The Evolution of Time Doctor

Hey guys, so I want to give you a bit of a background of the evolution of Time Doctor, how it started and where it has evolved into.

I have a business doing search engine optimization and other Internet marketing with around 50 staff, mostly in the Philippines, but some in Australia and other locations. For several years I’ve been trying different project management software and time management software, to try and find a way to manage and be in touch with my team even when I’m traveling and not in the same office.

Also after paying lots of money each month in office rent, I decided to set up my business to have no office. It definitely saves a lot of money having everyone working from home, and it has a lot of other advantages as well. All my staff can work pretty flexible hours. In the Philippines many people travel 2 hours to work in disgusting traffic and pollution and 2 hours on the way back. So they love this benefit. So being able to work from home is a huge benefit.

Of course when you try out a new system of working there are going to be problems. One of the issues is that as a manager you don’t really know what people are doing. Sure you can measure the person’s output, which is great and very important. But sometimes it’s difficult to measure output accurately and in a short time frame. Depends on the person’s job. If it’s a sales job you can measure how many sales a person makes and you can easily say that if the person gets sales then they are performing. But with an accountant for example, it’s more difficult to measure their output day to day.

So I wanted to be able to track how many hours the person is working each day at a minimum. This seems like a simple thing, but actually there are really no good software solutions to measure a person’s real working hours. Something also where as a manager I can somehow compare with the person’s real activities and know if they are on track.

Then the next feature that I wanted to add into the mix was daily reports. I like to get a simply daily report from my team which says:

What are the top tasks you accomplished today?
How long did it take you to complete them? And also,
What are the top priorities that you are working on for tomorrow?

So I was doing this manually for a while, but I can tell you that even though it seems quite simple, it’s actually a logistical nightmare to try and collate the reports and put them into a simple readable format for me to see as a manager. Even the fact that if I have 10 or 20 team member reports I don’t want to receive 20 emails each day in my inbox. It quickly becomes too hard to deal with when receiving so many emails. What I want is only ONE email in my inbox each day that has all the information I need.

That was the concept of the software. There wasn’t anything else that does this so I had to create it myself. Now we have a team of 4 developers, 2 testers and a few others that are working on the development of Time Doctor.

The software development process is quite challenging. I think the critical factor for success of this software is that my team has been using it the whole time as we develop it. So we can see how it is used in reality rather than the theory. Our software developers use it for tracking their own time, so they want to make absolutely sure that it is tracking their time effectively.

For example one thing we noticed when first started developing the software is that people would come back from a break and start working again but they would forget to click on the button to start timing their work. When you have a busy day it’s really hard to remember to press the button. So a simple solution that we implemented for this is when the person comes back to their computer it pops up and asks if the person is working. There are probably over one hundred other little things that we discovered along the way on how to get it right, and we are still discovering more.

Looking forward to getting comments and feedback from those that are beta testing the product. At this stage the plan is to continuing offering it for free until the beta testing period is over and we feel it has been tested by enough people to ensure it’s problem free.

Thanks guys – Rob Rawson, the Time Doctor

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