Wednesday, 5 August 2015

4 myths about time tracking

Permanent monitoring of what employees are doing certainly does not please everyone. Fortunately, modern technology makes it possible to avoid this discomfort while increasing the efficiency of the work of individuals and of the entire enterprise. An example might be a time tracking software, which enables you to find out who is more devoted to what, how much it pays and how long it takes. Despite this, every company will have its stubborn opponents to it. This article attempts to refute common myths associated with time tracking and to discuss specific cases.

Myth no. 1: Time tracking is associated with an authoritarian management model

Some people associate time tracking with a traditional authoritarian management model, which could especially damage the potential of remote teams or creative jobs. Truth is, that working from home requires even more attention to the team than working in the typical office environment. Without this extra dedication to follow up on projects, conducting a project can become nearly impossible. The elements of a project can and often will get out of control to the point that extending deadlines is the only way to sort it out. In other words, allowing the mess to sort itself out in this way  can very well lead to the extinction of the entire project. If you have ever tried to lead a complex project and just allowed it to run wild, you possibly found out soon enough that, at some point, establishing an unpopular authoritarian management model was the only way to bring it back to track. You might have needed to take these measures so that the project could have the clarity, precision and consistency your enterprise needs to present it in a competitive environment.
Time tracking comes in as the tool to avoid the need of an eventual surveillance regime. It allows the project to run smoothly, making authoritarian measures unnecessary. The information is always there. One can just use it to reorganize and redistribute competencies as the project demands. Time Tracking extracts the necessary data so that people can focus on what they are expected to do and management can resort to it any time, so there will be no need for last minute drastic (and often hopeless) authoritarian measures.

Myth no. 2: Time tracking software are micromanagement tools

If you force your employees to report every 15 minutes about what they have been engaged in, they will always feel like someone is looking over their shoulders. That would be micromanagement in its worst form. Plus, in the event of such a method, an expensive business management system might be required. Good professionals should be able to work independently. Not using that is a waste of talent and in no way a guarantee of better results.
Ideally, a professional team should be moved ahead by its own motivation. Reality, however, varies considerably. It might be, for example, because the company may have set an unappealing incentive system or the employees’ performance is being measured without taking into account each job’s responsibilities and limitations. Few firms can create a team of highly professional and highly motivated employees, who themselves will always know what to do and when. Therefore, it is often necessary, and always smart, to determine short and medium-term goals, establish realistic yet strict deadlines, observe all phases of the development and use a project management application in combination with time tracking.
Not applying any form of control may end up requiring a lot of energy and time to the project manager. Utopian images of strong, creative teams that permanently chase their goals often collide with the harsh reality. The truth is, that if there is nothing to keep the fabric of a project together, it is unlikely it will work to its fullest.
A time tracker was developed as a tool that, when properly applied, can and will raise the productivity of individuals and of the team as a whole. With a time tracking structure in place, team members will themselves structure their day, voluntarily record time according to tasks and will be more likely to complete projects in time. That makes micromanagement unnecessary and the time tracker will have been used according to its intent: to increase productivity. All that needs to be done is to record time spent on projects and tasks. It is one small management measure that can and will avoid harsh and unpopular ones. By the way, to read on how to promote time tracking to a team, read our previous article.

Myth no. 3: Recording time is a waste of time

It is widely believed that time tracking and timesheet filling are only necessary bureaucratic evils, which require a lot of time for the company and represents nothing but additional costs. Modern software designed for that purpose, however, is much more user friendly than old methods. A good time tracking application is very easy to set up for both corporate and personal use. It can be easily integrated with project management or calendar programs. Having calendar entries synchronized with a time tracking application is easy even for a not so savvy user.
In the long run it actually saves time. It can provide you with an overview of the status of the project and all its related tasks in real time. You will be able to remediate a situation before the problem grows and requires more of your time and energy. However, if the software is adjusted for your project and you spend more than 5 minutes a day operating it, something is wrong. We advise you to go after another one.

Myth no. 4: Time tracking is only suitable for vertically integrated companies

A vertically integrated company, that provides employees with all the steps necessary in a given process, is a rarity nowadays. Regardless of the structure of the enterprise, time tracking can promote productivity growth, no matter whether it has been adopted by a freelancer or by a big multinational corporation. For startups and workers in creative industries, time tracking software can be even more beneficial. A project management tool helps to control all processes and stages of development while a time tracking software provides numbers, which you can analyze and work with. In every enterprise it is necessary to know what employees are engaged in during the day and how effectively they are handling it. This will help optimize processes and achieve goals faster. In doing so, it does not matter whether the structure of the business is vertical, horizontal or a freelancer working on his own.

Some reasons which speak in favor of time tracking can be the following:

1. Perfect concept of productivity and time management

Time tracking can be beneficial not only for project managers. With its’ help, it is possible to detect specific problems faced by workers and the enterprise itself. It makes it easy to identify which processes are effective and which are not, which brings the greatest profit and where there is waste of resources. It also promotes a permanently growing team efficiency as the information collected in previous projects can be used to analyze future ones and to relocate resources in order to have them used to their full potential.

2. Increase in Profit

Records from previous projects can easily help you decide whether to take on a project, which is potentially inefficient or, if you take it on, see whether to increase or drop the price of your work. It can help move workers according to what they are better at and helps to uncover outdated processes. The data obtained by using time tracking also helps identify which colleagues are either overworked or not fully utilized, reallocate tasks and set priorities. All this will lead to increased profit.

3. Possibility for additional resources

For those often late with deadlines, maybe they just have not been provided with what they need to get the job done. Data obtained from the time tracking can be a good argument to plea for more resources to work with. A detailed analysis will reveal that tasks have been performed efficiently, but nevertheless, the volume of work is so big and the tools so scarce that the team cannot help the delays and or poor results. For one in charge of the implementation of projects, time tracking can be really indispensable.

Recording time may at a first glance look like a boring chore. Nevertheless, for a modern enterprise, the benefits soon become obvious. Time tracking can provide a great deal of very useful information, which is required to make decisions and create a more efficient management model.


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