Timekeeping for Managers 101: How to Implement and Utilize Time Tracking

In a time where data-driven management is gaining more and more popularity, using timetracking for management purposes is becoming quite common, and rightfully so. Timetracking, when done properly, provides very useful insights. This article will outline a strategy for successful implementation of timetracking and how to use its insights to make your team perform better.

Involve your team

In order to get the necessary support from your team during the implementation of a (new) system for tracking time, it is absolutely key that everyone is involved. Start off by explaining the benefits and necessity of tracking time (both personal and for the company) so they understand the reason behind the change. You can then move on to having them “buy-in” into the change. This basically means that you involve your team in the consideration of alternatives. This approach makes them feel committed to the new system for timetracking, since they helped pick the system. If your team doesn’t buy in, chances are they will resist to the change.

Limit the impact

An important part of limiting resistance to change is making the impact of that change on daily lives of people as small as possible. This also goes for implementing a system for timetracking. When you are looking at different systems for tracking time, keep the impact of that system in mind. This shouldn’t be too hard if your team is already involved in the consideration of alternatives. Like we described in a previous article, manual forms of tracking time can have a serious negative impact on somebody’s productivity and mood. Automate as much as possible to lighten the burden of timetracking. When this is not an option, at the very least choose a solution that is very easy and not frustrating to use.

Promote daily use

Whenever you implement a system to gain insights into the way your team spends their time, it will only yield those insights when it is actually used on a daily basis. You want to avoid people recording their activities on Friday and trying to remember what they did all week. It is close to impossible to remember everything you did. Besides that, our perception of time is very different from actual time. It is therefore absolutely crucial to motivate your team to track their time on a daily basis if you want accurate information and representative insights. Introduce incentives, competitions, whatever it takes to motivate your employees. Get creative.

Actually use the data for improvement

What good are insights when you don’t put them to proper use? The information you get from timetracking should not be used for evaluation of your employees. Instead, use insights like personal habits and peak productivity to improve your team’s performance. Here are a few ways how to do just that.

1: Improve planning

Tracking time provides you with information on how long a specific task actually took, making it extremely easy to evaluate the accuracy of your planning. Use the tracked time to benchmark the time it takes to perform a certain task. This will result in a planning based on facts, not guesses.

2: Crunch the numbers

You know what your employees cost per hour. You know what revenue a project or client brings in. Now you precisely know what time is being spent on what client or project. Calculating profitability will be a piece of cake. Besides that, you will be able to accurately calculate overhead. Use this information for more accurate project management, bookkeeping and forecasting.

3: Find out where your team needs improvement

Tracking time allows you to compare the way people in your team perform on certain tasks. Nobody works in the same way and quality of work is (usually) more important than speediness, so be very cautious with this. A positive approach to utilizing this comparison is to identify members of your team who are very efficient at performing certain tasks and have them educate/train people who are not. This approach boosts morale of the “experts” and, more importantly, improves the general performance of your team.

Evaluate

Like any organizational change made, you should regularly evaluate the way you track time. Talk to your team about their experiences and feedback and evaluate changes in business results. If you use external software for tracking time, talk to your software provider to see if they can help finding a better application of their software. If you feel a better solution is possible, involve your team in the process of finding a new system for tracking time. They are the ones with actual experience in tracking their own time.

If you still have questions about successful application of timetracking, feel free to contact me. Like this article? Subscribe!

Nick Schils

Founder & CEO at TIQ. Exploring new grounds and technology to make people live and work smarter. I write about our tech, vision and innovation at corporates.

London, UK