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Thoughts on mobile app development.

What I Did For Every Minute Of 2011

As detailed in a previous post, one of my goals for 2011 was to get a better idea of what I was spending my time on. It’s always easy to feel like a certain project has dragged on or taken up more time than it should, but you never really know the truth – unless you actually keep track. I spent all of 2011 by recording what project I was working on, when I worked on it, and for how long. As a result, I now have a good idea of what’s taking up too much time, what I should spend more time on, what’s bringing in a good amount of income, and so on. I found all these details pretty interesting, perhaps you will too.

Hours Per Week

This was one of the first things I looked at – total hours worked in 2011, and how that worked out as an average per week. It turns out that I worked an average of 31.2 hours a week in 2011. The standard Australian work week is 38 hours, so I was pretty happy with this. Those 31.2 hours were spent doing real work – anytime I opened up Facebook or read the news, I stopped the timer. This average also includes holidays, days off, etc. I dare say that I’m working more real hours than the average Australian, but I’m also working more efficiently. Recording what I’m working on and for how long has really helped me cut down on wasted time spent pretending to be working, or waiting until 5pm rolls around. If I can churn out the same amount of work in less time than the average employee, that’s a win in my book.

Hours Worked – In-House vs Contract

The primary reason I started tracking my time was that I wanted to split my time 50/50 between contract and in-house app development. I’ve always felt that although I enjoy in-house app development the most, this got pushed aside for contract work, especially when deadlines were approaching. I ended up spending 38% of my time on in-house apps, so while I didn’t quite achieve my goal, this was actually more than I expected.

Hourly Rate – In-House vs Contract

The really interesting part of this exercise for me was to be able to compare income gained from different sources, and how that converts to an real hourly rate. Though I generally charge a fixed price for all contract jobs, this is still based off an hourly rate. Being able to see how long a project actually took gives a really solid picture on how good you are at estimating time required, which clients are too demanding of your time, and projected income for the future. One satisfying thing I found was that by the hour, I earned pretty much the same amount on contract jobs as I did for in-house apps. In my opinion this is a pretty good justification for turning down contract jobs if I wish to concentrate on in-house work.

iPhone and Android

Though I’m not an Android developer myself, I have outsourced a few projects. Outsourcing isn’t free, and it also comes with a number of overheads – managing the process, explaining how the projects work, documentation, answering questions – it all takes time. As raw data, it looks like I actually earned about 60% more per hour from outsourcing projects than I did by developing the iOS counterparts myself. However, once I include the actual development costs of outsourcing, this figure drops dramatically. It turns out doing things myself might still be the way to go.

Keeping track of how I spent my time has turned out to be invaluable. It took very little effort, and has given me a real insight into my business. I’ll certainly be continuing the process for 2012 and beyond.

2 Comments

  1. Awesome results. What tools did you use to track your time and analyze the data? I track time spent on actual projects, but not every minute I sit at my desk. I use an app called Office Time, which is good for quickly starting and stopping a timer, and includes a lot of other features for generating reports, invoices, etc. I mainly use the time tracking bits, then transfer time data as needed into my billing software (for clients). Anyway, could you expand on your “method” that has turned time keeping into a habit for you?

    Reply
    • I use an app called On The Job. It has a few other bells and whistles as well, but I really only use it for the time tracking. Office Time looks really nice, I’ll have to check out out, thanks! You can read a bit more on my method in a previous post: http://www.aspyreapps.com/blog/statistics-never-lie/ . Would love to hear if your method differs much?

      Reply

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