Moving to mobile time tracking: Are you prepared?

So you are transitioning from paper time sheets to a slick new mobile time tracking system with all the bells and whistles. You’re excited about the new technology and you know the ROI of automated time tracking. But after years of using a manual time tracking system, you’re definitely apprehensive about the move to a mobile time tracking system. And if you are anxious, then consider what your employees would be feeling.

The transition from paper to mobile, can often seem confusing and overwhelming at first. But regardless of your company size or goals, automating your time and attendance process, will simplify procedures, eliminate errors and provide savings, overall.

But like with anything new, the transition to an automated time and attendance system needs planning and preparation. So here are some tips to help you implement the new technology and get it running smoothly.

  • Get your team on board
Select project
Select project

First things first: it’s critical to make sure that you have the right people on board to support a big change like this. New processes only work, when there is buy-in at all levels. Make sure that you sit down with team leads and influencers and explain why mobile time tracking will benefit them and the business as a whole. Get a couple of the enthusiasts to be the champions for the software. That way, the rest of your team will have someone to turn to if they need help. You might even want to offer some short-term incentives to get people to adopt the new technology quickly.

  • Explain the goal of the time tracking

First, start by asking yourself why you want to set up the time sheets. Perhaps, you spend too much time on payroll and there are too many errors in the process. Maybe your clients need more accurate time records with your billing. Perhaps you need to balance your employee workloads better.

Whatever your reasons, communicate it to your employees. Do you want to make sure that everyone is carrying their own weight? Do you want to estimate project times better for their next projects? Explain it to your employees in terms of the personal benefits that they will gain from it. Smoother distribution of efforts, better time frames on projects, faster payroll with fewer errors.

  • Choose the right level of detail

If you start tracking time without the right level of precision, you may not benefit from the new system. But start tracking too many details, and you’ll end up overwhelming your employees. So the right level of detail for time tracking must be neither too vague nor too precise. So what does that mean, exactly? We recommend that you go in stages. Start your time tracking process at a “project” level, so that you can figure out the hours spent on a project, without over-burdening your employees.

Get your team used to the  software before heading into more detailed tracking. Later on, you may want to include what tasks/deliverables people worked on, so you can get a more detailed breakdown of your projects. But remember that the more you need to track, the harder it is for your employees. So maintain a trade-off between the detail that you want and the tedium for your employees.

  • Select the activities you’re going to track
Time worked by Employee
Time worked by Employee

Once you’ve selected the level of detail, decide on the projects and activities for which you want to track time. Then start adding in more operational activities like maintenance and support that may not necessarily be tied in to specific projects. Then think of adding in administrative tasks such as holidays, time-off and training.  If you don’t need that level of detail, simply create an activity or project called “Other” to which people can add time.

  • Set up a test run / pilot

Now, you need to make sure that you and your team get a better understanding of how to incorporate mobile time tracking into their day-to-day routine.

  • Make sure that your reference data such as Projects, Users, Tasks are all set up correctly.
  • Deploy the software in manageable chunks.If you have a very large number of employees, you may want to start with one team and then deploy it to others
  • Schedule a training session for your employees. Make sure that someone is available to answer any questions that they may have.

Depending on your employee mix (age, tech familiarity), the time to get comfortable with the new technology will vary. Give them time to ease into the new technology.

  • Run in parallel

After you and your team have tried out the new software and worked out the kinks, formalize the new time tracking process. Put in place whatever rules you want for the process.

Based on how the initial roll-out goes, you may want to run the new mobile time tracking in parallel with the old paper-based time sheets for a few weeks. That way you’ll have a backup as you and the team get up to speed with the new system.

But make sure that you give everyone a firm end date for the old system and ensure that you stick with the date.

The first step, of course, is to find a mobile time tracking system that works for you!

 

Integrating Salesforce addresses with Google Maps on your mobile phone

Have you ever futzed around trying to copy addresses from within Salesforce to Google Maps to figure out where you need to be next? It can be incredibly frustrating.

One of the great things about the Salesforce platform is that there are an infinite number of little features that can make life easier for users. Take for example, a little feature called the Compound Address data type and let’s see how you can use it to make life simpler and easier for your road warriors.

Compound fields group together multiple elements of individual data types, such as numbers or strings, to represent complex data types such as a location or an address. Compound fields are an abstraction that can simplify application code that handles the values, leading to more concise and understandable code. Compound fields are accessible as a single, structured field, or as individual component fields. The values contained within the compound field and the values in the individual fields map to the same underlying data in Salesforce.

Standard addresses – addresses built into standard Salesforce objects – are accessible in SOAP and REST APIs as an Address, a structured compound field that combines several address fields. Using API 30.0 and later, you can directly access the Address data type using both SOAP and REST APIs. Geolocation fields are also accessible as Location. Location is another compound field that combines latitude and longitude. You can only access these compound fields using the SOAP or REST APIs.  Also, they are read-only. If you want to edit the field values, use the individual field components.

Any record with an address in Salesforce can be displayed on Google Maps. So in terms of Standard objects, that’s Leads, Accounts, Contacts and Users.

Access the Address data type on a mobile app using SOAP or REST APIs.

Salesforce address on Google maps
Displaying address on Google Maps

Integrate that Address with Google Maps and voila! Suddenly your mobile users can use that address to open up directly in Google Maps from inside the mobile app that they are using. No need for copying and pasting addresses from Salesforce to Google Maps. Your road warriors more productive now. And much safer, without having to juggle between multiple applications on their mobile phones!

That’s exactly what we’ve done in the dftly Time Tracker mobile app. Field Service technicians can view the address of their next assignment within the Time Tracker app on their mobiles. Clicking on the red location icon, opens up the address on Google Maps or on Apple Maps. It’s really that simple!

 

 

 

 

Top 5 best practices for volunteer management

Volunteers are a nonprofit’s dream. They believe in your organization and it’s

Your real superheroes
Volunteer Management

mission 100%. They put in their best efforts of their own volition and their contribution to your organization is invaluable. But just like with employees, volunteers need to be managed professionally. Which means that you need to recruit, train, delegate, evaluate and show appreciation just as you would with employees.

So let’s take a look at some best practices for managing your volunteer program successfully.

  1. Recruit right. Your organization and your projects have specific goals. First, develop a list of all the volunteer jobs needed to achieve your goals. Then make a list of all the volunteer skills and characteristics that you’ll need for those jobs. Create simple recruitment forms with all the details that you need including contact details, skills, availability dates and times, previous volunteering experience. If you use volunteer management software, then you’ll probably have these forms already and should be able to get them on to your website fairly easily. Use social media and local media to get the word out about your volunteering opportunities. Target places where your ideal volunteers work or play. Local gyms, libraries, sports bars are all great places to put the word out, depending on what you are trying to recruit for.
  2. Train appropriately. As baby boomers retire and millennials look to give back, volunteer motivations and skillsets are changing. Make sure that your volunteer orientation and training are in step with your project goals and with your volunteers’ skills. Volunteers today want to make a tangible difference to causes and programs. So involve your volunteers in planning and execution, so that there’s a feeling of ownership in the process. Your orientation and training need to focus on cultivating a relationship with volunteers and engaging them long-term. That means everyone from your board members down, need to be in sync with your volunteer program and be involved in the training process. And that you understand volunteer’s skills, commitment and time availability.
  3. Delegate effectively. Empower volunteers by delegating specific projects to specific volunteers or volunteer teams. This delegation should be based on qualifications, responsibilities and time availability that you’ve drawn on from the first two stages. Make sure that you have defined responsibilities, limits and freedoms clearly. Staff your projects based on the strengths and skills of your volunteers. Set appropriate short, medium and long-term goals, so everyone is clear of what needs to be achieved. Stay involved with your volunteers to motivate them and provide continuity. But provide advice and help only when requested.
  4. Provide supervision. Just like regular staff, volunteers need regular direction and feedback. Supervision is about helping your volunteers get a handle on what they are supposed to be doing, let them know when they are doing well and providing direction when they need it. You need to support your volunteers so they can contribute effectively to your organization’s needs, while at the same time meeting the volunteers’ motivations for being there. This role can be played by a volunteer manager or a senior volunteer. This is also a great way to get feedback and ideas from your volunteers. You can use your volunteer management software here to provide additional means of feedback and communication to volunteers.
  5. Recognize volunteer contributions. Show your volunteers that you are grateful for their help. An easy way to keep your volunteers engaged is to acknowledge their contributions to your organization. You could use formal recognition such as awards or certificates to publicly demonstrate gratitude to your volunteers. Use informal methods such as thank-you notes and emails to volunteers for finishing a job. It’s important that you mark your volunteer’s milestones with you. Maybe they’ve reached a certain number of hours of volunteering or number of months of volunteering. Use your software to keep track of these events and thank volunteers immediately. Use simple gifts like buying pizza for a volunteer group, free movie tickets or gift cards to recognize volunteers.

Following these principles improves the outcomes of your volunteer programs. It also gives your volunteers a more relevant experience and helps to build positive long-term relationships with them.

Would love to hear from you about specific ideas that you use to manage your volunteer programs.

The ROI of automated time tracking

If you are like most US businesses, payroll and associated costs form as much as 50% of your total budget. And like a lot of businesses, you may not be using automated time tracking systems.

Traditionally, payroll is a manual and labor intensive process, with employees hand-writing or punching in time cards. Not only is this process error-prone and rife with time padding and buddy punching, it’s a system that requires additional audit and reconciliation. There’s overwhelming evidence that streamlining the payroll process with a simple and automated time tracking system can significantly reduce payroll costs.

Let’s take a look at how an automated time tracking system can eliminate errors and increase accountability.

Reduce human error.

Let’s face it. Errors on time sheets are not exactly rare. For the most part, they are genuine human errors in rounding up or down, perhaps a misplaced decimal, maybe a miscalculation of hours worked. And then there’s those completely illegible timecards. Can you blame your payroll processor, if they couldn’t read the timecard correctly? Or even if they hit the wrong key? Automated time tracking systems reduce such human errors by close to 90%.

Your Mobile Time Tracker
Time tracking with optional photos, notes and GPS locations

Buddy punching” – the act of clocking someone in when they are not actually there – affects 75% of businesses in the US. It can cost businesses up to 7% of a company’s gross payroll annually. Let’s say your annual payroll is $ 250,000. That’s an additional $ 17,500 in payroll costs that you could easily avoid and send to your bottom-line, with automated time tracking. Then add in the costs of hour inflating. With a mobile time tracking solution, you have the added benefits of photos and GPS locations, to avoid these time theft issues.

Speed up payroll processing.

With all timesheet data collected digitally into a single system, you completely eliminate the need to collect manual timecards, transcribe them, calculate hours worked and manually update your payroll system. You can either integrate the data from your time tracking system directly to your payroll system or just export data from your time tracking system and import it into your payroll system. Automating this process can easily save you 50% of your payroll processing costs.

Eliminate material costs.

Automating your time tracking system eliminates several recurring costs associated with a paper-based system.  Reduce the costs on paper, ink, storage, mailing. And win big for Planet Earth with an environmentally friendly digital system.

It’s a win-win-win for your employees (faster payroll), your company (reduced costs) and Planet Earth (reduced paper and ink). Time to make the move?

 

 

 

Reward, recognize and retain your volunteers.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of most nonprofit organizations. Most of them dedicate their time to volunteer for a cause that they believe in. And that is rewarding in itself. For nonprofits, volunteers are priceless. They add value to your organization, bring new ideas and enthusiasm and connect your organization to the local community. The success of your volunteer program depends completely on your ability to retain and celebrate volunteers.

Recognize and reward volunteers
Recognize and reward volunteers

Volunteers not only need to feel valued, but really should be valued. They need to be respected and recognized in order for your volunteer program to function effectively. Knowing the financial benefit of the work that volunteers do, will justify the costs of volunteer celebrations and rewards.

Recognizing volunteers is one of the easiest things to do that has really high impact. But it often gets overlooked because of the difficulty of tracking what volunteers are actually doing. This happens even in the best organizations. When everyone is over-worked, it’s easy for things to slip between the cracks. That’s where volunteer time tracking can make a huge difference, ensuring that all volunteer time is tracked and transparent.

Volunteer Tracking and Rewards
Volunteer Tracking and Rewards

If your volunteers are tracking their time every time they come in, you have complete insight into who’s active and how much time they are spending with you. You can easily set up automatic milestones like 50 hours, 100 hours. When your volunteers reach those milestones, give them a small gift. Maybe a pin, a certificate, coupons for cookies, perhaps just a public mention of the milestone.  Nominate your volunteers to the President’s Volunteer Service Awards. Any of these will make your volunteers feel special. Knowing that someone else knows what they are doing makes it all worthwhile.

When volunteers track hours and that progress is visible to everyone, it makes a volunteer fell connected to the organization and to other volunteers. Post a volunteer leader-board in your newsletters, on your websites, at a central position in your organization. Kindle a little competitive spirit among your volunteers. Give your best volunteers a huge morale boost.

Do you know how your employees are spending their time

Add in costs for compensation, federal, state and local taxes and other benefits

How do you track employee time?
Employee time tracking

and I’m fairly certain that employee costs are the single biggest expense for most companies. Every hour that your employees spend working has a certain cost attached. Do you know how your employees are spending their time? Are you able to track what unproductive tasks are sucking time away from your employees?

A good time tracking tool that is simple and easy to use by everyone in your company will help you answer this question. After all, time is a finite quantity and you would really want to know where that time is being spent. While the underlying reason for time tracking for most companies is easier payroll or faster billing, a good time tracking solution can actually give you a lot more insights into your business. As a manager, if you could get a clear view into the actual use of time by your employees, you could do a lot more analysis.

  • Are your employees spending a lot more time on unproductive meetings,
    Analyze employee time
    Time Tracking reports

    administrative tasks rather than on revenue generation tasks like sales or customer service?

  • Can you identify opportunities to improve processes such that you can reduce costs and increase customer satisfaction?
  • Compare actual time spent on a project vs the initial time estimates that you made. Are your projects actually profitable?
  • Can you make your estimates more accurate? Can you identify scope creep and modifications to project scope?
  • How about increasing employee satisfaction by removing unnecessary tasks and steps?
  • Can you move resources from under-worked teams to overworked teams?

When you begin to track employee time at a granular level and have a base of actual data to analyze, you’ll definitely find areas that you can improve your processes and cut costs. While at the same time, improving customer and employee satisfaction.

How to motivate employees to track their time

Most people don’t enjoy filling timesheets. Probably, ranks right next to a visit to a dentist for a root canal in terms of least enjoyable things to do. Getting employees to track time is actually the biggest challenge that managers face when implementing a time tracking system.

As the old adage says, “Time is money”, and not tracking it can be a cause for serious concern. Especially if your business bills customers on the basis of time spent by employees. So how do you get your employees to see tracking time as a productive activity rather than a thankless chore?

We’ve put together this short list of how to convince your employees to track their time properly.  These tips are based on conversations with customers and prospects, as well as of our own experiences with time tracking.

  • Explain why time tracking is important. One of the critical steps in motivating your team to tracking time properly is explaining to them why it’s important. You can’t just force your employees to track their time without any explanation. This can cause suspicion within your team and lead people to fudge their time sheet entries. A simple reason for your employees to fill out their time sheets is the huge benefit that it brings to them personally. It’s estimated that every single day, the US economy loses 50 million billable hours or $ 7.4 billion. According to Affinity Live, a professional services automation company, this loss is due to poor time tracking methods. The solution?  According to Affinity Live,  “Moving from weekly (or worse) timesheet updates to daily (or better) would recover $52,000 per professional, per year in billable time.

So the most important step in helping your employees completing their time sheets is helping them understand that the better they track their time, the more billable hours your company will have. That means more incoming revenues and better employee compensation – a direct benefit to employees. Even if you halve that $ 52,000 number to $ 26,000 per year, a 20 person company could add over half a million dollars to their top line, annually.

  • Make time tracking easy. Make it easy for your employees to track their time.
    Track time on the web, in a mobile app or within Salesforce.
    Track time on the web, in a mobile app or within Salesforce.

    Definitely, move away from manual, antiquated systems. Give your employees the flexibility to enter their time as easily as possible, If they are on the field a lot, give them a mobile time tracking app, so that they can enter their time where they work, without having to come back into the office to input their hours. Give them simple, easy-to-use interfaces. Tracking time shouldn’t take so much time that your employees need to track time for that. Ideally, no more than a few minutes per day, will ensure that your employees don’t see time tracking as thankless chore.

  • Send reminders. Even if people are convinced about the importance of time tracking, it’s human to forget about tracking time, especially when work stress is high. So make sure that the time tracking software that you use, can be configured to send out automated reminders to employees on a regular basis. Ensure that reminders can be sent out in multiple ways, notifications on mobile phones, emails, text messages. Ensure that the reminders are not sent out so often that employees see them as intrusive. But often enough that time tracking is done properly.
  • Share the results with your team. Once you begin tracking time in earnest, it’s good to share some reports with your team. During your regular meetings, share some time tracking reports. If possible, share some statistics about improved billing and payment cycles. Your team will learn more about their time allocations and what tasks they are more productive at. Make your whole process more transparent, and get your team to be more engaged.
  • Get management to set an example. If you want to get your team tracking time efficiently, you need to set an example. Make sure that your management team is tracking time too. This will be a great morale booster for the team and make them more proactive in tracking their own time.

Get your team to understand that recording hours is mutually beneficial and you’re much more likely to get them to tracking their time. Share the benefits and you’ll see them eager to use a time tracking system.

Engaging young volunteers

Last week, I watched my 12th-grade son manage a pretty large initiative

Engage young volunteers to your cause
Engage young volunteers to your cause

to feed 5000 under-privileged kids a special meal. He got a quick-service-restaurant on board to provide the meals with a great discount, he raised the money for the effort, all fairly easily. But where he really seemed to have trouble was to get enough other kids to work with him on the effort. He pulled it off, but since then I did some research and reading on engaging young volunteers. And it looks like there are some answers for him and for others looking to engage with young volunteers.

  1. Appeal to the social leader. Young people enjoy participating in volunteer activities with their friends. According to the Dosomething.org Index on Young People and Volunteering, an astounding 75.9% of those whose friends volunteer on a regular basis, also volunteer. If key influencers are convinced about your cause, they automatically bring in other friends in. Allow this peer-camaraderie to develop naturally.
  2. Appeal on their terms. Young people are born tech-savvy. While they are on their phones all the time, very few young people actually make calls or check their emails on their phones. They also intuitively do their own stuff on mobile apps all the time. So you definitely need to let young people set their volunteering schedules and preferences on their own through a mobile app. Give them ways to share status updates and pictures on their favorite social media. Not only does this bring more awareness of your cause, you will definitely have more young volunteers from their social circles.
  3. Involve them in the issues that they care about.  From that same
    The issues that teens care about
    The issues that teens care about

    Dosomething.org Index, the top 3 issues that teens care about are Animal Welfare, Hunger and Homelessness. While the percentages for each of these vary across regions, overall these are main issues. If your volunteer opportunities are in these areas, you’ll definitely see a lot of interest from younger volunteers.

  4. Use young people as fundraisers. Overall, fundraising is the top way that most young people volunteer. 38.5% of young people who volunteer have fundraised for charities. Can you think of anything more potent than a passionate teen asking an adult for a donation for a good cause? Believe me, it’ll work much better than that cold call or the flyer that you were thinking of. Young people can be the best ambassadors of your cause.
  5. Lighten up the rules. Young people work differently. Bend your rules slightly to deal with the way that they work. They may come in late, leave early and seem remote. Give them work that they could thrive at. They’re naturally tech savvy. So anything to do with tech, music, sports, working with younger kids, they’ll love. Young people complain that they get jobs that no one else wants to do. Give your young volunteers jobs that give them responsibility and a sense of achievement. Give them things that they can do as a group and you’ll never be short of helping hands.
  6. Find different incentives. The single largest concern for most young people is college. If possible, offer them volunteer opportunities that help with college admissions. If you want to give them incentives, make that something that works for admissions too. T-shirts (though always welcome) may not be the best incentive. Find out what the latest little gadget that kids seem to be hankering for. See if you can make that the gift for your volunteers.

By better understanding how to engage and retain young volunteers, you are laying the foundation for the next generation of your long-term volunteers.

How to manage volunteer no-shows

You are all set for your big summer event. You’ve spent hours training your volunteers getting them up-to-speed, you’ve assigned them to shifts optimally based on their choices, you’ve even sent out email reminders to make sure that your volunteers know when and where they need to be.  Your big day turns around and some of your volunteers haven’t showed up. Sound familiar?

So how do you the Volunteer Manager pick up the pieces? Here are some strategies to help you cope.

  1. Build a buffer with Floater staff. No-shows happen despite all your efforts.
    volunteer tracking
    Managing Volunteers

    Better to buckle down and be ready for it. So you are going to need some extra bodies. Build a 10 – 15% buffer of additional volunteers into your schedule. There’s always extra work at events. So even if you have fewer no-shows, you can put your extra volunteers to good use. Monitoring deliveries and vendors, crowd control, clean-up crew – all good last minute duties for additional volunteers.

  2. Train volunteers and show them the importance of their job. Train volunteers properly and know that they are doing. They are more likely to stay engaged with your organization. Ensure that volunteers understand the importance of their job and how it affects the organization. Share stats of how much volunteer time means to the organization in dollar terms.
  3. Recognize your volunteers. Track volunteer engagement with your organization diligently. Make sure that your star volunteers are recognized. Use simple software to keep track of the hours that your volunteers spend with you. This is undoubtedly the best way to keep your volunteers coming back and working assigned shifts. You don’t need to give out big gifts. Just a simple thank you note from your Executive Director or coupons to a coffee shop should be sufficient.
  4. Make it easy for volunteers to communicate with you. Give your volunteers as many ways as possible to communicate with you. Phone calls / emails / text. Use volunteer management software that allows volunteers to Cancel / Reschedule their shifts online or on their mobiles. If it’s easy for a volunteer to Cancel on their mobile or online, they will. If they need to call someone to Cancel, they may not.
  5. Monitor check-ins. You need to be tracking who’s on site. The best way is to use technology where your volunteers can check themselves in, when they arrive. If you are using paper lists, make sure that your volunteers report to a central location where they can be checked in. That way, you can quickly scan the list and know who’s there. If it’s a large event with multi-locational check-ins, keep in touch with your supervisors to know if there are no-shows. Send your floater volunteers to however needs them the most.

The bottom-line is that paper lists and spreadsheets don’t allow for flexibility and adaptability. Use good volunteer management technology to help you adapt to situations quickly and seamlessly.

Of memories and management.

A couple of weeks ago, I met up with a group of friends. I was astounded by the eidetic memory of one of them. As she showed pictures  from 37 years ago, one of the women was able to rattle off dates, events, anecdotes of people. Down to even the names of the dogs at one of the houses.

I’m pretty sure that one of the reasons that those memories were so strong was that the exchange program was so seminal in her formative years. But what of less influencing events? How do we manage those? How do we ensure that we actually do everything that has to be done, complete all the tasks and activities of our daily work life. And that of our home life. Can we rely on just our memories to carry us through all of that ever-expanding domain?

Fortunately, there’s a range of technology to help us get through the daily grind. I

Mobile and wearable technology
Mobile and wearable technology

remember my dad’s to-do lists. Every morning, his first task would be to make a list of all the things that he had to through the day on a sheet of paper. He would tick off tasks as he got them done. Today, with To-do lists on our ubiquitous mobile phones and wearable technology, it’s easy to organize and get work done efficiently. With multiple calendars on our mobile phones, you can set up all your meetings and timed activities on your calendar with reminders to make sure that you don’t miss a thing.

Moving on to our own domain of volunteer tracking and management in the

V4S Management Dashboard
V4S Management Dashboard

resource-constrained non-profit world. Technology becomes key to handling large numbers of volunteers who come in at different times to do different tasks. You can use technology to post your volunteer opportunities on mobiles or on the web. It’s not just McDonalds that can get people to self-serve and clean up after themselves. Volunteer tracking software allows your volunteers to sign up for those opportunities at their convenience, either on their mobiles or on the web. Automatically send out registration confirmations, event reminders and thank you emails. Generate online / mobile-based signup sheets and rosters. Volunteers can check in/out of their assignments to track the time spent and send you feedback online. You can use volunteer tracking to identify your star volunteers and recognize them.

The return on investment includes reduced workload for harried nonprofit staff, greater convenience and better engagement with volunteers, and the ability to ensure that the right number of volunteers are available for your projects. So for those times when just memory does not suffice to recall how many volunteers actually showed up for an event or how long they actually worked, volunteer management technology is definitely the answer.