Chrometa for iPhone is in the works! We are planning to release the app later this month (August 2012).
To join our early notification list, please enter your first name and email address here:
Track Your Time – Without Notes or Timers
Chrometa for iPhone is in the works! We are planning to release the app later this month (August 2012).
To join our early notification list, please enter your first name and email address here:
Dear Mac Attorney:
Thank you for NOT being shy about the fact that you wanted a version of Chrometa that’d provide with automated
timekeeping for your beloved Mac.
I’ve received many emails like these (usually on the weekend for some reason) from outspoken solo and small firm Mac attorneys like you:
Thanks for whacking us on the head until we got the message! I’m excited to tell you that we took the hint — and went out and hired a top notch Mac developer.
And our “Mac guy” has done a spectacular job building a Mac compatible version of Chrometa for you — I think you’re really going to like it (and save a ton of time and effort on your time reconciliation).
Please download Chrometa for Mac here.
I often get asked if our desktop time tracker is available on mobile devices. Since it’s not, I try to direct folks to the best of breed time tracker apps on the market.
If you live by your BlackBerry, here’s a list of some of the top rated time tracking apps in BlackBerry App World. Take advantage of these apps to capture your mobile email and telephone time, and get paid for your work on the go.
momentem’s Call Time Tracker is one of the most downloaded business applications for the BlackBerry. It automatically tracks the time you spend on phone calls and mobile email. This app pops up at the end of important calls, letting you quickly tag that call to a client or project so you won’t forget to bill for it. You can tag the time you spend reading or writing emails on your BlackBerry. At the end of the month, you get an Excel sheet of your mobile calls delivered to your inbox, with entries neatly categorized by client/project.
Disclaimer: momemtem is also a Chrometa partner.
BlackTrack Lite is a background application for your BlackBerry that produces a complete log of phone/email activity with duration details. The app automatically logs and reports phone and email activity — without any data entry. The activity report is automatically emailed to the user periodically.
Timr is essentially a BlackBerry timer app that integrates tightly with their multi-user time tracking web app. The BlackBerry app syncs automatically with the web, so all of your time entries are in one place. This application does not do background tracking of phone call and email time. However, you can create many projects and run multiple timers simultaneously. Key differentiating features include Drive Log and Position Tracking.
Exgis Time Tracker is a simple timer for tracking your job time. You create time entries either by starting a timer or by manual input. You can export your time in the form of a spreadsheet, which can be sent to you via email.
miTimesheet is another BlackBerry only time tracking application that lets you log project time through timers and manual entry. You can export your timesheet to CSV format and it can be delivered to you by email.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t also include an honorable mention of our own – from another Chrometa partner, Airtime Manager makes a solid BlackBerry Time Tracker for attorneys and legal professionals.
Geared towards firms with entrenched billing systems, Airtime Manager integrates smoothly with many of the top legal time and billing software packages.
That wraps up our BlackBerry time tracking app rec’s. If you’re looking for PC-based time tracking, time management, and productivity software, check out our creations
We’re looking for some astute AEC professionals (especially architects and engineers) – ideally folks who need to keep close track of their time for billing and/or project tracking – to take Chrometa for a spin, and share your feedback and insights with us.
We have some great AEC users today who are helping us shape the direction of our product line, and we’d love the help of some more early adopters.
In return, we are happy to hook you up with the product gratis. And you’ll have a unique chance to give us your $0.02 in what we hope will be an extremely useful tool for capturing time.
If you are interested, please send us an email: sales(at)chrometa.com, and mention your interest in the AEC product test. Thanks!
A couple of weeks ago I picked up a copy of The Opportunity Maker, which was written by noted networking and business development expert Ari Kaplan. This year I’ve had the good fortune to get to know Ari personally. So I picked up the book out of curiosity – though I have to admit I’m usually not a fan of “how to” advice when it comes to networking, because often the insights are at a very obvious, high level (think Dr. Phil).
In fact, I’d almost go as far as to say that most of the networking advice out there ranks right up there with most time management advice – easy to say, much harder to do, as if delivered by Captain Obvious himself!
Well the beauty of Ari’s book and approach is that it’s very practical and down-to-earth. It’s full of real-life stories, which makes it a fun, fast-paced read, with success stories that can be easily absorbed. To be honest, I don’t know how Ari possibly pulled together all of the people that are quoted and mentioned in the book – over 100 in total!
His main point is that, in law school, you learn about the law, but you don’t really learn about the business of law. And more specifically, you don’t learn how to build a successful career. This is a task you must take upon yourself – to build your own personal brand, rise above the noise, and take responsibility for advancing your own career.
Make no mistake about it – Ari is a one-man public relations machine. Go ahead and Google his name, and you’ll see what I mean. If there’s anyone in the legal industry who knows how to build a personal brand, land press coverage, and establish thought leadership, it’s Kaplan. And that’s the cool thing about spending 210 pages with him – he shares inside tips on such topics as finding a mentor, connecting with people in creative ways, and getting published – amongst others.
This is NOT a book to read once, and put on the shelf. Instead, I’d suggest reading through it a first time – as it’s a pretty quick read – and then going back to it and working on implementing the tips that Ari shares, one chapter at a time. It’s been shown that the best way to learn a new skill is by doing it, in parallel with reading about it, and that’s exactly how I’d recommend you use this resource.
Though I am not a lawyer (nor do I play one on TV), I did find this book to be extremely useful. As the leader of a self-funded legal software company, Chrometa, I’m always on the lookout for ways that we can “rise above the noise” as a company. We do not have the extensive sales and marketing resources that the bigger vendors do, so we must be more creative. And there are no shortage of creative promotion tips and ideas in this book.
It’s the same for most individuals – since you probably don’t have extensive marketing and public relations team tasked with advancing your career, you need to get creative. So I’d highly recommend you consider making an investment in The Opportunity Maker, as I have little doubt it will pay for itself many times over.
While on a support call today, a new Chrometa user asked about how to choose an Email server for a small firm. Afterward, I thought I’d share our company’s story on picking an email service.
When we started Chrometa, one of the first things on our to-do list was to set up email address for everyone. Previously, when we worked at other firms, we used Exchange Server. This nifty email server from Microsoft also synced everyone’s contact list and calendars. But now things are different. We were a small company that didn’t have the time, dollars, and IT staff to maintain our own Exchange Server. Also, our needs didn’t warrant such an investment.
So off we went to find a bare-bones email service. First, we signed up for Yahoo Small Business Email — after all, our domain name was already hosted on Yahoo so we were all set to go. During the early days of product development (read: coding and testing), we didn’t really need any advanced features, like contact sharing. For shared calendars, we synced our Google Calendars to Outlook — all in all, everything was fine. But for most businesses, Yahoo Mail just doesn’t cut it. This brings us back to Microsoft Exchange Server.
Let’s start with the top 5 reasons companies run Microsoft Exchange Server:
This used to get pretty expensive, fast. Companies bought and ran their own Microsoft Exchange Server infrastructure. This meant that someone (and often more than one person) had to monitor it, upgrade it, and administer it. Their job was pretty important, as we all know what happens when either email or the Internet goes down (insert episode from the Office).
But wait, what’s all this ruckus I hear about Hosted Exchange?
Hosted Exchange is a pretty good idea, and it really took off with the all the advancements in virtualization technologies. In plain English, virtualization means splitting a perfectly good computer into many little computers using software, and each one of those little computers can do its own thing independent of the others.
Hosted Exchange meant that your company can now *rent* the right to use an Exchange Server owned and administered by another company. That means you don’t have to buy the hardware, upgrade it, maintain it, or hire someone to look after it. Instead of spending $1,000’s/user/year on email, you’ve just cut that cost to $100’s/user/year. Pretty Awesome.
The other option you may not have considered is Google Apps. Last summer, we switched our company to Google Apps — and to this day I consider this one of the best decisions we’ve made.
Why Google Apps? It does almost everything that Microsoft Exchange does, and a lot more! Plus it’s even more cost effective than Hosted Exchange.
What else do you get? Let’s drill down:
Finally, let talk economics. Google Apps charges $50/user/year. That’s <50% the cost of Hosted Exchange.
In the lawyer community, there has been much debate about the security and privacy of Google Apps. I have to agree that web security is very important. But do realize that your Hosted Exchange server is also on the web, as is your computer when it is connected to the Internet. As with any technology, the best security algorithm sits between your ears. Log out of web apps if you’re using a public terminal. And please check the recipient list before hitting reply-all
For most small businesses, I’d recommend Google Apps. You’ll get all the key functionality of Hosted Exchange at a fraction of the cost. More importantly, you’ll enjoy far simpler setup and administration. Last but not least, you’ll gain access to Google’s expanding suite of continuously-improving products.
Everyone’s needs are different. If you don’t mind paying extra for complete control over your own mail server, and if you can’t live without a “universal address book”, go for hosted Exchange.
Special thanks to Andrew for inspiring this post.
Support for software, in general, stinks. Why is that? Is it an immutable law of nature, or something that’s evolved over time?
And more importantly – can software companies provide a good to great level of support, and stay profitable? Or will their ship inevitably be flooded and sunk by a never-ending barrage of phone calls from users?
First, let’s split the software universe up into two categories – SaaS (Software as a Service), and traditional. SaaS companies make their money by charging a monthly or yearly subscription for their product. The advantage to a user is that you can “rent” the use of the product, which means that you can get started for a lower entry price. The disadvantage being the flip side of the same coin – you’re paying month after month, it’s not a “rent to own” type of deal.
It’s a sweet deal for the software vendor, if they can pull off this model, thanks to the continuity. And because of this, support from SaaS vendors is usually quite good, because they do have to work to keep your business, and they’ll factor support costs into the subscription price.
Traditional software is a different animal. Generally the up front cost is a one-time fee. After that, the user is generally regarded more as a liability to the company – we’ve got your money, now you’re on your own!
From the vendor’s perspective, support can easily spiral out of control if left unchecked. While the software business does carry high margins, these can quickly erode if you’re spending a lot of time supporting users, especially if you’re not receiving any more revenue in the process.
But from the customer’s perspective, they paid for the product, so don’t they have a right to get help in making it work?
We wrestled with this question in the process of bringing our product to market. We really wanted Chrometa to work great for everyone…in fact, we were convinced (and still are) that it had to. Because we don’t have a big sales/marketing machine, so we need our users to be our feet on the street, our evangelists.
We don’t have a subscription based product. It’s a one-time, $99 price. So we received a lot of warnings from people that we’d “go broke on support” – especially if we didn’t charge an arm and a leg for it.
It never felt right to me to charge support for a product that’s supposed to work “out of the box”. Nor to anyone on our team. And really, when we launched, our potential problem of “going broke on support” hinged on us actually having product traction – so that’d be a good thing! Let’s get the product out there, and worry about the support economics later.
So we advertised free email support with the purchase of a license. In practice, though, not only did we gladly accept support phone calls, but we’d often call people back after receiving a support email, because it’s usually easier to speak live with someone. That’s always a fun thing to do, because people just about fall out of their chairs when we call! The bar on software support is SO low, that it’s not all that hard to step over
A few months after launch, we formalized the phone support, got an 1-800 number, and tossed it up prominently on our website. A funny thing happened then – the number of phone calls we received actually dropped.
Why would this be? I think it’s a combination of factors, which has included a consistent “beefing up” of our online help resources, and the general improvement of our product. But having the phone # there seems to put people at ease – it’s there if they need it.
Overall we’ve observed that people are very good about searching for help on their own, before they contact us. Inbound inquiries usually fall into one of the following categories:
We recently started giving free licenses to students – which in theory, would further complicate our support. How can you support free users without any funding! Thus far, not a problem at all. Every student we hook up with a free license is about as nice as could be. Sure it takes me a few seconds to ping them back with a license code, but then again, I’m not a programmer, so it’s not like I’d be doing something more productive with my time anyway
Overall our early results on the “Great Free Support Experiment” have been very promising. Our support time continues to trend gently down as our user base grows. And to be honest, we try to look at support as a marketing function as well. I always found it ironic that vendors who won’t accept inbound calls from users often have a telemarketing arm pounding the phones for new business in the next room!
Personally I spent so much time groveling for phone calls and meetings in our very early days with prospective users – “please, just try my product!” – that I’m hardwired now to gladly speak with anyone who wants to speak with me!
If you’re a fellow startup or early stage software company, my advice would be to absolutely give the best support that you can. Take care of your users now – you can always worry about “scaling” and taking over the world later.
Time management, in and of itself, will not really help you be more productive.
You’re probably wondering what kind of lettuce I’ve been smoking to write this in a blog focused on productivity and – hello – time management.
I’m talking about time management in the classic sense of the word. Getting through your “to do” list faster. It’s a complete waste of time.
What you really need to do is to look at everything that you have on your list – and pick the single most important thing. Then work on it, uninterrupted, until it’s completed.
The uninterrupted part is the toughest, by far. It’s SO easy and tempting to check your email, answer the phone, respond to an instant message, or click over to a website.
But if you can master this ability, you’ll boost your productivity significantly, and you’ll be able to work the same, or even less, hours.
This is possible because you’re assuring two things. First, that you’re working on the single most important task at hand. Not the most urgent task, or the easiest one – but the most important one. So often, we plow down our “to do” lists, with our heads down, without seriously questioning whether it makes a difference if we even do most of the items on it.
And the sad truth is – it doesn’t. The 80/20 principle tells us that 80% of our results will come from 20% of our inputs. By picking the single most important task to work on, we’re making sure that it falls within the critical 20%.
And secondly, by focusing 100% of our energies on this item, we’ll accomplish it much faster than we would have if we’d allowed ourselves to be distracted by interruptions, or worse, tried to multi-task and complete two or three items at once.
Interruptions are the real killer. It’s amazing how fast you can get something done, if that’s all you do.
I hadn’t realized this until I started using our time management software to measure the amount of active working time I was spending on work items. Sadly, items would often sit on my “to do” list all week, where’d I’d get to them on the weekend.
And with the benefit of no incoming interruptions (because the rest of the world was out having a life), I was able to focus, and get the thing done.
The real surprise came when I checked my elapsed time spent on the task after the fact – I realized that I could get A LOT done under an hour. Like, basically anything on my “to do” list would be accomplished in an hour or less – provided I just sat down and did the work.
So try this exercise tomorrow – pick one thing, and work on it until it’s done. No distractions, and no excuses. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.
On Tuesday, January 12, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti. Estimates of the numbers killed in the catastrophic earthquake range from 50,000 to 200,000. Read more about how to quake unfolded (BBC)
Our Commitment to Assist Victims of the Haiti Earthquake
As a little software company far removed from the disaster, we want to do our part in supporting the relief efforts. This past weekend, we’ve donated 20% of sales to assist earthquake victims through the Red Cross. And starting today, through January 31, we’ve pledged to donate 10% of new sales to the Red Cross. Our donations will be made at the end of each week.
If you’ve purchased a Chrometa license since last Friday, you’ll be pleased to know that a portion of your purchase has gone to support those most in need at this moment.
Other Ways You Can Help (via Google)
Also accepting cash and in-kind donations are the following sites: Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, UNICEF (1-800-4UNICEF), Direct Relief, Yele Haiti, Partners in Health, Red Cross, World Food Program, Mercy Corps (1-888-256-1900), Save the Children,Lambi Fund, Doctors Without Borders, The International Rescue Committee, Care, William J. Clinton Foundation, Meds & Food For Kids, Feed the Children, Habitat for Humanity, Mayor’s Fund for NYC