Call centre SoftwareRecession, competition, and fast-growing demand have made call centre operations more expensive by the year. Many companies have coped by delegating a large part of their tasks to call centre software. Besides saving manpower and overhead costs, these programs allow companies to devote resources to other operations, such as training employees, and do business over larger areas with relatively small investments.

Most operations use hosted call centre programs. This means that information is hosted, or stored, in a remote network managed by the software provider.  This information includes customer, company, and agent details, as well as transaction and call histories. A call centre accumulates a good deal of data over the course of a year, and would normally need lots of hardware to keep it all. Hosted call centre software takes care of this problem by storing the information elsewhere.

Another advantage of hosted call centre software is that it doesn’t limit operations to a physical location. The data can be accessed anywhere with an internet connection (although preferably a secure one) any time of the day, unlike traditional businesses where office hours are fixed. While a brick-and-mortar office will still be necessary, employees will have the option to work from home and work on their own schedules, something that has been shown in many studies to improve employee productivity. The company itself can even hire people from a larger area, even overseas.

Updating is a common issue in hosted call centre software, as with most other business applications. Fortunately, many of the programs available today are automatically updated by the vendor without affecting the data; some will do it for free and others will charge a monthly fee. Users are simply informed of new features as needed. And since the program itself isn’t on an office hard drive, there’s no need to worry about installing and uninstalling–the only issue is usually training the employees to use the program.

Nonetheless, call centre software is no small investment in terms of time and money. Transferring data from one service to another can be costly, not to mention risky as much of the information is confidential. Few companies can afford to change programs every other week. Make sure to choose the right program for your operations and type of business. Some of them work well for small companies while others are designed for multinationals; some fit well in the retail industry while others are better for technology or media.

Filled Under: Home Office Software

The circuit simulator is an important part of any design process. Whether for development, research, or educational purposes, circuit simulation allows you to detect errors early and experiment with designs to come up with the best product possible. But how does it work, and how do you make the most of it?

Circuit simulation is a lot like programming, in more ways than one. Codes are written using special conventions, similar to a programming language, and then interpreted by a program on your computer. The “language” used for SPICE, a popular circuit simulation system, is in several ways a lot simpler than most programming languages. In addition, because circuit simulators normally generate output (and accept input) in plain text, output listings can be shown and edited on any computer, even if the circuit simulator itself is not installed.

Another popular tool is OrCAD, which is used mostly in design automation for printed circuit boards (PCBs). OrCAD Capture is widely used in designing circuit schematics, thanks largely to its ease of use and wide range of capabilities. For instance, users can copy power and ground planes onto several layers, and route differential pairs into specified channels. There are also keyboard shortcuts that help get the job done faster and minimize repetitive elements. Perhaps most importantly, the program comes with an accuracy checker that helps rule out human error in final products.

This technology has created such a large demand that circuit simulation and design is now commonly outsourced to companies that specialize in circuit programming. Many of these providers use OrCAD and SPICE, as they currently dominate the market and have the best cross-platform compatibility. One important thing to note is that services are usually country-specific, so it’s important to note a provider’s area of service before making any commitments. A major reason for this is that manufacturing standards, particularly for electronics, can vary from region to region.

Other websites offer a listing service where companies can find PCB design providers within their region or depending on their specific needs. These sites often work like portals, providing useful information such as design apps and add-ons, news and updates, and current research.

Needless to say, resources abound when it comes to circuit design and simulation, so it’s important to take advantage of your options. No matter how you choose to work, it’s always good to look into your choices—from the design approach to whether to outsource or not—and make sure you’ve got the perfect product in mind.

Filled Under: Work Practices

SharePoint migration can be a very vague subject. What are we talking about? Migration of everything to the Office 365 cloud or migrating from a test to production environment? In this article I want to focus on the best practices when planning a SharePoint Site migration.


Before we start

Basic knowledge of what a SharePoint Site is will definitely help us get to our goal. I tend to assume that everyone knows SharePoint a little too quickly.

So what is a Site? Not to be confused with a web page! The Site is the container or box in which we can only put lists and libraries within SharePoint. That’s it! Think of a Site as a container for lists and libraries. So what is a web page? Nothing more than a SharePoint document inside a document library probably called “Pages”.

So now you know that you need to think of what is inside a Site when you want to migrate it. But you also need to understand that many times, people will have developed things called “Features” that attach themselves to your site to activate functionalities. These “Features” might not be available at the destination. Make sure they are before you start migrating your sites over to a new Site Collection for example.


Clean up the closet

Make sure there isn’t any dirty laundry left in your site. You know, I am talking about that list or library called “Test”, “Test2”, “test-workflow” and of course all documents or list items that no longer mean anything to you. Is there a retention policy, can you archive the SharePoint documents or even delete them? This depends a lot on your current running SharePoint platform as WSS and Foundation do not have Information Management policies to automate this for you.


Governing the migration

You’ve heard of governance for SharePoint, it’s the rules we write down to make sure our SharePoint doesn’t collaborate out of control into Site Spaghetti. If you don’t have one in place yet, make sure you do. At the very least, make sure there is a basic governance on the migration of your SharePoint platform. Who will be making the final calls? Who will be doing the work? What tools will we be using for our SharePoint migration? There are many questions to be asking and answering, otherwise you might find yourself with a migration being pulled in every direction. Every ship needs a captain, in this case the captain is Governance


Information Architecture

The art of organizing an architecture of what is to be built at the destination to make sure what you are migrating will fit into a new SharePoint site. You need a SharePoint business analyst for this part that can tell you how many Content Types and Site Columns you will need for each site you are migrating to.

New features

If you are migrating your content to a new site, most of the time it’s because there are new features you want to take advantage of. Make sure you re-think your Site Architecture accordingly. Not everything works with every feature in SharePoint, no matter which version you are migrating to. That’s why SharePoint consultants will always answer your question with “It depends”.


Be mindful of your site – young migrator

Ok so I gave you some quick tips for your SharePoint migration. But one of the key factors is to have someone that really knows what’s in the site and how it is used. When starting a SharePoint migration you should always have the Power Users on your side with an inventory of the sites. That’s an inventory of the sites and their content.

The steps I mentioned might seem trivial but are most often skipped or not taken seriously. This almost always ensures an unsuccessful SharePoint migration.

By Benjamin Niaulin, SharePoint Geek

Filled Under: Linux Software

Management of staff has always been a major issue for homecare companies. Due to the nature of the business staff are often out of the office 90% of the working day. It is therefore particularly important that management have specific procedures in place to ensure that care is given and nursing-staff are safe during working hours.

With the latest developments in cloud technology software companies are now developing powerful home care software solutions that deal with all aspects of managing nurse and care givers work that can be accessed from any computer at any time.

Payroll, time management, holidays etc. are also areas that all need attention in any business. These elements have been managed for years with automated software, but this coupled with the GPS tracking and Real-Time monitoring of care services within the home has really made a significant break-through in the staff management software field.

Tracking systems have been developed that enable a homecare company to ensure that the representative care-giver is visiting all homes of the sick and elderly they are charged with the care of. This level of tracking also ensures the safety of care staff during day (and night) visits to patients.

Couple all this functionality with staff call monitoring and the new era of care management software stands head and shoulders above most of the staff management solutions available in other service industry sectors.

Whilst dealing with the mundane monthly tasks such as invoicing, payroll and home care staff time management, the latest homecare software really excels by adding functionality that could only be dreamt about a couple of years ago.

Filled Under: Home Office Software

So you’re considering making the switch–not from PC to Mac, like a growing number of young techies, but from Windows to Ubuntu Linux. For years, the open-source operating system has been reliably sitting in the backdrop, offering a stable alternative for those fed up with blue-screens and 10-minute startup times.

Linux is much more user-friendly than it was in its early years. That being said, there remains a learning curve for longstanding PC users. You’ll need some time to learn different shortcut keys, get used to different menu items, and access and manage your files. The first thing to strike first-time Ubuntu users is usually the lack of a Microsoft Office. By default, this is replaced by OpenOffice, another open-source alternative. Here again, there are new techniques and shortcuts to learn. As an alternative, you can use a cloud-based office suite such as Google Docs, the catch being that you need reliable internet access.

Other apps also tend to be limited. There are a good number of Linux apps and most of the basics are covered: chat, office tools, maps, photo editing, games, you name it. But it’s nowhere near as vast as the selection for Windows, at least not yet. The default browser is Firefox, which most PC users should be used to.

Performance-wise, Linux is every bit as good as Windows, if not better. Depending on what you do with it, you can expect faster startup, smoother installations, and much fewer crashes, if any.

Obviously, Ubuntu’s biggest pro is that it’s free. That’s what makes it so popular with startups, or with tech-savvy users who refuse to shell out the big bucks for Windows or a Mac. You don’t even have to commit to a full installation: you can download the OS onto a flash drive and get your PC to boot from it. You may need to tinker around with the settings to allow your PC to boot from a flash drive–the process varies from one computer to the other.

There’s also the option of running Ubuntu on Windows as a program. An application called Wubi allows you to do this by creating a separate file that is recognized as a partition. Once installed, your computer will ask you to choose between the two operating systems upon startup. Uninstalling is just as easy: you can access it on your control panel just like you would any other program.


Filled Under: Linux Software

A few weeks ago, news broke out that a Mac virus had finally been detected, ending a longstanding reputation for Apple’s famous operating system. But ‘finally’ is the wrong qualifier–Mac viruses have been popping up here and there as far back as ten years ago. Although they’re much more secure, and the competition would be hard put to catch up, Macs aren’t immune to attacks. That’s why security software is still essential after you’ve made the switch.

The Mac’s virus-free reputation isn’t entirely ungrounded. Viruses are much harder to create for the Mac than for Windows. But other security issues leave it open to forms of attack other than viruses, and that’s where most Mac users fall for the trap. They forgo the antivirus program thinking they’re safe, but they’re vulnerable to all other attacks: phishing, adware, spyware, you name it. Most of today’s antivirus programs also protect against all these, so that’s one reason to get one.

Reason number two is that the market for Macs has increased dramatically in the last few years, thanks to the popularity of the iPhone and iPad. This means that it’s now worth a hacker’s time to work out an attack for these systems, which wasn’t the case when only 5% of users were on Macs. Today, with prices having gone down–the cheapest Macbook is more affordable than some high-end ultrabook PCs–there are more users to target. Mac-specific viruses may still be in their infancy, but cross-platform viruses, which affect all operating systems, are already on the rise.

Another good reason to get an antivirus is to protect your emails, or more specifically, the people receiving your emails. If your Mac is affected by malware (which is different from a virus), you may unknowingly be sending out emails to Windows users who would then be affected if they don’t have the protection. In other words, even if the virus doesn’t manage to affect your Mac, you can spread it to colleagues who would feel the damage.

The market for Mac antivirus programs isn’t as big as its PC counterpart, but there are a good number to choose from. Last year’s top-ranked Mac antivirus was Intego VirusBarrier, according to the 2011 Antivirus Readers’ Choice Awards. Also worth checking out are Sophos Antivirus for Mac Home Edition, made by the world’s top security software firm, and BitDefender Antivirus for Mac, whose publisher has a good track record for detecting malware.

Filled Under: Antivirus Software