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‘Phew! I have no idea where all this time went’, you might say after a busy day at work. Yet you repeat it over and over again, not being able to fully reflect on where you are putting most of your time and efforts. If this is just a temporary feeling you get in a particularly busy project, you might just want to soldier through it. The problem becomes bigger if you or your managers notice that important data about the nature of your team’s tasks regularly slips through the cracks at the end of the day. In such cases, a good solution is to use tags to categorize your bookings and time entries. Not only according to their assigned projects but also more specific characteristics such as their type, budget or probability or activities performed.
Bookings in general are great for predicting and letting people know what lies ahead for them. Seeing all of the commitments in the Calendar view can shorten the communication loops and be an effective way of planning ahead. Still, there might be cases where there is more information you want to include that a simple project name can handle. In such a case, predefined tags will be a great alternative to extensive and sometimes dubious descriptions. They can signify the following:
A lot of times you want to describe the exact nature of your bookings to the team without using potentially ambiguous descriptions. For example, if you provide a maintenance service or offer warranty, just like Apptension does, it is important that your team understands what kind of commitments they are scheduled to be fulfilling. These tasks can be easily marked with Warranty and Maintenance booking tags so that you can add them fast and they are universally understood terms throughout the entire company. In that way you can also easily analyze how much time and money these, or similar services within one project are costing you in the reports section without mixing them.
Not all bookings will signify paid work. You can include this important information in your bookings as a Billable or a Non billable tag. In that way, it is very clear which of your and your team’s booked hours should later add up to the invoices you will be generating. Thanks to this, Apptension never confuses free of charge consultations, manager’s support or pre-sales activities with the payments for regular project work without writing extensive booking descriptions.
In Apptension, teamdeck’s calendar is a great and actually only source of information regarding our team’s availability and the general production capacity of the entire company in a given timeframe. Seeing the general overview of when particular projects are scheduled and which teams are available to kick off a new one is of big help. However, we’ve always encountered a gray area of projects that we know are very likely to start but are not officially confirmed yet. To deal with such situations in a non confusing way, we invented a Tentative tag to signify work we want to start scheduling without misleading other teamdeck users into believing such projects have been fully signed off.
Timesheets are all about the actuals. We use them to understand what is happening in our company and within our external and internal projects on a daily basis. However, a simple quick look at the Calendar might not give all the necessary insights on the trends within your teams. Tags can help with that difficulty, at the same time providing a solid basis for a more advanced and complex reporting. There are several categorizations you can create by using timesheet tags in Teamdeck:
In many organizations, warranty fixes or onboarding new team members or employees will not be charged for; and thus, have to be kept separate. We do that using Warranty and Onboarding tags in our timesheets. You might also want to subdivide your team into different services within one team, such as RnD, Maintenance or Production. These can also be made into timesheet tags so that your team reports on which service they were delivering without the need of creating excessive separate projects.
Similarly to project bookings, timesheets too should be assigned to the correct budget. If you have different rates depending on whether your team works in their office hours or overtime, using a Paid Overtime tag will help you generate payroll reports that include that information. It will also make charging your clients the exactly right amount for your team services much easier. On the other hand, there might be services that are free of charge and you would want to exclude these from your budget report. In such a case, separating them from other time entries with Non Billable and Billable tags can be necessary to have control over the project general budget.
As a manager in Apptension, I always want to know how much time my team spends on most critical types of tasks. Thanks to that, I can understand a particular project’s needs and offer solutions if we encounter time management issues. Within our teams, we agreed that we are going to mark activities such as working on documentation, communication with our teams and clients, attending meetings, onboarding new team members or working on our personal goals with distinctive tags: Documentation, Internal Communication, External Communication, Meeting, Onboarding and Self Development. This gives us insight on which areas we are focusing the most and which eat up most of the project times. Once these are identified, we can easily work on optimizing processes and making sure that on the one hand, enough attention is paid to specific tasks but on the other, these are performed in the most efficient fashion.
Tags are a great method for effectively communicating repeatable information. They help us categorize our work and make sure we always stay on top of what is happening in an easy and digestible way. Such categorization goes as deep as advanced reporting in which you can group and compare your predictions with your actuals and draw much more precise conclusions and outputs. Next time you have trouble understanding how and on what your day went by so quickly, why your budget seems off or you simply catch yourself inputting the entry description while feeling you have done this so many times before, think of how tags can improve your experience and leverage all the advantages of using Teamdeck.