Tracking time with Trello
The story always goes like this.
Once upon a time, everyone was excited. A team made with best performers from the company and a few more top guns from outside. Management fully aligned. The budget approved, with promises for more. This was the project to take us to the next level.
That was then. With a few months of unlimited budget and little management oversight, we come to now…
In a bid to get the best software out, the project had gone into a vicious circle of re-iterating the same features. There is no demo to show. Budgets are frozen. Management realigns priorities. Once the envy of everyone, this is now the team to avoid.
There are many lessons to be learned from this familiar occurrence of events. I would like to focus on one: to achieve big milestones, it is the baby steps that we need to worry about.
Agile has given teams flexibility. Using trello makes it super simple to organize projects with a list of todos.
However, to ensure alignment with business objectives, teams must make sure that dollars spent can be accounted for. Without proper tracking, it is easy to spend valuable effort on features with little business value and what’s worse, not even realize it.
In this article, which is the first of a series, I am going to show how my team at RIKSOF tracks time on trello cards. In subsequent posts, I will share important metrics we generate from this data.
Checklists as work logs
Trello does not have a built-in feature for time tracking. So, this is how we do it:
- Make a checklist named Work Log for each card.
- Every contributor puts in the time they plan to spend on the task today. They also mark as complete entries that were made yesterday and executed as planned.
- We use a standard format so that our script can easily parse entries.
Daily Scrum for Trello
Using the planned and completed entries, planned and spent hours are calculated for each card. Every card is also automatically categorized with these states:
- Completed: commitments from the last scrum were fulfilled.
- Incomplete: developer missed targets from the last scrum.
- Slipping: when a card has consumed above average hours.
- Planned: what will be done today.
Reporting effort required from the team has been kept to a minimum. We ensure that all subsequent reporting demands are met through the work log.
You can already start to see interesting project information. For instance, on a week to week basis, we can see if a team accomplishes its planned activities. Using total hours on a card we are now also able to measure if our trello cards are rightly sized.
In my next post, I will introduce you to another trello application that gives interesting project-wide metrics with no additional effort.
About the Author
Khurram Ali is a Co-Founder and CEO of RIKSOF, a mobile and web application development company. Khurram has been in the industry for 15 years with a track record of building highly successful global software teams. You can find him on twitter @mkhurramali