Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

12 December 2013

SharePoint Expertise In Demand On YouTube

The YouTube Channel now has more than 1000 subscribers, and the number of people who follow us is increasing rapidly. YouTube icon They have acutally doubled only since I last wrote about the YouTube channel in August!

Product tutorials
All the Solutions have video demonstrations that show installation, configuration and use. These tutorials are of course much used by both evaluators and subscribers of our products, and they are continuously updated when we release new versions.

TimeCard for Outlook logotype Right now we are recording new TimeCard Workgroup demonstrations for the release of version 5 next week. You are welcome to the TimeCard Workgroup V5 playlist if you want to have a look at these demos, that are not yet published on the website.

SharePoint tips
Our most popular YouTube videos are the SharePoint tutorials. I have taught and developed for SharePoint since 2001, and people sometimes call me a SharePoint evangelist. Even if I see what could be improved in SharePoint, I am fascinated by the possibilities given by this sharing platform in the cloud and on premise.

SharePoint 2013 logoNew SharePoint certification
When SharePoint 2010 was released I took all the avaliable Microsoft certifications for SharePoint rather quickly.

With SharePoint 2013 the demand for my development and lecturing services has been so great that I have not until now had time to take a certification. However, yesterday I passed the Microsoft certification "Core Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013", so now I only have three left!

Outlook 2013 logo Excel, Outlook and more
The YouTube channel also has many tutorials on Excel, Outlook and other platforms. All these demos, just like the SharePoint tutorials, are also present in the Tips section.

Outlook 2013 logo Here each video has its own page with a presentation and step by step instructions. These pages give more than just the YouTube demo, so many YouTube visitors end up in the Tips section.

Team work
Most of the demos have my voice, but they are actually a team work. Other team members have helped me with editing, recording and manuscripts, and without them the tutorials would not have been as good as they are!

200 000 views
Next milestone will be 200 000 views, and we are soon there. As the average viewing time is nearly four minutes I also know that most of the people who watch the demos actually see the whole demo.

This feels very encouraging, and the positive comments further increase my wish to continue publishing good product and tips demonstrations on the Channel.

By Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

09 December 2013

Time Reporting From Outlook - Major Update Of Workgroup Version

TimeCard for Outlook logotype The major update of TimeCard for Outlook will soon take its second step. The first step was taken when version 5 of TimeCard Single was released in November. The second step will be taken very soon, with the release of TimeCard Workgroup V5. Today I can show you the slide presentation.

Tag appointments with time reporting data
TimeCard for Outlook ribbon groupWhen you use TimeCard you work with the Outlook calendar as usual, but you also tag each appointment with values for one, two or three tags defined by the TimeCard administrator. Thus the appointments are converted into time sheets, and they can be reported to a database directly from within the Outlook calendar

Access icon No central installation
New for version 5 is that no central installation is needed for TimeCard Workgroup. If the organization uses an Access database for sharing and reporting, it has to be placed in a shared file server, but if the organization has an SQL Server the TimeCard database can be placed there.SQL Server icon

Instead of having a central installation folder for the TimeCard files, there will be an installation on each computer, under Program files, and everything is shared via the database that is also used for reporting time.

Third step: SharePoint
SharePoint iconAs no central installation is needed in version 5 of  TimeCard Workgroup, we can now add an option that many current users have asked for: SharePoint. When a SharePoint site is used instead of a database, users can connect to this site via the internet and report from anywhere.

To be even more mobile, you can make use of a SharePoint calendar instead of the Outlook calendar! That will be the fourth step, and I will tell you more about it later.

Excel statistics
Excel iconVersion 5 of TimeCard Workgroup will have Excel reports instead of the earlier statistics tool. It will be easier for new users to learn and give good functionality.

On top of that we can make TimeCard show all statistics to administrators, which other users will only see their own statistics when pressing the same button. No permission settings are necessary. How much you can see will depend on if you installed TimeCard as an administrator or a user.

There will be three default reports per tag. When the Expenses feature is enabled – so that not only hours but also expenses can be reported via the Outlook appointments – there will also be a fourt report per tag that shows how the expenses have been distributed.
TimeCard for Outlook ribbon group in appointments
All Excel features may be used with these reports, and custom reports may be created from the TimeCard data. The custom reports will be refreshed with new data each time the statistics tool is run, just like the standard reports.

I hope my Excel tutorials will be a good help when users want to explore the TimeCard statistics reports.

New design
Please have a look at the slideshow below. If you are already using TimeCard you will notice that the design is new. I hope you will like it as much as I do!

By Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

05 December 2013

Show Holiday Photos In HD Video On YouTube

PowerPoint icon In my latest demo I show how to use PowerPoint to create a HD video from photos. This is not only a business tip, like most of the other tutorials in the Tips section. This tip might be useful for everyone who want to share their photos in the form of a YouTube video.

Unlisted videos
How about uploading your Christmas photos to YouTube this year? This does not mean that you make them official, because you can set the Privacy Settings of your video to Unlisted. Then it will not show up in searches or lists and can only be seen by people you have given the link.
PowerPoint insert photo
Insert photo gallery
The first step in the creation of a YouTube video is to insert the photos you want to include in a new slideshow. I make it very simple in the demo, but there are various options. You can change the order of photos, remove photos, add a theme to the slideshow, add a text box in every slide and so on. It is also possible to add more than one photo to each slide.
PowerPoint transition options
An important part of any slideshow is the transition between the slides, and PowerPoint gives many alternatives. I would advice you to decide on one of them and stick to it, or at least use only a few different transitions.

Even if these transitions are fun to play with, they will draw the viewers concentration from the photos if you have a new one for each photo. I have seen some bad examples on that! For the same reason I also advice you to not use sound in the transitions if you use other sound in the video.

Add sound
Audio can be added to the slideshow in several ways. If you want music in the background while the photos are shown, you can insert it before you start the recording. Another option is that you record you own sound before or during the recording of the video. Maybe you want to give your own clever comments on each photo?
PowerPoint record slideshow
Record the slideshow
When you are satisfied with your slideshow, it is time to record it. Show slide after slide, and if you are recording at the same time, give your comments on them. You can pause the recording whenever you wish.

Export to HD video
YouTube icon Now it is time to adapt the recording to YouTube and other video sharing platforms. Do that by selecting File >Export >Create a video, and choose the option "Computer & HD Displays". This will give your photos the best quality for YouTube.

Tips section

In the Tips section you can find a step by step instruction on how to create a YouTube video in PowerPoint and the same demo as below. In the Tips section we also have a demo on how to embed a YouTube video in SharePoint, which might be interesting. You are welcome to browse around!

By Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

03 December 2013

Microsoft Business Intelligence Silver Competency Renewed

The team has once again proved that it can achive more than most. Only around 5 % of all Microsoft partners gain the Silver competency level, and Business Solutions has earned two of them! These competencies must be continuously updated, and I am proud to announce that our Silver competency for Business Intelligence today has been renewed for another two years.

To earn the Silver competency for Business Intelligence we had tot fullfil several requirements. We had to prove
  • that we have enough knowledge
  • that our customers are satisfied
  • that one of our products passes a test

Folder HelpDesk

Folder HelpDesk logoWe opted to test Folder HelpDesk, the issue tracking solution for Outlook. It builds on Outlook and Exchange and also makes use of Excel.

For sharing we recommend an SQL Server database, but smaller companies may also use Folder HelpDesk with an Access database. Next version of Folder HelpDesk will have SharePoint as a third option beside the SQL Server and Access databases.
Excel icon
BI platforms
We could have chosen another product for the Silver competency test, as our solutions make heavy use of  SQL Server, Excel and SharePoint. These  are all important Microsoft platforms for Business Intelligence. As we use them so much we of course have a deep knowledge about them, something that shows in our applications and makes our customers satisfied.SharePoint icon

All companies are not allowed to give recommendations, and I understand and respect that. I am however very grateful to those who can and are willing to recommend Some of them have given testimonials for our website, while others have given recommendations for Microsoft competencies. Thank you,all!SQL Server icon

There are three levels of Microsoft Partnership – Standard, Silver and Gold  so maybe you ask why we don't aim for a gold competency, if we really are that good and our customers that satisfied?

The reason is that we don't not sell Microsoft products. We are allowed to sell them, but we have chosen to concentrate our marketing efforts on the products and cannot agree to the annual revenue commitment that Microsoft requires for their Gold competencies.

So, Silver is the best we can achieve, but we will continue trying to get more Silver competencies. We now have Business Intelligence and Application Development, but there are actually one or two more within reach. I hope to come back to them eventually.

By Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions