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Success Stories posts:

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.

Made By Two: Illustrator + Industrial Designer = Business Plan

To help companies get on their feet, The Harvest New Founders Program gives one year’s subscription of Harvest time tracking service to a new company each month. Think you might be a good fit for our New Founders Program? Learn more and apply.

Made By Two is a design firm established by Kermit and Azadeh Westergaard, who caught our attention with their interdisciplinary approach to design, from interior design to inventing their own products. We were so impressed with the body of work they had created in such a short amount of time, all while raising a baby boy together, that we just had to know — how did they make this amazing business venture a reality? Kermit and Azadeh chatted with us, and it was a love fest: they expounded on about falling in love with each other, falling in love with eclectic design projects, and falling in love with Harvest to keep them on track of their time and expenses.

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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.

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Confessions of a Productivity Hacker

We’d like to share some excerpts from Jeffrey Perkel’s article about his time-gap discovery, when he first started using Harvest for tracking his time.  Thanks Jeffrey, we hope this will help other freelancers and small business leaders, and we’re glad to help you along the path of productivity!

I have a confession to make: I’m not as productive as I’d like to be.  For me, the realization that I was less productive than I thought came via Harvest, a web-based app for time-tracking and invoicing. At the suggestion of productivity wonk John Pavlus, I gave Harvest a whirl.

Harvest is a productivity dream. There’s a web interface to track your projects, tasks, invoices, and expenses. There’s a dedicated MacOS dashboard widget, even an iPhone interface. I set up my tasks and projects, and then diligently set to work trying to track my day: 44 minutes to interview so-and-so; 36 minutes to read this paper; a bit more than 3 hours to write that article, and so on.

I felt very accomplished… until I added everything up and found that, despite all my careful tracking, I had gaping holes in my day. Partly, that’s because I didn’t add things like lunch, picking up the kids after school, and the occasional break to check Twitter, email, and the news. And partly it’s because I’d start reading something and then realize, oops! I forgot to turn on the timer. Still, it’s clear I can do better. It’s not that I thought I was some productivity machine, working 25 hours a day, 8 days a week. But I didn’t realize how much time I was frittering away, either.

By casting my daily activities in such sharp relief, Harvest helped me identify the problem. It’s up to me to set things right.

Confessions of a productivity hack(er) was originally posted on Freelancer Hacks

How Tracks Time To Inform Budget and Staff Decisions

We are always happy to hear about how Harvest’s time tracking capabilities deliver value to those in the non-profit sector.   Recently, Naomi Baer, a director at the fast-growing microlender, shared her experiences on how Harvest has helped her team monitor efficiency and provide data for making better decisions in a non-profit environment:

kiva-logo has been using Harvest for over a year in its Microloan Review & Translation Program, and it’s not only an incredibly useful tool, but it has actually made us enjoy keeping track of our time! The Harvest time tracking widget is friendly and simple to use, and the website provides a nice array of options for managing its data while being very intuitive to learn.

As a small team in a rapidly growing organization, our program staff has found it invaluable to know where our time is going and how much efficiency we gain as we introduce new processes into our work. Recording time on specific projects via Harvest has helped us make decisions about budget, intern recruitment, and staff allocation.

It’s also great to have a central place to share information about our projects from week to week. Our team reviews our priorities weekly, using data from Harvest, and it’s the foundation for our communication about what we’re working on and how we can make the best use of our time as group.

My program staff found Harvest online and love it so much that they insisted that I sign up. As the team manager, I love the conversations Harvest enables and the visibility it gives us into each other’s working patterns.

Harvest has been such a success at Kiva that the Kiva Fellows Program will soon be using it to manage a team of over 100 Kiva Fellows each year. This group volunteers to work with Kiva’s Field Partners in over 40 countries throughout the developing world, and it’s a big challenge to keep in touch with what each of them is working on day-to-day. Through Harvest, we’re excited to have a simple tool to help all the Kiva Fellows keep program staff updated, and a tool that allows us to keep the fellows’ work aligned with Kiva’s evolving goals.

Naomi Baer, Kiva Microloan Review & Translation Director

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