Why time tracking is so important in project management

Posted by Benjamin Schaye Benjamin Schaye on .

Many companies are reluctant to implement any sort of time tracking procedure for fear of employee grumbling. It’s true, that in some cases it is a needless procedure, or an overly heavy-handed management tactic that will alienate people and do more harm than good. But in most cases, project managers are implementing time tracking not to “catch” employees slacking off, and not because of any lack of trust, but because there is very useful information to be gleaned from the data contained in the tracking.

When members of a team see a time tracking process that is smoothly implemented and that reduces redundancies, needless hurdles and unnecessary bottlenecks, they usually warm up to it very quickly. And there really are a number of advantages to using time tracking. Here are just a few of the biggest ones that we’ve found:

Time is money

Chances are, you’re wasting time somewhere, but it can be difficult to impossible to figure out where unless you actually measure it. At the end of the day, we live and die by our budgets, and measuring time, our most precious resource, is among the best ways to stay under budget.

Prioritising by time

By keeping track of time, you’ll see exactly who has slack, who is overworked, what tasks need to be delegated or have someone brought in to assist on, and all the other tweaks that project managers must make to keep things moving forward.

Staying on task

While companies don’t want their workers constantly hearing a ticking clock in the back of their minds, knowing that time is being measured does tend to keep people focused on the task at hand. There’s a big difference between employees living in terror of timesheet reviews, and simply being aware that the ticking clock may necessitate a different task priority order.

Knowledge is power

Seeing exactly where the team’s time resources are being spent is the ultimate truth teller. It’s amazing how our brains can perceive time at such different speeds for different tasks, and unless the time is actually measured, we are reliant on our own (mis)perceptions. Often, what feels like an hour of painful slogging is really a quick 25 minute task. Conversely, that “two minute job” may be taking you much longer than you think.

Improved estimation

Knowing how long past tasks or processes have taken is the best indication of how long the next similar one will require. Whether it’s giving estimates of time or money, and whether it’s for another department, the boss, or a client, actually measuring time will make a project manager a much better estimator of the resources needed for any task.

Keeping it reasonable

We’ve all had unreasonable requests demanded of us before, or of a colleague or teammember. When you accurately track time, you can show that person exactly why what they’re asking for is too much, or will be detrimental to the overall project.

Status update

Stakeholders will always want updates of project progress, and sharing hard numbers always seems to satisfy them more than vague estimates. (Our software, Updatey, has a feature called Snapshot that lets you share however much or little you wish with your clients, investors, media etc., whether in real time or a frozen-in-time snapshot. We think it’s a pretty nice little feature. Oh, and of course Updatey has time tracking as well.)

Getting to work

Unless you’re one of those one-in-a-million discipline ninjas who never procrastinate, you’ve probably noticed that sometimes a little extra push is needed to get you working. It’s probably the same for the rest of your team. Since you’re reading about time tracking and project management, we’ll assume you’re not the type to constantly refresh your Facebook newsfeed for hours on end, but you probably stray once in awhile. Time tracking can help keep you focused on the task at hand.

Time tracking in Updatey

Our project management app Updatey is full of loads of features that we think a lot of companies will find indispensable. We’ve worked hard to develop a product that fills the holes that other apps don’t quite cover. Time tracking is just one of those features. In the near future we’ll have more posts in this space about some of the other things that make Updatey great.

Time tracking in Updatey

We all find ourselves occasionally wondering “where does the time go?” Implementing time tracking can give an exact answer to that question. When deciding to use time tracking, it’s important to roll it out right so as not to alienate employees who are (often justifiably) suspicious of it. By using a project management software product that has time tracking built in, the implementation will surely be a much smoother process.

You can try Updatey for free today - and by free we actually mean no money or credit cards needed. We hope to see you there!