Love’em or Hate’em, timers can be a valuable time tracking tool. In this 20 minute webinar, learn more about how timers inside OfficeTools can make your time tracking and billing much easier.

 

About Free Training Thursday: Since the start of 2017, we have been holding these free 20 minute trainings hosted by our industry-leading experts and innovators who will teach you about AbacusLaw, Amicus Attorney, ResultsCRM, OfficeTools, Abacus Private Cloud, and more. If you would like to request a topic, please email webinars@abacusnext.com.

All right, welcome everyone. Free Training Thursday is picking back up. Today's topic is tracking time with timers and getting you guys familiar with how that method of time tracking works. Just as a reminder, if you guys have any questions there is a way to key those in on the GoToMeeting GoToWebinar section, so if you need anything answered or clarified, please feel free to go ahead and just type those in, we can address them toward the end of our webinar and make sure that this is a slew of information for you guys to take back and maybe implement, utilizing timers for time tracking within Office Tools.

So today we're going to be talking about a few things. As we jump into our presentation here, we're going to go ahead and take a look, a couple points. Time tracking methods overview, we're just going to cover a couple of the different time tracking methods, not in detail but just to paint the picture that timers, while going to be the focus of this webinar, is not the only way of time tracking. We're going to go through some of the set up options for timers because there are a couple things to keep in mind and making sure that it's set up appropriately to work in the best fashion. There are a few different methods to access timers, to make sure that you guys are doing things efficiently, because that's ultimately our goal when we come to training in Office Tools.

Utilizing the timer that can be accessed through the time tab and the benefits of doing that. We're going to be looking the how the actual timer window works, what is the functionality inside of there and looking at the link that is located in the bottom left hand corner of those timers and what some of those options mean, so that's going to be kind of our map, our plan of action here for this webinar.

If you guys need to know anything after this, if you have follow up questions that we don't get to, please email us at training@officetools.com, we'll be more than happy to help you guys out, clarify anything that we talked about today so just keep that in mind.

All right, so now to jump into the software here. We're going to talk about initially here, just to paint picture, give you guys some background on a couple different methods of time entry so ultimately when it comes down to it, there are three different methods of time tracking. And all three can be used simultaneously, it's not something that you have to pick and say, okay, our office is going to be using the timer method and nobody can use any other method. That's not how this necessarily works. Now you can make that decision, but Office Tools is set up in a way where you can utilize the time entry method that is best for whatever you're trying to accomplish to that point, so you don't have to pick and choose between these three.

So the first method of time entry that we typically talk about is going to be time cards. Time cards can be created from completing items off of your activity list down here at the bottom. They can be accessed from the toolbar up here, anywhere that you see this icon with the paper and the clock, and they can also be accessed via right-clicking on a task in your activity list and clicking on "create timecard" so few different methods. Time cards are typically task-related, they're directly associated to something. You can't really have a generic or out of the box time card, they're typically going to be associated with something that's been assigned.

Second method of time entry is going to be what we focus on a lot today and that's going to be that timer functionality, so the timers, we're going to discuss different ways of accessing them but you can access them from the activity list, from the toolbar, and also by right-clicking on tasks, same as time cards effectively, and we'll kind of go into more details on those methods here in a few seconds.

And the third method of time entry is via the time sheet itself, and the time tab is what we call the time sheet, so you can go directly here and actually manually key in time onto this screen. This is also where timers, time cards accumulate because this is a staff-specific, day-specific time sheet that shows all time that's been entered so all methods accumulate here. This is also a method of time entry so you can go ahead and enter in manual time right into there. But those three time entry methods can be used conjunctively to make sure that you guys are efficiently and accurately tracking time.

So whatever method works best for you. Some people are very time reminded, some people are more manual entry, some people like to work within the activity list and generate their time from there. Whatever method creates an efficient practice for you, make sure to put your emphasis on that, so you don't go out of your way to try to make something work if it's not. Each of those three methods are there for a reason so just wanted to give you guys a little bit of background on time entry and understand that timers while can be a very important piece of time tracking is not the only thing that you guys have available to you.

All right, so before we actually jump into the functionality of timers, we're going to touch on a little bit of the settings that go along with the timer functionality so to access your guys' time tracking settings, you're going to head up to the setup menu. We're going to drop down to my company, information and settings, those are going to be your global options. And then once that loads up we're going to click on payroll plus time right here, this little button. And we're going to go to the option that says other settings.

Now there's a lot of different time tracking settings, payroll options that you have inside of there, different ways to round time, all that kind of stuff. But for timers specifically you'll notice under the other settings, right here towards the bottom there are three different options. Now the first option there that says restrict time card entry to clients only doesn't really have to do with timers, but it is important to understand that in most cases you want that unchecked. You don't want to limit time entry to clients specifically. That can limit the amount of accuracy you can have in reporting and actual time tracking for staff members, so go ahead and leave that unchecked. But the next two, allow individual timers only, and pause running timers when starting a new timer, those two options directly have to do with how you want your timers to work.

So, allow individual timers only. What that means, if you hover over it it gives you a little blurb too. It means that only one timer window can be open at one time. Can't have multiple timers open. Allowing that makes sure that you don't accidentally leave something running or you don't forget to send a timer to the time sheet. It allows everything to be consolidated into one timer window at a time. That doesn't mean you can't end up creating a new timer for a new client, it just means that you can only have one timer window open at once.

Now as you can see that box by default here is checked. This is recommended, although maybe seems counterintuitive. With the best practices as far as the timers are concerned, this actually goes right along with what we want you guys to do. We want you guys to be working out of one timer window only if you're going to be using timers. And we'll get into a little bit more details on that. But just understand that that's a recommended setting. If you guys decide to try to run different timer windows then that's perfectly fine, you can uncheck that box but as far as best practice is concerned, we recommend that you check that box.

Pause running timers when starting a new timer. What that means is that you cannot have concurrently running timers. If you are in the accounting industry then this probably seems relatively straightforward, but we do service other industries like the legal industry, and a lot of times they can be running multiple timers and billing multiple people for the same amount of time. So we have allowed for that to happen. In most cases that's going to be check. If you have the opportunity to track time for multiple people then absolutely go for it but in most cases that's just not going to be possible unless you're doing research in the accounting industry or something like that. If you're in a different industry and that's applicable, make sure to leave that box unchecked and also uncheck allow individual timers only. That way you can have two timer windows running at the same time.

But pause running timers when starting a new timer, best practice is that you go ahead and check that box. It doesn't really make a lot of difference if you have the allow individual timers only box checked as well, because you won't be able to have multiple timers running, but just as a safeguard these two boxes are typically going to be checked.

And as far as setting up actual timers, those two options really are the only thing that you need to worry about. There are other things that you need to address as far as time tracking goes in all three methods, things like as you can see restricting the time card entry, what type of things do you want time cards for, those types of things but it doesn't directly affect how the timer is running. So if you need more help on setting up actual time settings then just email that email address, training@officetools.com, we'll be more than happy to help.

So what are the different methods of running timers? As we alluded to earlier, there are basically going to be three different ways to access a timer. The first is, we'll say right-click on the activity list. So when have a task that exists on your activity list, which is this section down here at the bottom, we're just going to create one real quick. This line right here if you right-click on this you can see that you can start a timer. So when you click on that, you'll come into this section, you make sure that all the information is correct. You will always have to choose a work code if one does not default. That is the most important piece to this pie, for any method of time tracking, you can't have time without a work code. And then you hit play, and that actually starts that timer running. So that's the right-click option from the task itself.

Next method of timers, accessing them, is actually via the toolbar. So the toolbar itself is right here, so if you aren't familiar with that verbiage, it's located here, it's the set of buttons directly beneath the tabs. And the clock icon that you see in the toolbar there is the timer and how you access it. So if you go ahead and click on that, it opens up the same window. And you have to pick a work code just the same as when you right-clicked on this task down here at the bottom, and you hit play.

The only difference is, the timer that opens when you click on the toolbar is going to be directly associated with whatever is on this main screen, whereas when you right-click on a task and click create timer or start timer, it is not based on what is pulled up currently. It's based on the task that you right-clicked on. So that's the difference between the two. Ultimately the timer window that comes up is exactly the same, there's no change. It's just dependent upon what information you want to default into that timer, it's going to be where you go to access it.

So in the case where you right-clicked on this timer and hit start timer, if you just clicked on it and it opened up in the screen and you hit the timer button here, it would be the same timer with the same information if you right-clicked so the only difference is accessibility there.

Next method, which is the last method, it's basically the same but it's slightly different in this fashion. So the time tab, if you go there and you click on the timer button here, this now becomes a little bit more generic and a little bit more arbitrary because the time tab is staff specific, not client specific, it's not task specific, this is based on the staff member which means that when you start a timer here, it's not directly associated with any task. Now a lot of cases people start saying, well that seems like we don't want that. In a lot of cases here this is actually going to be what we recommend as best practice because it allows you flexibility to jump through different clients, different types of work that you're doing, and we'll talk about that a little bit more in just one second.

So those are going to be the three methods. So you basically have your right-click off of a task in the activity list, start timer. You have the capability of coming up to the toolbar here and clicking on the timer icon, it's a little clock. And then when you're on the time tab it's the same icon, same location, just a little bit different functionality, and that is under the time tab itself. So those are the three different ways, three different methods if you will, on accessing timers.

Now what are some of the benefits on running a timer from the time tab? Here's the basic overview on running a timer from the time tab. When you run a timer from the activity list or from a different tab, it automatically assumes the client, it automatically assumes the type of work that you're doing, it pre-fills any work code that's associated to those tasks and once you hit play, you cannot change any of that information. So if you'll notice, if I go in and I start this timer, I pick my work code and I hit play. You'll notice that as it's actually going, I can't change the information that's located in this timer. Even after I hit pause, and I can go back and restart it, it still does not allow me to change it, because remember it's directly associated with the task that I was sitting on, whether that was via the right-click option or accessing it from the toolbar.

So that's where you start getting into the benefits of utilizing the timer from the time tab. If you go into this section, and you choose your work code and you press play, you'll notice that the fields stay flexible. So this is going to be really important as you guys start getting into this practice, understanding that your job is typically going to be very dynamic, you're going to be switching back and forth between types of work, between clients. You don't want to spend extra time, in most cases, trying to find tasks on your list to start the timer. You need to find them to complete them once you're done, but starting your timer because it's so relevant on when you actually start the job, you need flexibility.

So that's going to be our best practice, we want you to start that timer from the time tab, because as you figure out who you're talking to on the phone call or as your co-worker comes in to interrupt you to ask questions on a different client, you can very easily switch to a new person, to a different type of work, and then start the new timer.

So that's going to be why the time tab timer is what we recommend as best practice, and that's where you get the benefit. It allows you flexibility and the information stored in the timer itself does not solidify until you hit the pause button. So if you go ahead and run a timer let's just say for Patti here, and you realize that this is about the 1040, and then you realize that you got the last name wrong and it's not actually Patti Abrahamson, it's a different Patti, you can switch between information as you go through without losing the accuracy of how much time you actually spent on that client. All right. Now once you lock in all of that information and that time is done, then you hit that pause button. That is when that information solidifies, that's when all of that goes into effect, it records that timer and you're done. So just to give you some of the benefits of running the timer from the time tab.

So we talked a little bit about how to switch clients. It's going to be most directly associated with that time tab timer. You can obviously do it if you switch tasks, you will have to close down the previous timer window if you do it from the activity list or from the toolbar in a different tab, because remember, you can't have multiple timer windows open and it locked down that timer information for the client that you were on. So that's why this time tab one is going to be the most effective, because if you need to switch clients you just drop it down, switch clients, and continue along your days. So that's going to be how you kind of maneuver through jobs and maneuver through clients if you're running timers, is just by running that and switching between people as needed.

So the last thing that we want to talk about here, when it really boils down, because we're really getting into the functionality of timers at this point. You can see inside of here we have three different timers tracked, so if you click on the little link here where it says three timers recorded, it actually pulls open all the individual timers that you have. So remember, and this is something that isn't immediately obvious to a lot of people, when you are running timers, you are not losing information by pressing pause.

You are also not restarting timers. That is not possible within Office Tools. You always start back over at zero because we actually hold the integrity of the start time, the actual time you started, and the end time. Right? So if you started at 9 o'clock and you ended at 9:30, we keep that information on each timer. That's why you don't technically restart timers. Now a lot of people think that that's not really what they want, they start grumbling at this moment, but in all reality that actually helps out a lot and here's what we do to accomplish what most people want which is one time entry for any time they track for that person, for that job, that day.

All right, we have a way to do that so the way that that works is this. So if we take a look at our four timers recorded. Minimized it here. Then we can know inside of this section that we have multiple timers tracked for the same contact, and that's the key. If you have multiple timers tracked for the same contact, the same project, and the same work code. All three of those pieces of information need to be the same. Identical. So if we have all three of those pieces the same, when you look at your recorded timers you can see that, right? You got your client name, you have your work code, client name, work code. When you go to actually create a time card, because you still have to push this to your time sheet. It says, would you like to combine your timers with the same client, same work code, and same project? So you have the capability when you go to solidify everything, of combining together the timers that have the same information in them.

Now the note is different, you can have different notes and they'll combine together, okay. It's just the client, the work code, and the project that need to be identical in order to combine them together. So even though we have two timers recorded here, it asks if we'd like to combine them. If I click yes, you'll notice back here, I now only have one time entry. Not two. And the other thing that you need to keep in mind there is that because we combined two timers together, we do not have a start and end time. It is not possible for us to plug that in now that we've combined those two timers together. So keep that in mind as well. If you're a manager or you are a partner of some sort, time sheet manager, and you see something that doesn't have a start and end time and you are encouraging timers, it's probably because they combined two timers or more together, and that start and end time will then be left blank.

So that's kind of the way that you are going to switch between clients. That gives you a little bit of background on how to combine timers together, that way instead of restarting you actually just combine the information after the fact. And that's also how it transfers to the actual time sheet itself.

We have about ten minutes left so I'm going to look at the questions. If we don't have that many questions this far, I have a couple pieces of information we can go back into, but I just want to make sure that we have an opportunity to address some of the questions that popped up. The only question that we have in here at this point is asking about whether or not this is going to be archived and I do believe that this will available after the fact. There are also user guides that do document these processes that are accessible for you guys. So if you need more information or you maybe need more staff members to watch, definitely let us know. Email in, training@officetools.com, we'll be more than happy to give you guys some links. This webinar should also be available. Just get in contact with us and we'll make sure that you have the resources that you need.

That being said, I'm going to touch on a couple things here that a lot of people don't know about, even the people who are seasoned Office Tools users that actually use timers, we get a lot of questions on these pieces and really where these options are located is from that little timer link down here in the bottom, this little blue link inside the timer window. If we click on this, we have six options here. Now I want to touch on these for you guys just a little bit so that you guys can kind of understand what they are and what you're doing with them.

So restart. So a lot of you guys are probably thinking at this point, well, [Randy 23:04] just said that this can't be restarted so why do they have a button in here that says restart? So that restart button actually just takes all of the information from the timer that you have selected, because each of your timers will be listed in this window, and it starts a new timer.

I know it says restart, it's not actually what it means, although it does. If you think about, restart just means that you want to continue adding time to the time that already exists. And while it doesn't immediately start counting up from where it left off, when you hit that create time card button it does combine them together. So in essence it is restarting, and restarting for your guys' benefit, just make sure that you don't have to fill out all the information again manually. If you know that you have a timer in there for a client, for a work code, for a project that you want to just go ahead and pop in and track some more time for, just select it, hit that restart button, and that should get you guys to that point. So just understand that restart means that it's going to create a new timer with all of the same details, and later on down the line you guys can go ahead and combine those together. So that's what that restart option actually means.

Now delete is fairly straightforward, there's not a lot of secrets behind this option. If you have a timer selected up here at the top, and you hit the button that says delete, you guys can probably guess that's just going to delete it altogether. It will no longer exist. Now one thing that you have to be very careful of is that there is no prompt here. The second you hit the button, that timer is gone, so don't be in here messing around unless you are absolutely certain that you want to delete something, don't hit that button, because it's not going to ask you if you are sure. It's going to just wipe them out. So that's delete.

Delete all does the same thing, it just wipes everything. Anything that's in that window it just gets rid of it. You know, where that comes into play, guys, a lot of times if you just tracked inaccurate time, if you forgot it was running and you ended up with a 27-hour time entry or something like that, you can just go ahead and delete because at that point the timer isn't useful. The whole point of timers is that you're tracking accurate start and end times, and if you forget it's running or something like that, you could send it to your time sheet and manually adjust it later, or you could just go back to that section and put in your time right there so that's where you might use your deletes. But just be aware that they're there and be aware that it's very unforgiving. If you click that button and you didn't mean to, you will have to enter your time in here manually, there's not a trash can or an undo there so just be very careful.

Post one is actually going to post the selected time entry to a time card, it's going to send it to your time sheet and it's only going to send the one that you have selected. So if you go in there, manually select an entry, you can post it to the time sheet without affecting the rest of your times, they'll stay in your timer window. So if you want to keep adding time to something else, you just had a quick phone call, you need to put it in there so that you can bill it, but you want to keep the rest of the tax return time or your case work time, whatever it is, make sure that you just post that one time entry, that's what this post one option has for you.

Post name. This is one that a lot of people don't know about, but it's actually pretty helpful. The post name option, when you select a time entry, so if you go in and you select a timer, you have a lot in here, let's say you have 15, 16, the post name, when you hit that, it's going to go and find any timer that's related to the client that you have selected, and it's going to post all of those for that client. So it clears out anything for the client selected, but leaves the rest. So post name goes and grabs the selected contact's timers and posts them to the time cards on the time sheet there. So if you just want to go in and grab all of ABC Company's time, you just click on ABC Company, one of their timers. Click post name, and it sends the rest of those time entries there to the time sheet.

Last but not least inside of here is post all. Post all timers is going to allow you, as you guys can probably guess, to just post everything. It's basically the same as create time card over here on the left, you can use either one if you're in there managing and you're looking through everything, you're like oh, everything's ready inside of here, we don't need to worry about it, you could just click post all and you should be good to go.

So that's kind of the idea behind timers. That's going to be how you guys are utilizing these specifically. Again, everything accumulates on the time tab, all the timers that you run, anything that you send to your time sheet will all be here. You can come in here as well just so you guys know, if a timer is wrong, if you tracked point 01 and it was supposed to be actually one hour and 15 minutes, you can come in here, populate notes, update time card details here, so you do have the capability of making sure that your time is accurate.

So just to recap, guys. When it really comes down to it there are three methods of time entry. Time cards, timers, and your time sheet. And you want to use a combination of all three in most cases. Timers can be accessed from the activity list, they can be accessed from the toolbar, the most beneficial way of accessing timers is directly from the time tab via the toolbar. It allows for the most flexibility, the easiest way to switch between clients, to switch between jobs, and that's going to be the practice that you guys want most if you guys are going to be running timers on a daily basis.

So that kind of wraps up our Free Training Thursday today, we do have a slew of resources as I said earlier available to you guys. Just let us know, you can email me directly if you'd like, my name's Brandon. Brandonb@officetools.com, you can also just email us directly at the training team, training@officetools.com. We'll be more than happy to make sure that you guys have the resources available that you need and thanks again for joining us today. We'll be coming back in with how to get your project started for next week, if you guys have any questions on that, just let us know. Join in the session and we'll go ahead and jump through some of those topics for you. So thank you again for joining us, hopefully we see you guys next week and you guys have a great day.

Find more Free Training at abacusnext.com/webinars