Agile with (Automatic) Time Tracking. Pivotal Tracker + TimeCamp Case

  • April 9, 2014
  • by Jakub Szyszka
  • No comments

Do you want to know how does your current Sprint Burndown Chart look like? Do you miss exact, historical data about the time your team needs to finish a particular task? Is it hard to estimate how long will the next feature take? This may be a sign that you should start to track time within your organization.

Perhaps managing your projects you use some kind of software designed for it, ex., Pivotal Tracker which enables team cooperation. But the thing that really matters is the time needed to finish the project. The scrum methodology with its Sprint Burndown Chart allows to constantly monitor the work. It presents the progress and allows to detect possible delays in delivering the project.

time tracking graphics

However, though it helps to plan resources, including time, those estimations are not as precise as the one received with time tracking software. This may create some difficulties the managers need to face.

Scrum’s Imperfection

The first thing is that the chart itself doesn’t provide the information about the exact amount of time left to finish the project. At the end of each sprint you know which of your tasks were not accomplished and should be re-planned or dumped. The time remaining to project completion is only the one agreed-upon. The real one stays unknown.

The reason is that very often the managers do not really know the exact amount of time spent on a specific assignment. The sprints have their duration outlined in the plan, but it’s just an approximation, which helps you divide the work and resources. In reality, due to various circumstances, the task can require less or more hours to get it done. But you can’t know it without accurate insights.

There is something more, without relevant data you are not able to make any estimations in the future. Without the knowledge about time allocation and its usage, it is extremely hard to plan a scrum. Having no clue about time units needed to accomplish any type of assignments there is a poor possibility that you are going to be precise in dividing scrum into sprints. As a result, you under- or overestimate them and have to deal with other problems.

Scrum Time Tracking

Using a professional software to record hours of your team’s work gives you a very complete and current knowledge about the time burndown in your project. You are more aware what actually happens in it as allows to relate the time usage with the actual status of the assignment and more accurately plan further actions. With such background there is no option that someone will add more features to the sprint what in fact may delay the delivery.

Current Sprint Burndown Chart

Besides that, by extending your project management tool with time recorder you are supplied with more powerful data – the detailed insights about the exact time spent on a single feature. Thanks to this you are able to more precisely pinpoint the results of each sprint and the progress of your team’s work.

Accurate Historical Data

All of the above influence one important thing – future estimations. Good managers do not make their decisions on the ground of assumptions. Of course, every venture has some risk involved. However, to be successful, your plans should be backed with relevant figures. Data collected with desktop time tracker software enables to do it better and makes you more reliable not only for your clients but also for your team.

How It Works?

Syncing Pivotal Tracker with TimeCamp’s time tracking you have two ways to record hours spent on the assignments. After creating the items in your project management tool, adding people to the team you can run the integration, which will help you keep the pace and watch if everything goes as smooth as it should.

pivotal tracker

The first option is to add the time manually. When you run the integration all chosen story cards will be imported and set in TimeCamp as projects which will contain all the tasks assigned to it. You decide if you want to log hours spent on them after you finish by filling your timesheets or to run the timer when you start doing your job.

The big advantage of it is that it helps to stay focused on your current tasks. But it’s also very easy to lose the track and miss the precious minutes. You and your team may get distracted by some external factors. They make you drop the activity and forget to stop the timer or estimate how much time was spent efficiently and how much not.

That’s why the better option is to use automatic time tracking which registers computer activities taken by the team members. Basing on precisely defined unique keywords for each errand TimeCamp assigns particular actions to the right item.

The greatest advantage of it is that this doesn’t require much of attention and intervention. Everything works in the background. The problem may occur if the phrases were not precisely set. Then the activities may be dropped to the wrong project or stay unassigned. However, it can be simply fixed with just few mouse clicks and moving them to the right place.

Pivotal Tracker is just an option. There are other tools that might be used in your scrums like Jira or Redmine, for example. They all help you manage your projects and lead it to an end. However, as some say, you can’t manage what you can’t measure. And time is the most important resource. Tracking actual project hours helps to detect project overrun and underrun. It allows to monitor team’s efficiency – detect low performers and overtime. Finally, for hourly projects the time registered helps to bill the client accurately to the work done. Isn’t that enough to try it?

Jakub Szyszka

Content Marketing Specialist at TimeCamp. Passionate about being another frustrated musician ;) Most recently immersed in the adventurous world of content marketing and brand building.

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