29 July 2014

Excel BI Statistics In Solutions

Statistics icon Most Solutions have a possibility to generate Excel statistics reports. These reports give useful insights in various aspects on how the product has been used – costs, time spent and much more.

Database or SharePoint
The Solutions use an Access or SQL Server database or a SharePoint site for sharing and storing of data. Some of our products, like Kanban Task Manager for Outlook, even have a choice of all three options. (That is of course the direction all of our solutions are heading.)
Microsoft sharing platforms
Data may be studied directly in the database or SharePoint list, but when we let Excel display the information we give a more user friendly analysis model.

Excel features
Excel is a well known and much used platform, so most managers know how it works. All the standard Excel features can be used with the statistics reports, and you may also create your own reports.

Save your custom report or the changes you make in the default reports, and they will be updated with new data next time you run the statistics application.

Excel tutorials
For studying the default reports, only a basic understanding of Excel is necessary. However, for those who are interested in expanding their Excel knowledge, there are currently 22 Excel tutorials in the Tips section, and more will come.

I hope these Tips articles and demos will give a deeper understanding on how to take advantage of all the Excel features and let Excel work for you.

New design
Folder HelpDesk logo Last year we begun updating the design of the Excel reports, and the last one to get a nicer look is Folder HelpDesk for Outlook. We will soon release a new version with some minor enhancements and bug fixes, and in the process we took the opportunity to include the new Excel reports design.

We also added the new, 2013 style logo to Folder HelpDesk, and with that all Solutions have a consistent, modern look.

Below is the new Folder HelpDesk Excel reports demo. I will soon come back to announce the release!

Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

25 July 2014

Outlook Resource Scheduling Add-on Now With PDF Export

Calendar Browser logo Do you use Calendar Browser for Outlook in a reception, to let people book rooms, cars or some other resources? In that case you can now more easily send a confirmation of the reservation, as we have added a possibility to export the booking to a PDF file.

Book resources in Outlook
Calendar Browser may be used in two ways (as we know of. Please tell us if you have found a third way!):
  • Let each person within the organization book the common resources in his or her Outlook. In that case you can also choose to let a manager first approve or decline the resource bookings.
  • Let reservations go through a reception or similar. In this case the bookings may be received from people outside the organization as well.
For both scenarios Calendar Browser is easy to learn for everyone who knows Microsoft Outlook. Reservations are entered in the same way as when you make an appointment in the Outlook calendar. Each resource has its own calendar, and you book the time period during which you need to use the resource by making an appointment for that time in its calendar.

User request
We released version 9 just a month ago, but now we have published an update with a new feature. One of our subscribers needs to print the appointments for customers, but the Outlook appointment print shows some Calendar Browser specific terms (like CBUPPARTICIPENTS0) that are not visible in the appointment. These terms might look confusing to people who don't know the solution.

PDF icon We always do our very best for subscribers, so we decided to give a possibility to export appointments to a PDF file where the Calendar Browser specific terms are removed. This PDF file can easily be printed, saved/uploaded to a place where it can be shared or sent as an e-mail attachment.

Use right click or keys PDF export in Outlook
To save appointmets as PDF is not a core feature of Calendar Browser, so we did not want to add a button for PDF export in the Calendar Browser ribbon group in Outlook. That would have been disturbing for all users who do not need this export possibility.

Instead we decided to use the right click and key options: in the calendar, select the appointment you want to export, right click and choose Export to PDF. Or press the keys Crtl + Shift + P. This key combination may also be used with the open appointment.

Upgrade or try
Calendar Browser upgrade icon Calendar Browser subscribers have free upgrades, so if you are already using the solution and would find the new feature helpful you are very welcome to upgrade your installation. Premium Member copies have already been updated with the PDF export.

Calendar Browser evaluation icon We allow a 30 days trial of the complete solution, so if your organization needs a resorce booking system that is efficient and easy to learn and use, you are welcome to evaluate Calendar Browser. It is a mature product that has been on the market for 14 years, so it has many features and may be customized in various ways.

By Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

17 July 2014

SharePoint TimeCard Soon To Be Released

TimeCard logotype The development of a SharePoint version of the application for time reporting directly from the calendar is nearly finished. We are now in the testing and documentation phase, and today I can give you a first glimps of this much longed-for solution. Some design details might be changed in the final version, but the slideshow below will still give you a good picture of TimeCard for SharePoint.

No double entries
The main idea behind TimeCard is that users should report time from the platform where they plan their work days. When their calendar appointments are tagged with time reporting data, these appointments can be used for reporting and the data does not have to be transferred somewhere else.
From Outlook to SharePoint
Fourteen years ago, when I developed the first version of TimeCard, the obvious platform was Microsoft Outlook. Most people worked at the office, and workgroups were often gathered in the same place and connected via a local network.

Today we have a different situation. More people work from home or from other places, and workgroups can very well be geographically dispersed – like the team. Outlook is still a very useful platform, but now we also have SharePoint, a later Microsoft product that gives us new possibilities.

By creating a TimeCard solution that works with SharePoint, can offer an efficient way to report time to people who use the internet rather than a local network to connect to and share information with management and team mates.
The TimeCard for SharePoint event tab
TimeCard calendars
TimeCard for SharePoint will not use the standard SharePoint calendar. Instead TimeCard will create new calendars for each user. These calendars will have dropdowns for selection of tag values in each appointments, and each calendar will also have a reporting button, that opens a reporting dialog.

In the TimeCard reporting dialog the users can review their appointments before they are reported. Any changes made in the reporting dialog will be reflected back to the calendar. With a press of a button the data will be reported to a list created by TimeCard.

Excel reports and statistics
Statistics icon Before the data for the selected period is reported, it is possible to export it to an Excel file. Excel is also used in the statistics reports. There are several different default reports, but custom reports can also be created, saved and updated with new reported information.

Sandboxed Solution
TimeCard for SharePoint is a Sandboxed SharePoint Solution that should be uploaded to a SharePoint solution gallery and activated there and on each site in the collection where it should be used. It will support types of SharePoint 2010 and 2013. TimeCard for SharePoint also supports Office 365 SharePoint, which is what we have used in the slideshow below.

I hope to soon come back to you with more information about our new TimeCard version! In the meantime we will continuously update our website as more documentation on TimeCard for SharePoint is created.
By Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

14 July 2014

Approve Reservations With Resource Booking Add-on

Calendar Browser logoWhen you are using the Outlook add-on for booking of corporate resources, you might want to have a manager approve some of the reservations. We have now published a FAQ on how it can be done.

Book resources in the Outlook calendar.
Calendar Browser is a Microsoft Outlook add-on that gives a simple way to book resources within an organization. If a user knows how to make an appointment in the Outlook calendar he or she can book a resource by simply making an appointment in the calendar of that resource.  No separate software is needed.

Different calendar types
Calendar Browser works with public folder calendars and mailbox calendars, including personal calendars, and you can use a mix of calendar types in the same installation. But for the resources where you wish to let managers approve of resource reservations before the resource is actually booked, you must use Exchange room/resource type mailboxes.

Add Exchange resource mailboxes
The Exchange resource mailboxes can easily be added to Calendar Browser as resource calendars. They will work just like any other Calendar Browser resource calendars and have access to all the features of the Solution, like resource descriptions and search.
Calendar Browser Add Calendar Dialog
Define resource mailbox properties
In the Properties dialog of each resource mailbox, the Exchange Admin can define one or more delegates who are responsible for approving or declining booking  requests.

Maybe you want to let some Calendar Browser users book resources directly, without the need for approval from a delegate? In the same Properties dialog you can also decide if all or only some of the users should need a resource booking approval.

When you require booking approvals, users book the resources as usual in their Outlook calendars. The delegate will receive the request by e-mail automatically and can approve or decline it.

The person who booked the resource will get auto-emails too, first a message that the reservation is pending and then another one when the booking is approved or declined.
Thumbs Up
When the delegate approves of the resource reservation, he/she will add Calender Browser properties to the booking, that is, select project and maybe book supplies.

I think most organizations only use the approving requirement for some of their bookable resources, as it means some extra work for managers. However, when it is necessary to request a booking approval, like with the limousine in the New calendar image above, Calendar Browser can help you with that too!

By Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

03 July 2014

Track Tasks and Time With Single Solutions Business Solutions has right from the beginning been a brand associated with software for companies and organizations. However, after 15 years on the market has two Single Solutions, intended for one-person firms or personal use.

Both Single Solutions are modified versions of Outlook add-ons for workgroups, and thanks to that they have more features and customization possibilities than you normally expect from a single user software.

TimeCard for Outlook logotype With TimeCard for Outlook you can tag Outlook appointments with time tracking data and then report these appointments directly from the calendar to a database. When the organizational version had been on the market for some years, people begun to ask for a single version.

Of course we understood that a single version of TimeCard for Outlook could be very useful for people who needed to keep track of their working hours for billing purposes, or just to study how time had been spent. TimeCard lets you analyze data in different Excel reports that are generated with a click of a button.

We decided to remove the central reporting and configuration and develop a TimeCard version where hours were reported from the Outlook calendar to a local Access database, created by TimeCard. This was many years ago, and today we can find subscribers to TimeCard Single all over the world.

Kanban Task Manager
Kanban Task Manager for Outlook logotype The Solution for project and task management in Outlook and/or SharePoint is a much later product. Both workgroup versions were released as late as in 2012, and Kanban Task Manager Single came in February this year.

At time of release we already knew that people were waiting for a single version of Kanban Task Manager, so we were not surprised at the flying start of the subscriptions. Kanban Task Manager Single is a useful solution for many people, because nearly all of us have tasks that we need to keep track of. Only our imagination sets limits to the number or reasons for using Kanban Task Manager!

Advanced features
Both Single Solutions are developed from workgroup add-ons, so they are advanced products. In spite of that we can keep the subscription fee at a reasonable level, as most of the development costs are shared with the workgroup versions.

Try them!
Do you want to  try TimeCard or Kanban Task Manager? Both can be used on the same PC. We allow a 30 days evaluation period, and during this time we will give you support at no extra cost if needed. When you subscribe to a Single Solution you also have free support.

As upgrades are free as well, you will always have a modern, well functioning Outlook add-on when you subscribe to a Solution. I hope you will find that your new software will make life a bit easier!
By Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

01 July 2014

Excel Sales Calculations

The possibility to tell Excel to calculate cell values in different ways makes it a very versatile platform. In the Tips section there are several articles about Excel calculations, and in one of them I discuss how to use formulas in a sales calculations.

Format input cells
To easily see what cells can be changed, I use cell styles to give those cell a separate color. This way I know that I must only enter new data in the colored cells, and I don't risk messing with the formula cells.
Excel sales calculation
Absolute formulas with cell names
When I use absolute formulas I prefer to give names to the cells included in the formulas. Then I can use these names in the formulas and fill out formulas to other cells just like I do when the formulas are relative.

Excel function guide
Most of the formulas I use are rather straightforward, but when it comes to calculating a discount it gets a bit more complicated. Now I have to use a vertical lookup formula, and for that I open the Excel function guide to get some assistance. Unfortunately I miss one step at the very end, to deduct the discount from the profit.

Excel statistics
Excel icon Most of the Solutions use Excel reports for statistics on resource usage and costs,  helpdesk tickets management, time tracking and so on. I like to use Excel, as it has many features and can give graphic representations of the data.

Excel is also a platform that many of our customers already know how to use, so they don't have to learn a new tool for the statistics reports on their Solution.

The Tips section currently has 22 articles about Excel, and more will be added in the future. There are also other articles, on SharePoint, Outlook and more. All these articles will help you get a deeper knowledge about the Microsoft platforms on which the kalmstrom. com Solutions are built. You are welcome to have a look!

By Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions