May 21, 2010

Tips for Setting Up TestTrack Time Tracking

Helix ALM
TestTrack's built-in time tracking features make it easy to manage estimates, get updates on actual and remaining effort, and gain insight from the data about project status. You can track and report on time for specific items or across all items in a project—all directly in TestTrack. For a quick introduction to time tracking, see How TestTrack Time Tracking Works. Use the following tips to make configuring time tracking easier. After completing some pre-work, you can easily modify projects to implement time tracking the way you want to use it and test the configuration before users start entering time.

1. Decide Which Activities Require Time Tracking

Review your workflows and decide when users need to report the time spent on activities. For example, you may want users to report the time it takes to write a requirement, but not the time it takes to review one. The following questions can help you evaluate your workflows and make decisions about how to implement time tracking:
  • Which events do you want to capture time tracking data for?
  • Do you want to provide an event so users can enter their time on an item at any point in the workflow without changing an item’s status? Do you need to add new events to the workflow to capture this data or can you use existing events?
  • What time tracking data do you want to capture for each workflow event? The estimated time to complete the item? The actual time spent working on the item so far? The estimated remaining time to complete the item?
Keep in mind that TestTrack RM and TestTrack TCM each have two workflows. If you use those products or multiple TestTrack products, make sure you evaluate each workflow individually. Identify any common activities between the workflows so you can standardize the fields in the events, which makes configuring time tracking even easier.

2. Determine the Time Tracking Field Names

Now that you know what type of time tracking data you want to capture for each event, you need to choose names for the fields used for time tracking in the event dialog boxes. Use names that clearly identify the value users should enter in the field to avoid any confusion. Also identify any fields that users must enter values in before an event can be added to an item.

3. Decide How to Calculate Totals

The next step is to decide how you want each time tracking field value to be included in the total for the category (actual, estimated, remaining) it is in. You can use:
  • The sum of all time tracking values entered for all instances of an event for an item. For example, if the Fix event is added to a defect twice, and 2 and 6 are entered in the Effort field, the actual hours total is 8.
  • The time tracking value entered for the last instance of the event for an item. For example, if the Estimate event is added to a defect twice, and 2 and 6 are entered in the Effort fields, the actual hours total is 6.
For actual hours, you typically want to use a sum of values to calculate an accurate total for the entire effort. For estimated and remaining hours, you may only want to include the most recent value because estimates often change. If estimates change, the remaining hours are also likely to change and the most recent value is the most accurate value.

4. Choose the Time Tracking Field Types for Events

You can use the built-in time tracking field or custom event fields. The type of time tracking field you use depends on how you want to calculate values and if an event can be entered multiple times on an item. The built-in time tracking field includes options for calculating time tracking values. You can use the sum of all time tracking values entered for all instances of an event for an item or the value entered for the last instance of the event for the item. Custom event fields always use the value from the last instance of the event entered for the item. If items can have multiple instances of the same event, use the built-in time tracking field so you can choose how to calculate the total hours. If items can only have one instance of an event, you can use either type of time tracking field. You can also use a combination of built-in and custom fields in one event to capture multiple time tracking values for an activity. For example, you may want to use the built-in field to capture actual time and a custom field to capture remaining time.

5. Add New Workflow Events

You are now ready to configure time tracking in TestTrack. At this point, you may want to create a test project to test the configuration before implementing it in a live project. Most time tracking configuration tasks are performed in the workflows. If you need to add new events to support time tracking, create them before you start adding fields to existing events. To add events, choose Tools > Administration > Workflow. Choose the workflow you want to add events to in the Type field. Click the Events tab and then click Add to add an event. Configure Workflow dialog box

6.  Add the Time Tracking Fields to Workflow Events

Now you can add time tracking fields to events. The first step is to add built-in time tracking or custom fields to the workflow events using the information you identified.  After that, you can make time tracking fields required, if necessary.

Adding the built-in time tracking field

To add the built-in time tracking field to an event, select the Display the time tracking field using option on the Details tab in the Edit Event dialog box. Edit Event dialog box The Sum of all hours from events of this type option is selected by default. If you decided to use the most recent value entered on an item instead of a sum of all hours, select Hours from last entered event of this type. By default, the label for the built-in time tracking field is Hours. To rename the field, click the Fields tab in the Edit Event dialog box, click Edit, and enter a new name.

Adding event custom fields

To add a custom field to an event dialog box, click the Custom tab in the Edit Event dialog box. Click Custom Fields and then click Add. Select Integer or Decimal Number as the Format and enter the additional field information. Add Custom Field dialog box   Add a Remaining Hours custom field to each event used for time tracking to ensure values, such as the variance between estimated and actual hours, are accurate in reports and other areas. Make sure that each event is selected in the Remaining Hours field when selecting the fields to include in time tracking totals in the Project Options dialog box.

Making fields required

If you decided that you always want to capture a specific time tracking value for an event, you need to make the corresponding event fields required. To make fields required, choose Tools > Administration > Required Fields & Default Values. Select the item Type and then select the event from the fields list. Select the check box in the Is Required column for the field you want to require and click OK. Required Fields & Default Values dialog box

7. Select the Fields to Include in Totals

After you configure time tracking event fields, you need to map the time tracking fields you configured to the time tracking values you want to associate them with. You can map fields for each item type in the time tracking project options. To configure time tracking project options, choose Tools > Administration > Project Options and then select an item type from the Time Tracking category. Time Tracking project options The available fields for actual, estimated, and remaining hours include built-in time tracking fields and integer and decimal number event custom fields. In the lists, field names may be prepended with the event name or use the long label you identified. If you are not sure which field name to select, open the event from the Configure Workflow dialog box and click the Fields tab to see the field name and the long label. Edit Event dialog box Fields tab You can use one field or a combination of fields to calculate each value. If you select multiple fields, the sum of each field value is used as the total.

8. Test and Make Adjustments

When you finish configuring time tracking, take the time to test the configuration to make sure it is set up correctly. The best way to do this is to enter events, add values in the time tracking fields, and view the results in list windows, the Work Items tab, and reports. Review both individual events and totals to make sure values are calculated as expected. If you identify discrepancies in the time tracking totals or the variance between the actual hours and remaining hours compared to the estimated hours, check the following:
  • If you are using the built-in time tracking field, make sure the correct option is selected because it affects how values are included in totals.
  • Make sure the correct fields are selected in the correct time tracking categories in the project options.
When the configuration is correct and ready to use, make sure you let users know what information they need to enter when performing activities.

You Are Now Ready to Use Time Tracking

By following these tips, you will be able to quickly configure and implement time tracking in your TestTrack projects. Understanding how time is spent on each item, a subset of items, or all items during and after releases, projects, and iterations can help you keep the schedule on track and plan for future projects with more accurate estimates. For more information about time tracking, see the TestTrack Help.