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!

 

 

 

 

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?

 

 

 

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.

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.

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.