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Friday, 11 November 2011 17:47

60 Days to Accomplish the Impossible

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Finding a timesheet solution is a difficult task for a company that’s never used timesheet software.  There is a huge learning curve that takes place in the buying process; a large amount of time taken to train employees; and communication that must happen with your provider’s support team when a problem arises.  It’s a totally new business relationship that must be developed and cultivated. 

But what if your timesheet software provider called it quits? 

This is exactly what happened to many small businesses that put their faith in Intuit Quickbooks Time Tracker.  Near the beginning of October 2011, Intuit announced that they are discontinuing Quickbooks Time Tracker & Time and Billing Manager effective December 1st.  That only gives customers 60 days to do the impossible: pull all of their company data from the product, and find and implement a brand new time tracking solution.  Small business owners must have felt considerable panic when they heard the news. 

So what do you do if you are left with a mere 60 days to come up with a new solution? 

You can whine and complain to your deserting provider, but the most they can give you is:

  1. An apology
  2. A recommendation for a product they endorse 

While you shouldn’t exclude this endorsed product from your new list of possible timesheet vendors, it also shouldn’t be your only option.  For Intuit customers, their trust with Quickbooks as a whole has been broken.  Intuit suggested eBillify as a replacement which received many complaints. 

Following are tips that will help you navigate this difficult situation with Intuit or any other solution provider that kills a product you’re depending on. 

Protect Your Data 

Intuit customers only had 60 days to download all of their company data from Time Tracker.  After December 1st, their data is gone forever.  The first thing to do is to get absolutely all of your data out of the expiring product (and this is also a good reminder for why frequent back-ups of data is extremely important).  Create copies of this data and save it in multiple, secure locations.  Save it in the cloud, save it on desktops, save it on the network, etc. 

Create a List of Requirements 

Next, write down all the features that were absolutely essential for your business that were in the expiring product, and then list out the features that were just plain handy to have.  Once you’ve written down what made the old solution a good fit, write down what was lacking in the product. One of those requirements will probably be quick implementation, so a word of warning… 

There is No Quick, Magic Fix 

I recently saw a statement on one vendor’s site that they can “implement in 2-3 days.” Um, right. 

You can’t roll your time tracking system out in two days—and I highly doubt you did with your old solution.  Vendors who claim two-day rollout times are just plain lying to you.  They’re preying on your sense of panic of being deserted by your old provider.  And trust me; they know what’s happening in the timesheet industry.  You want to work with a vendor that will create a perfect fit for your company in a timely manner. 

SaaS Flexibility Allows Early Rollouts

There may not be a magical solution to your problems, but there is the reality of the flexibility that software-as-a-service (SaaS) provides.  To accomplish your requirement for a fast roll-out, consider SaaS solutions.  SaaS is a software distribution model in which applications are hosted by a vendor or service provider and made available to customers over the Internet. 

In an early rollout, the vendor lets you temporarily use the SaaS site while your IT shop deploys the machine purchased for your local installation.  With SaaS, you also get the benefits of server protection (sending back-up information to the vendor) and easier upgrades (you get a test site during the upgrade process that requires no hardware purchases on your part). 

If the software is 100 percent Web-based (and it better be if you want to avoid obsolete technology and installation problems on every machine in your company), then you can run it from any computer anywhere with an Internet connection.  Many timesheet software companies deliver their technology via two different models: installed at your location or SaaS.  Since most timesheet software is primarily Web-based these days, there is no reason a provider can’t do both. 

Don’t Rely on Canned Demos

You have the power to demand that any vendor absolutely, completely proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that their solution will solve your company’s specific business problem.  You deserve a detailed demonstration that uses your employee list, customer list, project list, your company’s logo and color scheme, and that provides reports on your data that will prove to you that your business problem is solved.  If a vendor can’t make you 100 percent certain that the solution will work for your specific business needs, then walk.  Period.  Canned demos are designed to deceive so don’t believe them. 

This is your chance to find a product that’s not only just as good as but better than the solution you’re losing.  The demo is an opportunity to see how a solution can be a perfect fit for your company.  It is also an opportunity to see how quickly a vendor can configure their software.  If it can be done quickly during a demo for you and show that it really meets your needs, then the same can probably happen after it’s installed at your company. 

How’s the Support Team?

You’ve been kicked around and abused by your old vendor.  You don’t need another bad experience, especially when it comes to the software’s support team.  Be wary of static, outdated FAQ lists and support staff that is part of the sales team.  When support is part of the sales force, you only get help as a prospect.  Once they’ve got your money, getting help is difficult.  Questions to ask to pinpoint the effectiveness of the support team include: 

  1. What is your support staff response time?
  2. What percentage of your customers renews their maintenance contracts each year?
  3. Can I talk to three recent customers that are in my industry and are about my size? 

Your new vendor should be capable of early rollouts, server protection and simple upgrades.  You have the right to demand responsive support and a tailored demo with your company’s information.  Just because you were left high and dry by your old provider doesn’t mean you can’t find an even better solution for your company moving forward. 

About the Author:

Curt Finch is the CEO of Journyx. Founded in 1996, Journyx automates payroll, billing and cost accounting while easing management of employee time and expenses, and provides confidence that all resources are utilized correctly and completely. Curt earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Virginia Tech.  As a software programmer fixing bugs for IBM in the early ‘90’s, Curt found that tracking the time it took to fix each bug revealed the per-bug profitability. Curt knew that this concept of using time-tracking data to determine project profitability was a winning idea and something that companies were not doing – yet… Curt created the world's first web-based timesheet application and the foundation for the current Journyx product offerings in 1997. Learn more about Curt at http://journyx.com/company/curtfinch.

Read 4747 times Last modified on Saturday, 12 November 2011 15:44

Curt Finch is the CEO of Journyx. Founded in 1996, Journyx automates payroll, billing and cost accounting while easing management of employee time and expenses, and provides confidence that all resources are utilized correctly and completely. Curt can be found on Twitter at @CurtFinch and on Google+ at +CurtFinch.

Website: journyx.com/company/curtfinch
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