We are happy to announce the launch of Jikan, a web application which allows freelancers and teams to report time worked on projects easily.
A bit of background
It all began in May 2018, when we made the decision to build a simple web application that would enable us, as freelancers, to report time worked to our clients smoothly. Prior to this, we used to log our time on an Excel spreadsheet, and then sent the spreadsheet to our client so he could see the details of the time worked. Unfortunately, spreadsheets are cumbersome to maintain, especially when it’s not simply one, but multiple, tables:
- List of tasks with the priority & time budget estimation
- Past time logs paid, grouped by invoice
- Past time logs still to be invoiced
So, our first reaction was to create the perfect spreadsheet template that could be used for all of our projects.
Why spreadsheets can’t solve the issue?
Well, it might work for small projects; and, we did use spreadsheets for many years, but it was always time-consuming. So, our first attempt was to build the perfect spreadsheet template with which to log time.
We soon realised that is was just about impossible to build one template that would work for any type of project. We then thought that it might be better to create many different spreadsheet templates. Yet, how many templates would we need to design, when clients & projects can vary so much?
Each client has his own preferred way of working, and we cannot force them to change their way. We must instead be willing to accommodate ourselves his way of working.
Below are just a few of the requirements that clients have:
- Visibility: Some clients prefer to pay a monthly retainer package of hours, so they can budget in advance what costs they will incur.
- Savings: Some clients only want to pay for actual hours worked, so they don’t pay for unused hours.
- Flexibility: Some clients have lots of new ideas to implement and will change their priorities regularly.
After a while, we came to the conclusion that no spreadsheet, however well designed, will ever do the job. We therefore began to look at a more advanced solution: a web app.
Are there not already many apps that allow time reporting to clients?
Yes, there is indeed lots of software that offer time reporting, but most of them are either:
- Built for HR managers, who need to track time for employees
- Not very easy to use
- Based on teams, presuming that the same team will work on all the projects.
So, our initial idea for Jikan was to say ‘Let’s build a time reporting app that we would use!’.
Why is Jikan such a great reporting software?
Because, these were the requirements we defined for our app:
- Simple: We wanted to avoid lots of buttons/features that we wouldn’t really be using, which would ‘pollute’ our visual workspace.
- Flexible: We were aware that ‘one size fits all’ doesn’t really work, so we desired that changes could easily be made along the way.
- Powerful: We wanted it to be possible for clients to build reports on almost any aspect of a project; They wouldn’t be bound to a column like in a spreadsheet.
- Easy: We wanted Jikan users to be able to share their time logs with their clients without having them to register .
- Collaborative: Any number of users could participate at the same time in the same project, each participant may be given different permissions.
- Independent teams: The team participants could be completely different from one project to another.
- Affordable: People invited to participate in a project would not need to pay, no matter what the permissions required.
Then we added lots of other discreet features:
- Time zone: User will see the logs according to his own time zone.
- Live updates: if two people are working on the same project, the updates/changes are reflected immediately.
- Invoicing: Build invoices from time logs.
- Time blocks: Group time logs per block (i.e. to represent an hourly package or invoice).
- Task tags: Users able to group tasks.
- Live recording: with a stopwatch
And… we will be adding more features as time goes on.
Is Jikan really Free?
Yes, the first plan is USD 0 forever and it will not change. This free plan includes all the features of Jikan for 1 active project. Once you are done with a project, you can archive it and create a new active project. The free plan allows you to have one active project at a time, you could therefore have an unlimited amount of archived projects.
Once you need to work on more active projects, then you must upgrade to a paid plan.