Timesheet Friday

Timesheets are commonly used to calculate a project's cost, or how much to charge customers. While they are ubiquitous, they are definitely one of the most dreaded tools. However, there is an alternative to timesheets that is nice and calculates project's cost more accurately.

How to calculate cost of a project?

Regardless of how you choose to calculate it, the cost of the project is almost always an approximation. Things start trivial with one person working on one project full time and then spiral out of control when you have several people, multiple projects, some of them running in parallel.
The approximation becomes less and less precise, to the point when you have only a vague understanding that this project did cost you more than that one. Probably.

getting those estimates

The lack of precision is caused by the lack of the underlying data: How much time did this person spend on this particular project? We don't know.

The dreaded Timesheet Friday moment

The dreaded timesheet you require to fill out each Friday and the "time spent" field attached to each task are usually the first things tried to get this data and therefore increase the clarity. Nobody likes them, but hey, at least we got some data to feed into our cost approximation model. But is this reliable?

Timesheets are the worst as they are completely disconnected from the process of working on the project. Not only does the person need to work on tasks, but also, usually on [TGI] Fridays, assign hours spent on tasks. No wonder some tasks get missed, and others get a generic value of 4 or 8 hours. In pathological cases, some tasks get no value at all even though the work on them was done because the project already runs over budget. A dummy task in a different project is then chosen because the person still has to submit a 40-hour timesheet at the end of the week.

timesheet friday

Timesheets alternative. That sucks nevertheless.

The "time spent" field in the project tracking software is not much better. If it requires manual input it is subject to the very same problems as the timesheet. If the field is automatic, and the clock ticks only for as long as the task is in progress, the field can still produce wild overestimations. How? If the software does not help to limit one's work in progress, some tasks can sit in "in progress" for quite a while before they are noticed. I discover very old tickets that are still "in progress" in Jira all the time.

Timesheets alternative that works. And is awesome and unobtrusive.

Our COGS/Sunk Cost Calculator is free from these issues. It derives the data it needs from the stats we collect for every task as it is being worked on and only asks for the values it does not know: the average time the person spends on the project per week and their hourly rate. And, importantly, because todo.space is designed to limit the WIP (work in progress), there can only be so many dangling "in progress" tasks that have the potential to inflate the cost estimate. This produces a more accurate result overall. And even if you do occasionally forget to move tasks to "Complete" status in time — you can say with a high degree of confidence that you spent X dollars on this project or less.

Try our alternative to timesheets

COGS Calculator

I'd argue, the moderately accurate estimate with a slight bias towards pessimism is the most balanced approach. Not only do we know that we spent approximately X dollars on this, but likely no more than X dollars. If it turns out we spent less, isn't it a wonderful place to be in?