Productivity Improvement | 03.01.2012

Managing Time with Sapience – my experience

For the past 20 years, I have been involved in managing medium to large software engineering teams.  I have always valued information regarding effective time usage, and have explored multiple ways to collect this data. For example, putting time information in Excel spreadsheets every time I switch activities, or having timer based interrupts. However, spending time to accurately get time usage information itself seemed like time misspent!

Moreover, even though time spent can be jotted down, it becomes meaningful only if we also record the purpose. Very quickly, one can start getting overwhelmed with the data to be kept. It is even more challenging to make sense of the underlying trends over weeks and months. What is really required is an automated mechanism to track time usage, and intelligent assignments to purpose based on identifying patterns in user’s historical usage.

Sapience sources time information, and additionally qualifies time spent towards an activity and purpose. I have been using Sapience over the last few weeks, and have realized that Sapience is able to do this automatically and quite accurately!  The activity and purpose qualification is based on pattern matching intelligence, and it only gets better the longer one uses Sapience. This is a huge value addition!

I can cite an example to demonstrate how I benefitted personally.  Every morning, I prioritize my work items.  The next day after installing the product, I had planned to work on specifications for a particular product feature.  At the end of the day, I felt that I had indeed spent enough time on this activity. I then reviewed my time and activity map provided by Sapience, and was appalled to find that I had spent only about 4 hours on the document. A lot of time had gone in impromptu meetings, calls and browsing on some research papers!

Our work tool – “computer” – offers a very wide canvas, and it is very easy to digress and not realize the time spent in such distractions. So, of late, I have started setting goals for myself in terms of time limits for certain activities, and ensuring that I get the required time for core activities. Sapience has already become a valuable ally in informing me of my success in managing my own time. The next step is to extend this to the activities and combined efforts of my whole team.