Using ZeroTime™ in Auto Populate mode

Auto Populate is an optional, time-saving configuration for ZeroTimeTM that moves captured time onto user timesheets automatically.

It saves users from having to manually accept machine learning (ML) suggestions or move their time to timesheets.

Typically, when using Auto Populate, your timesheet will be 60 to 70% complete automatically, saving you the hard work of scrounging for data and remembering what you worked on.

How Auto Populate works

ZeroTime tracks what suggestions you’ve accepted and rejected over time. Based on this machine learning (ML), when in Auto Populate mode, it will make and automatically accept label suggestions for your ZeroTime entries. Then, it automatically moves these entries onto your timesheet at regular intervals.

To complete a timesheet, all a user needs to do is handle any exceptions, and make any final updates to the timesheet – like adding breaks or addressing timesheet validation issues – before submitting.

Auto Populate doesn’t submit your timesheet automatically. However, administrators can enable the Auto-Submit Timesheet on Due Date option in ZeroTime users’ timesheet templates, if desired.

Auto Populate workflow

The process for using ZeroTime is outlined below. Note that with Auto Populate enabled, steps 3 and 4 are handled automatically by ZeroTime.

  1. ZeroTime adds time entries to your inbox, based on data from your collector apps.
  2. The user can make notes about the work they performed in ZeroTime (optional).
  3. ZeroTime automatically accepts entries.
    The user accepts entries via the My Work tab. This moves them to the Smart Timesheet tab.
  4. ZeroTime automatically moves entries to the timesheet.
    The user adds accepted items to their timesheet by clicking Apply to Timesheet on the Smart Timesheet tab.
  5. The user deals with any exceptions that arise due to insufficient machine learning.
  6. The user adds or updates durations, adds breaks, and handles validation issues within their timesheet, as needed.
  7. The user submits their timesheet by its due date. (Or, if it’s set to auto-submit, it will submit automatically.)

Enabling Auto Population

Each ZeroTime user must enable Auto Populate in their own account. A user should only enable this feature once they’re accepting most of ZeroTime’s machine learning (ML) suggestions.

Per-user enablement ensures data has undergone sufficient ML training before the feature is turned on.

To enable Auto Populate in your account:

  1. Open ZeroTime in Replicon or Polaris.
  2. Go to Settings.
  3. Enable the Auto Populate option.

Once Auto Populate is enabled, entries will be automatically accepted and moved to your timesheet. Plus, the Smart Timesheet page will be collapsed, and the Apply to Timesheet button on that page will no longer be available.

You can return to manual mode at any time, by disabling Auto Populate via the Settings page.

Handling insufficient machine learning exceptions

Based on machine learning (ML) of the your ZeroTime usage history, ZeroTime becomes confident that labels associated with entries can be accepted and applied to the timesheet.

However, if an association for an entry is new, and ZeroTime doesn’t have enough ML data to be confident that it’s accurate, it raises that entry as an exception.

Therefore, if you’re an Auto Populate user, you’ll need to:

  1. Check for exceptions on your My Work page in ZeroTime before you submit your timesheet.
  2. Update any exceptions you find there with the correct labels.
  3. Click Accept for each exception.

Manually-accepted entries will be automatically added to the timesheet without requiring further manual intervention.

ZeroTime will continue to learn based on this manual feedback, and eventually such entries will be categorized and accepted automatically.


Can I still edit my timesheet before submission when in Auto Populate mode?

Yes, you can still make updates to your timesheet, even when using Auto Populate.

Do I still need to record my breaks when using Auto Populate?

Yes. ZeroTime doesn’t have information on breaks taken, so employees must add breaks manually to their timesheet, if applicable. Plus, they may need to update their timesheet to ensure any timesheet validation issues are handled.

Are manually-created notes automatically moved?

Yes, they are, provided you’ve accepted them.

How do I know that all time has been moved, and it is safe to submit my timesheet?

Time is moved every few minutes, so if you haven’t accessed a collector app for several minutes, your timesheet should be up to date.

Will ZeroTime continue to train and update existing associations if they change?

ZeroTime continues to train and make new data associations, allowing it to continue to Auto Populate data as your tasks and work processes change.

However, since you don’t give feedback on existing learned associations, you’ll need to update those if they change.

For example, if ZeroTime has learned that all of your meetings with ‘Judy Bell’ relate to ‘Project X’, but then you start working on ‘Project Y’ with ‘Judy Bell’, you should include the new project name in meeting titles to ensure the association is updated in ZeroTime.

Are there any benefits to staying in manual mode?

While Auto Populate saves time and effort, some users might prefer a manual workflow, so they can keep a close eye on their time entries.

After enabling Auto Populate, why are some suggestions I’d previously accepted being marked as exceptions?

When you enable Auto Populate, ZeroTime increases its confidence threshold for making and accepting suggestions to ensure all entries that are automatically moved to the timesheet are accurate. With continued use, acceptance of those entries should become automatic.

Can I use Auto Populate to avoid touching ZeroTime at all?

ZeroTime may be able to fully complete your timesheet automatically, but only if you don’t record breaks, have validation issues, or need to make edits to the time that collectors recorded.

Related topics

Introducing ZeroTime
Understanding and managing machine learning in ZeroTime
Using ZeroTime to fill in your timesheet
Applying accepted ZeroTime entries to your timesheet
Understanding ZeroTime data collectors