Tasman is our 'everything' when it comes to the inner workings of Custom D and it manages most of the day-to-day aspects of running our professional services business.

At Custom D, we pride ourselves on a high level of transparency both internally and externally. So when it came to building a primary tool such as Tasman – it was one of the main objectives. With this in mind, we took what we've learnt over the past 20 years about building highly customised web applications and created an interactive, integrated business tool just for us and our clients!

Tasman - project monitoring made easy

Tasman is designed to be an engaging, interactive and useful tool for all of these roles and includes:

  • Project Management
  • Budget Tracking
  • Client Communication
  • Task Tracking
  • Time Tracking
  • Invoicing
  • Xero Integration
  • Resource Management and Scheduling

Whilst almost all of Tasman is our own handiwork, we don’t believe in reinventing the wheel. So we’ve done what we do best and integrated with some of the best applications out there to handle specialist areas, such as Slack for our internal message board and Xero for all the number crunching.

Tasman caters to 3 main user groups: Developers (who in our case are usually the Project Manager as well), Clients and Management. Tasman is designed to be an engaging, interactive and useful tool for all of these roles...

Project Management

There are a million different project management tools out there professing ‘ease of use’ and bursting with features.

We had a good look at a number of them before we decided we’d still be best to build our own… from scratch.

All of the off-the-shelf products we looked at put limitations on one or more aspects of how a project should run, forcing users to adjust their way or working. As is typical with products, most are bloated with functionality to ensure they meet the needs of the masses… we just wanted something that could meet the needs of us and our clients.

We wanted something that would really facilitate the transparency we believe in, the ability to integrate with the other tools we build, all the while handling the large complex projects we work on elegantly and intuitively.

Each client has multiple projects, often running simultaneously and with separate OR combined OR no budgets.

Projects are usually split into various areas of functionality and within those Project Areas are the Tasks themselves.

Tasman - project management made easy

Budget Tracking

Tasman - task management made easy

Tasman will often come into play well before a project has the green light as we use it to estimate new pieces of work and projects. It manages the budget approval process and these can often cover multiple projects, teams of developers and Project Areas.

Because we use an ‘agile’ approach to the way we manage our projects, the specifics of what will form part of the finished product remain flexible and negotiable.

Whilst we usually work to a fixed budget, made up of key features and pieces of functionality, the details are often not nailed down before we start development. We work closely with our clients fleshing out the finer details as we go, this ensures it’s fresh in our minds at the time we’re building each area of the application. Tasks will be added, cancelled or put on hold… and they’ll often take longer or shorter than estimated.

This means the budget remains a living thing that can accommodate the ever-changing landscape – whilst maintaining a very clear picture of the how the project is tracking. This is compared to the cost we’ve agreed to with the person paying the bills, and it quickly draws attention to any budget related issues that need addressing.

Our budgeting system is the veritable duck – there are some very complex algorithms going crazy behind the scenes taking all of these subtle (and not so subtle) changes into consideration when calculating and displaying the budget summary graph.

Task Tracking

As described, within each project are Project Areas and within those are the specific Tasks. Breaking down a project into a limitless number of tasks that can manage very specific pieces of work allows for efficient tracking and communication between developers, the clients and any other interested parties.

Tasks can be created by the client or the developer and they’re assigned a priority level, status and time estimate.

Everything relating to each task is displayed inline chronologically.

Time entries are shared directly on the tasks in real-time, so it’s very clear how long something has taken and how it currently compares to the estimate.

When all of the information is viewable together and displayed cohesively like this… it makes for a very powerful and effective means of communication.

Tasman - task management made easy

Time Tracking

If you're in any professional service business, careful management of your team’s time is a critical element to profitability. We wanted to make it as easy as possible for our developers to enter their time quickly and accurately.

And by doing this we're able to show complete transparency to our clients. We want our them to know what we're doing... in real-time. This avoids surprises and those uncomfortable moments when it’s time to send the bill.

At Custom D we charge for our time... that is all!

We don’t have buffers, margins or third party products to flog. Time is our only saleable item, so this part of our project tracking was always going to get a lot of attention.

Time entries are automatically posted to the tasks within their respective projects and they’re there, in all their glory for our clients to see.

Our developers love entering their time now, it’s a fun part of their job... ok maybe not.... but it’s a whole lot less painful and time consuming than it used to be!