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We are a medium-sized, geographically-dispersed development team using Jira for task management and GIT as our repository. Our developers are generally focused on one primary development project at a time, but their time can often be divided between that project and other, smaller things (sometimes development-oriented and sometimes not). For all development-related work (primary project and otherwise) we track tasks in Jira, but for non-development work we don’t.

Our problem is that we want to track development time against tasks and projects, ideally to their Jira tickets, but we have been unsuccessful more than once at getting this off the ground using Jira’s built-in time tracking. The problems we have run into are that time-tracking against Jira tasks is manual, so without frequent reminders the developers forget or ignore tracking often enough to make the tracking records useless. We tend to get off to a good start, but once it seems like everyone is in the groove and the reminders diminish, the time tracking starts to fall off too.

Our goal is to find a solution that allows us to track development time against tasks without the need for a lot of manual action by the developers, and ideally that is not too big-brothery. We want a good work environment, but we also want to have time-spent data. If there is anyone who has been able to successfully find a solution to this problem, we would love to hear about it.

EDIT...

There are several reasons for wanting to do this, but all revolve around the idea of ensuring our engineers are unblocked and working effectively. An engineer could be getting interruptions from other projects, so their output on their main project is suffering. How do we identify that across several teams of engineers? Is someone's lower than expected productivity because they are not getting sufficient instructions, or because they are getting interruptions, or because they are misunderstanding their tasks?

An early diagnostic of any of these problems would be seeing that an engineer is completing 8 hour tasks in 16 hours on average - or that they are booking 20 hours of project time per week instead of 40 (or whatever are the appropriate numbers for the engineer or the project, of course).

And, no, we're not trying to count keystrokes, or lines of code produced, etc. We're trying to help our engineers be as high-performance as they want to be.

Note, we don't use timesheets now - that's one solution that we've tried in the past but we know from experience the frustrations and limitations of that approach.

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    Can you let us know the reason you need to track time at the individual task level? This will help us to provide a useful answer. – Joel Bancroft-Connors Dec 13 '15 at 16:55
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    It'd be worth questioning the value in what you're trying to do here. Let's say you get an automated tool that tracks time spent to each task - are devs only allowed to work on one task at a time? What is "working"? Is it when keystrokes are being hit? Is it talking to colleagues? Thinking time? Implementing this "tracking" technically isn't hard...getting real value from the results is. Better method is output tracking and point velocity tracking, then using timesheets only for billing purposes. – mwan Dec 14 '15 at 0:02
  • I've edited the question to try to more fully answer your questions. – D Mac Dec 14 '15 at 22:33
  • How big a team are we talking here? It seems lile all your goals are met by simply recording the tasks people work on. you dont need to know how long for – Ewan Dec 25 '15 at 22:53
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You can combine the "Automated Log Work for JIRA" with the "Smart Commit" features. So a minor manual work will be needed from the team, which is moving the task from open to in progress and when done commit the code and refer it to the Jira ticket. Jira will calculate the time the task took to finish automatically.

You can then calculate the non-technical tasks time roughly, by subtracting the development time from the planned working hours for each developer. So if a developer is supposed to work for 60 hours all over the project -give or take- and the development tasks took 40 hours then he worked 20 hours on the non-technical part.

That been said I'd really recommend that you track all the tasks even if it's meetings to be able to assess how time is spent and how to optimize your process to boost your team's spirit and productivity.

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Measuring productivity with timesheets doesn't work in software development in my opinion. Try implementing Scrum or other Agile minded process where team delivery is in focus and nobody falls into micromanagement.

You can also try Quantify add-on that is similar to Automated Log Work but more aligned with Scrum/Kanban methodologies.

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