Track time spent on tasks for better estimating and reporting

John Reeve | August 16th, 2019 | , , ,

Track time spent on tasks for better estimating and reporting

Time tracking is a discipline that can be difficult to incorporate into your day to day workflow. With practice, however, it becomes second nature and the efforts spent tracking time pays for itself in the form of more accurate billing.

That’s just one benefit. There are others. Assuming you are breaking down your projects into tasks, there are two major benefits to be had if you track time spent on each of those tasks separately. Your estimating and reporting efforts will improve significantly.

Better estimating

Estimating projects is hard. It’s an educated guess as to how much time a project is going to require. But when you have data from tracking time spent on tasks, you can deconstruct the project scope into smaller tasks and compare them to similar work on past projects. Then reconstruct your project estimate based on the sum of the task estimates.

If some of the project scope isn’t based on repeatable work, estimate that task to the best of your ability, and track the time spent on it. You’ll have that data for the next project estimate. The biggest benefit of tracking time spent on tasks is that each estimate gets more accurate than the last.

Better reporting

Reports are critical to gauging productivity and profitability, but they have to be detailed enough to make sense. High level reports are great for gauging project health at a glance, but, detailed reports are far superior for analyzing a project and communicating with clients.

When you track time spent on tasks, the reports will show you exactly where your time is going, and what caused the project to go over budget or past deadline. These reports will also communicate to the client where their money is being spent. Detailed reports based on task level time tracking data provide a feedback loop to both the team and the client, giving them the data needed to decide how to spend time and money most effectively.

How to get started tracking time spent on tasks

The best way to get started is to employ task management software with time tracking capabilities built in. Plug in a project and its tasks, then start tracking your time. Run a few reports during the project, and then do a full deep dive analysis once the project is complete. The results will surprise you.

Our own Intervals task management and time tracking software is a great starting point. We offer a free and fully functional trial. Click here to try it out.

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A collection of useful tips, tales and opinions based on decades of collective experience designing and developing web sites and web-based applications.

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Intervals is online time, task and project management software built by and for web designers, developers and creatives.
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John Reeve
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John Reeve

John is a co-founder, web designer and developer at Pelago. His blog posts are inspired by everyday encounters with designers, developers, creatives and small businesses in general. John is an avid reader and road cyclist.
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Jennifer Payne
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Jennifer Payne

Jennifer is the Director of Quality and Efficiency at Pelago. Her blog posts are based largely on her experience working with teams to improve harmony and productivity. Jennifer is a cat person.
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Michael Payne
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Michael Payne

Michael is a co-founder and product architect at Pelago. His contributions stem from experiences managing the development process behind web sites and web-based applications such as Intervals. Michael drives a 1990 Volkswagen Carat with a rebuilt 2.4 liter engine from GoWesty.
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