Over the many years I’ve worked as a product leader I’ve looked at a lot (and I mean a lot) of time tracking solutions. I remember the first time I really got excited about one. It was my first look at TSheets. And the first feature I fell in love with in TSheets was the Who’s Working app.
“Really?” you say. “True,” I say. “Love?” you say. “Love!” I say. I love products that are smart, solve problems and help businesses work better. Which is why I was wowed by the TSheets Who’s Working feature. It runs on your smartphone or your browser and shows who is working, where and on what. Simple. But it’s making products “simple” to use that’s incredibly tough to do. In fact simple is so tough that very few product developers even attempt it. Instead they just load up every feature they can think of into an often unusable pile and call it “robust functionality.” Hate that. Really.
Just because something is simple, doesn’t mean it is easy. Simple requires an in-depth understanding about what your client needs to make doing business easier. That requires a lot of time and thought by the product development people on a feature by feature basis. It’s tough.
So let’s take a look at four pretty basic features in time tracking:
- We have employees.
- Employees have work schedules.
- Employees have assignments at a location or a workstation.
- Employees punch in and out.
Now think about the prospective client for time tracking—a manager who needs to know what’s going on in his business. Maybe even talk to him. Or go a step further and think (see, it’s getting tougher) about how to help him know what’s going on in his business. And…you connect the dots into a single app that shows which employees have clocked into their locations and assignments and how long they’ve been on that job. Voila, you arrive at the “simple” Who’s Working app. Connecting the dots is the tough part, but it’s also what creates the products that people love.
I spoke with the head of a services company whose employees work at customer sites about how the Who’s Working app helps. He said, “With one look at my phone I can tell who’s on the job, what project they’re working on, how long they’ve been working on it, and I can find all that without stopping what I’m doing or interrupting them with a phone call. Simple.”
He continued, “I can see if someone hasn’t arrived on the job as scheduled and I can get someone who is working to cover for him—before my customer calls me. Makes me look like a hero.”
It’s simple. Really.
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