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Posts by HARVEST:

Time Tracking Insights from Jason Calacanis

Harvest customer Jason Calacanis has started companies like Weblogs, Inc. (acquired by AOL), and Jason recently wrote about why his businesses track time and how that has helped them make better decisions.

Time tracking is a very touchy subject in the employment space, and you have to be very, very careful implementing it if you’re not in advertising, legal or consulting (where it’s standard). Time tracking asks team members to report on which projects and tasks they are working on down to the quarter hour.

It seems annoying, but it actually isn’t a big deal. It adds about five minutes to each person’s day—max —since most folks work on fewer than 10 tasks a day. The information you can get from it can be unexpected. For example, we realized that one of our video shows was costing eight times another, with two more sitting squarely in between. When drilled down, we figured out what the more efficient shows were doing, and applied those best practices to all the other shows.

Additionally, we went to our distribution partner and said, “Look, this is costing us more and here are the numbers—we need a better deal.” We got it!

If you’re having trouble motivating your team to adopt time tracking, Jason offers some sound advice:

Now, you will get standard objections like “I’m too busy to do this” and “You don’t trust me?” The first objection tends to come from high performers, who will respond properly to “I understand you’re slammed, but if you do this, it’s a short-term cost for a long-term benefit, because we’re going to show exactly how much more effective you are than everyone else—and you can use that in your next review!”

The “You don’t trust me?” protest tends to come from “eeyores” or low performers. When they respond this way, you should look them in the eye and say, “We wouldn’t have hired you if we didn’t trust you. This is for the good of the team.” Then say nothing. If they whine some more, you can use the metaphor of athletes who track every metric under the wisdom of “If you can measure it, you can manage it.” If they still complain? Well, it might just be time to hit the eject button on that employee.

Read more about the tools Jason uses for his business in this OPEN Forum article.

2012 – The Year In Work


Over the last 7 years, 95 million hours were tracked in Harvest. With each passing year, we’ve labored behind the scenes to change the way you work. Our goal with every Harvest update has been to streamline your workflow, so you can focus on the work that matters most and get more done.

2012 was no different. Whether it was through redesigning the timesheet to make time tracking even faster from any device, or launching a developer platform to provide the ability to track time from any application — we pushed Harvest further last year to make your life easier. To recap, we put together a little story of what we accomplished for our customers in 2012 — The Year In Work.

2013 is already off to a great start with another integration made public, and updates tailored towards helping you communicate better with clients. As always, we invite you to send us feedback on what else you’d like to see this year. For any time tracking integration requests, why not send along the Harvest Developer Platform to the team behind your favorite application? They’ll be able to add Harvest time tracking to their application in 15 minutes.

We look forward to providing you with another stellar year in work.

Bringing Awareness and Focus into Your Work

A few weeks ago I downloaded MyFitnessPal to my iPhone. During the 2 weeks that I actually used it (don’t judge!) I noticed something about my behavior. Specifically, being hyper aware of my choices, actually changed the way I consumed food and the way I chose to spend my down time. I started bringing lunch and started exiting the subway a few stops earlier in order to lengthen my walk to work.

If you’ve ever used Mint or any other budgeting apps, you may have experienced the same phenomenon. Understanding where your money goes makes you much more aware before you spend it. You end up being more focused. It might even inspire you to create a budget for yourself and stick to it.

While using MyFitnessPal, I realized that the relationship I was developing with this fitness app was similar to the one I have with Harvest. Since joining Harvest more than a year ago, I have found that entering time as I go has a huge personal benefit. Sure, it’s faster and it ensures that the time data is accurate, but the real benefit for me is that it helps me manage my time more efficiently. The act of starting a timer makes me more focused. It is the equivalent of making a declaration about what I’m about to do.

Even though Harvest has more than 10 ways for you to enter time as you go, many of you still enter at the end of the day, week or even, month. If you’re one of those people, I’d recommend you give track-as-you-go a try. It may seem awkward at first, but it becomes second nature rather quickly. Give it a day. And if you take me up on this challenge, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Go Pink in October

A few weeks ago after lunch, Matt and Paul started talking about the fact that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. They wondered if there was something that Harvest could do to support the cause. As others joined in the conversation, it became obvious that almost everyone in the office had been impacted by breast cancer in one way or another. We decided to make something happen.

This month Harvest is donating $10,000 to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation® (BCRF). We decided on BCRF because 91 cents of every dollar spent by the organization goes directly towards breast cancer research and awareness programs. This is an impressive statistic for such a large organization; one we can get behind.

But this isn’t about the money. What we really care about here is awareness. With that in mind, we’re letting our customers change their Harvest color scheme to pink during the month of October (company admins will see a message on their dashboard). We hope that seeing the pink navigation bar will encourage you to ensure that all the people in your life follow the appropriate protocol for early detection.

We hope that during this month you will take some time to think about your health and how you can detect and prevent all forms of cancer.

Introducing WalkaboutNYC Agency Edition

When I joined Harvest a little more than a year ago, I was really excited about the work we do here. However, there was one project in particular that I really wanted to get involved in – WalkaboutNYC. The event had 2 successful runs prior to my joining Harvest, and I was very excited to work with Karen (WalkaboutNYC’s organizer), Danny, and  Shawn to see if we could blow it out.

The idea that kept rising to the top of the list for all of us was to run another event that was built around Harvest’s customers. The original WalkaboutNYC features Harvest’s peers in the NYC technology ecosystem. This new event would be for and about the Creative Agencies that we are proud to have as our customers.

All that background is to share how excited we all are that this vision has become a reality. On October 19th, 2012 we will be running the first ever WalkaboutNYC Agency Edition. We also have a brand spanking new site to celebrate this event.

The 17 companies who have bravely volunteered to open themselves up to curious New Yorkers on October 19th are paving the way for what we hope will be an annual tradition. If you are in NYC on 10/19 and run an agency that you’d like to have featured in this year’s WalkaboutNYC, please contact us. If you’re just curious how these agencies work and would like to meet the folks behind the scenes, RSVP today.

Say Goodbye To The Generic Profile Picture

The internet has been co-existing with the infamous generic person (examples above) and his brethren for years. You’ve probably seen them around. They’re the gender-neutral, grayish, human-esque figures whose regular haunts include forums, social networks, and probably one or two of your account profiles. To be clear, they’re not evil. They’re just… there.

This week, we took some time to rethink our default profile pictures. We wanted to pull away from generic icons and make something fun and vibrant. So, from now on, all new people added to Harvest will be given one of three hand-painted clock tower avatars:

From left to right: Allen-Bradley Clock Tower (Wisconsin, US), Big Ben (London, England), Abraj Al-Bait Towers (Mecca, Saudi Arabia)

When I said hand-painted, I meant I “painted” them on the iPad with one of my favorite apps, Brushes. We want to keep expanding on this idea and provide even more options for you in the future. If you know of any clock towers that you think would make a great profile picture, let us know and it could make it into the next batch!

A Product Company Plays Agency

A couple of days ago I read this article about the newly designed #taxioftomorrow that will start appearing on New York streets in 2013. There were a lot of interesting tidbits in the article, among them, the yellow color is going to be brighter, the floor mats will be made from recycled materials, and the sound of the honk is changing. But what really struck me was the story of how Nissan, an automotive manufacturing company nearing its 80th year of operations had to learn how to behave like an agency.

For the Nissan designers every decision needed to be vetted internally and then approved by the client. Some decisions that Nissan thought would be easy approvals became lengthy discussions. One such decision was the partition between driver and rider. Wanting to embrace technology, the Nissan team pitched the idea of an intercom system. David Yassky, NYC Taxi Commissioner, didn’t approve. In addition to worrying about sound quality, Yassky shared a widely held belief by Drivers – connecting with riders generally earns them a better tip.

In my previous life at a large corporation I was always on the client side of agency interactions. Giving creative feedback was never easy, I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. However, as a brand manager I knew my job was as an advocate for the customer and the company. If my feedback was focused on customer insights, it was generally well received and aided in the creative process. The story about the divider reminded me of this. It’s a great example of a client and an agency working well together. Yassky didn’t tell Nissan that he didn’t like the closed divider, he told them about his customers’ needs. In this case the drivers’ need to make human contact.

For an old product company and a bunch of city politicians, this article portrays a relatively smooth process. I can’t wait to ride in the result!

Lessons from TV

I recently cancelled cable and got Roku. Giving up live programming was not a decision that came easily. My husband is a sports fan and I am a reality tv (don’t judge) and HBO addict. However, the value equation no longer worked for us. The cost of cable is too high, the service lackluster, and when we actually did watch live TV the volume of commercials was irritating.

One of the services I now subscribe to is Hulu Plus. Hulu Plus costs money and serves up network programs with commercials that are impossible to skip. And guess what? I don’t have a problem with the cost or the advertisements. The price is reasonable, the ads are short and sweet, and Hulu Plus displays clearly how many seconds you have until your program returns. The commercials on Hulu are infinitely more watchable because of their brevity. And, countdown clocks seem to make people happy.

The non-irritating ads offer a lesson about paying attention to your customers. In an effort to increase profit, networks sold so much advertising that they made standard TV unwatchable. They focused on their gain while disregarding the needs of both their viewers (entertainment) and their advertisers (captivated viewers). When no alternative existed that equation worked. However, as options for viewing (and advertising) emerged the networks didn’t respond. The old guard lost customer focus. Luckily the new guard was paying attention.

Hulu Plus (ironically a joint venture owned by NBC, Fox & Disney) and its easy-to-watch commercials serve as a reminder that people are willing to pay (with dollars and eyeballs) for a service they deem valuable. But the price needs to be rational. Once it’s out of balance be prepared for reinvention.

New Feature! Assign Projects from the User Profile

Recently, we introduced a new look to the user profile. Since its release, we’ve been working around the clock on the final touches of a feature that’s been highly requested by our customers – the ability to assign projects to people straight from their profiles.

This feature is especially useful for larger companies looking to increase their efficiency when adding multiple users and assigning a multitude of projects. We’ve streamlined the process so that, going forward, it will be much faster to get users set up to track time.

Assign Projects Faster

Imagine this: After a grueling recruiting process, you hire a few wonderful employees. You add them to Harvest via our quick and simple form, and we drop you right into the Projects section of their profile. With our new feature, you’ll be able to:

  • Assign them to multiple projects at once using our home-grown Chosen search.
  • Assign them to all existing and future projects. It’s like cruise control, but on Harvest.

Make a mistake? If you accidentally assign the wrong project, you can easily remove it from the list.

This new upgrade is sure to speed up your experience. Don’t just take our word for it — this video shows you exactly how the new profile works:

As we improve Harvest, not only do we want to make time tracking better, but we also want to help you save time. We know this feature will make things speedier and easier, and as always, please send us your feedback!

P.S. Many thanks to Patrick, T.J. and Samara for working so hard on this project.

Pay More Attention to Unsubscribe

Yesterday, Danny and I had a philosophical conversation about unsubscribe links. Specifically, we were discussing the fact that unsubscribe links are a legal requirement, which has made them an afterthought for most people. However in each email you send, every word should have meaning, even those required by law.

Clicking unsubscribe is a critical way that your customers use to communicate with you. When a customer clicks unsubscribe, she is telling you in no uncertain terms that you are wasting her time.

At Harvest our goal is to never waste people’s time (just to track it). That means we look to only send email that will be valuable to our customers. Two of our core principles are to Be Useful and to Keep Improving. The conversation served as a reminder for me not to take anyone’s time for granted. That’s why we decided to give our unsubscribe message some attention.

We are replacing:

This message was sent because you have a registered Harvest Account. Unsubscribe

With this:

We promise to only send helpful emails. If we’re not living up to that promise, simply unsubscribe.

We intend to live by this promise. I hope that sharing this conversation inspires you to be mindful of the things you do in your communications as well.