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Online Scheduling Software; There are Options.
With the advent of the internet's popularity, an abundance of different access methods have evolved. Scheduling software and data can be accessed remotely from a variety of different means. Familiar names such as SaaS, Cloud Computing, Remote Desktop and VPN, all provide remote access to centrally stored information. They are invaluable for deploying remote applications (i.e. scheduling programs). Some of them are simple to setup, while others are more complex.
Your IT people may already be supporting one such method. Talk with them to see what they have to offer. Explore the possibilities and manage your schedules as required.
Be sure to examine the associated costs. Solutions with low monthly fees attached, do add up and can be expensive. Whereas solutions with out-right ownership can be very affordable. Try to amortize them over a 3 year period. Compare apples to apples as much as you can.
Time Tracker, Right-Out-Of-The-Box
By virtue of our software's existing features, scheduling information is already available for remote distribution. Schedules may be e-mailed, or uploaded to a web-site. Read your reports from anywhere.
Should you need to make schedule modifications remotely; there are a number of approaches worth exploring. The simplest alternative might be the "Remote Desktop" method; see below.
Remote Desktop Software
Remote Desktop access is where you use a remote computer (your lap-top at Starbucks) to access software and data residing on another computer (i.e. Time Tracker at your office). The computer with the Time Tracker program installed is referred to as the host computer. It does all of the work and is the one that actually runs Time Tracker. The host computer displays screen images on the remote computer. The remote computer in turn; sends the user's keystrokes and mouse-clicks to the host. The remote user experiences Time Tracker just as if it was being executed on the lap-top.
There are many products and services that will allow you to setup your scheduling software with Remote Desktop access. To name just a few there is: LogMeIn, GoToMyPc, pcAnywhere, Windows Enterprise, Citrix and Laplink. In case you are interested, there is a. A few of the varied features are; some versions are free, some allow many concurrent users and others have mobile device access (smart phones etc.).
If you are interested in a simple and free method of providing remote access to an application, you might want to take a look at. It works like a charm. Check the requirements; it generally supports Windows 7, Vista and Windows Server 2008. It has minimal features, but it is very easy to use.
Vendor Hosted Internet Software
This approach of software access is often referenced with terms such as: SaaS , Cloud Computing or Azure. Typically, it is where a Vendor hosts an application on a server (physically anywhere) where users can access it remotely. The user pays a subscription fee and everything is managed for them.
Currently, we are reviewing developing a version of our software with this means of access. For us there will be a number of wrinkles that need to be addressed. Many countries have privacy and information laws that make it illegal to store information outside of the country. We have noticed software hosted on many servers are not physically residing in the same country as their customers. This is a clear violation that shouldn't be overlooked. As expected; the only solution is to physically locate the servers in the same countries as where the customers are residing.
In context to our scheduling software, we are concerned about protecting other customer rights as well. When everything is being managed for you, you end up relinquishing control of processes such as backups and restores. It would be nice to have archived backups related to your business cycles. Also, restores need to be applied as required (ASAP). While we are on the topic of data; should the customer-vendor relationship dissolve, it sure would be great if the customer could retain their data and the software stored on the Vendors server.
Other issues that Vendors must contend with are, disrupting access access with updates, network speeds and installing new hardware. It is a big task when there are thousands of users. When maintaining software, stability and control are vital issues. In order to retain full control, another internet solution to consider is a "Customer Hosted Internet Software" - see below.
Customer Hosted Internet Software
This is similar to the "Vendor Hosted Internet Software" discussed above; except the user's organization hosts the software on their server - not the vendor. It enables you to have complete control of the software. It eliminates the drawbacks listed above.
It is a more complex alternative that offers some great results. Your IT people may already have the skills to support this type of access. If not; another alternative might be a "Virtual Private Network". It is more commonly supported by IT departments. It is worth exploring - see Virtual Private Network below.
Asgard Systems is reviewing the development of "Customer Hosted Internet Software". Part of our review is to determine the percentage of users with the appropriate skills. It will influence our evaluation.
Virtual Private Network (VPN)
You most likely already know what a network is. A Virtual Private Network is very much like the network most offices have. The exception with this type of network is that it functions across the Internet. The remote computers link to the main corporate server's software like it is another hard drive. With our Time Tracker program installed, users are able to remotely access their scheduling data as if they are working at the main office. They can update information, print reports, email schedules and more - conveniently from any location.
There are many products and services that provide Virtual Private Network access. Owing to the more technical nature of this approach, your IT people will be the best source for support. Virtual Private Networks are fairly common. Your organization may already have one.
Scheduling Software Reviews:
"We didn't want another hosted scheduling service, fraught with accessibility issues and expensive monthly fees. We wanted software that performed well - that we could manage on our servers."
"Our search for employee scheduling software was completed upon discovering Time Tracker. We have very complex scheduling requirements that this software more than fulfills."
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