Best Practices for Implementing Time Tracking

Best Practices for Implementing Time Tracking

The transition from paper or Excel-based timesheets to an automated system can seem overwhelming and confusing at times. But the benefits of an automated time tracking system are undeniable. It can simplify procedures, eliminate errors, make your invoicing and payroll much more accurate and provide savings, overall. 

But like with anything new, you need to plan and prepare your transition carefully. Here are some best practices to help make the transition smooth.

Decide why you want to track time

Start by asking yourself why you want to set up time tracking. Perhaps, you spend too much time on payroll and the process is error-prone. Maybe, your customers need more accurate and transparent hours with your billing. Perhaps your estimates on projects is going out of whack and you are losing money. Maybe you want to balance employee workloads better. Whatever your reasons, make sure that you can articulate them clearly.

Get your team on-board

It’s critical that you get all stake-holders on board with time tracking. New processes only work when there is buy-in at all levels. Make sure that you get your team leads and influencers on board and explain why you are moving to a time tracking system. Get them to see the benefits to them and their teams. Choose a couple of champions from the teams that need to track time. This way, people will have someone to turn to when they have questions.

Start with a pilot program

It makes sense to start with a small group of people to make sure that the time tracking software fits all your requirements and that it can be used easily. This will help you work out any kinks in the system before rolling it out to a large group. Select the pilot group carefully; get motivated people as well as someone who’s not a fan of time tracking. Get feedback from them and make sure that their issues are properly dealt with.

Decide what you want to track time to

Make sure that the time tracking software gives you the flexibility to track time to whatever makes sense for your company. Get the time tracking system setup to track time to those objects. If you have multiple teams of users, decide what each team is going to track time to. E.g. your sales team works with Accounts all the time and should track their time to Accounts. Whereas, your Support team that works with customer Cases should track their time to Cases. Identify each of your groups and make sure that select the right elements

Automatic Vs Manual Vs Live Tracking

There are multiple ways in which you can track your team’s time. You should decide what method makes sense for your team. Manual and Live tracking mean that your users would need to put in their time physically or use  Start/Pause/Stop buttons. With an automatic time tracker, the system automatically starts tracking time as soon as the user clicks on a specific page and continues to track time without the user having to click on anything. Depending on the type of work that you users do, you should select the appropriate method of time tracking. E.g we suggest that agents is a call center would normally use the automatic time tracker on Cases. That would get the time tracked without the agents having to put in any extra effort. But if you were tracking time for a group of consultants that worked on multiple different projects for longer lengths of time, then they may prefer a single page, where they could enter times for multiple projects that they worked on during the day.  

Avoid too much monitoring

If you can’t trust your team to do the right thing, you may have bigger issues than can be solved with time tracking. Software that tracks screenshots and keystrokes are generally too intrusive. This level of monitoring does not make sense for stable and productive teams. You may end up creating more distractions and stress within the teams.

Limit access to timesheet data

Make sure that your system is set up to show only the projects / jobs that each user is working on. Your time tracking system should allow you to filter the right data  like this. Unnecessary data can clutter up the screens, making it difficult for users to find the right projects / jobs. It could also cause performance issues within your system. We normally recommend showing only Active projects. Whenever a project completes, make it a point to change the  status of the project, so it no longer appears on the active lists.

Enable automatic reminders about incomplete timesheets

Make sure that your time tracking software can send out reminder emails to users to remind them to complete their timesheets. It’s a given that some users will forget to enter their timesheets and a responsible manager would need to remind them about this. Especially in the early stages of implementation. If the system can do this automatically, that’s time and effort saved.

Create a document that explains the requirements

Create a document that defines why you are implementing the system. Make sure that it includes benefits for the users and for the company. Include an FAQ section that answers common questions. Include examples where possible. You should be able to get general fAQs from your time tracking vendor’s knowledge base. But things that are specific to you company, you will need to write up.

Consider binding time entries to a project plan

Well-structured data is better for reporting and analysis. Consider building a project plan in advance and breaking it down to tasks and task assignments to your team. Ensure that your team is tracking time to their task assignments. This way you’ll have a real-time view of how well your team is working against the plan. This is a great way to monitor how accurate your project estimates are.

Have someone check timesheets and reports regularly

Regardless of the automatic reports that you may receive from the time tracking system, make sure that someone responsible is checking the reports regularly.  She should review the reports for completeness and compliance with company policies. This will automatically throw up any trouble spots and also highlight employee workloads, adherence to project schedules. Analysing timesheet data can become so fascinating that managers enjoy it, rather than looking at it as a boring duty. 

Lead by example

All managers should track their own time, even if it is un-billable. Employees are much more likely to be accurate in their own time tracking, if they see their managers following the same policies.

Don’t insist on logging 8 hours per day

Reporting less than eight hours a day is OK. It’s more important that users give an accurate accounting of their time and for you to make sure that the time was spent productively. If you try to force eight hours per day, you may find users  taking more time to complete tasks or logging in more hours than they actually worked.

Don’t use timesheet data for criticism

It’s hard to assess productivity just from the time worked on the timesheets. A longer duration on a task may not mean lower productivity. It may mean that the user is more detail-oriented and has better results. Combine your knowledge of the employee with the data from the time tracking system to get a better overall view of productivity and efficiency.

Summary

We hope this gives you a good starting board for your time tracking implementation. If you have other points that you can add to this list, please let us know in the comments.

 Photo by Jessica Lewis on Unsplash

Guide to Measuring Employee Time and Produtivity

Guide to Measuring Employee Time and Produtivity

Measuring your employee’s time and productivity can help you with team management in so many ways. For example, it can help you identify individuals who are not performing, while it will also help you spot flaws in processes. Armed with this information, you can then address issues accordingly, helping to ensure your business is running as smoothly as possible.

This leads to the question of how to measure employee time and productivity so you can get the information you need to make impactful decisions. To help, we’ve created this brief guide for you. 

Define KPIs

Before you even get started, you need to determine which KPIs you want to measure. Developing KPIs is one of the most essential steps because you can’t measure your performance unless you know how well you are supposed to be performing.

Of course, you shouldn’t choose just any metrics. It’s important that you choose to measure metrics that give you a reasonably fair and accurate picture. For example, measuring monthly output can be misleading because some staff will have additional duties in the company. Otherwise, you may end up making detrimental rather than beneficial decisions.

Remember also that you can evolve your KPIs over time as you learn which metrics are most useful to you. It’s also good team management to tell your employees which KPIs you are using and let them know how they are performing. Once your team understands what is expected of them, it becomes easier for them to meet those expectations.

Set Milestones

Missing a milestone will make it loud and clear that something isn’t going according to plan and that something needs to be changed. However, you will need to set milestones in the first place otherwise, it becomes much harder to judge how well you are progressing. 

If you missed project deadlines, it’s important to break down the process and understand why it was missed. Take it on face value and you might end up doing more harm than good. This means looking at each step of the process to see where the hold up was. 

When setting milestones, it’s essential to be reasonable and realistic. If your milestones are not challenging enough, then your staff might become demotivated, and your profit margins can shrink. Making project deadlines too challenging is another motivation killer and your staff are unlikely to work well, harming efficiency and productivity. 

When setting up milestones, you can also set goals for your team to aim for individually and as a collective. Goals will help give your team something to aim for and meeting goals will help keep morale high. It can also be a good idea to reward your employees occasionally for meeting goals, and even showing appreciation can help keep employees enthused. 

Use Time Tracking ToolsTime Audit Reports in PK4 TimeTracker

Time tracking tools can give you a wealth of information about the performance of your employees and your business overall. Such tools can break down an employee’s working day into separate tasks, giving you insights that can be a powerful team management aid. 

Some of those insights include the following:

  • How much time is spent on particular tasks
  • How productive an employee is compared to their colleagues
  • Your employees’ attendance records
  • Identifying which tasks are time-consuming and unproductive

Using time tracking tools will also help act as an effective deterrent should any of your employees be tempted to cheat or not make enough of an effort. This will help prevent unpleasant situations as well as helping to keep productivity high. 

However, it’s a good idea to educate your employees on the importance of time tracking, otherwise they might object to being monitored so closely. 

In addition to letting you track time, time tracking tools will also often come with other useful features that will help you manage your business effectively. For example, the time tracking and project management platform by PK4Tech offers powerful tools that help you manage your milestones and give you a comprehensive view of your operations. 

Such tools are fed with masses of useful information that will help you with team management, and you will have hard, accurate data rather than incomplete information and estimates. 

Hold Meetings

Hold regular meetings and get regular updates from employees. Getting together as a group will help the team communicate effectively and help the manager to guide their team in the right direction. Meetings are the ideal occasion to raise issues with your team, making for good team management that will help you come to a solution together. 

Remember that meetings work both ways and it’s essential that your employees get to give their feedback as well. If there is anything wrong with the project, your employees will know about it first, so listening can help you fix issues before they become a problem. 

Summary

This brief guide has covered some of the basics of measuring employee performance and productivity. It’s important to define your KPIs before you get started and let everybody know what is expected of them in terms of productivity. 

You should also set project deadlines to help you track progress, and regular meetings will help ensure you get essential feedback and you get full updates on how well everything is going. And last but by no means least, use time tracking software to help you gather and use data to help you make the right decisions. Remember, the information at your disposal can make the difference between success and failure, so it makes sense to put that data to work.

 Photo by Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash

The Economic Impact of Time Tracking

The Economic Impact of Time Tracking

Recently, a customer told us that with just 20 employees, their payroll team saved 45-60 minutes every payroll cycle because our PK4 TimeTracker makes the data easy to access, boosting productivity and giving staff more time to focus on other tasks. 

Time trackers can also have a financial impact in other ways, such as identifying revenue lost due to employees not spending their time productively. Sometimes this will be down to the employee being unaware they were time wasting. At others, it can be caused by employees deliberately misleading their employers.

Examples include practices like time theft and buddy punching, which are very costly to businesses overall. And the statistics speak for themselves regarding the economic impact it has.

And you don’t have to take our word for it:

Some specific examples of how time tracking software can have an economic impact include the following:

An Effective Deterrent

Employees are unlikely to try to steal time if they think they’ll be caught, thus reducing the amount of time stolen. It will also help encourage them to arrive and leave at reasonable times, helping the rest of the team remain productive.

While the deterrent is effective enough to deter most people, it’s not always the case. However, for those that do try, time tracking software gives you the tools and information you need to raise discrepancies, potentially identifying attempted time theft.

Increased Employee AccountabilityTime Tracker dashboard on the Time Tracker web app

It’s not uncommon for individuals to not make as much effort as the rest of the team. Time tracking software will help you identify those who could be doing more to contribute. It will also help encourage people to do more if they know they’re being monitored.

It can also be good team management to make employees directly aware of the reports and give them access to them where needed. In some cases, the employee will be surprised or embarrassed by the report and take it on themselves to be accountable.

Enhanced Project Management

Project Management screens in the PK4 TimeTrackerProjects that run smoothly and are delivered on time can provide a significant positive financial impact. Tools like the PK4 TimeTracker Project Management Add-on give project managers more tools that help ensure the project is on target to finish on specification and on time.

Such tools include visual aids like Gantt charts and Kanban boards make it easy to see the workflow and help you identify areas for improvement, ensure you meet project deadlines and boost profit margins.

Gain Insights into the Working Process

In many cases, the working process might be holding the team back from achieving their best. Time tracking software can give you information such as how much time is being spent on particular tasks, helping you identify which tasks could be delegated or automated.

This also helps highlight the benefits of communicating with your employees about time tracking software. Some people might resent being monitored, but education and strong team management can encourage people to embrace the technology instead.

Gain Cost Transparency

Time tracking tools can provide valuable data that gives you greater visibility into costs. Such tools can help you identify high-cost/low-productivity areas and focus on reducing those costs. Cost transparency also makes it easier for you to bill clients.

For example, time tracking software may reveal your team is spending a lot of time on a low-value client. You can then address the issue to help ensure time is spent more productively, helping improve your profit margins.

Improved Planning and BudgetingProject Profitability Report

Time tracking gives you access to detailed reports that let you see key issues at a glance. With more in-depth knowledge and understanding of your costs, you can set better goals for the future. With effective planning and accurate estimates, your future projects are more likely to succeed.

For example, you can gather more accurate project deadlines thanks to data on workflows and how long it takes to complete certain tasks.

With improved planning tools, you may even be able to complete projects faster than usual.

Gain Customer Trust

With time tracking tools, you can send professional reports to your clients with an accurate and transparent breakdown of fees. This will help gain your client’s trust, encouraging them to do more business with you in the future.

Although gaining customers’ trust might not immediately impact your profit margins, its value should never be underestimated. Once you gain your customers’ trust, you are more likely to get quality referrals and gain long-term clients who help keep your business healthy in the long term.

Summary

Time tracking can have a financial impact in numerous ways, and above are some of the most commonly encountered. Not only can time tracking impact your company’s economy directly by identifying theft and other losses, but it can also help give you a boost thanks to providing a better, more accurate estimates to your clients.

And the software won’t just help on the individual level but could help give economies a boost on a national level and even globally. The software is also easy to use and incorporate into your working day and gives you access to a host of other team management tools that will help you achieve your goals.

Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

10 Tips for Project Management Success

10 Tips for Project Management Success

Project management can be a lot of work, with numerous moving parts that all need to work together harmoniously. A project manager’s job is to ensure every project component works as intended to help ensure a successful outcome.
Managing projects is easier said than done, however, and one error could cause the whole project to be a disaster. But if you follow our top 10 tips for project management success.

Managing projects is easier said than done, however, and one error could cause the whole project to be a disaster. But if you follow our top 10 tips for project management success. 

1. Define Your Objective

One of the most important steps in project management is to define your goals before you begin. After all, if you don’t know what you are trying to achieve, how will you achieve it?

When you define your goals, it becomes easier to identify and plan the various stages along the way. It also helps you ensure you have all the tools and personnel you need for a successful job the client will be delighted with.

2. Manage your Time Effectively

Many of the most successful people on the planet share a common trait – effective time management. No amount of money can help overcome time constraints, so it’s essential that you make the most of every minute for high productivity levels.

Using tools like the PK4 TimeTracker will help you monitor how you spend your time and help to identify areas where you are not working efficiently. With the right information, you can optimize your working day and spend your time on the most.

3. Lead by Example

As a project manager, your team are looking to you for guidance. While a project manager should have the knowledge and experience to tell people what to do, it’s best if team management SHOWS his team what to do.

By showing people what to do, you lead by example and show them that solutions are available that the rest of the team can use. Leading by example also helps give your team confidence that you know how to lead a project.

4. Take Time Out

Project deadlines mean lots of work to meet targets. While it can be easy for a project manager to work every waking moment on a project, doing so is more likely to do more harm than good.

Make sure to take personal time out to rest and regenerate your batteries physically and mentally. Look after yourself, and you will feel alert and ready for the day ahead, helping boost your productivity.

5. Avoid Perfectionism

Those of us who put pride in our work might be prone to perfectionism, which is likely to do more harm than good. Perfectionism can slow things down as you make changes that, in many cases, don’t need to be made.

While it is necessary to ensure that standards are met, you should not strive for perfection beyond those requirements. Otherwise, you might end up with frustrated team members, and you may have difficulty meeting project deadlines.

6. Avoid Multitasking

It is thought by many that multitasking will help you get more done and boost productivity, but the opposite is true. According to studies, multitasking makes you less efficient, meaning you get less done.

Instead, it is typically advisable to focus on one task at a time and not move on to another task until your previous one is done. You will also work more efficiently if you plan your day ahead, prioritizing the most important tasks.

7. Always Ask for Feedback

Teams are typically made up of people who have different skills and experiences. Your team members are also on the front line, meaning they know what is going well and what is not.

Good team management involves getting regular feedback from your team to help ensure the project is on course. You should also try to tap into your team’s knowledge and experience for the best results, and a good team manager will always be willing to learn.

8. Use Appropriate ToolsPK4 TimeTracker Project Management Screens

Project managers have a huge range of tools that help them get the job done. Such tools can help plan and execute projects, with features that help you see progress at a glance.

Project management tools are often software-based and can be used by the whole team. The right platforms can help ensure everything is running according to plan and the individual team members know what they’re responsible for.

9. Always Communicate

Communication is essential for any project, and any project manager should be looking to communicate continuously. Not only does this mean letting people know what their roles are, but also keeping your team up to date with changes and keeping everybody informed of progress.

Make sure to hold regular meetings where everybody involved will get a chance to contribute. You should also consider using communication tools to ensure your team is made aware of important developments as soon as they happen.

10. Use Your Team’s Skills

Good team management also involves tapping into your team’s skills. Remember that every one of your time members is likely to have different experiences and outlooks than you, while some will have specific skills that can be put to use.

Remember also that effective delegation is important for successful projects. Assigning tasks to the right people will help ensure the overall team benefits from the skills of individuals.

Summary

Above is just a small sample of tips that can help your project be a success. It’s essential that you make it clear what must be done before you get started. Communicate with your team, and make sure you use your time effectively. Also, make sure you use the right tools and don’t forget to tap into your team’s talents.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

 

Project Management that actually WORKS

Project Management that actually WORKS

Managing a project can get real hairy real quickly. Look at our own process as an example:

  • We begin with a great idea – taken from our storehouse of great ideas, Jira, of course.
  • We talk through of how we think it should work within our context.
  • We write out the details of what we think should be done.
  • We break down the stuff that needs to get done into small segments – 8-to-16-hour work-items.
  • We figure out the skills needed for each of these work-items.
  •  We use a Gantt Chart to set up Tasks.
  • We assign those tasks to various people using a Resources mechanism.
  • We get to work.

Sounds good, right? Unfortunately, not at all. Yes, all the pieces are in place, but how do we know how things are going on a day-to-day basis? For example, someone takes off for a day fo personal reasons – how do we know about that? And how do we figure out how that will affect the project? If you’re anything like a typical team, there are always other things that intrude on your work – customer issues, tech issues, laptop failures, you name it. And they all impact someone’s ability to deliver on the tasks they have to work on. Yes, they may have a nice dashboard that shows what they should be working on today. And they may even have ways ot marking those things as Done when done. But that’s when things are done – what about when things are being done? How do we know if things are slowing down?

The best way we’ve found is to do the following:

  1. Begin with setting the number of hours each assignment takes, right in the assignment
  2. Break the assigned hours across the days that someone’s to work on the task – say, 4 hours a day for 6 days if it takes 6 days to deliver
  3. Get everyone to track the hours that they spend on each of their task, every day, using an effect time-tracker
  4. Get people to report PTO requests regularly
  5. Report the hours spent on each task against the hours that should have been spent by now, based on the daily breakdown and the time-tracked hours
  6. Talk to people when these hours don’t match, help them fix things early.

With this simple mechanism in place, you can tell if things are slowing down, very early in the game. You can tell ahead of time if your project needs more people, more time, more money, a new laptop, whatever. That’s how you can make sure that your project management is actually working.

Now, you can do all of this and more using PK4 TimeTracker and our Project Management add-on.

  • With the Gantt chart, you can plan your whole project out, with work-breakdown at a Task level.
  • You can then assign those tasks to various people having multiple people doing things on each task, if needed.
  • People can use the Tasks tab to track when they need to do, as can you for your project.
  • Everyone can request and track PTO requests as they come up.
  • People can report the time they’ve spent on each task – they can use Salesforce, a web app, a mobile app, Jira, Slack or a Chrome Extension to report time worked.
  • If you have stages in your project, you can track those stages for each task on the Kanban Board.
  • You can see who’s working on what, what days they’re overloaded on, what days they’re on PTO – all via the Resources tab.
  • You can set up any number of Salesforce reports to track work-breakdown and time at every level of detail.

The key thing in all this is that you can track tasks as they get done, based on the time that people report for each task assignment. This gives you a much clearer idea of how things are going than jotting down notes during meetings.

Hopefully, this will get you sleeping better.🙂

P.S: Check out the details of Project Management here.