Thursday, March 27, 2014

Employee Spotlight - Wivina Lo

Our Employee Spotlight series will highlight a different member of the SmartSimple crew every week. Take some time to get to know the wonderful and diverse team behind the SmartSimple platform.

Wivina Lo is a Developer who started at SmartSimple in May 2012. She sat down with us this week to impart her best productivity and subject matter tips, her hobbies, and her favourite movie (or shall we say, movies).

That's Wivina on the right!

Productivity and subject matter expert tip:
1. Use system calls whenever you can. If you need more than what the system functions currently offer, make a request or create a ticket with Development. We can accommodate the request if it's common throughout the platform.

2. If you have problems searching for Level 1s in the SmartSimple mobile app, check with the administrator to see if the mobile settings of the UTA have been set up properly.

What is your favourite part about working for SmartSimple?
It's a very cozy environment.

What are your hobbies?
TV, music, eating, skating, hiking, and watching hockey.

What is your favourite movie, book, or album?
I love all Pixar movies.

What is the one thing you couldn't live without?
The Internet.

Random fact about you that most people wouldn't know:
I'm a hockey fan!

Personal quote:
Take a moment and count your blessings before you start whining.   

Want to know more about SmartSimple and the team behind it? Visit our main website, email us at info@smartsimple.com or contact us at 1-866-239-0991. Check back next week for another installment of SmartSimple's Employee Spotlight!

Friday, March 21, 2014

How to Use PDFs Offline with SmartSimple

SmartSimple’s PDF blog series highlights the fantastic functionality that SmartSimple system users can enjoy around their uploaded PDFs. Each post in this series will take a look at a different feature that’s already built into your system! 

Did you know that you can generate fillable PDFs in your SmartSimple system that you can download, fill in offline, and then use to populate data in your system?

This feature is called the PDF Parser, and it is especially useful for those in the following roles:
  • Applicants or reviewers using grant application forms in low-lying areas or regions with poor Internet connections.
  • Program Offers who prefer to write recommendations in a form offline. 
  • C-Level or Board members who perform reviews and wish to not log into the system. 
Find out how you can use this helpful feature with these comprehensive steps (note that the first step requires Internet access):

Generating the PDF
Open the Documents tab within any grant record in your system. Clicking 'Open' will generate a PDF that is pre-populated with client organization details.

An example of a PDF document in a grant record.


This is an extremely versatile feature that can be used a number of ways by your staff. For example, within GMS360°, your staff can generate a PDF and then email it to an applicant or reviewer that has poor Internet connectivity. The applicant or reviewer can then work on the PDF offline and email it back once they re-establish an Internet connection.

Filling Out the PDF (Offline)
Even if you're working in an area with no Internet access, you can still fill out your PDF once it's been downloaded to your desktop.

Open the PDF from your desktop using the latest version of Adobe Reader. Every fillable area in the PDF corresponds to a matching field within your SmartSimple system.

When you've completed the fields, simply save your PDF file.

Uploading the PDF
Once you have Internet access again, you can re-upload your completed PDF back into your SmartSimple system.

Select the PDF Uploader in your portal to access the Application Basket. From here, simply drag and drop your completed PDF into the area.

 
Once uploaded, the Parser will run every 5 minutes and process the file. After being processed, your PDF will no longer appear under the list of uploaded PDFs once you refresh the page.

Additionally, the information entered in your PDF will be automatically entered into your system once it's been re-uploaded. For example, if you've uploaded a Site Visit PDF, a Level 2 record called "Site Visit" will be created with a "Submitted" status. The new Level 2 record will be populated with data that you've entered (e.g. summary, eligibility answers, evaluation, etc).

Want to know more about the PDF Parser? Visit our official Wiki page, main website, or contact us at info@smartsimple.com. Check back later for more entries in our PDF blog series!

Friday, March 14, 2014

SmartSimple's 2014 Community Conference Registration Now Open!

Have you heard? SmartSimple’s Community Conference 2014: Venture into Your Future is open for registration and you’re invited!

Visit our registration page today to sign up for exciting sessions about SmartSimple and hot topics related to you, our clients and associates.

This year’s conference will take place April 9, 2014 from 9:30 AM – 4 PM at Victoria College on 91 Charles Street West in Toronto, Canada.

Venture into Your Future will explore topics including big data, training videos, our top secret new Machine Learning Project, undiscovered but useful system features, and all the new frontiers for SmartSimple in the coming year. Just check out our full agenda for more!

The last official day to register is March 28, 2014.

Questions? Find out more about this year’s Community Conference by contacting us at info@smartsimple.com or 1-866-239-0991.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

SmartSimple Makes Connections at the 2014 Grants Managers Network Conference

SmartSimple is heading to sunny California! We are delighted to announce that we will be taking part in Making Connections, the 9th annual Grants Manager Network Conference from March 17-19, 2014 in San Diego, California.


We will be participating as a session exhibitor in this three-day marathon of enlightening demonstrations, workshops and lectures on all the hot issues affecting grants management in 2014.

Learn more about the GMN Network and the 2014 conference at their main website.

SmartSimple will be represented by Relationship Manager Sarah Jane Nicholson, Director of Strategic Accounts Todd Lapin, and Director of Business Development Gary Modlin. We will be showcasing the power and flexibility of GMS360°, SmartSimple's grants management software.

Visit our booth or email sales@smartsimple.com to arrange a one-on-one discussion. Be sure to check out our main site to learn more about SmartSimple and GMS360°.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Employee Spotlight - Monika Dhankani

Our Employee Spotlight series will highlight a different member of the SmartSimple crew every week. Take some time to get to know the wonderful and diverse team behind the SmartSimple platform.

Monika Dhankani is a Business System Analyst and has been working for SmartSimple since July 2013. Monika is one of the first employees to be hired at our inaugural American office in New York City!

For this week's Employee Spotlight, Monika tells us her best productivity tip, what she likes best about working for SmartSimple, and surprising random fact or two (or, rather, four)!


Productivity or subject matter expert tip:
Keep your work priorities flexible enough so they can scale to any changes in your requirement specifications.

What is your favourite part about working for SmartSimple?
The work environment is really nice and everyone is supportive of you.

What are your hobbies?
I love singing, dancing, painting and cooking. I love to cook for foodies.

What is your favourite movie, book, or album?
My favourite movie is an old classic Hindi movie, Andaz Apna Apna.

What is the one thing you couldn’t live without?
I am very spiritual and I can't live without feeling that connection to God (and a minimum 8 hours of sleep).

Random fact about you that most people wouldn’t know:
  1. I am crazy for flowers and fragrances. 
  2. I am an adventure sports enthusiast (skydiving, jet skiing etc). 
  3. I was Miss Jodhpur 2007. 
  4. I can eat cheese 24x7. 
Personal quote: 
"Always do what you are afraid to do."


Want to know more about SmartSimple and the team behind it? Visit our main website, email us at info@smartsimple.com or contact us at 1-866-239-0991. Check back next week for another installment of SmartSimple's Employee Spotlight!

Monday, March 3, 2014

10 Simple Tips for Improving User Experience (Part 2)

The following post has been contributed by our Web User Interface & Graphic Designer, Mark Bridger. Read the first post from this two-part series!

We at SmartSimple are always striving to ensure our users have the best possible experience when using our products. Effective user interface design makes the user’s interaction with a system as simple and efficient as possible.

Here are the last five usability principals all designers should use in creating interfaces:

6. Recognition over Recall


Make objects, actions, options, and directions visible or easily retrievable.
  • Avoid Using Codes: If a user wants to apply for a grant, use “Grant Application” as a label, instead of an arbitrary code. This way, the user doesn't have to learn or remember your coding system.
  • Avoid Unnecessary Hurdles: Ensure every page has a purpose; there should be no unneeded intermediary pages.
  • Visual Representation: If you are selecting visual elements such as layouts, images, and video, include a preview pane. This way, the user can clearly visualize it, rather than being forced to use a text description to remember how it looks like.

7. Flexibility & Efficiency


Give the user options and make it easier for them to accomplish their desired tasks.

  • Shortcuts: Shortcuts enable users to navigate your site more efficiently. Keyboard shortcut example: CTRL + C for Copy.
  • Defaults with Options: If the user needs to search for events, add commonly picked cities as radio buttons. This cuts out the cumbersome process of manually searching for the most frequently chosen cities.
  • Recommendations: If the user has finished applying for a grant, recommend similar grants they might want to apply to. Ensure that these recommendations are relevant to them.

 

8. Aesthetic & Minimalist Design


Keep things clean, clear and simple.
  • Above the Fold: The most important information should be displayed in the initial viewable area.
  • Signal-to-Noise: Minimize the amount of elements and choose a layout, fonts and colors that support the goal or message.
  • Remove Redundant Information: Avoid asking for, or displaying the same information, multiple times. If something is not needed or distracts the user, get rid of it.

 

9. Recognize, Diagnose & Recover from Errors


Help your users to recognize, diagnose and recover from errors.
  • Clarity: Make sure the user knows what is wrong. For example, if a user missed a mandatory field, give them an appropriate error message, highlight the desired input, and reset the focus to that input.
  • Provide a Solution: When the user encounters an issue, recommend a solution, list their options, and either tell the user how to resolve it or propose an alternative.
  • Warn of Potential Problems: If a user is about to do something that may result in an error or issue, prompt them with information explaining the issue. Include an option to continue or cancel in the prompt.

 

10. Help 

  • Provide Examples:  Include samples and templates to demonstrate actions on your interface.
  • Context Sensitive Help: Provide relevant and pertinent help on each page to fix problems as they arise.
  • New/Changed Functionality: Bring attention to new or changed features, so users know what new things are, and where to find and use existing things that were changed. 

These tips are based on the works of Jakob Nielsen and Scott Klemmer.

Want to learn more about SmartSimple and our software products? Visit our main site, email us at info@smartsimple.com or call toll-free 1-866-239-0991.