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  • Tracking work that is tracked elsewhere

    I'm a consultant. I work with a number of different clients, on a number of different projects. Each client will have its own set of tools for tracking progress on various tasks. This might be a wiki, a spreadsheet, a ticketing system, or a kanban or other card board.

    To take a real example, I have a client with whom I have the commitment to write the interface code that talks to another application, replacing dummy code that is already written. This is a task which is tracked on their kanban board, and will be reviewed daily by them, and every day that I work for the client.

    It seems to me that in order to be fully aware of all my options whenever I have discretionary time, I need to see the next action on this as an option. So I track it, and the many hundred other open loops for all my clients.

    The trouble is this is quite a lot of open loops, and it's also duplication because I need to keep the client's system up to date too. So there's double entry of data, which seems inefficient.

    However, this is work against which I have made a commitment, and if I'm not with a given client for a few days or weeks I need to see this information in my own system. So I persevere. It just feels a bit clumsy.

    The problem is that as a consultant I might come up with thirty or more projects in half a day's work. Some of these will be picked up by the client, but I need to keep track of them. Having a project in my own GTD implementation for each of these for each client is a vast amount of data. Maybe that just models the amount of stuff I have to manage on a day to day basis?

    Any ideas? Do you think I'm going about this the right way?

  • #2
    my opinion: clumsy but needed...

    Originally posted by LordCope View Post
    It seems to me that in order to be fully aware of all my options whenever I have discretionary time, I need to see the next action on this as an option. So I track it, and the many hundred other open loops for all my clients.

    The trouble is this is quite a lot of open loops, and it's also duplication because I need to keep the client's system up to date too. So there's double entry of data, which seems inefficient.

    However, this is work against which I have made a commitment, and if I'm not with a given client for a few days or weeks I need to see this information in my own system. So I persevere. It just feels a bit clumsy.

    The problem is that as a consultant I might come up with thirty or more projects in half a day's work. Some of these will be picked up by the client, but I need to keep track of them. Having a project in my own GTD implementation for each of these for each client is a vast amount of data. Maybe that just models the amount of stuff I have to manage on a day to day basis?

    Any ideas? Do you think I'm going about this the right way?
    I'm a consultant too, but unlike you I have not got the type of clients that have their own follow up systems. So everything is just in my own system. But I do recognize the multitude of projects and the many many open loops in different projects.

    I think you are considering all the right arguments here:
    - it is a commitment
    - you might be working on them if you're not at the client
    ... so you need to track it

    And yes:
    - it is redundant, in the meaning that you have to record the same info twice, it is not redundant in the way that you only record it once in your own system
    - it feels clumsy? well, yes, it is probably a clumsy way of working, but I don't see all of your clients switching to one system just because of you, so you will have to be the flexible one

    Maybe you can be rather strict in what you put in your own system. For example a NA that you can only work on at the client site, you could just record in the client system. But if there's a possibility you could work on it in between client visits, then yes, it should be in your system too.

    Myriam

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    • #3
      hmmm....

      I don't really have any structural suggestions for your system but from some of the comments you gave, I got the impression that you should probably try to negotiate a wage increase. Or if you freelance, just up your rates. It seems that you can handle the work load but but the inefficiencies irritate you. When I get irritated by inefficiencies, I charge more.

      Just a thought...

      Comment


      • #4
        It's not just an efficiency issue

        I also have multiple clients with multiple projects per client and often have tasks in an external system. I find myself copying and pasting text from a web based app into Outlook tasks. But, I don't think there's anything wrong with having the multiple systems. Here's why:

        1. This is a classic "project support" situation. At least in my case those external systems contain not just next actions, but all project tasks. So, while there is duplication of effort to some degree, my personal system only tracks the next action while that team system is the repository for the complete project.

        2. We need to collaborate. Tasks are assigned not just to me, but to others. Also, those external systems are how I communicate task progress, schedule, etc. I have NO interest in inviting my clients into my personal information! I like the firewall between my NA's and projects and what the client is seeing.

        3. Those systems keep a lot of technical attributes about tasks and projects that would clutter and confuse my personal system if combined. The tasks in those systems have special attributes (types of status, priority, etc.) that only make sense for that one client. It would be impractical to try and mandate one system for everyone even if I could.

        I am providing a service, so I don't mind using their system. More often than not they don't have one and I have to provide one anyway -- but I give them access to a shared web project tracking system that is not my system since I just don't feel like they serve the same primary need. One is for me and my life, the other is for their specific project and all it needs. I wouldn't mind a little automated job that shuffled next actions from one to the other... but for now, that's the weekly review.

        Comment


        • #5
          question on the side

          Originally posted by mebstein View Post
          More often than not they don't have one and I have to provide one anyway -- but I give them access to a shared web project tracking system
          What web project tracking system do you use when your client doen's have a tracking system of his own?

          Myriam

          Comment


          • #6
            Multiple systems - when you don't want things in two places

            I work for a large bank. I don't want to track work items in my personal computer - nor for compliance, privacy, and a host of other reasons would I want to track my personal things at work. Not to mention most sites that I would use to do that are blocked through my work computer.

            But the two intersect. I have daily things I need to do that are personal, but being that I work from home I do them during typical "work hours". And I might not look at my personal computer all day - leaving potential to forget an important personal task if I don't track it on my work computer.

            If anyone has any good tips for working in multiple systems, please share. Or do I just give in and create a list on my work computer? I thought perhaps emailing it to myself at the end of each workday might be a work-around.

            Any suggestions?

            Comment


            • #7
              Web-based tools

              Originally posted by Myriam View Post
              What web project tracking system do you use when your client doen's have a tracking system of his own?

              Myriam
              For simple projects I use Basecamp (http://basecamphq.com/). I'm a software developer so for more complex projects I use a system designed for agile project management called XPLive (http://www.extremeplannerlive.com/). There are fancier ones out there (I really like the looks of OnTime by Axosoft (http://www.axosoft.com/), but this one is very simple for non-technical users and reasonably priced for the hosted solution.

              Comment


              • #8
                Paper?

                Originally posted by Petersenk1 View Post
                If anyone has any good tips for working in multiple systems, please share. Or do I just give in and create a list on my work computer? I thought perhaps emailing it to myself at the end of each workday might be a work-around.

                Any suggestions?
                I have happily used a paper system at various times. I wonder if that would make life easier for you. It's simple, reliable, portable and private.

                Comment

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