How do you gauge the profit of a project? Have you ever had issues in tracking actual time spent on projects? Every project gets completed and many times, according to planned dates, but one of most important questions to be answered in the process is, did the project get delivered according to budget? Did you spend the budget as planned? Was there optimal resources utilization? This may seem complicated, but can be solved by taking a few simple measures.
5 tips that can help track time on your projects:
- Address the importance of time tracking
First of all, your team needs to understand the importance of tracking time on projects. Make sure you explain the real intent of time tracking. The intent of time tracking should be for accounting and analyzing the resource allocation/utilization.
- Define people and tasks
Before starting the project, make sure resources and tasks are well defined and assigned accordingly. The tasks need to be defined and allocated in such a way that all the stakeholders, from developers right up to the client, understand individual tasks. Tasks have to be allocated in a manner that aligns with the capability of the person taking it up. For instance, ensuring accountability for critical tasks lies with a senior developer..
- Map time on individual tasks
Every single team member might track his/her time on the project, but when it comes to reporting and analysis, this data won’t be helpful. As the tasks are defined by individuals on their own terms, this might not be understood by other stakeholders in the project. What would work is having a business analyst define all the tasks upfront so that each team member gets to log time according to preset ranges and limits.
- Get rid of the myth
Many times, it is assumed that time tracking is followed to evaluate the performance of the employee and that it would invariably affect their performace review. But it is the project manager’s responsibility to understand and impress upon the team that time tracking is purely for reporting and analytics. It is imperative for the project manager to gain the team’s confidence by breaking this myth.
- Fact Check
Once time is tracked on projects, the data can be used for lot of management reports. But as a project manager it is very important to use this data to perform certain fact checks. One such check is to compare it against the estimated times, to determine if the actual time spent on the task is in sync with the estimates. This analysis is hugely helpful in planning future projects more accurately and assessing the team’s capability.
Simple measures like this can make a positive impact in the way you track time on projects. What has your experience been while tracking time? Share your thoughts!
Great post Ranjit, you really highlighted how accurate time keeping solutions can truly help build an efficient and productive business. I am part of a company called CreativeWorx, where we are solving this very dilemma with a quick and accurate automated time tracker. The tool allows teams to focus on their craft rather than their time sheets, all while providing extremely insightful data to project managers. As you stated, accurate time keeping ensures that project estimates are in sync with actual production, this is exactly what our product accomplishes. A complete understanding of your team, encapsulated in an accurate and easy to use system, no distracting start and stop buttons. I hope this doesn’t come off as a sales pitch, our product just highlights the ideas that your article has conveyed and provides a solution to the time keeping dilemma. We’d love to have you see for yourself with our free version of TimeTracker, learn more here http://www.creativeworx.com/, and let us know what you think!
Time tracking doesn’t happen in a vacuum. There is always a project, an event, a product, a team, or a client involved with the reason for time tracking. That is why time tracking ONLY doesn’t work. You need integration- and it is hard to do that because there are so many different ways you could integrate Time Tracking. Thankfully there is a hyper-eveolved ERP system that answers that problem. http://www.Odoo.com Time tracking integrates with Projects, Marketing, Billing/Invoicing, Accounting, etc. We have a Meetup in San Francisco on this specific topic here: http://www.meetup.com/OdooApps/events/165652052/
Ranjith, I very well think the points summarized here, help me manage projects for a startup as well as the seasoned companies? Is there anything in specific to consider when choosing a time tracking app for a startup business?
Wow! This is a great article
I have some other tips for a successful project management:-
1. Ensure that you have full project detail up front
2. Set realistic expectations
3. Establish measurable and reportable criteria for success
4. Select team members, and assign responsibilities carefully