The Intervals Story
In the Beginning
Pelago came to life in 2000 as a web design and web development company. Back in the pre-Intervals era, our time and task management was an altogether different animal. We were working Time and Material contracts as well as flat bids so we designed a really slick timesheet (PDF) to log our hours. It was actually impressive...for a paper timesheet.
Paper evolved into a combo system where we spent a few long nights every month entering timesheet data into spreadsheets. Then we got really busy and the data entry got really behind. We finally got caught up and discovered an awful truth.
We had a project spin out of control with new features and changes. When we finally added it up and learned that we lost our shorts, we determined never to let that happen again. We needed real-time information about all of our tasks and projects.
Change was a necessity.
After that cold shower, we thought we'd just find a time and project management system and we'd be alright. Our main Project Manager was certified in Microsoft Project and a member of PMI, so it shouldn't be hard to find something we thought. Except there wasn't anything out there that did what we were looking for. We were shocked and kept trying different things. There were timesheet programs and there were task management (ticketing) tools. We were convinced that we needed to track time on tasks to make it easy for the people working to track their time (and get granular reports on time and effort).
Long story short: the marriage of time and tasks was not happening. So we took an Open Source software project and customized it. We simplified and humanized it and bolted features onto its less than stellar code base. It was a great proof of concept, but it wasn't doing the job. We realized we'd have to build what we really needed ourselves.
So how'd we do it?
We call it Shawshanking. We decided to build Intervals above and beyond our client work as one of our sidecar projects. It became our "nights and weekend" plan. We set a goal to spend at minimum 15 hours a week (that number may sound small, but with our Archipelago PHP framework you can get a lot done in 15 hours). We took the pickax and hit the wall. We did that through all of 2005. Every Tuesday we'd do an Intervals night: we'd order pizza and had a fridge full of beer—we admit we had it a lot more comfy than Tim Robbins ever did. Sometimes we got a lot done each week and other times we felt like things had stopped altogether. That's just the way iterative development goes. We built it from the top down, i.e., functionality follows the user interface. We knew Intervals had to be designed for people, not the other way around the way a lot of software is built.
Our internal Open Source project that got junked for Intervals turned out to be a very valuable experiment for us. We used it and abused it for two years and learned a lot about tracking time, timesheet submission reminders, getting out of your inbox to manage work, what reports we needed to see the health of our business, what fields a "project activity" report should have to show our clients how hard we were working for them, and tying in a few basic accounting features like payments and outstanding balances.
Intervals has everything we need to get all of our work done. We call Intervals "Web based task and time management", but it really does a lot more than that. The most valuable aspect of it is that it's a dashboard into our entire business.
By the first quarter of 2006, our small group of loyal followers were clamoring for it. We ramped up and by the end of March we went beta. We spent three months in beta and got a lot of great feedback and excitement for Intervals. Intervals officially went live June 1, 2006 (PDF).
We knew there was a need for Intervals but we had no idea the need would be so global and diverse. Intervals is currently being used by small businesses in over 100 countries and growing daily. We originally built Intervals to solve the unique problems faced by web designers and web developers. However, we deliberately built in flexibility to accommodate other industries and their work flows. We did not anticipate how many diverse types of businesses would come to rely on Intervals. Our customers range across IT shops, graphic designers, public relations firms, churches, IT departments, marketing firms, advertising agencies, automotive service companies, factories, events planners; the list goes on and on. Read what these happy customers have to say about their experience with Intervals.
We use Intervals ourselves every day to manage our business. We're right there in the trenches with you, our sleeves rolled up, getting our hands dirty while relying on Intervals to run our business. Intervals is a real tool built by real people who face the same daily challenges and take customer support very seriously.
We have as much to learn from our Intervals customers as we have to teach them from our web design and development experiences. That is why Intervals will continue to grow and evolve as we walk alongside our customers.
The Pelago Team
Abbreviated Intervals Backstory
If you don't want to read the full story on the left, here's the 5-second version on how Intervals evolved:
- Paper timesheets (2000)
- Spreadsheets linked to Spreadsheets (2002)
- Existing solutions tried and failed (2003)
- Open Source hack job didn't cut it (2004)
- Intervals designed and developed (2005)
- Launch, growth and evolution (2006 - Present)
Intervals One Page Elevator Pitch (446 kb)
What Intervals does, who it's for and how it can help.
Pelago Gives Back (58 kb)
Pelago joins One Percent for the Planet - Press Release