Getting the Most Value from your Time and Effort Tracking System

Time and Effort Tracking

One unfortunate task that often falls into a project manager’s lap is to ensure that team members accurately log time to the appropriate project task. While hunting down your team and reviewing their entries is by no means fun, it is important to understand where resource hours are actually spent, even more so if the logged hours are used for billing purposes.

Even with an effective time tracking tool in place, team members can often get bogged down with entering too much or not enough detail. They can get so hung up on how people will perceive their time entries that they begin to inflate their hours.

Please find listed below a few tips to help make this effort a little more efficient.

Simplicity is king - If you find your resources are spending more than five minutes a day recording their time, you are doing something wrong. With every minute past the initial five minutes productivity is going down.

Make it easy for your team – Entering time is seen as a boring overhead effort. Don’t make it worse by having a time system that is complicated and restrictive. You want your team member to get in, log the time and get out.

Earn their trust - One of the most common reasons people give for hating the time tracking system is that they feel it is just another way for management to “watch them”. To avoid this perception, explain to your team what the timesheet data will be used for. If you must force team members to enter a certain number of hours a week, make sure to supply “filler” tasks. These can take the form of “Personal Development”, “Training” and/or “Research”. These tasks will act as “fillers” for when there might not have been enough work so that the real booked time booked to work is accurate.

Avoid the drama – Let’s face it rumors run through an office like wild fire. You don’t want to overhear this at the water cooler: “I heard if your hours drop below 90%, you will be laid off”. Even if it is true, I guarantee with these kinds of rumors you will see productivity drop. The only way to stop the drama is to calmly explain why you are tracking project effort. Not to micromanage or identify slackers, but to truly understand how the work is distributed and where the time goes.

Be flexible – Some team members work best when they set aside 15 minutes to do their timesheet every Friday afternoon. Some have difficulty remembering the whole week when Friday comes around. For them it might make sense to record the time at the end of each day. Different methods work for different team members. Just don’t let them go down the road of logging their time 15 times a day, that is a productivity killer.

Automated Alerts - Automated alerts that remind team members to complete their time entries, or that remind managers that time entries are ready for approval are critical to cut down on manual oversight.

Resource time tracking and analysis will enable senior management to learn from mistakes and make more accurate plans over the long haul.

Level 5 Partners offers mentoring and guidance to help organizations achieve these results. In addition we offer the vPMO, a completely integrated web based solution that can be used to implement the processes discussed in this blog entry.  Please be sure to check it out: Virtual Program Management Office (vPMO)

We love sharing our knowledge and information about our offerings.  If you find the vPMO interesting, contact us for a free no obligation demonstration.

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