When dealing with data, remember the old principle "garbage in, garbage out", meaning that flawed input data will produce a flawed output. Keeping your data clean, accurate and up-to-date is your most important task, and the more you enforce that, the easier it is to keep it that way. Here are some tips on how to lead your team in the right direction.
Maintain a clean list of projects
As an admin, you have a key role in keeping the list of projects up to date in a way that is clear for your team members and relevant for your business managers
Your team members should have no doubts when it comes to assigning their work hours to the right project. Whether you allow anyone to create projects or you reserve that right to admins only, someone should be responsible for keeping an eye on the list of projects, create new ones, archive old ones and fix any mistakes as soon as they happen.
- Decide what you want to track – if you're an agency or consulting company, your projects will likely match a statement of work or purchase order, but if you're a startup or a development team in a larger company, you'll have to decide what makes sense to you. Tracking every small task as a different project might not give you any relevant insights into your business as a whole, but putting them into larger groups will give you a new sense of clarity. You can also assign a Type or a Client to your projects to help you further group the data.
- Agree on a naming convention – project naming consistency can be tricky when you have multiple people creating projects freely. Make sure everyone knows how to name new projects, whether you should use a prefix and how to enter the project Type and Client. Ultimately, you want to make it as easy as possible for your team members to enter what they worked on.
- Fix mistakes as soon as they happen – Remember you can edit, merge, and delete projects. If you see a project that was created incorrectly, make the necessary adjustments and anyone involved in the projects will be notified.
- Archive projects when they're over – Archiving a project won't change the data, but the project won't show up on the list for people to enter hours on.
Manage your team
- Introduce Nikabot to your team – No one wants to have an extra chore, and people aren't thrilled about having to report on what they're doing with their time. If they're expected to tell a bot what they worked on each day, they need to understand the importance of having that hard data to guide business decisions. Make sure you follow our tips on how to onboard your team.
- Push the slackers and help those lagging behind – Every team has its share of people who'll resist adopting new tools such as Nikabot. If you see that someone doesn't enter any data even if Nikabot asks them to, you should check in with them and show them how simple it is to log their hours or how they can change their preferences so that Nikabot asks them at a different time. In other situations, people might start skipping a day here and there, leaving you with incomplete data. You should always point it out when people are missing days or just fill them out yourself. Like any habit, it'll need some reinforcement in the beginning.
- Create Groups to focus on a few people at a time – You can create groups for your team members and get filtered reports. If you're a manager, creating a group with the people you manage directly helps you get a more focused view on what everyone is doing.
Use your data wisely
- Add the data to your management workflow – You should have a clear idea of what you want to use the data for, and get buy-in from your organization to use it as a valuable reporting system. At Impossible, the company behind Nikabot, we mainly use our own data to bill clients and to monitor project profitability. We also use it in our quarterly financial reports, to show things like workload per client and time spent in sales projects vs our own ventures vs overhead.
- Integrate your data with other tools – Whether it's a custom reporting system you've built on a spreadsheet or an advanced data analytics tool, all data can be exported from Nikabot and imported elsewhere. Reports can be downloaded as CSV files with custom format and columns to match the destination. We also have an Open API and integration with hundreds of apps through Zapier (both in Beta), so you can automate your workflow.