Project Team Blog: Our Projects Are Always Late

Saw this post over at the Project Team Blog Our Projects Are Always Late. Newshirt asks (I'm paraphrasing) "Why would this person not use a time tracking tool?"

Two answers:

  1. Because it feels like an extra step. If you want to change a behavior like time tracking, you have to make it automatic. Developers and other project members are already too busy, you can't just ask them to add another step to their daily workflow unless the benefits are immediate and obvious. The benefits of time tracking are not immediate and obvious -- it takes some time (granted a small amount of time) to reap the benefits of time tracking.
  2. Second, they perceive a risk. Even if the software is free (they are providing a 30 day free download), there's the risk that you spend an hour or two (or more) downloading and fiddling with the software only to discover that it won't work in your environment for one reason or another.

To use concrete examples from my recent experience:

  1. I'm developing in Python. I've used Pylint in the past and it has been helpful in pointing out bugs before I start testing. I want to use Pylint on my current project, but I keep skipping it because it feels like an extra step and I'm trying to get work done, not fiddle with extra tools. The solution is for me to integrate this tool into my workflow so that it is automatic and not an extra step. This is what I've done for the current iteration and I expect that it will stick.
  2. I've recently been using more social media sites like twitter and I read about a toolbar for Firefox from Minggl. Sounded interesting and after I saw a few mentions of it I decided to give it a whirl. There should be a warning: "roadblocks ahead".

    1. They make you register to download.
    2. The registration form does not allow periods or spaces in your last name, so it took a couple of tries to register. (This smacks of ethnocentrism! I am being oppressed because I have a period and a space in my last name!)
    3. It doesn't work on linux... bummer.

    Contrast this with the experience of signing up for something like twitter or Mahalo Answers. You sign up (albeit with the gotcha of only allowing alphabetics in the name) and you start using it immediately.

Posted on 2008-12-18 by brian in timelog .


Hey, We're sorry for the registration troubles and will work on improving our form validation. Registration is mandatory because of the way the technology works.....not only is it a "privacy layer", but minggl persists your social data (via a data center) from browser to browser, and computer to computer, so it must know who it's users are. It also is a much more feature rich product than those tools you can "start using immediately" so it takes a tad bit more to set up. And if you read what our users are actually saying, you'll see that they universally feel it is worth the effort. Our Linux version will be released in 3 months. Thanks for looking at us!

2009-01-04 15:48:54

Dewey -

Thanks for the feedback, I'll probably take another look when I see news about the linux version.


2009-01-05 05:36:42

Have you found a time tracking tool that will integrate well with how you work? I have actually been thinking of writing a time-tracking tool, because I haven't been able to find one that is any good. Maybe I really should.

Side note: As annoying as not having special characters in your name are the websites that only allow your "password" to be between 6 and 10 alpha-numeric characters. Really, I have to create, and subsequently remember, a less secure password just because they arbitrarily set their password rules to be so restrictive?!

Kyle Tolle
2009-01-14 16:36:04
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