Agile teams typically track a few key metrics. Scrum teams may look at sprint velocity and sprint burndown, while Kanban teams may care about cycle time and throughput. The exact set of metrics and their importance is specific to each team.

A few of those metrics are fueled by team members tracking the time they spent on a task and updating the remaining hours for the task. This data feeds the burndown charts and inform future planning sessions. However, in order for these entries to provide maximum value to the team and keep others up to date, they need to be updated at least once a day.

Is Time Tracking Required?

On top of the need for daily effort tracking, some teams are required to track their time for accounting purposes, whether to enable client billing or to satisfy government regulations. This is often done in a separate system of record, with its own login and password and often cumbersome user interface, forcing the team members to enter the same data twice. Moreover, the tasks and stories that the team member is working on are not automatically available on their timesheets.

An Elegant Solution

At this point, you’re probably thinking to yourself that there’s got to be a better way, seeing how this duplication of effort is hurting the team productivity and morale, while making their time tracking less accurate. We, at VersionOne, had that same thought and we introduced a user-friendly Timesheet interface embedded within the platform that the team is already using every day in our Winter 2016 Release.  More importantly, the effort tracking data that the team is already updating feeds the Timesheet and vice versa, the time entered into the Timesheet can be viewed on the tasks and stories. The Timesheet even allows for a quick and easy update of your remaining “to do” for each task.

Team Effort Tracking Feeds the Timesheet and Vice Versa

Team Effort Tracking Feeds the Timesheet and Vice Versa

The Details That Delight

This new feature is available as of the Winter 2016 Release of the VersionOne Enterprise Agile Lifecycle platform. The Timesheet is available through the “My Home” menu in the application, as well as through the user menu, which allows for direct access from the TeamRoom. The initial Timesheet view shows all items that you already tracked time against in the current week, with quick access to add more items. When adding new items to the sheet, any item that you own is available for quick selection. Not seeing the item you need? Just start typing to look up any other item.

The Timesheet user interface is very intuitive and easy to use. Click into any cell to edit, type a new value, tab to the next field, repeat. Don’t bother looking for the Save buttons, as all edits are automatically saved. Of course, you can also navigate to any week, not just the current one, to view and edit your entries.

Sample Timesheet View

Sample Timesheet View

Easy Integrations

Given that the data is shared between effort tracking on stories/tasks and the Timesheet, any existing backend integrations will continue to work. If you don’t already have the data flowing into your back office reporting solution, the information you need is only an API call away.

Similarly, all of your existing reports that show effort progress will work the same way, will be fed by more accurate data collected from happier team members.

Stay tuned for additional articles introducing other Winter 2016 Release enhancements.


Join the Discussion

    • Paul Elia

      What is the best way to represent Paid Time Off (PTO) hours in VersionOne? We would like for VersionOne to be the only place that team members account for time. Without the ability to track PTO correctly (and a handful of other such non-task items that are outside of project metrics) this can’t be so; team members must account for time in VersionOne as well as a separate time system. This blog post seems to imply that VersionOne got it right and made it possible for VersionOne to be the source of truth for all team member time, so hopefully we are just missing something.

      We have Kanban and Scrum teams, which seems to provide an extra level of difficulty in having something like PTO where any user on any team or project may report such time, and that time has nothing to do with burn down charts etc. We have tried a couple of techniques and even paid for consulting time from VersionOne. Our consultant recommended templates for “overhead” time categories and tasks. When you actually try to use it, you see that this is idea has too many pitfalls. First, it is an error-prone burden on the Scrum and Kanban teams to keep a recurring/repeating “task” of this nature available for timesheets at all times. Second, PTO time pollutes velocity and cycle times. We only want our Scrum and Kanban team metrics to include the unique, planned, project-specific items that team members do, and once done, never return. Again, maybe we misunderstood the advice given.

      Note that we also need for PTO time to be frozen periodically so that frozen PTO time can’t be changed in VersionOne after it has been exported into our back office accounting system.

      Timesheets seems close, but no cigar when it comes to avoiding another system for timekeeping. We hope we’re wrong!

      • admin

        The typical way that customers represent PTO/sick/etc. hours in VersionOne is to track them as backlog items in a separate project with its own iteration schedule, matching their PTO review schedule. For example, if you review and “freeze” your PTO time monthly, you could have your iterations for this project set to monthly and then close each month (iteration) once the hours have been reviewed and approved.

        The backlog items (stories) could be long-lived and simply rolled over from iteration to iteration (month to month), once an iteration is closed. Keeping these items in their own project would keep your velocity and throughput calculations unaffected.

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