Approaching a time tracking we have tried many various solutions.
We let our team to pick the method, everyone could add projects and tasks.
As a result, everyone was doing it in a different way.
Our structures were very complex. The tasks were multiplied. We noticed a huge chaos in our reports.
Time tracking was telling us nothing.
In this post we want to share five types of ideal project structure. We have classified them basing on our clients’ experiences. Each of them represents different business goals.
Elements of ideal structure
Right project structure has a significant meaning in implementing time tracking in your teams to gain relevant and valuable data. From our observations we assume that the perfect structure should be:
- be an effect of real business goal,
- supplying legible and useful data,
- real – it should answer your needs and match your goals.
What makes the structure a bad one?
It takes some time to realize that the structure doesn’t provide the data we need. There is a bunch of reasons for this one:
- Very often you forget about your business goal. You should ask yourself what you are doing this for and what kind of data you need.
- Too detailed structure. In our team we created too many small tasks. This made the whole very unclear. The data occured useless. The information about 3 hours spent on a single article was telling us nothing.
- Too much latitude in adding projects and tasks. It doubled our tasks and brought a lot of disorder.
- No person in charge of the cohesion. We mentioned about it two previous times.
It is not possible to find an ideal structure that would fit all types of organizations. However, analyzing our clients’ schemes let us define five types. Each of them fulfills different business goals.
We chose ten customers basing on the number of members and their activity in TimeCamp.
Hopefully, the model structures will inspire you in creating your own.
I. Time Allocation
It is the most simple and most general structure divided into core organizational items. It might be projects, internal tasks, clients or employees.
We applied it in our marketing team as it enables us to set priorities and estimate if we spend appropriately much time on them. In our case these are projects and tasks. It also allows us to check on our team engagement.
Basing on data collected thanks to such structure we are able to assume who is the most committed or overworked. And better plan the work of the whole team.
Goals: allocation, engagement, priorities
II. Clients and Projects
There are three key goals fulfilled with Clients and Projects structure. One of them is to monitor the time burndown in projects or on particular clients. This helps to estimate the profitability of both and as a result, set priorities.
We applied it in our development team. Their tasks are divided into big projects, like Graphical Timesheets, Integrations, Reports or Usability. This allows us to check which assignments were more demanding and what is a probable date of the release.
In different companies the structure may be divided into clients. Another levels are projects and tasks.
Goals: estimation, planning, time burndown
III. Billing per Hour
It is the most obvious structure in companies that bill their clients hourly. It helps to charge accurately. What is more, it indicates projects profitability.
The most common division is the one containing clients who are then divided into projects and/or smaller tasks. This creates an order and makes the reports more legible and transparent. It also makes invoicing process more simple.
Such simple structures don’t appear very often. Companies want to get much more data from their time tracking. It is the reason why the most common are mixed structures.
Goal: accurate billing
IV. Clients and Projects + Time Allocation
Running a company or team requires many different information about its performance. Managers need to be aware of how much time is being allocated across projects, clients and employees. At the same time they want to know how many hours are absorbed by internal tasks.
Such structures may look very chaotic and disordered. On the other hand, they show the complexity of companies’ problems and their needs.
Goals: allocation, estimation, planning, engagement, priorities
V. Clients and Projects + Billing per Hour
In reality, not many companies use Billing per Hour as the only reason for recording time. The mix with Projects and Clients structure is very popular among creative agencies. They track time for their customers and assignments and bill for hour.
In such structure we notified internal nomenclature in naming projects and tasks. It is also pretty common that clients are the first level, which then goes deeper into projects and tasks.
Goals: accurately billing, profitability
Team Engagement is kind of a flip side of Time Allocation + Clients and Projects structure.
On the basis of the data collected it enables to find out more about your team’s work so you know who to reward or motivate. It also supplies very important information about its capacity. And enables to create clear reports for each member.
Goals: engagement, motivation
It is easier then to plan the work and divide tasks. When you’re a newbie in time tracking it may be hard to find a perfect structure at once. But this shouldn’t make you averse to the subject. Just experiment. If one is not working, make some conclusions, discuss it and test another one. Every team is a different culture, different point of view. You need to search to find one that will suit your needs. We know you’ll make it!