The goal of a hosted project management service, like Intervals, is to improve the day-to-day workflow of a small business. A freelancer or creative group will start their search for an online application by evaluating several of them and choosing the one that best complements their already established workflow. But what happens when a creative firm, without a set way of getting things done, goes looking for a web-based project management application? They can be become easily overwhelmed by a myriad of options, each one offering a different interpretation of small business workflow.
As a small web design agency having worked on over 300 projects, we’ve spent the last eight years refining our workflow. We found that the success of our business depended on accurately tracking our time, specifically against tasks and projects. In the same way that tasks are a modularized breakdown of a project, so are time entries a further breakdown of both tasks and projects. This level of granularity is crucial for three reasons.
1. Getting Paid
Clients will often ask for more than they realize. Then you show them a bill and they want to know why it is so much. Having tracked our time against each task the client requested, we can quickly generate a report detailing each request and how much time was tracked. Clients usually have very few questions after that and the invoice is subsequently paid. We have been spared a lot of client conflict by incorporating more accurate time tracking into our workflow.
When you start tracking your time you will be able to account for more of it. When we first adapted time tracking using web-based timers, our billable hours increased by 30%. And we stopped wondering where all our time was going, because now we knew exactly which tasks and projects were getting our attention. This information is invaluable when clients ask for an update, or a project manager wants to know how a project team is doing. Real-time reporting gives us answers other than “Let me get back to you on that.”
3. Predict. Track. Learn.
Regardless of whether or not you bill hourly for your services, you’ll want to know where your hours are going. Knowing how much time you spent on a project will ease the process of estimating similar projects in the future. Each project tracked gives you insight into where you are making the most profits and where you are losing money. In eight years of web development we perfected the process of estimating projects because we were continually accruing data on similar projects.
We have distilled our process into a time tracking and task management service, Intervals — our contribution to the growing web-based project management space. If you are looking to adapt a proven workflow into your business, Intervals might be for you. Try it for free to find out.