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Time tracking - seriously?

A few days ago I read a beautiful comment:

The man without time tracking doesn’t know what he did.

What is the first thing to do after holidays? Fill time tracking.

Did you have same feelings? Me too. Many times, probably too many.

Issues and time

The agile development should be simple. Someone, for example, a product owner or the boss decides what has the top priority. In Kanban, it is very simple. The team put an issue on the top and do it as the next one. In Scrum situation is a bit more complicated. We need to wait for the next sprint or to the next-next sprint. Sometimes even the next-next-…-next sprint. Because some issues aren’t as much important after few weeks/days/hours. In theory, we should delete such issues, but real life isn’t so simple.

Anyway, we start doing the issue. Of course, we also start logging time. Good guys log time as soon as possible (ASAP). For example in the end of the day. Bad guys log it using different ASAP- “Around September August Probably”.

The sum must equal

The time has passed. And suddenly once a year/quarter/month the team leader receive a notification. Probably you cannot believe this, but a total number of hours doesn’t equal to proper sum. A poor team leader with his own team search where is an error or who forget to log some time. Two hours later everything is correct. A total sum equal to the proper total. Hallelujah!

What for?

Now hold down for a while. What happens next? Is anybody looking at this data and analyze them? If the answer is yes, you are a happy man. Time spend on time tracking is useful and important. Because creating conclusions, based on it can be really useful. Especially in future, for making estimations about next tasks/projects/issues. The problem is when the answer is no. Then the whole time tracking is just a waste of time.

Measure or not?

Ideal programmers, life is just 4 steps: Eat, Sleep, Code, Repeat. Everything else is distractive. But we are optimizers. We are lazy. We want to automate stuff. How much you spend only on the full code compilation. Full time from CTRL+S in IDE to view effects in a browser. Is it 2 hours a day? Or maybe only 10 minutes? What about deployment process. How much it takes in a month in total? Few hours or maybe few days? In most time tracking tools, we cannot answer such questions. We just measure for measurement. Of course, you don’t have to measure everything every day. Such measurement will cost too much. But from time to time it can be really helpful. Beacuse you should measure smart, to reduce boring tasks. To have more fun. Just use following 4 steps: Do, Measure, Improve, Repeat.

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