[thelist] Filling up timesheets - good or bad?

Scott Dexter sgd at ti3.com
Thu Jan 11 11:08:29 CST 2001

spattering of rambles below....

> -----Original Message-----
> From: aardvark [mailto:roselli at earthlink.net]
> > From: Madhu Menon <webguru at vsnl.net>
> [...]
> > Ah, but you see we don't usually bill on an hourly basis. 
> So, it doesn't 
> > matter how many hours we spend. If I put a Senior Web 
> Author on the job and 
> > she can do it twice as fast as a regular web author, that's 
> my problem.  So 
> > at least in that area, time sheets don't help.

Yes they do! If she takes half the time, then you know it and can adjust her
work load accordingly ....

> > In MY case, however, I'm almost often doing several things 
> at any given 
> > time, and not one thing after the other. That's what 
> happens when you 
> > manage a department. I find it very hard to clearly set down the 
> > achievements of a 30 minute time slot.

Don't look at it as "tracking time." Look at it as tracking tasks. Its
important to know how long a task takes to complete. If I spend an hour
"working" on something, but actually only spent 40 minutes, due to phone
calls, evolt emails, etc. then I note I spent 40 minutes on the task. Its
understood around here (we're a company of 16) that the hours won't
necessarily add up to 8hrs/day. We aim to come close to that (and in the
past couple weeks have been blowing it out of the water). The notion is to
make sure our shit is getting done on time and for what we've quoted. We
also have a couple clients that we are hourly, so its *damn* important.

> same here... and since it's not billable stuff, it goes into 
> the 'admin' 
> task and gets a general description, like "phone calls to clients, 
> project reports, removed grit from photocopier"...
> > What about coffee breaks? Or time spent discussing code 
> with a colleague? 
> > Or simply chatting about something? Since you can't put that into 
> > timesheets, people will simply lie.

Keep it *task* oriented, not *time* oriented. Maybe that needs to be
communicated upwards (or confirmed that's what they're after in the first

> this is simplifying it, but it's all there in concept... it's 
> not a device 
> to watch workers, it's a device to watch projects...

Hey, das what I said =)

> > And as a friend of mine pointed out, some people may 
> interpret timesheets 
> > as a sign that a company distrusts its employees and needs 
> to keep a 
> > constant watch on them.
> that needs to be addressed by management

you said you're in a company of 10 people, right? If there's distrust
amongst 10 people, timesheets aren't going to solve diddly-squat. We (Ti3)
used to be more freeform, but as we've grown with people and the number of
clients we have, *not* keeping account of our time was killing us. It just
ain't efficient.

> > I prefer a weekly report that summarises the week's happenings.
> we generate weeklies, too...

we do weekly status meetings, but our task lists are updated daily....

and some more thoughts I typed before any of the above:

once you get over the stigma of micromanagement and trust the larger notion
of tracking the project(s), its easier to swallow. I admit I have a hard
time with filling it out, but hey, its US$200+/hr billed to the client in
some cases. That reminds me to track the time =)

couple tricks:
* track as you go --make notes when you are doing stuff. 30 seconds here and
there saves tons when you have to review your day/week/month. Hell there's
software out there that can help (if you get in the habit of using it)
* are you in a habit of doing a daily task list (whether at the start or end
of your day)? Do your time then. Getting in a routine helps
* Habit, habit, habit. Nothing is worthwhile unless its routine. It may take
a while (studies show habits are formed (and broken) in the range of 21
days), but once over the hump (and daily reminders) it won't be so bad

We've used Tasks through Exchange/Outlook and recently have been doing
Project2k/ProjectCentral (proj central is the web client), and have been
playing with Intranology (http://www.intranology.com) and its pretty

(the only times I really dread filling in my time is when I don't have
anything to show)

work: http://www.ti3.com/
non: http://thinksafely.org/

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