TimeForge, Employee Scheduling made Simple with Telecom APIs

One of the things I enjoy about interviewing companies using Telecom APIs is talking with interesting people, like Anthony Presley the founder of TimeForge.  They’re energetic, focused, and to the point.  Such conversations are always insightful and a delight.

TimeForge provides labor management tools which are particularly suited to industries with hourly workers, primarily restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, and retail.  Their services include a web application, mobile applications, text / phone add-ons, time-clock hardware for biometric integration, and more.  Anthony explained, “Most of labor management is really a ‘communications problem’, making sure staff know when to be at work, ensuring that the employer knows when staff are available, and ensuring that enough staff are available when the business needs them.  It’s not simple, with much inefficiency and frustration for all involved.”

Anthony went on to explain, “There’s much room for optimization, and staff need to be contacted on the devices they use most regularly, their mobile phone.  Many businesses have locations that do not have computer systems, but do have phones.  Telecom APIs are the best way to solve this real-world problem.”

I find people in the tech industry ignore the reality of many businesses; they are not computerized, the phone whether fixed or mobile is the highest piece of technology they have.  Hence the power of telecom APIs.  We saw this in the delivery.com case study as well.  I remain shocked at how many of my college-educated neighbors, including their children, barely scratch the surface of the technology in their hands.  Simplicity is critical and we should never forget the powerful simplicity of voice and SMS.  Regardless of the high-tech in the device, it’s about communication with people not devices.

TimeForge’s Labor management software provides employers with the power and flexibility to get their job done and get home! Their services include employee scheduling, time punches, human resources, and a daily log. TimeForge interfaces to many common retail and restaurant point of sale software. It’s a rich package of services covering online scheduling for restaurants and retailers with clock in / out (recording time) via website, mobile app, biometric clock, etc.; as well as HR documents and reminders, sales forecasting, and real-time business / operations notifications based on labor and sales.

Anthony explained, “The motivation for TimeForge came from when I had to haul my college roommate around to get his work schedule; he wasn’t allowed to call in.  The idea sat on the shelf for a few years while I did some other business ventures, but eventually we came back to this problem.”

I asked Anthony why he selected Tropo, “We used a competitor to Tropo for a number of years, then were really attracted to how easy the Tropo service was to use.  We love the dev environment, and its flexibility.  We run quite complex scripts on their platform which enables us to outsource some functions, lowering costs and get to market faster.  We ended up switching our outbound text messaging first, then with a great experience moved our inbound text messaging, and now have a remote clock in / out which can be done via text or voice.  And it’s all now running on Tropo.”

On take-up of the Telecom API related functions, Anthony explained, “All of our customers use our outbound text message reminders.  Each employee can specify when they want reminded about upcoming shifts, and they can respond to the text with a confirmation, letting their manager know that they are going to be at work.  The voice / text clock-in service is a more specialized service for where there isn’t a computer, for example remote YMCA camps or pools.  It’s surprising how many situations we’re finding need this capability.  The key is supporting all our customers’ needs, not just some of them, and that’s the power Telecom APIs bring.”

One need which is of particular concern to TimeForge’s customers is being able to manage their labor force in compliance with Obamacare. In fact, Anthony and his staff were so invested in adapting their products to meet this need, that they have written a book with employers specifically in mind. Obamacare: A Handbook for Employers, which will be available for sale by the end of month, is a step-by-step guide for business owners to devise their own plan for addressing Obamacare. Attention to scheduling and attendance will be critical, so it makes sense TimeForge develop this resource.

On charging model, Anthony said “We’re a SaaS (Software as a Service) product, with a free entry level service, then a monthly or annual service charge for our products for larger businesses.  We try and wrap the text / voice costs into our product, so the customer pays one “flat” fee, rather than a per-employee / per-location and per-text / per-minute call.”

I asked about whether telcos could be a channel to market for TimeForge.  Anthony’s response was, “Of course, Telco’s are a powerful channel to market, they focus on the relevance of their network with developers, but the real value is in the near 100% coverage of businesses in their countries of operations.  We think there is great potential for Telcos that understand this, systematize how they take services like TimeForge to market, and deliver much more value to their business customers through the services they’re already providing.”

I wrapped up by asking Anthony what advice he had for other businesses considering Telecom APIs. “Do It! Jump in with both feet. Using the Tropo support channel, they were invaluable in getting us up and running.  It took us less than a day to convert from a competitive service.”