Friday, November 13, 2009

Virtual TimeClock Software '09 R3.1 Update

Last month's release of Virtual TimeClock '09 Release 3 contained over a dozen enhancements to timecard reports. The  new 3.1 release addresses two reporting issues that have arisen as a result of the Release 3 changes. Release 3.1 is an important time clock software update that ensures timecard entries for future payroll periods are reliably totaled and included in timecard reports.

The Virtual TimeClock Basic Edition software is not a part of this update. If you are a Virtual TimeClock Network Edition user and are running '09 Release 3, you need only to update your Virtual TimeClock Pro Client software to Release 3.1. The Virtual TimeClock Server software is not a part of the 3.1 update.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Virtual TimeClock '09 Release 3

Virtual TimeClock '09 Release 3 was made available today. The new release provides an often requested new feature: adding notes to timecard entries. Timecard notes can be used to note jobs or project tracking details, report mileage, tips, bonuses, or commissions right on the employee timecard. Employees can add a timecard note to explain a late arrival or early departure right when the event occurs.

Virtual TimeClock '09 Release 3 is compatible with the new Microsoft Windows 7 release. With the September announcement of Apple OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard support, Virtual TimeClock '09 is now fully compatible with Apple and Microsoft's newest operating systems.

We have also improved the user experience in Virtual TimeClock '09 Release 3 with over two dozen program enhancements. There is a complete list of changes in Virtual TimeClock '09 Release 3 on our web site.

Virtual TimeClock '09 Release 3 is a free upgrade for all users enrolled in our software Maintenance & Support program. We offer generously discounted upgrade pricing if you are not enrolled in our software Maintenance program.

Please contact us with any questions you have about the release. You can reply to this email, visit our web site, or call toll free from 8 AM to 5 PM PST at (888) 207-0005.

I hope you enjoy the new features and enhanced functionality we've put into Virtual TimeClock '09 Release 3!

Keith DeLong
Redcort Software

We Are the Champions!

I was recently challenged to describe our business for a possible feature in a prominent magazine. They’re looking for what makes us unique and different, and why. They call this a ‘pitch’, which basically means you’re trying to persuade someone to buy or accept something.

This started a period of introspection. Software companies are a dime a dozen, so what makes us so special? Simply saying “Redcort Software is the best software company on the planet” may come across as being a little too subjective and one-sided. So I decided to do what I always do when faced with a question of this caliber, I made a list of what I know to be true.
  • We’ve been publishing our Virtual TimeClock software since 1986, that’s over 20 years of time and attendance software experience.
  • We’ve been online since 1997, well beyond the life expectancy of a dot com era company.
  • Our wide range of time tracking products allow us to grow with businesses of any size, so we’re able to actively pursue long-term customer relationships.
  • Tens of thousands of workers at businesses all over the world rely on Virtual TimeClock every single day, which means robust time tracking software.
  • Our time clock software helps free businesses from the unproductive cycle of repetitive tasks and unavailable information, allowing business owners to focus on what’s important.
  • We’re committed to producing and supporting software products that exceed the expectations of our customers, we hear it again and again… ease of use.
  • We recognize that our customers deserve our genuine appreciation for their business, so we reward them with regular Virtual TimeClock software updates and friendly, US based technical support.
  • We’re committed to doing business the old fashioned way, like picking up the phone rather than relying on an auto attendant.
  • We do our best to go the extra mile to satisfy a customer. I know, I know, that’s what businesses are supposed to say.

So after letting the evidence speak for itself, all I can say is, “Wow, Redcort Software is the best software company on the planet!” Now if I can just pitch it to the magazine publishers…

Jeff Morrow
Redcort Software

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Confessions of a New Employee

What Virtual TimeClock and working for Redcort Software has taught me:

Computers aren’t that scary - Especially when you’ve got great people to support you.

Coming to work for a software company, I had created a list in my mind for who I was expected to be. Right at the top was a need to be fully computer literate – which I was not. I knew my way around a computer in the general sense, I could write papers and search the web and create a ‘facebook’ account (ha), but nothing to the point that I felt up to par with people who work at software companies! 

Oh, and working on a Mac – forget about it!

So how am I doing now? To my surprise and delight, Great! Turns out I’m exactly the kind of person you want when you call a software company. I completely relate to your situation and now I have the knowledge to help you out.. and luckily our time clock software is created for people like you and me! 

Oh, and Macs... they’re Awesome!!

--MaggieJoy :’D

Redcort Software Customer Service

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Meet Maggie Hofer!

I'd like to introduce Maggie Hofer, our newest Customer Service Specialist at Redcort Software. She's a fantastic people person who loves to help others. When I asked Maggie to introduce herself, she said:

Hello hello! I’m excited to learn everything I can in order to provide the best experience for every customer. My hobbies include art, singing, humming, and whistling - as well as reading and sleeping (usually in that order). I really enjoy spending time with my friends and family. I was just married on August 8th, 2009!

I’m looking forward to getting to know our customers,

:) Maggie

She really does sing and hum her way though the day. In a short time Maggie already has a good handle on all of our internal business systems. Though she's new to the business of time clock software, she's already enthusiastically helping customers, learning from each new question about Virtual TimeClock software.

I hope you'll extend a warm welcome to Maggie as you're in contact with her by telephone or email.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Customer Care

The latest Apple TV ad entitled "Customer Care" was especially interesting to me in light of our recent addition of a customer care position and the retirement of our auto-attendant.

I'm grateful our company understands that we don't just publish time clock software. We really do see ourselves as helping businesses in the vital task of managing their employee time and attendance. Software, like hardware needs a human interface.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Can you hear me now?

We love automation at Redcort Software. As a case in point, take a look at our time and attendance software. It takes that old mechanical employee time clock and replaces it with an automated time management system. Timecard reports are automatically calculated and totaled instantly. Overtime calculations are always accurate on every timecard. But automation isn't so helpful in every facet of life as a trip through phone system purgatory reminded me recently.

I needed to correct a problem on a bill from a large utility company so I called the not so prominent help number displayed in the smallest imaginable font on the back of my bill. A delightful voice answered the phone and promptly asked me what language I’d like to continue in. I was tempted to say Sumerian, but decided to play it safe and continue in English. The same delightful female voice asked what my call was regarding. I was a little taken aback since I was expecting to hear a list of numerical choices to punch into my telephone keypad. My delayed response was not well received on the other end of the phone line. The still delightful voice told me in no uncertain terms that she didn’t recognize my response and that if I would be so kind as to state the purpose of my call she wouldn’t immediately terminate me, I mean terminate the call.

I sputtered something akin to “Billing question” and winced. She kindly repeated my response and then proceeded to ask me other pointed questions. I was starting to get the hang of this and in no time was rattling off responses like a pro. The best part about it was that she was polite, never lost patience, and spoke the King’s English.

Then the unfathomable happened. We came to a point in our conversation where she wasn’t happy with anything I said. I found our new relationship deteriorating rapidly and with a rookie move hit “0” for the operator. I thought that was my ace in the hole, it works all the time. Unfortunately, in this case a not so friendly voice firmly informed me to call back during regular business hours. Immediately, I was thrust back into the role of regular Joe, my fast track relationship with the pleasant auto attendant quickly forgotten.

Like many companies, we jumped on the phone system bandwagon many years ago, thinking the same thoughts as many small businesses, “An automated phone system will improve our time management by answering calls and routing them more efficiently than we can.” We've deliberately kept it simple over the years, limiting the system to one level of voice prompts. Our auto attendant has served us and our customers well.

Though we've never had complaints about our telephone system, at a recent management meeting we discovered everyone had a phone system horror story in our dealings with other companies. Since our culture is to treat others as we like to be treated, we quickly decided it was time to send our faithful auto attendant to an early retirement and pick up the telephone the old fashioned way.

For the past month, every Redcort Software call is answered by a live, friendly, helpful human being during business hours. It's pretty retro but we like it! Customers have been commenting on how great it is to have a live person pick up the phone. I’ve even heard them fumbling around on the other end of the line trying to take the phone off speaker because we answered so quickly.

That's our story. I’m not saying that auto attendants are bad. I’m just saying that when it comes to automation, I’d much rather deal with time clock software. After all, it doesn’t talk back.

Monday, June 15, 2009

It's A Girl!

The public face (and voice) of Redcort Software has been predominately, though unintentionally, masculine. Our newest addition to the family is changing all that in a delightful way.

On June 1 Jessie Wilson came to work for us with the mandate to focus exclusively on serving the needs of our customers. Jessie is a perfect fit in the customer care role. She's smart, spunky and takes genuine personal interest in people. She's super organized and pays attention to details. We're confident that she's going to take our extraordinary customer service to a new level.

When asked, Jessie introduces herself this way:
Hi! I'm proud to be the new Customer Service Representative and the newest member to the Redcort family. Here’s a little glimpse into my world, outside of the office that is…

I spend time with the kids and families of Target Neighborhood, a ministry I’m involved in through my church. We’re partnered with an elementary school and have a Saturday Sports Program, Classroom Volunteers, Community Days and more. The volunteers and I have become like family so you will usually find me spending time with them.

I love music and playing my guitar now and then. I love painting and creating things with my hands. My nose can often be found stuck in a book while my hand is holding a cup of coffee. I can play a mean game of Catch Phrase when it's game time.

I look forward to serving my new Redcort family and our loyal customers. If you have a free minute feel free to send me a hello!
In these challenging economic times, it's easy to start thinking all businesses are struggling. In truth there are millions of healthy, growing businesses in the United States. We're thankful to be counted among them. Since healthy things grow, we're proud to welcome the arrival of a new member to the Redcort Software family!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Second Coming

We had several strategic meetings when Virtual TimeClock Pro was first approaching release in 2000. The question was what to do with with the original edition of Virtual TimeClock that had been so popular for over a decade? We decided to re brand the original (less featured) software as our 'Virtual TimeClock Standard Edition'. As a simple time clock software at a low price, it recorded employee hours and printed timecards as it always had. Unsurprisingly, the Standard Edition continued to be a popular product for us.

At the same time we knew the Standard Edition had a limited life span. The development tools we'd used to build the time clock software were no longer supported. To make matters worse, it was impossible to publish a Microsoft Windows version of the software since it was developed for Apple Macintosh OS 9 computers. After a couple of years new Macs were all shipping with the shiny new OS X operating system. Eventually Virtual TimeClock Standard Edition wouldn't even launch on a new Mac.

The Standard Edition of Virtual TimeClock software finally died a quiet and dignified death after a very long life. The huge popularity of our replacement Pro Edition blunted any sadness. It was also somehow comforting to know that Virtual TimeClock Standard Edition was joined by a host of other previously popular Mac OS 9 software.

This would be the end of the story except for an interesting trend that began to develop a little more than a year ago. We noticed an uptick in small businesses and startups contacting us looking for a simple time clock software solution at a budget price. We agonized initially, realizing Virtual TimeClock Standard Edition software would have been a wonderful fit in this space. We wished there was cross platform version of our faithful old Standard Edition time clock software.

Then the unthinkable happened. Stay tuned for details!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Are we there yet?

Do you remember that childhood trip to Disneyland? You know the one, long hours sitting in the backseat of your parent’s car. You’re hungry, tired, and your little your sister keeps crossing the invisible boundary onto your side of the seat.

Back before the iPod, portable DVD players, and Game Boy Advance (the Atari 2600 wasn’t exactly mobile), we traveled the country in the backs of our parent’s cars with only one weapon in our time tracking arsenal… “Are we there yet?” I could see the back of my mother’s shoulders tense up each time the question was asked, my father remained grim faced and just depressed the gas pedal a little harder.

Over the past two years of trying to get our new time clock software to market, I’ve replayed those scenes from my childhood more often than I care to admit. It started out innocent enough, telling our customers about all the cool new features coming with the new time clock (Sure, you’ll be able to have breakfast with Donald Duck!). I mean nothing satisfies me more than being able to tell people what they want to hear. “You’ll be able to create as many leave categories as you want!” “No problem, you’ll be able to setup as many different overtime rules as you need!” “The server will even run as a background service!” “That’s coming in the next release!” The list goes on and on.

After awhile I began to doubt that what I was telling customers was ever really going to happen. The director of engineering kept assuring me it was just a matter of a little more time. Management meetings allowed me to witness the unveiling of key components in our time clock software engineering cycle. What I didn’t realize was that every time I told a customer “Display Groups in the upcoming release will solve that problem for you” an engineer heard “Are we there yet?” Shoulders tensed up and the gas pedal of the engineering machine just seemed to push a little harder.

Nothing restores a ten year old’s faith in his parent’s ability to provide for his happiness than being welcomed into the Magic Kingdom by Goofy’s timeless grin. Ah, the wait is over. Life is once again in balance. Even a whiny little sister doesn’t seem so troublesome now. Marching through those gates makes you forget all the things you went through to get there. Mother looks much more relaxed, and even Father looks a little less grim.

The excitement has returned to the Redcort Software technical support team with the release of Virtual TimeClock ‘09. “You’ll soon be able to…” has turned into “Now you can... Let me show you how!” We’ve forgotten the endless hours spent testing time clock conversions, scrutinizing time card reports, and comparing timesheets.

Are we there yet? Oh yeah. Life in the realm of time tracking software is once again in balance.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Jane, Stop this crazy thang!

Everyone at Redcort Software is relaxing a little more these days. When we shipped Virtual TimeClock '09 Release 2 on April 8, we all began to believe that we had successfully pulled back from the brink. Some back story (over a couple of posts) will help you to appreciate the journey.

As far back as 2003, we knew we had to stop the insanity of our engineering cycle. Like every other software publisher, we were going more than a little bonkers, often working around the clock and missing deadlines trying to crank out monolithic upgrades to our time clock software every 18-24 months.

Our 'periodic major upgrade' mode had created an overwhelming engineering schedule where everything had to be decided a year or more ahead of time. First we had to accurately determine what new features our customers would need two years from now. In addition we needed a crystal ball to tell us about the technical advances and changes in the next version of Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows operating systems. Add to the mix new state or federal rules that would be coming regarding time and attendance reporting, overtime, vacation, timecards and time tracking rules.

This volatile mix of planning and priorities became a certain recipe for an explosive development cycle for Virtual TimeClock. It was certain in the earliest stages of planning that the time clock software upgrade we were envisioning would morph, delay, and challenge us as we adapted real-time to a world that unfolded quite differently than our predictions.

In 2004 we realized the Internet could revolutionize our engineering cycle. In the same way that the Internet facilitated direct customer interaction and free time clock software downloads, it would also change our approach to software development. The wide spread adoption of high speed Internet meant that electronic distribution of software was now trivial for our customers. We could release software in incremental updates 2-3 times a year, allowing us to predict and plan for our customer's time clock software needs months rather than years in the future.

Indeed, Redcort Software became a much better place to work following the release our last major upgrade, Virtual TimeClock 5.0 in December 2004. After the huge 5.0 upgrade, we settled into a wonderful rhythm of incremental time clock software releases 2-3 times a year. We loved it and our customers loved it. In this period we shipped Virtual TimeClock updates as soon as a needed new feature was ready, when a government regulation took effect, or when we needed a compatibility update for a new OS release from Microsoft or Apple. Life was good in the land of Redcort Software! Our report writer was enhanced for customized timesheet and timecard reports. We added timecard entry auditing and a fully automated timeclock database backup system. Apple OS X 10.5 Leopard support and Microsoft Windows Vista compatibility was maintained as each OS was released.

By the middle of 2007 we faced a grim reality. As the effects of Apple's switch to Intel processors reached us in a practical way, we realized that we had a huge software development challenge ahead of us. Reluctantly, we found ourselves in the insanity of a major upgrade. The next Virtual TimeClock release would become our largest software upgrade in 10 years. By the end of 2008 we all started to wonder if the insanity of a major upgrade would indeed be temporary.

The release of Virtual TimeClock '09 marked the triumph of a successful major upgrade. Shipping Virtual TimeClock '09 Release 2 in April was the tangible proof we needed that life in the land of Redcort Sofware was indeed getting back to normal.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Time, why you punish me?

"Time, why you punish me?
Like a wave bashing into the shore
You wash away my dreams."
-- Hootie and the Blowfish.

On February 12 we released a major upgrade to our time clock software, christening it Virtual TimeClock '09. This release was by far our most significant upgrade since shipping the original Professional Edition of Virtual TimeClock back in the fall of 2000.

It seems strangely fitting for the February inauguration of our new blog to be posted in April. The prior two years of software development represent more work hours and personal sacrifices than any of us (or our patient families) would care to admit. As the month rolled by we often found consolation in our iTunes playlists. Darius Rucker's soulful "Time" was often played when yet another delay was forced upon us by our commitment to get this software release just right. Time punished me far too often over the blur that I now realize was the first half of my 48th year.

With the shipping of product and arrival of spring, our personal and professional lives are in a promising early bloom. In spite of difficult economic times, we're enjoying a fantastic reception to Virtual TimeClock '09.

I've been pleasantly surprised to note that the buzz around the office these days isn't so much about our wonderful new time clock software release or our shinny new web site. We're telling stories about how we use our creativity, skills and energy to create something that is helpful to others. This is an interesting side of Redcort Software that we haven’t shared before.

I'm hopeful this blog will allow us to chronicle how we change our products and, more importantly, how our products change us.