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Posts by Barry Hess:


Improvisation as a business strategy has gained more and more traction over the years. The improv theaters in every major city offer consulting and team building exercises. The last two conferences I attended began with an improv session.

The best idea we can borrow from the improvisation world is the concept of “YES, AND.” From “Bossypants” by Tina Fey:

As an improviser, I always find it jarring when I meet someone in real life whose first answer is no. “No, we can’t do that.” “No, that’s not in the budget.” “No, I will not hold your hand for a dollar.” What kind of way is that to live?

Spending your time disagreeing is often a slow, frustrating path to indecision. Even if your goal is to get to a different place than your colleague is currently occupying, it’s likely faster to get there together. This does not mean suppressing your ideas:

To me YES, AND means don’t be afraid to contribute. It’s your responsibility to contribute. The next rule is MAKE STATEMENTS. This is a positive way of saying “Don’t ask questions all the time.” In other words: Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles.

YES, AND is a powerful way to work as a team. You will come to a discussion with your own ideas. Make statements, but don’t let your ideas drown out the ideas of those around you.

Listen, consider, adjust. Together.

Scheduled Maintenance Saturday December 10th, 10am – 12pm EST

On Saturday December 10th, 2011, we plan to take Harvest offline beginning at 10am EST and ending before 12pm EST for some billing system upgrades. (What time is that for you?) We spend a lot of time dealing with customer billing issues. Time we could be spending making Harvest more awesome. So we have revamped the entire billing system so we can spend our time more efficiently.

We do hope the downtime will be less than the stated two hours. Please follow @harvest on Twitter and Harvest Status for real time updates from the team during this work. Thanks for your patience!

Bring Your Base Sales to Harvest

Base (formerly PipeJump) is a small business CRM software package for managing contacts and sales. They recently launched an integration with Harvest, allowing project creation from your “won” deals. With this integration, managing the flow from contact to sales to tracking your project in Harvest is seamless.

See the integration in action, thanks to this screencast provided by Base:

Don’t forget, integrations with Harvest are just an API call away. Do let us know if you are planning an integration, or even if you are just dreaming of one!

Harvest API: Your Data in Action

Recently Chris Wilson from Search Mojo has been writing to us with questions about the Harvest API. Through the pleasant conversations surrounding Chris’s questions, we learned that Search Mojo was using the API to create an inspiring dashboard. Here’s how Chris describes it:

We created a profitability dashboard to total up which of our clients we are profitable on based on hours, hourly rates and expenses over quarter and month ranges. We then created a score based on that. Your API tool supplied everything and it’s officially up and running on the tvs in the office.

Continue reading…

Harvest Welcomes Mike Krisher

Today is Mike Krisher’s first day as a developer at Harvest. Mike is a Ruby wiz with an affinity for JavaScript and Hoosiers. We don’t even hold his deep knowledge of Flash against him! Especially since he has already proven his love for Harvest in the past.

Mike comes to Harvest with a long history of working with clients both large and small. Sharing the same sensibilities as many of our own Harvest customers will provide outstanding perspective for his daily work. We’re excited to bring his brainpower to bear on all the ideas we have for Harvest in 2011 and beyond.

Stalk Mike on Twitter. Maybe, just maybe, he’ll tell you about climbing the Great Wall of China.

Welcome aboard, Mike!

Delta Force: The Secret to Legendary Customer Support

The pride of Harvest is our customer support. We believe the success of Harvest begins and ends with you, our customers. We’re very excited about our new Harvest Support site, and we have an outstanding frontline support team that talks to 100’s of customers every week. Many questions are quick to answer, but some require more technical knowledge.

Since last summer, we’ve been experimenting with a tiered rotation of team members into bugfix roles: the Fireteam and Delta Force. This system is great for small teams with stretched technical resources, and allows for fast support response without having a bloated support staff.

Continue reading…

Harvest Integrations Galore: GitHub in Co-op, Fluid Growl Reminders, and Java for Harvest

A smattering of developers (who are also Harvest customers!) have released some cool integrations in the past few months, and we thought we’d share the highlights with you.

Post GitHub Commits to Co-op

Robert May of Core Web Design has put together an integration between GitHub and Co-op, Harvest’s team communication application. This GitHub service posts GitHub commits from any project of your choosing directly to Co-op. It’s a fantastic way to keep your team up-to-date on the latest development activity.

To set up the integration, visit the source GitHub repository and go to Admin > Service Hooks. Choose Co-op and fill in the necessary information.

Continue reading…

Harvest Supports Ruby Summer of Code

Harvest was built from the ground up with Ruby on Rails, a powerful framework for building web apps. Rails has been part of daily activity here since back when we worked on client projects right alongside of Harvest. As an OSS project, Rails needs contributions of all sorts to continue evolving. The latest program to help push Rails forward is Ruby Summer of Code.

The Ruby Summer of Code program is designed to help fund student development of Ruby and/or Rails projects in the summer of 2010. Accepted students will be matched up with accepted mentors and will have two months to complete their summer projects.  Harvest is proud to support this inspired endeavor, and the future of Ruby development.

The student application window is from April 5th to April 23rd, so that means the deadline is just a week away.  If you are (or know of a) student with an idea for a great Ruby project, get your application in now!

Co-op, Twitter, and Motivation with Cobot

We are pretty active on Twitter. It’s a great way to get quick messages out as we release new features. We love to hear what you have to say about Harvest, good or bad.

It would not be particularly efficient for everyone on the team to watch the flow of tweets about Harvest. So, for those of us who have the task of watching Twitter, we like to favorite interesting tweets about Harvest, and we also like to share them with the rest of the team. This is a perfect task for automation by Cobot, your friendly Co-op robot.

We created a Ruby script that runs every 30 minutes looking for the latest favorited tweets on our Harvest Twitter account. It also looks at the Harvest stream to pull in anything we’ve said on Twitter. These tweets get inserted into our Co-op stream and provide a nice bit of motivation from our wonderful customers.

If you are curious to see the script, it can be found on GitHub. And here it is in action:

Co-op with Twitter inline

Enjoy using Cobot to enhance your Co-op workstreams, we’re excited to know if you find this feature useful!

Introducing Cobot: System Messaging for Co-op

The Harvest Team communicates with Co-op all day, every day. It is the visual heartbeat of our team, as we share failures, successes and silliness from our work days and our lives. While this heartbeat is strong, it also has an obvious arrhythmia: no system status messages.

For the past couple weeks we have been refining an API technique to programmatically add system status, and anything else, to a Co-op workstream. We are pleased with the results, and would like to introduce you to Cobot:

Cobot - The Harvest Co-op Robot

Cobot posts may be created via the Co-op API.

Along for the ride are a couple of new formatting features now enabled for Co-op statuses. First, statuses now accept <br /> tags to force new lines, which is essential for posting things like deployment of multiple code commits.

Co-op also now supports code pastes. If you paste anything in your Co-op message box with two or more new lines, the code paste view will take effect:

Philip J. Fry WTFjs

Feel free to share what kinds of system messages you will be looking to bring into your Co-op workstreams, we’re excited to know if you find this feature useful!