Time tracking is a very controversial topic among most developers. There are some, who think time tracking is incredibly productive, while others think it's a 'colossal waste of time'. It doesn't make them code any faster or make a bug-free software. If time tracking could do all these things, they'd never resist!
Developers see time tracking as a tedious process because it was conventionally used as a controlling mechanism. Productivity and accountability should be the driving force for steering the development ship.
But, just like most creative problem-solving professions, software development isn't easily measured. The number of widgets developed isn't a reflection of a software developer's skill or performance. It isn't about completing 'more' tasks, but focussing on innovative solutions, collaboration, and quality control for software teams. This has lead to a rapid shift from traditional to agile software development and developers all over the globe are embracing this change. You take over greater responsibility and ownership over your time and the work that you’re doing.
However, this doesn't put a stop to the time tracking process. Time tracking can come across as - we trust you, but we're always keeping an eye on you.
There needs to be a shift not just in the way you push out code but also in the mindset. Instead of putting time tracking as a process for you or managers to control development from the top, there should be an honest conversation about more responsibility for the team.
Developers usually take a methodical and calculative approach to problem-solving. They analyse the problem, consider all scenarios and then come up with a solution — all of it is a time-consuming process. It's about finding the right solution, not the quickest. A haphazard implementation will only lead to additional problems. When time tracking is used as a mechanism for control, the performance is confined to a timesheet. Meeting deadlines and completing projects on time are signs of a high-performing development team, but so is developing an innovative and elegant solution. Tracking time should be a metric for self-governance and not management control.
You'll need to reframe the mindset around tracking time. Have a discussion with your team — listen to their concerns and look for any red flags. Address the worries, explain the process of tracking time. It's done to increase efficiency. It's not yet another way to control the team. It would offer the team the much-needed transparency and can be a great way to reflect on their performance.
The management team can be tempted to monitor the timesheets and check the number of completed tasks. This should be avoided. As a team lead, you should have a clear dialogue about the purpose of recording time and the value it would bring to the team. Time logs and timesheets shouldn't be used to penalise the team members, but use the information to empower them.
Now that we've discussed the change in mindset, let's cover the logistic side of time tracking. Even after you've explained the reason for time tracking the act of starting a time tracker and then ending it on time seems like a herculean task. Half the battle is won if you give your team the right tool to track time. The point of tracking time is to keep time, not waste it. Your team needs something easy, quick and reliable. We have — EasyTime, an automatic time tracking app for Jira. Unlike most apps available, the developers don't have to go out of their way to track time like start and stop a tracker or change issue status. It works on the relative priority of events — viewing the issue, commenting or resolving it. All they have to do is work through the issues on Jira, and leave it on EasyTime to automatically fill their timesheet apps like Tempo timesheet.
Work the time logs into your sprint planning, retrospective, and annual reviews. Preferably, time logs in Jira shouldn't be shared publicly but be more focussed on individual performance. You can use time logs to identify bottle-necks or adjustments that can be made to improve team performance.
Time tracking isn't anyone's favorite thing, but keeping time is important for a business to thrive. EasyTime is a perfect fit for all high-performing teams who have no time to keep time. It makes life easy for team leads to allocate resources, improve processes and create an effective team.
This post has been inspired by Why Software Teams Hate Tracking Time (And What Team Leads Can Do About It) by Tyler Hakes
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