News Article | July 22, 2014
The main product of professional-services companies is their time. To help track that precious resource, New York-based Harvest has come out with a cloud-based, visually-oriented service. Called Harvest Forecast, the new product expands on, and integrates with, Harvest’s main service of time tracking and invoicing. A Forecast user can modify staffing time on a project by dragging and moving visual blocks of time. “It’s not a [full] project management tool,” Harvest co-founder Danny Wen told VentureBeat. “A project management tool is good at [tracking] discrete tasks,” he said, while Forecast is for “an agency that wants to know who’s going to be available for a project in two weeks.” Forecast does, however, include milestones. “If I see an important launch milestone coming up,” Wen said, it helps focus how people’s time is planned. Other time trackers such as Hours or Toggl, he said, “don’t have this component of looking into the future as well as comparing it with the past,” by the integration of a time tracker and a time planner. Wen added that competing time planners like OpenAir can compare future time planning to actuals, but Forecast “is modern, more simplified, and easier to grasp.” A time planner like Replicon, he noted, is more focused toward the enterprise. Forecast’s release follows several months of beta testing with about 100 Harvest customers. One of the most popular features, Wen said, was the ability to add and define filters, so that a user could filter by, say, roles instead of actual people. The 8-year-old Harvest might add some project-management capabilities in the future, Wen said, as well as integrations with existing software for that. The “key integration” at launch, he said, is with his company’s time-tracking service. With Harvest to track time already spent, and Forecast predicting how time will be spent, customers “can now get a complete picture of their time from the past to the future,” the company said in a statement. Subscription to Forecast starts at $20 a month for up to 10 projects.
News Article | September 17, 2013
The latest release includes an updated user experience that combines a role-based approach with a more intuitive design to streamline the process. Time-tracking application developer Replicon released the latest version of its time-tracker app, offering built-in compliance and business analytic metrics to better measure company performance and provide data-based decision-making capabilities. The latest release from Replicon includes an updated user experience that combines a role-based approach with a more intuitive design to streamline the process and increase user adoption, in-context analytics that deliver real-time insights to users at the point of decision-making and resource management to help organizations find and assign resources to the right project for improved productivity, utilization and capacity planning. In addition, an expanded project management footprint provides additional capabilities to manage clients, programs and service practices and the application offers improved compliance and governance with built-in business rules and validations, including whole new categories of functionality, such as integrated resource management. "Today’s distributed workforce requires an easy-to-use solution that can be accessed anytime and anywhere. The time-tracking process has to be smooth and efficient," Keri Brooke, vice president of product marketing at Replicon, said in a statement. "Replicon is in the cloud, which breaks down time-tracking data silos, and gives workers the ability to enter time on any device, any time. We’ve removed the burdens of legacy timesheet tracking. Customers have an optimized and modernized process. They can remain compliant. And they can open doors to increased profits."A recent survey conducted by Replicon and Dimensional Research found interesting issues raised by 432 professionals who have responsibility for employee time tracking. For instance, a whopping 96 percent said that employees make mistakes tracking their time.In addition, 87 percent of companies surveyed reported challenges with their current approach to time tracking, including half of users who said they don’t like entering their information, nearly one-third (32 percent) who feel the current approach lacks visibility and insight into resource usage, and just under one-quarter (24 percent) reporting issues with meeting compliance requirements or other problems. "Time is the most important enterprise asset," Raj Narayanaswamy, co-founder and co-CEO of Replicon, said in a statement. "Companies must have the right process in place for tracking and managing time. They need true visibility into how time is used across the organization. And they need to more tightly manage compliance. We built this new release of Replicon with these needs in mind. Companies will get the right transparency they need to maximize team efficiency. They can remain compliant with the ever-expanding financial and labor regulatory requirements. The result when using Replicon? Companies become truly modern organizations where time is managed as an enterprise asset." According to a report from the Robert Half Agency and the American Payroll Association (APA) released earlier this year, manual time tracking causes computation errors that cost between 1 percent and 8 percent of a company’s annual gross payroll. Moreover, the single largest line item for most employers is people-related costs (typically 40-60 percent of budgets).
News Article | May 21, 2015
Replicon, a Bay Area company that provides workforce management software, wanted to raise awareness of its products through an integrated content program centered around live events, using LinkedIn to promote the events to specific job titles. The company, founded in 1996, provides cloud-based software to manage employees' time and attendance, as well as professional services such as project management and billing. "We really have a full gamut of audiences -- depending on the product suite -- from HR to the COO," said Brett Chester, VP-online marketing at Replicon. "For time and attendance needs, that's basically HR or payroll titles. For our professional services tools, a lot of COOs are pushing these down through their organizations to ensure operational efficiency." In order to raise awareness of Replicon and the breadth of products it provides, the company launched a content program that would focus on the topic of "Culture vs. Compliance," targeting specific titles through LinkedIn. "These are very hot topics in the Bay Area and in New York, where startups are flourishing," Mr. Chester said. "A lot of organizations are pressing for culture to be the driving force of how they make decisions on their employee systems, for instance, having unlimited vacations -- which is a great thing to have, but how does it affect the company from a compliance perspective?" He pointed to recent legal troubles at companies including Staples and CVS, which are facing class-action lawsuits involving employee compensation. "We wanted to get out in front of everyone and make sure they know this topic exists," Mr. Chester said. "If companies push too far to one side or not far enough, they could end up in potentially some trouble." So Replicon created an event series called "Culture vs. Compliance," featuring a presentation by Brian Dixon, an attorney at law firm Littler Mendelson who specializes in labor law compliance. Replicon put on four events in the Bay Area and two in New York. It promoted the event series primarily through LinkedIn, using sponsored updates and sponsored InMail. "Strategically, the goal was to drive at least 50% of those who registered to attend the event," Mr. Chester said, noting that average event attendance is about 30% of registrations. Replicon teased the event with a LinkedIn sponsored update, with a headline reading, "Your company culture might get you sued," and an infographic promoting the event series. It followed up with a sponsored InMail message to LinkedIn users with HR, payroll manager and higher-level titles. Within the first two weeks of the campaign, the sponsored updates delivered over 90,000 impressions, with an average click-through rate of 1.33%, compared with the LinkedIn average click-through rate of 0.31% during that same time period, said Victor Lin, digital marketing manager at Replicon. "A lot of it was due to good copy resonating with our target audience," Mr. Lin said. "Over the course of the campaign, we tweaked the message as we were learning and improving." The event achieved the campaign goal, with an average attendee rate of 51% -- and in some locations, such as Silicon Valley, the attendance rate topped 60% of registrations. As for ROI on sales, Mr. Chester said it is still too early to gauge the effect, since the product has a lengthy sales cycle of up to one year. Here are some lessons learned from the campaign: 1. Use a mix of tools on LinkedIn. "We utilized a marketing mix that no one had used before in the same way, creating a teaser concept through a sponsored post with an infographic, following up with InMail," Mr. Chester said. 2. Understand the target audience's needs. "When you truly understand your audience, who they are and what they need, then you are able to say, 'We have something you're looking for'," said Mr. Lin. 3. Create content to use in the sales cycle. "The intimacy of the content was a critical success point," Mr. Chester said. "It wasn't supposed to be thousands of people in the room, but an intimate conversation between leaders." Replicon also created a printed book called "Surviving 2015 and Beyond: New Year, New Laws," which it distributed at the event and could also be used in the sales cycle, he said. 4. Develop an "event in a box." The program was so successful that now Replicon is taking the same format and rolling it out in other markets. "Internally, we are calling it an 'event in a box'," Mr. Lin said. "We ran it first in San Francisco and the Bay Area, then we picked up the same materials and dropped it in New York, and we will begin it next in Canada."
News Article | July 27, 2015
Commentary: Contractors need the right tools to stay compliant with the federal government's ever-changing labor reforms. Whether it's minimum wage hikes, increasing the salary threshold for overtime pay or mandating additional paid sick and parental leave, the federal government has placed labor regulations at the top of its agenda with the aim of reducing income inequality and modernizing how workers are compensated. Last year, President Barack Obama signed an executive order (as part of the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order), making it more challenging for companies to win federal contracts if they violate workers' rights. The proposed guidance and regulation, which are open for comment until July 26 and 27 respectively, would require prospective government contractors whose estimated value of supplies or services exceeds $500,000 to disclose whether they've violated any labor laws in the past three years. Once they've secured the contract, contractors must continue to update their disclosures every six months. From the outset, these amendments would pose a significant headache for federal contractors, who will need to allocate more resources to tracking, cataloguing and reporting any offenses across the entire organization. The proposed guidance stipulates that the contractor must provide details on the specific labor law that was violated, the case number or other unique identification number, the date of the judgment and the name of the court or arbitrator that presided it. However, the reforms are overdue and frankly, warranted. Each year, a lengthy list of businesses face or settle class action lawsuits from skirting labor laws. Millions of dollars have been shelled out for failing to pay overtime premiums alone – LinkedIn, Walmart and Staples are just a few companies that have experienced lawsuits from unpaid employee hours, off-the-clock work, employee misclassification, and missed meals and breaks. The extent of businesses failing to meet overtime labor regulations is significant — in 2012, almost $1 billion was recovered from wage theft, a mere drop in the ocean from the estimated $50 billion. While many industry pundits and national trade associations argue that the labor reforms are overly complex and will add more administrative burdens on government contractors, far too often businesses have pushed their employees to skirt existing labor rules — particularly as businesses look to cut costs and squeeze more out of their existing resources. Many businesses should already have the basic processes and tools in place to adhere to these reforms. At the most basic level, one department should centrally manage the process, identify the business units to work with (including HR, finance and legal teams) and develop the systems to monitor, identify and report potential labor violations. The right tools will be crucial to helping would-be contractors better define how, when and where employees work, and manage the complexity of staying labor compliant with ever-changing reforms as the company grows. While the initial costs of establishing the best processes, policies and technologies may seem overwhelming, as labor and employment law becomes a core criteria of the contracting process, it makes sense for federal contractors to get this right. Rather than view these changes in a negative light, these proposed reforms should be seen as part of a welcome transformation for businesses to be more accountable to their employees, foster open lines of employee-employer communication and transparency, and ultimately improve the private-public sector partnership. Raj Narayanaswamy is the co-founder and co-CEO of Replicon, which works with organizations of all sizes to capture, manage and optimize their most important asset — time — to drive business growth and ensure labor compliance.
News Article | October 4, 2014
Meagan French is the founder of Lotus Growth, a consultancy helping SaaS companies acquire and convert more customers. Marketing your SaaS startup in a crowded space with many competitors presents its own set of challenges. Chances are, you’re going up against companies that have more funding, more cachet, more customers and bigger teams than you do. Paying for conversions is expensive and competitive. However, all is not lost. You can actually leverage your competitors’ cachet and branded traffic to increase your own conversions. One of the most effective and compelling ways to steal your competitors’ customers is to go head to head with them on a landing page specifically designed to do just that. When you’re going head to head against a Goliath in your space, stack the deck in your favor by owning the organic search results, and if you can afford it, the paid results as well. Optimize your landing page for “your product vs their product” and “their product alternative.” If you don’t dominate these search results, your competitors and other bloggers will. You’d be surprised how many SaaS companies put little to no effort into comparison marketing and reputation management, leaving customers on the table. Now, the good news: If you’ve gone to get a round of funding any time recently, you’re probably already intimately familiar with your competitive landscape. You’ve probably already had to defend your product ad nauseum in pitch meetings. It’s just a matter of translating that information to your potential customers. There are many things that can set your product apart and sway potential customers: It’s not just about what makes your product different, it’s about what makes it better than the competitive product to that specific customer. For example, a small design agency that uses FreshBooks for their invoicing is going to have very different concerns than an enterprise organization using Replicon to track thousands of employees. Market positioning matrix: Maybe your product features are similar to others already out on the market, but you do it better. Maybe you incorporate several features from several different competitors. Market positioning matrices are extremely useful when meeting with potential investors, but also a visual way to differentiate yourself from competitors in your space and let your potential customers know what makes you similar and different. When you’re working in a crowded space, it’s often just as important to say what you are not. Comparison table: One way to compare yourself head to head with your competitors is to create a comparison table calling out features, pricing, integrations, and customer support side by side. Nothing sells your product like a big red “x” in your competitor’s column. Price Comparison Calculator: Comparison calculators are particularly useful for enterprise products with user-based or variable pricing. A comparison calculator cuts down on cognitive load and allows potential customers to quickly see exactly how much money their organization will save by switching to you. Great Copy: If you don’t have a front-end designer/developer to build you slick comparison charts and price calculators, nothing sells your product like lots of meticulously researched copy pointing out the differences between products. Your potential customers may not be familiar with any of the products, so a blog post is a good place to spell it out. Trust Marks: Trust marks are particularly important when a potential customer has never heard of your brand. Why would they trust you to solve their problem in comparison with a well-known competitor? You can use customer testimonials, your existing customer’s logos, PR, awards, or the founder’s pedigree–anything that establishes social trust and encourages customers to convert. Once you’ve differentiated your product and created a killer comparison page, make sure you optimize it for search. You can use a tool like Google Keyword Planner or SEMRush to find a list of terms for which people are actually searching. “Their product vs your product,” “their product competitor,” and “their product alternative” are good places to start. When paying for keyword traffic, you’ll often get hit with a violation if you use your competitor’s trademark terms in your ad copy. However, it is not against the rules to run on your competitor’s terms if you use generic ad copy or your own branded terms. It’s also sometimes possible to use dynamic keyword insertion to sneak branded terms in your ad copy. I hope these tips will help you build a competitive comparison page. Good luck! Read next: Improve first impressions with optimized landing pages