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Harvest Tips posts:

Using Zapier to Improve Your Harvest Workflow

In this guest post Kim Kadiyala explains how using Zapier to connect Harvest to your favorite tools can make your team’s workflow even more efficient.

Like thumbprints or snowflakes, no two workflows are quite the same. Every company has their own way of doing business, one that’s evolved over time to meet the preferences and priorities of that particular team.

As you add tools to your workflow, however, it’s easy for it to become unwieldy. That’s why it’s essential for the tools you use to work together. Otherwise, you might find yourself wasting time switching between them or manually duplicating tasks across multiple platforms. Harvest’s integrations are a great way to connect Harvest to the other tools in your workflow. But if you’re looking for even more options, Zapier might be the answer.

Zapier is a web app automation tool that lets you send data from Harvest to over 750 apps, including Slack, Google Calendar, Asana, Trello—no coding knowledge necessary. With a few clicks, you can create Zaps (automations) that link all the tools you use in one seamless workflow, automating the manual tasks you’d rather not spend time on.

Here are stories from three Harvest customers who used Zapier to link Harvest to other tools and make their workflows more efficient. Hopefully they inspire you with ideas for improving your own workflow and saving time. Continue reading…

Using the Harvest API for Radical Transparency with Clients

The beauty of Harvest is that it brings time tracking to life. All the data you collect through your timesheets gets pulled into graphs and reports that give you insight into your business. For the tech savvy, the Harvest API unlocks even more possibilities for making use of your data. In this guest post Zbigniew Sobiecki, CEO of Macoscope, shares how his company has taken advantage of the Harvest API to fit time tracking into their workflow.

Our work as a software house is governed largely by agile methodology. Part of this involves charging clients by the hour (as opposed to fixed-price projects) so they only pay for the time we actually spend working on their project. Such an approach makes Harvest the single most important data source in our whole organization.

What Exactly Does Harvest Do for Our Company?

First of all, each member of our development team should spend 6.5 hours a day working on client projects. Harvest helps us monitor their current workload and quickly notice when someone is working too much. Believe it or not, it can be a real lifesaver! Each developer on our staff is obliged to responsibly track their time every single day, so they aren’t relying on their spotty memories when trying to fill out timesheets a couple days later.

Continue reading…

Notable Announcements for Your Team in Slack

How do we communicate important announcements to our 45 person team across nine different countries here at Harvest? We use a single email to aggregate all of the team’s notable messages for the day. It’s the one email that everyone on the team reads every day. It highlights notable things like:

  • Hey team, we shipped this new feature today. It’s out to 75% of customers.
  • Reminder that our Summit is in NYC next week. Please remember to bring a gift for the gift exchange!

To create this email, we use Slack. All a member of the team needs to do is type /notable in Slack (from any channel), and it will hashtag the message as notable and post it in the #general room.

But more importantly, it will add all the notable messages for the day to a Team Notables email, so that they don’t get lost amid GIFs and emojis in Slack.

Notable Announcement Email

How to get /notable for Your Team

We find this email so useful that we’ve open sourced the code so your team can benefit too! There’s instructions on how to set it up here. It’s only a one-time setup, and you don’t have to be a developer to download it.

Our thanks to Harvester Jason Dew, who built /notable and worked on open sourcing this feature during our Harvest Hacksgiving (a three-day hackathon our team hosts internally the week of Thanksgiving).

How an Agency Used Forecast to Improve Resource Scheduling

Forecast makes it easy to schedule your team on multiple projects and plan out what you’re working on over the next few months. But it’s much more than a visual team calendar. It provides you with the insight to answer critical questions about your business: What is the team working on right now? Who’s under water? Do you have the capacity to take on new work? How secure is the future of the business?

In this post, Holly Davis, a project manager at White October, describes how her digital agency implemented Forecast and used it to help manage their business.

Resourcing for a growing agency is a big challenge. Things change from minute to minute and everyone has different information they need access to:

  • The whole team needs to know what they’re supposed to be working on.
  • Project managers need to ensure that resourcing forecasts mirror the needs of their upcoming project work.
  • Account managers need long-term forecasting so they know what new business they should pursue.

A year ago we were struggling to fulfill these needs, mainly due to the fact that we had little confidence that the data we were putting in was an accurate reflection of ‘reality.’

One of our project managers, Sarah Clarke, decided to take on the challenge of improving resourcing at White October. She chose Harvest Forecast, integrated with our main Harvest account, as the management tool.

Continue reading…

Using Harvest to Automate Tasks & Improve Work Happiness

Here at Harvest we’re always interested in hearing how customers use our software. A few weeks ago Stephen Thomas gave a talk at the Digital PM Summit that mentioned Harvest as a way to help bring some creativity, flexibility, and innovation to your projects and work life. He’s been kind enough to share his tips and insights with the Harvest community.

How long before the robots attack?

While getting drinks one Friday after work, some friends and I got round to discussing whether it would be such a bad thing if robots took over the world. We didn’t come up with any answers, but the discussion did leave an impression on me. It got me wondering whether my job as a project manager at White October could eventually be fully automated.

I wanted to go a bit deeper than just speculation and really try to find out whether a robot could do my job. To do this I needed to understand what it was I actually did every day and whether any of these tasks could be automated or at the very least delegated. Laboriously logging all this information felt like it would be a step too far for such an idle fancy until I realized that I was already doing this very thing as part of my job.

Timesheets are often seen as a chore, a necessity for agencies, freelancers, and professionals, something we have to do in order to get paid but not a part of our job in which we enthusiastically engage.

However, timesheets give you a minute-by-minute account of your day. There is so much potentially rich metadata and knowledge that we overlook, focussing instead on what we bill. Timesheets can give us insight into what we do.

Continue reading…

Harvest for IFTTT: New Integration!

What if a note is created in Evernote when I create a Harvest project? Heck, what if the lights flash every time I start a timer? These are now both possible with our newest integration with IFTTT.

IFTTT Recipe: If a Harvest project is created, then create a note in Evernote. connects harvest to evernote

IFTTT enables you to create simple connections between Harvest and the applications and devices you use every day. IFTTT works with over 160 products and services, and very cool ones for that matter!

Here’s a glimpse of how you can setup your own IFTTT Recipes with Harvest:

    • You can trigger actions in other apps when you start a timer, stop a timer, or create a project in Harvest. For instance, if I start a Harvest timer, then post the details to Slack. Or, if I create a Harvest project, then send out an email notification to a group of people.

IFTTT Recipe: If a Harvest timer is started, then post a message to a Slack channel. connects harvest to slack

    • You can also have other apps trigger actions in Harvest. For example, if I create a new GitHub issue, then create a new task in Harvest.

IFTTT Recipe: If a new issue is created in GitHub, create a task in a Harvest project. connects github to harvest

Check out the Harvest for IFTTT Channel here to setup your Recipes. And if you haven’t used IFTTT before, don’t worry, it’s free! Let us know if you have ideas for other potential Harvest Triggers and Actions. We’d love to hear them!

Hats off to our developer Lorenzo who built this integration during our Harvest Hacksgiving.

Supporting Harvest: Tools of the Trade

I had the opportunity to speak at the fabulous UserConf NYC a few months ago, about how Harvest dropped its support response times. I then followed up with a guest appearance on Supportops Podcast with Chase Clemons from 37signals, where we talked about remote working, Hurricane Sandy, and a some of the tools we use in Harvest support that help to speed up the process. Here’s a quick look at a couple of the tools that I use everyday. Continue reading…

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.

Improvise

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.

Time Saving Tips – Food-y Edition!

For the last in our series of time saving tips, we have turned our attention to food. Food is very important here at Harvest, whether we’re learning how to brew the perfect cup of coffee or sharing lunch together. We set out to helping you shave time in deciding what to make, how to buy, and best practices for preparing it – here’s what we found.

Get ideas to make it

  • relishrelish will email you a week’s worth of recipes every Thursday, complete with shopping lists. The meals take 30 minutes or less to prepare, and the ingredients usually cost $80 or less for the week’s worth of dinners.
  • Gojee curates recipes from food bloggers around the web in a visually enticing way.
  • Use Allrecipe’s Ingredient Search to find recipes based on what you’ve got on hand.

Buy it

  • Multi-task! Use Omnifocus to give an alert to your phone when you’re near the grocery store — reminds you when you have a list and saves trips out!
  • Shop at odd times. The less time you spend waiting in line with everyone else who’s shopping is more time for anything else.

Make it

  • Choose recipes that take limited time to prepare. Mark Bittman wrote a great NY Times writeup for summer meals that take 10 minutes or less (save for when it gets warmer!).
  • Make more than you need. Example: if you make soup, make enough that half can go in the freezer for next week — you can do the same with tomato sauce, and chili. You can even portion soups into 2-cup containers for freezing: the perfect healthy grab-and-go lunch. You can even swap with a friend!
  • Use ice trays to freeze tomato sauce, pesto, and soup stock – most regular-sized ice cubes are just about 2 tablespoons, it’s easy to dole the ingredients out later!
  • Cooking in blocks of time, as advised by The Pemmican Principle of food preparation. Set aside a 4 hour block of time on Saturday or Sunday, and prepare meals for the week. If you’re pressed for time, simply wash and cut fruits and veggies, essentially turning refrigerator into a healthy salad bar and deli.

Many thanks to theTwitter community for sharing your own tips for this article. We’re please to announce that @DanaCoBar won our very last Time Saving Tuesdays contest for January – congratulations Dana, we hope you enjoy your beautiful new kitchen timer!