• NiceWTF (unregistered) in reply to Batfink
    Batfink:
    I prefer their way too -- at least they're not tethered to microsoft

    Indeed. I can fully imagine that people do not want to reuse quickly-hacked-together solutions that involve Visual Basic shudder and Outlook/Exchange.

    Because you just know it'll break down at the most unfortunate time imaginable, and then there will be no-one around to fix it.

    At least in the branch office itself, the guy who wrote it will be around to fix it. (at least...until he quits or retires..)

  • dkf (unregistered) in reply to Leopard
    Leopard:
    We use Lotus Notes for room/resource reservations. Works fine.
    We're supposed to use Remedy ARS for room reservations. Fails to work so thoroughly that it doesn't interfere with real room use.
  • Paddington Bear (unregistered)

    I'm curious to know what would happen if two people want to have a 9am meeting in the same meeting room. Especially if they are both some distance apart...

    Are they allowed to get up and go and speak to Jeanine, or is that breaking with protocol? Do they have to wait for her to come over, and risk losing the room to the guys who sit nearer her?

    Ooo, the complexities..

    [Working from home - it has a lot to be said for it]

  • ss (unregistered) in reply to Paddington Bear

    We get to count all our emails up daily to prove how much we have "worked", a clearly useful metric. My timesheet strangely lacks a field for "time spent worthlessly counting my emails."

  • Kiss me, I'm Polish (unregistered) in reply to valerion
    valerion:
    I have basically unlimited holiday (if I wanted to abuse the system, that is). The process works like this:

    -Ask my boss to have such and such a day off. He says yes. -Fax a holiday form to him (he is in a different office 3 hours away. My previous boss was a 10-hour flight away in a different hemisphere, so it's an improvement) -Get the fax back and give it to the office manager here where it gets logged.

    See the flaw in the plan? If I don't give it to the office manager, it doesn't get recorded. I then book my time in my timesheet to the project I'm working on and nobody would know, because my boss only comes down once every 2-3 weeks.

    And the boss asks then the office manager: Ummm what's happening. Did you get my memo? The one about valerion's holiday? yeaah.

  • PC Paul (unregistered) in reply to Alan
    Comment held for moderation.
  • Dave (unregistered) in reply to Schnapple

    Sounds cool, can I have a copy? Keep meaning to do something like this but never find the time (too busy filling out timesheets and cross-referencing projects / development calls and departments / regions / cost-centres...)

  • (cs) in reply to Spacecoyote
    Spacecoyote:
    Jeanine is a man.

    #include <standard_anonymization_routine>

    <stereotype>A male receptionist? Get real!</stereotype> :)

  • Nelle (unregistered) in reply to Top Cod3r
    Top Cod3r:
    The last place I worked had the best solution. They had purchased these sensor things that fit on the bottom of your aeron chair, that when you sit down it detects that you are at your desk and sends a wireless notification to a SQL Server database. They had a webpart in Sharepoint that showed you who was at their desk or away.

    When I was leaving they had just purchased these new things that plug in between your keyboard and your computer to measure how much you are typing. LOC was determined not to be a very good measurement of developer productivity, so the CTO signed up to be a beta tester of this new piece of equipment that would count your keystrokes and produce a weekly productivity report. Anyways, I digress.

    You are kidding, right ???

    If not then that company should be called "Orwell Inc."

  • (cs) in reply to Kiss me, I'm Polish
    Kiss me:
    valerion:
    I have basically unlimited holiday (if I wanted to abuse the system, that is). The process works like this:

    -Ask my boss to have such and such a day off. He says yes. -Fax a holiday form to him (he is in a different office 3 hours away. My previous boss was a 10-hour flight away in a different hemisphere, so it's an improvement) -Get the fax back and give it to the office manager here where it gets logged.

    See the flaw in the plan? If I don't give it to the office manager, it doesn't get recorded. I then book my time in my timesheet to the project I'm working on and nobody would know, because my boss only comes down once every 2-3 weeks.

    And the boss asks then the office manager: Ummm what's happening. Did you get my memo? The one about valerion's holiday? yeaah.

    You're assuming a basic level of competence in the company that is unfortunately not there...

  • Alan (unregistered) in reply to DOA

    [quote user="DOA"]

    My last company had one, ADMIN001. Incidentaly ADMIN003 was for toilet breaks. [/quote] If your company makes you track your toilet breaks, you have my condolences[/quote]

    Actually, it was a staff request. The company insisted on 7.5 hours of data every day, then complained if we put in over 15 minutes of ADMIN001, saying the data entry shouldnt take that long.

  • Sgt. Preston (unregistered) in reply to Mike D
    Mike D:
    I worked at a company where you had to reserve meeting rooms with outlook, and it drove me nuts. Not everybody uses outlook, and being a linux user at the time, if I wanted to reserve a room I had to go find somebody to do it for me.
    Outlook is a fairly decent tool for room booking and it's extremely easy to use, even for a complete newbie. It has a Web interface, so you can use it through Firefox on your Linux workstation. Having someone else reserve rooms for you just because you're resistant to all things Microsoft is pretty lame.
  • (cs) in reply to anonymous workaholic
    anonymous workaholic:
    Ok, I know that in practice project-coded time sheets are only an approximation of real time spent, and that you need to count non-productive time (like entering time sheets) into the totals of actual projects... but just where do you guys think your paycheck is coming from?

    Most of us here are working in a capitalist economy where projects need a budget and a client has to pay for it, or in the case of internal projects the money has to come out of company coffers. You can't run a company if you don't follow the costs of your projects, especially in the IT business where wages are the primary source of costs. You either count an approximately correct number of hours as project costs and keep an eye on total costs vs milestones reached, or you send out bills with random numbers and hope really hard that you get every project done before you run out of the client's money.

    Maybe a more lax system can work if clients are competing to pay whatever you ask whenever you ask, but at the place I work clients expect us to get the job done within an agreed budget.

    This argument falls apart very fast. The cost of a project is exactly proportional to the number of developers * their pay * number of days on the project, nothing more. You don't need to track tasks or anything else here for proper billing of the client.
    I work on salary, if I work 2 hours or 16 hours today, my pay is the exact same and the cost to the client is the exact same. Clients want their project completed by a certain date, not within a certain number of man hours. They don't care how much it costs the company to do this, only how much they are paying. So to fulfill the requirement to the client you only need to have the project finished by the agreed upon date. To fulfill the requirement to the bottom line you need to know how many programmers were on the project for how many days. It is only when you distrust your employees to work the time they say they are that you need to track things in any more detail.

  • Sgt. Preston (unregistered) in reply to blah
    blah:
    Bottom line, keeping track of time is a waste of time.
    Keeping track of time feels like a waste of time to a programmer who has the luxury of focusing on products and services. However, it's essential to the people who manage the business and have to focus on profitability. Companies that fail to manage time well typically go into the red and then fold. The company for which I currently work (privately owned, fewer than 100 staff) requires us to track time fairly closely and encourages diligence in that area by sharing time data, tied directly to dollars and cents, with all employees.
  • Michael (unregistered) in reply to Top Cod3r
    Top Cod3r:
    When I was leaving they had just purchased these new things that plug in between your keyboard and your computer to measure how much you are typing. LOC was determined not to be a very good measurement of developer productivity, so the CTO signed up to be a beta tester of this new piece of equipment that would count your keystrokes and produce a weekly productivity report. Anyways, I digress.
    Brilliant, now they can punish those who think a problem through before coding it. Seriously, programming is like 80% thinking and 20% coding.
  • Sgt. Preston (unregistered) in reply to Top Cod3r
    Top Cod3r:
    The last place I worked had the best solution. They had purchased these sensor things that fit on the bottom of your aeron chair, that when you sit down it detects that you are at your desk and sends a wireless notification to a SQL Server database. They had a webpart in Sharepoint that showed you who was at their desk or away.

    When I was leaving they had just purchased these new things that plug in between your keyboard and your computer to measure how much you are typing. LOC was determined not to be a very good measurement of developer productivity, so the CTO signed up to be a beta tester of this new piece of equipment that would count your keystrokes and produce a weekly productivity report. Anyways, I digress.

    Good God! What a colossal waste of effort and technology! Did they implant employees' asses with radio frequency transponders so they could be sure who was in each chair? The purpose of tracking who is in the office should be to facilitate communication, not to see who's playing hooky. Measuring activity is not the same thing as measuring productivity. In the technology sector, the only meaningful measure of an individual employee's productivity is the quantity and quality of his work as judged by a manager or team leader who pays attention to his staff's work.
  • Sgt. Preston (unregistered) in reply to cklam
    cklam:
    It is really remarkable that no project- and taskcoded time tracking environment (automated or manual) ever has a task code for "time spent for dealing with time tracking requirements" ....
    Ours does. Time tracking takes me about half an hour a month on avarage and that's how I log it. Time spent posting comments at worsethanfailure.com doesn't get logged, because it's off the clock -- i.e., it's personal time, not company time.
  • Bubba (unregistered)

    That's why I love working for the government.

    no matter how much you slack off as long as you are staring at your computer screen the old geezers around here think you are actually working.

    Ignorance is bliss!

  • Michael (unregistered) in reply to anonymous workaholic
    anonymous workaholic:
    Ok, I know that in practice project-coded time sheets are only an approximation of real time spent, and that you need to count non-productive time (like entering time sheets) into the totals of actual projects... but just where do you guys think your paycheck is coming from?
    You're talking about something completely different. We all understand the need to get money for the time spent, and most companies allot that money on a per project basis. If you're working on 1 project, that's not an issue.

    The problem is when you are working on multiple projects. You then have to distribute your non-productive time across multiple projects, because grouping them all on one project will put it over-budget, and putting it all on "non productive" or "administrative" time will get management complaining that too much of your time isn't recouped by billing a project's budget. Basically is a time wasting tool for tracking inaccurate data and forcing employees to lie to their employer. This isn't good for anybody.

  • Alan (unregistered) in reply to Sgt. Preston
    Sgt. Preston:
    Companies that fail to manage time well typically go into the red and then fold.

    That is what we were told at my company, "make sure you track everything, because the project times are directly used to produce the invoices. If you dont log your time, the company doesnt get the money".

    Except it was rubbish. 4 years of dutifully logging my time later, it turned out that they were giving it all way for free. So I quit.

  • MATMAN (unregistered) in reply to cklam

    Actually, we have started doing EXACTLY that in our reporting to the prime contractor that we sub for -- reporting the time we waste on their new "project metrics" requirement, recording our time by task.

    The worst part of the requirement is that there was no attempt to even make it SEEM like anything but BS; they didn't even provide tasks, projects, or categories for us to report, just left us to make up our own. We each literally make up our own tasks each week!

  • (cs) in reply to DOA
    DOA:
    Alan:
    Incidentaly ADMIN003 was for toilet breaks.
    If your company makes you track your toilet breaks, you have my condolences
    I once worked at a place that wanted us to track our activity in 15 minute increments. I used to take a copy of VBPJ magazine into the restroom with me. I clocked the time as "study".
  • (cs) in reply to Sgt. Preston
    Sgt. Preston:
    blah:
    Bottom line, keeping track of time is a waste of time.
    Keeping track of time feels like a waste of time to a programmer who has the luxury of focusing on products and services. However, it's essential to the people who manage the business and have to focus on profitability. Companies that fail to manage time well typically go into the red and then fold. The company for which I currently work (privately owned, fewer than 100 staff) requires us to track time fairly closely and encourages diligence in that area by sharing time data, tied directly to dollars and cents, with all employees.

    Keeping track of how many people are working on a project for how many days is good, but that is as far as it needs to go. Once you start needing data on how much time I spend going through my inbox, answering emails, doing phone support for QA, you are wasting time gathering needless information.
    This does not help to bill the client any more than "I spent 6 hours working on project X today and 3 hours on project Y". Any more detail then that and it is a failure before it starts.

  • (cs) in reply to Alan
    Alan:
    cklam:

    Yeah, project- and task-coded time sheets really are works of fiction - and it takes a lot of time to "make them up". It is really remarkable that no project- and taskcoded time tracking environment (automated or manual) ever has a task code for "time spent for dealing with time tracking requirements" ....

    My last company had one, ADMIN001. Incidentaly ADMIN003 was for toilet breaks.

    Is there an ADMINWTF used for time spent posting here?

  • (cs)

    I think I'm one of the few who finds time tracking to be useful. I've always had managers who used it as a motivator and not a nitpicky micromanagement tool. It's just one way of showing that you're doing what you should be doing without your manager being up your ass every day. If you track 40 hours to Project X and your manager looks at Project X to see nothing done, then it's a useful metric.

  • (cs) in reply to joe_bruin
    joe_bruin:
    And then what would Jeanine do every morning? Nothing, that's what, because she'd be out of a job. Is that what you want?

    Better idea: replace Jeanine with a call center in Bangalore. The call center workers call each extension every morning at 9 am and have an email out to the office by 9:30. Saves time and money, plus the manager can put "offshoring experience" on his resume!

  • ChrisH (unregistered)

    Both their ways have their merits,

    but I prefer my way.

  • joomama (unregistered) in reply to joe_bruin
    joe_bruin:
    And then what would Jeanine do every morning? Nothing, that's what, because she'd be out of a job. Is that what you want?
    That was my first thought too. You wouldn't want an attractive woman like Jeanine to be out of a job would you? I know I'd miss her coming by my desk, leaning over, and casually asking if I'm in for the day and do I need a room, boardroom that is.. You see it is the little things that make corporate culture so great: half days with golf in the afternoon, expense/travel accounts, free stationary and of course hot hot secretaries.
  • digislave (unregistered) in reply to savar
    savar:
    joe_bruin:
    And then what would Jeanine do every morning? Nothing, that's what, because she'd be out of a job. Is that what you want?

    Better idea: replace Jeanine with a call center in Bangalore. The call center workers call each extension every morning at 9 am and have an email out to the office by 9:30. Saves time and money, plus the manager can put "offshoring experience" on his resume!

    Wow, I have never thought of using offshoring in such an ingenious way. Imagine how many automated tasks you could unautomate and offshore?

    Speaking of which we just got this great new spam filter..

  • (cs) in reply to Schnapple
    Schnapple:
    I have an eerily similar story to this.

    A few years back the place I was working at instituted a "log the time you spend on a project" policy. You had to start logging the time you spent per-task, per-project. People flat refused to do it. This was one of those companies that was apparently Google-awesome to work at during the dot-com boom, then went and turned into a regular boring rule-filled workplace once the bubble burst. So most of the people there had the viewpoint of "every day this place gets a little bit worse".

    The management decided initially that it was just a time per task/project distinction and nothing more - i.e., not make-it-match-40-hours-per-week. Then they decided it needed to be a make-it-match-40-hours-per-week. Not that it mattered, people refused to do it.

    <snip>
    My previous company did the same thing. They made a big point at the start about how it was only for tracking time per project, not for general attendance. We had an application with all the project codes and buttons for starting and stopping the timer.

    During the first month, I would forget to start and stop the timer most of the time, but at the end of the day, I would manually enter the data, usually rounded off to 30 minute chunks. After submitting my timesheet at the end of the month, they noticed the round numbers and asked me to make more of an effort to use the timer, which was reasonable.

    The next month, I dutifully use the timer to track my "real" work, but not for misc. stuff like cheking email, helping QA/support/sales. Sure enough, at the end of the month, I got called into a meeting to discuss my timesheet (as did several others). They were wondering why my hours didn't add up to 7.5 hours a day, and why my first task of the day didn't start until around 9:30 most of the time. I told them I didn't track all the misc. stuff I had to deal with every day, and I spend the first 30 minutes of my day checking my email and dealing with whatever came up as a result. This wasn't entirely true (I actually did come in a bit late most days), but I knew what they were fishing for.

    The next month, they decided they wanted to "get a more thorough sense of how employees spend their work day", so they asked us to start tracking all the misc. crap, and added a bunch of project codes to do so, i.e. sales support, QA support, general administration (aka filling in timesheets). I ended up writing a script that would change my system clock, start or stop the timer, then reset the clock. After that, my timesheets always showed me working 8 hours a day (if not more) and taking only 30-45 minutes for lunch :)

  • jmo21 (unregistered)

    anyone ever heard of TSP/PSP?

    it has a brutal time/task tracker built in Excel

    TSP/PSP are horrible

  • Si (unregistered) in reply to dkf
    dkf:
    We're supposed to use Remedy ARS for room reservations. Fails to work so thoroughly that it doesn't interfere with real room use.

    Remedy ARS... I used to have to use that! shudders

  • Eric (unregistered)
    Comment held for moderation.
  • mh (unregistered)

    I just wonder what happens when it's Jeanine's day off...

  • el jaybird (unregistered) in reply to Si
    Si:
    Remedy ARS... I used to have to use that! *shudders*

    Preparation H should help with that.

  • Hognoxious (unregistered) in reply to ss
    ss:
    We get to count all our emails up daily to prove how much we have "worked", a clearly useful metric. My timesheet strangely lacks a field for "time spent worthlessly counting my emails."
    A friend works in a fairly large financial institution, dealing with queries via email. They have to copy-paste the details - one at a time - into a separate statistics system.

    Obviously, this takes time away from actually doing the work. You spend eight hours working, while the other guy spends six working and two filling his figures in - guess who's considered most productive?

  • (cs) in reply to DOA
    DOA:
    if(user.getAttribute("nitpick")==true) user.kill(); else user.postComment();

    Actually,

    user.getAttribute("nitpick")
    apparently returns a boolean, so
    if(user.getAttribute("nitpick")
    should be enough...

Leave a comment on “We Prefer Our Way”

Log In or post as a guest

Replying to comment #:

« Return to Article