Monday, 31 October 2011

Sneak Peak: New Help System

This week we will be rolling out a new help system. 

Our walk-through approach is designed for users who prefer to be shown how to do something rather than read about it.

When you click on one of the walk-through links, OfficeBooks will prompt you to follow the steps required to complete a given task. 

The system has been very well received by our in-house testing crew and we expect you will like it as well. 

As always - we welcome your input.  Don't hesitate to write us with ideas, questions, or suggestions.  support@officebooks.com


Thursday, 20 October 2011

Using work orders to manage production

Users often come to OfficeBooks looking for a way to better manage their inventory.  This is a common challenge for new businesses.  You can track inventory on a spreadsheet, but once you start using that inventory (to build your products), keeping your spreadsheet up to date can be a real challenge.

Work orders are useful for several reasons.  In a manufacturing environment, they are a tool that provides workers with a clearly defined task (Build 10 of product X, for example).   From a management perspective, work orders also provide you with a means to track and review planned, in progress, and completed production. 

Once a manufacturing work order is completed in OfficeBooks, the process of closing the work order automatically adjusts your inventory levels for your products and the sub components used to build it.

In a service environment, work orders are typically used in a different way.  Work orders (also known as service orders, repair orders, or maintenance orders) are issued for discrete tasks such as changing light bulbs or recurring tasks such as preventative maintenance on machinery.   The work order system within OfficeBooks was designed with manufacturing in mind, so some work is required on our part to offer better support for service work orders.  It's on our to do list and we will get it done. 

If there are specific things you would like to see from the work order system, we welcome your input.  Just drop us a line at support@officebooks.com



Get started quickly with Learning Mode

This week we introduced a new way to learn about OfficeBooks.

Learning Mode is an option available to all registered users. The option is available from the main dashboard and will take you to a special account that allows you to effectively play with OfficeBooks without worrying about making a mess - the learning mode data is reset frequently.  Even if you do make a mess of things - there's no damage done!

Learning Mode is the first part of a collection of resources we are developing to help you get started more quickly and take full advantage of the more powerful aspects of OfficeBooks.  We expect to release a series of short tutorial videos next week and introduce some walkthrough type guides to help you complete typical tasks such as creating a manufacturing work order, creating a purchase order, or building a bill of materials.

We encourage you to give Learning Mode a try.  And - as always - we welcome your input.  If there are features you would like to see, or a specific feature you need help with, don't hesitate us by emailing support@officebooks.com.




Wednesday, 21 September 2011

"Right-sized" CRM for small business

Customer relationship management (CRM) is important.  Smart business owners recognize the fact that, despite the relative newness of the term, CRM is as old as business itself.  You needn't get tied up with complex, and expensive software solutions or systems.  Good CRM is possible without software.  So if you choose to adopt a software package to assist with your CRM process, pick something simple.

OfficeBooks takes a simple approach to CRM.
  • Organic data collection.  Good CRM practice involves keeping track of your transactions with a customer (or potential customer).  As you use OfficeBooks, you build a transaction (sales) history for your customers. Viewing a list of sales or quotations to a specific customer is as simple as clicking a link.
  • Internal data sharing.  Since OfficeBooks is designed to support an open books management approach, your staff can provide customers with a seamless experience.  

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

OfficeBook Beta Test now open!

Thanks to the diligent work of our lead developer and QA team, OfficeBooks launched its beta test today.  It feels very good to have started OfficeBooks on schedule and we were happy to see people begin to use OfficeBooks shortly after the first batch of invitation emails were sent.

You can start using OfficeBooks right-away.  Just visit our sign-in page and click the "Register with LiveID" link.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Dashboard: the action item window

One of the benefits of moving your business management out of the world of spreadsheets and notebooks and onto OfficeBooks is that action items that result from one activity are automatically tallied and displayed for you.


From your main OfficeBooks dashboard, you should keep an eye on the action item window.  


In smaller, one or two person companies, this will help you walk through the process of order fulfilment.   


For companies with more staff, users can focus in on the action items that relate to their job.  Your shipping person will keep an eye on the "Sales ready to ship" line.  Your office manager might focus on Invoices required for shipments.


Clicking on any of the links brings you to the list of open action items in that category, so you can quickly deal with them.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Using your OpenID to access your OfficeBooks account

Through our development process, we planned to use Microsoft's LiveID to authenticate users. It has worked well for us.  However, signals from Microsoft with respect to support for OpenID, or the future of LiveID in general are unclear.  Microsoft remains a "sustaining corporate member" of the OpenID project, so we have high hopes that, eventually, LiveID will join the OpenID fold. 

We are working to accept OpenID logins and expect to be able to support OpenID shortly.

The OpenID project is broadly supported.  You probably already have login credentials from one of several OpenID providers.  These include Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and Flikr.

For more information on the OpenID project and its benefits, see the OpenID Foundation website.

Open-book management, with OfficeBooks

One of the key elements of our design philosophy for OfficeBooks was to support an open-book management style for our users. 

With OfficeBooks, your team shares access to company performance information and activity details.

As members of your staff use OfficeBooks to generate new quotations, ship product to customers, or issue purchase orders, that "news" is delivered to all users within your business via the Dashboard and the event ticker at the top of each screen.

High-level details, such as your current backlog and the current month's bookings and billings are displayed on the dashboard alongside action items.  "Looking at the numbers" becomes normal practice for everyone in the company.  This is central to the open-book approach.

Uncomfortable with this whole open-book thing?

We understand that not all business owners are keen to adopt the open-book approach.  Don't worry, you can use our user-role settings to control which users are able to view financial details. 


Launch date: September 20, 2011

We are very pleased to select a September 20th as the launch date for the OfficeBooks beta test.  

The past few months have seen OfficeBooks really come together as a functional application and we are excited to begin to share its benefits with you.

Track inventory, contacts, sales, and purchasing - even manage manufacturing operations - in the cloud. 

It's not too late to join the list of beta testers.  Just visit www.officebooks.com and sign-up.