In my customer support role here at LiquidPlanner, I talk to a lot of new customers. The same two questions come up over and over again:
“Why should our team be tracking time?”
“How can I convince my team to track their time?” (I usually suggest bribery in the form of chocolate chip cookies.)
At LiquidPlanner, we feel that tracking time spent on tasks is almost as important as the ability to manage those tasks in the first place. Knowing how long it takes to complete a task or a project aids in overall project planning and the ultimate success of that project.
William Shakespeare said “Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.” Wise words when thinking about project management. Let’s back up a minute and take a look at how to answer those two pivotal questions:
Tracking time has significant financial benefits
The financial benefits of tracking time are obvious. When your team participates, you’ll be able to see:
- Data for future project costing/estimation.
- The ability to value work in process (especially if you have flat rates).
- Information collection for processing payroll efficiently.
- Insights for billing/invoicing automation.
- Clarity to project costs. Now that they’re visible, perhaps you can go about lowering them!
Need more convincing?
Time-tracking can feel painful, but the benefits extend much further than the accounting department. Next time you’re feeling like you couldn’t bear to add one more minute to your timesheet, perhaps the list below will help remind you and your team why tracking time is a good idea.
- Get a raise: Have you been pushing to increase your salary? Now you can show your boss exactly what you’ve been working on, how long you spent doing it, and even how much revenue it created for the company.
- Get help when you need it: When projects are being completed past their deadlines, use data to prove that you need more resources on your team in order to complete additional projects in the time frame desired/required.
- Accurate estimates: Good historical data on actual time spent will allow you to greatly improve your ability to estimate tasks and projects, and will help you gain credibility on estimates you provide to management and prospective customers.
- Accurate delivery dates: With accurate estimates, your chances of delivering projects on time increase greatly.
- Easy re-estimation of open tasks: As you track your time, effort remaining will automatically decrease, thus keeping your schedule accurate and up to date. (That being said, we recommend that you review estimates and correct them for accuracy if necessary.)
- Project start dates: Based on how your current project(s) are tracking, you have much better insight on when you can start something new, and if you need to re-prioritize or reassign work.
- Manageable scope creep: It’s much easier to keep this under control when time and budget are being monitored.
- Make those changes: Seeing where you spent your time will help you identify problematic tasks so that you can adjust accordingly.
- Reporting: How can you get the metrics you need for the boss’ boss to demonstrate what you need to without taking a few minutes to track your time each day? You don’t have to track every single moment of the day to get measurable results, but with LiquidPlanner, you’ll find it easy to create this habit.
This last one may not fly with everyone, but I’m going to include it here anyway:
- Discipline: As much as everyone hates punching a clock, there’s something about knowing that you’re on one that can make yourself work more efficiently, and recognize where the distractions are.
Time tracking can mean the difference between an over-worked, stressed-out team and a well-oiled project machine. Time tracking will help you plan appropriately for the capacity of your project team, and give you enough room to complete quality projects in a timely manner. So get cracking! Er, tracking!
Tell us a story about how time tracking has helped you at work.