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To #tag or not to #tag

How to organize your tags for amazing insights into your work habits

Thomas FuchsThomas Fuchs
Cannon wearing a bowtie

Step 1. Tie bowtie
Step 2. Look snazzy
Step 3. ???
Step 4. Profit!!

The other day, one of our two amazing developers Thomas “Tagging It” Cannon wrote an advice email. As much as I wanted the email to be about men’s fashion (he’s a sharp dresser), alas it was a solid bit of guidance for an IT team to get the most out of Freckle. In his defence, the email was a lot more useful (at least for Freckle users!) than a step by step bow-tie guide…

With this post we want to share the pearls of Cannon’s organizational wisdom with all the IT Professionals using Freckle. His truth nuggets are on point whether your team is completely new to time tracking software or if your crew has been sailing the Freckle ship across the waters of time for many a moon.

We hope this post will give you inspiration to get the team’s Freckle account more organized. Thus everyone can be better at what they do!

#TAGS #TAGS #TAGS!

The BIGGEST thing that aids Mr. Bowtie in getting the most out of Freckle is using Tags strategically. The goal is to intentionally use tags that you can easily chain together when logging time and running reports.

Imagine your time entries as being points on a map—the tag chains are like directions to these areas.

Tagging all the things

For instance, Cannon’s account has three major types of tags:

  1. What feature/code/software is being worked on
  2. What kind of work is being done
  3. Where the work is being done

Feature/code/software tags let you see what your team is making progress on and what tools are slowing you down. This helps figure out which projects are eating up a lot of time. From there, you can start finding out why these projects are time sinks.

What kind of work tags are-as Cannon puts it- “…essential for pulling back the curtain on work and figuring out how you can do it better.” These should generally be action verbs like #debugging, #planning, #coding.

This works for many customers, but sometimes it helps to get more detailed. Here are a few ideas for getting detailed from Cannon’s personal Freckle tag vault:

Mr. Bowtie has two separate tag systems for similar activities such as, #tests and #manual-testing. The tag #tests is for when he’s working on Freckle’s automated test suite. The tag #manual-testing is for when Cannon has to manually poke and click things to make sure they work. If there is a lot of #manual-testing time, then he can look into ways of automating that type of testing.

Likewise, use separate tags for things like #customer-support or when dealing with #vendor-support. When it comes to time, vendors and customers have different needs. Getting those differences accounted for is good practice for your team.

Where the work is being done tags allow you to pinpoint your location on the map further.

Having this information can help you make good decisions about where to spend time on optimizing your processes. For example: “If a lot of time is being spent on configuring the #staging-server for a new feature,” Cannon explains, “then you will definitely want to write internal guidelines so you’ll be faster next time you do it.” Marking locations allows for map-making when it comes to building new features.

This way your team knows how to get to the next stages in a project without having to redo work already done.

Clear, specific tags make Freckle an even more powerful tool when it comes to tracking work time. With good tag use it’s a breeze to figure out how much time is being spent on specific tasks in relation to project goals.

Naming Projects

As for projects, being specific and differentiating is an awesome way to keep track of work. As Cannon puts it, “Project-wise, we use project names to designate what parts of the business we’re working on. Freckle is for when we’re building new features or working on the app itself, Freckle Support is for all the time we spend helping our customers, and Internal is for things like answering miscellaneous emails.” Such as, when I ask Cannon to send me images of him in a bow tie, #internal #email.

laptopcat

Freckle’s support team is always happy to hear from you

Fantastic API

Oh, and last but not least, we also have a fantastic API that Cannon develops and maintains. This means that you can integrate Freckle with all the other tools you use to run your business!!! We ain’t kidding.  You could use API to automatically keep projects in sync, generate custom reports, or even automatically log time!

If you would like to know more about API integration, Cannon loves talking about it. Send us an email at [email protected] and we will get you the tools and guidance you need.

 

Thomas’ work on Prototype.js, Zepto.js and Micro.js has made him a certified JavaScript Guru. Before founding Freckle, Thomas was consulting with some of the world’s best known companies on their craziest interactive JavaScript needs. A Ruby on Rails core alumni, he is passionate about creating the best user interface experience possible and penned the Scriptaculous JavaScript UI library to share the love, counting sites like Apple.com and Nasa.gov among its users. Thomas’ master plan: work toward a more delicious web using open source goodness.