Time Tracking — always a boon, never a bane.
Time tracking is one of the key pillars of any successful project — it directly impacts the cost, quality, and scope of the project.
Poor time tracking can lead to unforeseen issues that could deter your entire project management flow. For example, you cannot review your team’s overall performance with proper accuracy or allocate resources smartly.
A study about time tracking in 2020 by Market Research Future revealed that the U.S. economy loses about 50 million hours in productivity (daily) because of unrecorded work activities. Fast forward to today, organizations are realizing the importance of time tracking to enhance project management. For example, another research by Market Research Future revealed that the “Time Tracking Software Market is anticipated to grow by 21.4%.”
But what exactly is time tracking?
Put simply, time tracking software helps to record, track and optimize the hours spent working for each employee. You can not only evaluate your employees’ accuracy of work estimates but also how effective they have been.
Explore several ways to track time depending on your needs
Different teams need different ways to assign work shifts, work site, and track time — so, what might suit one team wouldn’t work for another team. Below we distill 6 ways to track time.
Landline telephone time tracking
Telephone time tracking lets employees punch in and out through a cell phone, landline, or telephone. If you think about it, then the idea of setting up a conventional time clock to track employees’ work hours might seem impractical. Specifically when your customers are located across different locations.
But good telephone time tracking software creates a bridge between the phone line and the software to record work hours seamlessly. Employees need to simply follow the prompts or call a toll-free number.
Punch clock kiosk
Turn a tablet or computer into an online punch clock. Each time an employee clocks in using a unique PIN code, the time location, and a picture is directly sent to an online timesheet.
Mobile time clock app
If all your employees own a smartphone, a mobile time clock app is a good fit. It records the clock-in and clock-out timings along with the break times directly into a timesheet. For example, the geolocation feature of the smartphone comes in handy here.
Computer time clock
If your employees work on computers, then they can simply log into the time tracking software and the time is recorded automatically in the timesheet. Great for teleworkers and offices. Certain time-tracking software apps let managers take control a notch higher by mentioning the IP address that is needed to assess the app.
Other popular ways are the RIFD punch clock and barcode punch clock.
11 ways to use time tracking to enhance project management
- Track payments: For teams that make use of hourly workers, tracking their exact compensation might feel like a humongous task. But, making use of time tracking software removes this difficulty. Additionally, it streamlines the invoicing and payroll process for regular employees.
- Allocate resources smartly: When you track time efficiently you have a bird’s eye view of how staff and resources have been allocated. And this gives you leeway to allocate resources to achieve maximum productivity.
- Analyze timesheets: Timesheets come with solid data that can help in the decision-making process. For example, it lets you track progress, how much time a specific worker spent on certain tasks, and changes needed in order to manage the project better.
- Motivates employees. Once goals are set, and tasks are allocated, project time tracking plays a significant role in fostering a growth mindset. An automatic time tracker decreases the possibility to multi-task and prevents them from being deviated by non-critical issues.
- Compare with industry standards. Data generated through time tracking lets you locate any bottlenecks or identify processes that are inefficient. It helps you compare the results with budgets and industry standards. Moreover, you can compare the current projects’ progress with similar projects you have worked on.
- Annual team performance review. Data about how time was utilized by each employee plays a huge role in an annual team performance review. Without data, it’s tricky to come up with a nuanced understanding. For example, you can pull out stats for each employee and compare their productivity with the rest. That way you can identify key areas of strengths and weaknesses.
- Reward the right people. As a project manager, you need to reward employees who do a stellar job. For example, giving a promotion. Time tracking lets you create incentive-based challenges or time-based competitions. It not only motivates them but also motivates others to do better. Overall, time tracking creates an ecosystem of staying productive.
- Keep scope creep at bay. Scope creep is the scary part of any project. But unfortunately, it finds a way in some way or the other. Generally, it is normal for the scope of projects to change, but haphazard changes can derail the entire process. So when you carefully monitor time and budget, you can identify scope creep before it wreaks havoc.
- Monitor time across multiple devices. Whether the project members include remote workers or on-site workers— tracking time is still important. It could be a personal smartphone, telephone computer, or tablet. Cloud-based time-tracking software allows employees to enter time seamlessly no matter where they are.
- Quickly check the status of the project: In a project, different people are responsible for different parts or tasks. Plus, several projects run live at the same time. For that reason, knowing the status of all tasks is next to impossible. But time tracking software removes that difficulty. Just log into the software and check the status of the task at a glance. For example, specific clients, projects, or tasks for a particular day, month, or year. In addition, you can check how much work was done on a particular day by an employee, fetch project-specific details, or get activity insights
- Boost Profitability. Time tracking lets you track work hours for billing with utmost accuracy, and that is a crucial part of any business’s profitability. Deploying a time tracking software provides insights into tasks that are time-consuming. Once such pitfalls are identified, managers can find ways to find a solution to those issues immediately. For example, it turns out that paperwork takes more time than anticipated. Now, managers can make use of best practices to tone down the time taken.
Apart from these, there are many other benefits of time-tracking software, like avoiding work overload, prioritizing important tasks, preventing time drains, employee burnouts, and estimating a project’s monetary value better.
Making the best use of time tracking software in simple steps
- Invest in a good time tracking software. Good time-tracking software is the one that meets your exact needs and requirements.
- Explain the importance of time tracking to the team. Keep your employees informed about the perks of a time tracking software and how it can help enhance the project as a whole. It augments employee accountability.
- Regularly remind the team to track their time. Be sure to have systems in place that reminds your employees to track time regularly. For example, emails.
- Lastly, evaluate the data to make better decisions. Time tracking bestows you with invaluable data that can be a game changer. That data can give you insights into your team’s overall productivity, individual performance, time taken by each task, resource allocation, and more. And this data helps you plan better for the future.
Final words: Increase productivity with time tracking software
Micromanaging your worker’s time is not a good leadership skill to have as a project manager. But transparency is equally important. If you don’t have a crystal clear idea about how the workers are spending their time, at some point you will experience a major setback. Today, businesses use time-tracking apps for the smooth functioning of the entire project, keeping scope creeps at bay, and ensuring that the teams are on track.
When time tracking software is integrated into your project management software, you can assign tasks automatically, and don’t have to fret about transferring data or syncing different systems.
To sum it up, a good time tracking software lets you track time seamlessly, assign tasks smartly, monitor progress in real-time, capture relevant data, and of course — reveal pressing issues or bottlenecks early on.