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19991Tracking hours for budgets and billing

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  • Jeremy Haile
    Mar 6, 2007
      Scrum only prescribes updating hours to show the amount of time
      remaining on features. This works great in combination with a burn-down
      chart to help manage delivering features within a Sprint.

      However, I work for a software company that not only needs to be able to
      deliver software within a sprint (or by a deadline), but also needs to
      deliver it within a defined budget.

      For example, let's say I'm building a web application and working on a 3
      week sprint. If I work 50 hours each week, a burn-down chart may look
      like everything is on track to be delivered during this sprint, but I
      may still overrun the budget since we bill our clients on an hourly
      basis. (10 hours * 3 weeks = 30 hours over-budget) Although if we
      planned our sprints based on the number of hours worked and stuck to it
      exactly, this might not be an issue - in reality, the number of hours
      can vary week-by-week.

      Our approach so far has been to track the hours that developers work on
      specific tasks on a daily basis. This adds significant overhead,
      headache, and is not "pure Scrum." We have typically reported hours to
      tasks or features that are in the Sprint backlog.

      However, sometimes your activities throughout the day are not directly
      related to a particular backlog item (e.g. writing e-mails, having a
      general design meeting, etc.) We either end up adding in special tasks
      for "administrative" work, or lumping those hours into the "most
      related" task.

      I've thought about trying to completely separate the "Scrum management"
      from the "billing/budget management." In this scenario, we would track
      our hours in general buckets for "billing purposes", and update
      remaining hours on features for "Scrum purposes." However, this can
      make developers feel like they are having to do double time tracking.
      Also, some of our managers like the ability to compare the number of
      hours we've worked on tasks to our original estimates. (although you
      could argue this is not really a good or necessary thing)

      Does anyone have any experience in implementing Scrum and also meeting
      the needs of doing hourly tracking for budgetary and billing purposes?
      Does anyone have recommendations for methods or tools that could support
      this process? I'd appreciate any ideas or thoughts!

      Jeremy Haile
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