10 ways to track time! Part 2

Good to see you back. In Part 1 of this blog, we explored the four ways in which you can track time inside Salesforce. Today, we’ll move on and explore how you can track time on the web and on the Time Tracker mobile app. Remember that in all these cases, all your time tracking data is still safely within Salesforce.One other thing to remember is that users who use the Time Tracker on the mobile or on the web, do NOT need to be Salesforce users.

On the Web
There’s two ways to track time on the Time Tracker Web app. You can track time by checking in time for multiple tasks/activities or you can use a timer that you can Start/Stop as you do your work.

Check In/Out: Checking In/Out on the Time Tracker web page means that you are Starting / Ending a timer as you work on a Project / Task (or whatever has been configured for you). You do this by selecting

Check in Timer on the Web
Check in Timer on the Web

the Check-in button on the top right hand corner of your screen when you login to the Time Tracker Web. You simply select the Project / Task that you are working on. Key in any notes that you want your manager/supervisor to see and click on the Check-in button. This option tracks time as you are working on a Project/Task. When you are done working, click on the Check-Out Now button, if you want to Check out at the current time. If you forgot to Check-Out at the time that you actually finished your work, you can put in the actual hours and minutes that you worked on the task and click on the Checkout button. This will work as long as the Check-in time plus Hours Worked is less than the Current Time.

Multi Check In: Use the multi check-in option, when you want to add timesheet entries for Project / Task that you worked on each day from

Multi line timesheet entry on the Web
Multi line timesheet entry on the Web

the drop downs, Add any information that you need on the additional fields configured for you. Fill in the Start and End times for the activities that you worked on. You can enter up to 10 different activities on this screen. When you are done, click on the Submit button. If you have more activities that you need to add in, you can do so.

A Manager/Supervisor can also Approve / Reject timesheet entries put in by people that report to her.

Time Approval on the web
Time Approval on the web

On the Time Tracker Mobile app

The Time Tracker mobile app works on both iOS and Android devices.There are four different ways that you can track time on the mobile app. Checking in/out as you work on an activity OR manual entry after you’ve completed the activity. We also have a Kiosk mode that you can use as a replacement for a punch clock. This is really useful in a factory/warehouse/office setting where you want all your employees to Clock In and Clock Out as they start and end their work for the day The Time Tracker Team mode allows a Team Lead/Supervisor to Clock In/Out individual team members and then Check In all Clocked in team members.

Check In / Out: As in the other cases, Check In/Out means that you are starting a

Check in on the mobile
Check in on the mobile

timer for work that you are currently working on. There are two ways that this works. If you are set up as an Individual User, you can check in/out of Projects / Tasks on your mobile device. This is a good option for Exempt employees who need to track time for billing/invoicing. If you are set up as a Personal User, you can clock in at the Start of your work day and Check In/Out of multiple Projects/Tasks with different check-in types. Some check-in types that our customers currently use include options for Job, Travel, Loading, Cleanup, etc. This option is good for non-Exempt employees for whom you need to track hours and breaks for payroll purposes. On the mobile, you can configure the app to collect GPS locations at specific transactions. Users can also take pictures at the jobsite and add them in.Users on the mobile can get notifications, when they are assigned a project or when anything changes on their projects.

Manual Entry on the mobile: Sometimes, you may want to enter your time

Manual Time Entry - Mobile
Manual Time Entry – Mobile

details after the actual work is done. You may have forgotten to enter the time, your phone could have been out of charge or perhaps you left your phone at home, Whatever the reason, you may not have been able to Start/Stop the timer as you worked. In such a case, you do have the ability to add the Project / Task that you worked on along with the Start and End Times for the work done. You can add multiple manual entries. You could use this mode of timesheet entry, if you are adding all of your timesheets after completing the work. In general, we suggest that you do this at the end of the day, so you don’t forget things that you have worked on.

Team Mode check ins for entire team

In the Team mode, only the Team Lead needs to have the Time Tracker on his/her mobile phone. The Time Tracker configuration in Salesforce lets you set up Teams with a Team Lead. When you set up Users in Salesforce, you can assign

Team Mode options
Team Mode options

them to specific teams.

When the Team Lead of a specific team logs in, she sees the names of all the people on her team. The Team Lead can Clock In each member of the Team as they arrive for work. When the Team Lead clicks on the Start Job, Start Travel or Start Loading buttons, all Clocked in Team Members are checked into the Selected Project and Task for that Check in type. When the Team Lead clicks on Stop on the previously Started Check in type, all checked in Team Members are automatically checked out of that Project / Task. This is a great option for teams working together on Construction/Landscaping/Installation type of work. GPS locations and photos can be configured to be collected at the jobsite.

Team members can be transferred between teams for better utilization. A Team Lead can Release a Team Member from her team, if needed. Another Team Lead can “Add” the released Team member to their team, as needed.

Kiosk mode Check In / Clock In

The Kiosk mode can be used in a factory/warehouse/office to replace the

Kiosk Check in and Clock in
Kiosk Check in and Clock in

traditional punch card / bio metric time clock. With the Time Tracker in the Kiosk mode, the big advantage is that all time tracking data is in Salesforce and can therefore be used for analysis. Depending on how your Users are set up in the configuration, Users may be able to Check In/Out OR Clock In and then Check In/Out of individual projects. We suggest using an iPad or an Android tablet for the Kiosk. Since multiple people will need to use the same device. The app works just as well on a phone, but the larger format is useful, when you need multiple people to access the device.

So that covers all ten ways of tracking time using the Time Tracker for Salesforce. Whether you want to track time in Salesforce on a web app or on a mobile device, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a solution as configurable and as user-friendly as our Time Tracker for Salesforce.

 

 

10 ways to track time! Part 1

Yesterday, we had a long and interesting demo of the Time Tracker with a fairly large group of people at a new prospect. During the demo, one of the people commented “So you have four different ways of tracking time inside Salesforce”. It struck me that I had never thought about it that way. Perhaps, when you work with the product every day, you gloss over some of these facts.

In any case, this morning, I decided that I’d make a list of all the ways

10 ways to track time
10 ways to track time

that you could track time with the Time Tracker. It turns out that there are 10 different ways in which you can track time with the Time Tracker for Salesforce. See my list here on the right. That’s 4 ways within Salesforce, 4 ways on mobile devices and 2 ways on the Time Tracker web app. Pretty cool, huh?

Based on my list, here’s a short description of each of the ways of time tracking and where you could use it.

Within Salesforce

Within Salesforce, you can track time by Check-in, checking in time for multiple tasks using the Multi Check-in, tracking time automatically to specific Salesforce whenever you are on that record in Salesforce and manually entering the time for a specific task when you are on that record.

Check in: Checking in to work within Salesforce means that you

Check In/Out in Salesforce
Check In/Out in Salesforce

are tracking time to a specific project/task (or whatever has been configured for you). You do this by selecting the Track Time button on the Salesforce Utility Bar. Clicking on the button, pops up a configured window that lets you choose your Project/Task from drop-downs. You can also enter in any notes that you may have. In this case, you are tracking time for an activity as you work on it. So you Check in when you Start on the activity and Check out when you are done.

Multi Checkin: Use the Multi Check in option when you want to

Multi checkin in Salesforce
Multi checkin in Salesforce

add multiple activities in a time-sheet format. You may choose to add in all your activities for the day at the end of the day or maybe at the end of the week. We suggest doing this on a daily basis, because chances are you’ll have forgotten something important that you did on Tuesday by the end of the week. 🙂 You select the Project / Task / Worktype fields from drop-downs. Fill in the Start and End times or the number of hours that you worked on each activity. By default, you’ll see 5 lines on this screen. Once you click on the Submit button, you can add your next set of activities.

Automatic Time Tracking: This is a great way to track time for

Automatic time tracking in Salesforce
Automatic time tracking in Salesforce

people who spend most of their time inside Salesforce. You do NOT need to Start / Stop a timer like you do with the Check in process. Every time you go to records in Accounts, Contacts, Opportunities, Cases or any other Salesforce object, an Automatic Timer starts right away. It keeps tracking time until you move away from that record. If you move to another Opportunity, the Auto Timer starts tracking time to the new Opportunity. The Auto Timer can be added to all the objects that you want to be able to track time to.

Single record time tracking: This feature again allows you to easily

Single time tracking in Salesforce
Single time tracking in Salesforce

track time to specific records in Salesforce. But it’s meant for use when you do NOT want time to be tracked automatically. This is meant for users who want to be able to track time to specific Accounts, Opportunities, Cases. But if the users work primarily outside Salesforce using other tools like AutoCAD, drafting and design tools, then this is a great way to track time. These users can go to the specific record where they want to add their time to. A Salesforce component allows you to add the task and the time that you spent on the activity; while the main Opportunity / Case is automatically selected.

So that’s 4 ways to track time just inside Salesforce. Checkin, Multi Checkin, Automatic Time Tracking and Single record time tracking.

Phew! that was a lot. Next week, we’ll talk about the different ways of tracking time on the Web and on the Time Tracker mobile app. Until then, auf wiedersehen!

Zero Touch Volunteer Check-ins.

As the shelter-in-place rules are lifted, most nonprofits are beginning to see some volunteer activity start again. But with Covid-19 still raging, all our thoughts are on how to make every process safer for everyone. With that goal in mind, we are very excited to roll out the new “zero-touch” volunteer check-in process in V4S Mobile. With just a quick scan on any iOS or Android phone/tablet, your volunteer check-in data is safely and reliably in Volunteers for Salesforce.

Background

The idea for the zero-touch solution came from requests from several of our nonprofit customers. We had detailed discussions with them on what would make sense for nonprofits and their volunteers. Everyone was concerned with the safety of multiple volunteers checking in a shared Kiosk device. As a stop-gap arrangement, we offered V4S Personal free to all our existing V4S Kiosk customers. While that worked for a few customers, a lot of our nonprofits wanted a central solution that was at their location but could still be used safely.

While we had introduced a scanning mechanism in our V4S Kiosk Events add-on, we had not done that with the volunteer check-ins. For two main reasons:

  • Most of our nonprofits had a lot of walk-in volunteers who had not previously signed up
  • With Events, there was an urgency to check-in people quickly, which wasn’t as much an issue with volunteer check-ins.

Now with COVID-19 rampant, most of our nonprofits had decided to do away with walk-in volunteering. Our discussions revealed that over 60% of nonprofits had decided that there would be no walk-in volunteers for at least the next one (1) year. Several had decided that for the next two (2) years.  And most nonprofits could not have a Volunteer Coordinator available to check-in volunteers on her device. This was especially true for our nonprofits handling pets and animal shelters, where volunteers came in from early in the morning to late at night to feed, clean, and exercise the animals. They were very clear that volunteers would need to check themselves in.

The zero-touch solution for V4S Kiosk.

With this background, we decided to add an automated scanning solution for volunteers. We added a QR Code field to Volunteers for Salesforce’s Vol Hours object. We also added a QR Code field to the Contact object in Salesforce. This way, our nonprofits have the flexibility to either have a unique QR Code based on each Volunteer’s Vol Hours record OR a unique QR Code for each Volunteer’s Contact ID.

Here is a short video that shows what the QR Code looks like on the Vol Hours record in Salesforce.

If you are setting up QR Codes by Vol Hours ID, then you’ll need to make sure that you send out an email with the QR Code it to each Volunteer for every Job/Shift that she has signed up for. You will need to send out such an email for every time that a volunteer has signed up for a Job/Shift.

Here’s a video that shows what such an Email would look like:

If you are using QR Codes on the Contact, then you could send a single email to the Volunteer with their Contact QR Code in it. They could use that same emailed QR Code for checking in every time that they came in for a signed up Job/Shift. Alternatively, you could print a badge for each volunteer with their contact QR Code on it. This way, the volunteer can scan their badge whenever she comes in for Job/Shift.

Automated Check-ins.

We suggest that you put the iOS / Android device that you are using for check-ins in the single app mode so that the device is not accidentally turned off or switched to a different app.  Within V4S Kiosk, we suggest that you select the Scanning to be in Continuous mode. Also, select whether you want the Front or Back Camera to be used. We suggest using the front camera because the volunteer would be able to see confirmation of their check-in on the screen.

Here is a video that shows how a volunteer could hold up their Shift confirmation email and get Checked-in to that Shift.

If instead, you chose to use the QR Code on the Contact ID, then potentially you could send that QR Code to the Volunteer once and she would just scan the same QR Code every time that she came in for a Job/Shift that she was signed up for that day. The V4S Kiosk app looks to check if the Contact with that QR Code has signed up for any Job/Shift on the current day and scans the Volunteer in.

If a Volunteer signs up for more than one Job/Shift per day, then she would necessarily need the QR Code related to the Job/Shift. You would not be able to scan the Volunteer with the QR Code on the Contact. Because in that case, the app would only find one of the multiple Jobs/Shifts signed up for.

As nonprofits start to open up and volunteers come back to help, we urge you all to maintain social distancing. Keep those masks on and stay safe, everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you converted Volunteers to Donors?

Convert Volunteers to Dono

Looking to grow your donor base? A fantastic place to start is to convert your Volunteers to Donors. According to Abila’s Donor Loyalty Study, 75% of those who volunteered say they are more likely to donate. That is an overwhelming statistic and one that nonprofits should leverage. Studies also show that volunteers donate 10 times more than non-volunteers.

So how do you convert volunteers to donors for your nonprofit? Here are five best practices to help you convert volunteers to donors.

Acknowledge Volunteers like you do Donors

Treat your volunteers right. They may not make monetary contributions.  But the time that they donate to your nonprofit has a tangible monetary value. According to the Independent Sector, the  value of Volunteer Time in 2019 was $ 25.43 per hour. So a volunteer who spends 10 hours with you, has made a contribution of over $ 250 to your nonprofit.

Are you telling your volunteers how much you appreciate their time and effort? Try and do that at as many opportunities as possible. If you can, try to quantify their activity into how much money or time they’ve saved your organization.

For example, “The supporters that you brought to the Annual Walkathon helped us raise an additional $ 5000 this year. This will help us serve another 100 people. Your time and effort helped make this possible!”

Track all volunteer activity

Do you track all volunteer hours diligently? Do you have reports that tell you how many hours a volunteer spent with you this year vs last year? Can you track volunteer retention rates?

Tracking each volunteer interaction gives you a better understanding of the volunteer’s engagement with your organization. And, if you don’t know how the volunteer helped, how can you appropriately thank them?

Tracking all the volunteer hours spent with your organization provide great statistics for grant requests too.

Acknowledge Volunteer Milestones

Volunteer Awards Report
Volunteer Awards Report

Tracking all volunteer hours lets you keep track of specific volunteer milestones. Set up simple acknowledgements or rewards for when volunteers complete specific hour-based or time-based milestones. For example, a volunteer reaches 50 hours this year or completes 3 years of volunteering with you. Reach out to the volunteer. Make a public gesture. Show them that you are aware of their effort and interest in your cause.

Give your volunteers opportunities to share their experiences

Social media share
Social media share

Give your volunteers easy ways for them to share their experience on social media. Use their experience quotes on your website, in a newsletter. Talk to your volunteers about why they do what they do. They can become great ambassadors for your cause. And that may inspire their friends to become donors to your nonprofit.

Ask your Volunteers

Finally, just get down and ask your volunteers for donations. Communication is key, whether it’s with volunteers or donors. According to the Institute for Fundraising, 8 out of 10 people donate after being asked to do so. Don’t assume that your volunteers know your cause and therefore will donate automatically. Maybe they don’t know that your organization needs the money; they may just know that you need volunteers. They may not even know the best or easiest way to donate.

So a simple , straight forward ask may suffice. Perhaps you could set up a way for volunteers to donate a small amount every month. Think of it as a SIP donation plan for volunteers. They could give you $ 10/20/50 every month. That may be easier for some volunteers.

Have you already converted some volunteers to donors? How did you do it? Do share your stories with us.

Automatic Case Time Tracking in Salesforce

Assume that your Customer Support gets a Case that comes in late Friday evening. It doesn’t get worked on until Monday morning. While your Support Team spends just 10 minutes working on the Case, the Case Age calculation tells you that it took almost 3 days to close! Throws your Case handling metrics completely out of whack, doesn’t it? So how do you find the actual time spent on the Case?

With the Mobile Time Tracker version 1.52, we’ve introduced a new Lightning Component to automatically track time. You can select the Objects that you want to automatically track time for. Your Salesforce Administrator can set up the Lightning Component for any/all objects that you want automatic time tracking  for. In this specific case, your administrator sets up and activates the Track Time component for Cases.

The Track Time Lightning Component

Automatic Time Tracker component
Automatic Time Tracker component

Now, every time an agent opens the Case View page for a specific Case, the timer automatically tracks time spent viewing the Case. If the agent closes the view page or navigates away to a different page, we automatically update a Time Detail log. Let’s say your agent navigates to a specific Case multiple times, then we create a Time Detail log each time. Assume different agents access the same Case, then each agents’ time is tracked against that Case. And your agents do not need to click on a timer or do anything special. All she does is View the Case that she’s working on. Finally, a simple Salesforce report gives you a summary of all the time that has been spent by one or more agents on that Case.

Increased visibility

Case Time Report
Case Time Report

Your Case metrics are no longer skewed by night times, weekends or holidays. You get clear insight into actual time spent by agents on Cases. You no longer need to guess why some Cases take longer than others. The data and statistics are clear and compelling.

Accountability

Your staffing decisions, reports, stats to leadership and service bills to customers all have solid data to back them up. Respond to questions about time spent with confidence.

Native Salesforce component

The Track Time component integrates seamlessly into your Salesforce Lightning environment. All time tracking data is safely stored in Salesforce. That makes integration with billing and payroll systems simple and effective. And with Salesforce, it’s easy to create any additional reports you need.

More uses of the Track Time component

Assume that you set up the Track Time component on your Salesforce Accounts object. Law firms can easily use the Track Time component to track time that lawyers and paralegals spend on specific customer accounts. Now you can manage billable time with minimal effort.

Set up the component on Opportunities or Leads.  You get complete insight into how much time your Salespeople are spending on each Opportunity.

Set up the component on Projects. Now you have a view of the time your operations team spends on Projects.

The possibilities are endless with automatic time tracking.

Checking in volunteer groups with V4S Kiosk

Checking in volunteer groups is one of the toughest things to handle for volunteer managers. Having a group of volunteers come in to volunteer together is fantastic. But tracking those new volunteers and their work time? Now that is a real challenge for you as a Volunteer Manager or Coordinator.

Multiple volunteer signup by number
Multiple volunteer signup by number

Volunteers for Salesforce gives you the functionality of adding in the number of volunteers that come as a part of a group. The point person for a group can set the total number of people in the group. This screenshot shows you how a group leader signs up a group of 20 volunteers using V4S Personal on her mobile.

But that’s really all you can record with the standard Volunteers for Salesforce data structure. The fact that the group leader is bringing in 19 other people, other than herself. There’s no way to track who the individual members of the group are. Or any of their contact information.

Extend volunteer value

For your organization, that individual volunteer data is critical. You want to be able to keep track of every volunteer that ever comes in touch with your organization. A volunteer that comes as part of a group could very likely become a repeat individual volunteer.  If you build a deeper relationship and extend communication with that volunteer, she or he could contribute to your organization by becoming more involved.

Working with group volunteers in V4S Kiosk

Based on requests and interactions with several of our V4S Kiosk customers,

Checking in group volunteers
Checking in group volunteers

we’ve now introduced a new feature to check in multiple volunteers that come in as part of a group. If the group leader comes in a little earlier than the Job / Shift start time, then she can Signup the other volunteers in her group to the specific Job / Shift. Note the

Volunteer group dropdown
Volunteer group dropdown

way that the Add multiple volunteers screen is set up in V4S Kiosk. If you have multiple volunteer groups that are coming in, you could sign up people from different groups using the same screen, by selecting the right group name for the specific volunteer that you are signing up.

If your organization requires that each volunteer sign a waiver form, you would be able to set that up. When the individual volunteer checks in to start work on the Job / Shift, she would be asked to read and sign a waiver form, right within V4S Kiosk.

Volunteer data in Salesforce

volunteer data in salesforceAll the new volunteers signed in on the V4S Kiosk get added to Volunteers as Salesforce as Contact records, with the configured Volunteer Group field updated. If so configured, the Date Waiver signed and the actual waiver signed along with the signature is stored inside Salesforce. Now you have the luxury of being able to get to all volunteer data easily and securely, right inside Salesforce.

Just imagine how much effort and time you would save with group corporate volunteers. Additionally, using the Waiver add-on would give you the ability to save effort with tracking volunteer waivers and being compliant legally. Now isn’t that something you should be checking out?

Time tracking in Salesforce

Two years ago, we started down the route of time tracking on mobile devices for field and remote workers. All data from the mobile devices synced back into Salesforce in near real-time. Our goal was to give field workers the ability to get their work times into Salesforce on a mobile. We did build a simple way to track time automatically within Salesforce, but it was quite limited in functionality.

From our market research, we saw that there was a need for time tracking data to be synced to Salesforce. Since invoicing, project management and payroll were all within Salesforce, that work hours should be in Salesforce too made sense. PSA apps, ERP apps… all included time tracking as a part of their functionality. And those apps tracked work time for employees who worked within Salesforce. So, we decided that we would not play in that space – at the time.

Mobile and web apps

Mobile Time Tracker Clock out
Mobile Time Tracker Clock out

Our initial focus was on the mobile space where field workers and remote workers could track their work times. Our goal was to enable workers to track time easily and with little fuss on their familiar phones. Soon after, based on customer requests, we rolled out a Web-based Time Tracker. This was meant for workers who were not comfortable using mobile apps. The one big feature that we added in the Web version was the ability for users to enter time after the fact. This enabled workers to enter their time at the end of the day. Soon we rolled out the capability to enter multiple lines on a timesheet. Now, people who worked on multiple jobs during the day could enter a full timesheet once a day or week.

Time sheet entries on mobile, web or in Salesforce
Timesheet entries on mobile and web

With more customer requests, we added more functionality to both the Web and the mobile apps. We introduced configurable fields that could be displayed on both the mobile and on web apps. A new Team time tracking app on the mobile lets a single Team Lead check her entire team in. We updated the mobile app to allow configurable geo-tracking and photographs. This feature allowed us to minimize buddy punching. We introduced addresses that could be opened in Google/Apple maps to help field people find their next job-site. On the web app, we added an Approval mechanism for timesheets. Now managers and supervisors can approve/reject time entries for team members.

Over a year and a half, both the mobile app and the web apps grew with more functionality. But we did not do much on the Salesforce time tracking functionality.

Time Tracking in Salesforce

Over this calendar year, though, we’ve seen a renewed interest in time tracking inside Salesforce. To the point where now, over 60% of our leads are looking for Time Tracking within Salesforce.

The May 2019 EU Court of Justice ruling and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requirements have pushed time tracking to center stage. Any business that has employees is now affected by regulatory compliance for time worked, overtime calculation and break time compliance. And that has pushed interest in time tracking within Salesforce.

Time sheet entry in Salesforce

Luckily for us, because of our Mobile app, we had a lot of functionality within Salesforce already. The objects themselves, reports,  dashboards – all these existed. We have now added a number of other functions that make life easier with Salesforce. Some examples:

  • A Lightning component that can be added as a Time Tracker pop-up from the Salesforce utility bar, to track time against ANY object, including the one that the user is currently working on.
  • A multi-check in time tracking option that helps enter their complete timesheet for a day or a week at a time, after-the-fact.
  • A Summary Timesheet page that helps users within Salesforce select a date and add/see all the time entries for that day, so users can make sure they’ve recorded all their work for a given date.

Overall, we now have one of the strongest offerings for time tracking, be it on the mobile, on the Web or within Salesforce. And the best part is that you could have a combination of users, some using our mobile app, some on the web and others inside Salesforce. Regardless of where the time tracking happens, Salesforce is the single repository of all time tracking data. So integration with payroll, invoicing and ERP systems becomes that much easier.

We are thrilled to say now that we are the Timekeepers for Salesforce!

The Power of the Hub!

It was a cold and stormy night…. Nope, not the start of yet another horror story. In fact this story is the exact opposite. At 2 AM on a chilly Bangalore night, there I was typing responses into an online spreadsheet. And feeling pretty good about it. But let me start at the beginning…..

In the summer earlier this year, TJ Warfield put up a wish-list for an Event check-in tool for nonprofits on the Power of Us Hub (The Hub, as it is sometimes called, is an online community for Salesforce.org customers, certified partners and staff). Caroline Renard, who knew of our work in the mobile app space for nonprofits, brought us into the conversation. Over a lively discussion on the Hub involving multiple people, a detailed list of functionality came up. Looking at that list, it seemed to us as something we could deliver, given that we had so much of the Salesforce and mobile infrastructure already. So we took it upon ourselves to deliver an Event add-on to our V4S Kiosk product over the next couple of months. That started a hectic round of design, development and testing internally, running into September.

Come the end of September and it was Dreamforce time. And time for virtual conversations to become real. At the Amplify breakfast, I met  with TJ and Caroline and spoke about what we had done with the wish list for Events. It was truly exciting for all of us to see how a conversation in the Hub had turned into something concrete.

Back home after Dreamforce in mid-October, we connected across the world, our team in Bangalore with TJ in San Francisco and Caroline in Seattle. And we were back in the virtual world to review the Events add-on. TJ was very happy with what we showed and graciously offered to demo and test the add-on at the Salesforce.org Open Source Community Sprint, held in Portland, OR  (#SFDOsprint) in end-Oct.

We were of course thrilled with the idea, but we were also very aware of the many things that could go wrong. TJ had seen the app near-complete, but the last 10% takes 50% of project time, right? Our team in Bangalore worked pretty much round-the-clock to put together a demo org for the Sprinters to use. We made sure there was a reasonable amount of data, a clear set of instructions and other resources for the Sprinters and a shared Google spreadsheet to collect suggestions and feedback.

The Salesforce.org Community Sprints are amazing events. Participants discuss everything from best practices to general experience to solution requirements. Working in teams, participants go all the way to produce solutions with documentation, code and data models. And everything produced by the teams goes back into the Community, making the whole ecosystem better for everyone. The Portland Sprint had that same terrific energy and enthusiasm. With 130 people at the event covering the Nonprofit and Higher Education sectors, we had a large number of people trying out the Event add-on.

With our mobile app still in beta on the iTunes Store, we did some pretty hairy

Across the world on a mission for nonprofits
Working for a mission

back-and-forth using the iTunes TestFlight platform to get our friendly Sprinters in Portland on board. It was incredible seeing the Sprinters in Portland, our awake-at-midnight team in Bangalore and the Test flight platform (wherever that is hosted :)) all coming together for a good cause. Watching from across the world as multiple Sprinters installed V4S Kiosk via TestFlight was awe-inspiring, to say the least. And as suggestions and feedback came flying into the Feedback sheet from the Sprinters, it truly felt great to be typing in responses at 2 AM :).

Kudos to all the Sprinters who dedicated their own time to test and review the Events add-on, all for the cause of enriching the product range for Nonprofits. Thanks to these hard-working Sprinters, there’s now a terrific set of feedback and suggestions that we will add into the product. A product that nonprofits can use to raise money, manage volunteers and deliver education. Which goes to prove that “All for One and One for All’ is not just the Three Musketeers slogan but a way of life for a lot of people!

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!

 

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?