Project Management and Your Time Tracking System
No matter if you are a freelance, a large private enterprise or a public organization, an essential part of managing your projects and activities is knowing how you spent your time.
Before you say that you are not really a project manager as such, remember that you will always be working on some sort of project, internally or for clients, so you need to know how to manage your projects properly.
This article will explore the challenge as well as the solution to this, so read on…
Project Management Challenges
No matter your profession, you are always in some sense managing a project of some sort, no matter if this is internal activities or a billable client project. So you, as a project manager (whether this is your actual title or not), your project team and any other stakeholder has a strong interest in reducing project risk and ensure project success.
You need your project planning to be in order, you need proper project cost management, you need to follow best practices, and you need to make sure that you got the tools that you need. This is all part of proper project execution which is essential to project management.
This can be easier said than done, but to ensure success in this endeavor, an essential part for you to know how things are going, is having a proper time tracking system in place.
Without a proper time tracking system, it is almost impossible for your company to see if your priorities and budgeting is in place as well as to ensure that you reach any milestone set.
So to ensure organizational success, a proper time tracking software is paramount.
The issue with a lot of time reporting products is that they often require your workforce to enter time manually in a separate program and also remember what they did when. In this way, this essential part of your management tools ends up being more of a hindrance to what should have been a process improvement.
So what to do?
Finding the Right Time Tracking System
As part of managing projects, you want to have the knowledge that your projects are moving along as they should, and also know if there is anything that you need to take a closer look at.
Most professional organizations today, use the Microsoft Outlook Calendar for scheduling their appointments and to keep track of their time. This for both time off, internal activities as well as time that you invoice your clients for.
You should therefore find a solution that builds on this and lets you easily create timesheets based on your calendar appointments, no matter if this is then used for payroll or invoicing.
This is the most intuitive way for your users to work and will integrate seamlessly into the workflow that you have.
It should also include strong reporting capabilities so that you can easily see how time has been spent on any organization, project or activity, both for the organization as a whole as well as for individual users.
In this way you can accurately see how time is being spent and if you need to change the way that you prioritize certain activities.
If you have the need for it, as part of your project management, your time tracking system should also come with options for having hourly rates as well as expense reporting.
In a lot of cases it is also nice to have the ability to have a supervisor approve submitted time entries.
Ensure that Your Users Will Approve of the Solution
So now that you know that an integral part of proper project management is having a time tracking system in place that allows you to report time based on your Microsoft Outlook calendar appointments, how do you then ensure that your users will also approve of the solution?
One of the most essential management skills is to be able to motivate your staff. Part of that is to include them in the right way.
When introducing a solution like this, make sure that your employees are included from the beginning. It is also paramount that you show them the benefits it will bring them.
Show them how they will now be able to see exactly how they have spent their time and on which projects and activities, how much time off they have had and how things are progressing overall.
This is information that would not usually be easy to come by, but with a proper timesheet solution in place this information can be readily available to them at all times.
It will also be a lot easier for them to report their time using Outlook instead of having to enter different systems and remember exactly what they did and when they did it.
As you can see from this article it is very much possible to have your users support your implementation of a time tracking system. That is, as long as you follow the recommendations in this article.
Just to sum up, an essential part of doing project management is to know how time is being spent, so you can plan and act accordingly. A good time tracking system is therefore essential.
Not only that, it is also essential that you get a solution that supports your workflow and is easy for users to use, and will give you the information and overviews you need.
To do that, keep the following in mind:
- Your solution should use the Microsoft Outlook calendar appointments
- Should be user friendly
- Easy and strong reporting capabilities
- Options for hourly rates and expense tracking
- Involve users early and show them the benefits
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