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It's About Time! The Journyx Blog
According to Trading Economics, the unemployment rate in the United States fell to 5.6 percent as of December 2014, representing the lowest point it has been since June 2008 (thankfully!). From 1948 through 2014, the unemployment rate averaged 5.83 percent, making the current rate lower than its 66-year average.
It’s important to note that this downward trend is expected to continue. According to The Street, the U.S. GDP is expected to grow 3 percent in 2015 and unemployment may well drop below the 5 percent threshold. How’s that for a game-changer?
But how exactly do we make heads or tails of these trends as they pertain to time tracking needs in 2015?
Where We've Been
Over the last few years, many companies turned to more effective means of time tracking to eke out every last bit of profit in a challenging market. With effective time tracking, companies have been able to more accurately bill for time spent on a project, as well as keep better track of the actual costs involved.
Such is the case that according to a recent survey of our customers, “83% of businesses surveyed said that cost tracking is vital to their everyday job.”
While those are valid concerns in any market scenario, in a recovering market there are other factors that time tracking can also address, including finding and retaining valuable employees that can help your company keep its competitive edge.
Making Sense Out of the Dollar
One of the biggest trends we’re predicting for 2015 will be an overheated marketplace, one where (luckily!) the low unemployment rate will create a competitive environment for companies looking to hire new employees, and keep existing ones.
According to Jim Kaitz, AFP President and CEO quoted by the WashingtonTimes.com, “We have been tracking cash accumulation, which slowed this year as companies began to invest in the future,” said Kaitz. “Now the big news is that almost half of companies plan to expand payrolls in 2015.”
In short, this means that time tracking is going to be more valuable than ever for your company. But how so?
Time Tracking Looks Good On You
A solid time tracking solution is the single most valuable tool you have at your disposal to see exactly where your company's resources are being spent, where your income is coming from and which employees are the most productive.
Armed with this knowledge, you're in a much better position to optimize your company's operation no matter which direction the economy turns. You can focus resources on projects that make the most money, get rid of problematic clients that take up a disproportionate amount of resources and devise incentives to reward those employees who are consistently delivering the best value to the company.
That last point, in particular, is what will give your company a competitive edge in hiring and retaining employees. When you're in a position to "trim the fat," you're able to offer employees things your competitors may not, such as better pay, superior benefits, larger year-end bonuses or even better job security. The end result is happier employees and a company that has a reputation for being a great place to work, while other companies experience uncomfortable churn rates and the resulting loss of productivity and profit.
It's all too easy to "sweat the small stuff" when things are tight and the economy is struggling. Those companies who use time tracking to their advantage will find themselves in a far better position to take advantage of the economic recovery in 2015.
The often forgotten about and outright ignored time management apps on the tablet are finally getting some love today, and it's about time (no pun intended)! According to a recent Mashable article, "The number of mobile devices has now surpassed the global human population," according to Steve French, global vice president at Amdocs' OpenMarket. He continues to say, "Nearly 90% of consumers own a mobile phone and 30% a tablet."
That's a lot to absorb right off the bat. So, fresh out of the proverbial 2015 gate, we're coming at you with a list of our top 4 favorite time management apps on the tablet.
- Instapaper - This app, available on both the iPhone and the iPad, not only gives you the ability to save interesting articles for a good read later on (once you've finished your to-do list, of course), it also optimizes your content for "readability", and gives you the option to share on the social media network or email inbox of your choosing.
- PocketInformant - This app manages your to-do list and daily, weekly, and monthly planner all in one spot. It also syncs with your Google Calendar, OneNote, Evernote and more to give you the easiest usability in your daily life.
- Box - Much like Dropbox or Google Drive, Box makes it easy to download and upload projects on multiple devices; so whether or not you're at lunch, you can still connect with coworkers and complete projects right on deadline.
- Mindmup - Two parts Van Gogh and one part Steve Jobs, Mindmup makes it easy to take a concept and flesh it out in one amazing brainstorming tool. Not only does it help you get to the finished result you've been stuck on for weeks, it also syncs to Google Drive for simple cross-app functionality.
But what about the blogs with the latest time management tips and statistics in the industry? Check these out:
One of the most disruptive trends in modern software development is the rise of the "freemium" software model. Companies offer their software free of charge, usually with limited features, and unlock the full program once the licensing fee has been paid.
When it comes to Web-based timesheet software, is it worth it to take advantage of these programs? Do you get what you pay for (or don't pay for in this case) in this category?
The benefit of freemium software is that the end-user has the opportunity to evaluate the software free of charge. This is often referred to as an “Experience Good”. Writing a guest post for TechCrunch, Uzi Shmilovici, CEO and founder of Future Simple, said: "Most Internet products or services fall into the definition of an Experience Good: a product that needs a period of use before the customer can determine the value they can derive from it."
With this model, customers are able to use software free of any restrictions, aside from possibly a limit to the number of users or the time period in which the product is tested. This gives them the ability to fully explore the software, see the advantages of a dedicated timesheet package and determine how a software solution will fit within their existing workflow.
There are some disadvantages to this approach, as well.
For example, when performing a normal installation for a paying customer, our team here at Journyx works hard to help customize the installation for their specific needs. As with any complex software, there are a myriad of features and configuration options, not all of which may be needed. When we consult with a customer, we make sure the necessary features are activated, while the unnecessary ones are not.
Without this assistance, there's a good chance that potential customers will misconfigure some of the settings resulting in a less-than-ideal setup. Under these circumstances, software may not offer the value that it otherwise would.
What alternatives are there for companies looking for a completely free solution, without worrying about limitations or misconfiguration?
One possibility, especially for smaller companies, is Excel spreadsheets. There are many examples of timesheet setups in Excel available on the Internet. These may be a viable option for companies with limited personnel, resources and number of employees.
For larger companies, who nonetheless want to keep their expenses minimal, open source software may also be a viable option; the different applications that are available can range in complexity and features. Depending on an organization's needs, there may be a package that suits them perfectly.
So what option is best for your company? As with most things in life, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
For the most basic requirements, spreadsheets may be all your company needs. For more moderate demands, open source software may hold the answer.
For more robust requirements, however, many companies find that a commercial option, complete with setup and ongoing support, is the best choice. With this option, your company will have an optimized solution, and one that provides the best value.
After months of research, countless hours considering the possibilities, late nights planning the best implementation and more pots of coffee than you can remember, you finally have your new time-tracking software installed. Only then do you realize you have an entirely new problem: how do you get your employees to actually use it?
It's said that old habits die hard, and employees not tracking their time is one of the hardest of all. If you find yourself in this situation, how can you get your employees to track their time? Let's look at three ways. The first will be the proverbial carrot, the second will be the stick and the third will be a combination of both.
Explain Why It's Important
"Time tracking is a subject that causes many a manager's eyes to roll," says Kelly Totten, Accounting Consultant & Virtual CFO for Creative Service Firms. "The concern is understandable. Most of us have experienced the negative consequences that occur when bad time tracking practices are employed."
An important step in overcoming this understandable attitude is to thoroughly explain why it's so important. Ms. Totten goes on to explain that accurate time-tacking helps keep projects on budget, helps you to understand the value of work-in-progress and more accurately estimate future projects. The end result? Your company is healthier, more profitable and able to provide better pay and job security to your employees. So explain all of this to your employees so they aren’t in the dark about why this is important.
There are also really clever incentives you can offer your employees to drive home the point of how important tracking their time is. Consider Midwestern ad agency Colle + McVoy; they took the worst timesheet slackers in the office, gave them a photo shoot with the opportunity to say why they track their time in the office, and then blew the photos up into posters, tacked the quotes on top, and hung them all around the office. Phrases like, “I believe in two things: doing my timesheet every day and Dungeons & Dragons,” or “Don’t hate me ‘cause I’m billable” were displayed for all in need of a little encouragement to see.
If you’re sensing that your employees need something slightly more in-their-face than friendly encouragement, you could take a page from Razorfish’s attempts to get all of their employees to track their time:
“Razorfish had the right idea a couple of years ago when it shamed timesheet slackers by posting their photos in the building lobby with straightforward lines like, ’I haven't done my timesheet in three weeks.’"
It was harsh, but it lit the flame under the feet of the more wayward employees and massively helped out the accounting department in the long run.
Do It or You Don’t Get Paid
On the "stick" side of the equation is your right to stand up for what you know is in the best interest of your company. If your company has already spent the time and money investing in a time-tracking system, and you're doing this so you can improve the health and profitability of the company, you have every right to require employees to track their time.
Unfortunately, making this transition isn't easy. There's always the possibility that some employees will never cooperate, or will only do so reluctantly.
So what do you do? Make it clear upfront that if they do not turn in their timesheet, their pay cannot be calculated and their paycheck will be delayed. Money is a powerful incentive for everyone.
Move to Hourly Employees
Moving your employees to hourly pay, rather than salary, is one of the best ways to ensure everyone tracks their time. This is also the "carrot and stick" motivation.
All too often, both employer and employee enter a salaried arrangement with unrealistic expectations. For the employee, it's easy to look at a salaried position as a way to get paid the same amount regardless of how much or how little (with the emphasis on little) work is done. Come in late? Get paid the same. Leave early? Still get paid the same. The reality is often quite different.
"At another job, I was told that being on salary meant that 'if we close the office early, you’ll still get paid,'" writes April Dykman, for Get Rich Slowly. "But we closed the office maybe two or three afternoons out of the year, and there were many, many events that required 8+ hour days. Once I put in a 22-hour day for a particularly big event."
Many times, the reverse is also true. Employers may look at salaried employees as a way of getting extra work without paying overtime. Again, the reality doesn't always match the perception. Especially if an employer abuses the situation, he/she may find that, salaried or not, the employees simply aren't delivering the equivalent of what they're being paid.
If timesheet compliance is an issue, moving employees to an hourly position often solves the problem as everyone wants to make sure their overtime is calculated correctly.
Use a System of Rewards
More and more often we’re seeing companies use the rewards system, finding that it encourages an environment of openness and honesty while also pushing employees to do what needs to be done.
JWT Brazil made headlines for using this very method of ”encouraging” their employees to fill out their timesheets. The tagline was simple: “Do your timesheet and we’ll give you free beer (and soda, too!)”. How did they manage to implement this?
They constructed a vending machine in the office connected to their time tracking software. If an employee had successfully filled out his timesheet and submitted it on time (by end of day Friday of each week), then the machine would unlock and a party would immediately commence.
Okay, so maybe they used a mixture of a rewards system along with a shameless ploy with free alcohol, but it worked. According to the executives at JWT, "We know filling out timesheets is mandatory, but it can also be fun."
Without a doubt, getting your employees to track their time can be a challenge, especially if it is a new process for your company. Use these methods however, and you can help your personnel make the transition and set up your company for future growth and profitability.
If you've been keeping up with the Journyx blog then you've probably noticed a trend in our Monday Link-ups: we're intermittently running through our series of Dynamics-focused 'Link-Ups' and we're about at the end of the line with NAV. So if you're an end-user or an implementation specialist, you're in luck with this heavy-weight list of Dynamics NAV-related blogs, articles, social media groups and more!
- Microsoft Dynamics NAV Test Drive - just diving into the NAV product, community, and what it's all about? This video, while it is from 2013, goes through a great overview of the NAV product as it's best used.
- NAV ERP Apps for iPhone + Android - in case you were on the fence about NAV, this might sway your decision a little. As of September 2014, you can download NAV to your iPhone, Android or tablet and continue working on-the-go.
- Confessions of a NAV Consultant - this blog covers a wide range of questions, problems, and related thoughts and not only offers a prospecting user insight into the vast world of NAV but also provides great info for the end user as well.
- Dynamics NAV Forum - this one is kind of an obvious choice but a necessary one. The Dynamics NAV forum is a hub of end users, implementation specialists and consultants alike; here you can get your questions answered or even find that one of your questions was already asked and answered by another user.
- The use and implementation of NAV can get pretty hairy so it's absolutely paramount that you make the best of the communities and support provided.
- NAVUG - Dynamics NAV User Group is a place where you can meet, engage with and get information from other specialists, end users and Microsoft Dynamics employees themselves. They meet in most major cities across the United States so you're never too far from the nearest group meeting.
Still want more info? Check out these social media groups and get involved!
- Facebook - Microsoft Dynamics NAV
- Facebook - MS Dynamics NAV Community
- Facebook - NAVUG - NAV Users Group
- Facebook - Dynamics AX, CRM, NAVISION Network Community
- LinkedIn - Dynamics NAV - Technical
- LinkedIn - Dynamics NAV User Group
- LinkedIn - Microsoft Dynamics NAV Developers
- LinkedIn - Microsoft Dynamics NAV Integration Experts
Mac vs. PC; iOS vs. Android; Open vs. Closed-Source. Everywhere you look, people choose sides for their favorite product, take a stance on one side or the other of a technology debate, or annoy their Facebook friends by being a product’s biggest fan (that they won’t stop talking about. Ever.When it comes to the world of software development, it’s no different. The various programming languages have their ardent supporters and vocal opponents, as well.
The Technology Buying Process
Within a company’s walls, there are usually four people who have a tremendous impact on whether that company purchases software or not. The Executive is the final decision maker and check signer, but typically not the one conducing the search for new software. The Accountant is the person whose job it is to crunch the numbers and make sure the organization can afford it. The Minion is often the person who is gathering everyone’s requirements and conducting the search for new software..
However, the individual who could most often torpedo a potential sale was the fourth person: the IT Person. Obviously, the person who works in technology the most is going to have strong opinions on the matter, and often, it boils down to programming languages.
Inside the Loyalties of the IT Director
In years’ past, many IT people had strong loyalties to a particular language or development environment. To be fair, this development partisanship went far beyond the IT personnel of individual corporations. Often, companies would succeed or fail in their efforts to acquire investments based on whether their products utilized whichever language was currently the darling of the industry.
Perl, Java, C++, Python and Ruby are just a few of the languages that have all been promoted and put on a pedestal at one point or another. And as open-source software gained in popularity, that became yet another point of contention that IT staff would mark as a determining factor in making a decision.
What Language the Software You Use Written In? Does It Matter?
As a software company ourselves, maybe you wonder, “What is your software written in?” Years ago, we made the decision to create our software using Python. Why? While an in-depth answer would involve an exhausting and technical explanation, suffice it to say that Python's simplicity, performance and scalability were all major factors contributing to our decision.
But even with this on the table, let's answer the most important question of all: Does it really matter? Does it matter whether your business software is written in Python, C++ or Java? Does it matter if it's open or closed-source? Absolutely not.
The days of a program's underbelly being the determining factor in whether or not it's used are fading fast. Just as Apple and Microsoft now work together as much as they compete, there's a similar convergence within the development environment. One language may have features that give it an edge for a short while. In time, however, those features gradually make their way into competing languages and frameworks.
In view of this convergence, the most important factor is, and always should be, how well does a given technology application meet your company's needs? Does it save your company time and money? Does it help your company by providing the proper reports and analytics? Will it help your company grow and generate profits?
If the answer to those questions is yes, then the language that application is written in is irrelevant.
I don't know about you but I'm nothing if not consistent; every year around this time it seems that the holidays just happen upon us and I'm left scrambling for the neatest presents that haven't yet been plucked off the shelf the weekend prior. I know, I know -- I need to change this habit. So this year I decided to practice what I preach. I'm dishing out a list of favorite holiday time-saving apps that even I can swear by.
Have any you don't see on this list? Please let us know your favorites in the comment section below!
Once the domain of Microsoft's Windows, enterprise software solutions have increasingly become available for the Mac. And even though Apple's market share is still less than PC, according to AppleInsider, Mac enterprise sales during the most recent quarter grew by a whopping 66 percent. By contrast, the PC market only grew 4.5 percent overall in the enterprise.
Much of Apple's success has been the result of two important factors: OS X and iOS.
Here at the Journyx blog, we kind of like to talk about business software. So when it comes to the different operating systems, what’s the best choice?
First, a History Lesson
When Apple released Mac OS X, it was a radical departure from the legacy Mac OS. OS X was based on NeXTSTEP, a UNIX-type operating system that was developed by Steve Jobs' company, NeXT. When Apple acquired NeXT and its OS, it provided a modern foundation that was easier to develop applications for and that was more standards-compliant.
In spite of Apple's newfound success with OS X, it was Apple's foray into the mobile world that led the company to its current success, thanks to the widespread adoption of its iOS platform. As iOS continued to attract users and developers alike, companies that had previously hesitated to support Apple's products suddenly had new incentive to do so.
Because OS X and iOS shared a common heritage and underlying code, as iOS gained market share, it became more financially viable to support iOS and, in many cases, its desktop sibling.
The Right Software
So just how well integrated are software solutions to the Mac platform? Many solutions are now not only available for local-install, but have cloud options as well. If the solution you’re looking at hasn’t developed such a way of integrating into the Mac platform, they shouldn’t be considered at all. As far as my company is concerned, because of our use of open standards (and because I’m a developer at heart), our Web-based time-tracking software is fully supported through Mac OS X's Safari Web browser, as well as Mozilla Firefox.
Software Security in the Internet Age
Here’s where it gets interesting. No matter if you’re considering installing business software in the cloud or on your own servers, taking a step back and looking at the installation from the perspective of both Mac and PC is not to be taken lightly, and definitely should be considered at the outset of the buying process.
As far as software security is concerned, especially if you’re going to be installing the solution locally, PC beats Mac. With the ability to tailor a PC to any which way needed to make the software –and the OS itself—be well-protected from attacks and run smoothly, PC is the winning choice here.
According to The Tennessean, “you just can’t lock down a Mac as tightly as you can a PC. Period. That’s why you notice more home users with Macs and more employees of companies with PCs, who need far more customization to protect credit card information, health care documents, etc.”
However, if you’re looking at this debate from a virus protection standpoint, Mac stands far above PC.
Business Insider, citing security company AVG, said, “Since there are still fewer Macs than Windows computers out there, Apple's platform is still a bit more secure”.
Additionally, since the Mac OS is built on Unix, by default it stands to be more secure than Windows where viruses are concerned. However, and this is important, the average number of virus attacks per year is steadily increasing for Mac operating systems; it’s still of paramount importance that you make sure your hard drive, as well as your software installation –be local or in the cloud—is protected.
Local-Installation or Cloud?
Speaking of local or in the cloud – which choice is best? This one can’t be answered definitely, and it’s different for each company. But by looking at the amount of data breaches in the past year, it’s a debate that needs to be carefully considered for your business before you purchase a software solution.
In the cloud, you have the opportunity to have your software upgraded at the point of release, as well as access to bug fixes, better security installations in place, and if your own company experiences a breach, your data within that software is still safe.
That being said, you need to vet the company running the software in the cloud. Making sure they’re SOC compliant is a good place to start.
As for a local install, this is only to be considered if you have a brilliant IT team keeping things running smoothly at your headquarters. Then, and only then, can you consider installing a software solution locally.
The days of Apple users being left out in the cold are a thing of the past. Thanks to modern architecture, open standards, robust developer support, as well as different installation options, more and more businesses can now viably consider Macs for all of their employees. But we still prefer PCs.
We're huge fans of the Microsoft Dynamics community. From blogs, to videos, to integrating our actual product with Dynamics, we really can't get enough of it! With that in mind, this week's Monday Link-Ups is strictly for fans of the Dynamics community.
- DSLUG - first and foremost, you absolutely MUST be following and getting involved with the Dynamics SL User Group. They have all the latest updates, insider info, connections with partners and more that you'll need if you're just starting out or even if you're a seasoned Dynamics vet.
- Microsoft Dynamics SL Overview - this seems obvious, but if you're just starting out in the buying process, this overview page is your golden ticket to understanding the basis of the product.
- Dynamics SL Wiki - need the history, product overview, integration cheat sheet and general insight into how SL got started and later involved with Microsoft? This is where you need to be.
- Dynamics SL Support Community - want to chat with other users, partners and fans of Dynamics SL? Bookmark this page because it will be your roadmap to FAQ's, thoughts, forums and more.
Looking to get involved in social media groups, forums and more? Check these out below!
We spend a lot of time trying to figure out how we can best equip our customers with the information they need to work our software seamlessly into their business practices. But sometimes there are still questions left unanswered -- especially as the hiring season goes into high gear and new members are trained into their positions. So here's a post with some of the most frequently asked questions.
Have some questions you didn't see answered below? Leave a comment!
1. Adding a User in Journyx: If you're an admin looking to add a user, here's what you need to do. First, click on "Manage Users" under the Management section on the Sitemap Page. Then:
- You'll be taken to your manage user page. Here, you'll see all of your current users and their information listed out.
- Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the orange "Create User" button.
- You'll then be taken to the "Create a User" page. Depending on your business practices, you'll have the option to fill in or leave blank as many data fields as necessary.
- Once you're done, click "Save". If you need to continue adding more, click "Save and New".
If you need more help, follow the link to the training video above.
2. Resetting a Password in Journyx: If you're an admin who needs to change a password for a user, follow these steps.
- Start on the sitemap page. Here, you'll go to Management > Users and then click on "Passwords".
- From the dropdown, select the user you want to alter the password information on.
- In the following data field, input a new password for the user listed. You'll have to re-enter the password in the second data field in order to confirm that the password you've set is valid.
- If you have questions about the strength of the password, the strength indicator will let you know if your password is weak, medium or strong.
- If you mouse over the password strength question icon, you'll get more info about what qualifies as a strong password.
3. How to create a Report in Journyx: Want to know how to pull a report from Journyx? Here's how:
- Once again, start on the sitemap page.
- This time, you'll go to the "Reports" heading and click on "Standard Reports".
- On the Standard Reports page you'll find all of your previously pulled reports listed.
- To start from scratch, scroll to the bottom of the Standard Reports Page, and select "Time Report" from the "Report Type" dropdown, then select "Create".
- You'll be taken to a modify screen where you'll have access to select and adjust the parameters by which you wish your report to pull information based off of.
- First, give your report a name. If you're just editing a previous report, you can edit the report name on this screen.
- Next, select your start and end date.
- Select the project you want to run the report off of from the project menu below. Continue filtering your report via the options on the modify screen.
- Click "Save and Run Report" when you're ready.
Have more questions or want to find more Journyx resources? Follow the links below!
In part one of this two-part series, we discussed the advantages of a time tracking system, and how it can greatly simplify your organization's payroll process. We also looked at how important it is to carefully assess your needs and plan accordingly.
In this part, we'll look at how to choose the right system once you understand your needs, as well as how you can ensure a successful rollout.
- Selection: How to Choose
The number one mistake that people make when choosing a timesheet vendor is falling for a deceptive demo. You must require a detailed demonstration that is fully customized with your employee list, customer list, project list, company logo and color scheme, as well as a demo that shows you data that will prove to you that your business problem is solved. If a vendor does not make you feel absolutely certain about your choice, then look elsewhere. Trust your gut on this one.
You also need to consider issues such as support and trial usage. Ask about the vendor’s automated helpdesk tool, as well as whether the support staff is part of the sales team or not. If they are, you are probably more of a priority as a potential buyer than as a customer. You should also seek a trial version of the software that allows you to use it for more than fifteen days. Wouldn’t you like the ability to run a few payroll cycles using the software before you make your decision?
Another thing that is important to know is whether the vendor sells both traditional software and software-as-a-service (SaaS) or only offers one or the other. Not to mention what the pricing model looks like for each. Since most timesheet software is primarily web-based these days, the ideal provider should be able to do both. But what if you don’t have the faintest idea what each mean? SaaS means that you rent access to web-based software that runs on the vendor’s server instead of installing it on a server at your office. The benefits to this are:
- Easier IT: SaaS avoids burdening your IT department with yet another package to maintain. Let them focus on the core competency technologies that drive your company’s sustainable competitive advantage.
- Lower Cost/Risk: A monthly fee may be more advantageous than upfront costs. Put the risk of rollout success on the vendor. Why take all that risk?
However, even if you choose to install at your own location, SaaS can still provide many benefits:
- Early Rollouts: The vendor can let you pilot with the SaaS site until your IT department gets the machine ready for your local installation.
- Server Protection: E-mailing a backup to the vendor in case of machine failure at your local installation should let him get your system up on his site instantly in the event of a failure at your site. This avoids the cost of buying spare machines yourself.
- Easy Upgrades: The vendor should provide you with a test site during the upgrade process that requires no hardware purchase on your part.
Ask vendors about the specifics—how would you survive a power outage at your SaaS site and where is it hosted? How many connections to the Internet does your SaaS site have? How much does server protection cost? Can you rollout on the SaaS servers and later transfer the data to your own servers? Where are SaaS backup tapes stored? If a vendor promises to deliver certain tasks, do yourself a favor and get it all in writing.
- Implementation: Ensuring a Successful Rollout
Be sure to check references. Seek a reference that is a real company in your industry of your size. You will be putting your time and money into this vendor, so make sure you are completely confident that they are trustworthy before you begin this relationship. Prepare relevant questions in advance. For example, are they using the software in a way that is as complex as yours? Finding the answers to these questions and others is the important final step in choosing the correct system for your company.
Timesheet software can bring countless benefits to your company by automating the workflow of time & expense approvals. There’s no reason to continue to let the payroll blues get you down when there’s a better solution out there.
Along with our post last week about finding the best time management tips for you, we're also breaking down how to help balance those finances as the 2014 year comes to a close. So even if you're a complete novice, here's what to do when balancing the books.
1. "Understand that cash flow plans are not glimpses into the future," according to an article titled, "How to Better Manage Your Cash Flow", from Entrepreneur.com. It's true: even if you compile your cash flow into quantifiable categories and draw out a roadmap for how you'll manage those in 2015, there will still be the surprise flat tire here, the baby shower gift there.
The best way to handle this is to instead start out with a map of your goals last year and to see if you made them. If you didn't, lower your goals and list out a set of rough guidelines.
It's best to make sure that even if you don't currently have enough saved for a rainy day, that you are at least working toward that, and that you remember that it's fine if you don't make your goals like you anticipated.
2. If you haven't already, this is key: if you're a small business owner, make absolutely sure your business finances and your personal finances are separated. J.D. Roth, a small business owner in Portland, notes that having your personal finances lumped together with your business can not only have a negative affect on your budgets, but can be a hampering to your emotional well-being as well.
"As business owners, your identity is wrapped up in your work, almost by definition. That’s a good thing—nobody cares more about the business than you do—but when it comes to your money, this relationship isn’t always sustainable or financially healthy. To keep some semblance of sanity, the first thing to do is maintain the wall between your personal and company bank accounts. This allows you to stay calm when your business is in a rough patch, because at least you’ve got money in the bank. "
3. Start prepping for tax season now. Even though April 2015 is far in the future as far as finances are concerned, it's imperative that you're planning for it now. Why? According to this article from Forbes.com, knowing your effective tax rate - and your tax bracket - will help determine where your money will be better invested down the road.
"Knowing your effective rate can help you determine whether to allocate money before the end of the year in a traditional pre-tax 401(k) or use an after-tax Roth account instead.
If you believe your effective rate is likely to be lower now than when you retire (either because you will be making more money or because you expect taxes to increase), you may want to have your money taxed now by putting it into a Roth savings option before year-end."
Want to know more? Here are some of the best financial blogs out there that you should have bookmarked right now:
- Forbes - Personal Finance
- Entrepreneur - Personal Finance
- Wall Street Journal
- Reddit - Personal Finance
Earlier this month, we were thrilled to take part in Microsoft's reIMAGINE 2014 Conference in Fargo, ND, exclusively for Dynamics GP partners. As its name implies, the conference was designed to help attendees to rethink, or reimagine, all aspects of how they do business, from sales all the way to development.
So where did we come in? As a Designer Level Sponsor, we had a table at the reception Monday evening, at the Microsoft Campus. As the former headquarters of Great Plains Software, before Microsoft purchased the company, the location and atmosphere were a fitting tribute to both past and future. Great Plains revolutionized the industry when it came on the scene and, as part of the Microsoft family, it continues to do so. We were thrilled to be part of the reception, welcoming guests to the conference.
Being a sponsor, we also had a Partner Showcase presentation where Brian Maxin, Director of Sales, and Jeremy Gunn, Director of Professional Services, gave a presentation to a packed house about our software.
Attendees picked up on just how time tracking software can reimagine how a business process is done more efficiently and were quick to tweet at us their favorite moments. Here’s just a few of our favorite tweets from reIMAGINE:
So what were our favorite moments?
Doug Burgum, Senior Vice President of Microsoft Dynamics GP, gave the keynote speech at the historic downtown Fargo theater. He explored what will come down the road in 2015 for Great Plains software and how they will continue reimagining new ways for the integration to benefit both partners and end-users alike.
The conference also focused heavily on interactivity between the thought leaders of the community and the attendees alike, rather than having long-drawn out speeches. Forums such as the Integrated Marketing and Sales workshop as well as “Ovation Speaker Training” courses helped those who attended to better thrive in public speaking environments.
What’s to come in 2015
Now that reIMAGINE2014 has passed, training schedules are in full force online. Post training sessions, designed to help the partner get a bit of the reIMAGINE experience at home, is now available.
You can also expect to see reIMAGINE back in 2015 in the heart of Fargo once again, so plan your calendars accordingly.
The biggest thing we're focusing on here at Journyx HQ is planning ahead for 2015. This is not just something that we're doing on a company-wide level, but it's something we're doing individually in our personal lives as well. Even if you're not a detail-oriented person, or a future-focused person, it is absolutely paramount to take a breath every few months and see where things are at, and how they can be best mapped out for the months and years down the road.
For this very reason we're bringing you our favorite time management tips, blogs and social groups to join for when you're ready to break out your 2015 planner and make things happen.
1. Whatever you do, don't try to multitask. Not only has it been proven to be unhealthy, counter-productive and actually quite impossible for the human mind to deal with, but according to some studies it's also been proven to lower your IQ. This article from Forbes summarizes just how bad this can be for your daily cognitive functions.
"A study at the University of London found that participants who multitasked during cognitive tasks experienced IQ score declines that were similar to what they’d expect if they had smoked marijuana or stayed up all night. IQ drops of 15 points for multitasking men lowered their scores to the average range of an 8-year-old child." Yikes.
2. Give yourself a time limit for each task. You might even want to consider not looking at your email and putting away your phone for 90 minutes. Why 90 minutes, you might ask? Studies show that the human mind works and focuses best in 90-minute sprints. It's all pretty basic when you think about the science behind it. According to this article from FastCompany, it all ties back to your sleep cycle.
"Your brain can only focus for 90 to 120 minutes before it needs a break, Widrich reports. Why? It's the ultradian rhythm, a cycle that's present in both our sleeping and waking lives."
Just be sure that once you've completed that 90-minute sprint, you give yourself a 20-30 minute break to let your brain regroup.
3. Learn to say no. This one might be the most important if you're type-A or just overly-excited about the work you're doing, as we are here all too often. It's easy to want to immediately jump in head first without weighing other items on the to-do list. If it doesn't fit in with your list of priorities, or is outside of your 90-minute sprint, just say no. According to WebMD, " "One reason we are feeling so busy all the time is that we are worse at setting personal boundaries around what we'll say 'no' to," says Jana Kemp, founder and president of Meeting & Management Essentials, a time-management consultancy in Boise, Idaho."
4. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. Take a second to look at your to-do list. If it has more than 5 items on it, you're going to need to put the most important ones at the top and leave the rest for the next day. Realize that there's only so much one human can do and stick to the important stuff first. According to an article from the Creativity Post, "This is the golden rule of time management. Each day, identify the two or three tasks that are the most crucial to complete, and do those first."
Axe the excess and give yourself that sweet break time between each task, because believe us, it's not only important, it's necessary.
5. Block out all the noise if possible. If it's music you need to block out or change to something a little more conducive to focusing on your tasks, an app called Focus@Will does just that. Or maybe you want to save the super cool Buzzfeed quiz for later? Pocket App keeps you from going to the sites at that very moment of focus and saves the tabs for later when you're freed up. But what does it take to really kick out the Facebook distractions and get what you need to marked off your list? Entrepreneur Magazine has this advice when it comes to cutting the cord momentarily. "Practice not answering the phone just because it's ringing and e-mails just because they show up. Disconnect instant messaging. Don't instantly give people your attention unless it's absolutely crucial in your business to offer an immediate human response."
Need some blogs to follow to keep up with the latest in time management tips and tricks? Check these out in your break time.
The Vistage Blog - Executive Street is a robust thought-provoking publication, packed with articles of advice, tips and strategic forecasts for 2015 from other like-minded CEO's. It's goal is to be a hub for an open exchange of ideas from c-level professionals and leadership across the globe. They've even been kind enough to publish our very own CEO Curt Finch.
In his article,"The Social Media CEO: How Social Media Can Enhance Your Brand", Finch manages to address how to be a little bit more like Richard Branson on social media and a little bit less like Amanda Bynes. Check out the full article on their website here.
How much time would you say you’re spending on social media? As an executive of a small business, you should be spending quite a bit on it. According to a new study by BRANDfog, 75% of employees believe that executives who participate in social media are better leaders. And the same percentage believes that executives that communicate the company’s core values via social media are more trustworthy.
“In today’s hyper-connected, information-driven world, CEOs and senior executives are expected to have an active social presence,” explained Ann Charles, BRANDfog CEO. “The survey results were definitive – social media is an extremely undervalued channel for managing brand reputation, building brand trust and better leadership.”
This new emphasis on executive participation in social media dovetails with the overall rise in social media prominence: right now, 27% of total Internet time in the U.S. is used on social media sites. Social media is no longer just important for tech-minded companies; it’s a vital avenue of brand building and customer outreach for all companies. But many CEOs still don’t use social media, including 70% of Fortune 500 CEOs.
Chris Brogan, the best-selling author of several books on social media, says that executives can no longer afford to ignore social media. “It’s part of the business,” he explained. “If you’ve not implemented it, you’re now about five years behind the curve. Would you allow yourself to get five years behind in any other aspect of your business?”
Fortunately, there are some easy steps you can take to become social media savvy in no time.
Focus on the Right Sites
As a small business executive, your time is important. So when you participate in social media, be sure that you are spending your time on the right sites for your business. You first need to figure out where your customer base spends its time. One way to do this is to send out a survey to a pool of your current customers, or conduct your own informal research on the major networking sites. You also want to be sure that the site you choose works with your company’s brand. Does your company present itself visually? Then Youtube, Pinterest, or Tumblr might be the place for you. Do you value discussion over visuals? Then consider Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
Get the Right Tools To Help
Another way to make social media communication more time-efficient is by investing in the right set of tools. Social media tools can help you easily post and monitor several social media accounts at one time. One such tool, Buffer, lets you a build a queue of content that is then automatically posted on a regular schedule. This way you can write your social media material when you have time and not have to worry about whether or not it’s the right time to post it. For more social media tools for small businesses, check out this article.
While corporations and individuals alike struggle to achieve the ever-elusive "paperless office," there's no denying that modern technology has streamlined many paperwork-intensive tasks. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in the realm of payroll. Many an accountant has experienced frustration with paper and spreadsheet payroll systems. Such systems are outdated and inefficient, and the work associated with maintaining them is tedious and time-consuming. An automated system to fulfill these functions, and more, is exactly what your business needs to beat the payroll blues.
Tracking time for payroll purposes means keeping electronic records of time worked and paid time off (as well as meeting Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requirements when applicable). For many organizations, each pay period brings late, missing or unreadable timesheets, repetitive data entry, and complicated calculations for employee pay rates, overtime, or vacation rules. The right time tracking system, in addition to supporting project management and billing, automatically feeds data to the payroll process. It also automates time-consuming processes, such as kicking incorrect timesheets back to the employee for correction, rather than accounting personnel wasting their time trying to track individuals down. It allows companies to both improve payroll systems and increase productivity in a variety of ways.
Among the many ways in which your business would benefit from the ability to customize and automate processes, other benefits include:
- Customize specific pay periods and calculations
- Assign multiple pay rates to different employees
- Eliminate double entry by entering information once
- Coordinate timekeeping through automatic reminders and notifications
- Correct prior period totals for accounting and access audit information for meeting Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) requirements
- Define business rules for managing specific classifications of work, such as automatic recognition of overtime and vacation accruals.
- Automate workflow and manager approval of timesheets on an individual or group basis
- Integrate collected data with existing payroll programs or services like ADP and Paychex
Not only is it easier, but it has been proven to be more efficient as well. According to a study done by the University of California, Irvine, (PDF download) fully automating the timesheet process reduces errors by 75 percent. Think about what this, with its associated costs, is worth to your business. It also cuts down on staff time, so members of your staff can spend their time more productively, working towards the mission and goals of the company.
So what does it take to successfully integrate an automated system into your company? There is a simple, three step process that will ensure a smooth transition.
- Decision: What Do You Need in a System?
Unfortunately, payroll executives who implement systems to automate payroll often miss the chance to facilitate greater profitability throughout the entire company. This happens because these executives are payroll experts, not experts at project accounting or billing automation.
The good news is that the time data they collect can also be used to automate project management, project costing, project tracking and project estimation improvement, as well as for internal, external and reverse billing automation. Most payroll and HR executives know little about these subjects, but are increasingly being asked to rise to new challenges.
This is why listing your requirements at the beginning of the selection process is so important. Bring in R&D managers, marketing folks and A/P people. Have a selection team in order to address all of the company’s needs, and it will unleash profitability that you didn’t know you had available. For example, do you need a system that prevents people from tracking time against projects they shouldn’t have access to? Do you need DCAA compliance or accurate IT capitalization data for the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX)? Do you need to pay on a monthly basis rather than all at once? Do you need the system to be rolled out now, as opposed to waiting for them to purchase a machine and transfer it to your IT shop? Why kind of reports will you need to access three, six or twelve months down the road? These are all very important questions that you must answer in order to select the right system.
In Part Two of this article, we'll look at how to choose the right option and how to manage a successful rollout.
Nothing helps a business' long-term outlook like having a dependable, long-term customer. For many companies, doing work for the federal government provides a stability not always found in the civilian sector. If you've set your sights on breaking into this field, DCAA approval is something you will have to face. But what exactly is the DCAA? How to do you become DCAA-approved?
DCAA: What It Is
DCAA stands for Defense Contract Audit Agency. The DCAA "provides audit and financial advisory services to Department of Defense (DoD) and other federal entities responsible for acquisition and contract administration."
In plain English, the DCAA helps ensure that taxpayers get what they're paying for and that funds are not wasted. It's essentially a way to help keep contractors and businesses who work with the government as honest as possible.
Originally, the DCAA was primarily defense-oriented, and came about as a result of each military branch having its own unique audit system in place. As time went on, however, the program has spread far beyond its original military application, and now includes just about everything service and labor-oriented.
As a result, time-tracking makes up around 75 percent of what's involved in working with the DCAA. Many of its policies are designed to facilitate accurate results. For example, the DCAA's policy is that time must be tracked and tallied every day, not at the end of the week. While some companies or individuals may balk at such regulations, often they're best-practices standards that should be applied even for work outside of the DCAA.
DCAA: How to Get Approved
There are twelve important steps to being DCAA-approved and being able to take on government contracts. In each case, these steps are non-negotiable. You cannot gain approval without meeting every single requirement.
1. Separate Direct Costs from Indirect Costs
You must prove that your system segregates direct and indirect costs. This includes separating the costs by account, having a policy describing criteria for separating the costs and having personnel that understand it.
2. Accumulate Contract Costs by Cost Element and by Cost Objective or Contract
You must maintain an adequate job costing system that is integrated with your accounting system.
3. Homogenous Indirect Cost Pools and Allocation Bases
The DCAA website explains this one as: "This means the indirect costs must be accumulated into separate indirect cost pools combining functions that are not disparate. This means the functions must be similar and have a similar relationship to the cost objectives being managed. A violation would be combining manufacturing functions with engineering or services functions. These are disparate functions and are not homogenous."
4. Contract Costs Must be Controlled by the General Ledger
In most instances, a modern accounting package such as Quickbooks or Microsoft Dynamics GP will do this automatically.
5. Demonstrate Compliance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles
One important factor to keep in mind is that cash-based accounting methods are not permitted. All DCAA work must be accounted for using the accrual method.
6. Pre-Contract Cost Accounting
This basically means that pre-contract costs must be recorded separately.
7. Maintain an Adequate Timekeeping System
As stated earlier, almost 75 percent of what's involved in working with the DCAA involves time-tracking. This is where Journyx, and our time-tracking software, factors in.
8. Adequate Labor Distribution Systems
You must be able to product a labor distribution report, based on your timekeeping software.
9. Accounting for Unallowable Costs
You must be able to meet the requirements of FAR 31.201-6. "This means that contractors must segregate costs determined to be unallowable based on FAR 31.2 separately from direct and indirect cost pools."
10. Interim Accumulation of Costs
In short, this means your accounting system needs to be updated, or post transactions, on at least a monthly basis.
11. Track Costs by Contract Line Item
While this does not apply to all contracts, some may require the tracking of costs by Contract Line Item (CLIN).
12. Limitation of Cost and Funds/Invoicing Clauses
Again, not all but many contracts include the Limitation of Costs and Funds clauses. This requires you to track the funding and cost of the project and notify the contracting officer when the costs reach 85 percent of the funding.
As this list shows, becoming DCAA-approved can be quite the involved process. However, as stated, many of the requirements are best-practices that should already be in place anyway. Many of the other requirements are easily met simply by using appropriate software.
If you're willing to put in the time and effort, you may find that being a DCAA-approved contractor is worth it, providing your company with a steady stream of income.
With the Edward Snowden revelations, the ensuing NSA scandal and the increasing realization that social networks collect every possible scrap of data about their users, people are increasingly becoming leery of "Big Brother". Entire companies, even industries, are growing up around the premise of protecting you and your data from prying eyes.
Unfortunately, that sense of suspicion can sometimes permeate the workplace, causing employees to be uneasy about standard time-tracking and data collection. They may even believe that management is using the data to cut costs or eliminate jobs. Often, these fears couldn't be any further from the truth. In fact, time-tracking can be a valuable tool to help employees, add jobs and improve existing ones. So how does this actually provide valuable data and how can you use it to assuage the fears of your team?
Few things are so detrimental to a company than a lack of information. This is especially true when it comes to knowing when and where your organization is making profit. So where does tracking your time fit into this business process? Time tracking helps you know what projects are profitable and which ones are not. This, in turn, helps you focus your efforts where they count and prioritize acquiring more clients and projects of a similar nature. According to Investopedia, there’s even an algorithm to employ once you’ve aggregated the data sets you need.
“A PI [Profitability Index] greater than 1.0 indicates that profitability is positive, while a PI of less than 1.0 indicates that the project will lose money. As values on the profitability index increase, so does the financial attractiveness of the proposed project.
The PI ratio is calculated as follows:
PV of Future Cash Flows
The more profitable a company's projects, the more room there is for raises and bonuses, bigger budgets for future campaigns, and more.
Understanding the true cost of a project, in terms of the actual man-hours it takes to complete it, is one of the most valuable elements to successfully bidding on future projects. Without this information, a company can find itself repeatedly trying to complete projects that simply aren't worth the time and resources it's taking to complete them. This can only happen so many times before profitability tanks and lay-offs become an unfortunate necessity. Tim Washington writes in “The Value of Time Tracking” that collecting time just for the sake of it is a huge sink of valuable data and resources.
“…it is important to track actual project costs. If a customer will be billed for work done on a project, then it makes sense to track time,” said Washington. “Managers or project managers actually use the variance reports [that come with time tracking] to take good corrective action.”
Only through proper time-tracking can an organization truly understand what a project is costing them, and make necessary adjustments to the bidding process to maintain future profitability.
Let’s start this one off by asking what exactly does ‘resource allocation’ mean? According to Wikipedia, resource allocation is “the assignment of available resources to various uses. In the context of an entire economy, resources can be allocated by markets, by central planning, or by some combination of the two. In project management, resource allocation or resource management is the scheduling of activities and the resources required by those activities while taking into consideration both the resource availability and the project time.”
So let’s look at this in relation to project management. Proper resource allocation in this context is almost impossible without proper time-tracking. Understanding where employees are spending their time, and why they're spending it there, is an important step in knowing where to spend money in the present and in the future.
Here’s a good example: a particular team may be logging substantial hours because of the size of the project they're working on. Alternately, they may be logging those hours because they're struggling with outdated software, antiquated equipment, or some other limitation that can easily be resolved. Similarly, a team might be logging excessive overtime, perhaps even to the detriment of the project's quality, a problem that may be resolved by assigning more personnel. Whatever the cause, without proper time-tracking, management will be limited in their ability to address the situation.
So what does it look like when a project fails due to improper resource allocation? Capterra put together a list of great stats listing out the results of just this kind of catastrophe. According to their report citing Pricewaterhouse Coopers, “An astounding 97% of organizations believe project management is critical to business performance and organizational success.”
Even so, “Businesses identified “capturing time/costs against projects” as their biggest project management challenge,” according to a similar report by The Access Group.
The consequences of this can be seen when, “one in six IT projects have an average cost overrun of 200% and a schedule overrun of 70%,” according to the Harvard Business Review.
While it is true that some companies have abused time-tracking, when properly used it can be a valuable tool for management and employees alike, leading to a better workplace, improved job security and better pay for all.
Happy Halloween, everyone! We can't talk enough about how excited we are to be a sponsor at reIMAGINE in Fargo in just a few weeks (and considering the weather in Austin is still creeping around the 90's, it will be great for our team to experience what real snow looks like).
Here's the TL;DR of what you need to know about reIMAGINE 2014. reIMAGINE 2014, hosted by Dynamic Partner Connections (DPC) promises to be the ultimate learning and networking event for Microsoft Dynamics GP partners, consultants and ISVs!
One of the attributes that makes reIMAGINE so special is targeted learning tracks for every member of your team: sales, marketing, leadership, technical and consultant. No matter what role or skill level, your team members will benefit from plenty of in-depth learning, information-sharing and networking.
Within each learning track are several exciting focus areas, including:
- “New to GP” sessions. Do you have newer employees who barely know GP from a PC? This is the perfect opportunity to make them highly productive members of your team.
- Peer Interactive Discussions. We all know just how expansive, diverse and rich in knowledge the Dynamics GP partner community is. These discussions are a great way to tap into all that wisdom in a structured way.
- Microsoft Feedback Sessions. It’s always refreshing to work with an organization like Microsoft that really wants our feedback on product functionality and design. These sessions allow us to share thoughts and suggestions directly with Microsoft staff.
reIMAGINE 2014 also includes great opportunities for learning and sharing:
- Help Desk. We all struggle occasionally with an aspect of Dynamics GP or our businesses in general. This desk will be staffed with Microsoft resources and industry experts from our community who can lend a helping hand.
- Additional training opportunities. Get the training you need for everyone on your team, in one convenient location.
- Social and networking events. This is the cherry on top of the sundae. Microsoft and DPC teams are working overtime to make this not only the most educational event you’ll attend, but the most memorable one as well!
Join us at reIMAGINE 2014!
You can also follow our updates about the whole event on Twitter here!
We're proud to announce that we'll be hosting a table at the #reIMAGINE2014 Conference Monday evening reception! If you will be attending, make sure to stop by our booth and say hi - and pick up some fun items while you're there.
reIMAGINE, an annual conference hosted by Dynamic Partner Connections (@DynPartnerConn), brings together the Microsoft Dynamics partners as well as users in a three-day convention. The conference will be November 10-12 in chilly Fargo, North Dakota.
What are we most excited about? We can't wait to see Tuesday Evening Keynote speaker, Doug Burgum and particularly, can't wait to meet all of you there!
Interested to learn more about Journyx for Dynamics and how our time and expense tracking add-on can help your company? Check out this demo of just how easy the integration can be.
We look forward to meeting you all there!
Will you be attending? Let us know what you're looking forward to most in the comment section below!