Re: Time keeping

Subject: Re: Time keeping
From: Pineapplesoft Mailing List Account <bulk -at- pineapplesoft -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2000 10:40:50 +0100

>Starting today the writers in my group are required to
>fill out a web-based form showing how much time they spend
>on each document during the day.

Time-tracking is important but I have always found that filling timesheet
is the least effective (not to mention least imaginative) approach to
time-tracking. Of course, that makes it very popular. Many companies I have
worked with rely on timesheets.

Unfortunately, timesheets take a lot of time to fill accurately. Most
people I have meet, when faced between tracking time accurately and making
up data simply make up the data ("I probably spent 4 hours on this") which,
in effect, defeats the purpose of having stylesheets.

Today I work mostly on projects (we agree on a delivery date and budget and
I am free to organize my work) so, being my own manager, I can see first
hand the need to track time: how do I fix deadlines and delivery dates
unless I know how long it will take? In the beginning I use the same
unimaginative method I had seen failed everywhere: timesheet. Of course, it
was a disaster.

Now I track my time by planning: I prepare a planning for the project, with
intermediate deadlines, etc. For example, I know that today I must be
working on examples. I must prepare two large examples.

I plan a lot but I plan realistically. I include overhead (I know that, on
average, I spent so many hours ready email, on the phone, etc.), the
unavoidable delays (customers will return comments late), and the fact that
I spend one day per month reading magazines. I also plan vacations, and
being sick. How do I plan for being sick? Over the years I have learned
that I am usually sick two or three days during the winter. I have learned
it so I plan for it.

Then I faithfully record any deviation from the planning. The problem with
timesheets is that they record everything. However when everything goes
according to plan, why waste time recording it?

Of course, when I deviate, I need to know why so I can adjust in the
future. This however is natural (unlike timesheets), if only because I must
justify the delays to the customer anyway ("I was expecting this for today").

It works well for me: if you ask me to plan work with which I am familiar,
I seldom deviate from my plan. Of course if I'm not familiar with the work
then I need some trial and error.

Benoît Marchal, Pineapplesoft

As e-commerce Grows, Understanding XML Becomes a Key Job Skill
XML by Example / $24.99 / ISBN 0-7897-2242-9 /

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