Some interesting links

It’s been a long time since I wrote my last article.  I have been quite busy with the development of rationalK and with reading a lot of articles on the internet. Here a selection of them.

Productivity and management

Other stuff

I will continuously update the list.
Have a nice reading.

rationalK and quality document management system

I had a very interesting discussion with the Quality department this week.
I was presenting them rationalK, the knowledge management tool.
They did not accept the idea very well… They asked me : Why do you want another tool to manage the document, we already have the quality document management system ?
I think they misunderstand the difference between a knowledge management tool and their quality system to manage the company’s documentation.

Here was my answer :

The two tools are fully compatible and have totally different purposes.

Quality Document Management System

  • Ensure consistency in the company processes and the corresponding documentation
  • Associate a document to a process step
  • Guaranty an access to the most up-to-date documentation
  • Prevent sensible information from behind freely accessed within the departments
  • Most of the documentation inside the quality department are procedures or instructions
  • Make sure that documentation follows the company’s guidelines in terms of content and form

RationalK

  • Help the worker to do their everyday work
  • Allow to freely work on official documentation without disturbing the quality processes. Documents are considered as draft in rationalK as long as they are not approved by the quality department
  • rationalK allows to browse within internet-downloaded documentation, within emails, notes, international norms, patents, project documentation, best-practises and even people’s competencies. This is definitely not possible (and wished) in a quality document management system
  • Document in rationalK are living document. They are constantly updated with new knowledge. Their accuracy depends only on the authors competencies
  • RationalK has its own access rights policy to easily spread knowledge within the company departments
  • In rationalK we have functionally that can link a document with the related official document from the quality department document management system

How they could work together

Let’s say a team of five engineers is using rationalK to manage their knowledge.
Every time that one the guy is doing something related to a project, he naturally stores the document in the project folder. Fine. If he thinks that this knowledge or solution could help the colleagues solving their own difficulties (what is often the case), he add an entry in rationalK. He can type in some tags, a brief description of the solution and of course the link to the file in the project documentation. At this stage we have exclusively used rationalK and no quality document management system ! A co-worker will never upload all the project document to the quality document management system. Thanks god !
Now if the problem-solving method appears to be more and more used within the team, the team manager may find useful to add it as a standard for solving a typical problem. Fine.
Now and only now, we can write a process documentation to be sent to the quality department. They review and approve it and then store it in the quality document management system. This may takes weeks ! In between the solution has improved. rationalK still have the most up-to-date best practises while the quality department system has a general document describing the methodology but the the details.

Last words

As a conclusion, I would say that rationalK is a tool to help people do their work according to the quality procedures stored in the quality management system. Quality documentation is the one that define processes on how to work. I really do not believe that any coworker could conduct a project by using exclusively the content of the quality document management system… But combining the two tools is the most powerful way to achieve efficiently the best results.

CRM école de danse et centre fitness

Un gestionnaire de client et de facturation pour votre école de danse et/ou votre centre de sport et fitness.

Fonctionnalités

  • Enregistrer toutes vos informations client
  • Gérer les participants pour chaque séance
  • Envoyer des emails groupés
  • Gestion complète de la facturation et de la comptabilité
  • Différents taux de TVA possibles
  • Gérer vos cartes client avec un système de crédit pour chaque cours
  • Recevez dans votre boite mail tous les matins, la liste des gens ayant leur anniversaire aujourd’hui et la liste des gens dont l’abonnement expire
  • Exporter toutes vos données au format excel
  • Prenez les photos de vos clients directement depuis votre smartphone ou tablet
  • Et beaucoup plus

Comment l’essayer ?

Inscription

Tarif

Gratuit.

Requirements Management & Compliance Matrix

A template for a Matrix of Compliance using excel.

Matrix of Compliance

Improvement possibilities :

  • There is no change tracking system in Microsoft Excel
  • If the customer send the specification document in pdf or word, the amount of work for the conversion into xls can be quite important.
  • There is (yet) no easy way to reuse knowledge from one product development to another

A description of my coding environment

The context

I code simple projects.
Let say that the project is hosted at http://thomasdt.com/myproject
Most of the time, I am the only developper. I code from different platform : iPad, Pc and Mac.

My solution

I will detail here my coding process

I Use dropbox
I work in a folder myproject_dev inside dropbox folder
These is where the last version of my development is located
To edit the file depending on the platform, I use :

I use beanstalkapp (http://beanstalkapp.com) as my private git repository (a free account is ok)

When I would like to test live my code : I push my dev files from my dev folder to beanstalkapp

beanstalkapp keep a version of all my work help my colleagues to review the code.

beanstalkapp is set up to automatically deploy my dev file to a ftp server.

I use ovh and a public dev folder http://thomasdt.com/myproject_dev

This is a php-sql project so :

  • I maintain a duplicate of the public database
  • If you are browsing the application through :
    • http://thomasdt.com/myproject, the php files are pointing to the live database
    • http://thomasdt.com/myproject_dev, the php files are pointing to the test database

When I would like to push the dev to the live site. I commit my files with the keyword: [deploy: production] and the files are also pushed to the production ftp server.

If I need to alter the sql database structure, I do it in a sql.php file rather than in phpmyadmin. This sql.php file is automatically triggered (like a web hook) by beanstalkapp just before deploying the file to the development and production server.

Things I could improve

  • On windows, I am pushing files to git with Git Bash and this is not optimal. I could find a better IDE with integrated git.

CRM for Dance School and Fitness Club

Hi, In the last year, I have been developing a CRM for some very good friends that own a salsa school and a fitness club in Lyon, France. The software fits perfectly their needs. After some moments of hesitation, I have decided to write a public version so that any interested school can give it a try.

Features

  • Store all your customers data
  • Manage your classes and attendees
  • Send group emails
  • Fully billing system to send your customers their bills
  • Manage cards with point system for non-regular customers
  • Get customers birthday reminders
  • Get bad-payers list in your mailbox every morning
  • Export function
  • Take customer pictures directly from Smartphones and tablets into the CRM
  • A lot more…

How to try it ?

Signup

Pricing

I don’t know yet… So let’s say that this will be free as long as it is in beta version. Anyway, the basic version will not cost more than 200$/year.

How to search in databases spread all over the company

The problem

Knowledge is spread all over the company and hidden inside excel files. During the development of new products it is crucial to have a state of the art of what has been already done to save money.

The context and some contraints

  • Engineering department
  • Each engineer manages its own formatted list of product datas using excel

    Examples of lists
    Examples of lists
  • The headers may have different names (example : list 1 refers to temperature as  “Max Temperature” while list 2 refers as “T”)
  • The values may be in expressed in different units (exemple : list 1 expresses the temperature in °C while list 2 in Kelvin)
  • No extra work for the engineers

My solution

  1. Using a scheduled task, the different excel lists are uploaded from the windows file system onto the company server

    Scheduled Task
    Scheduled Task
  2. Using a server scheduled task (cron), the excel files are converted into sql format
    List 1 in sql format
    List 1 in sql format

    List 2 in sql format
    List 2 in sql format
  3. A conversion sql database helps to uniform the parameters designations and units
  4. The result is quite powerful

    Result from the master search
    Result from the master search

Conclusion

With this method, we authorise the engineers to work with their own excel files and still provide a solution to search among all the different files.

Future improvements

  • Make sure that there is an unique identifier for each excel lines so that any project can make reference to it.
  • Auto update the sql databases structure to match structure changes in the excel files.

Valuable note conversion

Taking meeting’s notes or minutes is one thing.

It helps the note taker to remind himself about important facts discussed in a meeting or during a presentation.
You can make them way more useful if you convert them into organized knowledge.
Under organized knowledge I mean a document recorded in the company database.
A good practise would be to convert every items of your freshly-taken notes into :

  • An assigned action with due date
  • An update of documentation like a specification or a handbook
  • An update in the project decision log
  • An update in the risk (or opportunity) register
  • A short communication to colleagues
  • A planning update
  • A change in the software
  • Whatever you want but something else than a hand written document than no one will use

Don’t wait too long to do this. Try do do it live or at least within one week period.
Doing it quickly after the meeting prevents :

  • People to wait too long for your feedbacks
  • Having to convert tons of notes at once.
  • forgetting anything

This seems obvious but sometimes it is useful to recall obviousness.

Note that this process is a lot easier is you take your notes paperless.

Going Paperless

This idea was going through my head for a couple of months and I am now determine to give it a try : Going Paperless. I would like to stop using notebooks at the office.

Motivations :

  • It’s green
  • It will probably contribute to a better management of my project notes
  • I could travel lighter
  • My paper book has a lack of functionalities :
    • I cannot use Ctrl+F to find in my paper notebook !
    • I can tag my notes but I cannot rearrange them by tags!
    • It is difficult to share my notes with colleagues.
    • I cannot paste pictures within my notebook.
    • If I lost my notebook in the train, I lost everything !
    • I have to retype everything when I am at my desk in front of my computer

What I think I need :

  • An ipad with sim card
  • The Evernote suite : Evernote, Penultimate, Skitch
  • A stylus
  • A keyboard for ipad
  • An Ipad case that can hold the keyboard and the stylus

I will start in september and keep you posted about how it goes and if I am missing the paper. Please if you have any suggestions feel free to post a comment below.