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Discussion on: If you ever have to lead a remote dev team...

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erikaraujo profile image
Erik Araujo

Installing time tracking software/plugins into the remote developer's machine does not work and could potentially backfire.

First of all, there isn't a time tracking software in the world capable of tracking the time somebody spent thinking and reflecting about a solution.
That's bad, because the manager could think the developer is lying about the time he worked and the developer will want to spend less time thinking and more doing - which is not very good for the product.

Second, you want your team happy. A happy team will be more productive and effective. I haven't seen anybody happy with micromanagement or feeling like his boss is monitoring his every move.

Third, you have to let your team feel like you trust them. If your team member doesn't feel trusted, there will be lack of confidence and, therefore, less productivity.

A manager / team leader should trust their employees and validate their time based on each team member's productivity according to what they usually accomplish.
Invasive time tracking is bad.

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ssimontis profile image
Scott Simontis

I install time-tracking software for myself to improve my estimates. I'll think that a task will take me six hours, and then I use the timer and see how off I am. Estimation has always been a weak point for me, so this is helping me build up a pool of data so that I have references if I am asked to estimate similar tasks in the future.

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rsedykh profile image
Roman Sedykh Author

I did exactly the same!

Also, for a few months, we decomposed features very deeply and tried to estimate those tasks to an hour. Then we time-tracked it and watched the results. By doing this we learned to estimate better and it taught us to see things for what they really are.

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ssimontis profile image
Scott Simontis

So far, I've learned I'm freakin' terrible at estimating things! I need to be more focused, I'll be jumping between multiple tasks and next thing you know an hour has passed...and then another...whoops.

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rsedykh profile image
Roman Sedykh Author

Hi Erik!

I think you've got the "tracking" part wrong. It's not about installing spying software. It's about the frictionless approach for the time-tracking when it is really needed.

I completely agree with all the points you have written. But we need time-tracking sometimes:

  • either you need to provide your client or employer with time hours so they can pay you for your time,
  • or you probably want to analyze how your team works to be better at predicting the workload.

It's impossible without data.

We're probably from different backgrounds. If you're from the startup world, you never had a need for this kind of data. If you worked with the clients, you should be familiar with this.

Also, I want to elaborate on two more points:

  1. To record thinking is very simple — you just push the "start" button on the task you work on. Now it records your thinking process. :-) You might ask what if you're thinking in the shower? It's up to you, you can manually edit time entries at any time.
  2. Isn't it about trust if you're as a developer is paid for your hours while you have total control over how much hours you log in? :-) It requires you to be completely honest. You have 100% control over time entries.