Categories: PPM

by Moventus


Categories: PPM

by Moventus


Tracking time is often a contentious topic; your view depends on your role, your business objectives, and your understanding of the desired outcomes.

Different organizations will have various reasons for tracking time. Services organizations doing Time and Materials (T&M) billing use the data for invoicing customers. Fixed-price bids rely on a clear understanding of the expected effort required to ensure desired margins. Accurate actual hours numbers are critical for financial success in these companies. Different stakeholders within an organization will also have different uses for the data. Executives may want to confirm that resources are working on the desired mix of projects (Keep the Lights On, Innovation, Discretionary Projects, etc.).

Information about actual effort is vital to business operations for a variety of reasons, but it’s only valuable if the data is accurate and trusted. The level of detail needs to be aligned with what was estimated. At the same time, it can’t be so granular that time trackers think you’re monitoring bio breaks or causing them to spend more time finding the right task than doing actual work.

Why Track Time?

Team leads need to see how much time team members spend on assignments, so that they can use the information as data-driven justification for additional resources and/or time to get work done.

Project Management Office (PMO) leadership will want to use the data for proving the accuracy of their estimates and confirming project budgets. This data will inform strategic planning and resource capacity management.

Project managers will use the data to adjust schedules and identify potential scope creep.

Individual contributors are frequently curious about how much time they spend on non-productive activities (meetings, administrative overhead, interrupting tasks).

Time Spent on Time Tracking vs. Value Gained

This is one of the more challenging decisions you will make in your time tracking process. Typically, creative and technical resources become frustrated when asked to track time. Many complain that it stifles their creativity. At the opposite end of the spectrum, others want extremely detailed time tracking; they need to make sure every minute is in the right “bucket.” Team leaders will be frustrated if only high-level buckets are provided since the broad buckets typically don’t produce enough information to identify process weaknesses or justify resource needs.

Once you understand your stakeholders and their anticipated uses of the data, how do you create a sustainable, valuable, relevant time tracking process? To get the most from your time tracking, track the right activities, keep the process simple, and communicate the “what’s in it for me?” for each stakeholder group.

Successfully implementing a sound time tracking strategy includes the following:

  • Understand who in your organization will consume the actual effort data and how they intend to use it
  • Match the level of data granularity to the consumers’ requirements
  • Ensure solid adoption (aka compliance) of the process

Whether you are going to set up time tracking for the first time or you are re-evaluating your organization’s existing approach, a close review of these items is essential.


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