It's not easy keeping up with Jade Bourelle. The president of two-year-old Teleskill Human Resource Solutions Inc. travels constantly among his offices in Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary, where he recruits people and then trains them for jobs in telecommunications.
But Bourelle has had no trouble keeping up with what's going on in the rest of his company since he signed up for HotOffice, an Internet-based intranet-subscription service. Although an intranet on the Internet may sound like an oxymoron, such features as directories, bulletin boards, and calendars work just as well outside the firewall as they do behind it. And running them on the Internet costs a lot less: HotOffice charges $12.95 a month per user (or $11.95 per user for 21 or more users). For Bourelle's 15-employee company, that works out to about $200.
When Bourelle logs on to Teleskill's HotOffice, he sees "My Desk," a series of icons representing his personal workhorses: E-mail, a group calendar, the company's employee directory, and the like. There's also an icon leading to the "Document Center," where Teleskill's files sit waiting to be searched by keyword, and a "Communications Center" icon, which lets him join in threaded-bulletin-board discussions, send timed reminders to his staff, and hold virtual meetings using Microsoft's NetMeeting software.
"We're a small company, and building that technical infrastructure ourselves would be expensive," Bourelle says. "We sometimes use contract staff in remote cities to do training. Using our bulletin-board system, we can get them the pile of documents they need in five minutes. That's a huge advantage."
"Besides not having to buy additional hardware and software, you eliminate what we call the guy with the ponytail," says HotOffice president Stephen Rattner, referring to the much-maligned position of systems administrator. "And if you think of sending just two fewer FedEx packages a month, the $12.95 becomes easy to justify."
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