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time and metrics tracking

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  • time and metrics tracking

    Does anyone have any advice on tracking hours worked on specific projects, goals reached and stuff like that? We're going to very specific metric-oriented evaluations for my organization, including time spent on processes as well as our former big picture goals, like how money was raised.

    For example, I need to track how long I worked on a program and which days, which of several grants it was tied to, and then be able to drag it all up again at the end of the year to write the final reports.

    Or I need to be able to report to my director that I made 5 contacts with Funder X, on these dates, and this is what we talked about.

    I use Outlook and an ancient Visor. (I don't want to give it up, I love it and it is in many ways much nicer than the chintzy ones I see these days, although I would not refuse a T-5 if Santa brought it.)

    But it isn't so much that I am interested in software - I am wondering where this all fits in with the GTD process. Is it a task? What next action? Does it just get noted on my calendar, and then I have to dig for it at the end of the year? Is it only part of my weekly review?

    I think perhaps I am confusing myself here, but can't quite put my finger on it. If anyone could guide my thinking, I'd appreciate it!

    Thanks,
    Emkay

  • #2
    Check Iambic, long time ago Agendus can do that.

    Comment


    • #3
      Outlook offers a very simplistic method of tracking these things.

      By using Journal entries you can track a number of things:
      phonecalls, tasks, meetings etc.

      You can also assign them to categories Projects, @calls etc.

      There is a timer built in to the journal entry as well.

      The real drawback to this system is remembering to start and stop the timer whenever you switch projects.

      cheers.

      JC

      Comment


      • #4
        More about Journal entries.

        You can also have outlook track MS Office documents
        Word documents and Exel Spreadsheets

        These documents are automatically tracked for duration they are open, and every time they are used.

        At your weekly review you can go through those entries and assign them to projects/categories etc.

        Comment


        • #5
          time and metrics tracking

          Bassdrone42, thanks very much - I guess I knew you could use Outlook journal but did not know it could be sorted so many ways. That will definitley help me track by funder, etc.

          Apinaud, I need to look into Agendus. I have to use Outlook for work, so am stuck with it for the moment. I sync between Datebook and Outlook.

          Now here's a further question for both of you- do you do this sort of thing as part of your weekly review, or blocked-out time on the calendar, or what? Or just on the fly?

          Thanks!
          emkay

          Comment


          • #6
            I am fortunate enough to not have too many items like that to track.
            That being said, I do occasionally (not weekly) review the spreadsheets I work on, and the amount of emails I send, just to give myself an idea of where I am spending my time.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: time and metrics tracking

              Originally posted by emkay
              Bassdrone42, thanks very much - I guess I knew you could use Outlook journal but did not know it could be sorted so many ways. That will definitley help me track by funder, etc.

              Apinaud, I need to look into Agendus. I have to use Outlook for work, so am stuck with it for the moment. I sync between Datebook and Outlook.

              Now here's a further question for both of you- do you do this sort of thing as part of your weekly review, or blocked-out time on the calendar, or what? Or just on the fly?

              Thanks!
              emkay
              emkay:

              Agendus will sync just fine with your Outlook data. I was a long time user of the program but switched to KeySuite from Chapura as it is more faithful to the Outlook data set (but lacks some of the advanced bells and whistles in Agendus). As my Palm use is primarily for quick reference and not a lot of data entry, this works fine for me.

              The only warning I will give you about Agendus is that you have to pay an upgrade fee for every new version which became onerous over time for me.

              Comment


              • #8
                I am wondering where this all fits in with the GTD process. Is it a task? What next action? Does it just get noted on my calendar, and then I have to dig for it at the end of the year? Is it only part of my weekly review?
                Tracking and record keeping is not part of the GTD process. (At least, there's no mention of it in the book that I can recall.) GTD presents work habits that virtually anyone who has a lot of commitments needs, and tracking is probably not a universal need. However, you do need it, so of course there's nothing wrong with extending GTD to suit your own needs.

                How to think of it in the context of GTD? Well, in my mind GTD is more generally about creating and maintaining usefully-structured information using tools (lists, reference materials) and appropriate processing habits (everything goes to In, define next action, weekly review). What tool will allow you to structure this information so that you can quickly retrieve what you need later? And what habits will work best to capture this information effectively?

                What about extending the GTD habit of asking "What's the next action?" to include something like "What's the next action and do I have to track it?" Then when you put a next action on your list, you automatically include some indication of whether it needs tracking. Say you use a + symbol to the left of the next action on your list if it needs to be tracked. Then, every time you choose a next action from your list, you'll see that you need to track it, and start recording that information with whatever tool in whatever format you've chosen. Then you'll never need to rely on your memory. Recording things as they happen is easier and much more accurate than relying on memory.

                The tool and format you choose is important. Others on this thread have already suggested promising ones I'm not familiar with. For basic Day-Timer type journal entries I use Daynotez, but I think your type of tracking requires a more sophisticated tool. Hopefully Outlook or Agendus will be it. I'm imagining something like Quicken but specialized for time rather than money, but I don't know if a ready-made tool like this exists.

                Actually, since your organization wants this information, they should provide a tool for the information and a standard process for recording it, as well as efficient ways to summarize the information usefully. The nature of business competition is changing; time is becoming more and more critical. Maybe the future holds accounting procedures for time as well as for money. Seems logical to me!

                -andersons

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                • #9
                  Time/Project tracking on Windows

                  I have used this product for years: simple, easy, and great reports; also not expensive.

                  Account Manager

                  http://winnovation.com/acctm.htm

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thank you all so very much for the thoughtful replies.

                    I love new software! I quit smoking years ago, and it is my only vice left. I will definitely check out what's been proposed. I'm thinking I'll need to test-drive Agendus and KeySuites and Daynotez all. And I took a quick look at Account Manager, and it also looks like it has great adaptability to my needs. Thanks for the lead, flamme.

                    andersons, your advice about "next action AND it must be tracked" seems to be the piece I was missing - the process part.

                    I was fairly certain it wasn't just software that was the problem, but I was having trouble "finding" it in GTD - where in the workflow it would be done.
                    And a very good idea to mark it with a + too - I will see that. All the stuff I need to track was getting lost day to day, but a + is something that will show easily in any format, even if I'm scribbling on a piece of paper outdoors or wherever.

                    Can't thank you all enough,
                    emkay

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I agree with Anderson's post on this one. Definately its not about software its about process.

                      "next action and does it need tracking" would work if you add it to the rest of the GTD discipline.

                      As far as recording goes my advice is that you first work out the dimensions you wish to report by:

                      Project
                      People
                      Task
                      etc

                      Define what your 'output' looks like first.

                      Then start with a very simple paper based form to capture 'input' data and record it against those 'output' dimensions for a couple of weeks. When you come to analyse this it will give you more insights into what you want as 'output'. Trust me I used to design data capture systems.

                      When you have done this will have a much better way to assess the software systems to see if they best fit your needs. Otherwise you have a solution looking for a problem rather that visa versa.

                      Good Luck.

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