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Permissions Update: Releasing Team to Project Managers

Update 11-10-2016: Since we published this blog post, we’ve heard significant feedback that expanding project manager permissions in Team has the potential to expose sensitive information many of our customers need to continue to restrict. We’re currently reconsidering our permissions change, and will update this blog post as soon as we have more news. In the meantime, only administrators have access to Team, and our permissions remain unchanged.

Our new Team section has been live for a few weeks. So far, only administrators have been able to see it.

This means project managers are missing out on useful Team info—like the quick and easy glimpse at who’s working on what, when, and how much.

Soon, project managers won’t have to miss out anymore! Within the next couple of weeks, we’ll open Team to project managers.

Permissions Change

When we release Team to project managers, they’ll be able to see some time-related info they currently can’t. Here’re the details.

What will project managers see in their Team section?

Project managers will be able to see this info in their Team section:

  • All the people on projects they manage.
  • All the time tracked by these people (including time on projects the PM does not manage).

What will project managers NOT see in their Team section?

  • Project managers will not see any billable rates or cost rates in Team.
  • They will not see any money-related information in Team, like fee-based budgets, billable amounts, or invoiced amounts.
  • They will not see a person who is not on a project they manage.
  • They will not be able to edit time entries for other people.
  • They will not be able to add, edit, archive, or delete anybody.
  • They will not see anyone’s profile page (it looks like this, and contains the person’s name, email, rates, etc).

A side note: if your project managers can currently see rates, invoices, or fee-based budgets in other parts of Harvest, they’ll still be able to.

How does this differ from what project managers see today?

Currently, project managers can see only time tracked to projects they manage.

For example, T.J. may have worked 1 hour on my project and 60 hours on another manager’s project. I won’t see those 60 hours, because they’re for a project I don’t manage.

With this upcoming change, project managers will be able see the full timesheet for people on projects they manage. This means a PM may see time tracked to projects they don’t manage. But, they’ll only see this time if it’s been tracked by a person on a project they do manage.

Why the change?

We think it’s important for a project manager to get the full story about their team’s work. Take the above example, where T.J. worked 1 hour on my project and 60 on another manager’s project.

Previously, I wouldn’t know that T.J. worked a 61-hour week. And I’d be stumped as to why my project wasn’t done, or maybe frustrated at T.J.’s lack of motivation.

But in reality, maybe T.J. just tracked time to the wrong project! Or, maybe he really is spread too thin and is stressed about his workload. The problem might not be with his work, but with scheduling—which is beyond his control!

Our permissions changes should make these problems obvious and easy to catch. Your team’s time will be more accurate, and you’ll have a better picture of their day-to-day. We think this kind of transparency is going to be hugely beneficial to understanding your team’s work, and catching those time tracking mistakes.

Get in Touch

We believe this upcoming permissions change will make Harvest all the more useful for all you project managers out there! We’ll release this change within a few weeks, to give some time to prepare for it.

If you think this change is going to be problematic for you, or you have any questions, please let us know!

Team Is Here!

team graphs

This week, we begin rolling out our new Team section!

Since our last announcement, we’ve been putting the finishing touches on our work. And we can’t wait for you to see it! A few things up front:

  • You don’t need to do anything to get Team. It’ll simply show up in your main navigation within the next few days.
  • Team replaces the People section, under Manage. You’ll have all the same features you’re used to, plus more.
  • Team is only visible to administrators for now.

Why Team?

As we launch, we wanted to give you some insight into why we built Team. There’s an age-old question in time tracking: How do I know my team is tracking, and how do I know they tracked accurately?

Two things need to happen to answer this question.

First, it needs to be easy for your team to enter time. Harvest has a lot of features to help with that: timesheet reminders, Android and iPhone apps, desktop apps, and integrations galore.

But secondly, it should be easy to review timesheets, so you can ensure tracking is happening. And it should be breezy to edit those timesheets, so you can fix mistakes.

Team Has the Answers

This second point is where Harvest used to fall short:

  • It was cumbersome to see who wasn’t tracking time.
  • There wasn’t a clear way to understand if the time your team tracked was enough, too little, or too much.
  • And lastly, editing a teammate’s time could be time consuming!

With Team, you’ll have answers! In your new Team section:

  • You’ll see at a glance who is and isn’t tracking time for the week. This makes it simple to ensure your team’s putting in their hours.
  • You’ll be able to track capacity! That’s the total hours per week a person is available to work. This is key to understanding if someone is tracking enough time or too much (and are in danger of burning out!). Forecast users, you should be familiar with capacity already. We’ll sync your capacity between Forecast and Harvest!
  • And, you can edit a person’s time in the same place where you review it. This’ll make correcting mistakes a snap!

What We’re Excited About

The first time you go to Team, you’ll see an introduction to get acquainted with the new features I mentioned above—capacity and in-line editing.

So for this blog post, I wanted to share how Team has changed my own Harvest experience while managing some of our recent projects. I’ve been using Team internally for the past few weeks, and one of my favorite features is the ability to see who’s over capacity.

capacity overview

While we worked on Team, I noticed the over-capacity graph pop up for our front-end developer, Pez. And it was enough to prompt me to check in with him, just to make sure he wasn’t overwhelmed. Turns out he was fine! But this check-in was something I wouldn’t have easily known to do before. The change in Harvest is small, but the benefit to our team feels really good.

I also love the project breakdown on each person’s page. During our recent Invoices work, these project breakdowns helped me understand what else our developers had on their plates. And knowing this gave me a deeper understanding of their workload (or a clue that they might have been tracking to the wrong project!).

Project breakdown

To the Future

There’s so much we’re excited about, but for now we’ll let Team speak for itself.

We’re also thinking ahead. A few things we’ve been considering for the future: how to filter your team, a tighter integration with Forecast, and how best to share Team with project managers.

For now, we hope you enjoy Team and all it has to offer today! And as always, we’ll be on hand to help you with the transition. If you have any questions or feedback, just get in touch!

Link Your Invoices to Projects

Recently, we’ve been working to overhaul a lot of the code that powers Harvest invoices. Today I am excited to tell you about the first visible change as a result of that work: you can now link an invoice to a project in Harvest!

A New Invoices Tab for Each Project

With this feature, the first thing you’ll see is a new Invoices tab on the pages for your projects. From here—yep, you guessed it—you can see all invoices that are linked to the project. If an invoice is linked to multiple projects, it’ll appear on the Invoices tab for all of them!

This improved organization gives you quick insight into how much your projects have earned thus far. And if you budget in money, it’ll be much easier to compare it against your invoiced amount.

Linked Invoice

For each project, you’ll see just the invoiced amount that applies to it. This Invoices tab will be visible only to administrators and project managers with create invoice permissions. As usual, project managers will see only draft invoices they created.

How We Link an Invoice to a Project

Here’s how the linking works:

  • When you create a new invoice, or edit an existing one, you’ll see a new dropdown under the description for each line item.
  • This dropdown lets you pick the project that a line item relates to, and it establishes the link!
  • If you are invoicing based on tracked time, we do this work for you – the project is automatically set on each line item, so you don’t have to do any extra work.

Linked Project

Details to Know

A couple of notes about linking:

  • Invoices you made before this change won’t be linked to projects. The good news is that it’s easy to link existing invoices on your own. Just go to your project’s new Invoices tab. Then click Link Invoice. Or, edit your invoice and pick the appropriate project for each line item.
  • The linked project for each line item will not appear on the invoice that your clients see. The view your clients see will continue to look and function as it always has. We’re just adding this link on your side of things.

We’re excited about this feature, and hope it helps you better organize your billing! This is just the beginning of some invoice improvements that we’re working on, so we’re eager to hear your feedback!

Harvest ID: The Key to Your (Harvest) Heart

Harvest ID is such A Big Deal that this is the second post we’re dedicating to it here on the Harvest Blog. Albert has already told you all about the thought process behind this tremendous project and its benefits behind the scenes; now, I want to dive into what this new integrated sign-in system means for you as you use Harvest and Forecast day to day—and even introduce a brand-new feature that couldn’t have existed before.

Simpler sign-in

The first thing you might notice when you sign in to Harvest ID is that it’s the same sign-in page no matter what—whether your company recently changed its name, you’re part of more than one account, or you want to go to Forecast instead of Harvest, you can go right to https://id.getharvest.com and enter your email address and password.

Before this, if you were signing in to a Harvest account, you first needed to go to your Harvest web address, a unique URL for your particular account. It’s not always easy for everyone to remember that web address, though—especially if they have to know more than one of them—and so we’ve done away with it completely in the sign-in process. Now, clicking the Sign In button on our main page will take you straight to the Harvest ID sign-in page, where an email address and password is enough for us to know exactly which account you’re trying to access or give you a list of all your accounts so you can choose the right one.

Sign in with Harvest ID

You might not even need a password to sign in. While quicker sign-in was originally a major benefit of our Google Apps integration, setting it up wasn’t the most intuitive process, and you still needed to create a Harvest password even if you were only ever going to sign in with Google Apps. Harvest ID has allowed us to simplify this integration and widen it to all Google accounts, so even if you just have a personal Gmail address, accessing your Harvest or Forecast account is now as easy as clicking the Sign In with Google button and giving Harvest permission to authenticate you via Google.

Smoother switching—everywhere

I mentioned that you might see a list of your different accounts when you sign in. An increasing number of our customers are taking advantage of the integration between Harvest and Forecast and using both apps to keep tabs on project progress. With more and more people working on projects for different companies or freelancing alongside their day job, it’s also not unusual for someone to be part of multiple Harvest accounts and/or multiple Forecast accounts. In these cases, there’s no need to sign in to each account separately—just sign in once using Harvest ID and you’ll get that list of accounts to choose from. Once you’re in one account, click your name at the top right and select Switch Accounts to get back to the list and jump right into another account faster than you can unlock your own front door.

Switch Accounts in Harvest

Perhaps one of the best parts of our new sign-in system is that it’s not just for the web. Before, we had the same basic key—email address, password, and, in the case of Harvest, web address—but a different lock for every device. For example, our Android app (somewhat ironically!) couldn’t use the Google Apps integration. Now, we’ve implemented Harvest ID across our web apps, Mac and mobile apps, browser extensions and add-ons, and Platform-enabled integrations, giving you the same experience and benefits no matter which app or device you’re using.

Log in from Google Apps on Mobile Devices

Stronger security

Harvest ID isn’t all about making sign-in faster and easier; we’ve also made several customer-facing improvements around security. When you change your Harvest ID password, for example, the new password applies to all the accounts attached to that Harvest ID—sort of like putting your whole gated compound on immediate lockdown rather than changing each lock on each door one at a time.

Session Control

I’m especially excited to tell you about this next security-related feature because it’s fresh out of the oven. The Security section of your Harvest ID gives you the lowdown on every time your accounts have been signed in to—IP address, location, and device. This can help you keep an eye out for any unauthorized access to your account, like if you see someone has signed in from a country that you’ve never stepped foot in. If that happens, or even if you just realize that you’ve left yourself signed in to a computer you no longer have access to, you can easily end a particular session—making sure that no more actions can be taken by anyone who had access via that session—or end all of your sessions and immediately reset your password, ensuring that you’re the only person who can sign in to the accounts associated with your Harvest ID.

And much more

Harvest ID improves the Harvest and Forecast experience in so many ways that I’m tempted to go on and on—but since we’re all about time here, I know you’re probably ready to spend your time doing something else! If you do want to know more, I recommend checking out the Harvest ID section of our Help Center for more information and answers to FAQs. If you don’t find what you’re looking for there, you’re more than welcome to give us a shout and we’ll help you out with any questions you might have!

As for the future, Harvest ID has already done so much for us and for you, but we’re going to ask even more of it. Its flexibility will allow us to work on a lot of features that weren’t possible before, and we’re looking forward to sharing them with you. Stay tuned for updates!

Coming Soon to Forecast: Weekly Utilization

Update 12-5-2016: The Weekly heat map is back! This time we’re re-introducing it alongside the trusty Daily heat map.
Update 10-18-2016: While we originally rolled out this change earlier this week, after reviewing feedback from our customers we have decided to bring back the daily heat map to Forecast for now. While customers are excited about the new weekly utilization feature, it’s clear that customers have also found the daily heat map to be indispensable. We will be re-introducing weekly utilization, as a separate feature, in the near future.

From the beginning, Forecast was built to make it easy to schedule your team’s time across projects. It was purposely designed for you to quickly see your team’s availability from a high level, and help you make smarter decisions for your business.

A few months ago, we took an initial step towards making Forecast even better for higher-level planning by offering the ability to schedule in hours/week. Now we’re taking the next step: the Team Schedule will soon show each person’s utilization week-over-week.

weekly-heat-map

With this improvement, it’s even easier to visually see when your team has availability, who is over-booked, and when you can start on that exciting new project. We believe these questions are best answered at a high-level, and we’re building the solution right into Forecast’s schedule.

How Will This Work?

In Forecast, “Max Hours/Day” will be changing to “Capacity” (essentially max hours per week). This requires no work on your part, since we’ll make sure your team is pre-filled. And for those of you integrated with Harvest, we’ll also support Capacity in your Harvest account soon.

Then, as you assign your team across days, the heat map on the Team Schedule will total their hours across each week. Weeks will fill with green up to 100% capacity, and turn red when a person is over-booked (similar to how it works today). We also believe knowing when your team is going to be out is essential to planning. The heat map will still show days off in dark gray, as well as when assignments conflict with Time Off.

We’re excited to bring this week-over-week utilization report right into Forecast. It will be rolling out in the next few weeks. As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Team: A New Section Coming Soon

harvest-team-section

Get ready, in the coming weeks we’re releasing a new section in Harvest called Team!

Why the change? We heard from a lot of you that it’s difficult to keep track of your team’s time. There were some burning questions that Harvest just wasn’t great at answering quickly:

  • How do I make sure my team’s putting in time, and that their time is accurate?
  • How do I answer basic questions about my team? For example, did my team track enough time? Or, who’s working way too much and in danger of burning out?

Team will offer some insight. We imagine it as the place you’ll go to review and edit your team’s time, easily see who is and isn’t tracking, and better understand the details of their hours.

Team will also replace your Manage > People section. You’ll still be able to do everything you currently can. We’re simply combining those old administrative features with some more useful and robust reporting to help you better understand your team’s time. We can’t wait to show you what we’ve been working on!

We’ll slowly release Team to all Harvest accounts in the coming weeks, and you don’t have to do anything to get it. When we release, you’ll simply see Team in your main navigation. And, we’ll be sure you have all the info you need to use and understand your new section.

If you have any questions until then, the best place to chat with us is by email. Just get in touch!

Introducing Harvest for Mac 2.0

We’re very excited to announce the latest version of Harvest for Mac today! This version introduces a completely new Timesheet window, better Timestamps support, the Weekly Summary Bar (which you’ll recognize from our mobile and web apps), support for the new Harvest ID authentication system, a new Time Summary, and many other improvements. We’ll talk through a few of these enhancements here, but to see it for yourself, you should download the new version and see what you think!

Continue reading…

Scheduling Partial Time Off in Forecast

Knowing when someone will be off or on vacation is incredibly important to scheduling your team. Having that information handy helps you make better decisions about how to staff your team’s upcoming weeks, and helps you determine more realistic timelines for projects. In Forecast, Time Off is highly visible within your schedule views so you can quickly see how they affect your timelines.

Today, we’re adding more flexibility in Forecast by allowing you to schedule partial time off. While you can already mark full days off for team members in Forecast, the reality is people also take just a couple hours off. With today’s release, you can mark a team member’s time off for as few or as many hours in a day. Schedule around your designer’s 2-hour doctor appointment next Monday, your project manager who leaves early on Thursdays to pick up their kids, or those half-day summer Fridays. This partial time off feature lets you get a more accurate picture of what’s in store in the future.

forecast-partial-time-off

You can also schedule partial time off for Everyone at the company. We hope this insight leads to more accurate schedules and planning. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to the team. Happy scheduling!

Harvest and Forecast Outage on July 26th

Yesterday Harvest and Forecast experienced an extended service outage. We are very sorry for this interruption and would like to explain the situation surrounding the incident. Our systems were unavailable to customers from 10:50am EDT until 12:38pm EDT. Just to be clear, at no time was the safety of customer data at risk. There are multiple layers of backups in place which keep customer data safe in the event of system issues.

The timeline of the events are as follows:

At 10:36am EDT (14:36 UTC) our monitoring systems alerted us about our master database server for Harvest having crashed due to a segmentation fault of the database server software. At this time the database monitoring system moved traffic over to the hot-standby database. This type of failure happens, and generally does not lead to any service issues. Our systems are designed to tolerate this level of failure. Some customers might have seen errors on Harvest and Forecast momentarily as traffic moved over at this time.

At 10:50am EDT (14:50 UTC) the hot-standby database system failed due to the same software crash due to segmentation fault experienced earlier by the primary database server. At this time Harvest and Forecast were offline for all customers. We attempted to bring the system back online by restarting the hot-standby database server, and Harvest and Forecast were temporarily back online within a few minutes.

At 10:59am EDT (14:59 UTC) the segmentation fault reoccurred and the hot-standby database server failed once again, taking Harvest and Forecast offline.

At 11:15am EDT (15:15 UTC) we placed Harvest and Forecast in maintenance mode to allow the team time to research what was causing these software crashes, and to bring the systems back online in a controlled manner.

The Harvest team was working to make sure that our customers were kept up to date with the current situation as the engineering team resolved the issue. Due to the fact that both the primary and the hot-standby database servers had crashed, a second hot-standby database server was brought into production in order to rule out any data corruption issues arising from the software crashes. Unfortunately it took longer than we would have liked to reconfigure our systems to use a new set of database hardware. We are working on this issue to be sure that this is a quicker process in the future.

At 12:38pm EDT (16:38 UTC) we removed maintenance mode from Harvest and Forecast and made them available once again for all customers, while the team monitored every aspect of the system health.

We are truly sorry for the extended interruption this caused for all of our customers. The duration of the outage, and the subsequent forced maintenance mode, was certainly a much longer interruption in service than we are used to.

At this time we believe the cause of these crashes to be an interaction between code deployed to production around the time of the first crash of the primary database server, and a software bug in our database server. The code in question has been removed from our product, and we will shortly be performing an upgrade in our database software.

One of the reasons the investigation took so long is that there is no precedent for this kind of software crash on both the primary and hot-standby database servers in the history of Harvest. It took some time to simply understand what could possibly be going on.

A few key takeaways from this experience for us:

  • Our maintenance page mislead some customers into thinking we were down for scheduled maintenance. We’ve created an outage page to better communicate these types of situations to customers in the future. We apologize for this miscommunication during a service outage.
  • We will be working on a quicker solution to bring additional hot-standby database hardware into production in the future.
  • We will be upgrading our database software very soon, since we believe we encountered a bug in this software yesterday which lead to software crashes, causing this outage.

Thank you to all our customers for your support while we resolved this outage.

Focusing Your Sales Efforts with Time Tracking and Team Scheduling

Time tracking and team scheduling are two familiar tricks of the trade for project managers and business owners, who rely on them to keep projects on track and keep tabs on the health of the business.

But these tools can also provide a wealth of useful information to account executives and business development managers responsible for winning new business. Here are six ways you can use time tracking and team scheduling to make your sales process even better:

1. Define your ideal client

When your business was first getting off the ground, you probably worked with whoever would hire you as a matter of necessity. But as your business grows, you can afford to adopt a more long-term outlook that may involve turning away some potential clients. Continue reading…