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Employee Lists on your iPhone or Android with EasyGrouper

It’s been a long time since I blogged, mainly because I’ve been so busy building up another product for public release. Now that the product is launched I’m hoping to spend a little more time covering technology topics. I figured what better way to restart the blogging than by writing about our new product.

The Problem with Contact Lists

Today nearly everyone carries a smart phone. Whether it’s a company issued phone or (more likely) a personal device, it’s hard to go anywhere and not find them. When you need to get in touch with someone you work with, the best way is usually to call or text their mobile phone if they aren't nearby. Sometimes it's a quick email from your smartphone if the message isn't urgent.

This is where the problems begin. Getting the people you work with onto your phone is largely up to each individual. Unless the company they work for has an Active Directory or LDAP server humming away—and it's been updated with everyones person mobile device—each person has to maintain their own contact list. Most small non-technology businesses don't have the resources to run a server like that.

For companies that only have a handful of employees, this isn’t really an issue. However once you hit the 15-20 people mark it becomes very difficult to balance. The most common way of dealing with this is by putting together a spreadsheet and either emailing it around or putting it on a shared drive (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc) that people can access. Pulling up this information is not generally very easy when you are sitting on a mobile device with a poor internet connection.

Enter EasyGrouper

Seeing this as an opportunity we developed EasyGrouper. What we wanted to build was a really simple way to put a list of just the people you work with—and their primary work contact information—on the web and on everyone's phones. It needed to be spreadsheet simple because that’s generally what we were replacing.
Main List
The idea was to make it completely separate from your regular contact list. The contact list model in most phones feels completely broken; every app wants to access my contact list; online apps like Facebook and Twitter want to mine my contacts to see who I communicate with; some desktop apps and online services want to synchronize my contact list and I get multiple copies of the same contact in my address book. For a common user—especially of the non-technical type—it’s a giant mess that people have just accepted as ugly.

Rather than exacerbate the problem, we decided to take a really simple approach. Put the list of people on our secure web site. Focus on the most basic contact information that people really need: name, title, email, phone numbers. Provide a web page that is responsive and looks good on mobile devices as well as custom apps that provide beautiful and responsive user experiences for the end user. Keep the data cached on people’s phones so the response time is extremely fast, and only perform updates to the data in the background.

Locations and Groups

Information Page
We went a little further than just putting together an employee list that would allow simple calling, texting and emailing. When people are out in the field or away and traveling they often find themselves needing to look up important information that is specific to the company or a project some people may be working on. Our Information pages are basically a complete web page that gets pushed down to each person’s phone automatically. Links in those pages are automatically linked into the features of your mobile device. Tapping a phone number will dial it, a link to a web site will load your web browser, an email address will load your mail client, etc.

This means that if a company wants to put up an information page for their office they can list out who the emergency contacts are, who to call for catering, directions to a client location, health insurance information, etc. Pretty much any information a person may need when they are out of the office.

Statuses

The one last feature we added was the ability to set a status. Very often when you are trying to find someone you work with and they aren’t where you expect them, you ask around: "Have you seen…?". The status feature lets you put a quick line next to your name in the list for a set time frame. It’s a great way to let people you work with know that you’re on vacation, at the dentist or traveling.

As we built and prototyped EasyGrouper we talked to a lot of small businesses about it. The reception we received was overwhelmingly positive and after having used it for a few months several of our early adopters have found EasyGrouper to be an indispensable tool.

We priced EasyGrouper to be very affordable. The client apps that we built for iPhone and Android are free and anyone can set up a 45 day trial account for up to 200 people. For US $25 per month a company with up to 50 employees can roll this out to everyone.

You can check out the video for EasyGrouper below or get more information by visiting our web site at www.easygrouper.com.

3 comments:

Hendrik said...

Congratulations on the launch! Looks very well designed and thought out.

David Alison said...

Thanks Hendrik! We're pretty proud of it.

louisgarcia said...

Interesting article david