We Track Our Time and So Should You

There’s an old saying in business: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

Early in my career in computing, I wasn't required to track my time. I came to work at about the same time every day, worked on programs the bosses told me to work on, then went home at about the same time each day. If a boss asked us, “How long will it take you write a program to generate this report?” we all did the same thing – made a wild-ass guess based on nothing but optimism, which was never accurate.

It was only when I first begin working as a contractor that I found tracking time to be a critical part of software development.

Here’s why:

But the most important benefit of time tracking is that real data is crucial for good project management:

And finally, time logs from projects in the past can be used to estimate how much time tasks on future projects should take.

At DelMar, we always log the time we spend on software development projects. We use a simple strategy, along with a project management / time tracking system we wrote for ourselves (naturally!).

We define tasks for every project we work on. Each task can have several levels of sub-tasks. For each task with no sub-tasks, we define an estimated number of hours. People who will be working on these tasks have input on what those estimated number of hours should be. We add up all the estimated hours to get an overall timeline for the project.

At least once per day, developers working on the project enter the time they spend on any of its defined tasks. Each entry has the current date, number of hours spent (rounded to 15 minute increments and almost always less than 2 hours each), and a short description of what work was performed. Because we wrote the software ourselves, we’ve built it into our normal workflow and made it super easy to create these entries.

Anyone working on a project can see all the tasks that have been defined, the number of estimated hours, and the hours logged so far. Which means everyone can see if the project is ahead of schedule, or if we are in danger of going over our estimates. If and when we notice there’s a danger of going over budget, our project managers get involved and discuss with our clients when needed.

DelMar has been tracking time like this since we started in 2004. Our database contains over 120,000 time entries for the 350+ projects we’ve done. This much detailed data give us a huge advantage when developing project plans and estimates for new projects.

Our system will save time and money on task management for your next development project. Schedule a chat with us!