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Seeing GroupWise Through Users' Eyes

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
By Doug Anderson

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Posted: 3 Jun 1999
 

Everyone wants to have some say, a voice, a bit of influence. Here at Cool Solutions, readers sometimes have more voice than we do. Readers demanded a Downloadables section, so you got one. Readers asked for better searching and vaulting, so you got it. Well, users have been clamoring for a way to share what they know and pick the brains of other users. You got it.

Linda from Australia wrote: As a software support person I am always investigating better methods of completing tasks, which often involves the computerisation of systems. I find it interesting to read how other people use GroupWise and think there is merit in you starting a column to publish this information. And Linda backed up her request by sending in a detailed description of how she uses GroupWise in her organization.

So here's what we're going to do: In this issue we'll share with you how Linda uses GroupWise to run the largest training and educational programs in the state of Victoria (Australia, that is). And because Linda is showing us hers, we'll reciprocate by showing you how we here at Cool Solutions use GroupWise to publish the magazine. And in the future, as you the readers respond to the clarion call for feedback, we'll continue to periodically publish articles that give detailed descriptions of how users use GroupWise. Because you asked for it.

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The IT Department at Goulburn Ovens TAFE, North East Victoria, Australia
by linda from Australia
We are the largest regional TAFE in the state of Victoria and provide a high quality range of educational programs, courses and training to the region and beyond, at both an international and interstate level. We currently use GroupWise 5.1 (16-bit and 32-bit clients) and will soon be using InForms.

Internal and External E-mail
Nothing special to report here. We have four domains and six post offices. We have created public groups based on the Institute's organisational structure. Question: Is it possible to set up public groups with members from different domains and post offices? I know I can set up personal addresses but I don't want to export and have 600 staff import same. [Editor: We're researching the answer, so look for it soon as a Q&A entry, and anticipate the rush.]

Vehicle Bookings
Our managers have vehicles. It is the respective secretary's job to manage these vehicles. We have created the institute vehicles as resources and the secretary as the owner. We have given full proxy rights to the respective Managers and read rights to all users (minimum user access). Through the View Designer we have created a view (based on the Appointment screen) for vehicle bookings. Details include: driver, passengers, destination, purpose, company, etc. By using the view designed appointment screen, this information is included in the vehicle diary, as well as the driver's and passengers' diaries. Vehicles are a precious resource and there are never enough of them. By giving read access to all users they can view where the vehicle is traveling and link up with the driver if they want a ride. Any user can ?pre-book? any vehicle using this view. They can use Busy Search to check the vehicle's availability. The owner then accepts or declines the booking. We have created rules so that any bookings made by the secretary and/or the manager are automatically accepted. We have used an auto-date booking to schedule garaging rights for weekends and week nights. Our next step is to link this (through InForms) to our finance database. We would really like to include more fields for odometer reading, cost centre (expense code), etc. so that our Finance program can automate cost centre transfer of funds. As I have said, we will do this through InForms.

Help Desk
I have noticed a few Q&As regarding the potential use of GroupWise as a help desk. We have been investigating help desk software and I believe that with a little bit of work, GroupWise would work quite nicely. Question: Will you be developing GroupWise so that it may be used as a Help Desk? [Editor: features that make GroupWise a more efficient help desk are on the list for future releases. We can't get specific (non-disclosure and all that), but keep the ideas coming; it's not too late to get your own two bob in)]. If so, I would be more than a happy little chappy to put my two bob in. (That's Aussie slang. Hope you can understand it!) We recently upgraded to GroupWise 5.1 from 4.1a. 4.1a handled our ?help desk? okay but we have had to make some changes for it to better suit 5.1.

4.1a Help Desk
We created a resource called IT_Tasks and proxied read rights to all users. We designed an IT Job Request form based on the task view; created a folder for IT_Tasks and a rule so that all incoming job request forms are automatically sent to the IT_Tasks folder. All job requests are given a priority letter (A  Critical impact; B  Limited impact; C  Minimal impact; D  Advisory Query; R  Repair, etc) and a number (1  student labs, 2  creation new user accounts, etc). All staff are able to view the IT_Task list to see where their job is in the Institute priority list. As you can appreciate, all users think their problem is urgent and give their job a priority of A1. However, when we were prioritising their job in accordance with other Institute priorities, it was often necessary to change their priority. Version 4.1a did not allow for this field to be changed. To get around the problem, we saved their task, created a new personal task and retrieved their task into the "message section." We enter a job number and attending technician's initials in the subject line. The respective technician changes the due date in line with their time frame. Details are added to the message section to highlight the job's progress.

5.1 Help Desk
We are going to set up IT Tasks as a user, rather than a resource. This is so we can create folders (or find results folders) for each technician's tasks. And using the nifty C3POs, print them out. We are going to have to change our priority numbering system as version 5.1 seems to print numbers and not letters. We now delegate the task rather than retrieving it (because we can't find retrieve in 5.1). [Editor: Sorry, Retrieve doesn't exist in 5.x. Around here, we're still hoping it will someday return. But we aren't so optimistic.] We are still using the same View Designer screen. We will probably revisit this when InForms is operational so we can have drop-down and tick boxes. The less information the user has to enter, the better and more accurate it is for us. Help Desk Nice-to-haves: Automatic job numbering, escalation, better reporting options, etc. Question: While I'm on the Nice-to-haves, can you indent in GroupWise? [Editor: We've passed on your Help Desk requests to the right people. Keep your fingers crossed. And you can tab by pressing Ctrl+Tab. No actual paragraph indents, sorry.]

Bulletin Boards
[Editor: by bulletin boards, we think Linda means shared folders]
We have also set these up as resources. We have a variety of bulletin boards, some are managed by a single user/department and some are open slather. The bulletin boards are for mail messages only. We have given everyone (minimum user access) read rights to all bulletin boards. We have created rules so that messages other than mail messages are automatically deleted and a message returned to the sender stating this. For the public managed boards we have created a rule so that items are moved from the Mailbox into a folder after seven days of their receipt. And another rule so that messages are automatically deleted from the folder after 30 days. We have created subject folders for the categorisation of messages (like your vault).

That's the basics of how we use GroupWise. I would really love to share this with other users and gain knowledge from the way other users apply GroupWise.

Regards, Linda

P.S. Vera B., Pittsfield, Maine, USA wrote asking if you can filter by post office. We have four domains and six post offices. I wanted to create an address book for each domain. So I sorted the Novell address book by domain and copied and pasted each domain's info into four new address books (one for each domain). I synchronise this info with the Novell address book. It's by no means a replacement for a filter but it was a quick-fix to get me out of a spot. Trouble is, you have to update (sort, copy, and paste) the list periodically. P.S.S. Maybe my explanation of the way we use bulletin boards might help Joe L., Chicago, Illinois, USA. [Editor: Are you listening, Joe?]

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Inside Cool Solutions
back to dug anderson
Shared Folders are the key to Cool Solutions. In the GWMAG Mailbox (which each member of a small, core team has proxy access to), each GroupWise feature has a folder, and each folder is shared with a writer, the feature developer, feature tester, and a marketer. A core team member reads every incoming message, and immediately places it in a folder. For example, we have a shared folder called Filters, where we store all the questions we get about, well, Filters. The subject experts with access to the shared folder read each question and create a discussion thread. Once they arrive at an answer (or appropriate course of action), the writer either places the answer in the Ready to Publish folder, or puts it wherever else it might belong. Like the This Is Clearly Someone Trying to Get Out of Paying for Support folder. Or the Frequently Asked Questions folder. These folders have rules that reply to anything placed in them with automatic responses.

We store all Cool Solutions documents in the GroupWise Library, and we keep doc references for them in shared folders. A core team member monitors the Ready to Publish folder, and periodically copies the questions and answers into the next available slot in the next available Q&A document (named by week, like ?Q&A 10/20/97,? to keep things straight). So when Monday rolls around, and it's time to publish another Q&A, our Q&A guy opens the document in the Library and copies all the text into our web publishing tool.

We have shared folders to store doc references of Tips of the Week, drafts of articles, even the .GIFs we use. Using Doc Management's Version Control, we keep multiple versions of everything, from unedited drafts to the final product. And because the document references are stored in shared folders, we can generate comment and discussion about pretty much anything we're planning to publish in the magazine. Because, believe us, with the loose cannons we have around here, everything needs to be reviewed by someone sane before we hit that Publish button.

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Going Forward
So there you go. With your help, we'll make this a regular feature of the magazine. Tell us how your organization uses GroupWise. Not only will we publish the good stuff, but we'll send you cool prizes if we use it. And if you don't mind, this could even become sort of an informal gathering place for users helping users. Together we'll create some synergy. Wait, scratch that. But at the least, this might prove really useful.


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