Gamification Training Program Launched in Kajaani, Finland

Gamificate 2, the second in-service training program in gamification, was launched in Kajaani, Finland, last weekend. The training is jointly organized by the University of Oulu and Kajaani University of Applied Sciences and it’s targeted for highly-educated people, who are interested in taking advantage of gamification in their work. The training program runs for the whole school year and it includes ten days of contact teaching in Kajaani

Cloudriven’s CEO Jukka Koskenkanto is one of the trainers. He was also teaching at the first Gamificate training a year ago. Jukka started the course by familiarizing the participants with the basics of gamification, the market need and the process view.

“From a business perspective, it’s important to remember that gamification can only add value if it is part of the company’s business processes”, Jukka says.

Next time the participants will deepen their knowledge on what gamification is in practice and how it can be applied in the workplace. Cloudriven’s gamified Habit solution is being used at the training to support learning; the participants can track their progress during the course.

 

Working Remotely or Remotely Working?

Times Square at NightToday is the National Remote Work Day in Finland, so I figured this would be a good occasion to summarize my experiences with remote work during the last month. I started my work in New York in mid-August and time has just flown by so fast. At first I was a bit worried about how I could motivate myself to do my job well without having my colleagues physically by my side. I’m not worried anymore.

According to our metrics, I’ve achieved even more here than I did back home. In my previous blog post I wrote about how I stopped multitasking and started achieving. After the first remote work month I’m more convinced that performance management should be done on a weekly basis. This will increase both productivity and employee engagement.

Agile software development projects are all about managing weeks, but could we use the same agile principles to manage the whole organization? Based on numerous customer interviews, performance management is still widely understood as a process of reporting the past; assessment forms are filled in twice a year or once a quarter. The problem with this kind of management model is that it’s not sensitive enough for changes and it doesn’t guide your future actions. It only states the past successes and mistakes – when it’s already too late to take action.

We revised our own management model in the beginning of this fall. The biggest changes were that we separated results from actions and gave our team members more autonomy on their weekly work. As for managing and guiding remote work, the current model works great. Reporting as well as monitoring goals and performance is convenient thanks to our Habit service that is designed for performance management purposes.

I start my working week by deciding what I want to achieve during the week. This is easy, because our own Habit has more than ten weekly marketing-related tasks I can choose from. You get points for each finished task and our weekly goal is to get at least 50 points. For instance, I can write a news article, publish a blog post, meet with potential partners, help my colleagues and register three sales leads. When I have at least 50 points, I can choose any extra task I want, as long as it takes our company forward. This extra effort is worth 20 points. Last week I broke all my previous records and earned over 120 points!

David Bowie Drinks for FreeTo communicate with my colleagues, I use either Skype or Lync. It’s much more convenient than I thought, apart from the rare occasions when my Internet connection crashes. On Mondays we go through marketing-related issues with Jukka and on Fridays I chat with Antero about the status of our sales. Due to the time difference the working day here has barely begun, when my colleagues in Finland are almost ready to call it a day. One of the benefits of working from home is that I can start a remote video conference early in the morning almost immediately after getting out of bed. Habit also helps me to keep informed of what my colleagues have achieved during the week, and I can of course write comments and give them feedback and encouragement.

Now that I’ve been here for one month, I can definitely recommend a longer remote working period abroad to everyone if your job description just allows it. To make the remote working period meaningful for both yourself and your employer, you should consider doing reporting and performance management on a weekly basis. This way you will keep yourself motivated, you’ll achieve more and you’ll be able to show your employer that you’re actually working remotely – not just remotely working!

We’d be happy to share more of our experiences with you. Fill in the form below and we’ll give you three good reasons to rethink performance management.

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Virta CRM Is Now Powered By Azure

Clouds in the skyWe did a lot of work in the cloud during the winter and spring 2014. Seven years ago we started to develop our sales-friendly Virta CRM, and now we wanted to make it compatible with the Microsoft Azure cloud services. This way we would be able to offer Virta CRM to our customers from the public cloud.

Why the Public Cloud?

The most important KPI for us is customer satisfaction. We continuously strive to improve our services to make our customers even happier. During the past few years it’s become obvious that the demand for B2B cloud services has also increased, and the services that used to run in closed environments are being moved in to the cloud. The primary reason for the transition is money: it’s expensive to maintain your own IT infrastructure and resources, and cloud can really save a buck.

At the same time it’s clear, that maintaining bigger systems in the private cloud requires expert resources that are automatically included in the public cloud. In addition, confidence towards public cloud services is in general on the increase among companies. The Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and information security policies public cloud services offer are already on a level that can be difficult to achieve in private cloud or in company’s own infrastructure. This is why we wanted to make it possible for our customers to access Virta CRM also from the public cloud.

Why Microsoft Azure?

After doing some benchmarking between different public cloud services, we decided to use Microsoft Azure. There were many factors that affected the decision, but the most important criteria were the following:

  • Azure makes it possible to scale server resources according to our needs. We can, for instance, increase capacity during the weekly rush hours, which provides better performance for the applications.
  • Azure automatically saves all the data to multiple stand-alone servers, so even if one rack brakes down, customer’s data is still safe. The system also makes an asynchronous copy of the customer data to another data center situated in the same geopolitical area. This further decreases the risk of losing business-critical data.
  • Azure always has the most up-to-date versions of all the operating systems and platforms (SQL Server etc.).
  • The information security of Windows Azure is top-notch.

Based on our research, Microsoft has already made big investments on Windows Azure cloud platform and will continue to do so in the future. The investments will ensure wider possibilities and better user experience compared to other Windows-based cloud service providers.

Final Results

We finalized the planning of the Virta CRM Azure update during early spring and the environment was deployed by the end of May. As a result, we’re now able to run our Virta CRM service in Microsoft Azure, and we can offer our customers high SLAs and a secure and risk-free service environment.

Our cloud team encountered many positive surprises during the project. For example, Azure makes it really easy to back-up data and optimize settings related to information security and performance. All the monitoring features can be configured straight from the web interface and setting up service alerts is just as simple as our team hoped for.

We strongly believe that Cloudriven’s customer satisfaction will increase with this update.

Steps to Make Work at Cloudriven More Meaningful

LingonberryThis is the second and last part of Jukka’s blog post about meaningful work. The first part was released two weeks ago.

Doctor’s Orders

As we tend to do at Cloudriven, we analyzed what kind of results we’d achieved in spring and what kind of actions were taken to reach the results. Based on the analysis, we decided what we’re going to focus on this fall and made some changes to our management system:

a) we gave the employees more autonomy, so they can now decide on their own what strategically relevant actions they take on a weekly basis
b) we separated actions and results
c) we decided to reward employees for doing strategically relevant actions with the chance to influence Cloudriven’s operations and to get opportunities for professional development

When you’re given the freedom to choose from different actions that are critical to the ability to create value for the customers, you can channel your time and skills better for actions that you’re good at and you have motivation to perform. If our presumption of somewhat rational decision-making concerning the use of time will be true, the logical conclusion is that the productivity of our work will increase compared to the previous season.

We also thought about how we could build our team spirit even further. We decided to give each of us the chance to weekly nominate a colleague who has done an excellent job. This is how we try to channel respectful and guiding feedback to each other. It was also amazing to hear that our customers wanted to join us too. A couple of weeks ago I filmed a video in which one of our customers tells spontaneously how a mobile app developed by Cloudriven has had a positive impact on their organization’s customer interactions. We do our work to deliver success for our customers and the best feedback we can get is a sincere Thank You from a customer.

In addition, we supposed that we all want to learn new things and develop ourselves. That is why we revised the way our actions are rewarded. During the fall, every team member can teach their special skills to others; these mini-courses will be provided as a reward for good performance. The final course listing is still in the making, but the selection seems to match at least a small folk high school. Of course we also offer smaller and a bit bigger rewards that develop our skills and welfare, and offer possibilities to influence our own work.

Even the Bears Don’t Always Wrestle – Occasionally They Eat Lingonberries

If everything mentioned above would run solely on manual labor, Cloudriven would have a chronic need to hire more people to management. However, we decided to let the bears hunt for the lingonberries (N.B. this Finnish saying was made popular by Kummeli, a popular comedy group originally from Tampere), so that we can instead focus on work that adds value to our customers. That is why we use our Habit Engine to manage our weekly tasks and work. We made some changes to the configurations of Habit based on the changes implemented in our management system:

a) we present critical actions and results in the same view to be able to examine what is the connection between actions and results
b) we only give rewards for actions, because we believe that results obey actions
c) we unified the target points of different worker roles, so that the work efforts would be comparable
d) we register all the sales activities in our own Virta CRM and push the data to Habit through the generic Microsoft Dynamics CRM integration
e) we welcome video feedback from our customers about our successes and possible weak spots and discuss about the feedback

Yet refining the system didn’t lead us to give up our weekly team meetings. On the contrary, we strengthened our management through the Habit Engine; now we can analyze our performance weekly and make fast but advised decisions. The changes didn’t affect the time we spend on weekly meetings, but it increased the productivity of the meetings, as we can now use our time more on relevant topics.

When it comes to attendance, the most significant change is that Janne is mapping out possible partners in New York and can’t attend the meetings in person. Despite the fact that he’s not physically here, he’s still present. His work efforts can be tracked in Habit and communication is easy with Office 365 services, like Lync, Outlook, SharePoint, and our social Virta CRM.

Cloudriven One of the Strongest Companies in Finland

The Strongest in FinlandCloudriven has achieved a high Rating Alfa classification, which only about ten per cent of Finnish companies reach. The classification shows that Cloudriven has excellent financial key ratios, positive background data and payment behaviour. The classification is given by Suomen Asiakastieto.

As an indication of outstanding financial performance, Asiakastieto has given Cloudriven permission to use Strongest in Finland badge.