Friday, 10 September 2010

Lightweight lowtech lowcost company communication

We've always had an electronic bulletin board.
It did consist of a simple form on our intranet. When filled in, the data was stored in a MySQL database and emailed internally to the Gmail inboxes of the management (8 people).
Follow up of the messages was simple: reply to the message and the management is informed.

A lot of that shared electric bulletin board information should be shared to more employees than only management, but also unavailable to the general public!
And if targeted to all employees, that board should be extremely easy to consult and read.
Rapid and fast reading + useability are key.
And reactions of the management (follow-up) on information topics should be open to all too.

Here we go!
First tests with yammer,, .. didn't run very well because users found it too difficult to use (comparison: here).
And there was a lot of confusion on what info should be put on email and what on Yammer. People had to open different apps and the character limit was to low.
Main usergroup are nurses and while they are incredibly gifted people, most of them are not very interested in using electronic systems ... especially if they consider it slightly cumbersome.
My task is to find a system that is not only supereasy, but also perceived as supereasy.

Less = more
Keeping this simple I chose only to use Gmail as a communication platform.
Public communications (post + reaction) is posted by email to a private posterous, which can be consulted by all employees via a touchscreen tablet.
Management only has to open their inbox to post, read and react. All other employees can consult (only consult, not react) the posterous bulletin board.
The posterous website is lightweight, responds very quickly and it's layout can be trimmed down to a very basic, Spartan looking, company bulletin board.
For the management I've also set up Gmail filters which makes it easier to flip rapidly through all messages.
Cost = 0,00 EUR

Tablet choice
We only need a touchscreen tablet with Wi-Fi and a decent browser (and/or RSS-reader).

An iPad was considered overkill as we only needed very limited functionality. 
And because we work with Google Apps, choosing for Android was a more logical step.
After looking at the specs of different contestants, I bought an Archos 7 Android touchscreen for 150,00EUR.

Tought I had everything figured out, but ...
Scrolling is too cumbersome on this Archos 7. 
Even when disabling all extra features, consulting the bulletin board is'n as snappy as i wished for. Sorry, but 2 too 3 seconds is too much 'waiting' time.
And this Archos has it's own Android appstore. Needless to say this store doesn't offer other browsers (which might be faster). 
Other setback is .pdf files, posterous shows them with Flash. And Flash will only be supported from Android 2.2.
I got what I paid for and the system is currently unavailable too be used as an internal bulletinboard for all employees.
Maybe I have to go for the iPad or an Archos101.
To be continued.

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