Throughout my life, I have dealt with numerous numbers of businesses. I’ve had bad experiences turned good, and have bad experiences get even worse. So here’s a few things, I think, businesses should be doing to create more success and increase customer satisfaction.
1) Look after existing customers before finding new customers
I see so many businesses do everything they can to get new customers, but when you are a customer, they treat you like utter crap. I don’t get why they do this as gaining new customers usually cost more money than it takes to retain existing customers.
2) The customer is always right – even though they may be wrong
I really like the saying “The customer is always right” – although, in some cases they will be wrong. However, if the customer thinks they are right, and you say they are wrong, they are likely going to tell all their friends to never do business with you. If a business accepts the loss of one customer by giving them something to make them happy, than that customer may tell all their friends to do business with you. Therefore, instead of writing off a loss on one customer, you gain another 10.
3) One upset customer can cause a chain reaction
I had a falling out with one online business – but I won’t name them. They had a competition, in which I won some money, and they accused me of cheating the system – which I can honestly say, I did not cheat the system – but they thought I did. In my frustration, I wrote a Blog post (on this site) telling the world my side of the story and why from now on, I would never do business with them again. I emailed the link to them as part of my argument as to why I wasn’t cheating. They said, Ok, we’ll give you the money back and forget that this all happened if you delete the article. So I did what was right and deleted the article. A few years later, I am now consistently promoting that company wherever I can, and I have driven a number of sales too them already. So it was lucky they reimburse my winnings, otherwise I would have been saying, “Don’t go with this company” instead of saying, “go with this company”. This is almost exactly the same as “the customer is always right”.
4) Customer satisfaction should be the highest priority
I once purchased a pushbike from Kmart for $150. I rode it every day, and about one month in, the pedal would fall off – not just the pedal, but also the whole crank. Every time I would pedal, the screw will loosen (because the way you pedal is the way the screw loosens). So I took the bike back to Kmart to get a repaired. A few days later (after no one contacted me), I asked about the bike, and they said it was malicious damage and would cost $70 to repair. That’s half the price of what I paid for the bike. I couldn’t understand their justification in that price, and why they said it was malicious damage – the pedal falls off every time you ride it! That is a design fault as the bike was not able to be used how it was intended.
At this stage, I was pretty pissed off. So I called up the store manager in which we had a very intense argument. My argument was that I should be able to get my bike repaired or my money refunded as it was faulty because you’d expect to be able to pedal without having to tighten a bolt up all the time. The store manager got really frustrated – to a point he was almost about to swear at me, and he gave in giving me a full refund.
As a customer, I was not satisfied in the with having to pay half the purchase price of a bike to repair for something that was a design fault. Since I had to go to extreme lengths, this is the reason why I am shaming Kmart. If it was Aldi, you could return the bike within 60 days, and no questions ask – this is excellent customer satisfaction as if you are not satisfied with the product, you are free to return it.
On the positive side, companies such as iiNet and Virgin Mobile have moved my satisfaction levels to over 100%. I won a BoB2 from iiNet, and in return, I wrote a review about it for my own interests and iiNet gave me other iiNet Lab products to give away. My mum also won a 1Gb iiNet USB stick which she got, then about a week later, she get’s two more in the mail from Westnet – still not sure why. Nevertheless, I am happy.
The same with Virgin Mobile – I purchased a new phone from them, wrote a review about the phone, and they are sending me a surprise in the mail. At the moment, I am really happy with these two companies – they have it 100% correct on how to create customer satisfaction.
5) Respond to customers’ needs
As a business, you may know the direction you want to go into, but your customers may think differently. Remember when Telstra added a surcharge for paying bills at the Post Office – this was something that a large percentage of Telstra customers did because it was the only way they knew how to pay their bills. Telstra listened to their customers, and ditched the surcharge and customers where again happy.
Companies should have a team responsible for responding to customers’ needs. Companies such as Virgin Mobile and iiNet do this through their Social Media team. They’re getting valuable feedback from what people are saying about their company on forums, Twitter, Facebook, Blogs and turning that feedback into actions that meet customers’ needs.
6) One person to deal with your issues
Telecommunication companies are also a good example for this. I had a probably with my iiNet account, so I sent them an email. A representative got back to me, worked through the issue with me and even gave me their email address in case the problem occurred again and so I could follow up with them in one month’s time. This was good because I only had to deal with one person and I didn’t have to tell the same story to ten different people, get ten different answers, and talk to 10 different departments. I spoke with one person and that person did all the talking to all the other departments on my behalf.
As with Telstra, it was a different story. I called them up, spoke to one person who referred me to a different department. That person didn’t have the correct permissions, so they had to refer me to another person. Then that person had to deal with the other department and for the entire phone call, I was being directed department to department telling the same story 10 times. All I should have to do is call one person and tell that person what I want archived. I hang up, that person talks to everyone in all the departments on my behalf and then calls me back 20 minutes later with the problem fixed. That way, I am happy, as I don’t have to waste my time explaining the same thing to everyone. Telstra, take the hint in what iiNet does.
Two Negative Examples Of Companies Going Bad
GoDaddy.com and SOPA
This has to be one of my favourite examples. When SOPA was being passed through Congress, GoDaddy – a domain and webhosting company said they supported SOPA. Well, did the people of the internet speak out! In one week, GoDaddy lost 72000 domain names from people boycotting a domain name register for supporting SOPA. Then unexpectedly, GoDaddy decided to oppose SOPA, but the damage has already been done.
Back in October 2011, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce grounded the entire Qantas fleet over industrial action ‘just because he could’. This left thousands of passengers stranded at airports around Australia, but thankfully, Virgin Australia saved the day. Then a month later, Qantas’s social media team had a competition where you could win Pyjama's with the hashtag #QantasLuxury. The question was “What is your dream luxury inflight experience? (Be creative)”. Moreover, you could imagine, they were all about having a plane that actually flies and were workers weren’t locked out.
- @smurray38 said: ''#qantasluxury is seeing your planes on Getaway not Four Corners.''
- @jaseellis tweeted: ''#qantasluxury is a QANTAS plane that actually flies.''
- @louisamdeasey said: ''it was nice of them to make it easy 4 people to tweet their biggest gripes about qantas. PR fail! #qantasluxury.''
As it turns out, Qantas doesn’t actually know who won.
- “So @QantasAirways finally replied to my email asking who won#qantasluxury. They are very sorry but they don't know”
Therefore businesses, I hope you have learnt something here. Do you have any suggestions for businesses?
Image Credits: Loyalty and Customers, We are Social, Peth Now
With the majority of kids now back to school and Uni starting in the next few weeks, it’s time for University students to prepare for the academic year. Although, according to my calculations, there is only 15% of the year that’s actually hard work if you are a University student.
I just finished three years at University, and I probably picked up a pen on average once a month. For the rest of the time, I used a laptop for my studies. Using a laptop is great because you can Google the things you are confused about in the lecture, or to the lesser extent, surf Facebook when the lecturer is boring you. Nevertheless, on the serious side, I used Microsoft OneNote to record and scribble over my lecture notes on my laptop and over the 3 years of doing this, I’m happy with my high grades. Using a Laptop or Pen and Paper to take notes does have advantages and disadvantages as I discovered in my research, but the main theme I got was it all depends on personal preferences and the subjects the person is doing.
Therefore, if you need a new laptop, or want to try to study without the traditional pen and paper, here’s what to look out for when buying a student laptop.
How long does the battery last?
The only disadvantage with using a laptop for University is to ensure you have enough battery power to get you through your day. There is nothing worse when your battery is flat, you left your power cable at home, or there are no power points to charge your flat laptop. Having no form of electricity sucks.
My laptop for my first year of University only lasted two hours – and in most cases, would only last the time of a lecture. However, I was extremely lucky as my lecture or tutorial rooms and power points, or I had a break so I could head to the library and study with my laptop plugged in. There was only one day for three weeks when I couldn’t use my laptop in class because it was flat.
The good news is most new laptop batteries can last between 2 and 10 hours. Therefore, when looking for a laptop, get one that you know will last you an entire day at University (or ensure you can charge it up during class).
Big and Heavy or Small and Light?
The size of the laptop you get also plays a significant factor. Having a small laptop (between 10-13inch) is good because it is extremely light, incredibly portable, the battery usually lasts much longer, and it can easily fit on lecture theatre chairs (as some lecture rooms have a very small desk). Performance is limited, so it’s not a good idea if you need to run high resourced applications on it as part of your study – such as 3D modelling applications. The downsides with small laptops is that is can sometimes be hard to do your work, especially if you need to compare multiple word documents and look at websites for research. In my experience, trying to do research on small laptops is much harder than on a 24” monitor. That being said, if you just need to type up notes and revise them when you get home, it’s the perfect size (because that is exactly what I did).
On the other hand, if you get a big laptop (more than 15”) in size it can be very heavy if you need to walk around a lot, it could be hard to fit it on your desk, and it’s just too hard to manage overall unless you setup in a permanent location. However, you can reap the benefits of the screen size and performance. If you don’t have another desktop computer at home, and you only have a laptop, I’d suggest getting a larger laptop than a smaller one.
Depending on the course you are doing, larger laptops are better than smaller ones. For example, you will probably want a large screen for your laptop if you are doing a lot of research because it’s easy to speed read, or looking at high-resolution diagrams.
Other Things And Tips To Think About
Ensuring that your battery lasts your entire day is the most critical thing you have to think about when getting a laptop for University. You then have to decide whether you want a big or small laptop – in other words, do you want portability or performance. I went down the portability side of things, and it worked out great. Here are some other things to think about:
My netbook could boot up in the matter of seconds when I used hibernation. Why? Because all that was installed was Chrome and FireFox, and Microsoft Office. That is all I needed as all I was doing was taking notes. If you install games, or other unnecessary programs, you will lose out waiting for your laptop to boot. There is nothing worse coming 10 minutes late into an important lecture and having to wait another 5 minutes while your laptop starts up. In the mean time, that’s 5 minutes of important information you didn’t have a chance to write down. So if you get a small laptop, only install the essentials and no games. This will also prevent you from getting distracted.
Know your tools
I used Microsoft Office OneNote. I printed my PowerPoint slides to OneNote, which allowed me to take notes over them. It saves printing paper realms of paper and time writing. There are a few other tools, but I found OneNote best suited my needs. In addition, it automatically synchronised with my Desktop Computer, so I had the notes anywhere I needed them.
You can take notes collaboratively with a laptop
If your University has Wi-Fi, you can take notes with your peers with Google Docs. Just set up a spreadsheet, share it with your friends and you can all start typing to work on taking notes together. This is something you couldn’t do on pen and paper. I have some tips here about using DropBox and Google Docs and keeping track of time.
What not to get…
I’m overall happy about computers that I get from Aldi – in fact, I’ve purchased 1 desktop, and 2 laptops from them which I liked. However, I purchased my third (this one by Fission, not Medion), and let me say, this was the worst computer I have ever laid my hands on. However, a friend purchased this (second hand) for University, and she seems to like it.
- Size / Performance
- Software you need
- Base your decision on your course and needs
- Know your tools to get the most out of using a laptop
- And collaborate
- Also, check out my post in what to look out for (hardware wise) when buying a laptop
Do you have any other tips on what sort of laptop you should get for University? If you are still not sure, or have any questions about using laptops while at University, let me know in the comments.
If you haven’t yet liked my Facebook page, your missing out on some great links, resources, news, updates and tools. Usually every day, I post something I think my readers will find useful, and at the end of every month, I include them all in a blog post. So in case you’ve missed something, here is my January 2012 Facebook resource list.
- A great day to the start of the year. FAQ’s are launched
- Restaurant owners, you can be fined if you don’t provide free WiFi
- How much of a Geek are you? Do a Geek test
- Who’s suing who in Australia
- Kogan.com.au links to my post on their Facebook Wall
- How to respond to annoying email forwards and chain letters
- WARNING: Facebook Anti-Timeline Scam
- How many mobile phone subscribers are there in the world?
- Are Australian’s lazy to meet people face to face?
- 2011 in Review: Australian Telecommunication
- OfficeWorks now offers free Wifi – Do your research on their display laptops and receive 5% discounts
- Is Windows 8 going to have Eye Tracking Technology?
- How would you like to pay? Cash, EFTPOS, Credit or PayPal? Wait, what?
- Free IT Courses from Stanford University
- Don’t buy an iPhone with Siri – it will hit you
- Jack Cola launch's new Directory: Websites, Software, People, 1300 Number alternatives
- Wordpress: Help Stop SOPA/PIPA
- Perform Reverse Phone Number lookups
- Sam Kekovich Australia Day Ad – I’m a Barbie Girl
- How to prolong your batteries lifespan
- A 1 TB USB Drive is good – but add a Swiss Army Knife, makes it even better. All it needs is Bluetooth
- How to protect your computer when someone else is using your home network
- Make awesome video’s with Magisto – No click editing
- CutTheRope – the next Angry Birds?
- How to NOT clean your PC
- Play Google Doodles – Pacman, Les Paul Guitar
- Get more out of DropBox
- Do you know about Facebook Music?
- Wikipedia shuts down in protest of SOPA and PIP
- Not really good advertising to win a free $13000 Europe Cruise
- As above, Neither for this Workplace Safety Ad
- An awesome design of a website
- Help the Australian Government combat scams
- A list of websites that Blacked Out for SOPA Protests
- SOPA/PIPA Protest Song – The day the LOLcats died
- The .au Domain Infograph
- Fun facts of the Internet in 2011
- Cyber war begins: Anonymous attacks Government and Universal Music
- The best fails of 2011
- This 14 Year Old Has Talent – With 27 million views
- Google’s “Good to know” guide for staying safe online
- Would you share your Facebook password if/when you are in a teen relationship?
- Behind the scenes of the tech powering the Australian Open 2012
- Anonymous to takedown Facebook on Jan 28th – but we know that didn’t happen
- For every second, one hour of video is uploaded to YouTube
- Spy on someone using their computer, or use Google, or Chrometa
- What to look out for on an ATM Skimming device
- Office 2010 The Movie Trailer
- The different types of Facebookers – which one are you?
- An excellent summary of SOPA and PIPA
- Digital Death – what information are you leaving behind?
- Is sitting down killing you?
- Advance Australia Fair song out to Jimmy Barnes Working Class Man
The end of December 2011
In my last post, I didn’t list the posts from the end of December, so here they are:
- A sum up on the mobile Industry for 2011 – or more like, who was suing who
- A summary of the chances Google made to Search
- Would you wear a computer???
- A list of the top YouTube video’s for 2011
- Want to buy an official Google T-Shirt of Cofee Mug? Google’s Official Zazzle Store
- Are you an iTunes user? Guess what you agreed not to do?
- So, how much money do you think Google made in 2011?
- Make your own Mix Tape (or just stream some music for free)
- 3 Alternatives for DropBox Haters
- How did you use your Gmail account in 2011?
I hope this resources have been useful to you, if they’re not, please tell me what you would like to see more or less of. Also make sure you tell your friends about JackCola.org! Thanks for your support.
Facebook has yet made another change on how Photo’s are displayed.
Previously, comments on individual photo’s were displayed underneath the photo, now comments are to the right hand side of the photo. The new change also adjusts the size of the photo depending on your browsers window size. A smaller window will mean a smaller image.
Commands for photo's such as rotate photo, download, are available in a dropdown menu on the top right corner next to the close button. When viewing other people's photo's, only the add location, download and report photo options are available.
More information to come. Do you like the new change?
The following is an article I wrote for one of my assessments in 2008 which I thought I might share. The question is “why should you pay for software when you can get it for free” and the topic is software monopolies.
Home computers, most people nowadays own at least one, maybe even two. What will their operating system be? Most likely, it will be Microsoft. Their Internet Browser, again, it will most likely be Microsoft Internet Explorer. Microsoft has been the dominant player in regards to competition in the software and online industry. This would hopefully change with the growing demand of the internet and on-line applications.
Google, the world’s number one search engine in Australia, (Google, 2007) has begun their rollout of web-based applications, which is an immense threat to Microsoft and their newly developed Windows Live portal. Google Apps (www.google.com/a) which contains many new initiatives including Google Site, Google Docs, Start Page, Google Calendar and Google Talk, greatly outnumbers what Microsoft has to offer in their Office suites and on their Windows Live Portal consistent of Windows Live Mail, Messenger, Photo Gallery and Writer. Not only this, Google also offers Google Earth, Google Maps, Page Creator and many Webmaster Tools that provided detailed statistics for webmasters. Google has acquired many internet-based companies to help grow their enterprise that comprises of Youtube, Blogger, Feed Burner, JotSpot, Deja.com and Keyhole Corp, which established Google Earth (MacManus, 2007). This allows Google to gain more of the market share from Microsoft. Microsoft has retaliated with the recent purchase of Yahoo, another leading search engine in the online world who are partners with the Channel Seven Corporation, which can provide affordable and effective advertising to a large majority of Australians.
With competition between Google Apps and Microsoft Office suites, Microsoft is in vast threat as corporations can greatly benefit from online sharing which eliminates the use of expensive Microsoft Office suites that are used offline. Online sharing and collaboration has recently become a key aspect that can benefit organisations to work more efficiently and effectively at home, at work, or on the go.
Google is also diminishing Microsoft products, as “Google seems to be sidling up to Firefox, a relationship that could bring back some bad memories for Microsoft” says Mike Yamamoto from Cnet News. Google has been promoting Mozilla Firefox, a community developed web browser through Google’s Adsense program that allows webmasters to be paid when Firefox is installed on a users PC after clicking on an ad. Google’s Adsense program rakes in US$4 Billion per quarter in revenue. (Kidd, 2008) This is entering danger zone for Microsoft’s Internet Explorer as in January 2002, Microsoft had 86.8% of the market share, and now it is down to 54.7% in January 2008. Mozilla Firefox on the other hand has increased by almost 20% within the last three years. Since the establishment, Microsoft has dominated the software industry, which has made their programs standard in homes and educational institutes around the world. Microsoft has the advantage as they can easily incorporate new products through their automatic updates implemented in their operating systems. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is pre-installed on all Windows Operating Systems which Microsoft has 87.2% of the market share of the past five Windows operating Systems. Linux has 3.6% and Macintosh has 4.4% of the market share. (W3Schools, 2008)
With free applications becoming more and more popular, home PC users, tend not to pay for additional software, but rather download it. Applications such as Mozilla Firefox and OpenOffice.org are becoming more popular and are great free alternatives to Microsoft Office software. These free programs are downloadable from the internet and are compatible with Microsoft products for use when these programs are not available at work or school computers. With free application such as Google Apps and Open Office.org, it is hard to believe that Microsoft still has the majority of the market.
However, According to Cybersource, “It is impossible or extremely difficult for consumers to purchase a desktop PC or laptop from a tier-1 or tier-2 computer manufacturer without also having to purchase an OEM copy of Microsoft” (Cybersource, 2005). This is with the exception of Apple Mac, which you are still required to buy.
For the end user the competition between free applications such as Google Apps, Mozilla programs and OpenOffice.org provides great benefits as the software is just as good as or better than Microsoft products. Microsoft’s price will therefore drop as they are missing the sales and profits. Microsoft has also brought forward their release of Windows 7 to boost sales from their criticised Windows Vista operating system.
The war between Google and Microsoft in the on-line industry will always continue. Microsoft has Hotmail, Windows Live Messenger and Spaces which appeals more to the younger generation, whereas Google tends to market towards education and business enterprise. These two rival companies compete using their software, online applications and features. Microsoft Hotmail, which contains ads in every email, only allows attachments of 10 megabytes, and does not work with Microsoft Office applications such as Microsoft Outlook; and Gmail, which does not display ads, has a 25 megabyte attachment limit and works with Microsoft Office Software and other free software such as Mozilla Thunderbird.
Google and open sourced programs provides everything plus more that Microsoft Office provides. So why continue to pay $500 for Microsoft products where you can have products just as good and better for free? If you have to choose between these two companies, choose Google and support open sourced software. Do not continue to pay Bill Gates’ wage.
Google Apps: http://www.google.com/a
Mozilla Firefox: http://www.mozilla.com/firefox/
Google Adsense: https://www.google.com/adsense/
Cnet News: http://www.news.com/
Open Office: http://www.openoffice.org/
- Richard MacManus. (2006, November 22). Retrieved March 10, 2008, from Read Write Web: http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/microsoft_vs_google_heats_up.php
- Cybersource. (2005, July 26). The Cost of Software Monopoly:. Retrieved March 09, 2008, from Cybersource: http://www.cybersource.com.au/press/the_cost_of_software_monopoly.pdf
- Feed Burner. (2007, June 1). Burning Questions. Retrieved March 10, 2008, from Feed Burner: http://blogs.feedburner.com/feedburner/archives/2007/06/feedburner_google.php
- Google. (2007). Google Corporate Information: Google Milestones. Retrieved March 10, 2008, from Google Australia: http://www.google.com.au/corporate/history.html
- Hakon Wium Lie, N. (2006, June 19). Microsoft's forgotten monopoly. Retrieved March 10, 2008, from Zdnet: http://news.zdnet.com/2100-3513_22-6085484.html
- Kidd, D. (2008, March). Shifting Places. PC Authority , pp. 5,7.
- MacManus, R. (2007, Septemeber 10). Microsoft Issues 10 Reasons Why Enterprises Shouldn't Use Google Apps. Retrieved March 10, 2008, from Read Write Web: http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/microsoft_10_reasons_against_google_apps.php
- Sokullu, E. (2006, Novemeber 21). GoogleOS: What To Expect. Retrieved March 10, 2008, from Read Write Web: http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/googleos_what_to_expect.php
- W3Schools. (2008, February). Browser Statistics. Retrieved March 10, 2008, from W3Schools: http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_stats.asp
- W3Schools. (2008, January). OS Platform Statistics. Retrieved March 09, 2008, from W3Schools: http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_os.asp
- Yamamoto, M. (2005, November 10). Microsoft vs. Google and Firefox. Retrieved March 10, 2008, from Cnet: http://www.news.com/8301-10784_3-5944623-7.html
The above image has been circling around the internet a bit today. In fact, as I was writing this, someone told me to come have a look at the exact same image. So basically, you stare at the dots on the girls nose for about 30 seconds, then you look at a something white, like a piece of paper, the wall, or a blank FireFox browser tab and quickly blink your eyes. You will see the girl in FULL COLOUR.
However, as I discovered myself (I'm sure others have picked it up, but I never read it anywhere before) - this tactic works for almost all negative images. Just have a look at this negative image I found off Google.
Why don't you try this on your own photo's. Make a copy of one of your photo's, open it in paint (Right click, edit) and press Control+Shift+I to make the image negative. Then stare at it. Let me know how it goes.
In tonight's showdown in the Australian Open 2012, Roger Federer won against 19 year old Australian Favourite Bernard Tomic in straight sets. However, the question is, are these two tennis players related? Just have a look at the similarities between Tomic’s younger sister and Federer’s wife.
Sara Tomic just looks like a younger version of Mirka Federer, agree?
(Images Via Nj.com, Adelaide Now, Zimbio, Telegraph)
For most of last year I was working on a project with 3 other people developing a web portal for a non-profit organisation as part as my University degree. I was the team leader and today I want to share some of my strategies I used in managing the team, our files, documents, and other project management tasks.
The Project Overview
Before I get started, I will tell you a little about the project so it gives you some information about why I used the below tactics.
As I said above, I was working with three other peers developing a web portal using SharePoint for a non-profit organisation as part of my University degree. The project was a year long, and had a few stakeholders:
- Our Team – which consists of me and three others
- The Client – the non-profit organisation we were building the SharePoint Portal for
- Mentor – is a SharePoint Expert who was hired by the client to become their IT Department and to mentor us and offer help along the way
- CRM Team – A team who was building another system that would interact with SharePoint
- University – Our lectures and teachers who we saw for 4 hours every week
Our SharePoint Portal had four requirements:
- Document and Content Management – to hold thousands of documents in a centralised repository for the organisation
- Help Desk – A central contact spot for employees to get help regarding business enquiries or technical support
- Web Forms – To allow employees to submit their annual reports, lookup datasets (such as contact information for the hundreds of premises and clients). The data will be stored and retrieved from CRM
- Connectivity – successfully integrating Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 data with SharePoint
Therefore, over the year, we had to plan, develop, and implement this system, as well as document everything. We had to produce about 10 pieces of separate documentation – requirements specification, design specification, testing plan, user documentation and a few others.
Keep in mind, that as well as working on this project, I also had another 3-4 subjects that we each were completing, so another 36-48 hours on top of the project.
How I Managed The Team
For those who know me, I like making this as simple and easy as I can possibly can and I hate doing things that I don’t have to do, or I try to find an easier way to do things.
Running Meetings: A 3 Hour Drive or Skype?
One of the things I didn’t like about this project was that the client’s location was a 70km drive away, which was a 2 to 3 hour round trip depending on traffic. Since I was still studying, I didn’t really have 3 hours to drive to the clients place for a 1 hour meeting – it wasn’t worth it. So instead, we setup our meetings using Skype.
Skype was great. We had 5+ people join our Skype meetings, although the quality of being in person compared to on Skype isn’t the same, the time and money it saved travelling was well worth it. Skype actually worked quite well, and there wasn’t many dropouts or lost audio.
Although we did have in person meetings, they were only done when we had to discuss issues with the users of the system.
For our team meetings, we were lucky enough to have a 2 hour timeslot that all four of us were free, and were at Uni, which worked out great.
Emails: Send one email to four people all the time is annoying
Emails can be a bit of a pain to manage and can upset communication between multiple people. Since my team was small, and we were all closely working together, it was very inefficient for the client to be emailing all four of us all the time. It would be a pain to send one email to four different people all the time, and because of the number of emails we would send on a daily basis, we didn’t want to use our personal emails or our University Email account.
Since this project required a lot of documentation, which each of us had to contribute to it, it would be inefficient to send email copies around. This will just be a mess with different versions, and it’s easy to lose track on whose turn it is to work on it.
We used both of these systems differently. We used Google Docs for collaboration and writing the bulk of the documentation. Google Docs allowed us to all work on the document at the same time. So one of us could be working on the Help Desk specification, and the other on the Forms. It didn’t create any conflict or duplicate documents. The only thing Google Docs wasn’t good at was formatting and creating styles as Microsoft Word was – so this is where DropBox came in handy.
We created a Shared Team folder that all of us had access to and we used it as a central document and file repository. The folder had a section each team member could leave documents that they were currently working on (to help with visibility), and a team folder which held all our final documents, drafts and other team documents.
We would first write a document up in Google Docs and once all the content was done, we’d paste it into our Microsoft Word Template, made it look professional, saved it in DropBox, and sent the PDF version to the client. We would then archive the Google Docs copy.
This process worked really well, as once it went into DropBox, we didn’t really need to edit it again, and if we did, usually only one personal would be editing it at a time. If multiple people did edit the DropBox file, DropBox would create file conflicts, which was a major hassle, especially when it occurred hours before a deadline. We really had to try hard to finish the document in Google Docs first.
We also used this method when writing our meeting minutes. There was a shared document on Google Docs for writing the minutes that everyone could read and contribute too (we all had laptops in our meetings), then at the end of the meeting, it was tidied up, and stored on DropBox.
What About Microsoft Office Web Apps?
Halfway through the project, I investigated Microsoft Office Web Apps to replace Google Docs. As being Microsoft, you would assume it would save all the formatting and styles and be exactly the same whether being opened in Microsoft Word, or in your web browser. Unfortunately, I assumed wrong. I had two issues, the first one covered in my post titled “Be Careful When Using Microsoft Office Web Apps As You May Lose Data”, and the second issue is that the online Editor has an expandable width while editing, so when you preview it, everything get’s squished or is mumbled up – especially if you have tables in the document. So with this, and experience data loss with Office Web Apps, I stuck with Google Apps.
Warning: Know Your Team Mates!
In this team, the above tools and techniques worked incredibly well. It took a few weeks for everyone to get used to using it, but once everyone got the hang of how to work in this team, it was smooth sailing. However, in the second half of the year, I was also working in another team, for another subject writing a business plan. However, when using Google Docs and DropBox, it just did not work with this other team. The first few drafts of the document where emailed to me and some text written on Google Docs, wasn’t in the final version. By the completion of the document, we had multiple Word Documents, Google Docs had content all over the place, and DropBox was a mess. If you follow this guide, you need to ensure every member of the team does it properly AND they do it from the very start, otherwise things will just spiral out of control.
Project Management was one thing our team slightly lacked. We didn’t have the time to create fancy schedules and diagrams.
The University required us to use Liquid Planner, which the University got a free licence for us to use. However, this just created more issues than it solved. The first problem was that it was hard to use and learn. They had tutorials, but they were too long. It just wasn’t simple as compared to something like Base Camp or Podio. If we didn’t use Liquid Planner, we would have failed the subject as it was a hurdle, but the majority of the class (100+ students) all had issues with it. Not just issues with learning how to use it, but seeing other groups’ data in our teams – but this problem was more likely due to misconfiguration by the University staff. To add more to the problem, halfway through the project, they completely redesigned Liquid Planner.
One other requirement we were to do was to record the amount of time that we worked on the project. Liquid Planer did this in away, but it was much easier to just list everything in a Google Docs SpreadSheet. I just created a few columns such as date, minutes worked, what I did, task it was for; and that just worked fine. Since then, on a Microsoft's MSDN Blog post, there was this SpreadSheet, which may be suitable for us to use (which you may be interested in using now).
Keeping Track of Time
For those who regularly need to keep track on where there time goes, it can be somewhat hard to calculate how much time you actually spend on something. You may forget the time you start, or you may get distracted midway through with an email. The whole time tracking situation can be somewhat difficult. However, I came across a good program called Chrometa. You can read my in depth review of here. The only downside is that it is quite expensive. When I started using it, they had a free download link, which no longer works unfortunately. If you are a full time student, you could probably fill out this form and get a free account (if it still works). Nevertheless, it was a pretty decent time tracking program.
To sum up, our team used the following technology tools:
- Google Apps
- Setup Team Email Address
- Used Google Docs to write documents
- DropBox: Used DropBox to store documents in one central location everyone can access
- Skype: For conducting meetings to save travel time
- Chrometa: To manage timesheets
The good thing about it, everything was free, which is the way I like things. These tools worked for us. They may not work for you, but they are certainly something to look into to help your team.
So this was my experience managing a team of four. What tools and techniques have you used when managing small teams?
Ever wished to track someone down? To find their address, phone numbers, or their name? It can be quite hard, but you’d be surprised on how easy it can be to find out where someone lives or their phone number; and we can thank the Internet for this. So here is my How To guide on tracking people down online
Before we began
Stalking can be a bit dangerous, and is a little bit illegal, so don’t go overboard with this. The point of this post is to tell you how easy it actually is to find someone. You might want to try some of these tips on yourself as well to see how easy it is for other people to track you down. If you do find too much personal information online, you may want to protect your online identity or remove information from Google.
For this tutorial to work, you do need to know something about this person already. The more you know the better. So here are a few tips to find someone.
Tools To Use
Reverse phone number lookups used to be illegal in Australia, however, there are now a few tools that you can now use where you enter in someone’s phone number, and they tell you the address of the phone number and the name of the person who owns it or lives at that address.
Reverse Australia – Find address and name with phone number
Reverse Australia is a really good tool. Having mentioned this on my Facebook Page, people have said it even lists unlisted or silent numbers. However, to get their address, you need to login with Facebook – the site does seem trustworthy.
When entering a phone number, you get the name of the people or company, the address, what telecommunication company owns the number, and comments from other people. So if you know someone’s mobile or landline number, you can find out where they live, and their name.
Person Lookup – Search by last name or phone number to find name, address and phone number
Person Lookup is another similar tool, but as well as doing a search only by phone number, you can do a search by last name. So if you know someone’s last name, and you want to get their phone number and address, you can use Person Lookup. It may be a little hard if they have a common last name, but if you know the area they live in, you can narrow it down.
Person Lookup is also a good tool, especially when you use it with Google where you can actually find the name and telephone number of someone who lives at a particular address. So if you know where someone lives, you can just Google site:http://personlookup.com.au “33 fake st suburb” VIC 3000 and you’ll get their name and phone number. You may have to play around with the quotes and address – leaving out suburb name or postcodes for example, but you should be able to find the results you are looking for.
The White Pages is also helpful as they are the “official” records, but you can only find someone’s phone number if you know their full name and suburb. This is why Person Lookup is very handy as you can search for people by address, phone number or name.
Facebook can also be a very helpful tool to help find information about someone. If you know their name you can find their profile information and find information like what school they went to, where they live, and all this information can be used to help with your tracking with the above links. If you don’t know their first or last names, you can use Facebook’s Find Friends feature to find people who live in certain areas, or went to a particular school. However, I wish Facebook developed a service like this, as it would be much more useful.
If you can’t find someone on Facebook, try Pipl . Pipl allows you to search by name, location (not address), Email, Username, or Phone number. However, this site is US based, so the phone may not work. But it’s very handy to find someone’s social media accounts if you know there email address or their name.
Use These Tools To Collect Your Information
By knowing how to use these above tools correctly, you can likely track down a person who lives in Australia and get their contact information like phone numbers and address. As long as you know at least two things about them, you’ll have a very high chance on tracking someone down.
- To find someone’s phone number if you know their address or name, use Person Lookup
- To find someone’s name or address if you know their phone number, use Reverse Australia or Person Lookup
- To find someone’s Facebook account if you know their email address, use Pipl (or Facebook)
- If you know someone’s name, and want to find their address, use Person Lookup or Reverse Australia
- Have a read of this expanded list on How to find someone online
So the question is, how easy is it to stalk you? Did you successfully find out where someone you wanted to stalk lives? Are you now worried about the information you just found? Here are some more tips on how to protect yourself online.