With roughly 10 years of professional experience under my belt, I’ve used several different tools to track time. Some were good, others bad, some were simple, while others were complex. When it comes to time tracking, for me it’s all about ease of use. I don’t want something overly cumbersome that requires intense training sessions to learn how to use.
On the other hand, as a Project Manager I want something that’s VERY detailed so that I can see how things are progressing in case I need to make adjustments. My company recently changed over to Harvest (www.getharvest.com), and now that I’ve had a few months to use it I must say that it’s probably the best I’ve used to date. Below are a few remarks that you might find helpful if you’re considering making the switch.
It’s Easy to Use
It really is… now there’s no excuse for not tracking time! You don’t need a special training session; just select your project and task, add any relevant notes (my company uses this religiously) and start the clock. Depending on your preference, there are several ways to track your time, including a desktop widget (probably the most popular), a mobile app in case you’re offsite, or you can log it directly into a web browser.
Since my job requires me to regularly bounce between projects (often multiple times daily), I’ve found that the web browser works best for me. It allows me to easily view multiple projects simultaneously, so rather of logging every time I spend few minutes on a project, I take 5-10 minutes at the end of the day and do it all at once.
This was a big selling point for me. I can look at time in a number of different ways depending on what information I’m trying to gather. Say that I want to track a specific team member, on a particular project, over a two weeks time period, in real time. A few clicks of the mouse are all that it takes. If you ever want to download and work directly from a spreadsheet, it can do that too. My only problem with this is how you receive the downloaded file. First, its not immediate, you basically put in a request, and then you will receive an email when it’s ready to download. Once you receive the email, you have to click a link taking you back to their website, where you have to log in again, before being able to download the document. It’s not too much of a pain, but enough to irk me each time I have to go back through the process.
This is by far my favorite feature. No more worrying about going over budget! Set alerts to notify you when you reach a percentage of the project budget. The only problem I have found is that I can only set one per project (I’d prefer to know when we hit 30, 60, 90 & 100 percent of the budget). That said, I’m not complaining because one is certainly better than none.
As I mentioned before, my company has only been using this software for a few months now so I’m sure there are plenty of features & functionality that I have yet to take advantage of (like sending invoices). Make sure to check back in the future for a part II!