The Tempus API

(This API announcement is appearing as a four-part email series sent to Tempus clients. It is being reproduced here as installments are released and distributed.)

1. Announcing the API

We’re excited about the API that we have just created for Tempus. We think it can do a lot for you and in turn, can do a lot for us too. This article is the first in a series of four installments, each covering a specific facet of the new API.

What is an API?

An API is software that allows a web site to send data to another web site. API stands for Application Program Interface. The API provides loose coupling between applications, so each site needs only minimal information about the other to integrate their actions. Loose coupling allows Tempus to integrate data and processes with other web apps without knowing the intimate operational details of the remote site. This makes integration simple, straightforward, and dependable.

Why do we need an API?

The API allows you to extend the reach of Tempus to provide new features and greater efficiency without additional user effort.

The API also provides the opportunity to create best-of-breed systems, where the best, most useful applications for your business can be safely bound together. This allows you to keep your software systems simple, cheap, and productive - without working around unwanted features and without the cost and learning curve of monolithic packages.

What does the API do?

The API provides a relatively simple set of basic capabilities, but together, these capabilities can have a big impact on your business. Here are the out-of-the-box capabilities:

2: What can staffing firms do with the API?

The Application Program Interface (API) can provide substantial flexibility and productivity opportunities at low cost for staffing firms. Some of the API use cases are obvious - others are more obscure. We thought about this and tried to come up with a list of the big ones.

The Big Ones

Invoicing and payroll are the natural API candidates for staffing firms. On a manual basis, each of these business processes require knowledge gathering from Tempus, data transfer from Tempus, and data re-entry and proofing in other applications.

The API can reduce the manual workload and improve accuracy in these applications.

Invoicing

Take invoicing, for example. Tempus already knows how many hours everybody works every week. Use the API to send each timesheet to a web invoicing application. Invoicing then becomes a point and click operation.

There’s more to it, of course. But, the benefits far outweigh the effort to set it up. The potential snags can be anticipated and resolved with good judgement and proper reporting.

Since invoicing is a universal need for staffing firms, we have chosen an invoicing partner and developed API features to serve that partner. Tempus is ready to go with invoicing. More about this in Installment 3.

Payroll

Payroll is another natural API opportunity for Tempus. Although there is much about payroll that Tempus will never address, there are opportunities to reduce the weekly data transfer effort and streamline the processes.

For example, Tempus is never going to be involved with initial payroll setup for employees. Never going to be involved with status changes and withholding amounts either. But weekly hours worked is a different story. Tempus could deliver a stream of data to your payroll provider that includes hours and supporting pay codes in the format your provider expects.

So, when the timesheets are approved, payroll is on the way.

Payroll provides other API opportunities too. New employee information could be sent to an online database, like Google Sheets, every time a new employee is entered in Tempus. The database could be accessed by your payroll partner (maybe your accounting firm) to setup new hires. A similar process could be implemented to flag inactivated employees.

Double Jumps

API transactions aren’t limited to two players.

Most receivers of API data can also send data to others. So, your invoicing partner will probably be able to send information about the invoice to your accounting app partner, like Quickbooks or your accounting firm through an intermediary like Google Sheets.

This is a powerful capability.

Other Opportunities

3: How does it work? API Partners.

How does it work?

The Tempus API sends data directly across the web to other web applications when certain events occur within Tempus or when requests for data are received by Tempus.

Events like timesheet approvals, new clients and new users added to Tempus result in data being sent to receiving applications. Tempus clients (like you) can opt to subscribe to these events and send data to web applications of your choice. These events happen automatically and unattended behind the scenes. API logbooks are provided to show all the actions carried out by Tempus on your behalf. Reports are also provided to help you reconcile potential differences between what was recorded in Tempus and what the remote partner received.

API Partners

We have identified several websites that provide complementary business services to Tempus clients and complementary technical services that make API operations easier. This section discusses both entities.

Zapier.com Zapier is an API middleman. They receive API transactions from senders like Tempus, then convert data formats and protocols to conform to the requirements of receivers like QuickBooks and then pass the data.

Zapier relieves senders and receivers from having to customize each transaction they share. Each sender sends its own proprietary format and each receiver gets exactly what they expect, with Zapier ironing out the differences.

For staffing firms this means that any website that integrates with Zapier can send and receive data from Tempus.

This is important because Zapier integrates with more that 1500 websites - like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, SalesForce, Quickbooks and many more - can provide great reach and flexibility to Tempus clients.

If you want to know if a certain website can easily communicate with Tempus, look for the Zapier logo on that website.

InvoiceNinja.com This site offers a robust invoicing application. Users of this site can open a new invoice, choose a customer, choose line items from a list, send the invoice via email, or print the invoice for hard-copy mailing.

There are of course, many such sites on the web. What sets this one apart is:

For staffing companies this means that the inventory of products offered for sale can be weekly timesheets rather than nails and shovels. It means that quantity sold can be stated in hours and unit cost can be the billing rate. Most important, the item description can include your employee’s name and the period of work.

Best of all, both clients and timesheets are transferred seamlessly between applications without human intervention.

Other Potential Partners

Payroll is the elephant in the room here. Tempus now can easily transfer hours worked with supporting information to most payroll providers and intermediaries like accounting firms.

Its safe to say that all Tempus clients have an existing payroll provider. But its likely that clients will be reluctant to change payroll providers just to integrate with Tempus. So, our focus for integrating payroll will be on developing generic API methods that will work, with tweaks, for many clients and providers. We want to allow our clients to keep their present provider while automating the weekly time transfer. Tempus will probably never have a preferred payroll partner.

The first Tempus clients to request integration with a payroll provider will drive the development of future API payroll methods. Not to say we can’t add others, but the first provider will set the direction and scope for others.

What about CMS/ATS applications?

Many of these applications include timesheet systems. Some of those timesheet systems are not as robust as Tempus. Still, they integrate their timesheets with other CMS/ATS system features. This can make it attractive to dump Tempus and use their clunky timesheets. Forgive me.

Optional API integration with Tempus will provide an alternative to ATS timesheets that will still provide access to the desirable features of the ATS. A few Tempus clients are doing this already.

Many CMS/ATS systems integrate with Zapier.

4: How to get started. How much does it cost?

How to get started

The Tempus API is private. This means it is available by invitation only.

Many large sites make their API public, available to anyone with authorized access to their web site. Usually, that means a subscribed user can use the API without further explicit permission or support from the site owner. All API transactions are created by the user, all technical details of the transaction are handled solely by the user.

Tempus is different in this regard.

Tempus clients generally aren’t large enough to have in-house IT teams to handle the technical side of the API. So, to reduce barriers to API use, Tempus helps clients use the API, providing consultation, setup, operations, and support. We hope this will help us learn more about what our clients would like to do with the API, how it can benefit other staffing firms, and how it might help us improve our product offering.

To learn more about the API and how it might be able to help you, contact Tempus support to discuss your needs.

The first step is a free consultation to discuss your situation and Tempus capabilities. The outcome of the consultantion will determine how we proceed.

How much does it Cost?

Currently, there is no additional cost for using the API, no additional cost for support, and no additional cost for operations, that is, the actualy automated process of trading data.

That doesn’t mean that there will never be additional costs, but for now, it’s free. We need to get some experience before we can understand our costs.

The one area that may carry a charge is setup – a one-time fee for getting Tempus hooked up to and trading data with another web site.

At this point, the anticipated scope of potential API activities is narrow. All the base transactions have been created and tested, all the parties to those transactions are known: Zapier and InvoiceNinja. Setup for these types of transactions should be easy. They will be free if they don’t involve unusal effort.

There may be a charge for setup if your need is outside the capabilities of our partners, it requires coding or is unusually complex.

If there is a charge, it will be identified during the consulation so you will know about it before any work is started.

Partner costs

Tempus partners charge for their services. For the most part they are cheap.

Zapier charges $20 a month for up to 750 transactions – clients, users and timesheets. InvoiceNinja charges $10 a month for unlimited invoices.