21 February 2008

Good reasons to do time tracking

In all the years I've worked in IT, I have never found anyone who didn't have strong feelings about time tracking.

Most people I know hate doing it and they all have the same reasons. "It's too much overhead." "I feel like a lawyer." "I don't know what I did today." The only people I've met who like time tracking are the ones responsible for measurement and analysis of project performance.

The one person I've met who loved time tracking came from a Six Sigma background.

There are many reasons that time tracking is important. In order to make strategic decisions, you need data. The only place to get data that can be aggregated is to have the detail that rolls up. The types of decisions that have been made based on the time tracking data I've collected over the years include:
  • Staffing - Several people avoided layoffs because I could show exactly what they were working on and how long they spent doing it. We also could show that we needed more people in order to do additional projects in the time frame management required it.
  • Project delivery dates - Because we had good historical data on actual times vs. estimates, our estimates were given more credibility by management. Instead of management insisting on an unreasonable delivery date, they accepted ours.
  • Planning when new projects could be started - When management saw that staff was fully loaded for the next few months, they reprioritized their projects to fit the staffing schedule.
True story: Once upon a time, my boss was asked for a report showing on which projects the department was spending their time. After several days and much heartache and grief, he received numbers from all of his people and created a report for management. Management not only disregarded his numbers, they made some staffing decisions based on what they believed rather than the report he had given them.

About a year and a half later, and six months after a time tracking system had been implemented, management asked the same question. After about 2 hours of wrestling Excel into a meaningful graph, the report was delivered to management. Staffing decisions from far up the food chain were adjusted based on the actual numbers he sent.

I know what you're all wondering. The answer is, the actual numbers were well within a reasonable range of the original estimates.

The moral of the story is whether you know what your people do or not, it always makes a bigger impact on management to be able to show actual data proving your point.

Tomorrow: the mechanics of time tracking.

Photo by Padawanchina
and originally posted here


  1. If you are looking for some specific web-based project management services that do time tracking, check out Intervals. We built it after addressing the same reasons you've listed. Our project manager loves tracking time, but the rest of us had a hard time with it. So we started using online timers and the result was we could be more accountable to our clients with more thorough reports.

  2. Or check out 1time really easy to use online time tracking application. 1time reduces non billable time in your company. Each employee gets their own login and reminders so you don't have to micro manage recording timesheets. The easier it is to enter timesheets the less likely to have resistance in a company.

  3. Anonymous9:26 am

    Great thoughts. It's hard to believe that a management team would actually take an employees hand made timesheet as proof. Isn't that kind of like asking to be taken advantage of? Anyways, great post!

    P.S. There are online time tracking tool like TSheets.com that are very helpful in situations like these.

  4. Anonymous9:24 am

    I recently started using a paid service to track time for my company. At first I was a bit reluctant about paying to track time. Now, after a few weeks of tracking time, I have truly come to think that the benefits outweigh the cost by a lot and I would really recommend management to track time. At my company we use clicktime to track our time. I asked my assistant to do an evaluation of a few different options and clicktime was what he recommended.

    Anyway, the bottom line is - track time :) You can use the one that we use or some other ones you like. We've never had any problems with clicktime so that might be a good choice for you too.

  5. in your business you should anage properly your employee working and other resources ,to manage the employee and there working time and expense i am using web timesheet of OfficeClip ,which gives me ease to Approvals - Manual and Automated Approvals for
    Timesheet and Expenses.Integration - Integrated with QuickBooks, Peachtree, MS Accounting etc. Document Attachment - Allows attachment for files like receipts etc. Easy to use - Web-based standard interfaceand many other features .

    David Brown

  6. The Swifttime is an electronic web based application making it easy for employees and managers to improve work efficiency. Best suited for firms with remote employees and companies with hourly employees where proper documentation of working hours are required. This application can be accessed from any web based device like mobile devices (Blackberry or iphone). It has following advantages::

    · Provides a menu driven user interface.
    · High accuracy in payroll management.
    · Employees and managers can easily access this application via internet or mobile devices.
    · No start-up cost is required.
    · Nightly backups of all data.
    · Helps to ensure compliance with federal wage and hour laws.
    · Advanced reporting module.
    · Integrated billing and invoicing module.
    · Data can be exported to Excel spreadsheets for further processing.
    · Integration with payroll programs like ADP, QuickBooks, Peachtree and others available

  7. Anonymous12:25 am

    For simple project time tracking http://www.e-tim.org

  8. Anonymous2:53 am

    Our company is small but growing fast, and outgrew our Excel timesheets. We are now using Pacific Timesheet On-Demand. It has really streamlined time tracking, time report and billing. We added payroll integration last month to integrate with our Lawson system, and have seen near 100% adoption across the company.

  9. www.jsportal.com has just been released to meet in the middle. Managers have powerful reporting and forecasting at their fingertips where the team just enters their time in a simple calender based interface.

    We know the pain most people feel and wanted to provide a solution that not only eases that, but also provides an intensive for all. We allow the whole team to share their estimates which results in better efficiency and less conflict.

    Looking forward to hearing your reviews,

  10. Time tracking software can also improve your working process, time management and allows for better planning, analysis, and reporting.

    Here's another handy software for time tracking, employee software for time tracking.
    This software provides real time tracking of tasks and prevents wasted time. This is a software that I can really rely on.

  11. Anonymous3:11 am

    Also have a look at Replicon's time tracking software which is an easy to use hassle free cloud based solution.

  12. There are many benefits of doing time tracking like it allows tracking the time of clients and employees. It also helps to improve personal productivity. I too have recently started using Talygens’ paid service to track time for my company.