Surprisingly enough, time tracking is quite a controversial subject in the world of developers. Some swear by it, and say it improves their productivity and helps them increase their ROI. Yet, others claim that the work software developers do doesn't really lend itself to tracking and they don't get any benefits from it.
Some developers say that they enjoy to switch things up and work on several small projects at the same time (exact situation where software development time tracking tool is useful), but others say that development is best served by focusing on a single big project for most of your time.
As fewer development jobs are focused on hiring full-time, in-house employees, and companies switch over to freelance and contract developers, time tracking is on the minds of everyone in the development community.
When used correctly, time tracking can be a very useful tool for developers, so let’s find out why is it exactly beneficial and which best time tracking tools can you use to help yourself out.
Increasing Development Productivity
It’s often very hard to measure productivity. There isn’t an all round accepted tool which measures it in every situation for every type of work. The productivity itself is by definition the number you get when you divide the number of items produced by the hours worked. Maybe this definition could be used for measuring it back in the days when most of the people worked in factories, but nowadays - it isn’t really applicable.
So, people try to come up with different ways of measuring productivity. While for some jobs it might be easy for software development it isn’t.
For example, number of hours worked is a good way to measure productivity, but anyone who worked in the office at some point in their life knows that the number of hours you spend at work might not be correlated at all with how productive you are. What about code written? Interesting point. But, when you realize that different coding takes different time to finish, debug, research and so on, it all falls apart.
But, time tracking is different.
Software Development Time Tracking
Time tracking isn’t as blunt a measurement as hours worked, but it’s not as unnecessarily complicated as other methods. It shows you how much time you spend on various things in your workday. Simple as that.
For a developer, that’s time spent on coding, debugging, researching, analysis and other work you do throughout your work day. And this gives you a precious information about the way you work. Think of the amount of time you spend on each activity in the project. You can find out if you’re wasting your time on unimportant sub-activities and neglecting the important ones.
And it boosts your productivity. You’ll surely spend more time working and less time getting distracted.
If you’re a manager or a business owner, developer time tracking software is useful for you as well. You’ll get information about how are your employees conducting their work and whether they are being productive or not. You can organize your workload so that project deadlines are met if you find out some activities need more time than others.
Apart from being good for productivity, for what is software developer time tracking platform also good?
Set Yourself Apart
If you are a developer freelancer, landing clients can be extremely difficult. The market is flooded with quality developers who presumably have more experience than you. So how to make up for lack of experience? You need to set yourself apart.
A degree in computer science? A quality portfolio of projects? Certifications? Everyone can provide those. But, if you show that you’ve used quantitative measures (which you can get by using developer time tracking software) to track and improve your productivity, you have a higher chance of potential customers seeing you.
When someone hires a freelance or contract developer, they’re looking to get the most for their money. They know that paying bottom-dollar is going to get them below average results. But they’re also hesitant to shell out more cash for a developer who can’t prove their previous work.
But, if they see a potential developer, who has numbers to back their claims, that’s a whole other story. This is exactly why you should opt for best time tracking software for developers. It won’t serve just as a tool for your current work. It will serve as a helping hand for your potential clients as well.
Divide Your Work Equally
We mentioned above that developers often work on several projects at the same time. If that’s the case for you, then you should definitely get some sort of track my time app.
Imagine that you have a few clients who expect a certain project they assigned to you to be finished on time. And for them, their projects are sacred. They don’t really care how much work you need to put into it or if you don’t have time because of other activities. They want their project to be done on time or they won’t be happy and you’ll possibly lose them as a client.
So, let’s say you work on one of those projects but mid way you realize that you haven’t even started to work on the other one and you won’t have time for everything. Long story short, you aren’t in a good position. Either:
- You won’t finish one of those projects on time
- You’ll finish them but the quality of your work will be pretty bad
Neither of these situations is good, but a keep track of my time app can be a life saver. With the help of it, you’ll know exactly if you overdo a single project and neglect the other one. Later on, you can reorganize your work and divide your attention to both of them equally.
Improving Relations with Management and Clients
If you’re working in a company as opposed to being a solo freelancer, employee time clocks for small business can be a great way to maintain a healthy relationship with your management or clients.
What time tracking really does is increasing developer accountability. And that’s good for the whole collective.
If you work efficiently, increased accountability is nothing to be scared of. In fact, you should strive for it and embrace it. If you haven’t used self hosted time tracking software before, it might seem like your management is spying on you. But they aren’t. With the help of it, your managers can just look at your time tracking records instead of calling meetings all the time to find out what have you been doing and how is the project coming along. Also, this will minimize micro management as your managers will trust you more and you won’t need to explain what you did al the time.
It doesn’t matter if you are working in a company or as a freelance developer, you’ll have clients either way. And in most cases, those clients want to know how is their project coming along. Healthy relationship with your client is good for the present job but also for the future ones. If everything shows up perfectly fine the first time, your clients will trust you more and will probably let you handle all the work before they see the final result later on.
Time tracking software with screen capture is commonly used to let clients have an insight of your work. They can take periodic screenshots of your monitor just to check what are you working on at a specific time. Although it needs to be said that if you’re delivering things satisfactorily and on time, there’s no reason for them to check up on screenshots in the first place. They can still check the time you spend on certain activities on the project and it will be enough.
Hopefully, after reading this article, you’ll see why time tracking is important for software developers or developers in general. Apart from being a productivity booster it has various other beneficial aspects as dividing your work equally or setting yourself apart from the crowd.
And if after reading this article, you want to get a time tracking tool and wonder what is the best time tracking software out there, I can only recommend to check out one of our previous articles, and see the comparison.