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Creating A Harvest Help Video

Hey! My name is Trey, and I’m a Harvest Expert—part of the support team here at Harvest. I recently finished the Create an Invoice video, which you can see in all its glory below, and I thought I’d write a little bit about how, and why, we make Harvest help videos.

Hopefully this will be useful to you, whether you want to create a help video for your product, or if you’re just curious about the process!

Because Reasons

Before we get into the process itself, it’s worth thinking about the main reasons we do these in the first place. First, video can simply be the most efficient means of communication. It’s often easier to show a procedure, than to explain it in words, especially if the feature or operation we’re trying to describe takes many steps. A screenshot can’t show you how a multi-step process actually plays out.

We want to give people enough information for them to be comfortable using Harvest. The more comfortable they feel, the less time they spend struggling with Harvest and the less likely it is they have to interrupt their workflow to write into us, or worse, just get frustrated! So it helps us deliver on our major value proposition of making their lives easier.

Also, people learn in different ways. Some want to just quickly scan the information in text form, but a lot of people find it helpful to actually see and hear what they need to do.

Means of Production

The script usually starts as a simple adaptation of the text from a relevant Help Center article, trimmed down to something more minimal. This is both to maintain consistency with the Help Center and to avoid reinventing the wheel.

Then, I start recording audio and video using TechSmith Camtasia. TechSmith have a companion app called TechSmith Fuse, which I use to record video from mobile devices. The first several takes are going to be complete garbage—their purpose is to clarify the order of actions in the video, so that there aren’t gaps and mistakes. For example, if we’re showing a report, what timeframe is best for displaying a decent amount of data? What directory are we using for attachments? What’s the sequence for navigating between fields on a form?

Next is editing, which takes up the most time. The simpler videos essentially play in real time, so instead of worrying about trying to match different takes, I record until I get a solid take. Then I can edit within that, closing gaps in the audio, and adjusting the speed of the video. I chop up that single take into separate clips so I can remove long loading time, speed up typing, and overall reduce time wherever possible. Once I’ve got the visuals down, I’ll usually record several more takes of the voiceover.

Then I add music. Wistia, the platform we use to host our videos, provides some music you can use for your videos, and so far that’s worked out well. But any music with a Creative Commons license that doesn’t overpower the vocals or distract too much from the visuals will do. Finally, I post the video via Wistia, and I add a call to action at the end linking to another video or another page in the Help Center for additional information. Finally, the video is embedded in the relevant help page.

Since video is an extension of the Harvest brand, we try to standardize our help videos so they have a unified look and feel. This standardization also makes it easier for users to comprehend the video content, since removing the need to constantly reorient oneself between videos will result in less distraction. To that end, we use the same sandbox demo account we use for our webinars, and a unified design for our title cards.

The End is Near

This process is always going to be subject to change; in the future, we plan to include more highlighting, zooms, annotation, and other effects. Right now you’ll notice I kind of just move the arrow near the thing I’m talking about in the current videos. I do it like a boss, it’s true, but we can Do Better. Eventually we’d like to have enough updated videos that we can put them all in one spot in the Help Center. At any rate, it all takes time—so if you need a help video for your product, make sure you build enough lead time for that into your project! 

If you have any questions or comments about this, drop me a line! If you have any insults, keep ’em to yourself, like your mama taught you.

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…

Track Time Without Leaving Basecamp 3

One of our goals is to make time tracking painless by bringing it directly into your workflow. We integrate with the tools you use most frequently, so you can track time without interrupting your work. You’re more likely to start a timer—and make sure it’s updated throughout the day—if you see a timer right there in the tool you use to manage your work. For lots of people out there, that tool is Basecamp.

Harvest has had a long-standing integration with Basecamp Classic and Basecamp 2, but we were a little slow integrating with Basecamp 3 (sorry about that!). Well, the wait is over. We’re officially extending our Basecamp integration to Basecamp 3.

How does it work?

If you already have a Harvest account, all you need to do is install the Harvest browser extension for either Chrome or Safari. (Not a Harvest customer? Create a free trial to get started). Continue reading…

Export Scheduled Hours by Month in Forecast

Forecast exports are a great way to take your scheduled hours on-the-go or to calculate various future business metrics. However, while the Forecast schedule view focuses on days and weeks, business metrics are often looked at from a higher level.

Today, we’re excited to introduce a new Monthly format for Forecast exports. The exports are mostly the same, but now hours can be rolled up by month instead of just by week. You can find this option under the new “Time Format” section on the Export form:

We’ve also recently updated the “Timeframe” section, adding quick selection for the most used timeframes. This should greatly speed up your exporting, but you can still select a custom timeframe if you need to. As a bonus, we’ll also remember the options you use the next time you export.

As always, if you have any questions, please drop us a line. Happy scheduling!

New Features You May Have Missed

The past month flew by quickly with the release of our new fixed fee projects. So we wanted to pause to highlight some new summer releases that you might have missed! (And if you haven’t skimmed our blog recently, here are last month’s mini updates too.)

Delete Projects with Tracked Data

Until now, Harvest wouldn’t let you delete projects with tracked time or expenses. That may have been too overprotective. Sometimes you just want to delete dummy projects, or get rid of old data. Now that’s as easy as typing YOLO.

Delete project modal

Save Time When Checking on an Invoice

Now when you search for an invoice, you’ll see your invoice’s status (paid, sent, etc) right in the search menu. This means you don’t have to waste time clicking into the invoice to check if you sent it, or if your client paid. Just search the ID, and you’ll see the status immediately.  Continue reading…

Introducing Fixed Fee Projects

Get ready, today we’re introducing support for fixed fee projects!

We’re rolling out these features gradually, so administrators and project managers, you can expect to see some changes to your account within the next few weeks.

What Is a Fixed Fee Project?

A fixed fee project is any scope of work that you bill at a set price, no matter how long it takes to complete. You may also call these projects flat rate, fixed price, or flat contract.

What’s New?

Harvest has always been great for tracking projects that bill hourly. Our project settings, reports, and invoices are built around these kinds of time and materials projects.

But until now, there just hasn’t been a clear way to track a fixed fee project. Today, we’re introducing three features to better support those fixed fees.

1. Setting Up a Fixed Fee Project

When you create a project, you can now choose if that project is time and materials, fixed fee, or non-billable.

fixed fee project type selector

2. Invoicing a Fixed Fee Project

If you invoice for a fixed fee project from its Analysis page, we’ll automatically pull in your uninvoiced fees. (Previously, we would pull in hours and hourly rates—yikes!).

fixed fee invoice

3. Reporting on a Fixed Fee Project

The Uninvoiced Amount for your fixed fee projects will now be accurate. Previously, it was based on hourly rates. Now, we’ll calculate it by taking your total project fees, and subtracting any invoiced amount.

uninvoiced amount report for fixed fee project

What Happens to My Existing Projects?

When you get access to these new features, all your projects will default to the Time and Materials project type.

But don’t worry, this is simply a label! All your project settings, reports, and invoices will remain unchanged. In fact, you may not even notice any changes to your account.

If you want to change the project’s type, all you need to do is edit the project. Otherwise, you don’t need to do a thing!

You can read more detail about how our new features will affect your account here.

What to Expect Going Forward

We’re happy to introduce these first steps to help track fixed fee projects more accurately and obviously. But we also know some additional features could make these projects even more useful.

There are a few features we’ve purposefully left out so that we could start simply. Over the next few months, however, you can expect us to keep improving fixed fee support.

A Note on the Past, Looking to the Future

If you’ve been with Harvest for a while, you might know that we’ve wanted to support fixed fee projects for…well, a long time. It’s been a winding path getting us to this blog post.

On that path here, we’ve knocked out some blockers—like a new Projects section, and the ability to link a project to an invoice. We released a preliminary set of fixed fee features to a group of beta users, whose generous feedback helped us learn how these projects work. And there have been a few paths we’ve gone down, only to turn around and start again.

That’s why we’re all the happier to be able to bring these features to you today. It’s a start of something we think will lead to a more useful, more powerful Harvest.

If you have any questions, or want to share your ideas to make fixed fee projects better, just let us know!

Refreshing Harvest: Thinking about the Visual Design of an 11-Year-Old App

Did you know that Harvest turned 11 years old this past March? That’s right, Harvest is approaching its teens! We’re proud and thankful that, with your support, we’ve been able to build a useful product that helps businesses both track time and work smarter.

But with that many years behind us, Harvest is starting to show its age—the design of Harvest hasn’t seen a major update in a number of years.

With each new project, we tend to focus on the experience, and not so much on overhauling the visual design. We’re usually content as long as something is clear and easy to use. But if you look closely, you can see that our treatments of type, color, layout, and interactions across different sections vary, sometimes wildly. Inconsistencies have developed as different designers have been responsible for different sections of Harvest.

Inconsistency makes things difficult to use, and while that difficulty can be subtle, it’s not what we want for Harvest.

Time to Refresh

We’ve been thinking about (and bothered by) our aging and inconsistent design for the past few years, and last summer we decided to step back, sit down, and make it a priority. Our goal is simple: to have an updated, unified, and consistent design experience throughout Harvest.

Continue reading…

Hey Harvest, What’ve You Been Up To?

It’s been quiet here on the Harvest blog. Perhaps a bit too quiet…

The thing is, we’ve been heads down on a few big features. You’ll hear more about those later this year.

But every day, we also push out small updates that fly under the radar. This post will cover a few of those features, so you don’t miss out!

Archive People Faster

Our new Team section has been a hit. But unfortunately, archiving someone could take up to five clicks!

We didn’t like that, especially since archiving helps save money. If a contractor completes their work or a teammate moves on, just archive them. Then you can update your Settings to save a few bucks.

Now archiving in the Team section is quicker. Just click a person’s name, then choose Archive from their new Actions menu. Plus, we refreshed your list of Archived Users, so you can restore with just one click.

archive menu

Continue reading…

One Is the Loneliest Number

How PMs who work alone can get feedback from peers

 

The second installment in our series of interviews with project managers brings us to London for a conversation with Holly Davis, an agile project manager at Deeson. She has worked as a PM at White October and has served as a contributor at Every Day DPM. She addresses a problem confronted by many PMs: how to get feedback on your work and grow in your job if you’re the only project manager at your company.

Tell us a little about your role and the work you’ve been part of. What are you most proud of?

I work at Deeson, one of the UK’s longest-established open source agencies. We build innovative, stable, and effective digital properties for a range of high-profile companies and organizations.

My role as an agile project manager involves providing high-level, agile-style leadership to the development team, managing the working environment in which the solution is evolving, and coordinating all aspects of project management at a high level.

In terms of work I’m really proud of, in my previous role at White October I was part of the team that designed and developed Let’s Talk FGM, an iPad app that helps health professionals talk to patients about female genital mutilation. We had a small budget but designed and developed a brilliant tool for social good which even won a London Design Award at the end of last year. It’s hugely rewarding to build something that has the ability to change lives. Continue reading…

Choose Which Days People Work in Forecast

Many of our customers have people on their team who do not work a full 5 days a week. They might hire freelancers, contractors, and other part time workers. For these team members, the Daily Availability heat map did not always get their availability correct. To solve this, we’ve added a new field to select which days of the week someone works.

Forecast - Daily Availability

On Edit Person, below the Capacity setting, you will see a new Availability setting which allows you to select between Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. All of these are defaulted to ON for people on your team, but you can turn specific days OFF (simply by unchecking them). For example, if a contractor only works on Monday and Tuesday, you would shut off Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for that contractor.

Forecast - Daily Availability

Setting their Availability to the specific days that a person works allows Forecast to accurately calculate how many hours that person will work on those days. In the above example, you can clearly see that Andrew works 7 hours per day only on Monday and Tuesday. We get this from his Capacity, which is 14 hours per week.

You’ll also be able to see your team’s availability reflected on both the Team Schedule and Projects Schedule. The days that a person does not work will be crossed out, prompting you to not add any time on those days.

Forecast - Daily Availability

Note: This is a purely visual indication. Forecast will not prevent you from assigning time on those days.

If you don’t have any people on your team who work part-time, then nothing should change for you. If you do need to customize the days of the week some people on your team work, this new Availability setting will help keep your assignments and heat map accurate and useful.

If you have any questions about this new feature, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the team. Happy scheduling!