Want to make time tracking useful and less painful for everybody? Here are 10 best practices that have proven themselves useful.
6. Exploit your data
The worst thing for an employee that was asked to complete timesheets is to have the impression that it has no purpose. If you ask people to take valuable time to complete timesheets, please use your data (or screw the timesheet).
A good idea could be to show the dashboard and graphs you get from the data in your meetings. This way, your team will see the value in logging in time and will get useful information on how the company is spending its time.
7. Make it useful for employees
Knowing how time is being spent on different activities is as valuable for employees as it is for managers.
At Beeye, we encourage every user to access dashboards and reports. Employees love it because it provides them with valuable information on how they spent their time over the last week, month, quarter or year. They use it in meetings with their managers for performance reviews. And, it simplifies the whole process by giving managers an idea of what has been achieved in a blink fo an eye.
Employees should not be required just to complete a timesheet without giving them the output, such as graphs and reports that aggregate the information at a high level.
8. Set goals and review them periodically
You may set some goals on how you want your organisation to spend its time. Time is the most valuable resource, and you don’t want to waste it on non-value-added activities.
For example, targets could include a maximum on administrative tasks, or a minimum on some types of activities (projects or billable time). A good idea is to start by setting realistic goals, and then to work on improving them over time.
Be careful not to set unrealistic goals that could have detrimental effects. To spend 100% of the time on billable activities, for example, is an unrealistic goal. To be able to spend 40 hours on billable activities, your employees should work 60 hours a week (which is counterproductive and cannot realistically be sustainable over time).
That being said, this is exactly what’s happening in some consulting and law firms. The point is to understand that for every billable hour, some time will be spent on non-billable activities, and to set a goal which is realistic and fits with the kind of culture you want in your company.
9. Make it mandatory and part of your employees’ objectives
If you want to make sure your employees complete their timesheet on time and rigorously, make it part of their annual objectives. After all, it is part of their job.
We found that making time tracking part of an employee’s objectives improves timesheet completion considerably within the allocated timeframe.
Be relentless on the process and make sure it’s part of people's habits to complete their timesheets every week. If you’re implementing time tracking for the first time, be especially strict at the beginning, since the behaviours will quickly stabilise and they will be hard to change afterwards.
10. Put someone in charge of the whole process
One key success factor for effective time tracking is to put someone in charge of the process. It doesn’t have to be a manager; in fact, it is better to give that responsibility to a super-user or an effective administrative assistant. They will do a better job than you to make sure everybody follows the process.
We found among our users that assistants do an incredible job at supporting the use of our time tracking system. By sending information to new users and reminders to all, they really make a difference in the success of the whole process.
We’d love to hear about you. What are your best practices on tracking time? Let us know in the comments!
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