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Time Tracking and Project Management, How do YOU do it?

Discussion in 'Bar' started by TheDriller, Feb 20, 2012.

  1. TheDriller

    TheDriller Member

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    ;)

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    Original Post:
    ----------------
    Hello all,

    Basically I'm studying for my MSc in Software Technology and for my project I intend to build a web-based Project Management tool tailored specifically to the needs of Audio Engineers.

    Why am I doing this? Well, over the years I've been trawling these forums I've seen plenty of whining and bellyaching about the difficulties of keeping up with clients, of getting them to show up on time, of working out what is happening, where, when and with whom.

    I've seen people talk of using Excel spreadsheets and the backs of cigarette packets to organise their business. This has got to stop.

    So I want to create a simple, intuitive web service that will hopefully ease the pain of doing business. To do this successfully, I need to gather data from you people.
    I want to know about how you keep track of things, how you run your business, how you manage your precious time.
    I want to know what causes you the most pain and I want to hear ideas on how to fix those problems.

    To this end, I would appreciate if you would complete this quick survey:

    Audio Project Management Survey


    It's just a few questions and shouldn't take too long to complete. Some of the questions are open-ended to give you space to describe what tools and techniques you currently use and to make suggestions.
    Please be as detailed as possible with these answers, and don't be afraid to rant if you feel like it. I really want to get a feel for the work-problems that affect you each day.


    Also, I would like to get a few people on-board for more in-depth interviews and participation in the design phase. If you are interested, PM me or email to:

    shanekilkelly[AT]utilityinstereo.com


    Thanks in advance to everyone who participates!
     
  2. Jarkko Mattheiszen

    Jarkko Mattheiszen The FU guy.

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    Took the survey. It's a great idea, and something I've been looking for but never found a perfect solution. I'll drop you an e-mail once I get a chance, I'd love to be involved in testing.
     
  3. TheDriller

    TheDriller Member

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    Good man Jarkko, I'm delighted to hear that! :D

    Looking forward to working with you.
     
  4. StefTD

    StefTD Member

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    would love to help you, sounds like a cool project, but I am not doing any professionell recording
    or whatever, so I can't help you, sorry-but just started a small consulting business, and yeah,
    everything that helps organizing your business is great!
     
  5. Steven Otto

    Steven Otto Member

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    Hey TheDriller,

    Interesting project!
    I sent you an e-mail which might interests you :)

    Steven
     
  6. Ermz

    Ermz ¯\(°_o)/¯

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    I've been having great difficulty with this for the past year, actually, so I'd be very keen to help out in the development phase.

    One of the things I'd love to look at is how to keep projects manageable and a consistent time table under situations where the client base is exponentially multiplying, and one is dealing with several overlapping projects at once.
     
  7. TheDriller

    TheDriller Member

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    Hey guys,

    I'm delighted by the positive responses so far.

    @Ermz:
    I'm glad to have you on-board for this, and yes those are two big issues I'd like to help with.

    Right now in my head I have a vision of a website that would allow you to specify projects scope, deliverables, time-frame, phases and activities in each phase. It should make it easy for the user to see what's going on, when, where and with whom, and be easy to monitor progress on multiple current projects.

    It could also be useful for keeping track of clients, contact info and so forth.
    Again, this is all just a fuzzy image in my head right now, that's where you guys come in. I want to get an in-depth knowledge of what problems you guys face every day.

    Ok, I'm logging off for the night, I'll check my emails tomorrow and get in touch with everyone.

    Thanks ! :D
     
  8. Ermz

    Ermz ¯\(°_o)/¯

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    One of the key points to bear in mind is that bookings in this industry are very fluid. Dates change, projects get delayed, things overlap on a regular basis. Whatever method you have in place needs to cater to this fluidity. I would also say that over-complicating things would be bad. Most of us are stupid, and also too run down with the actual affairs of running the business and projects that we don't have that much time to dedicate to keeping an accurate logbook. So my main suggestion would be a two-pronged approach... simple and fluid.

    Having a visual 'checkbook' would be great. Similar to what bands do in the studio for larger projects with the white board and crossing off tracks as they're done.

    To be able to set up a 'New Project', then fill out which elements one is involved in... let's say editing, reamping and mixing. You could effectively break the project up into those areas, and the engineer could check off each part of the process as it gets completed, or closer-to-reality, 'drafted', 'preliminary final' and 'client-approved final'.
     
  9. professorlamp

    professorlamp I are Joe

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    Done.
    I would do the more in-depth phase but the amount of projects im working on is pretty small this year so I'll leave it to the biguns
     
  10. LeSedna

    LeSedna Mat or Mateo

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    Im not a professional at all, but if I were to start a business, I would love to have an organized way of keeping infos on every project, both general and more in depth (and optional). You could make the main informations printable too, I'm a guy who would like to be able to store pdf and actual printed versions somewhere, because actual paper is always easier to deal with when you have a legal problem (eventhough technically it's the same, an actual paper with actual signatures always looks more serious). So some guys would like to be able to have infos printable in normal format to store physically.
     
  11. JeffTD

    JeffTD Senhor Testiculo

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    Done, I suggested within the survey but it'd be awesome to have a public view that could be embedded into websites/facebook or linked directly to bands so they could check progress, make requests, maybe even pay through, etc.
     
  12. TheDriller

    TheDriller Member

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    Genius, absolute genius.

    That would be a really convenient way of keeping the clients up to date with the project, as they would effectively have their own private "window" onto your calendar and project schedule.

    I'm also thinking it would be cool to maybe have a publicly accessible "enquiries" page, just a typical contact-form really, that would get piped into your account as a "potential project". Lots of great ideas coming out here guys, keep them coming :)
     
  13. TheDriller

    TheDriller Member

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    Thread is now sticky, thanks Lasse! :D
     
  14. Chaos_Moon

    Chaos_Moon Member

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    Done. This is an AMAZING idea, and I'm all for it. I'll shoot you an email soon.
     
  15. TheDriller

    TheDriller Member

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    Quick update:

    I had a meeting with my project supervisor today and she's delighted with the positive response so far.

    I'm up to my eyes in work at the moment but I'll get on those emails ASAP.

    Thanks!
     
  16. TheDriller

    TheDriller Member

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    Update:

    I've started throwing out emails to the interested parties,
    If you're interested in participating and haven't recieved one, just email me and I'll rectify that :)
     
  17. tempe

    tempe Captain Midnight

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    Hey man I was going to fill out your survey but I guess the time has ended. This is a great idea, definitely put me down as interested in helping any way I can.
     
  18. TheDriller

    TheDriller Member

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    Hey guys,

    Sorry for the lack of updates, very busy these days.
    I've collected and analysed the questionnaire data, thanks to everyone who participated!

    Some interesting stuff:

    - 40% of respondents use some combination of Excel and a Diary to track their business, with only 1% using any kind of (non-excel) software management package.

    -most of the "Daily Problems" are related to Miscommunication with clients, Time Tracking and logging of work hours and Goal Setting. People seem to be getting lost on setting solid project goals and managing the time effectively.

    - Very strong agreement on the need for specialised software,
    66% "Strongly Agree" and 25% "Agree", Which I find reassuring :D
     
  19. TheDriller

    TheDriller Member

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    Update:

    Project is going very well,
    the interviews and questionnaires have been extremely informative.

    Massive thanks to everyone who participated!

    The plan right now is to draw up a specification for the application and get started on implementation around May or June. Then comes the closed beta and adding features from there. We will have a working version of the system by late summer this year.

    It's hard to estimate, but I'd like to have the service open for public sign-ups fairly soon after September.

    In the meantime, feel free to throw out ideas and feature requests, who knows, they might actually be good? :kickass:
     
  20. jipchen

    jipchen ForesterStudio

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    Very interested in this, glad to see there is some progress. I wanted to participate but I didn't really regulary have clients at that time.. things are speeding up now and it's increasingly difficult to keep track of everything. So if you still need people to participate etc, I'd like to get involved (you can contact me on here via pm or through the "message" system on my studio facebook page if you want).

    An idea I just had just by reading though the thread was that in the calender after every project there would be 2-4 "buffer" days that are maybe inked yellow or something, or somehow marked, so one can instantly see where one could possibly fit a new project but it's perhaps problematic, and where's the next time it's a little safer. Now that I wrote it it seems kinda stupid and obvious, everyone knows a buffer is not a bad idea and you can easily just skip a few days in the planning, but perhaps it is a little easier if it's instantly visible.
     

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