Great project managers do two things very well:
First, they know their projects inside out – which people are involved, at what stage each of their projects are, and so on.
Second, they are great at managing their team’s and their own time.
Today, I will show you how you can use the DeskTime Projects feature to manage your projects, track their progress and time consumption, and precisely calculate your project costs and individual employee costs within the project.
I will also give you ideas how you can use this feature if you’re a project manager in a company or a freelancer managing your own business.
What is DeskTime Projects?
In a nutshell, DeskTime Projects is a feature that allows you to track time of particular projects and tasks within your projects. You can use this feature for managing your team and for your own individual use.
For example, if you’re working individually, you can dedicate your tracked time to a certain project you’ve been working on.
In case there are more people involved, you can create a team project, and then each person on the team can dedicate their individual tracked time to one shared project. All tracked time will sum up in the total project time.
The Projects feature allows the entire team or a group of employees work on the same project. So later on, you can see the collective time spent on the project, and able to divide it up individually to see who has contributed and how much time each.
Why this feature matters anyway?
Because the project time tracker lets you see exactly how much time your projects take. And that helps you set realistic deadlines, better organize your and your team’s workflow, and estimate time needed for similar projects in the future.
The best part?
Once you know how much you’ve spent on your projects, you can easily convert this time into money. And if you decide to use the Project costs feature, DeskTime will do it automatically for you.
What is the Project costs feature?
As a DeskTime account owner or admin, you can fill in your employees’ (or if you’re a freelancer – your own) hourly rates, and DeskTime will automatically calculate time spent on your projects into money.
To activate the feature, go to your Settings → Company → and check the Allow project costs box.
Here’s how the Project costs feature works:
Let’s say your project is to add a new product to your online shop. To get this job done, you will need to work with the product photographer, webpage copywriter and developer who will add the product to your online catalog.
So, you go to your DeskTime and create a new project with a title ”New product launch” and assign it to your three employees who will be working on this project:
Keep in mind: only the people assigned will be able to work and track progress of your projects. That way, you can use DeskTime to track and manage confidential projects not all employees must know about or be involved in.
After the project is created, you’ll see it under ALL projects. If you click on its title, it will open and you’ll see a section called ”Costs”.
The costs will be calculated by the default employee hourly rates. When you activate the feature, the default hourly rate for the team will be $0. To add the actual hourly rates, go to your DeskTime → Settings → Employees → Edit.
You can also use project-specific rates, which can be lower or higher than your default ones. To change the rates, open the project and find the Costs section. Then, click Edit, find the employees by names, and change their project hourly rates.
Each of the employees assigned can now dedicate a certain amount of tracked time to this project. When the project is finished, you can see how much time each employee has spent on the project tasks.
Let’s say the photographer (hourly rate: $75) has spent 1.5 hours on the project, the copywriter (hourly rate: $50) – 1 hour, and developer (hourly rate: $100) – 2 hours.
In total, the new product launch has cost the company: $112.50 + $50 + $200 = $362.50
And you can see it when you open the particular project:
Tip: If you work with freelancers, you can here see how much you have to pay for each position to each of your freelance workers.
You will also see your project costs or individual employee costs within the project in your reports.
Finally, you can personalize the cost calculation feature and:
- Turn it on for all your team or only for a selected group of employees.
- Decide who in your company can see and manage this feature.
- Use different hourly rates for different projects.
- Use it for certain projects and turn it off for others.
How to use DeskTime Projects if you’re a project manager
The Projects tracking feature not only helps you see how much time things take and how much they cost for the company, but also helps you work more effectively.
Become more organized
DeskTime lets you see which employees have worked on the project – in the lifetime or within the selected timeframe, like a day, week, or month.
Knowing which employees have worked on certain projects will help you stay organized and save your time when something is not working or needs corrections. You can easily find the right person to go to, who can fix the problem or make adjustments.
Improve your communication with the team
As a project manager, whose job is to organize workflow, you can often only speculate how complicated or easy some tasks are. But if your team is tracking their projects, you can see how much time each project or task is taking.
What do you do with this information?
First, you can set more realistic deadlines for your employees.
Second, you can plan your team’s time more effectively in the future.
And third, when you know how time consuming the project is, you can use the data to negotiate with your upper management to get more people working on your project.
Don’t make your employees write reports
… when you can generate detailed and informative reports yourself. In seconds. For your whole team.
The reports will include all the important information you may need – from the total project time, to each employees’ productivity and total project costs.
Employees can spend hours every week to write reports and simply write down what they’ve done during the week. This becomes unnecessary when you can see that all in your DeskTime reports.
And while you take care of the reports, your employees can use this time more productively, like creating new product features or finding new customers.
How to use DeskTime Projects if you’re a freelancer
Many freelancers struggle with billing their customers and not getting underpaid for their work. Here’s how the Projects and Project costs feature can help if you’re self-employed:
Bill your customers accurately
Calculating how much you have to charge your customers might not be easy. Because we often know only approximately how much time we’ve spent on our tasks.
With the Projects feature you can see how much time you’ve spent on your customer’s project. Besides, the feature is made in a way that it’s easy to use: start and stop the timer with one click or switch between projects and tasks in seconds.
And if you fill in your hourly rates and use the costs feature, DeskTime will automatically calculate how much you have to charge for your work.
Generate detailed reports in seconds
Writing reports can be a pain because, first, it’s time consuming, and second, you don’t always remember everything you’ve done to the detail. This is a common reason freelancers often undercharge for their services.
With DeskTime, you can generate detailed reports in a matter of seconds. Your reports will include your time spent on the project and tasks and the total cost of your work. You can simply download and send your report to the client.
Find your most profitable projects
Tracking your projects and using the project costs feature, you’ll soon be able to notice your most profitable projects and best paying clients. This will make it much easier for you to set your priorities right.
The golden 20/80 rule says 80% of all profit comes from your top 20% best customers.
Use DeskTime to discover which customers and projects are your 20% money-makers and spend most of your time and your energy on them.