Business intelligence experts find a smarter way to track project time
Seattle-based Product Creation Studio (PCS) designs a wide range of products for clients around the world. Its award-winning engineers are the brains behind many medical devices and consumer products. From graphic design to mechanical engineering, the company offers turnkey development solutions for just about any type of product imaginable – supported by its own market research, user testing and focus groups.
On any given day, PCS employees juggle half a dozen client projects, each with unique tasks and elements. Since PCS bills most clients based on hourly work, accurate time-tracking is crucial.
Until a few years ago, PCS used its own database to record employee time. But because of the way the system was structured, staff could only enter their time while they were on the office network. Plus, only one person at a time could enter their hours. This often created a backup because most employees preferred to enter their time at the end of the day.
“You basically had to wait in line,” said Adam Smith, IT Professional at PCS. “You couldn’t leave until you input your time, or you had to write it down and do it tomorrow– it was a painfully congested, slow process.”
PCS also needed accurate time-tracking to monitor billable vs. non-billable hours—data that was used for determining both payroll and bonuses for its staff. The company needed a way to make this process easier and more efficient.
Installed in 30 Minutes
Although PCS had the in-house talent to design its own time-tracking system, the company determined that it would be a better use of resources to implement a third-party system.
The company evaluated approximately 30 software providers in its initial search. It narrowed that list to a half a dozen systems, which it tested in-house. Among those was Replicon’s Time-Bill, which Smith said was installed within 30 minutes and was the only system still running a week later. Combined with TimeBill’s project-based time-tracking ability and simple web-based interface, this made Replicon the clear winner.
“Replicon was the only one close to what we wanted,” said Smith. “The biggest thing that Replicon could do, which no one else could, was allow us to input tracking data from multiple clients and manage that by project. That project time-tracking is huge for us—that’s how we work.”
Setting up Replicon was completely painless, Smith said. PCS had already installed the software during the testing phase. Replicon support staff also came to PCS’s assistance to double-check the setup and ensure everything was running properly.
Later, the company switched to Replicon’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) version, to ensure tighter security when accessing the system remotely. Replicon’s multiple servers and data backup protection assured PCS that its staff could enter time from anywhere, with no concerns about security or performance.
The transition to SaaS was seamless. “All I had to do was send everyone a link,” Smith said. “Our staff just logged in, put in their password and everyone was back up and running, so there was actually no down time for us. It was very smooth.”
Beginning with a free trial period, Replicon’s support team has been available to help PCS whenever needed. Because PCS switched to Replicon’s SaaS version, software updates are incorporated automatically. But even before making the switch, when Smith requested help with an upgrade, a Replicon employee “just jumped on and did it for me in like five minutes,” he said. “The support has been great.”
New features continue to make time-tracking easier and more convenient for everyone at PCS.
“With Replicon upgrading the software, being on top of their game and adding the features and functionality that people want, there’s no reason to look elsewhere.”
PCS integrates TimeBill directly with several other business operations, including billing and payroll. At-a-glance reporting allows staff to monitor the progress of projects and re-allocate resources when needed.
TimeBill reports accompany clients’ bills, so they can see how time is spent on projects. The reports include employees’ notes, for even greater detail. Reports for payroll are generated just as easily and sent directly to PCS’s payroll provider.
“Once you get the report you want created and saved, it’s kind of a no-brainer,” Smith said. “You push a button and it goes.”
With the ability to enter time online, at any time of day, employees now focus more on their important projects, and less on the burden of inputting their hours. The virtual end-of-day traffic jams for entering time are gone.
“Replicon has been great for us because now anybody can fill out their timesheet anytime, anywhere they have internet access—whether you’re at home sitting in front of the TV, on a coffee break at the coffee shop, or wherever you are. It’s just so nice to have a web-based tool because then you’re not restricted anywhere,” said Smith.
He estimates that employees now spend almost 10% more of their workday on billable projects, rather than non-billable time entry. This is good for both the staff and the company, Smith said, as employees are much happier with the convenience of the new process and spend more time on revenue-generating activities.
- More Convenience, More Time
- Easy Reporting and Integration
- Ongoing Support and Upgrades
"Replicon has been great for us because now anybody can fill out their timesheet anytime, anywhere they have internet access."