Archive for April, 2011

Project Management with Google Apps

Project management software with Google Apps is the next big thing right? But does the Docs integration hype measure up? Will it actually help you or your team to be more productive?

More than a few project management tools are quick to announce “integration” with Google Apps – but what does that actually mean?

Project management applications that integrate with Google Apps

Project Management with Google AppsThe the most popular project management apps on the Google Apps marketplace are:
Manymoon, Zoho Projects, Freshbooks, Smartsheet, Deskaway, Ace Project, Huddle, Comindwork, Wrike, Mavenlink, Teambox, Harvest Glasscubes and Jira.
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How to Find & Hire Top Russian programmers

Is is possible to hire developers in Russia for less than half the price of someone in the USA with the same skills or better?

Our experience is that you can but it’s not easy. You need to know exactly how to find the right people, and where to spend the time recruiting and selecting candidates. With the right know how, you can find programmers with the equivalent skills to someone earning $80 USD an hour for as little as $15 an hour.

Typical rates for developers in Russia and the former Soviet Union

It depends to some degree on the region and country. Salaries in Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus for example are significantly lower than Moscow (in Russia). In fact you will find salaries in Moscow are not that much lower than the west, so the comparative advantage of hiring a programmer in this city is not great. If you are hiring in the Russian Federation, you’ll have more luck elsewhere.
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Compare screen monitoring software for remote teams

If you’re looking for screen monitoring software there are a few different options to consider:

Odesk team tool
Odesk is a platform to help you find contractors in any country and a software platform for managing workers. They have a screen capture technology that works by taking screen shots every 15 minutes. They also have activity notes and they track how often the person has used their keyboard and mouse.

Odesk Team Viewer allows contractors to view their screenshots and remove any that they’re not happy with. When a screenshot is removed the system will deduct 15 minutes of time from that person’s worked time for the day. So the overall effect is that the software will track reasonably accurately the hours worked for that person. Odesk charge 10% of the contractors salary, so if you are not planning to actually hire a contractor through Odesk then it’s an expensive solution.

Agent Guardian
This tool has screenshot history, keystroke recording, activity updates and a representation of how much the person has used their keyboard and mouse. The cost for Agent Guardian is $15 per month per user.

Silent employee monitoring software

Webwatcher and StaffCop are a couple more example of applications that have a comprehensive set of monitoring features including: keystroke logging, email monitoring and web site monitoring. If the software is not visible and controlled by the user then it is actually an invasion of privacy in our opinion, and definitely is not suitable for work-from-home employees. It may also be illegal in your country to install monitoring software without an employee or contractors consent. As always, do your research.

What is ethical monitoring?

We believe that an employee should have access to any data that is monitored. Any employee using time tracking software should also be fully aware of what is monitored and when they are being monitored. An employee should be able to turn off monitoring at any point; If you need to send a personal email, you should be able to (…by easily disabling monitoring and then switching it back on when you go back to work). Likewise, you should be able to surf the Internet during a lunch break and not have your activities monitored. In short, tracking internet usage during designated breaks is invasion of privacy. Unfortunately most monitoring software doesn’t meet these requirements.

Different approaches to employee monitoring

Screen monitoring paints a fairly accurate picture of what a person is doing during their work hours. The biggest downside is that it can take a lot of time to review each image. It’s not a great way to see is someone is programming in a text editor, but can be useful if you want to see what a designer has been working on.

Web site monitoring and application monitoring is faster because you can easily see in one report the time spent browsing non work related web sites (although It should be combined with automatic tracking of breaks so that your team is allocated as on a break when away from the computer, or at least that you can see exactly how much time was spent on and off the computer – see Monitoring Activity below).

Keystroke monitoring is invasive for work-from-home employees in and creates greater security risks than other monitoring methods (all data entered into the keyboard is monitored).

Monitoring Activity (keyboard strokes or mouse movement) is useful to make sure someone is at their computer, but nearly useless as a way to see if someone is working effectively (some activity monitors track the amount of typing, number or mouse movements, etc). This information is most useful when combined with screen shots, but even then it’s not likely to provide any useful feedback (unless you are interested in how fast someone can type!)

Using Time Doctor as employee monitoring software

Time Doctor does have a screenshot monitoring feature. However it’s not the primary focus of our software. The software is designed for improving productivity rather than just monitoring workers. Monitoring is useful to some degree, but it’s only a part of what is needed to improve productivity.

Our software includes: priority tracking, screenshot monitoring, monitoring web sites visited and applications used on the computer and time tracking. The software automatically puts users on a break if they move away from the computer. This means that time tracked for your remote working team will be accurate. There are also project management features under development where you can quickly allocate tasks to users (faster than any existing web based project management software).

Time Doctor has a 30 day free trial and we welcome you to try the software at http://www.timedoctor.com