Improve your ActiveCollab Reports with Exply
Exply provides you with an ActiveCollab integration, empowering you to easily add value to your data with easy drag-and-drop dashbords and reports right at your fingertips.
Why does Exply exist?
ActiveCollab is a really useful project management tool to track time for different customers, projects and tasks. It's also helping to create and track invoices. In general the ActiveCollab reports show information about payments, assigned tasks, tracked time or expenses in predefined categories and dimensions.
We're using ActiveCollab every day to track our individual times and assign them to customers, projects and tasks. But there's one major downside with ActiveCollab reports: we couldn't answer our importand controlling question, and we do know that the needed information are stored in the database!
The built-in ActiveCollab reports aren't satisfying and don't fit controlling needs. For example, the reports that answer the following controlling questions either need to be manually set up every single time one wants to use them or can't even be answered at all:
- How many team members worked how many hours, per day/week/month on which project/task?
- How many hours of the given budget have already been used?
- How many hours need to be done within the next time period to accomplish the assured time budget with the given people?
- How many productive hours do we have?
- How many hours are billable and non-billable per project, team member, time period?
- report on time per member per tasklist
- and a lot more
We believe it should be simple to add value to your data
Therefore we built Exply as an ActiveCollab add on to connect it to the time tracking database and get way more comprehensive reports without the need of a data analyst.
Limitations of ActiveCollab Reports
Imagine you want to export all your ActiveCollab data to create special reports for customers, management, teams, etc. inlcuding all the necessary information they need.
Apparently not all available information in ActiveCollabe are exported. There are a couple of reports covering different aspects. A full export including every details isn't possible with ActiveCollab.
Some details are left out or are concatenated. This is a very dangerous aspect regarding data credibility. Not being able to rely on the given data leads to less data trust and more time needed to verify the correctnes of the exported data. That's not very useful and wastes a lot of money.
Also it's not convenient and time efficient to always re-setup reports if you want to get a quick overview filtered down to a f.e. project, customer, team, etc.
Besides those aspects, there are additional restrictions within ActiveCollab reports:
- Reports (and their designs) are not customizable
- Reports are static and can't be explored interactively
- Exporting a list of all done customer tasks or those who need to be invoiced within a certain period of time
- Creating individual Customer Dashboards/Reports and sharing them
- Combining ActiveCollab time tracking data with 3rd party data like JIRA, Git or by using XML and CSV imports to get better insights
Exply as ActiveCollab Integration
The majority of ActiveCollab integrations basically extends the ActiveCollab instance at some point and adds extra functionality. Exply works different. We developed an individual data connector to import all ActiveCollab data into an own database.
That way we can access them the way we want to and customize almost everything, unlocking the full potential of the available data. Having all data in an own database provides several improvements and features:
- Creating individual dashboards for specific use cases, customers people
- Comparing projects, customers, time spans with custom metrics
- Granting customers access to their individual dashboards using own logins, showing them all relevant project information like available budget, logged hours, finished tasks, etc.
- Fullfilling our transparency policy by providing all data anytime, anywhere inlcuding custom permissions through complex user management
- Exporting all available data as Excel sheet to work with them in 3rd party applications
Last but not least, using this approach we're able to answer all above mentioned questions as simple as it can be.
Reports vs. Dashboards
One last thing. Every once in a while we're discussing the necessarity and prupose of classic reports especially when they're compared to dashboards. Two major questions always come up: What's the difference between dashboards and reports? Why does someone need a report when they have access to real-time data in dashboard?
And the more often we think about it and discuss pros and cons of both analytics, the more useful it seems to use dashboards and reports become more obsolete.
Here's a more radical approach to this discussion:
Let's do a quick thought experiment. Imagine you're managing an agile team with also mainly agile projects. Just having monthly reports showing you the past is like driving a car by just using the rear-view mirror. If you don't have the right data at the right time, you're not able see dangerous situations coming and adjust the course on time to avoid a crash.
Especially when looking at controlling and managing agile teams and projects, reacting to potential incidents is crucial! Is the team/project still on track or are they leaving the critical path? Does a project team need help to fulfill the guaranteed budget or goal on time?
Periodical reports - no matter if sent weekly, monthly or yearly - they will be to late by design in most cases. Sending reports daily or even hourly isn't useful, because it's obviously to spammy and doesn't fit the need of having the right information at the right time.
So if everyone who's needing information is able to get those information right then when and where they need them, isn't that better than waiting for the weekly/monthly update?
We'll leave the answer to this question up to you, cause we believe that there's no single truth to this topic.
We've create a more comprehensive comparison showing the Differences betweeen Dashboards and Reports in our Knowledge Base.