Improved Time Tracking in RT

RT has included time tracking since the very earliest versions because it makes sense that as you track tasks, you want to also keep track of where you're spending your time. Having actual data on how much time you're spending on what can be a huge help when you're scheduling and planning, as sometimes your general feeling for how much time you spend on things doesn't match up to the reality.

It's even more important to track time if your business involves billing a client for some of those hours. At Best Practical we use RT's time tracking features to track our projects and we've worked with a handful of extensions over the years, some we've written and some from the community, to improve the time tracking features. When we get a request for "How many hours are left on this project?" or "Where did the time go?" it's easy for us to pull up a report and send it along. Here are a few of the extensions we use to make this easier.

RT::Extension::QuickAddTimeWorked puts a time entry box right on the ticket display page to make it easy to quickly add time to a ticket. RT::Extension::TimeTracking also adds convenient time entry and also displays hours worked per person in the Basics tab at the top of a ticket. While all time worked is tracked per user in transactions on the ticket, this extension gives a convenient summary view per user right at the top of the ticket.

 
 Basics Tab with TimeTracking Installed

Basics Tab with TimeTracking Installed

 

It shows the breakdown of how much time a particular user has spent on a ticket, providing visibility on how much time an engagement has consumed on that ticket.

TimeTracking also adds a My Week page, available in Tools, that shows all activity for a selected week for the current logged in user. It breaks down hours by day and ticket and you can easily edit the page to update hours for any tasks you forgot, adding time to any days that week. And if you have permissions, you can look at other user's pages as well.

 My Week

My Week

Managing a project can get complicated and it often makes sense to break a larger task into several smaller tasks and create linked child tickets. RT::Extension::ParentTimeWorked, now part of RT 4.4, manages time for you with this configuration. If a client has a block of consulting time, you can make a parent ticket with the full amount of time. Every question the client asks that takes from that block of time can be made into a child ticket, and the time recorded on that child ticket will also appear on the parent ticket, reflecting how much of the time from the initial block has been used.

Depending on your use case, you can use RT's custom fields to track additional metrics to capture and analyze time differently. For example, for typical work tasks, you can use RT's default Time Estimated field. For other cases you might start with a set time allocation, so you could create a new "Time Budgeted" field, representing the amount of time a customer contracted for. At the end of your project you can compare both numbers to the actual time worked to see how accurate your estimates are and how much time the customer has remaining. This analysis can improve your estimating processes and project execution.

Using Time Estimated, you can add additional automation or notifications. For example, you could write a simple scrip to alert ticket owners and viewers when, for example, half the time budgeted for a ticket has been used, which can be communicated to a client or internal project head to check in on priorities for the time remaining.

To help users track their time worked on a ticket, we’ve also included a ticket timer in RT 4.4. The timer can be started when you navigate to a ticket and start work. It opens in a new window so the time isn't interrupted as you work on your task and it has a pause button to take a break. When you're done and click submit (up arrow), your time is added to the ticket.

 Ticket Timer New in RT 4.4

Ticket Timer New in RT 4.4

Finally, you can create custom searches and dashboards to view time on tickets or take a look at RT::Extension::TimeWorkedReport. This is a third party extension that adds a Time Worked report to the Tools menu that accepts dates, queues, and users as input to generate a time worked report. Best Practical always appreciates third party contributions to make our products more useful!

We hope RT's time tracking features and related extensions make it even easier for you and your teams to track and manage your time.

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