10 ways to track time! Part 1

Failed multi-tasking

Yesterday, we had a long and interesting demo of the Time Tracker with a fairly large group of people at a new prospect. During the demo, one of the people commented “So you have four different ways of tracking time inside Salesforce”. It struck me that I had never thought about it that way. Perhaps, when you work with the product every day, you gloss over some of these facts.

In any case, this morning, I decided that I’d make a list of all the ways

10 ways to track time
10 ways to track time

that you could track time with the Time Tracker. It turns out that there are 10 different ways in which you can track time with the Time Tracker for Salesforce. See my list here on the right. That’s 4 ways within Salesforce, 4 ways on mobile devices and 2 ways on the Time Tracker web app. Pretty cool, huh?

Based on my list, here’s a short description of each of the ways of time tracking and where you could use it.

Within Salesforce

Within Salesforce, you can track time by Check-in, checking in time for multiple tasks using the Multi Check-in, tracking time automatically to specific Salesforce whenever you are on that record in Salesforce and manually entering the time for a specific task when you are on that record.

Check in: Checking in to work within Salesforce means that you

Check In/Out in Salesforce
Check In/Out in Salesforce

are tracking time to a specific project/task (or whatever has been configured for you). You do this by selecting the Track Time button on the Salesforce Utility Bar. Clicking on the button, pops up a configured window that lets you choose your Project/Task from drop-downs. You can also enter in any notes that you may have. In this case, you are tracking time for an activity as you work on it. So you Check in when you Start on the activity and Check out when you are done.

Multi Checkin: Use the Multi Check in option when you want to

Multi checkin in Salesforce
Multi checkin in Salesforce

add multiple activities in a time-sheet format. You may choose to add in all your activities for the day at the end of the day or maybe at the end of the week. We suggest doing this on a daily basis, because chances are you’ll have forgotten something important that you did on Tuesday by the end of the week. 🙂 You select the Project / Task / Worktype fields from drop-downs. Fill in the Start and End times or the number of hours that you worked on each activity. By default, you’ll see 5 lines on this screen. Once you click on the Submit button, you can add your next set of activities.

Automatic Time Tracking: This is a great way to track time for

Automatic time tracking in Salesforce
Automatic time tracking in Salesforce

people who spend most of their time inside Salesforce. You do NOT need to Start / Stop a timer like you do with the Check in process. Every time you go to records in Accounts, Contacts, Opportunities, Cases or any other Salesforce object, an Automatic Timer starts right away. It keeps tracking time until you move away from that record. If you move to another Opportunity, the Auto Timer starts tracking time to the new Opportunity. The Auto Timer can be added to all the objects that you want to be able to track time to.

Single record time tracking: This feature again allows you to easily

Single time tracking in Salesforce
Single time tracking in Salesforce

track time to specific records in Salesforce. But it’s meant for use when you do NOT want time to be tracked automatically. This is meant for users who want to be able to track time to specific Accounts, Opportunities, Cases. But if the users work primarily outside Salesforce using other tools like AutoCAD, drafting and design tools, then this is a great way to track time. These users can go to the specific record where they want to add their time to. A Salesforce component allows you to add the task and the time that you spent on the activity; while the main Opportunity / Case is automatically selected.

So that’s 4 ways to track time just inside Salesforce. Checkin, Multi Checkin, Automatic Time Tracking and Single record time tracking.

Phew! that was a lot. Next week, we’ll talk about the different ways of tracking time on the Web and on the Time Tracker mobile app. Until then, auf wiedersehen!

Automatic Meal and Rest Breaks – An Employer’s Guide

Breaks
Breaks
Image by Engin_Akyurt from Pixabay

Different forms of rest breaks are important for your employees’ physical and mental well-being. When structured properly, they can have a positive impact on health and safety and also improve the productivity in your workplace.

Workday Breaks 

Breaks during the workday allow employees to rest during the workday. They could be in the form of rest breaks, coffee breaks and meal breaks.

Meal and Rest Breaks
Meal and Rest Breaks

Most national and EU regulations require specific breaks based on the number of hours worked. Depending on the country, some or all of these breaks could be paid or unpaid.

Break Times

Meal breaks and rest breaks are essential for workers during a long work day.  The U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not mandate an employer to offer meal or rest breaks to employees. But several states have their own laws that obligate employers to give paid and unpaid breaks to employees.

Whether it is mandatory or not, many employers do allot paid /unpaid time for lunch and other breaks. Federal law does designate what time is considered paid and unpaid.

Tracking Break Times

Lunch and rest breaks can be tricky to track. Some employees may forget to clock out. Others may forget to clock back in, when they start working in. This leads to either minutes being added to employee timesheets or being reduced from their time worked. This means that the timesheets are inaccurate and therefore payroll is inaccurate too. In order to make timesheets more accurate, many employers choose to implement automatic time deductions for meals and rest breaks. This ensure that employees get their daily breaks automatically deducted. This is great for employers who want to ensure that they are paying employees accurately. But many people still question the legality of automatic meal and break deductions.

Are Automatic Break Deductions Legal?

Yes! According to the U.S Department of Labor (DOL) and FLSA, it is legal for employers to automatically deduct lunch breaks. As long as the employee actually takes the lunch break. A legal meal break has to last at least 30 minutes according to the FLSA. The key is that employers need to communicate meal periods unambiguously to employees.

Unpaid Meal Breaks

States that enact meal break laws require a half hour break if the employee’s work day is longer than 5 or 6 hours. These meal breaks must be at least 30 minutes long, according to the FLSA. Meal breaks are uncompensated as the employee does not perform any work duties during this time.  If an employee works during the meal break, she has the right to be paid for that time.

Paid Rest Breaks

Rest periods are smaller breaks that are 5 to 20 minutes long. These breaks are compensated as they are considered normal working time. Some states require 10-minute break times for every 4 hours of an employee’s shift. These short breaks are generally considered to promote better productivity.

You can find more information about which hours are considered paid and unpaid.

Keeping Track of Breaks Automatically

Configuring Automatic Breaks
Configuring Automatic Breaks

You can keep track of your employee’s work times by implementing an easy-to-use time tracking app in your operations. With the Mobile Time Tracker’s Auto Breaks feature, you can automatically deduct time from employee timecards, based on the specifications that you have set up. You can add as many break rules as you need to ensure that your employees break times are properly accounted for.

Why use the Auto Breaks Feature?

Managers and Administrators have a lot on their plates when it comes to tracking employee times. Week after week, they need to make sure that all employee work and break time is recorded automatically. The Time Tracker’s Auto Breaks feature does the heavy lifting for you. It can automatically apply the break rules, based on the rules that you have set up.

Make sure that you are complying with all federal and local laws concerning break times. That way you avoid trouble with employees, DOL and FLSA. And you make sure that your payroll is accurate.

Automatic Case Time Tracking in Salesforce

importance of time

Assume that your Customer Support gets a Case that comes in late Friday evening. It doesn’t get worked on until Monday morning. While your Support Team spends just 10 minutes working on the Case, the Case Age calculation tells you that it took almost 3 days to close! Throws your Case handling metrics completely out of whack, doesn’t it? So how do you find the actual time spent on the Case?

With the Mobile Time Tracker version 1.52, we’ve introduced a new Lightning Component to automatically track time. You can select the Objects that you want to automatically track time for. Your Salesforce Administrator can set up the Lightning Component for any/all objects that you want automatic time tracking for. In this specific case, your administrator sets up and activates the Track Time component for Cases.

The Track Time Lightning Component

Automatic Time Tracker component
Automatic Time Tracker component

Now, every time an agent opens the Case View page for a specific Case, the timer automatically tracks time spent viewing the Case. If the agent closes the view page or navigates away to a different page, we automatically update a Time Detail log. Let’s say your agent navigates to a specific Case multiple times, then we create a Time Detail log each time. Assume different agents access the same Case, then each agents’ time is tracked against that Case. And your agents do not need to click on a timer or do anything special. All she does is View the Case that she’s working on. Finally, a simple Salesforce report gives you a summary of all the time that has been spent by one or more agents on that Case.

Increased visibility

Case Time Report
Case Time Report

Your Case metrics are no longer skewed by night times, weekends, or holidays. You get a clear insight into actual time spent by agents on Cases. You no longer need to guess why some Cases take longer than others. The data and statistics are clear and compelling.

Accountability

Your staffing decisions, reports, stats to leadership, and service bills to customers all have solid data to back them up. Respond to questions about time spent with confidence.

Native Salesforce component

The Track Time component integrates seamlessly into your Salesforce Lightning environment. All-time tracking data is safely stored in Salesforce. That makes integration with billing and payroll systems simple and effective. And with Salesforce, it’s easy to create any additional reports you need.

More uses of the Track Time component

Assume that you set up the Track Time component on your Salesforce Accounts object. Law firms can easily use the Track Time component to track time that lawyers and paralegals spend on specific customer accounts. Now you can manage billable time with minimal effort.

Set up the component on Opportunities or Leads.  You get a complete insight into how much time your Salespeople are spending on each Opportunity.

Set up the component on Projects. Now you have a view of the time your operations team spends on Projects.

The possibilities are endless with automatic time tracking.

Time tracking in Salesforce

Mechanical clock in Prague

Two years ago, we started down the route of time tracking on mobile devices for field and remote workers. All data from the mobile devices synced back into Salesforce in near real-time. Our goal was to give field workers the ability to get their work times into Salesforce on a mobile. We did build a simple way to track time automatically within Salesforce, but it was quite limited in functionality.

From our market research, we saw that there was a need for time tracking data to be synced to Salesforce. Since invoicing, project management and payroll were all within Salesforce, that work hours should be in Salesforce too made sense. PSA apps, ERP apps… all included time tracking as a part of their functionality. And those apps tracked work time for employees who worked within Salesforce. So, we decided that we would not play in that space – at the time.

Mobile and web apps

Mobile Time Tracker Clock out
Mobile Time Tracker Clock out

Our initial focus was on the mobile space where field workers and remote workers could track their work times. Our goal was to enable workers to track time easily and with little fuss on their familiar phones. Soon after, based on customer requests, we rolled out a Web-based Time Tracker. This was meant for workers who were not comfortable using mobile apps. The one big feature that we added in the Web version was the ability for users to enter time after the fact. This enabled workers to enter their time at the end of the day. Soon we rolled out the capability to enter multiple lines on a timesheet. Now, people who worked on multiple jobs during the day could enter a full timesheet once a day or week.

Time sheet entries on mobile, web or in Salesforce
Timesheet entries on mobile and web

With more customer requests, we added more functionality to both the Web and the mobile apps. We introduced configurable fields that could be displayed on both the mobile and on web apps. A new Team time tracking app on the mobile lets a single Team Lead check her entire team in. We updated the mobile app to allow configurable geo-tracking and photographs. This feature allowed us to minimize buddy punching. We introduced addresses that could be opened in Google/Apple maps to help field people find their next job-site. On the web app, we added an Approval mechanism for timesheets. Now managers and supervisors can approve/reject time entries for team members.

Over a year and a half, both the mobile app and the web apps grew with more functionality. But we did not do much on the Salesforce time tracking functionality.

Time Tracking in Salesforce

Over this calendar year, though, we’ve seen a renewed interest in time tracking inside Salesforce. To the point where now, over 60% of our leads are looking for Time Tracking within Salesforce.

The May 2019 EU Court of Justice ruling and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requirements have pushed time tracking to center stage. Any business that has employees is now affected by regulatory compliance for time worked, overtime calculation and break time compliance. And that has pushed interest in time tracking within Salesforce.

Time sheet entry in Salesforce

Luckily for us, because of our Mobile app, we had a lot of functionality within Salesforce already. The objects themselves, reports,  dashboards – all these existed. We have now added a number of other functions that make life easier with Salesforce. Some examples:

  • A Lightning component that can be added as a Time Tracker pop-up from the Salesforce utility bar, to track time against ANY object, including the one that the user is currently working on.
  • A multi-check in time tracking option that helps enter their complete timesheet for a day or a week at a time, after-the-fact.
  • A Summary Timesheet page that helps users within Salesforce select a date and add/see all the time entries for that day, so users can make sure they’ve recorded all their work for a given date.

Overall, we now have one of the strongest offerings for time tracking, be it on the mobile, on the Web or within Salesforce. And the best part is that you could have a combination of users, some using our mobile app, some on the web and others inside Salesforce. Regardless of where the time tracking happens, Salesforce is the single repository of all time tracking data. So integration with payroll, invoicing and ERP systems becomes that much easier.

We are thrilled to say now that we are the Timekeepers for Salesforce!

Did time tracking begin with Fred Flintstone?

Ben Franklin - an early time keeper

If you are one of the millions of people across the world who need to track their time on timesheets, you know how tedious and monotonous it can be. Tracking every minute of your workday is not fun. So I’m sure this video of Fred Flintstone joyfully punching out with the red dinosaur will put a smile on your face.

Never fails to cheer me up 🙂

But timesheets are an essential part of the business. Virtually every industry measures the cost of labor, in hours and minutes. And it’s timesheets that make this possible.

Code of Hammurabi
Code of Hammurabi at the Louvre

The Ancient Roots of Time Tracking

Tracing back the history of time tracking takes us to ancient Babylon and the Code of Hammurabi. Yep, him of the “eye for an eye” fame! This ancient treatise written in 1754 BC, set a typical worker’s daily wage at 6 grains of silver. Without adjusting for 3,772 years of inflation, that works out to about $ 0.25 per day.  It also mandated specific pay for specific types of work. While wages were set by the day at that time, it laid the foundation for the time-based labor practices that we follow to this day.

The Timesheet

Ben Franklin - an early time keeper
Ben Franklin – an early timekeeper

So let’s fast forward to a more modern time – the 18th century. We begin to see more emphasis on effective time management as the workforce began to shift from being mostly independent work to an employer-employee business model. One of the key champions of time tracking was Benjamin Franklin. He kept the most meticulous and detailed time tracking records that could ever be. In fact, looking at what he could accomplish in one day, would make most of us feel worthless. He’s even credited with coining the term “time is money” to drive home his point.

Following Ben Franklin’s views about time and money, employers wanted to make sure that they only paid for time worked. While employees wanted to make sure that they were actually being paid for that time. Obviously there was a need for accurate and efficient time tracking methods. Pen-and-paper based time tracking records were the solution at the time. Though the system was error-prone, time-consuming, and relied heavily on employees maintaining truthful and accurate records, the practice continued for years and is still used in some businesses.

The Time Clock

The Bundy Clock
The Bundy Clock

Move on to the 19th century, and finally, the world caught up with Fred Flintstone’s punch clock method of recording time.

As timekeeping technology developed, the daily wage was replaced by the hourly wage. In November 1888,  an Auburn, NY jeweler named Willard Bundy started producing a time-tracking product by the name of The Workman’s Time Recorder. His brother Harlow started mass producing the clock and in 1890, they filed for a patent for the clock.

Several other inventors during that time period developed mechanical time recording devices to help businesses keep track of their employees’ hours. Over the next century, entire companies dedicated to time tracking solutions emerged, improving on the Bundy design. To this day, many manufacturing plants and business office employees use a time card and a black box system similar to Bundy’s Clock to record their attendance and payroll. But not all professions paid so much attention to the clock. Engineers, lawyers, and architects still charged by the job and not by the hour.

The Billable Hour

A paper timesheet
A paper timesheet

During the 1950s, the efficiency experts who had squeezed extra production out of factories brought their skills to bear on the service professions. They created a new measure: the billable hour. Thus laying the foundation for your <insert profession here> charging you hundreds of dollars while you discuss last night’s game with him 🙂 Billable and non-billable hours became a significant part of project estimating and forecasts. Workers tracked their time on paper timesheets, creating a huge repository of information about how long different tasks would take.

Time Tracking in the Digital Age

As computers became more ubiquitous in the workplace, many companies started replacing the cumbersome paper timesheets with digital ones. Programs like Excel and eventually time tracking software revolutionized the way that businesses tracked their employees’ hours and time-off.

Rather than punching in and out, employees now swipe a card, enter an identification number or perhaps just click a button. All the data is then stored digitally for easy access at any point. Better yet, it’s now remarkably easy to discern patterns in and trends in the timesheet data through automatically generated reports and dashboards.

Mobile Time Tracking

Mobile Time Tracker Clock out
Mobile Time Tracker Clock out

Increasingly, supervisors and employees in the field are using mobile devices such as phones and tablets to capture the time spent on different projects and tasks. Automating these tasks frees up employees to focus more on their work and less on writing down their time.  In addition to time, employees can also track notes, photos, expenses, and other details all on their mobile devices. With mobile devices, employers can also choose to track GPS locations as well. And with all-time now efficiently and easily tracked, businesses are pleasantly surprised by the addition to their bottom line when they move from paper timesheets to mobile time tracking.