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Time sheets in Agile world

Pradeep bhatt
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Joined: Feb 27, 2002
Posts: 8919

Hi all,

Does it make sense to have timesheets when one is using an Agile process. We meet everyday in a standup meeting so that everyone know what others are doing, what is the point in having a separate tool for time sheet?


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fred rosenberger
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  16

do the bean counters show up to your standup meeting?


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JeanLouis Marechaux
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Joined: Nov 12, 2001
Posts: 906
I believe you can see this on 2 different perspectives

1-On a philosophical perspective.
Using Agile practices and Scrum, filling in a timesheet does not really bring additional value to the team. It is is a valueless effort and you are not going to produce and deliver your application any faster with it

2-On a practical perspectives
The organization you work for always need to collect metrics on the time spent by employees on projects and tasks. We can argue it is useless, but just face it, that is the reality and we probably never be able to change that. Bean counters are there for quite long. So let�s live with them.

The best you can do to minimize the timesheet effects is to have coarse grained activities in that timesheet, to speed up the feeding process of that beast.


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Pradeep bhatt
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Joined: Feb 27, 2002
Posts: 8919

Originally posted by Fred Rosenberger:
do the bean counters show up to your standup meeting?


Hi,
I am not sure whether I understand what bean counters mean. If you are refering to the project manager then the answer is yes.
Ilja Preuss
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Joined: Jul 11, 2001
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Well, the basic question to answer is: who is using the information in the time sheets, and for what?


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Jeanne Boyarsky
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Joined: May 26, 2003
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232

Originally posted by Pradip Bhat:
Does it make sense to have timesheets when one is using an Agile process.

Yes! I can think of a few reasons:
1) How does the PM know how many hours a task took? People don't always work the same # of hours each day. Even if you strictly follow a 35 or 40 hour week, there are meetings and other non-project tasks like upgrading your IDE. It helps the PM plan if he/she has the actual data.
2) If you work on more than one project, how do you track how much time is spent on what?
3) It helps HR get you paid.


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Chris Hendy
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If you are working in commercial software development, the timesheet hours can be used for billing clients with T&M contracts.
Ilja Preuss
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Originally posted by Jeanne Boyarsky:
How does the PM know how many hours a task took?


Why would he need to know?

People don't always work the same # of hours each day. Even if you strictly follow a 35 or 40 hour week, there are meetings and other non-project tasks like upgrading your IDE. It helps the PM plan if he/she has the actual data.


I'm not sure I understand how a PM would use that data.

As far as I can tell, all the PM needs to know to plan is how much the team can accomplish in an iteration. I don't see how time sheets are needed for that.

Could you please elaborate? Thanks!


2) If you work on more than one project, how do you track how much time is spent on what?


Well, yes - ignoring for the moment that working for more than one project at a time is highly ineffective - you probably had to note how much time you spent on what project. I'd think that a granularity of "half a day here, half a day there" would probably suffice?


3) It helps HR get you paid.


How does it do that? I'd think that all they needed was my bank account number...
Pradeep bhatt
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Originally posted by Ilja Preuss:
Well, the basic question to answer is: who is using the information in the time sheets, and for what?


I am not sure who uses it. Maybe it is just to say to higher management to say we follow this process religiously.
Thank God I have moved out of that project. Otherwise I would get a weekly reminder- 'You have not enetered your time sheet for the week' Finally I would enter some non-sense and I am concluding that this is not read by manager.
Pradeep bhatt
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Posts: 8919

Originally posted by Chris Hendy:
If you are working in commercial software development, the timesheet hours can be used for billing clients with T&M contracts.


Right but I was involved in a product development. There were no customers.
Pradeep bhatt
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Joined: Feb 27, 2002
Posts: 8919

Originally posted by Jeanne Boyarsky:

Yes! I can think of a few reasons:
1) How does the PM know how many hours a task took? People don't always work the same # of hours each day. Even if you strictly follow a 35 or 40 hour week, there are meetings and other non-project tasks like upgrading your IDE. It helps the PM plan if he/she has the actual data.
2) If you work on more than one project, how do you track how much time is spent on what?
3) It helps HR get you paid.


Thanks Jeanne Boyarsky

Some questions.

2)If I am working on a single project ?
3)May be I am wrong , I think the salary is fixed. Does it vary depending on number of hours you work ? Someone gets hired for a project and they would pay him the same irrespective of whether he/she works for 10 hrs or 1 hr? Is it different in the EU ?

Christophe Verré
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2) If you work on more than one project, how do you track how much time is spent on what?

You don't want that I've experienced it. No, no, you really don't want that.


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Jeanne Boyarsky
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Originally posted by Ilja Preuss:
As far as I can tell, all the PM needs to know to plan is how much the team can accomplish in an iteration. I don't see how time sheets are needed for that.

Could you please elaborate?

In a completely agile world, this might not be necessary. If everyone is not agile, it is useful for dealing with senior management. It also helps estimate tasks when new people join the team. A new person doesn't have the team's intuition on estimating user stories. Granted this can be done verbally. That said, I find it valuable to track my time on a personal level for this purpose. I was tracking my time on a detailed basis before my company required that level of detail. Since I don't have the luxury of focusing one task per day, I like the keep a record of how long things take so I can give better estimates for my tasks. I'm very concious of my time management.


Well, yes - ignoring for the moment that working for more than one project at a time is highly ineffective - you probably had to note how much time you spent on what project. I'd think that a granularity of "half a day here, half a day there" would probably suffice?

I didn't say it was effective. I am in that boat though. And I don't do my work at the granularity of half a day. Today I worked on project/tech management, coding, testing other people's work, fixed a bug, installed a new version of a software product, attended two status meetings, discussed our component strategy and refactored some dead code away. (I imagine I did some other things I forgot as my timesheet is at work.) This all blends together. And if I had to rely on my memory I wouldn't be able to give a reliable estimate for anything.


How does it do that? I'd think that all they needed was my bank account number...

Some people get paid per hour like consultants. And some employees get paid extra for overtime. While I agree overtime should be avoided, sometimes it is necessary - like when there is a production problem!
Jeanne Boyarsky
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232

Originally posted by Pradip Bhat:
2)If I am working on a single project ?
3)May be I am wrong , I think the salary is fixed. Does it vary depending on number of hours you work ? Someone gets hired for a project and they would pay him the same irrespective of whether he/she works for 10 hrs or 1 hr? Is it different in the EU ?


2) There's less value if you are working on a single project unless you have a lot of non-project work. (installing software, non-project meetings, etc)
3) I am not in the EU. I am in the US. We get paid overtime if we work a certain number of hours over normal. And accounting uses it for budgeting. More importantly, we don't hire people for a project specifically. We hire them for a team and the project is one of their responsibilities.
Stan James
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I can imagine wanting to correlate velocity to actual hours on the project, vs illness, vacation, training, meetings, holidays. I've also been on a team with multiple customers where we had to make our time sheets line up with the dollars each one budgeted. We just computed the hours from the money and wrote that down.


A good question is never answered. It is not a bolt to be tightened into place but a seed to be planted and to bear more seed toward the hope of greening the landscape of the idea. John Ciardi
Ilja Preuss
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Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 14112
I can well imagine tracking time spent per project for management/HR.

I can well imagine tracking time spent per task for personal use.

Management/HR asking for latter information still sounds dysfunctional to me. That information simply isn't necessary to know whether I spent overtime etc.
Ralph Miner
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Joined: Nov 21, 2007
Posts: 2
Accounting will often want to know where developers time is spent. Time spent on new projects can be amortized over several years while time spent supporting legacy code needs to be handled differently. This impacts the taxes that the company has to pay. It is okay to ask your stakeholders why they want the information, but sometimes they need information from the team that provides no value to the team.
Scott Ambler
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There are a lot of issues that developers often aren't aware of, or interested in (thereby motivating the lack of awareness), that are critical to successfully running an IT shop. Tax treatment has been mentioned, as well as basic budgeting. Portfolio management is critical to the success of your IT project, and part of that is understanding the ROI and IRR provided by teams. Your project could provide an IRR of 15%, which sounds really good in your silo view of the world, but if your organization requires 20% return on capital then the team has a problem.

Your overall IT governance effort often requires basic metrics such as time spent for costing issues, and an important part of that is time spent on various efforts. You can often do significant process improvement based on simple metrics such as this. Doing retrospectives each iteration may be good for a team, but what about the rest of the org that you're working in?

IMHO, the agile community needs to get a lot better at looking at the bigger picture. We've done a pretty good job at improving software development techniques, but there's a lot more to software development than software development.

Then again, some time management efforts aren't very effective because of poor governance. So I guess the real answer is that it depends. ;-)

- Scott


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Jeanne Boyarsky
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Originally posted by Scott Ambler:
but there's a lot more to software development than software development

This is going on my quote wall!
Ilja Preuss
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Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 14112
Originally posted by Scott Ambler:
There are a lot of issues that developers often aren't aware of, or interested in (thereby motivating the lack of awareness), that are critical to successfully running an IT shop.


To be fair, another reason for missing awareness is that often enough the people who need the numbers don't bother to explain.
Scott Ambler
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But to be really fair, how hard is it to ask "Could you please explain to me how these numbers/forms/reports/paperwork/... is being used?"

- Scott
Ilja Preuss
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Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 14112
Originally posted by Scott Ambler:
But to be really fair, how hard is it to ask "Could you please explain to me how these numbers/forms/reports/paperwork/... is being used?"


Not hard to ask. Might be harder to get a usable answer. And even harder to get a discussion going on what the best solution for *both* sides would look like.

Reaching mutual understanding is the key here, or so it seems to me, and for that, *both* sides need to be cooperative.
 
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