Time tracking is essential for business and employee success because it helps eliminate monotonous tasks and wasted time spend.
The importance of time tracking is essential for employees and by association for the business to succeed, as it helps eliminate monotonous tasks to ensure that the optimum extraction of results from a typical workday is achieved. Learn how these eight time tracking tips can help make your life significantly easier.
Why time tracking is important
Time is a currency that has to be spent wisely. Thus time tracking comes into play in a big way in the professional context and in a corporate setting of a large enterprise as a powerful time tracking software and the results it generates can have a profound impact on individuals and the organization.
Currently, a complex time-related issue that enterprises are confronted with also remains one of the biggest unsolved and baffling problems of scale – it is about understanding how effectively teams are spending their professional time for which they are being paid a salary.
This is an all-encompassing question that managers ponder over: are employees spending their time on tasks that are important for the business and their own professional development?
For people who do traditional work in factories and use machines, this has largely been addressed by building a framework that relies on extensive time-motion studies; which is building repeatable and structured work where the outputs can clearly be identified and measured.
However, this still remains an exacting challenge for new-age organizations, where people spend most of their time on desktops and laptops. This makes it very hard to compute time and effort in a systematic and automated way, as the lack of information, leads to poor decision-making and an inherent inefficiency continues to exist.
Time tracking tips you should remember
Let’s go over a few core tips that can help you with time tracking to make your life easier.
1. Understand why it’s important to track time
The questions that often bothers large enterprises is often hinged on the following: Is the time spent time in front of the machines actually translating into expected business outcomes? Why do team performances vary and is there a maintainable way to reduce variations in performance?
How does one address latent capacity in an organization so that it becomes more productive? What is the way to load balance more effectively across teams so collaboration can be seamless? Why does the time duration spend on one task by two separate employees fluctuate? How to provide a more equitable work distribution across teams to enable smarter collaboration? How to reward team members based on objective and transparent outcomes? How does one measure and compute performances without a bias or human intervention? Which transformational activity merits the highest investment to guarantee a sustainable ROI?
The answer to all the above questions lies in implementing a time tracking software that can able to address all these and much more. Thus it is important to always time track in an enterprise.
Many modern enterprises face a fundamental problem of not being able to deploy and create an appropriate automated and sophisticated system that can provide deeper insights to grow and operate businesses more effectively. Enterprises have to get a better understanding of how time is spent, and this can only be achieved via choosing a time tracking software that ticks all the boxes as this information can enable them to manage their operations in a more efficient manner.
3. Only track the important things
Tracking the essential points and adhering to them in the strictest way possible is the only way a time tracking software can be a success. It is also stipulated to keep all functions clear and transparent – as the deployment and positioning of a software’s usage are of utmost importance.
This is more critical than the broad features and functionality that exist in the software. Many enterprises don’t disclose to the employees that a technology like this is being deployed or consciously do it in stealth or silent mode. This approach often gets misconstrued as Big Brother watching or spying software. Ultimately, this can lead to havoc in the organization and create a very toxic culture of mistrust and kicks off a cycle of having to always cover actions and reactions. Creativity gets stifled and employees tend to become very risk-averse.
The solution to this is to ensure that everyone is fully cognisant of the fact that their professional time will be tracked with a highlight on the important tasks to ensure that they better understand how to spend the workday.
Employees should also be primed to expect an overview of how they compare to their peers and the performance expected from them. This self-awareness always brings about heightened improvement. Making users aware of why a certain action is being implemented and giving them control is critical for any time tracking software to succeed.
4. Utilize time blocking
Like a top athlete tracks every body parameter to improve performance and hit pre-set goals; similarly organizations need to use track their time and time block so that a specific or a group of tasks is accomplished. This should be in real-time, grounded in reality, consistent, and automated to systematically measure how time is blocked and then utilized by various individuals, teams, divisions, and operating units in a business to deliver the desired outcomes.
It is important to identify the gaps which need to be improved to increase the overall performance of an enterprise as running it requires objective data which is available at speed and on-demand to make smart decisions – and all this can only be facilitated through a robust time tracking system.
5. Have to-do lists to keep everything on track
Ideally, a good tracking system should come armed with a to-do list that ensures that the list used by the front-line associates is the same one that is seen by the CEO of the business. This ensures immense confidence across the enterprise that the data that is being used to make the decisions is consistent and accurate and acts as a leveler.
It is also advisable to provide flexibility to the employees to design their own workday if the nature of their job allows it. If they are not working on time-sensitive transactions, choosing one’s own hours of work and designing work days accordingly is an advantageous possibility.
This is seen as a beneficial exercise as it enables two to four work sprints in a 24-hour window to meet the requirements for an eight-hour workday.
An effective system measures the results delivered very accurately, no what the process is, and employees don’t question the ability or the decisions of their leaders. This flexibility drives much greater motivation and better outputs across all levels of an enterprise. It also is a very strong value proposition around work-life flexibility which enterprises can then offer its employees while ensuring that there is no drop in productivity at all times.
6. Break large tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces
Empowering users with their own data always helps them get a better understanding of the work habits they have inculcated and can enable them to get through to their workday by breaking large tasks into smaller piecemeals. The data that is collected must be used to heighten the awareness of the users for their own work style.
Think of breaking up of tasks in the context of another tracking tool. For example, the one that is used for exercising, tracking weight fluctuations, or food intake individually to achieve one goal of weight loss or gain.
Similarly, a work measurement system that breaks up tasks on an hourly and daily basis will be able to achieve a larger task outline or long-term objectives in an easier manner. True improvement can only happen when each and every employee from the top to the bottom rung is empowered with the awareness and the insights to improve.
7. Eliminate monotonous, repetitive tasks with automation
Gathering data manually is a monotonous, repetitive task. Enterprises for whom data is a large part of their functioning, have to internally ensure that the process of time tracking is fully automated with minimal intervention from the end-user to achieve a process in the office which leads to the elimination of monotonous and repetitive tasks. This ascertains that there is no scope for data inaccuracy and integrity issues that can otherwise occur when data is manually collected.
In many cases, a majority of the data is collected through multiple systems, which is then aggregated or normalized and subsequently presented. Vital information gets lost in translation because of the inability to collect data in an automated way at its source. On many occasions, manual inputs that are not always reliable are required because people work in different environments such as client-side systems or machines, where data collection is not possible and the right performance indicators cannot be identified.
A robust tracking system can allow the setting of a strategic direction for transformation by creating automated responses to the following: what part of the enterprise needs to be realigned or reorganized – this can be realized by simply reallocating capacity to match the supply and demand curves; which part of the organization needs to be re-engineered by eliminating the demand for a specific kind of function by either implementing smarter technology or by changing some upstream processes.
For example: by better feeds into systems they need for KYC can be significantly reduced as with an API-led framework, this has become a lot simpler. And finally, what part of the organization needs to be automated? These are tasks or processes where the variation is minimal and the “coefficient of variation” very low.
A number of organizations dive headlong into automation without comprehending its ramifications or the full understanding of what it is doing to their operations. A tracking system allows the formulation of a more systematic understanding and approach that enables a more thoughtful approach to transformation.
A time measurement system allows all team members to be connected, engaged, visible, and optimized to enable smarter planning of a typical workday by a manager armed with the knowledge of knowing how many team members are available to competently get through a typical workload.
8. Use time tracking software to streamline processes
The ability to make decisions using tracking software becomes fact-based and also provides good inputs for smarter management across all levels. This leads to a ripple effect of harmony and improvement: as the end-user understands their own individual work style and what needs to improve.
A manager comprehends the skill and ability issues within the team and what kind of redressal or coaching advice has to be given; the director or senior leader grasps the utilization and how workloads are distributed across multiple teams, where automation is required, what kind of profiles should be hired, which performance is being impacted due to the duration of tenure and what other factors are coming into play.
Seamless integration into all platforms and hardy robustness to collect data is crucial as well. When a user is not connected to the company network or has a poor connection in an offline mode data needs to be automatically pushed back to the central servers when a secure and highly functioning connection becomes available. This ensures that there is no data loss on account of poor internet connection.
Also, within an enterprise, multiple IT environments can exist. Sometimes the users work on client machines and there can be a lot of complexity within the systems and the networks used. To be able to seamlessly deal with the variations and permutations of a globally distributed enterprise as well as work across all types of operating platforms like Linux, Mac, and Windows that can provide a holistic view is of the essence in a time tracking system. It is imperative to have an all-encompassing system and the data that it generates so that the end-users and leadership have full confidence in it.
Often, companies don’t stress test the measurement system that has been deployed which leads to a loss of faith in the system when stakeholders see that the data collected doesn’t reflect the reality on the ground. Data reliability and agreement from all stakeholders that it is reflecting what is happening on the ground is supremely important.
Using measurement systems optimally to design rewards and ensuring that these are well articulated within the company’s systems is of prime importance. What an effective tracking system allows is to sharply segment the performance, and reward the right kind of behaviors.
If the time spent on production systems needs to be rewarded in a certain way, and prioritized over just the number of hours logged in, it is easily doable with a good tracking system in place. How employees get measured and rewarded helps in getting them aligned with the larger objectives of an enterprise.
Time tracking also helps in understanding the dynamics of a team, while being able to segment performance across multiple dimensions. Performances will always tend to vary based on tenure at a company, skillset, education, managers, or location of an employee; but rich data generated by a time measurement software will provide insights that are needed to run operations to a high capacity and maximum efficiency.
Problems in time tracking software crop up when vital information used by team leaders and managers for performance management which is either in the form of rewards or penalties is not shared with end-users. This handicaps teams and they are unable to self-correct and improve. It is important for teams to be aware at all times about how they are performing and how they compare to their peer group.
Therefore, tracking how time is spent can help enterprises unlock significant value. The daily average time for an employees' productivity is approximately 83 minutes. During a typical work week, employees spend around 8 hours in non-work activities, which include being interrupted by others and checking their phones for notifications.
In the U.S., the hourly wage is around $25. These two sources combined allow us to concur that a company potentially loses an estimated $10,000 per employee, per annum which is a leaky financial faucet that just doesn’t turn off.
As the future for work scenarios continues to evolve, many hybrid work arrangements will keep mutating and developing. As people continue to work in more flexible and distributed arrangements, having an automated measurement system will become a very critical component of the technology stack of a business. This is the only way enterprises will able to stay relevant, future-ready, and operate at peak levels in this VUCA (volatile, uncertain, chaotic, ambiguous) world we live in.
Quit wasting time
By using the wrong time tracking software. Find the right tools you need to streamline processes and make your life a breeze.
Ankur Dhingra is the CEO of ProHance, an enterprise SaaS operations management platform. Ankur has over 19 years of professional experience in companies like General Electric, Genpact, and American Express.
Quit wasting time
By using the wrong time tracking software. Find the right tools you need to streamline processes and make your life a breeze.