Resourcer graphs/screenshots

I’m working on how to present data entered into Resourcer.I’ve been playing around with Excel and thinking about how to represent:

  • Tasks done;
  • Their utilisation level;
  • Time spent on each task.

Here’s a mock up of a typical day at work:


At a glance you can see that tasks with low utilisation levels are either relatively small or relatively large, while tasks where I am busy or very busy are around the 60 minute mark.

My theory about becoming rich

I’ve been thinking about what money is, and have come to this conclusion…

There is no link between working hard and being rich.

This sounds like a crazy statement to say, but bear with me. I’ve known people that have worked hard all their life, and yet, still aren’t rich. So how do people get rich?

Well you need to look at what money represents. Money represents desire of the community. So if you have something that is highly desired by the community you’re in, then you’ll have a lot of money.

So let’s explore this. If you work for a fast food store hard, you’ll never be rich. Why? Because it doesn’t pay a lot. But why doesn’t it pay a lot? Because the work you’re doing isn’t unique, and doesn’t require highly innovative skills. And because anyone can do it, then you’re easily replaceable, and hence the community’s desire for you isn’t very high, and neither are your wages.

Now look at say an Internet Celebrity that is rich. Often they get rich because they featured in a meme, which is like something of interest in the internet, such as the Star Wars Kid. Memes reflect the desire of the community, which is people on the internet, who watch the video, and click on ads, and hence pay the people in the meme (sometimes). The people in the meme didn’t have to work hard all their life, they just had to have something highly desired to the community, which is their video for instance.

So if we take a peice of land and a house that’s worth $2 million dollars, then that’s something that has obvious value because it’s desired. People want land to live from, and a house to live in. And you can see the work (or effort) that went into that house.

But if the person who earned $2 million from a meme bought that house, you would have to ask, how is that fair? How does a person who made a video of themselves twirling around a stick equal all the hard work and effort that went into building a house, and purchasing the land?

Desire of the community.

So what does this all mean? If you want to be rich, you need to be dealing in things that are highly desired by the community you’re in. Diamonds are highly desired to wealthy people, and so if you have them you’re rich. Memes are highly desired in the Internet, so if you have them you’re rich. Food’s highly desired to people if they don’t have any, so if you have them you’re rich.

And so I’m focusing on creating software that’s highly desired to large enterprises. Software that will save them millions of dollars and man-hours. By focusing on this, I can sell that software for a large amount of money, regardless of the amount of hard work that went into the software.

The software is of course, Resourcer.

Easy paper prototyping

Paper prototyping is a great way of seeing your application on well, paper. I’ve been doing some mock ups for Resourcer.

The gallery below shows a user adding a new public task, and also the login process.

Authentication in the cloud + Resourcer updates + OpenSSO

So I’ve been busy thinking about the requirements for Resourcer. One of those is authentication against it. Since the methods that people will be using will be varied, I’m looking for something pretty simple and adaptable. Turns out OAuth might be just the ticket.

As with any software project, the difficulty is in the requirement gathering stage. Making changes at this point in time costs nothing, except well time. But right at the end making changes, not only is that costly but it’s inefficient. And it makes software projects fail. So I’ve been spending a lot of time gathering requirements for Resourcer. One method I recommend is doing mental walkthroughs with paper prototypes. Build your application on paper and use it. If things are missing, odds are they’ll really appear when you start using your paper application. Do note, your mind is used to software. Try giving it to someone completely new to the idea to use. If they can’t get it, your users can’t either.

Another useful idea is to look at competitors. If you have no competitors, you’re probably doing it wrong. In my case, it’s Yammer. However, Yammer is just a clone of Twitter. I mean, apart from security restrictions, what’s the difference? And I’m not saying this as a biased competitor, but just as someone reviewing the features. Where’s the enterprise support? Maybe we’re aiming for different markets, they’re aiming at SMEs and I’m aiming at Enterprise customers. This forces me to think about where data is hosted, SOX compliance, security, importing and exporting users, authentication, etc.

In other exciting news, OpenSSO has been released (well, about a month ago). Deployment’s a lot easier this time around, with just a war file to drop in your application server. I’m looking forward to some improved Policy Agents, especially the ability to remotely configure them.

Resourcer updates

So it’s been a while, an election has come and gone, and I’ve continued working on a human resourcing application.

I work in a fairly large organisation. One of the problems I commonly see is poor communication over large organisations, and the ramifications of this on productivity.

One example – decision making. The project I work on must be agreed to at a board level. But the work I’m doing was actually agreed to at a manager level. However, this meeting was never minuted, and the action to go ahead with the work isn’t formally recorded, and yet it is going ahead. Where’s the documentation? Where’s the communication across the business that this work was signed off by an authority that had the ability to sign it off?

No where to be seen. Of course, there is decision making software out there and available, but most enterprise level software has the same flaw – complexity. Complexity is the enemy of an enjoyable peice of software.

So I’m taking Resourcer, and I’m adding on a decision recording module which should help things along.

My competitor: Yammer

So I’ve found my first near direct, and biggest competitor: Yammer. Yammer is the enterprise version of Twitter so to speak, it allows you to micro-blog to a group of people within the same domain name.

Similarities between Resourcer and Yammer:

  1. Micro-blogging to corporate audiences

Differences between Resourcer and Yammer:

  1. Resourcer is a workforce utilization reporting and modelling tool.
  2. Yammer is a corporate micro-blogging tool.
  3. Resourcer doesn’t limit you to people within a certain domain name, and uses powerful organisation and group functionality that lets you create virtual organisations and groups that cross domains, i.e. projects involving multiple companies.
  4. Yammer reminds me of a chat room, except there are multiple ways of sending and receiving messages.
  5. Resourcer gives managers powerful reporting tools that allow you to view the productivity of your workforce.

As always, if you’re doing something right, then there are going to be multiple companies doing it. When I first heard about Yammer (thank you Jo), I panicked. And then when I saw they won the Techcrunch 50, I panicked some more.

But there are some positives. They launched nine days ago, and have 50,000 users already. As always, first mover advantage is significant, and often turns into the sustainable competitive advantage of a user base. Once a company decides to settle on Yammer or Resourcer, that’s a decision that’ll be made once. Hence now the battle will need to be done company to company.

And so the updated road map:

  1. Finish linking core application functionality with database.
  2. Gather requirements and building secondary application functionality.
  3. Finish information type pages.
  4. Tidy pages, do quality assurance, move project into Beta stage and open logins to other people.
  5. Write business plan.
  6. Contact angel investors.
  7. Move application onto framework, either Seagull or Silverstripe.
  8. Tidy pages, do quality assurance, move project and beta data/logins onto Gold release.
  9. Publish API.
  10. Advertise.

Living in a Desert you notice a lot of sand + Resourcer technology updates

So Resourcer is currently in a live prototype state. This means that we’ve moved past the basic HTML+CSS design stage, and are now linking various parts of the website to a MySQL database. Of course this means that various parts of the site are up and down at any one stage, but we’re getting there slowly. A roadmap from here is:

  1. Finish linking core application functionality with database.
  2. Gather requirements and building secondary application functionality.
  3. Finish information type pages.
  4. Tidy pages, do quality assurance, move project into Beta stage and open logins to other people.
  5. Move application onto framework, either Seagull or Silverstripe.
  6. Tidy pages, do quality assurance, move project and beta data/logins onto Gold release.
  7. Publish API.
  8. Advertise.

Also, I’ve noticed an awful lot of time tracking applications on the web, like Harvest, Tick, 88 Miles, and 14 Dayz (seriously, a Z on the end?). They’re all sexy web 2.0 applications that focus on the hastle that is Time Management. Where does the time go? I’d never noticed this applications until I started working myself in this space, and then saw all the other people who were there, hence my sand in the desert headline. But there’s a bit of a difference between Resourcer and time tracking applications:

  1. Resourcer tracks the time between each status update. There’s no timers, no punch in and punch outs. Managers can see how much time was taken between status updates, but that doesn’t imply the amount of time spent on a particular task.
  2. Resourcer focuses on a higher level than tracking time taken to do a particular task. Your status update could be about one or many or no tasks. Instead Resourcer is at heart a communications application across large enterprises.
  3. Where we improve on basic collaboration tools (like email and instant messaging) is our reporting tools for Managers to see snapshots of workforce utilization and to dice that information into project, or manager, or business unit specific reports.
  4. Where we improve on complex collaboration tools (like portals) is ease of use across multiple GUIs and multiple devices using our simple API, and ease of use to end customers. We want to be as simple as Twitter, but a lot more powerful to business.

Good morning Resourcer

And on a fine day in Silicon Welly, I’ve taken the first steps towards a new service for large enterprises to manage their human resources. This is of course, Resourcer. And while the link could be interperated as Gore-Sourcer, or the source of all Al Gore related things, the link is actually Go-Resourcer, as in, go you good thing go.

While I’m being a little light weight on the details, they’ll all come out in the wash soon enough.

Action points from here:

  1. The Resourcer homepage is built around Seagull PHP Framework. Should I develop the entire solution on the framework, meaning a longer learning time initially but a more robust solution in the future or;
  2. Continue to knock up functional prototypes using just basic PHP and MySQL, which would respond better to continually changing requirements.

I think trying to nail down requirements at the same time as learning a new framework is a tall order, and something is bound to slip through the cracks. The decision I’ve made is to continue developing functional prototypes with basic PHP and MySQL (ignoring things like logins), and once the prototype has been created, replicate that functionality on the Seagull Framework.