Weekly Timesheet based Time tracking with activeCollab

March 14, 2014

In the last blog post, we discussed about “Why You and Your Team Should Be Tracking Time“.

If you are convinced about the utility of time tracking, here’s something you’d find useful…

If you are using activeCollab, you know that it comes with a great set of time tracking options. You can log time on projects or tasks. You can do it from a particular task or from Quick Add or from Time Reports.. You can even use a desktop tool to track time.

Even our own Chronograph module allows quick time tracking based on timers.

We are now taking things a step further. Chronograph module now makes time tracking even easier (especially for those folks that resist time tracking) with weekly timesheets!

Just click on “Fill Timesheet” link from Chronograph icon (in the bottom, notification bar of activeCollab), and add time for the whole week – on tasks and projects as needed. Click “Save” and all your time will be logged in one go!

And because a picture is worth a thousand words, here’s a quick screenshot on how this works…

Weekly Timesheet view makes time tracking a lot easier in activeCollab
click for larger view

Do you think this will increase time tracking in your team? Was it something you liked?

Post a comment and do let us know!


Why You and Your Team Should Be Tracking Time

March 13, 2014

We use activeCollab as our project collaboration tool. Whole team uses this tool to collaborate. We wrote a blog about 5 Reasons Why Your Team Does Not Use Your Project Management System

Now, question comes up:

“Why should we track our time?”

We feel that tracking time spent on tasks is almost as important as the ability to manage tasks in the first place. Knowing how long it takes to complete a task or a project aids in the overall planning of a project and ultimately, the success of that project.

Here are 5 reasons why should we track time.

1. Accurate Estimates

Good historical data on actual time spent will allow you to greatly improve your ability to estimate tasks and projects, and gain credibility on those estimates you provide to management and prospective customers.

2. Accurate Delivery Dates

With accurate estimates, your chances of delivering projects on time increase greatly.

3. Easy Re-estimation Of Open Tasks

As you track your time, effort remaining will automatically decrease, thus keeping your schedule accurate and up to date.  (That being said, we recommend that you review estimates and correct them  for accuracy if necessary.)

4. Projects Start Dates

Based on how your current project(s) are tracking, you not only have much better insight on when you can start something new, but also if you need to re-prioritize or reassign work.

5.Manage Costs

If you know where your employees are spending the most time, you will find it easier to make decisions about how to make savings or deliver the solution faster. For example, if support time  is consistently high on a project, it might be appropriate to look at what other options are available instead of having valuable, highly-paid people on the support instead of focusing on completing the requirements of their day job.

Time tracking might be an awkward subject to bring up with the team, but in next blog we will share how you can make time tracking easy in activeCollab using Timesheet feature of a Chronograph module…

Stay tuned!

(Update: Tracking time by filling weekly timesheet is now available in Chronograph module)

What job do people “hire” your product to do?

March 4, 2014

Ryan made an interesting post on the Basecamp blog today:

For example, we think we’re selling a project management product. But some people really use our tool and pay us every month to manage their clients. The projects were always fine—it’s the clients that are a challenge!

As product developers / business owners, we are stuck with our own view point on why people buy our products / services. Interviewing your customers on their reasons for making the purchase can reveal insights that can turn customers into fans and sky rocket your sales!

Consider this milkshake case study:

A fast-food restaurant chain wanted to improve its milkshake sales. The company started by segmenting its market both by product (milkshakes) and by demographics. Next, the marketing department asked people who fit the demographic to list the characteristics of an ideal milkshake (thick, thin, chunky, smooth, fruity, chocolaty, etc.). The would-be customers answered as honestly as they could, and the company responded to the feedback. But alas, milkshake sales did not improve.

The company then enlisted the help of one of Christensen’s fellow researchers, who approached the situation by trying to deduce the “job” that customers were “hiring” a milkshake to do. First, he spent a full day in one of the chain’s restaurants, carefully documenting who was buying milkshakes, when they bought them, and whether they drank them on the premises. He discovered that 40 percent of the milkshakes were purchased first thing in the morning, by commuters who ordered them to go.

The next morning, he returned to the restaurant and interviewed customers who left with milkshake in hand, asking them what job they had hired the milkshake to do.

“Most of them, it turned out, bought [the milkshake] to do a similar job,” he writes. “They faced a long, boring commute and needed something to keep that extra hand busy and to make the commute more interesting. They weren’t yet hungry, but knew that they’d be hungry by 10 a.m.; they wanted to consume something now that would stave off hunger until noon. And they faced constraints: They were in a hurry, they were wearing work clothes, and they had (at most) one free hand.”

The milkshake was hired in lieu of a bagel or doughnut because it was relatively tidy and appetite-quenching, and because trying to suck a thick liquid through a thin straw gave customers something to do with their boring commute. Understanding the job to be done, the company could then respond by creating a morning milkshake that was even thicker (to last through a long commute) and more interesting (with chunks of fruit) than its predecessor.

The chain could also respond to a separate job that customers needed milkshakes to do: serve as a special treat for young children—without making the parents wait a half hour as the children tried to work the milkshake through a straw. In that case, a different, thinner milkshake was in order.

Next Action

Take a moment and re-think why people buy what you sell. Go ahead and talk to two customers.

Next Hops

5 Years Complete!

February 12, 2014

12th February 2014 marks Apps Magnet’s fifth anniversary!

Five years ago we started with our reporting module for activeCollab – the first premium extension for activeCollab. Then came planning module and a whole many others!

And we are celebrating!

From Feb 12 to Feb 28, we will have a new offer or giveaway everyday. Each offer will be valid for two days.

Visit our homepage every day for a new offer!

Click here to discover today’s… →

Thank you!

Five years is a big achievement in today’s fast paced technology world! We’ve had a lot of ups and downs in the journey so far, and we are experiencing a deep sense of gratitude for you today…

  • Thanks to our awesome customers for supporting us… Buying our products, sending feedback and appreciations, recommending them, talking about them on activeCollab forums, sharing your ideas for new products, sponsoring development of new modules, standing by while we solve issues and most importantly, for your faith!
  • Thanks to activeCollab for creating a kickass collaboration system that’s an amazing platform to extend… For letting us poke around and create modules, for listing them on the site, for handling support questions from our customers, for validating our ideas and tolerating with us 😉
  • Thanks to Nathan Sudds, Guy Cortesi, Stas Kuzma, Fei Yan, Leon Poole and all other third party developers for solving customer problems, innovating, supporting community members and for their untiring passion to improve.
  • Thanks to Malay for your absolute leadership and commitment towards Apps Magnet and our customers, to Sandhya, Ravi and Nishit, and everyone else on the team who’s made it their own company and worked day and night, have accepted my critic, surpassed all challenges and always given their best.
  • Thanks to Nikita, my wife, Sanya, my daughter and my parents for supporting me throughout, for letting me work on this dream, even when I was supposed to be with them. You are truly my source!
  • Thanks to everyone who’s met along the way, emailed us, talked to us, inspired us, criticised us, asked for a refund, spread the word…. You have all contributed to our lives immensely.

Thank you!

Nirav Mehta

Making activeCollab project reporting even more useful

January 30, 2014

Reports Plus was our first activeCollab extension and also one of our most popular products. Last year we ported it to HTML (from Flash) and added financial reporting. We now wanted to make it even more useful and started thinking afresh.

The result of that thinking and a few iterations is available to all. Here’s a summary of what we have changed and why…

Project Reports

BEFORE: Project Reports – Velocity, Burn Down, Hours and more

AFTER: Revamped Project Reports

Reports Plus Projects Dashboard

1. Key Performance Indicators

We moved Key Performance Indicators to left and highlighted velocity and hours. We felt those are the two most important numbers to track. The project progress indicator was switched to a simpler bar and we added a clear label for the forecasted completion date. Next milestone is played down, but available for anyone who wants to see what’s coming next (this is especially useful in individual projects)

2. Burn Down Chart

The most important thing about a burn down chart is the slope at which it is going down – indicating the velocity at which the project is moving and giving you an estimate of when the project is likely to complete. Earlier it took the full width of the screen. It is now smaller, but still conveys all important information.

3. Hours Chart

Hours chart shows weekly tracked hours, total estimated hours and total tracked hours till date. We trimmed this chart too – and even made the columns slimmer! Hovering your mouse over any circle reveals more information.

4. Tasks Progress

This is a new block we added to project reports. In activeCollab 2 days, we showed tasks in different categories, but workflow labels provide a more accurate representation of task status. Custom workflow labels and their colors will be the same across the system.

5. Most Active & Open

The list of most actively worked upon tasks was not given priority earlier. It is now right in front center. This list tells you which work is keeping your team occupied currently.

6. Longest Overdue

The other important list is tasks that are overdue for a long time. These are items that either need some love to complete them, or an edit that removes the due date on them!

7. Project Status Overview

The project status overview block comes only for collections of projects – for instance when you’re viewing report for “All Projects” or projects for a particular company. This was earlier a new tab in its own but we’ve merged it with project reports. The list is easy to read – shows overall progress, project name, leader name, percentage completion, number of tasks done and total tasks, total hours tracked – and optionally the next milestone in this project.

System Stats

Not visible in this screenshot are quick stats about the system – total projects, users, files, their size etc. This block was only in companies tab earlier, and is now moved to project reports, below the tasks progress block.

Do you think these changes make reports more usable?

Do you like these changes? Do they make it easier to get a sense of how well your projects are doing? What would you like us to improve further?

Post a comment and let us know!

Are you the best in your team? Reports Plus makes people use activeCollab better!

January 29, 2014

One common complaint we’ve heard from our clients again and again is the lack of adoption of activeCollab / web based collaboration in their team. The owner / project managers / leaders want everyone to use activeCollab to manage all the work, but as you keep going down the hierarchy, the interest and participation keeps reducing.

There are a number of techniques you can use to get people to use activeCollab more.

  • Convincing them…
  • Coercing them…
  • Cajoling them…
  • Punishing them…
  • Hoping they use it…

All these will help, but it’d be much better if your team used the system by their own.

So we did an experiment…

We built a leader board of our team’s activeCollab use. People get scored based on the tasks they complete, comments they make etc. Everyone in the team can see their rank and who’s topping the charts.

Leader Board - Rank & Activity score.

Leader Board – Rank & Activity score.

Surprisingly, this resulted in breakthrough improvement in activeCollab usage. People started completing old tasks. Started tracking time. And started tracking more activities within the system than earlier.


Because everyone wants to win!

And there is a word for what we did. It’s called “Gamification“.

According to Wikipedia:

Gamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems. Gamification is applied to improve user engagement, return on investment, data quality, timeliness, and learning.

Gamification techniques strive to leverage people’s natural desires for competition, achievement, status, self-expression, altruism, and closure. Gamification encouraged team’s productivity in our case.

So we went ahead and incorporated this concept in Reports Plus module and created a leader board.

Score and Rank for person via Reports Plus

Just like a sports leader board, Reports Plus leaderboard lets one check activity scores and ranks of team members. This board creates a sense of competition among your team. And everyone strives to reach the top – resulting in higher usage of activeCollab.

People may feel jealous but jealousy is love in competition.

Where do they see leader board?

  • Click on your avatar image in left most menu. You will see your own rank and score next to your avatar in the pop out.
  • Click on the rank / score to go to the full leader board.
  • You can also access the leader board from Reports menu in left menu and then clicking on Leader board.

Try it with your team today!

We’ve included the leader board and ranking system in the latest version of Reports Plus. So download it today and try it with your team. Let us know your experiences and suggestions!

Reports Plus – project dashboard in a new look

January 7, 2014

First of all Happy New Year..Hope you had a great year 2013.

We at Apps Magnet are ready to serve you for another year 2014. We will support you throughout this year and make sure you will get maximum value out of our products.

In the process, we updated Reports Plus module which is also compatible with activeCollab 4.1.6.

We changed a view of a project stats in a Reports Plus module and added some new stats like number of tasks in each workflow labels and total files, complete & open tasks, discussions etc. We have also worked on to make Reports Plus module faster.

Hope you will enjoy the new look and speed of a Reports Plus module.

Hours Chart

Hours Chart

Burn Down chart

Burn Down chart

Tasks in Progress and Projects at a glance

Tasks in Progress and Project Stats

Here’s the change log.

Reports Plus 4.1.2 [2014/01/06]

+ Remove flex file from Reports Plus module.
+ Merge javascript files into single file to load javascript faster.

- People leader board was not loaded (javascript file was missing).

Reports Plus 4.1.1 [2014/01/03]

+ Company Tab merged with Project Tab
+ SHows number of tasks in each labels
+ Shows top five "Longest Due" items.

- Time Reports Filters were not showing sorted items for Selected Users, Selected Projects

Our modules are now activeCollab 4.1.4 compatible

December 11, 2013

We released 22 product updates today and this makes all our modules activeCollab 4.1.4 compatible.

Recommended Upgrade Method

  • Login to My Account and download the latest version of Apps Magnet Auto Updater.
  • Upgrade your activeCollab to 4.1.4. You will start getting errors from custom modules.
  • Deactivate all custom modules that are not compatible with aC 4.1.4 (either Apps Magnet or other third party developers)
  • Install and activate the new Apps Magnet Auto Updater.
  • Download 4.1.4 compatible updates of Apps Magnet modules using Auto Updater.
  • If your access to upgrades has expired, you can renew access from My Account.
  • Once latest versions are installed, you can activate modules you want to use.
  • Test and verify that things are working as they should!
  • If you notice a problem, let us know.
  • If you are using modules from other developers, download and update them as well.

Confidential Items module now self adapts with new activeCollab releases

December 6, 2013

Confidential Items module alters the way permissions and visibility are handled in activeCollab. This is done by extending activeCollab core’s functionality and adding some of our own code.

But the problem with this approach was that every time there was a change in user or visibility related aspects in activeCollab core, it would break compatibility and create problems.

Today’s release of Confidential Items module should solve this.

We have added a new smart update system to activeCollab 4 version of a Confidential Items module, that automatically detects activeCollab upgrade and update confidential module’s code automatically.

We hope, this will free you up from most of the compatibility issues.

This smart update feature is added in aC 4 branch of the module only. But we also made a small fix to aC 3 branch.

Here’s the change log.

Confidential Items module 4.0.6 (activeCollab 4)

+ Automatically merge changes from core model files to Confidential Items models files when aC is upgraded.

Confidential Items module  3.0.8 (activeCollab 3)

- Fixed document visibility issue. External client was able to see private documents. Now, client won't be able to view private documents.

Happy Thanksgiving

November 28, 2013

Wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!

And some great discounts!! We are giving 30% off store wide till 4th December 2013 – use coupon flat30festive during checkout.