Documented arrival and departure times

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Let’s say you have a pool maintenance service company.  One of your customers has contracted for their pool to be serviced certain days of the week.  You get a complaint that they are being ‘skipped’ at times and not getting what they are paying for.  Your technicians insist that they are performing all of the required services and are making every visit.

The solution:

Display Tracks provides detailed management reports that will document the arrival and departure times for each street address.  You can correct the problem with your employee or agree to send these reports to your customer.

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Construction

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Construction jobs have many moving parts, and a lot to be accounted for. Without the proper management system this can often become very chaotic. Display Tracks can help your construction company to get organized and defeat the chaos!

Projects will always have timelines, and by using the Display Tracks system, all your timeline events can be easily logged and later viewed. Geo-tagged Photosprovide you with time and location stamped pictures of the progress your company is making. All of your on-site workers can have our application on their phones, providing managers with an idea of how many total hours of work has been done on a certain project.

Geo-fences can be created around the work site so that managers in charge can be notified when any worker or piece of heavy construction equipment arrives or leaves. This functionality will decrease your business’ liability, meaning less equipment will be stolen, and worker hours are more easily logged.

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Property Management

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Managing your properties and your employees that take care of your properties can often be a tall order. How can you be sure that your employees are really where they say they are from the times that they say they are? Getting a place back into proper living conditions could mean 15 minutes of work, or hours depending on the previous leasers. With Display Tracks, you will always know why your employees took so long.

With Geo-tagged Photos your workers can take before and after photos of a property which you can view on the web application just moments after the photos are taken. This will give you a better idea of how your workers are spending their time on the clock.

Making use of our Send Location feature is a great way to get your workers to their desired destination in less time. Plus, this feature is as easy as right clicking on your destination, and clicking the ‘Send Location’ button! A packet of information is then sent to the selected device, at which time the device opens the location using the GPS turn-by-turn navigator.

To get a better idea of how your employees have spent their time throughout the day, you can pull Business Reports to see where they were at different times of the day. You can create a time sheet of billable hours for any contract workers using our report system. At the end of the week, you are able to run a weekly report to make sure your employees have put in the 40 hours that they say they have.

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Dash to the finish line

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I had not finished digesting my Thanksgiving feast and all of a sudden it’s December.  What a wonderful time of the year.  But…

If you are a manager it is Vacations, Budget Preparation and Performance Reviews …  OH MY.  Especially in a large corporation there are end of the year deadlines that MUST be met before the end of 2015.  This comes (every year) when your resources are scarce due to Holidays and vacations. It also seemed that Human Resources (HR) delivers some mandatory policy that must be covered (with a signed acknowledgement)  with each and every employee.

Pause and review what your team has accomplished in 2015 and look forward to 2016 with enthusiasm.

Happy Holidays !

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What happens when someone calls your business?

Bored Girl on phoneA lot of things can happen when a potential customer dials your number.  Some are not good.

As a owner or manager I suggest you call all the the numbers listed in phone directories, web sites and any printed materials. Call during normal business hours and outside normal hours.  This may seem to be a waste of time but you might be surprised with what happens.

  • The number might not be working or if you have a Call Forward Busy Line feature it may ‘roll over’ to a non working number or a fax machine.
  • Does the person answering have a friendly professional greeting that includes their name?
  • Can you hear them clearly?
  • If you use an auto attendant for initial answer, do the voice prompts make sense to your customer? Exercise all of the options and make sure that they direct you to the proper group.  And by all means do not have the customer enter their account number via keypad and then ASK them for the same information when a live person is on the line.

Remember that this “First Impression” of your business might be the difference between a long time relationship and your competitor gaining a new customer.

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Geo-fencing … the How and When

Geo-fences

In the image below, the purple square on the bridge is an example of a geo-fence that I use for testing and demonstrations.  This is a marquee feature in most location-based services, as geo-fences are valuable in so many different businesses and other cases. A geo-fence is a set of coordinates that define an area (in our case a rectangular area). Once a geo-fence is setup, the system can then trigger an alarm when a device goes inside or outside of that defined area. This feature has numerous obvious benefits, such as being able to see when someone is on the move from their current location, or when they have arrived somewhere.DT Map

First the When

In a work situation, you might want to have a record or be notified when one of your employees returns to the warehouse or work center.  A high number of occurrences might indicate that they did not get the correct materials or tools before going on a job.  Or if you have worker who ‘report to work’ at a job site you can see when they arrive (or leave) the designated area.  Frequently when I am telling a potential customer about the benefits of Display Tracks I get a response “What about my teenagers ?”  You could certainly put a geo-fence around their school to notify you when they arrive or depart.

Now the How

To ‘Add a Geo-Fence’ first select the device or group of devices that you wish to add the geo-fence to, then right-click on the map where you wish to place your geo-fence. You will then notice a rectangle appear, as well as an info window prompting you for the geo-fence’s colors and name. To adjust the geo-fence to your preferred size, grab the resize nodes and resize the geo-fence to fit perfectly around the area you wish to enclose. Once you have named it and set it over the correct area, you can hit the ‘Save’ button and the geo-fence should be saved to the system for the selected device. (Note: Device geo-fences will only appear on the map if the ‘Show Geo-fences’ option is checked. To set this, goto the ‘Map Options’ Component and check the ‘Show Geo-fences’ checkbox.)
To see all of the geo-fences that are associated with the selected device or group of devices, goto the ‘Geo-fences’ tab in the ‘Device Information’ component. Here you can also delete geo-fences by selecting the geo-fence checkboxes that you wish to delete and click the ‘Delete Geo-fence’ button.

Geo-fences can be turned into an alarm event and will notify you anytime the geo-fence is breached by its associated device. Alarms can be set in the ‘Set Alarms’ tab in the Device Information component. In the Set Alarm tab, you can activate the geo-fence alarm by checking the Geo-fence checkbox. This will result in an e-mail being sent to the e-mail associated with the device.
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Android Wear – Bits watch face… simply amazing

I have downloaded and enjoyed several watch faces. It’s fun to accessorize, match my watch to my shirt, etc (something that is really weird for me to say). Beyond the fashion aspect is the functionality, and how the utility helps me be more efficient in day to day work.

Bits watch face
Bits watch face

The new Android Wear software rolled out recently, and wow is it great.

On the topic of this specific watch face, it was great before the update. It allows you to choose up to 6 circular widgets that circle around the middle watch widget. They give you the option to change what widgets show. You can show up to 6, but if you show only 3, it will show you more information about that widget. For instance, if you choose battery, weather and date, it will show an image of the weather condition and battery image + percentage.

Tap for more info
Tap for more info

If you decide you want all 6 widgets (which I like), as of the new update, you can click on each widget to expand them to fill the screen and give you more information about that widget. Simply put, it is AWESOME!

The watch face itself just had an update to its styles as well. Before it had the option to have a black background and 4 or 5 colors to highlight the widgets or a colored background with black or white borders around the widgets; this is call ‘Utilitarian’ design.

Now it gives you that, plus two different background designs to make the face extra funky!

I usually switch my watch faces frequently, but have been quite stuck on this one for some time now.

Download the watch face today, it rocks!
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ustwo.watchfaces.bits&hl=en

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Can We or Should We?

Having worked with developers for years if you ask them “Can we make the product or application do ‘so and so’ (hereafter referred to as ‘xyz’)?”  The answer is almost always “YES”.  However, if the question is “Should we do xyz?”  The answer is sometimes “No”.

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Let me explain.  Let’s say a sales person is talking with a potential customer and is asked “Does it do xyz?” They are merely inquiring about the features or possibly looking for an excuse for not buying the product.  The salesperson rushes back with a “We have got to have xyz!”.  It does not mean that this customer (or indeed any customer) will purchase the product.

Here is where the “Should We” question should be asked.

  1. Is the proposed change mutually exclusive with any other feature the product currently provides? If so, you might be upsetting or losing an existing customer. I have seen cases where xyz was implemented disrupting the current client base.  When the developers are brought in to ‘fix it’ they said “we implemented xyz, we thought that is what you wanted”
  2. Will the proposed change really bring in additional business?
  3. Will it impact system capacity?
  4. If there are no negative impacts by adding this as an option, you should consider making the change.
  5. But lastly, don’t just Do It because it can be done.
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Meetings, Size Matters

Synergy

noun, plural synergies.

the interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements, contributions, etc.; synergism.
 meeting room
The Good:
Certainly meetings do that when you get the right people together at the right time to address a common problem or opportunity.  In a perfect world this powerful collaboration will produce results that are unbelievable. However, ……
The Bad:
When the wrong combination of players are assembled the obvious results are bad (or no) decisions, waste of time and damaged morale.  Typically this occurs when:
1. There is not a clearly defined stated purpose for the meeting.  If you don’t know where you are going any path will get you there. Have an agenda and any supporting visual aides.
2. The facilitator (or lack thereof) does not keep the discussion ‘on topic’
3. The group does not have the authority required to implement a change. Usually this collection of  problem definers share their opinions on ‘how bad things are’ with no solution or even a recommendation to present to the group or individual with the power to do something.
The Ugly:
1. Whether meeting face to face,  conference (audio) call, or video Skype or Google Hangout START ON TIME. Respect those who are ready to start and waiting for you.  When someone joins late they either miss part of the discussion, or worse, make the others have to reenact the previous portion.
2. Don’t interrupt the person speaking.  It breaks their chain of thought and is confusing to others.  Sometimes these lively interactions can lead to non productive arguments with negative outcomes.
3. Pay attention and listen carefully to the person speaking.  Do not be reading a newspaper, texting on your phone, etc.
3. On audio or video conference calls do not be ‘tapping your pencil’ on the table or other distracting noises.  You probably don’t even realize you are doing it but drives the others on the call crazy.  Same with music or other background sounds.  It is usually best to keep your microphone muted until you need to speak.
4. Don’t even meet without a reason.  The “we always get together at this place and time” is no excuse for meeting.  If it is a scheduled meeting where everyone knows what is being presented and discussed, limit the time to just that.  Don’t fall into the “work expands to fill the time allotted” pattern.
and last …. SIZE MATTERS!
My experience is the effectiveness of the meeting is inversely proportional to the size of the group.
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