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Introducing Placeholders in Forecast: A Handy Tool for Uncertain Times

Figuring out who will work on what project is the tough recurring question all managers face. Today, scheduling time to a project in Forecast requires that you also assign that time to a person on your team. For the most part, this is naturally how scheduling works (“So-and-so is planned to work X hours next week on Project Y”).

However, this requirement can sometimes become a hassle. What if you have hours to assign to an upcoming project, but you’re not yet sure who’ll be working on it? What if everyone on your team is already at full capacity that week? What if you planned to hire someone to work those hours, but you haven’t hired them yet?

These are common real-life scenarios we’ve heard from our customers. As a workaround, our customers have been adding “dummy users” to their team in Forecast. Then they assign those dummy users to projects.

The main problem with this: Forecast charges for each person on your team! We don’t believe we should be charging you extra for a workaround.

Introducing Placeholders

Today, we’re excited to introduce Placeholders to Forecast.

Continue reading…

Coming Soon: Organize Your Team by Role

Have you ever gone to your Team section and asked yourself, “How do I get this report to show me just the people I’m most interested in?” Maybe you want to know how billable your designers are, what your developers are working on, or which team might be overworked.

Good question, and good news. We’re working on a feature that’ll allow you to get answers quickly, and it’s called Roles.

Roles are descriptors for your teammates, and allow you to specify what role each person plays in your company: Designer, Manager, Copywriter, etc. When we launch in a few weeks, we’ll share more details about how we envision these roles being used.

Today, however, we want to tell you about some important changes we’re making to support roles, so you know what to expect.

Continue reading…

New Reports in Mobile Apps

We recently released a new Reports section in our mobile apps, which includes a basic Time Report for all users and a Team Report for Admin users. I’d like to give you a quick explanation of these two reports, plus another small enhancement that comes with these recent updates.

The My Time Report gives you a high level overview of how much time you’re tracking as an individual. It shows where you’re spending your time, whether it’s billable or non-billable, and how much you’ll be able to invoice for that time. This report is similar to the My Time Report in the Harvest web application, only it’s been designed with the mobile user in mind. Important figures stand out, and we took care to make any tabular information fit well on smaller screens. For now, we allow you to choose between five preset timeframes for this report. You can quickly navigate between timeframe periods by swiping left or right on iPhone or using the arrow buttons on Android. In the future, we hope to allow custom timeframes for this report.

The Team Report is based on the new Team section, released late last year. This report will give Administrators an overview of total time spent per week, along with time spent by each individual on their team that week. Similar to the My Time Report, you can easily navigate forward and backward through weeks using the arrow buttons (Android) or by swiping left and right (iPhone).

In addition to the new reports, we’ve also done some work on the backend to make sure the Favorites that you assign are persisted across all three of our apps: iPhone, Android, and Mac! If you track time from several different devices or switch accounts often, you don’t have to worry about that Favorites list disappearing or looking different when you sign in from somewhere new.

Team Tags Are Now Roles in Forecast

Team Tags in Forecast have always been a powerful way to organize your team when scheduling. If you want to see which of your developers has availability next month for a new project, you can simply filter your Team Schedule to just people tagged “Developer”.

Today, we’re shipping a small change that renames Team Tags to Roles. Roles work exactly like Team Tags did yesterday, so you might not even notice!

However, we did take this opportunity to also include a Roles manage page (which you can access from the navigation menu in the top left of Forecast). This page simply lists all roles you’ve created, and allows you to add, remove, or rename any role. You can also add or remove people from any role right from here.

Lastly, if you sync your Forecast account with a Harvest account, we have some news for you: we’re actively working to bring roles to Harvest! Stay tuned for more information on that soon.

If you haven’t used team tags before, we encourage you to try assigning roles to your team and filtering your Team Schedule! It’s a handy way to make scheduling more manageable. As always, if you have any questions, please drop us a line.

Behind The Onion’s Hyper-Productive Workflow

Part of our company mission is to help people work smarter—and that doesn’t stop with our products. We believe we can all benefit from sharing the collective wisdom of our community. So, from time to time, we dig into the inner-workings of our customers and share what we’ve learned with you. We hope these stories provide some insights and/or inspiration that you can take back to your own work. Drop us a line and let us know what you think!

When you think of how the Onion works, you might think of their legendarily tough editorial meetings: writers reading out lists of potential headlines, hoping to get a laugh (or at least a chuckle) of approval from the other very funny people sitting around the table. You might think of ClickHole, which parodies clickbait culture under its motto that “all content deserves to go viral.”

You probably don’t think about the nuts-and-bolts of how the Onion produces such a high volume of hilarious content every single day—but the truth is that’s just as impressive.

The Onion production team shooting with SNL’s Kenan Thompson.

The Onion was born in Madison, Wisconsin as a weekly print paper and quickly acquired a reputation for their satirical take on the news. They started publishing their articles online earlier than most publications—in the spring of 1996—to stem the flow of “bootleg” versions being disseminated without proper attribution.

Today, the Onion is fully online, with five properties (the Onion, the A.V. Club, ClickHole, Onion Labs, and Onion Studios) and partnerships with film companies like Lionsgate.

We knew that bringing the Onion into the 21st century had to mean bringing their workflow along too—they’re a Harvest customer, after all—so to get the full scoop, we reached out to Rick Livingston, director of post-production at the Onion.

Continue reading…

Some Great Updates for Stripe Users

We’re excited to tell you about some recent updates our team has implemented for our Stripe integration. As many of you know, Stripe is one of the payment gateways we integrate with here at Harvest. It allows your clients to easily pay your invoices online, making the process of getting paid quickly a breeze. Let’s jump in!

First, we’ve been able to improve data security by changing the way that Harvest talks to Stripe. Without taking you too far “into the weeds,” we no longer store an access token for each Harvest account that is connected to Stripe. This means that we’re storing less sensitive data on our side, making an already secure system even more secure.

Secondly, we’ve fully integrated Stripe’s newly supported currencies. Back when we first built this integration, Stripe had more limits on which currencies could be used and by who. For example, Stripe accounts in Canada could charge in US dollars and Canadian dollars, but they couldn’t charge in British pounds. Today, thanks to Stripe’s expanded currency support, Harvest users can now charge their clients in their native currency in over 135 countries.

We hope that you are as excited as we are about these changes! If you have any questions, be sure to reach out.

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!