An IT specialist’s work time can now be monitored with SkypeTime

An easy, flexible and transparent way to tackle the problem of time and attendance management at IT companies.

Like any other company, IT companies providing high tech services – whether software development, IT outsourcing, or remote infrastructure support – need tools to maintain adequate work discipline.

One method traditionally used is a time-and-attendance management system, which provides the employer with detailed information about who was present at their work places and when, which software was open on employees’ office computers, and employee’s web requests, including the ability to use a webcam to monitor employees’ physical presence at their computers.

This method is moderately effectively for regular office workers, but it negatively affects the performance of expert teams. There are several reasons for this.

First, a high-tech company’s employees (let’s call them “experts”) do not only work at their desk and during standard work hours. They might need to do some work at night, participate in late meetings due to time zone differences with customers, or simply reach peak performance between 11pm and 4am. Accordingly, it is the actual work performed on the office computer (sometimes remotely from home) that must be estimated, not the time spent in close proximity to it.

Second, experts are usually freedom-loving individuals. Just the thought that some software program is monitoring their activities is demoralizing to innovative teams and, as a result, has a negative effect on their performance.

Third, experts have professional ambitions. The existence of software that discourages work may induce them to fight this software during work hours and at their workplace. This is hardly the effect you desire.
In our view, the best way to account for and monitor employee time is a program that meets several criteria:

  • It should be invisible to employees. Ideally, it should not be detected on employees’ computers.
  • The program should allow estimating the time employees spend accessing their work computer, based not only on when they are physically present but also when they are working remotely. Thus, the system should be able to identify the type of employee presence.
  • The program should support great flexibility in adjusting employees’ schedules. For example, it should allow for rules such as “If not present at work at 9:15 – send notice of absence without leave” or “Allow coming late no more than twice a week,” or “When working with a customer at night, allow time-off until noon or work from home.”
  • The program should ensure the required level of monitoring without encroaching on employees’ privacy (for instance, Internet traffic).
  • The program should not require significant investment in additional servers and system software.

Servilon has developed such a program and we now offer it to you. It is called SkypeTime – a time and attendance management system based on Microsoft Skype for Business.

SkypeTime is an ideal solution for IT companies where:

  • Microsoft Skype for Business is used for corporate communication;
  • Employees’ work is associated with resource intensive software and/or access to internal corporate resources, and therefore requires physical or remote access to an office computer.
  • The work day is not strictly measured by physical presence in an office but rather by the number of hours worked, and can be coordinated with senior management to allow for individual rules and exceptions.

SkypeTime discreetly monitors employees’ work without making them uncomfortable. It provides the flexibility needed to take into account the specific characteristics of the work schedule.

How SkypeTime Works?

SkypeTime collects employees’ work statistics based on changes to their Skype status (online, offline, inactive, away, in call, in call – mobile) and based on information about the device from which the status is obtained, which are recorded by the Skype for Business server. In addition, the system receives information from RDGs (Remote Desktop Gateways), and you can see whether an employee accessed a computer locally or remotely (from home or another location).

SkypeTime uses the information received to build accurate work schedule reports that include the following:

  • Start of work day;
  • Lunch breaks;
  • End of work day;
  • Total number of hours worked versus the expected number of hours;
  • Work performed from home.

All components are installed on SkypeTime servers, and Skype4B clients provide the information about presence. In other words, no additional software needs to be installed employees’ computers. Thus, the monitoring system cannot be removed, blocked, or otherwise affected. Moreover, the system does not interfere with employees’ work, so they cannot have a negative reaction to it.

Close integration with Active Directory and Skype for Business minimizes the effort required to configure SkypeTime – users are added and removed automatically after the integration is complete.

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SkypeTime features for monitoring and recording work time

Reports on employees’ work statistics

SkypeTime generates the following reports on employee work:

Average and maximum tardiness for a period;

  • Absence history with an indication of whether the manager’s permission had been given;
  • Periods of overtime;
  • Employees’ ranked by work discipline violations for a period;
  • Summary and detailed reports on daily changes in employees’ statuses;
  • Statistics on employees’ work from home;
  • Departmental summary of the work day (latecomers, absent, current requests, work time for the previous day);
  • Weekly employee summary.

Authorized managers can receive these reports both by accessing the program’s interface and through a regular email.

Work calendar management

SkypeTime allows users to set up an employees work calendar and indicate standard work hours for a specific department or employee. Time zones can be accounted for when setting up your work calendar, thus supporting the work of geographically distributed teams.

The system also lets you keep logs of holiday calendars, create and manage employee requests for time off, and change work schedules.

  • Employees within the same department can plan their holidays easily and avoid overlap by using a shared holiday calendar. This helps prevent key personnel on a project from taking holiday leave at the same time.

Dashboard

Both managers and employees access the system via the Dashboard – an easy-to-use interface that provides access to the following personal and group settings:

  • Create, send and approve requests for holiday, absence with leave, and other personal situations;
  • Manager or employee control over employees’ work schedules;
  • Monitor unused holidays and sick leave days;
  • Manage individual, group and system settings.

Prices and terms for installation

SkypeTime licenses start at $10 for one registered user and depend on the number of user licenses and additional services purchased. Discounts are available, if:

  • You are an IT company.
  • You order both the application and services to deploy it.
  • You purchase Microsoft Skype for Business or any other software license from us.
  • You are our client.
  • You are not our client, but you order other services from us along with SkypeTime.

Your purchase of a SkypeTime license gives you one year of free technical support and an annual subscription to all program updates, including new versions. Additionally, for one year from your purchase of SkypeTime you will receive a discount on our other services. Furthermore, when you buy more than 50 licenses you will receive a 50% discount on deployment of Skype for Business.

Contact us for a custom quote for SkypeTime with all applicable discounts.

SkypeTime features

Manager interface

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The Manager Interface is a side menu containing all of the application’s functionality, as well as up-to-date information on employees in four separate sections (Latecomers, Absent, Work Time, and Requests). Detailed information is available by clicking on each section’s name.

Employee Dashboard

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Employees can work more productively using web data from the Dashboard, which summarizes the information for a selected period of time, e.g. the beginning and end of a work day, planned work time per day / week, overtime, tardiness, and much more.

Employee Requests

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Editing employee requests is a key feature in time and attendance management systems. Managers can approve, deny or edit employee requests.

Employee report for a specified time period

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Employee summary report

To make it easier to read, the “Report by Period” generated as a table and Gantt chart. This makes it possible to interpret the tabular data in the chart.

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This report is a Gantt chart in the form of a table showing how much time the employee spent at work and how much he or she was offline during the working day. More information is available in the “Detailed Report” tab. You can see the device the employee was working from, as well as his or her status in the system and the duration of that status.

Report by holidays

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The holiday report contains a list of all employees and indicates the number of used and remaining holiday days during a year/period. The Gantt chart displays employee requests as a horizontal bar showing the number of days. By clicking on the bar, you can edit the request. By clicking on the employee’s name in the table, the request search page opens for the selected employee.

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Skype Cloud Connector Edition

Skype Cloud Connector Edition: The way to Integrate Corporate PBX and Setup PSTN Calls with Skype for Business Online (Office 365)

Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition (CCE) is a hybrid solution that allows integrating the corporate PBX with the Office 365. CCE offers a set of components offering organizations to connect to the corporate PBX or PSTN, organize the SIP trunk from your Office 365 (Skype for Business Online).

This service gives you a turnkey Cloud Connector Edition (CCE) infrastructure setup.

We will deploy the necessary topology in a virtual environment. Users from your organization will be able to place / receive calls from landline and mobile phones through any existing voice infrastructure, for example through the corporate PBX or SIP trunk of a VOIP provider. If your corporate PBX does not support SIP protocol over TCP, we’ll set up an additional gateway for connection.

Work performed during deployment of Cloud Connector Edition (CCE) for Skype for Business Online:

  1. Set up of the required package of Virtual Machines:
  • Domain Controller
  • Central Management Server (CMS)
  • Mediation Server
  • Edge Server
  1. Configuration of the above-mentioned VMs.
  2. Setup of VOIP gateway for connection with the corporate PBX or PSTN.
  3. Testing of the functionality.

For the companies that require High Availability, we offer to deploy 2 CCE packages (2 x 4 Virtual Machines, i.e. 8 virtual machines in total).

Infrastructure Requirements:

Minimum CCE solution (up to 50 simultaneous calls) – 64-bit 4-core processor/ 32 GB RAM/ 200Gb HDD) / 2 NIC.

Standard CCE solution – 64-bit 6-core processor/ 64 GB RAM / 400Gb HDD) / 2 NIC.

Example topology of the deployed infrastructure of Cloud Connector Edition (CCE) for Skype for Business Online:

CCE img

Service price: €990

Please contact us for any question you may have.

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Skype for business CCE

Skype for Business – Cloud Connector Edition (CCE)

Cloud Connector Edition1

A couple of days ago Microsoft released the Cloud Connector Edition (CCE) for Skype for Business Online, a hybrid solution that enables integrating your corporate PBX with the Office 365. CCE includes a set of components allowing organizations to connect to the PSTN, or organize the SIP trunk from Office 365 (Skype for Business Online). This solution is useful for countries in which there is no possibility of using the telephone connection directly in Office 365 Enterprise E5, since the feature is currently available only in the United States.

What is Skype for Business CCE?

Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition (CCE) is a hybrid solution that consists of multiple Virtual Machines (VMs) implementing local connectivity with the Cloud PBX.

Deploying the minimal Skype Business Server topology in a virtualized environment (whether it’s cloud or on-premise solution), users in the organization are able to send and receive calls from landline and mobile phones via any existing voice infrastructure, for example through the corporate PBX or SIP trunk of you VOIP provider.

The structure of CCE includes a package of four Virtual Machines that should be deployed and configured using the setup wizard. Here is the list of virtual machines:

  1. Domain Controller
  2. Central Management Server (CMS)
  3. Mediation Server
  4. Edge Server

In this case, there is no dependency on the existing Active Directory infrastructure during the deployment phase, as it creates its own forest independently. It’s recommended to place the CCE Virtual Machines in the DMZ. Companies that need High Availability can deploy 2 CCE packages (2 x 4 VMs, that is 8 VMs in total).

Licensing

There is no need to purchase licenses for virtual servers included in the Cloud Connector Edition (CCE). However, Office 365 users using a hybrid configuration require licenses, and need to purchase E5 enterprise plan.

CCE deployment service.

Cloud Connector Documentation:

Planning: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/mt605227.aspx

Setup: https://technet.microsoft.com/EN-US/library/mt605228.aspx

Follow the link to download Cloud Connector Edition: http://aka.ms/getcce

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Skype for bisuness

MICROSOFT SKYPE FOR BUSINESS SERVER START SERVICE

What is Skype for Business Server?

Until recently, “public” communication tools (such as Skype, Telegram, WhatsApp) and corporate communication tools (Lync, Sametime, etc.) were separated by a difficult-to-penetrate wall. Corporate messengers have well-developed security and auditing features. They integrate well with the corporate IT infrastructure and are mostly administered by the customer.  The main shortcoming of corporate messengers is their inability to include those outside of the “secure perimeter” (customers, partners, and subcontractors) in the conversation. The public tools allow anybody anywhere on the earth to easily communicate, but their utter lack of control over information streams creates serious problems for corporate IT and security departments. As a result, building a full-fledged communication environment, whether inside or outside of a company, amounts to a set of technological and organizational compromises and introduces significant risks.

Given this situation,  Skype for Business Server represents a new turn in the development of corporate communication tools, bringing together two previously incompatible worlds. On the one hand, this is the corporate version of Skype (previously better known as Microsoft Lync) with all of its advantages – secure channels, centralized management, Active Directory integration, Microsoft Office integration, and integration with the corporate phone system. On the other hand, it’s an opportunity to bring any Skype user – no matter where – into this “convenient” and fully manageable communication system. Moreover, thanks to Skype for Business Server’s complete integration, connecting these external users entails no risk and is fully manageable.

Why is a Microsoft Skype for Business Server Launch Service necessary?

When deciding whether to deploy new technology such as Skype for Business Server (Microsoft announced it in spring of 2015), IT- and business managers regularly have questions like these:

– Will Skype for Business Server work for us? Does the product include everything we need (functionality and security)? Will the product integrate well with our corporate environment (both organizationally and technologically)?

– Are the expenses for Skype for Business Server excessive? How much does it cost and how can we optimize our expenses?

To make this barrier easier to overcome, Microsoft invites customers to use its Microsoft Skype for Business Server Launch Service – an authorized service to deploy Microsoft Skype for Business Server 2015 Standard Edition on the Customer’s premises and provide practical training to the Customer’s IT specialists.

The Skype for Business Server 2015 Launch Service was created with the following objectives:

  • To improve the Customer’s effectiveness and reduce risks when deploying Skype for Business Server 2015;
  • To give the Customer’s IT specialists practical experience managing and supporting Skype for Business Server 2015;
  • To give the ability to assess the full functionality of Skype for Business Server 2015 and facilitate making a decision about the need for full deployment of the product.

The service is offered by official Microsoft partners and makes it possible, with minimum expenditures, to start trial (or regular) use of Skype for Business in just 3 days.

How is the service provided and what do I get out of it?

The service assumes the following schedule:

Day 1
  • Review Skype for Business Server 2015’s capabilities and architecture;
  • Design the server infrastructure;
  • System requirements;
  • Deploy server components.
Day 2
  • Review and deploy Skype for Business Server 2015’s client components;
  • Integrate Skype for Business Server 2015 client tools with the company’s work environment;
  • Integrate with Microsoft Office and Microsoft SharePoint;
  • Review and conduct a web conference.
Day 3
  • Review Skype for Business Server 2015’s capabilities when integrating with a traditional telephone system;
  • Set up the ability to work remotely and from mobile devices;
  • Review additional features regarding message archiving and system monitoring.

The service produces the following:

  • A server with Skype for Business Server 2015 Standard Edition installed, which provides the following capabilities:
    • Instant messaging;
    • Audio- and video calls and conference calls between users;
    • Schedule and conduct a web conference;
  • 5-10 workstations with deployed client software to interact with Skype for Business Server 2015;
  • Training for 5 of your company’s IT specialists. (We propose 2 groups of IT specialists: administrators and technical support specialists);
  • Your company’s specialists learn the theory and gain practical skills managing and supporting the solution, and also receive recommendations from an experienced consultant.

Skype for Business Server can be deployed both using permanent licenses (in which case a Microsoft partner will help you choose the best mix of licenses and subscriptions) as well as trial licenses from Microsoft, which are valid for up to 120 days – a period that is entirely sufficient for making a decision.

First, Servilon is an authorized Microsoft partner, which automatically guarantees the quality of our service.

Second, Servilon is a team of IT professionals, which will support you not only while providing the launch service but also during large-scale deployment of Skype for Business, and will resolve any problems that may arise in this process.

Third, Servilon offers this service at one of the lowest prices on the market – only 1400 Euro.

If our offer interests you, call us now and your Microsoft Skype for Business Server deployment project can begin as early as tomorrow.

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