Wireless hotspots

I am continually looking for access points at a reasonable price, while there are lots of access points at this stage they are a bit on the pricey side. Nicole Manktelow from Icon had this great intro into hot spots and Sydney in the SMH in Jan 2004. In here you can find example pricing I have tried both Xone and Optus’s Wireless service both very easy to use.

Nicole directed me to the feature of Whereis allowing you to view the nearest hotspots to the address you are searching. I searched around our office as was disappointed with the result, so few? Even less when I search around my home, not surprising 🙂

Has anyone else used hotspots in Sydney?

Recruiting via your blog

For the last 7 months or so two of Microsoft’s recruiters from the Microsoft Core Technical Recruiting team (the “Moon Gals) have been blogging away with a variety of posts. Based on the number of comments (1795) and trackbacks (281) based on only 154 posts, they have a significant readership, me included.

Today’s post is a little different, they are advertising for someone to join them within the central recruiting team. They admit they want to “shamelessly use our blog to promote the opportunity”.

It is fantastic to see such a usage of a blog, I bet not the first, nor the last, however I am confused, do they really have so many issues in finding candidates that they need to advertise on their blog? Or this the start of something more unique? Regardless if I fit the requirements I would apply, one big issue is I am in Sydney the job is in Redmond, the commute would be a bitch.

The perfect HR search

There is discussion going on at the moment about the Perfect Search, referring to the results provided by search engines such as Google, Yahoo and others. Most of this seems to have steemed from John Battelle asking the question “What is the Perfect Search” as he pens the final chapter in his new book.

Jeremy Zawodny has been talking about this for a few days and found a great video from Apple that simulates what the search world could be like. Jeremy mentions the idea of search engines “talking back”, like a librarian would to try and help you find what you are looking for. echeslack mentions a cool search tool, Kartoo, that tries to graphically draw relationships. Tony Gentile offers an interesting point that the engine needs to be in sync with the user, which raises all sorts of other topics, and brings up the concept of “active listening”, something I believe is shown in the video from Apple.

I would like to see this concept within HRIS tools to provide the perfect HR search. Imagine you want to go on leave/vacation open your browser and up pops your corporate portal. In the search box you enter “take leave next week” and an intelligent search agent goes off to work and provides the following results:-

  • your current balances, highlighting accruals that are getting to the limit of organisational rules
  • provides right policy based on who you are
  • recommendation based on your previous records
  • provides link to correct form
  • summary of current approved leave among your peers
  • even aggregate external content from travel sites, weather etc that might be relevant during your take off
  • compare the time with your calendar, the project plans of any projects you are working on

I know some of this is done today by some software, but can we make it better?

Creating help files

I do not often write on the weekends however today is different.

As all software vendors we need to produce documentation for our users, and today I have been looking at how we can convert our Microsoft Word based documents into something more “online and real time”.

My requirements for a tool/process are fairly straight forward:-

  1. Easy for the people creating documentation to learn
  2. Easy for them to complete everytime we have an upgrade or change
  3. Ability to ship a easy to use online help file with the product
  4. Ability to print for the hard copy people, without needing to keep multiple versions
  5. Ability to have context sensitive help based on the screen the user is viewing within the product.

As I mentioned we currently use MS Word, given most users are Windows based I began looking at HTML Help 1.4. My first thought is either I am lacking brain cells today or the documentation/help for the product is not up to scratch. (This is quite ironic given the product.) So I began to convert our MS Word files into HTML using the “Save As Web Page” option thinking that Bill’s organisation would have these things nicely integrated. This was my first mistake:-

  • The Word specific XML tags placed around image result in the file not being understood by the HTML Help product. Given the document is full of images not a good start.
  • When allowing HTML Help Workshop to automatically create my contents page, it correctly identified H1, H2 and H3 tags as section headers, but seems to be unable to then create links to these sections. The result a really good contents listing that does nothing.

After several searches on Google I found a tool from Microsoft to remove the additional tags, an surprise my images appeared. Now why did they just not put that feature into the HTML Help Workshop? This got part of my issue resolved, however when printing to PDF from the resulting HTML help file my images disappear AGAIN! Maybe more tweaking will get them back.

This still did not get my table of contents working. I am now starting to feel that we might have to redo our documentation. Now I am looking at a tool called WebWorks Publisher Professional from WebWorks this seems to do everything I need, for US$1000. I have just downloaded the 50MB product, got my evaluation key and off to test. I will update on my results.

I would have thought this would have been easier, I guess I am wrong.

HR service centres & CRM

Last night was the first presentation of the AHRI/Cedar 2004 Workforce Technology Survey results, a survey that has been a project over the last 18 months for the AHRI NSW HRIS SIG (wow how many more acronims can you get!)

The results showed that about 60-70% of surveyed organisations deliver HR services to their employees via some form of Service Centre. This is very interesting, while the centres may not be as comprehensive as a traditional call centre they are still conducting similar business transactions. I have been thinking a bit about this and the technology required to set up a service centre that can justify itself via ROI calculations with hard numbers not “we think it is working”.

Technology plays a very important role in the operations and usually HR practitioners do not know a lot about it and the technology has a very steep learning curve. The need to look at call/email tracking software ranging from basic to the more advanced CRM type applications, review the communications technologies required for reporting and analysis of call patterns, maybe even look at VOIP. These pieces of technology, and the reports produced are critical if you are to be able to provide an ROI.

Potential measures would be:-

  • Call/service volumes
  • Time to answer
  • Time to resolution of issue
  • Call abandon rates
  • Trends on types of services required
  • % of transactions requiring re-work vs benchmark before operations

These are just some of my initial thoughts (I am only on my first cup of coffee and it is Friday) I would be interested to see/develop a full listing of measures.

Blog name change

I have made a slight change to the name of my blog. Instead of just HR stuff I have decided to include the technology stuff (as this interests me almost more than the HR stuff).

On a side note I have rediscovered Redgum (not the tree, the band). If you have not heard of them I recommend you go out and get one of their CDs. They have some fantastic songs about Australia and our culture from the 70’s & 80’s.