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Published:Jul 14, 2021

GitHub Time Tracking: Peek Under the Hood As We Build

We’re cooking up something big here at 7pace.

As you know, we’re obsessed with improving time tracking for software development. Why?

Because it’s broken. Instead of helping developers do their job better, many time tracking tools are cumbersome and intrusive.

7pace set out to change that. We have made time tracking effortless for many Azure DevOps users so they can gain autonomy and control over their productivity. But what about developers on other platforms?

Now, we’ll make a time tracking solution with the same robust features available to even more developers worldwide.

Building In Public: Watch Us Drink Our Own Champagne

We believe that a time tracking solution for software developers should fit the work, process, and systems that they use. First and foremost, it should be a tool for individuals to manage their time and grow their careers.

To reach more developers and bring this vision to life, we’re building a time tracking solution for GitHub users.

And we’ll be doing it from the trenches. Our team has already been using GitHub to build this product. This process will help us gain more experience of the platform and also allow us to help some of our current Azure DevOp customers migrate to GitHub in the future.

We’ll stress-test the solution and share the problems we encounter.

We’ll share the process with you so we can learn together from this experience.

In this first installment, we share why we’re creating a solution for GitHub, the pain points we aim to solve for our users, and the challenges we expect to tackle along the way.

If you really want to see the good stuff—the problems, the pain points, and the victories—follow along by signing up to receive email updates. You’ll also be among the first to gain access to our 7pace for GitHub product when it’s released later this year.

Why We Decided to Create a GitHub Time Tracking Solution

Our experience in developing a time tracking extension for Azure DevOps has proven that time tracking offers many benefits when it’s done correctly and granularly.

For example, you can estimate for a project more accurately, gain better control over your time, and work more efficiently as part of a team.

As our product matures, we realize that staying within the four walls of Azure DevOps will limit our ability to bring the benefits of time tracking to more developers. There are also gaps we can’t fill within the Azure DevOps environment. For instance, the Azure environment limits our creativity in developing UI. Also, Azure’s information presentation structure makes it challenging for us to provide users with a clear view of their entire day if they work on different platforms or work across different organizations.

We need to expand, but to what/where?

We chose GitHub because it’s the largest development platform in the world. We’ll have the opportunity to bring the benefits of time tracking to its 56+ million users.

GitHub Time Tracking and Resource Planning Challenges We Aim to Solve

For one: Every developer should own their time.

Whether you’re a basement hacker or a senior engineer at a Fortune 100 firm, you spend thousands of hours every year staring at your computer screen, tinkering, committing, and bug fixing.

The only way that you can take control of how you spend that time—and whether you’re using it well—is by measuring and analyzing your work.

This has always been a guiding principle at 7pace and with the launch of our GitHub platform, we want to help even more developers own the way they spend their days.

Second: Time tracking and resource planning are platform-agnostic.

Developers don’t use just one tool. They jump between multiple platforms — from ticketing systems and email to kanban boards and sticky notes, we believe that users should be able to track everything regardless of what tools they use.

They want insights to help them estimate their work accurately so they can estimate projects more accurately and minimize the crunch when launch date looms.

But many developers who use GitHub don’t have the benefits of a tracking tool to help them effectively manage their time. 7pace for GitHub is designed to help GitHub users improve their workflows and eliminate the back-and-forth that happens with other timekeeping solutions.

Challenges We Expect to Encounter As We Build 7pace for GitHub

Challenges We Expect to Encounter As We Build 7pace for GitHub

First, GitHub users are certainly not the same as our current Azure DevOps users. They have different expectations, which may require different feature sets. We can’t simply make a carbon copy of our Azure DevOps extension and call it a day.

For instance, most developers on Azure DevOps are corporate users while GitHub is the platform of choice for open source developers, freelancers and startups. As such, GitHub users probably don’t care as much about the ability to assign granular roles and permission.

On the other hand, GitHub users need the capability to share their work with others quickly and easily. These different priorities may impact how we design certain features, or where they sit on the product development roadmap.

We must be aware of any bias shaped by our years of experience creating products for Azure DevOps users. We need to question our assumptions often and keep the needs of the GitHub user front and center.

Since Azure users have different preferences and priorities than GitHub users, we must put ourselves in their shoes and see how we can approach a feature differently so we can address their needs better.

Additionally, GitHub is much simpler than Azure. We simply can’t pop patterns or features from Azure directly into the GitHub interface.

The second challenge is integration. Unlike Azure DevOps, GitHub doesn’t offer a robust integration model. While it may be more challenging to blend the 7pace experience with the GitHub interface, we can also leverage this opportunity to develop a more independent product that can work well with a wider range of platforms.

Lastly, we need to balance our resource planning and allocation.

The Azure DevOps extension is a product that we cherish and fully support. It’s what got us where we are and a great tool that our customers love using. Even though we’re super excited about building a new product, we need to maintain and develop the Azure DevOps extension to meet our current users’ high expectations.

We can’t clone ourselves. We didn’t magically double the size of our development team. Therefore, we must carefully balance the resources we allocate to the new product vs. the existing offering.

We need to assign the right people to the right task, prioritize what’s included in each development cycle, and decide what features need to be set aside for later.

Our Vision for 7pace for GitHub

We want to bring the power, knowledge, and benefits of time tracking for software development projects to the masses — starting at GitHub.

This project will allow us to develop a more independent product, so developers can gain a clear view of and have control over how they spend their time no matter where they spend it.

We’re making this possible by meeting developers where they are — be it GitHub or Azure DevOps. We want to make time tracking as seamless and painless as possible for our customers.

Our Vision for 7pace for GitHub

Follow Our Journey in Real-Time

Of course, we’ll face myriad challenges as we bring 7pace For GitHub to market.

And we plan to document all of those challenges in future blog posts as we build 7pace for GitHub in public and share the process.

In upcoming posts, you’ll be able to look under the hood to see how we:

  • Estimate timeline and effort for a new product.
  • Overcome resource allocation challenges.
  • Plan our go-to-market strategy.
  • Build our beta audience.
  • Resolve other unforeseen challenges as we build the new product.

Subscribe to read new posts and teardowns of our product development process.

We’ll share insights and lessons along the way—for better or worse.

Let’s see what happens.

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