Sunday, February 10, 2013

Designing a Portlet to enhance user experience

Users are tired of wasting time by navigating to and from different sources. At the same time, they want the information to be organized so that it was not overloaded. To solve this, I have designed a Manager Analytics portlet with the help of Ramco’s PDK (Portal Developmental Kit) tool. Portlets are visual representation of data; usually role based i.e. if a manager signed in then it will show what is relevant for the manager. If I’m looking at a coworker it will give me the basic details. In this Manager Analytics portlet, I have designed it to show the career development, Behavioral Appraisal, Succession Planning in a single glance.

Portlets have many rich features to design the best user experience ever. Let me explain with behavioral appraisal which shows the 360 degree view, comparison view of last 5 appraisal, top behaviors exhibited by employees and training development plan.

In designing this behavior appraisal portlet, I have used tab navigator, image list, charts, transparent grid, link, text and label. With the image list control all the appraisers are listed with photos and a label. It will automatically enable a scrollbar when there are more images to display than the available space. Then moving on to charts there are several type of charts available and I have used bar chart, radar chart, and line chart. Bar chart is used to illustrate a set of data in a way that is as easy to understand as it is simple to read here, I have used this chart for top behavior exhibited. Radar chart are useful way to display multivariate observations with arbitrary number of variables, In this case I have used the radar chart for 360 degree appraisal; Line chart which displays information as a series of data points connected by straight line segment, I have used this line chart for showing the behavior trend for the past 5 appraisals. This would visually excite the users and give them the required information at a glance.

What’s next with enterprise social networks?

Contribution: Shankar B, Ramco Systems

Enterprise and Social Media have reconciled successfully.  The combination does not sound oxymoronic anymore.  So, what’s next here?  How would organizations really make use of (internal) social media?  It is time to go beyond a ‘feel good’ network of employees.

1) Social media with context:  Standalone enterprise social networks are hard to sustain.  It’s hard to quantify and qualify what a person is doing there and how it contributes to business.  So, social media should be more embedded and social business networks should happen more in the context of a business situation.  

We see this happening a lot in the HCM and CRM space.  In HCM, social recognition and gamification have stared becoming mainstream.

2) Predictive Analytics:  A lot could be deciphered from an active enterprise social network.  Questions such as

§  Will my project run on time? 
§  What is the likelihood of this prospect converting? 
§  Will the new product succeed in the market?

can be answered more easily through the crunching & analysis of all the informal information/ data floating in an enterprise social network.

3) Insight into employees: An enterprise social network can provide great insight about a company's talent:  Who are the key employees?  Who are the leaders? Who are the influencers, high-networked employees?, experts in a particular topic, overall employee sentiment, satisfaction levels are some areas where a social network can provide quick insight (which a typical HCM software will find hard to provide).

Are you using your social network for any of these purposes?  Please share your thoughts.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Why the bad luck with your enterprise social network?

Author: Shankar Bharatan

Employee social networks is no more the ‘the topic’ today.  Many organizations have jumped on this bandwagon.  In the initial days, there were skepticism and concerns that employees might crash the site, connecting and conversing the way they do in popular social networking sites.   But the employees completely surprised their employers.  After the initial check and a cursory ‘Hello World!’ nothing much happened.  What happened?  Aren’t people crazy about social networks?

The fundamental flaw lies there, in that social network analogy.  Personal social networks are interesting places where one can meet his friends, know what’s happening with them and in general with the world.  Apart from the general networking pleasures, it’s a great place for a person to learn new things and validate his own ideas.   There’s so much of personal incentive in using Facebook. 

Sadly, enterprise social networks don’t provide these incentives.  They just become one more channel for internal marketing, thus offering no new learning. Moreover, most enterprise social networks have such loosely defined purposes that to an employee it conveys a message that it need not be taken serious.  

On the contrary, enterprise social networks with well-defined purposes can work a great deal to improve employee productivity and workplace processes.

HR is a great function that can get you started on a fantastic note on your enterprise social network initiatives.  Here are 3 areas where you could use your enterprise social network, and, for the incremental effort put in, reap big benefits:

§  Its estimated that 80% of learning happens through informal means whereas organizations spend 80% of their training budget on formal courses.  Rethink your learning strategies.  Apart from videos as learning materials, many courses can be converted into an experience-sharing format, a form of question and answers that makes them easier to consume.  Your authors and trainers can come from your own talent pool.  Incentivize them enough to keep up the good work.

§  Use the social network to greatly complement your regular appraisal process.  Allow employees to validate their coworkers’ skills and competencies, provide contextual references and testimonials of their work.  As compared to the annual appraisal process, this is a much more natural way of understanding one’s performance and potential.   Besides, it saves a lot of time in collating all information during the final appraisal.   It might be possible that this initiative might be used as a mutual admiration club, but in most cases, employees will not risk their own reputation by vouching for the wrong guy. 

§  Social networks are a great place to stay in touch.  Why restrict it to your current employees?  Build an alumni network, or a network of external talent.  Together with your employee references, these networks could be the sources from where you’ll pick more than 50% of your next hires.