Wednesday, March 19, 2008

you can't even ask them to push a button

fogcreek put out a blog advertising their integration with timepost:

Timepost is a desktop time tracking solution that integrates with web-based project collaboration software. Timepost offers reliable offline time tracking for Basecamp, Cashboard, FogBugz, FreshBooks, Harvest, and Tick.

wow.. so that sounds like LEAP's time recorder to me. well, i'm not surprised by this little recorder thing. fogbugs has pushed their evidence-based scheduling (EBS) for a while now. within EBS is a timesheet function:

To get good results from EBS, always let FogBugz know what you’re working on, so it can fill out timesheets for you. All you have to do is click on the Working On menu when you start on a different task, and FogBugz takes care of the rest. It even stops the clock automatically at the end of the workday, and restarts it the next morning. You can preprogram your lunch breaks and vacations, too. That way you only need to tell FogBugz when you switch from one case to another.

haha. preprogram lunch breaks. omg. thats pretty funny. i wonder if the guys at fogcreek seen this paper:

You can't even ask them to push a button: Toward ubiquitous, developer-centric, empirical software engineering, Philip M. Johnson, The NSF Workshop for New Visions for Software Design and Productivity: Research and Applications, Nashville, TN, December, 2001.

Abstract: Collection and analysis of empirical software project data is central to modern techniques for improving software quality, programmer productivity, and the economics of software project development. Unfortunately, barriers surrounding the cost, quality, and utility of empirical project data hamper effective collection and application in many software development organizations.

This paper describes Hackystat, an approach to enabling ubiquitous collection and analysis of empirical software project data. The approach rests on three design criteria: data collection and analysis must be developer-centric rather than management-centric; it must be in-process rather than between-process, and it must be non-disruptive---it must not require developers to interrupt their activities to collect and/or analyze data. Hackystat is being implemented via an open source, sensor and web service based architecture. After a developer instruments their commercial development environment tools (such as their compiler, editor, version control system, and so forth) with Hackystat sensors, data is silently and unobtrusively collected and sent to a centralized web service. The web service runs analysis mechanisms over the data and sends email notifications back to a developer when ``interesting'' changes in their process or product occur.

Our research so far has yielded an initial operational release in daily use with a small set of sensors and analysis mechanisms, and a research agenda for expansion in the tools, the sensor data types, and the analyses. Our research has also identified several critical technical and social barriers, including: the fidelity of the sensors; the coverage of the sensors; the APIs exposed by commercial tools for instrumentation; and the security and privacy considerations required to avoid adoption problems due to the spectre of ``Big Brother''.

haha. i'm poking fun at fogcreek, but today i realized that it would actually be great to know what i worked on and how long i worked on it. i just don't think that a timer and/or a timesheet is the way to do it. the context switching would be too much of a hassle. so i guess the bottom line is that i think it would be cool to read a log of my tasks. but, i'm not willing to click on a timer.

hackystat takes a different approach than fogbugs. similarly 6th sense analytics wrote about status reports in their blog. they write:

I like having status reports, but I hate writing them. So I generate them. One of the original aspects of the vision for 6th Sense was that we could generate status reports.

first of all, the automatically generated status reports are almost as silly as a pushing a button and writing everything down. fogbugs gives you a lot of good context. and hackystat gives you a lot of good objective data. but, i think they are even better when it is joined together.

context + objective info + automation + reporting = awareness, collaboration, and improvement.


Russ said...

I use the Leap time recorder just so that if management asks I can give them some answer supported by "data". Many times I forget to push a button and other times I just lie to myself about what I was doing. So much for "objective data".

aaron said...

russ, you still use Leap?