Here’s another company worth watching. Check out Bamboo HR. Bamboo HR is an online HR database that gives you easy access to your employee records, relieves paperwork headaches, and reduces employee management costs for businesses of all sizes. Bamboo HR allows you to manage employee records, track required training, and store important documents securely on the web so all of you HR information is in one place.
Not only is their name cool, we love their business model too. Bamboo HR offers a 30-day free trial, simple pricing for companies of all sizes and their service is pay-as-you-go. Seem like a no-brainer.
Learn more about Bamboo HR at www.BambooHR.com
Help us win a Crunchie! What the heck is a Crunchie? The Crunchies are to technology what the Oscars are to Hollywood. The awards celebrate the best technology and design accomplishments of 2009. Sponsored by GigaOm, VentureBeat and TechCrunch, the awards will be presented to a packed house on Friday January 8, 2010 at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco.
Starting today, you can nominate our popular, easy-to-use applicant tracking software, Newton, for “Best Design”. The Crunchies Committee will choose five finalists per award category based on the submitted nominations and the company accomplishments made during 2009. Popular voting will open on Monday, December 21 and run through midnight PT, Wednesday January 6, 2010.
Here’s an example of our design work:
Newton Software has already been nominated for “Best Design” and now we need your support.
1. First, we need your help getting noticed by the judges so NOMINATE us yourself! or click on the badge below.
2. When we make it, we’ll need your vote sometime between December 21st and January 6th 2010. We’ll let you know when we are in the running. You can vote here
The Top Reasons to Nominate Newton Software for a “Best Design” Crunchie
- You are a friend, an associate, or a contact that respects us and wants to see us win an award.
- You feel bad for us for starting a recruiting software company amidst the worst recession in decades, possibly centuries.
- We are underdogs and it’s cool to vote for underdogs.
- We have only one and a half designers at Newton Software. They are both self-taught.
- We are bootstrapped. We use our own minds, our own ideas, and our own money to design great recruiting software.
- For us, great design is core to our philosophy. In fact, if you’ve ever read our blog posts about design, you may think we’re a little obsessed it.
- We are indeed obsessed with designing easy-to-use software.
- If you’ve used Newton, our kick-ass applicant tracking software, then you’ll know that we design software to make people’s jobs easier.
We think so. For the past several months, we’ve worked with our customers, lawyers, and even an OFCCP compliance officer to design Newton’s compliance module. Today, our development team finally started implementing this feature that will make OFCCP and EEO compliance a breeze. While we’ve always allowed our customers to collect EEO data, we recently decided to expand this feature providing our customers the easiest way to collect, store and report critical information often required by the US Government.
By mid-December, customers of Newton who are subject to laws administered by the OFCCP (Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs) will have the most advanced tracking and reporting feature available in any applicant tracking system. And, for our larger customers, those over 50 employees, Newton EEO/ OFCCP is going to be a veritable compliance blessing spitting out applicant flow logs that export to the same form required by the US Government.
So stay tuned, we’ll have more information on this time saving feature out soon.
From time to time, we come across companies that we think are really cool. Sonar6 has been on our radar for a couple of years. While many of their peers seem to be making HR software more and more complicated, the folks at Sonar6 are doing the opposite by providing the simplest way to help businesses make better people decisions.
Founded in 2006, the goal of Sonar6 remains straightforward: Provide the best possible way to create in-depth performance reviews online. Sonar6 delivers. They’ve built a slick, easy-to-use product and with their “quick start” option, activation is a snap. Clear, no-nonsense, tiered pricing is available on the Sonar6 website so prospective users know exactly what they are getting into – no surprises!
Learn more about Sonar6 at www.sonar6.com
So here’s the deal. For the past couple of months, our customers have been asking for an efficient way to acknowledge candidates that don’t make the cut. At first blush, this seemed easy enough. But, as our product team began researching and designing the feature, all sorts of complexities became evident.
Some interesting questions were raised. Questions like:
- What if a candidate has applied to or is assigned to more than one job? And. What if she is active on multiple other jobs?
- Who should send thank you letters? Should hiring managers be able to? Only HR?
- Thank you letters should be stage specific. How can we make them more intelligent?
- Should thank you letters come from HR or an individual’s email account?
- What if you’ve already sent a thank you letter to someone in the past? Should you send another?
- If hiring managers are not permitted to send thank you letters but your company still wants to send them, how should you store them to be sent later?
- What if you source passive candidates? Will Newton help you determine whether you’ve spoken with someone before sending a thank you letter?
Yeah, some stuff to think about huh? So, what we thought would take a couple of weeks to design, has taken nearly three solid months and a lot of brain cells. But, the good news is Newton’s Thank You Letter feature is super thoughtful and ultimately will improve life for both employers and applicants. That’s the goal!
Right now, we’re just making sure everything works great. Look for Newton Thank You Letters in two weeks.
“Please contact support.” Makes you cringe, doesn’t it? At Newton we encourage people to contact support—by email or phone. No, I’m not kidding.
We call it “Support Driven Design”. I’ll explain this concept in just a bit, but first I’d like to give you some background on how we came to believe that free technical support results in better recruiting software: it makes it easier to use, faster to deploy, and paradoxically, makes supporting your customers cost less (which in our case means we can sell our hiring software for less money).
In the beginning providing free technical support, like we do at Newton, appeared to be purely a business decision: giving away support makes the buying decision easier for people. We also didn’t have the time to build a big FAQ on our site, so we were pretty much required to do this personally anyway. On top of this, we also don’t like paying for support, or reading online help, and felt that we shouldn’t make our clients do something we don’t like to do. Today we think it was a good business decision, and an even better product one.
Of course we were warned. The “old-school” software folks, whose advice we openly take and whose success we jealously admire, told us that providing free technical support was a bad idea. “You’re going to have to charge for it sooner or later because it will eat your margins,” “support is a profit center,” they’d say. We’ve always had a problem with authority…
Design the Question Out of the System
One of the first things we tell any customer at Newton is, “If you don’t understand something, no matter how small, it’s our fault, not yours. Let us know.” We ENCOURAGE technical support emails and phone calls. Again yes, I am being serious.
As a result, and contrary to what you might think, we are hardly ever asked to provide support. The net result of Support Driven Design has been that today we get less than 1 support question per year per customer, or about .01 questions for each user per year, a group of business users can be trained in 5 minutes, and a recruiter in a mind-numbing 30.
In the beginning, and still today, our product managers, i.e. the people responsible for designing Newton’s applicant tracking software, did all the walkthroughs, customer training, and provided all support. Without knowing it, we had started a “Support Driven” design shop. When we’d get a question from someone, we didn’t add it to the user manual, we’d think about how we could redesign Newton in such a way so that we didn’t have to answer the question again.
I think this has been more than a modest breakthrough for us. Instead of teaching people how to conform to our recruiting software, instead of an online hiring FAQ, we take each question and “design the question out of the system”.
For example, early on we had this bad “More Info” button that people overlooked. Since all support email came through my desk, as it does today, I answered the same question three times in one week, “Where do I find this <something>?” One of our customers actually apologized for asking me a “silly question”! Have we come this far? Do software users really think that it’s their fault for not understanding something? Clearly, it didn’t look like a button, and clearly it was our fault. That week spelled the end of that button. Support questions: 0. Easier to use: 1.
The Tail Wags the Dog
Since we’ve never charged for support we’ve learned to appreciate that if we design a confusing feature we’re going to pay for it later. Since we don’t force people to an FAQ page, we know immediately when something isn’t working. The tail of support wags the dog of design: if you can’t charge for it, you better make it work right out of the box.
As a result, we often design a feature and say to ourselves, “we can’t do this, it will create support tickets.” This approach is not for everyone (especially for companies that get paid for making confusing software). It puts tremendous strain on our design process, and is the single greatest reason why it takes us 4 times longer to design (i.e. mockup, whiteboard, wireframe, etc.) a new feature than it does for our development team to build it.
The output of this also means that we can provide free training. We don’t like losing money any more than anyone else and if it took us 4 hours to train our customers, or 40 emails to answer their questions, we’d never be profitable. Free support: design the question out of the system + design rigor = easy training.
Maybe paid support is why one of the more common questions asked in an RFP is if we have an online FAQ. Think about that. Buyers are actually asking if you have a way NOT to help them. Our answer is simple, “just call us.” You might counter with, “well, I would like to just figure it out myself, without contacting support.” Tail wags the dog: you need an FAQ because the software is confusing, it is confusing because instead of designing your question out of the software, it was built into a support guide.
I think it is worth noting that people aren’t accustomed to this business model. People actually apologize for “bothering me”. One of the things we try hard for at Newton is to change this behavior, to “re-train” people (in 5 minutes or less, 30 minutes for recruiters <wink>) into believing that we aren’t doing them a favor for answering their questions, they’re doing us a favor by asking one. I think it speaks to just how far software has moved away from the user, and how far it has yet to go towards providing real productivity.
So the net result is that free support has led to less support. Like I mentioned before, we get about 1 support email per year, per client. I can’t imagine that Newton will ever have a technical support department that’s not run by our design team. Unfortunately, it’s gotten rather lonely over here in the support department. Can someone please contact support? Have I mentioned it’s free?
Newton Software, a startup building innovative, easy-to-use, applicant tracking software, presented to a packed house last night at DLA Piper’s Silicon Valley headquarters. The event, a monthly showcase of new technology startups, drew a diverse crowd of Silicon Valley engineers, business people, vendors, lawyers and venture capitalists. Newton was among the 4 lucky startup companies selected to demo their applications this month.
As the co-founders of Newton led the audience through a short demo of their product, it became evident that design and usability are indeed the knockout features of their system. Newton is designed to help you organize and manage your corporate recruiting program so nothing slips through the cracks. When you sign up for one of their affordable pricing plans, you’ll receive a fully branded careers page, free job advertising, an easy-to-use collaboration platform, and amazingly powerful, real-time analytics dashboard all the same day.
Newton’s VP of Marketing, Joel Passen, emphasized that Newton requires very little training to get started and that you can be up and running the same day you sign up for the service. During the demonstration, Joel took attendees through a 30 second mock training of Newton to emphasize Newton’s ease of use. “If you like the candidate, press the green button. If you don’t wish to continue with an applicant, push the red button. Green means go. Red is no. It doesn’t get much simpler than that”, chimed Passen.
While the founders started the company in January of 2009, they’ve been developing and improving Newton since 2004. Originally conceived to run a recruiting services business, Newton has been deployed to thousands of users prior to the official launch of the company. The current version of Newton is designed for corporations, mainly small and medium sized businesses, to manage internal hiring programs. The founders say they are working on a version for recruitment outsourcers that may be ready for release as soon as Q1 2010.
So what can Newton customers expect to see before the end of the year? Steve Hazleton, Newton’s CEO and Head of Products, promises his design team has been anything but complacent lately. “We’ll be shipping a feature later this month that’ll significantly improve the applicant experience while also allowing recruiters to be more efficient. And, for companies that need to track EEO information, we’re releasing the industry’s most advanced EEO/OFCCP compliance and reporting feature before the end of the year.”, said Hazelton in a post-demo interview. Hazelton also hinted at an extensive roadmap that will feature additional thoughtful features designed to continuously improve recruiting and to constantly enhance the applicant experience.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you had an applicant tracking system that would store resumes in one place and that you could search easily any time? How great would it be have applicants apply to one place? You could finally get rid of all of those email folders. And, how helpful would it be to be able to automatically track where all of your applicants are coming from?
Newton is recruiting software that makes it easy.
Make it easy for applicants to apply for jobs right on your company’s website. Sign up for Newton and you’ll get a fully branded careers page that looks exactly like the rest of your corporate website. We’ll even set it up for you. You’ll be able to add and remove jobs on your simply, on your own without any special training to support from IT.
With one click post your jobs to the world’s largest job networks Indeed and Simply Hired for free. And, if you choose, create links for all of your other internet job postings that direct applicants right to your company’s careers site- no more annoying email submissions!
Now that all of your applicants are applying through Newton, you’ll be able to automatically track your best sources of applicants from Newton’s real-time analytics dashboard. Not only will you see what sources give you the most applicants, you will be able to see where your best applicants are coming from too!