Accelo’s Product Team would like to introduce a handy new feature for automatically rounding the time entries logged by your team. This feature has just been released in open beta - meaning we'll turn it on for your account if you're interested.
Although the feature is being labeled as "beta", it will be operating in your production account, rounding real-time/activity logged by your team. We'd love your thoughts on the usability of the feature and any recommendations on enhancements before opening it up to all Accelo users.
Tracking time in specific increments is a long-established standard for some industries, such as the legal profession, where time is typically logged and billed in 6m increments. Without time rounding, users must manually adjust their time entries or managers have to audit and adjust them later. This creates additional work and reduces efficiency.
Now, rounding time can be automated in Accelo, ensuring all work efforts have a minimum time value (e.g. 6m) to help save precious time that can be spent on more important activities.
Here’s an example: A user in Accelo reads an email and replies. It takes 3 minutes to read and 3 minutes to reply. However, only 3 minutes would be logged by replying. With automatic time rounding set to 6m, you can log a minimum of 6m on every activity, ensuring you’re capturing some of that time spent reading.
Another big benefit comes when reporting and invoicing on logged time. Time rounding to specific increments, such as 3, 6, or 15-minute increments makes reports and invoices much easier to consume for both internal team members and customers, as it avoids the possibility of repeating decimals. E.g. when billing 5m, or even 20m of work, these entries seem neat enough, but when converted to decimal for invoicing or exporting to CSV, you're left with repeating decimals which must be trimmed to 4 decimals places (0.0833 and 0.3333 respectively) which aren't as presentable or accurate in the long run.
Once you are included in the beta, you'll be able to configure one rounding increment for your entire team - so everyone's work is rounding the same way. Initially, the interval will be set to 1m, which is how Accelo has always behaved (rounding seconds up to the next minute). We suggest using 3m, 6m or possibly 15 m. However, you'll get a warning if you go above 6m, due to the risk of inflating time (more on that below). Why not 5m? Well, as above, simply because it doesn't convert nicely to a decimal when reporting and invoicing.
The default direction is to round time up, but you are now able to configure to round to the nearest minute - or even round down if that's your preference! However, time greater than zero seconds will always round up to the first increment, to avoid very small time logs always rounding down to zero.
To help your team get familiar with the rounding behavior, we've built a little "hint" into the UI when logging or updating time. Of course, once you're familiar with the rounding effect, you can turn off the hint from your Preferences page - just follow the link from the hint/helper by mousing over it:
Note: Rounding won't impact existing activities unless you edit the activity on the Daily or Weekly Timesheet - then it will attempt to apply rounding if the activity hasn’t been locked/invoiced.
If you're rounding every time entry up to the nearest 15m interval, and staff make lots of time entries throughout the day, you're going to end up with more time tracked than expected. So, it is important to consider the habits of your team when picking a rounding interval. A small interval like 3m or 6m is recommended to avoid noticeable inflation of your team's utilization.
You could also consider using the option of rounding time to the nearest interval, rather than always rounding up. Finally, we have set 30m as the maximum value for rounding time, so time entries can't be super-inflated!
No, we're not recording both the original time and the rounded time. We apply the rounding as the time is saved, and only save the rounded value. While we acknowledge that storing the original time would mitigate the aforementioned inflation concerns, it introduces significant complexity to the interpretation of many reporting and invoicing interfaces across Accelo - including the Earned Value and Hours Used metrics, Timesheets, Profitability and Utilization - which are already quite robust and would not obviously benefit from further complexity at this time.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you haven't already been invited to try out this beta feature. Be sure to mention your Accelo account name so our team can turn it on for you. During the beta period we'd love your feedback, critique or questions - but there's no obligation to do anything more than give this new functionality a try! After a period of 3-4 weeks we'll look to enable this feature for all of our customers.