We've talked about time tracking issues in software development outsourcing in one of our previous articles. As a Project Manager, you need to monitor time spent by your team on the project tasks. As a Customer, you need to know what you actually pay for. This is where time tracking tools can help.
Today there is a great variety of time tracking systems available in the market. They vary significantly in terms of features they offer, so you have an opportunity to choose which one will meet your needs to the fullest.
However, chances are that despite such a great variety of available tools none of them is exactly what you need. We felt the same.
Being an offshore software development team, we provide our services remotely; most of our employees work on hourly basis. Therefore, we have faced challenges: how to control the efficiency of work, how to stay within the budget and deadlines, and how to report to a customer more effectively. Therefore, we've come up with the decision to create such a tool which would help us deal with these issues, and which we would be happy to use ourselves. And we have developed CrISStal Eye – full-scale time-tracking software for controlling in-house and remote employees and for reporting to a customer.
We've already covered the most popular time tracking systems – please see this blog post. Now let's review CrISStal Eye the way we have reviewed other tools.
CrISStal Eye overview
Integration with JIRA/Redmine
Integration with other PM systems
Currently we have integration with OpenERP available. However, we are ready to provide integration with other popular project management systems on your request.
Built-in PM System
In addition to JIRA and Redmine integration, a built-in project management system is available. Create and edit tasks, set deadlines and other parameters.
A desktop client is easy to use and powerful. There are MacOS, Linux, Windows versions available, so you can easily work on any OS.
CrISStal Eye tracks time spent on a particular task. Normally, it rounds time to seconds (to prevent upward rounding of working time), but it is possible to choose the required precision – rounding to minutes, for example. Taking into account that programmers love solving difficult tasks, and, in particular, how to "bypass" the system (not because they want to violate rules, but because they want to crack a puzzle), we've paid special attention to screenshots taking mechanism. Our system takes screenshots at a random time of 10-minute interval. To provide additional guarantee that data is not manipulated, if a screenshot is deleted, the time associated with this screenshot is deleted as well. CrISStal Eye also provides flexible reports that can be adjusted as you wish – by user / period / project / task.
Billing features (costs management, invoices generation) are coming soon! This update, we believe, will simplify relationships with your customers and your cost management.
There is general customer database functionality available. In particular, users who have Customer role assigned to them are associated with particular projects. However, if you are looking for a richer functionality for customer database management, we recommend using additional tools.
Among features we thought would be useful are the following:
- Tools for convenient work process – real time data entry, hotkeys support, a window for switching between tasks, quick search by tasks (so you don't need to enter the client again to do this), an option to capture the current screen manually, and many others;
- Independent work from internet connection – up to 8 hours;
- Access rights customization according to your organizational structure – you can assign any role to your users, tailor individual project rights and change access rights at any moment. We've also tried to make license management process as convenient as possible:
- Simple upgrade/downgrade process
- Payment via Paypal – the most reliable payment system That being said, we know which aspects still need improvement, and we are working on them. There is no limit to perfection.
Integration with project management tools (JIRA, Redmine) enables smooth synchronization of all operations (add, edit, delete time). Time is tracked successfully even when the Internet connection is off – up to 8 hours of offline work.
We've tried to make CrISStal Eye product as user friendly as possible. However, we understand that there is still room for improvement, and we are ready to work further in this direction. Therefore, feedback and/or constructive criticism are welcome.
Anything seems unclear, or you want to learn more? Feel free to get in touch, and we will be happy to talk about CrISStal Eye in more detail.