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.

Mobile apps: Not Suitable For Work?

Vancouver 80

11 apps. That’s how many I installed in the 1 week I spent up in beautiful British Columbia, on the Sunshine Coast. The sun so bright, the water so blue – and my phone so full of new apps. Over a span of five days, I installed an app for Caltrain, one for United, another for Vancouver, even one about ferries in BC. While most people install an average of 3.5 apps a month nowadays, here I was, hitting the Play Store every few hours for something new. And my motivations were somewhat different from the usual buzz you get from Facebook and WhatsApp – they were mostly about finding the right information using my phone. For example, I saw that the Caltrain website looks terrible on my phone, so I looked for an app in the Play store and, sure enough, found one that worked well. I’m sure you’ve been through that process, too, when you find a problem and think that there must be app to solve it.

What I find fascinating, though, is that I don’t seem to think that way about business issues. When I see a problem at work, I don’t think of a mobile app, I think of a web solution. Track leads? Buy into Salesforce. Send mass email? Sign up for Mailchimp. Set up a marketing process? Use replyapp.io. So while my personal needs demand mobile apps, my business needs seem to be calling for web solutions. For example, while I know Salesforce has a strong mobile offering, I’ve never used it to track leads. And replyapp does not even have a mobile offering, but that’s not stopped me from relying on it.

As a company that offers mobile apps for businesses, I see this behaviour among prospects regularly. I’ve seen customers spend thousands of dollars rolling out responsive websites. I’ve seen nonprofits spending hours tweaking their Sites pages. But I don’t see them considering solving issues with a mobile app. It’s not that they think it won’t work – it’s that most people seem to not think of mobile apps for work at all. Consider this chart from Statista about the categories of apps that are popular in the US – Business appears far down the list, with only about 22% of people even trying Business apps.

I can see, though, that this is changing. Recently, a friend who runs an online store in Amazon discovered Amazon Seller, a mobile app that gives him access to his store on his phone. Now, he’s probably in Amazon Seller more than in WhatsApp (and that’s saying something, for an Indian). And our customers who DO make the effort to think Mobile wind up being addicted to the idea. So I guess that’s the issue: Mobile is not yet in the normal mind-space of solutions today. And I believe the operative word is “yet”. In the “personal” space already, no matter what problem you want to solve: there’s an app for that!

 

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.

Setting up an iPad for public use.

Last week, I was speaking with one of our nonprofit customers who use the Kiosk version of V4S Mobile for tracking volunteers. One of the issues that she was wrestling with was how to keep the iPad secure, both physically and from an app usage perspective. So I researched some options for her. I figured that the information would be useful for other iPad app users, using iPads for public use in a Kiosk mode. So here goes:

Physical security.

There are plenty of devices available for managing the physical security of any iPad that you want to use in a public setting. Just look on Amazon.com and

Physical security for iPads
Physical security for iPads

there are plenty of options to suit any budget range and your specific physical needs. And these physical security devices are available for desk, wall, floor and rail mounting options. Whether you need a floor mount for your iPad, a wall mount for your Android tablet or a desk mount for your Windows Surface device, you have many options. With options for rotate, tilt and switch, these devices give your users the flexibility to use the iPad/Android device in a multitude of ways. Starting in price at around $ 50 going all the way up to $ 500, security devices span a large price range.

The next thing you need to think about is application security. How do you prevent users from switching apps on your iPad either accidentally or because they quickly want to check out their Facebook page?

How do I lock down my iPad for just one app?

There are two ways to lock down your iPad to a single app. Guided Access and Single App Mode. Guided is the quickest, fastest way to put an iPad in a Kiosk mode and is often thought of as parental control mode.  It allows you to temporarily lock and iPad or iPhone to a single app. To leave that app, someone will have to enter your PIN or provide your fingerprint.  The Single App Mode locks your iPad to a single app. This is a more advanced feature and this is what we suggest to our V4S Kiosk users.

Guided Access mode.

Guided Access is a quick and dirty method of locking your iPad to a single app. To do this first enable this feature by going to the Settings app and going to General > Accessibility > Guided Access. Slide the Guided Access slider to the On position.

Guided Access for iPads
Guided Access for iPads

Next, tap the “Passcode Settings” to set a PIN for guided access and choose whether or not you can exit Guided Access with a Touch ID, if your iPad has a Touch ID sensor. You can choose to use the same ID that you use to unlock the iPad or use a different one. Just make sure that you note down the ID in a safe place, in case you forget it.

Next, launch the app that you want to lock your iPad to. Quickly press the “Home” button three times. You have now entered the Guided Access mode. There are 3 main options to set up here: Hardware buttons, Touch and Motion.

Hardware Buttons

You can enable or disable specific hardware buttons including the Sleep/Wake buttons and the Volume buttons. If your app needs audio playback, then you should disable the volume buttons to prevent users from accidentally turning the

Hardware buttons for Guided Access for iPads
Hardware buttons for Guided Access for iPads

volume down. Similarly, you may want to disable the Sleep/Wake button to prevent the iPad from going to sleep (or powering off), if someone touches that button. The OFF state means that those buttons are disabled and will not respond when pressed, once you have started the Guided Access mode.

Touch

You can turn touch gestures (taps on the screen) on or off, depending on your specific situation. If your app needs to be interactive (as with V4S Kiosk), then keep Touch enabled. If you are playing a video in a loop and don’t want people to stop it, then disable Touch.

Motion

Use this option to prevent your iPad from changing orientation when the user rotates the device. To do this disable this option, slide the Motion option to off. If your app relies on a particular Portrait or Landscape mode, then rotate your iPad to the particular orientation, then switch Motion off. Now the display will remain fixed, even if the user rotates the device.

Starting Guided Access

Once you’ve set up all the Guided Access setting to the way that you want it, tap on the “Start” button on the top right of your screen. Your app is now running in the “Guided Access” or “Kiosk” mode! Try tapping on the Home button or the volume buttons. Depending on how you’ve set them up, you’ll see that they make no difference. You will see a small message on the screen letting you know that Guided Access is enabled.

Exiting Guided Access

Triple-click the Home button. Enter the passcode that you configured. You’ll be taken back to the Guided Access setup screen, where you can End or Resume Guided Access.

And that’s all there is to put your iPad into a “Kiosk” mode. Next week we’ll talk about how you can use the Single App Mode on your iPad.

Configuring dftly Time Tracker to your requirements.

Last week, we spoke about how powerful Salesforce’s configuration options are. It is configuration that allows Salesforce to fit into many different business situations.

With the dftly Time Tracker, we give you a layer of configuration above and beyond those provided by Salesforce. You get several configurable options to make the Time Tracker fit your business needs and requirements closely, without having to go through the time and expense of a “customized” solution.

The idea is to enable you to match dftly Time Tracker to your business process as closely as possible. And to do all this easily and quickly, without having to depend on busy programming staff. You can configure everything that you need with a series of drop downs, clicks and check boxes.

You can select the specific objects in Salesforce to which you want to track time

Select objects to track time to
Objects to which your org tracks time to

to. Let’s say you want your Sales team to track time to Opportunities and Tasks related to them rather than to Projects and Tasks. So now your Sales team would see Opportunities and Tasks as the two drop downs on their mobile phones.  You can do that by selecting Opportunities and Tasks as the two drop downs that your users see, when you configure the Time Tracker. You can also choose the specific fields from those two objects that will actually show up on your user’s mobile phones. If you want each user to see only those Opportunities that are assigned to him/her, you can set that up as a filter condition, when setting up that specific configuration.

Let’s say now, you want your Service Engineers to track time to Orders and Cases. You can set up another App Key that will allow you to set up a different set of drop-downs from what you set up for your Sales team. Again with the same level of granularity for Orders / Cases assigned to specific Service Engineers.

With Time Tracker, you get a whole set of options for configuring the product to your exact requirements:

  • You can choose what specific work types or Check-in Types
    Configure Time Tracker Check-in Types
    Configuration options for Time Check-in

    your mobile users can track time to. Let’s say you have construction teams and you want to track time when they Travel, Load/Unload Equipment, Lunch Breaks and Work, you can do that very easily. Now let’s say you are a healthcare business where your therapists travel to patient locations, you could choose to track time for Travel and Therapy.

  • For each Check-in Type, you can select whether your users need to take a photo at the beginning and end of each transaction.
  • You can set up specific instructions for your users at each step
  • You can set up whether GPS Location Tracking should be enabled at Start and Stop of each Check-in Type
  • You can set up whether your users need to add Notes at the Start and End of each Check-in type
  • You can configure the icon for each Check-in Type to be something that your users are familiar with
  • And you can even configure the colors for the icon to match your company colors.

All of these options go back to our original premise that configuration allows a business-focused user to personalize aspects of a system, without having to depend on programmers to do so.

Point and click Salesforce configuration

Salesforce is an extremely flexible and powerful platform that works for many different implementations. Its power comes from the degree of configuration that it provides, out-of-the-box.

Taking off from our previous post, configuration allows a user to personalize aspects of the system without having to depend on an experienced programmer. With customization, you need bespoke programming done by an experienced programmer.

With Salesforce, there’s a huge range of things that can be done with just configuration. Starting from adding a few simple custom fields to let’s say an Account or Contact object in Salesforce to configuring complex workflows to automate tasks to managing security and data access through profiles and roles – all of these are possible with just configuration. All with a point-and-click interface, without needing to know any programming. The key is for the user (generally the Salesforce Administrator) to understand the business processes of the organization and to have a clear understanding of objects and how they relate to each other. Configuration is a fast, intuitive and relatively simple way to tailor Salesforce to work exactly the way that your organization needs it to work.

The individual making the changes needs to be business-focused, not code-focused. With no dependence on understanding coding or dependence on syntax of a programming language, a person who understands the business is empowered to completely configure the powerful Salesforce platform to the organization’s exact requirements. And with the vast Salesforce ecosystem, you have an almost unlimited amount of tutorials, knowledge bases, forums, videos and documentation to help you in your configuration quest. Configuration is several orders of magnitude less problematic to deal with than customization. But you really need to understand what you are trying to configure and to understand the complexities of the platform, before you attempt making changes to the system. Fortunately, Salesforce gives you the additional comfort of a “sandbox” system where you can make all your configuration changes and test it out before deploying the changes to your production environment.

As an example, let’s consider Salesforce’s Process Builder.

Process Builder.

One of Salesforce’s most powerful tools is the Process Builder. The Process

Process Builder diagram
Process Builder diagram

Builder is a relatively easy-to-use, visual business process automation tool that can trigger a wide variety of automatic tasks or actions. Process Builder takes the work out of repetitive tasks by automating them and streamlining them. Process Builder has a simple user interface, but is powerful enough to send out emails or update fields or for activities to automatically occur based upon preset triggers. The vast majority of automatic tasks can be automated using this simple point-and-click mechanism.

So the crucial question to ask yourself as you start to setup Salesforce for your organization is how deeply you need to modify Salesforce to serve your specific requirements. Break your business process down into various options. See how much of that can be met with configuration. Only after you exhaust all avenues for configuration, should you even consider the possibility of customization.

Some Process Builder examples.

You could use process builder to send out automatic email to a manager when the value of an opportunity value is greater than a preset amount. You could set up an email alert to be sent to a service manager if a Case is not responded to in a specified time-frame. In using dftly Time Tracker, we have customers who set up an automated rule to pre-populate Account related information such as Address to custom fields on the dftly Projects object, when an Opportunity Stage changes to Closed Won.

The bottom line is that with all the configuration tools at your disposal with Salesforce, you really should be able to fit between 70 – 80% of your requirements with configuration. Consider customization only for the remainder of your requirements.

Next week, we’ll talk about how we build on top of the Salesforce configuration to add configurability to the dftly Time Tracker.

Configuration or Customization – what makes sense?

As a society we are increasingly using online or cloud-based software in everything from buying clothes to managing our bank accounts. As you look around for cloud software for your organization’s needs, you’re quite likely to hear the terms “configurable” and “customizable” being thrown around, sometimes interchangeably. It’s critical that we understand the difference between these two terms.

A configurable system is an out-of-the-box solution that allows a user to personalize some aspects of the system themselves, without having to depend on experienced programmers. Configurable software is generally flexible and scalable and can be shaped to meet an organization’s requirements. While the system comes with a default configuration that works out-of-the-box, it generally lets you tweak the system with simple drop-down menus and lists to more closely reflect your own business. Configurable software gives you the advantage of best practices from the industry and other organizations. But overall, may not fit your requirements exactly. Since you can do the configuration on your own, there is generally no additional fee that you need to pay.

Customizable software, on the other hand, requires bespoke programming, generally done by the software company’s technical team or by a partner. With customized software, you get software that fits your requirements exactly. But because you are getting it specifically developed for you, the software itself does not evolve with usage from multiple companies. Whenever you need changes, those changes need to be specifically made for you and therefore will be both time-consuming and expensive.

The best example of configuration vs. customization is that of clothes. You

Configuring a shirt
Configuring a shirt

could get a shirt custom stitched to your exact size OR you could buy a shirt at a store. The custom stitched shirt is the equivalent of customized software, whereas buying a ready-to-wear shirt in a store is the equivalent of configured software. You can “configure” the shirt in the store by choosing your specific collar size, sleeve length from the variations available in the store. The custom shirt is specifically tailored for each of your lengths and sizes, but takes longer to make and may not have all the bells and whistles that come with the factory-made shirt. In software terms, we would say that the “configured” shirt has all the best practices from the industry.

Coming back to software, configurable software allows for users to re-arrange key elements of the software to suit their own business requirements, without programming changes. While customized software that works exactly to your specifications is alluring, the overall cost and time involved is generally prohibitive.

Like with most things, the 80-20 rule holds true for software implementations too. Check to see if out-of-the-box solution fits 80% of your requirements. If it does, you should be able to get the remaining 20% of the functionality through configurations, eliminating customization completely.

This post is the first in a 3-part series on software configuration. Next week, we’ll talk about how configuration makes Salesforce so powerful that it has become the platform of choice for many different implementations. The following week, as an example, we’ll look at how configuration works with dftly Time Tracker.