Product: TimeCamp provided by Time Solutions Ltd.
Hosting options: Desktop, more about iPad, mobile phone.
Cost and plans: TimeCamp offers three plans – Solo (free), Basic ($6/user/month) and Pro ($9/user/month). The two paid plans are priced in US Dollars. The Basic and Pro plans also offer 25% discount where the price is paid annually in advance rather than monthly. This brings the effective monthly/user prices down to $4.50 and $6.75 respectively.
- The Basic and Pro plans also offer 25% discount where the price is paid annually in advance rather than monthly. This brings the effective monthly/user prices down to $4.50 and $6.75 respectively.
- I used the Basic plan on a 30-day trial, which provides a basic set of feature well suited to a student or anyone just looking to get their head around where they are spending their time.
- The Basic and Pro plans offer increasing levels of integration to a bunch of popular project management applications. The standout feature of the Pro plan is the ability to drive client invoicing and project costs.
Languages: English, German, French, Polish, Spanish and Brazilian. I used the English language version.
At its heart, TimeCamp is about tracking productivity. It does this through allowing you to set up projects and tasks, assign them to people and record the time spent on each. Sounds simple? The real value comes through when you start looking at the time tracking information through a rather impressive range of queries and reports, allowing you to dive into the detail of who is doing what and when.
- How much time is a person spending on a task?
- Where is your time being spent?
- When are your slack times and when are you busy?
- Where are your costs coming from?
- When are your peak periods?
- Who in your team has capacity?
- How does the time spent on tasks marry with your projected plans?
For student, teachers, bloggers or anyone looking to understand where they spend their time, the tool offers an intuitive, easy to use set of tools that help you to set a plan and then track your progress.
For small operators and consultants, the tool gives some really useful insights into not only where you spend your time, but how much it costs you. Which tasks are draining your resources? What are the most productive times of the day? Where are your billable hours coming from? What is your true cost of providing the client service?
As a freelancer, I definitely want to know where my time is being spent and what my true cost of providing a service is.
Getting started is really simple. The sign-up process is quick and I was able to get up and running from the TimeCamp website in just a few minutes.
I installed Timecamp’s Chrome browser extension – again, no problems at all. Quick and pain-free. I was able to set up a bunch of tasks and sub-tasks (I set these to mimic my project work breakdown structure) without referring to any support notes or user guides.
Look and Feel
I found the desktop version far more intuitive that the iPad version. Honestly, I dropped the iPad version within a day and did all my configuration and set up on the desktop, without any problems.
Overall, the UI is easy to become familiar with. Reports and dashboards are all in the header menu, meaning that the UI does not become crowded. Navigation is straight-forward and sensible.
In fact, I really like the way it hangs together and was surprised at just how easily I became familiar with the product. It feels as if the developers have spent time with users and made an effort to understand what they are looking for.
Managing Your Projects
Setting up your Project
TimeCamp doesn’t provide traditional project management structure – there’s no work breakdown structure, Gantt Chart or task dependencies. Instead, it provides a blank canvas on which you can set up and manage whatever tasks you choose, in whatever way makes sense to you.
I created a set of tasks and sub-tasks that mirror my work breakdown structure – that works for me as I live in the Project space. But you may choose a different structure. If you’re running an operational team, you might set up recurring, operational tasks that your team will use regularly. If you want to track your productivity at home, you might set up tasks that capture your morning routine.
As an administrator, you can quickly create users and assign them to tasks. I really like the ability to assign both revenue and expense rates to users. This means that I can understand my true costs to complete a task and I can manage my resources accordingly. What are the planned vs actual costs for a task where my expensive resource is able to get the job done quickly, vs assigning a cheaper but slower team member?
What are the planned vs actual costs for a task where my expensive resource is able to get the job done quickly, vs assigning a cheaper but slower team member? The reporting function allows me to filter work by
The reporting function allows me to filter work by users so I can see who is working on what, and when.
Once your users and tasks have been created in TimeCamp, you get a feel for how the application can work for you.
I really like being able to create Timesheets for my team, based on the tasks that are assigned to them and the time that they then allocate. Users can update using either a text-based list of their allocated tasks, or a visual representation of their calendar – I tried both and found that my personal preference was to use the text list, but others may prefer the calendar view.
Tracking time is seriously simple.
Users can track their time in a number of ways – text, calendar or via 3rd party app integration.
The text method is easy but not very visually engaging. For my taste, I like the calendar view – it closely resembles a Google Calendar and gives a powerful, easy to understand view of where your time is logged.
Reporting and Dashboards
The TimeCamp reporting and dashboard capabilities are excellent. For a low cost product, these are, in my mind, stand out features. Many of the reporting features are familiar, which makes them easy to adopt and understand.
Integration with Project Management apps
TimeCamp offers integration with a number of popular project management applications, which is really handy for teams that use apps to manage their workflow and task progress (Agile-style dev teams jump straight to mind).
I was able to integrate with Trello quickly and easily, then choose to start tracking time when I opened up a card. Nice!
Having said that, the Trello card details didn’t map particularly neatly into my TimeCamp dashboard meaning that when I looked at my daily reporting, the Trello activities were not displayed as elegantly as activities entered from within TimeCamp. I think that this might be because I did the Guy Thing and tried to set up my Trello/TimeCamp integration without reading the user guide first. I’ll play with that a little more and update this review when I have a better grasp on that.
I’d also like to try integrating with a couple of the other apps because I can really see how this would add real value.
Time sheets and Invoicing
I really like the timesheet and billing options – simple features that make a huge difference to small and independent operators.
User support is excellent with a range of online manuals, and support notes. I used the online chat feature and was able to speak immediately to a live human. Most impressive.
What I Don’t Like
Life is never all peaches and cream, and there is one thing that nags at me.
Users need to manually select a task and start tracking their time.
That’s OK as far as it goes and for a sole operator or a small team, it might be enough. But for a large operational team or an enterprise-scale situation, the lack of an auto tracking capability is a huge gap. If you are running a support desk with a large catalog of operational tasks or if you are tracking progress with an Agile-style software development team, then the extra few key-strokes to track each activity for your team members will be a problem.
Having said that, it’s worth noting that I don’t see TimeCamp positioning itself as an enterprise-scale, auto time tracking solution. It offers a solid, affordable platform that allows sole operators and small teams some terrific insights into their operations.
Would I Use TimeCamp?
As a freelancer, I need to be able to offer my clients authoritative, comprehensive estimates for the preparation of deliverables and outcomes.
TimeCamp allows me to see where I spend my time, how long it typically takes me to complete activities and where to find my real costs. In turn, this helps me provide better estimates and plan my time more effectively.
Yes, I would use TimeCamp – in my present capacity as a Program Management Consultant.
Yes, I would use TimeCamp if I ran a small team and needed to provide better quality planning and billing for my clients.
No, I would not use TimeCamp if I ran a support desk or a large team where my people were executing high volumes of time-constrained tasks. in those situations, I would look for an enterprise-scale, auto-time tracking solution.
All in all, I am very impressed with TimeCamp. It does what it says it will, it offers great value and gives small operators and teams insights that can make a real difference to the way they deliver outcomes.
Disclosure: I used a free trial of the product and have not been paid for this review.