Time tracking app integration with Airtable?


#1

Hi, I manage a 10+ team of designers and It feels like Airtable could become a great project management platform for my needs.

A major task I need to get going is a comprehensive daily time tracking of every member of my team. Sadly my attempts to embedd this function into my current Airtable are not good enough.

I am thinking of going for a stand alone Time Tracking solution that I could easily integrate to Airtable (through zapier maybe?) in order to link designer and workload to specific tasks and projects in my Airtable base.

Any thoughts?


#2

Could you have a separate table that records start/stop time on a per-project and per-staff basis? Then the rollup function in the team member and project function would just need to sum the differences for the given time period.

This is similar to what I want to work on for project management. Not so much time tracking but Project/Task (and Subtask) estimates rolled up. What escapes me is a way to graphically display this as a pseudo-Gantt chart or nice calendar.


#3

What specifics functions do you want your time tracker to have? How would it be used? Would you have to use a form, or what? Like step 1 is how do you want the user to engage with the system, and to what degree. Contact me if you want to chat about it.


#4

Well, that is exactly the point. what I would ideally use is a weekly calendar of the whole team, in order to visualize not only the actual work done and by whom, but also the idle time.
I currently use a simple excell, with the days (full month per tab) as columns and the people as rows.

I really don´t think Airtable can replace that setup, and that is why I am looking for a good Time Tracking app that can be connected to Airtable.


#5

Well I’m asking for specifics really because I know a few different solutions off the top of my head. A time tracking app and a simple schedule are really 2 very different things in my mind. A schedule is very easy to accomplish, but a time tracker would require people to track their time manually so you can compare it to airtable, unless you are only doing something like checking hours scheduled for work vs hours scheduled for projects. So I have a few questions before I make a recommendation:

1- Will your team members be tracking their time manually? If so, what are they doing to capture that time and get it into airtable?
2- What are you using to schedule time?
3- What data are you looking to return from this operation?


#6

One person is in charge of time tracking the whole team. We are not looking for an automated minute by minute tracking, what we need is to have a weekly birdseye perspective of the tasks performed by each member, and an approximate duration.

It is mostly for billing purposes, and as we work under different commercial agreements for each project (pre paid hourly fees vs per project vs a few gray areas prone to further negociation) it is a big deal for us to have an easy way to review a history of the workload. That is where Airtable isn´t filling the shoes, at least not until they deliver a more powerful calendar view and better reporting.

We are currently using a very simple Excell document, and it does the job. But I would love to have time tracking linked to other project data we are running on Airtable.


#7

So from what I understand then, what you are trying to accomplish is a weekly report that contains 2, maybe 3 major things-

1- A breakdown that says what hours were worked, and on what project/task, per team member. You need specific start times and durations associated to projects.

2- A summary view that says how many hours of scheduled time were actually used, perhaps also developed into further information like “what percentage of time does X team member spend on each project?”

3 (possibly) - Some kind of aggregate view that shows how the team as a whole is performing.

Sound right? That’s pretty simple to do with Airtable, especially if you use Zapier or otherwise additional products to integrate with Airtable, but the issue for me comes down to looking at the report vs the reality. And if that alone works for you, that’s fine, and the rest of this paragraph is purely my personal input. You can establish a metric that show how much time has been allotted to each project out of the time you have, but from a management perspective for planning, if you tracked the actual time that was spent on a given project by each team member, you’d be able to plan more effectively. The only question is “How do I get numbers that are based on reality instead of numbers that are based on planning.”

Give me a little time and I’ll come up with something that shows what I would do.

edit: Do you require that this solution have hours specified that were idle, or do you only need total idle hours for the day/week/whatever? Like, do you need a visual timeline or do you only need this thing to push out numbers? If you only need numbers, then it can easily be done by airtable alone.


#8

Hi Thomas, thanks a lot for your thoughts, what you wrote is pretty accurate.
I am currently relying on a project manager and an account executive to assign and control tasks, and to (roughly) track time manually every day. As much as I would love to automate real time tracking, I would need to have a better task/ticket system working to be 100% accurate when allotting hours to projects. Currently tasks are delivered manually (orally) i.e. poor traceability … and many similar tasks, for similar projects, for similar clients make for a very good way to end up with lots of misplaced hours.

I would love to have a better system but as we speak I rely on a couple of teammates to make a trustworthy but rough data gathering rather than on a proper system that could make it easier for everybody to contribute seaminglessly to time tracking each task / project.
I am not there yet :slight_smile:

Airtable has been already filling some other gaps though. However what´s probably telling me to look for a specific time tracking solution to integrate with Airtable is the fact that in order to keep a global track of hours, assign incoming tasks, and plan the near future workload for the team, I strongly believe nothing beats a visual interface (weekly calendar / timeline) to interactively organize, modify, and discuss it with other people.

Any suggestions are welcome

thanks again!

Alvaro


#9

I think the important thing to deal with here is to keep the relationships of your data in mind for you to be able to create fields and views that produce the information you want.

Here is a base I made that is fairly simple, but it gets the job done and has fields available to use that will allow you to integrate it with, say Toggl for instance, or you can even just plug it right into a Google Calendar or something. There are lots of ways that you can get this done. Click here for the invite

Stuff to note about this base:

I have gone ahead and created columns for duration in seconds, minutes, and hours. I did this so it would be easier to produce time fields if I desired later, and because some Zapier integrations, like Toggl for instance, require you to produce an amount of time in seconds in order to create a project task entry.

I have linked all 3 tables together so they all function as junction tables for the entire base if you would like them to do that, but the most important field in each one is of course the primary column. So we have a record name based on the time and project, we have a team member name that can be given assignments for projects, and we can see who did what work under time entries. It is important to note though that the attribution of these links is NOT redundant. Though you as a project manager can assign a project to a specific set of team members, that should not prevent any team member from logging time on any project. As we all know, just because something isn’t officially your job, refusing to do it outright does not work well in the world of IT unless you have enough promotions under your belt that you are no longer dealing with time tracking.

Some columns and lookups have intentionally been made dynamic, but keep in mind that dynamic columns should probably not be volatile for the source of the data, if at all possible. With that in mind, we have a simple check for “was this time entry done this week or last week” and you can do validation for your views based on that.

Time entry using this base would be done simply by using a form from the Time Entries table. With form views, just because someone has that form view does not mean that they can see all of the records. So you can just feel free to distribute that form view and anyone who needs to put time on it can do so, provided they are in the Team Members table.

There are a lot of ways to use this. I highly recommend using Zapier for any kind of weekly report distribution, but at least you can make sense of the data here now. As I have said before, the important part of managing your data is to change it from merely data into actionable information. So you get the data in and then massage it until it is ready in an acceptable view, and after that, do whatever you want with it. Share it as a view that can be checked any time or even embedded in anything that lets you embed an iframe, make an RSS feed out of new entries, whatever you feel like. User adoption is way more important than anything else in this, and airtable’s job here is to be the tool that allows you to convert the data you’ve got into something that a person can read. If you need it to specifically look a certain way that airtable does not allow, you can always user zapier to feed your massaged records into some kind of automated workflow that then feeds into whatever dashboard you want to use.

Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any questions about the base!


#10

Great! thanks!
I´ll check it out thoroughly.
My major concerns are probably: 1- how should I optimise my processes to work with a Time tracking solution + Airtable and take fully advantage of it (and avoid getting into bigger bottlenecks and headaches than with the old, dumb, slow, hand-powered excell).

2- How well can a time tracking app be integrated to Airtable. I have been playing around with some Zapier integrations to Airtable (mostly looking for printing / reporting possibilities, nothing related to time tracking) and I eventually came to conclusion that it was far from seamless.

On which platform should Projects and Tasks be created? And what about editing an older entry? How to ensure a consistent migration of that changes from one app to the other? I have to get my hands dirty and try. But being new to this problems I am not sure which Time tracking app could be the best choice to play ball with Airtable.

Maybe with some coding could this change dramatically? I don´t have the skills, sadly, but I might comission the job if that was a certain path to success.

I´ll go through your previous response and the example you posted!
Thanks a lot for your time
:grinning:


#11

Zapier is pretty simple, and I find that the trick to using it with Airtable is to trigger on new records within a view rather than new records on a table. As always though, the question is “What are you trying to accomplish?”

Basically, if you don’t know where you are trying to go, it’s not as though you are going to accidentally get there. Technology is a tool that can be used for management, but it is not management itself. So ask yourself this: What piece of information would you be able to use to make your organization more successful? If you can determine what information you need, then you can figure out what data you will need to produce that information. The practice of analyzing data to produce information is called data mining, and that should not be done by humans, because we are not capable of comparing sets of data as fast as a computer. So don’t start with the data. Determine your goals or you will never reach them.


#12

Yes, I get it. I ve been giving this a lot of thought lately, and I think I am getting closer to something.
Thanks a lot for your help!


#13

I happened to find this thread while searching for a solution to a time tracking problem we encounter. Any ideas?

We are a virtual assistance business, each team member tracks time (using Active Collab + Active Collab timer app) — which is fine, but we need to know when the aggregate time for a project is reaching the client subscription threshold/limit.

Example:

Client A subscription = 12 hours, rollover date 17th
Client B subscription = 40 hours, rollover date 4th
Client C subscription = 8 hours, rollover date 25th

Employee Joe tracks 30 mins for Client B, 2 hours for Client A
Employee Jane tracks 23 hours for Client B, 4 hours for Client C

We can see the total time tracked, we can also see each employee’s tracked time. What we want is an alert or notification when the aggregate time for Client B is within an hour of 40 hours (before the 4th), and so on.

Does that make sense? Any thoughts? @Thomas_Jaccino ?


#14

Hey, trying to access this base but the link does not work for me, thank you.