Feb 2 2011
I remember the first time I worked for a consultant. Every thing we did came down to one thing- time. How much time would it take to create the design? How much time would it take for the client to review it? How much time would it take to present the final document? These questions surrounded everything step of the process and every interaction with the clients. Closely associated to this was adding a fee to all the activities. If two designers were working on a project we would quote a reasonable rate. If a developer was tasked with building the design we would double it. No matter what the project was, we would always make estimates in terms of hours worked.
Tracking time spent is the next issue. Most frequently contractors provide unquestioned invoices indicating how much time they worked. By unquestioned we mean that there’s really no way to verify how long something actually took them. Undoubtedly clients have often complained about the fees included on invoices.
In office environments managers have the ability install tracking software so they know exactly what their employees are up to. These pieces of software are likely the most widespread and least talked about aspect of office life. Although employees may not like this, it gives companies the insight they need to gauge whether their employees are faithfully fulfilling their responsibilities. Now there’s a collaborative way for a contractors to provide this type of insight to their clients as well. Worksnaps is a new client based web application that reports a worker’s productivity.
The first thing to note about Worksnaps is it’s not intended to be a clandestine piece of software that only nebulous figures behind the curtain know about. Both client and contractor, employee and pointy haired manager, are aware of its existence. Once installed it tracks productivity information in 10 minute intervals- aka, worksnaps. These worksnaps include a random full resolution screenshot, the number of mouse clicks and key strokes, and a list of active application usage and titles during that period. Optionally it can take a webcam screenshot as well. (If we were to utilize this service we would be sure to have a series of appropriate hats and shirts for the occasion.)
One question that’s likely to come up is why would anyone willingly track all their work? The answer is obvious. If you’re invoicing a client there’s nothing like hard data to establish the number of hours you’ve been working. By sending worksnaps you can simplify the invoicing process since your efforts can be readily verified.
Worksnaps comes with numerous features and is designed for individuals or teams. Let’s say you’re working on an open source project and want to know who’s doing what and when. It’s a flat structure so you’d like everybody to be able to track each others’ progress. You have the ability to set up projects with team members so that people can see other people’s worksnaps. At the other end of the spectrum, the system can be configured to only allow the manager to see the worksnaps of the team members.
What about the situation where one moment you’re working, and the next you get inspired by a new flash video game? Suddenly you get distracted and begin shooting various bad guys. Before you know it you see the worksnap icon appear in the bottom right of your screen indicating it’s about to submit a report. You have the option to preview, submit, or cancel it altogether. The worksnaps can be configured by the contractor to be sent silently or upon their approval. This puts them in control of the data that is sent.
To round things out, or rather, go completely overboard, Worksnaps provides a thorough set of reports, an invoicing system, a calendar, and support for multiple projects. They also offer many third party integrations with popular business management tools such as Basecamp or Freshbooks.
In the world of business everything comes down to time. How effectively you can accomplish work in a short amount of time will reflect how successful you are. Worksnaps gives you the ability to demonstrate your efforts to clients or team members so there’s no question of your effort. It will help smooth client relations and the invoicing process so you can focus on the job at hand.