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We’ve updated the look and feel of Zenput – here’s what’s new.

We’ve given Zenput a more modern look and consistent feel.  All of your existing features still exist, but a few might be in new places.  As a general rule of thumb, the main action button for each page is now in the top right corner.

We’ll show you below.

The Form Builder – New Look, Same Functionality

The form builder has a new look, but it works exactly the same as before.  The only functional difference is that the action buttons are in the top right corner, when you’re ready to Distribute or Preview your form.

Here’s what the new builder looks like:

Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 1.33.04 PM

How to Create New Forms or Edit Existing Forms

There’s a new way to create new forms and edit existing forms.  From any screen, click on the Forms button.

Then, click in the top right corner to create a new form.

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 4.25.05 PM

 

Or, to edit an existing form, find the correct form, and click on Edit (see image below).  The drop-down next to the edit button contains the other options for each form, such as Creating a Copy of the form, or archiving the form so it’s no longer an active form.

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 4.25.42 PM

 

How to View Reports and Create Excel/CSV files

The Reports page has two new features.  First, the Excel icon no longer exists.  Instead, it’s been replaced by the Export button in the top right corner.

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 4.27.04 PM

 

Second, you will notice next to the “Date Submitted” field in the table, there’s a Plus (+) button:

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 4.29.47 PM

 

If you like to view reports within’s Zenput dashboard, this feature allows you to choose which columns appear on screen.  Just click the + button and choose which fields you’d like to view.

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 4.28.23 PM

 

How to Manage Your Teams

There’s a new tab called Users in the top navigation bar.  You can edit your users and manage your teams as before.  If you want to add a new user, or create a new team, click on the button in the top right corner.

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 4.59.23 PM

 

As always, feel free to contact us if you have any questions – and please let us know what you think about the re-design!

 

- The Zenput Team

 

 

 

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We’ve had two articles featured in large publications recently.

First, GigaOM published our article for its 5.5 million tech readers about the future of enterprise mobility. We talked about how mobile devices allow better information exchange and more individualized communication with employees.

Zenput customers, of course, are already doing this.  Our customers are using mobile forms to report from stores, bars and clubs, pharmacies and more.  We’re eliminating the manual data entry associated with collecting data in many locations.  But we’re doing more than that – we’re helping companies identify sales and operations trends in real-time.  They can address issues when they arise, rather than trying to fix things after monthly sales misses.

Second, we had a separate article published in Retail Merchandiser’s blog that drills down on specifically how retailers and suppliers can improve operations and execution using the smartphones of their employees or reps.

Many corporate execs are only now beginning to realize the usefulness of their store managers’ iPhones and Android devices as powerful reporting devices to ensure compliance with company-wide initiatives. Similarly, suppliers can use their reps or contractors’ smartphones to make sure their products end up on the correct shelves, displayed and priced correctly.

Check out our articles and let us know what you think!

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A template on how to write incident reports

Security guards need to know how to write an incident report or accident report.  This guide is an example of how to capture the most important information:

 

1.   USE NORMAL LANGUAGE

Some people think they should use fancy jargon in  incident reports – the opposite is true!  Use everyday English rather than complicated “police terms.”  Lots of different people may read your report (supervisors, police, juries).  It needs to be understandable to lots of different types of people, so the less jargon the better.

 

2.   REMEMBER THE 5 W’s

A nice way to capture the most important details is to remember the 5 W’s:

  • WHO: Who were the people most involved?  Who else witnessed events? Did you get their contact information and other relevant information about them?  If you didn’t get their names, describe their physical characteristics (but avoid using offensive language to describe people).
  • WHAT: What actions and events happened?  Start from the beginning, and go point-by-point or event-by-event from beginning to end. Include as much detail as possible about how each event unfolded.
  • WHEN: What date and time was the incident?  Depending on the type of incident, it may also be useful to describe the weather, the lighting, or other conditions.
  • WHERE: Where exactly did the incident take place?  Include the address, or use details about nearby objects, buildings, etc., to be as precise as possible.
  • WHY: This is generally not as important.  In fact, unless you heard someone say something explaining their actions, it’s best not to speculate on people’s motivations.  Your job is to stick to clear undisputable facts.

 

3.   ONLY INCLUDE FACTS

As you saw from the “WHY” category above, it is important to be objective.  Do not give your opinion about who was at fault – it will actually make your report weaker.  You must stick to facts – the things you saw with your eyes, heard with your ears, etc.

 

4.   TAKE PHOTOS AND VIDEOS ON YOUR PHONE

If your phone has a camera on it, take as many photos or videos as you can.  They provide additional objective information. Some security companies use mobile report form apps like Zenput, which lets you complete an incident report on your smartphone, including photos and videos in the actual report.

 

5.   BE PROFESSIONAL

Remember lots of people may read the report.   Don’t judge anyone in the report.  Don’t use slang or rude words.  Once you’ve identified people once in the report, refer to them as “Mr.” or “Ms.” when you mention them again.

 

Do you have a smartphone?  Tell your supervisor that you could use mobile forms to complete incident reports quickly and easily from your phone.

 

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With the integration of Dropbox into Zenput’s mobile data collection services, forms submitted by your mobile users can now instantly appear in your Dropbox account.

A couple of quick notes: (1) For this process to be successful, you must already have a Dropbox account (or sign up for one before beginning this process); (2) only the account owner (the person that signed up your company to use Zenput) can create this Dropbox link.

Set up Dropbox in two simple steps.

1. Link your Zenput and Dropbox accounts

Once you’re logged into Zenput, click on the “Company Settings” drop-down menu item, which you can access by clicking on your username in the top right of the browser window.  Again, note that only the account Owner (the person that signed your company up for Zenput service) will be able do this.

revised company settings

 

Then click on the “Activate” button and follow the Dropbox instructions.

 

3rd party integrations shot

Once you’ve completed the Dropbox instructions, you can select which Zenput forms you want to add to Dropbox.

2.  Select the forms you want to start sending to Dropbox

Open any of your forms (click on “Forms”–>”Open”) and click on the form title.  Then check the Send to Dropbox form.

 

Select option

 

For all forms that your users submit in the future, the submitted form will appear in your dropbox account, in the “Zenput” sub-folder within the “Apps” folder.  Reports will appear within sub-folders with the name of the particular form submitted.

As always, please let us know if you have any questions.

 

-The Zenput Team

 

 

 

 

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We’ve rebranded to Zenput – and our new features make mobile data collection even better

Over the last 6 months we’ve experienced substantial growth in the use of our mobile data collection service. With the growth in our customer base and the expansion of our team in San Francisco, we’ve decided to rebrand to “Zenput.”  Here’s why we made the change, and how some of our new features make mobile data entry even quicker and easier.

The Zenput Brand.

We’ve spent a lot of time talking to all of you. The products we currently provide are (1) an intuitive mobile form builder; (2) apps for easy mobile data collection; and, (3) a backend/dashboard that provides easy access to, and insight into, that data. But the service we offer you is something completely different.

What we really provide you is the ability to use the data to gain insight and make business decisions.  We want you to focus on the data that’s been collected, not the process of collecting data.  The process is our job – and we want to make it as seamless as possible.

And that’s what “Zenput” reflects – we want our customers to achieve zen in data input and output.

New Product Features.

Our rebranding also comes at a time when we’re adding many new features that enable better mobile data collection:

  • Barcodes – Zenput now lets you can now scan and record UPC barcodes, in addition to the photos, videos, text and GPS capture that Zenput already provides.
  • Streamlined process for sending forms to mobile devices – As soon as you build a form and click Distribute, end users receive the form directly within the new Zenput app.  
  • Managers, users, and distribution groups – We’ve added sophisticated new tools to specify who can create and receive each form you create.  
  • Technical improvements - We’ve made a lot of technical/behind the scenes improvements. The mobile app is now smaller and faster.  And both the app and the website are now protecting your data with SSL. 

Stay tuned as we continue to build a great product for you.

Looking forward to the future,

The Zenput Team

 

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With the economy at a stand still, people are asking themselves, “Where will I be able to find work in the coming years?”  We wanted to do a little digging ourselves and find an answer to that question.  If you had to make a career move today or even start your own business, you’d of course want to focus on an industry that was going to be growing.  We found the 10 fastest growing industries between now and 2020. We learned that 6 out of the 10 industries are in health care or elderly services (those 76 million baby boomers have something to do with it).  Not only are these the fastest growing industries they are also some of the lowest paying.  Take a look at the infographic to see what else you can learn!

job_growth_2020_infographic_nextpunch1

Facts and Stats to Tweet:

  • 6 of the 10 fastest growing industries through 2020 are in health care or elderly care services. >>tweet<<
  • Health care and elderly care will create over 2.1M new jobs by 2020. >>tweet<<
  • Home health services will create over 871,000 new jobs by 2020. >>tweet<<
  • Services for the elderly will create over 586,000 new jobs by 2020. >>tweet<<
  • Private education service jobs will expand by 56% by 2020. >>tweet<<

 

By 

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It would be difficult to find a small business or startup these days that isn’t concerned with labor costs. Whether it’s a standard 40 hours a week or overtime that’s driving up costs, there are ways to help with the pain. We thought we’d put together a list of some examples that we think illustrate the best ways to reduce direct labor costs, specifically.

1. Review your procedures.
You always have to circle back and check yourself. Are you doing things right? Have new technologies developed that might streamline your procedures and make your employees’ time more productive? Stay in tune with your partners and competitors, keep your ear to the ground, and make sure that you are up to date on the latest approaches and technologies that are informing your niche.

2. Upgrade where possible.
An investment upfront? Sure, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a huge one. Implementing smart changes where needed will deliver big ROI by reducing task times and increasing productivity. Some upgrades, like implementing an online time clock, can not only help with productivity but also transform culture to a degree by setting new standards for behavior.

3. Train people well from the beginning.
If they get it right the first time, they don’t have to do it again, right? When onboarding employees, make sure that you train them. Thoroughly. When implementing new technologies, make sure everyone’s got a grasp on them. A real grasp. You’ll save yourself headaches down the road, and you’ll have a more efficient workforce.

4. Tweak your layout.
Layout has obvious implications in a manufactory, for example, where a production chain’s very livelihood depends on the floor’s layout, but even an office needs to consider this issue. Even if it’s just a matter of where a printer is, making adjustments to optimize your space and layout will improve productivity. Improved productivity will reduce labor costs. Done.

5. Keep management cohesive and on point.
Whether you’re managing a team on your own or you have a battalion of managers, make sure that you’re all on the same page about how you communicate about and encourage workflow and productivity. Nothing can drive direct labor costs up faster than irregular and erratic management.

6. Outsource where you can.
There is a whole world of resources out there for your business. Sometimes a part-time freelancer can be a fast, low-cost choice that keeps everything at your business on track. Don’t get stuck on the idea that you have to throw your full-time employees into overtime to get a job done.

7. Cross-train.
Your employees are smart— let them show you how smart. There really isn’t room in business these days for maintaining narrow employee categories. See what your people can do, and get everyone working across the company instead of in a box, exchanging ideas and pulling their weight wherever they can.

8. Try 4-day workweeks.
Four-day workweeks may be a hard idea for a lot of us to get used to, but it’s an idea that’s catching on more and more. You would be surprised at how many of your employees would sacrifice a bit of pay to have a bit more time to themselves and with their friends and family. Ask around and see who would be interested in taking on a 4 day a week, 10 hour a day schedule— you may find that you have a pretty sizable way to reduce direct labor costs with this one.

Do you have ideas that you’d like to add to our list? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Let us know what examples you have of good ways to reduce direct labor costs.

Posted by & filed under Business Operations.

Labor costs can be, well, surprising for a first-time entrepreneur, even the most prepared one. Depending on your business, as much as 30% and up of your dollars can get funneled into payroll alone. Based on our own learning period in managing sometimes unwieldy labor costs, we decided to put together a mini-primer with some of the ideas that were the most effective for us.

1. Be vocal and open.

Your staff may be experiencing pain points in their work that are causing them to log longer and longer hours. Foster an open environment in which people feel comfortable bringing up difficulties. Your staff isn’t necessarily going to stand up and declare their pain points. Use this dialogue to seek out the strugglers and help them find new, proactive ways to approach their workload.

2. Set up guidelines.

There’s a happy flip-side to maintaining an open environment… you end up being clearer about the expectations on your end. Instead of always worrying about the end of the productivity chain (i.e. the employee) you should quality check the task initiation on your end. Are you being clear about what you want done and how quickly you want it accomplished? Have you set up parameters that staff can follow if their duties in a given pay period take them into overtime?

3. Eliminate incremental overtime.

Incremental overtime is a killer. Bit by bit, early check-ins and late clock-outs create huge overages. It can be difficult to stay on top of it; after all, you have so much else to stay on top of as it is, don’t you? Using time and attendance software to trim the ends and closely monitor what’s going on makes a big difference. Attendance software can also help your employees be more aware and exact when clocking in. Eliminating these small amounts of time can result in as much as a 2% reduction in payroll.

4. Don’t assume.

Smaller shops and businesses don’t necessarily have the advantage of following a top-down hierarchy— pushing low value activities down and out isn’t going to happen. A lot of you might hesitate to delegate laterally. Don’t assume anyone will be offended– they know you’re in a growth stage, and they should not hesitate to help even out the workload. Don’t assume you know all the assets they bring to the table. One of your employees could have graphics skills you’re not aware of, for example.

5. Shift to an incentive-based model for bonuses.

There’s nothing wrong with limiting bonuses to performance, whether individual or company-wide. It’s becoming the norm, really. As long as you’re open and honest about it and don’t use it to instigate unhealthy competition, it can be an excellent driver of productivity. Plus, it can get all your employees on the same page, and focused on achieving a big goal together as a team.

6. Get rid of the stress.

You’ve heard it before, but a lot of companies still aren’t getting the picture— stress is a big problem. One study found that 52 percent of employees miss 1 to 2 days each year due to stress, while 30% miss 3 to 6 days. Moreover, the majority of employees say that a stressful work environment work reduces productivity by one hour each day. An hour a day lost from each employee? Harsh— one hour a day is 12.5% of an employee’s salary. If any employee is making $32,000 a year that translates into $4,000 a year in lost productivity. Stay on top of stress in your office.

7. Outsource already.

There are a lot of seasoned freelancers out there, and they’re within easy reach. They’re cost-effective for short-term or low-priority projects, and they of course don’t expect benefits. If you and your team are overloaded and looking at expensive OT to wrap up a project, source some outside professionals to get you through the crunch.

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One of the more exciting parts of running a business is bringing on a new team member.  A new face to add to the family, someone that’s going to provide a lot of value for your business and new ideas…well, at least you hope they would, otherwise why would you hire them? The first day that employee walks into your office, he or she is going to know very quickly how organized you are.  You need to get them onboarded quickly so that they can get past all the minutiae and start doing some real work!  If you have the process lined up well ahead of time then it is as simple as going through a list in a matter of a few hours.  In the spirit of being transparent and helping other businesses, we thought we would share with you how we onboard a new employee:

1. Forms & docs are filled out at once (1-2 hours)

    • Every federal, state, and company document that needs to be filled out should sit in a folder on Dropbox or Google Docs marked “Necessary Forms & Docs For New Hire”.  A starting point of documents:
      1. W-4
      2. I-9
      3. Intellectual property and assignment agreement
      4. Non-Disclosure agreement

2. Enroll into software (1-2 hours)

    • Have a list (in a document) of software that each new hire needs to be enrolled into. Breakdown the list of requirements by position. An accountant will need to use different products than a software developer.  Here’s an example list of software products a manager at a small business would use:
      1. Email
      2. Project management software
      3. Accounting software
      4. Time and attendance software
      5. CRM
      6. Backup data
      7. Collaboration with coworkers

3. Training on software (2-4 hours)

    • If your new employee hasn’t used one of the software products before, you’ll need to teach them the basics. We have a document with links to tutorials on how to use every product in the office. If no videos or tutorials exist, then we make our own. This is a great way to get someone accustomed to the products they will be using on a daily basis. Two takeaways here:
      • Gather training materials for all products in one document
      • Use Grovo to save yourself the hassle

4. Discussion with supervisor (1-2 hours)

    • Sit down with the supervisor on:
      • How the employee will be evaluated
      • How often the evaluations will occur
      • Set target goals for 30 days
      • Set target goals for 90 days

Lets us know in the comments how you onboard new employees.  We’re always eager to learn best practices!

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Deciding to become a software developer is a great initial step, congrats!  The job opportunities are growing quickly and in just about every industry that you can imagine.  The best part is that you do not necessarily have to go to a four year university to become a great software developer to lock down one of these jobs.  The web has all the resources you’ll need to interact, learn, get support and finally find a job as a software developer.  Let’s go through some of them!

0. Interact (interactive resources to help you get started)

  • Codecademy - JavaScript courses
  • Code School - Rails, jQuery, CoffeeScript
    • TryRuby – Really fun way to spend 15 minutes learning some Ruby
  • Treehouse - Web design (CSS, CSS3, HTML, HTML5, Responsive Design), web development (HTML5, JavaScript, and Intro to Programming), and iOS (build iPhone and iPad apps)

1. Learn

2. Support (places to go if you have questions)

  • Stack Overflow – Lots of questions and answers on the site to search through, the difficult varies greatly too, so you can use it in all stages of your progression as a software developer.
  • Hacker News – A blend of sharing information on startups, engineering, and other tech related subjects.  Questions here aren’t necessarily as targeted as other areas, but community is active and will prove thorough input.

3. Get Your First Job/Project

  • oDesk – You’ll have to bid on jobs, may be a bit tougher as a newcomer, but no reason not to try.
  • Elance – Same as oDesk, you’ll have to bid on job as a newcomer, but no reason not to try.
  • Hacker News - In the ‘ask’ section you can either offer your services as a new developer or respond when others are posting requests for freelancers.
  • Tip: Put together a GitHub profile and show your potential employers the code that you’ve been writing.  It gives more transparency to the process and a lot of employers will appreciate it.

4. Move on to Full-Time Work (great places to look for full-time employment)

[Bonus] 5. Further education

  • Hacker School – once you’re quite good at what you do, the next level is to attend hacker school and become even better at it!