Project Management Time Tracking Software – How To Get the Best
As a project manager you want your teams to succeed and your projects to be successes. This is essential for your company or organization.
One of the cornerstones of successful project management is knowing how time is spent in different areas, so that you can optimize accordingly. This in turn also means that you need a proper time tracking solution.
If you’ve ever worked with a more traditional approach to timesheet reporting, where you need to type in your hours manually (even on paper in some cases), you know how cumbersome this can be, not to mention inaccurate. Inaccurate project management time tracking means inaccurate billing of clients, inaccurate reports and an inaccurate knowledge of how things are going in your business.
So what should you do? Is there a way to have accurate time tracking and at the same time make the process easy for your employees?
Luckily there is. Read on…
Leveraging Microsoft Outlook for your project management time tracking software
If you want easy project management software for tracking time, you need to take a look at the tools that your users are already familiar with and build on this. If you’re like most other professional organizations, you’re using Microsoft Office, including Microsoft Outlook as your calendar tool.
What you should do is to find a time tracker which allows you to report hours from within your Microsoft Outlook calendar, such as TimeSheet Reporter. This will allow you to leverage a tool (Outlook) which your users are already familiar with, making their timesheet reporting really easy. When creating an appointment, they simply also add an organization, project and activity, and their timesheet reporting is done.
Really easy and simple, and your time tracking will actually get done.
Easy to control who gets access to which projects
If you have many projects in your organization, not all users will need to report hours on all these. So let’s imagine that you have 300 projects, but that the typical user would only need access to 10 of those. With the right project management time tracking software, you would be able to limit your users’ access to only the relevant projects. This means that they’ll have a much better overview. It also means that they’ll not report hours on a wrong project.
Again, this makes it easier for everybody as well as more accurate. What’s not to like?
Easy to see how time is being spent
The best project time tracking software should also come with strong reporting capabilities. This is essential for any organization, no matter what it does. If you want your organization to succeed, you’ll need to know how time is being spent.
If you’re not billing by the hour, you’ll still want to know if you’re using your resources correctly and if you’re spending time on the right things.
For fixed-fee projects it’s also good to know if the project makes financial sense. Are you spending too much time on a given project, or should you add more resources to it?
The same of course goes if your billing by the hour.
With the right solution, you can easily go in and quickly create a report showing how time has been spent, both on individual projects or organizations, as well as by user. This data should be able to be shared easily, either by paper, pdf, csv or Excel.
You should also be able to give certain users access to create these reports, and optionally decide if they should have access to everything or just be limited to their own time entries.
Giving your users access to reports on their own time, will seem like a huge benefit to most, since they will also be aware about how they actually spend their time.
Safety with supervisor approval
It’s usually a good thing to have some sort of approval of time entries, when they’ve been submitted by your users. This is especially the case if you want to share this data with other stakeholders, for example your clients, management or your board.
If you’re sending out invoices based on your timesheets it’s even more crucial as you want this to be accurate.
So especially if you’re billing clients and also just for internal control and reporting, supervisor approval of submitted timesheets is usually recommended. However, this should of course be optional, so that you could skip this step if you don’t have the need for it.
More accurate billing of clients
As mentioned above if you’re billing your clients by the hour, you need your time reporting to be accurate. You can’t just guess how many hours you spent on a certain client project. This would be unprofessional. Also, if you’re billing them for more hours than they know you’ve spent, they might become upset. On the other hand, billing them for fewer hours than you’ve spent will be too costly for your company.
With more traditional approaches to time tracking, where you enter your time manually, guesswork usually plays a part, and you can simply not afford this. You want your time tracking to be accurate, and by leveraging your Outlook calendar with an add-in for reporting hours, you’ll make sure that your time reporting is accurate as well as is actually getting done.
Even if you’re working on fixed-fee projects, you still want to know how many hours you spent on your projects. You need to send reports to your clients, showing them how you’ve spent your time, and you also want to make sure that you’re not spending more hours than what is financially feasible for your company.
A good timesheet solution will quickly give you this data, so that you work better and be more successful.
Track hourly rates and expenses
When working on projects your users may accrue expenses, such as hotel stays, mileage, etc. Your project management time tracking software should allow you to easily add expenses to your time entries, and have standard forms for reimbursement.
You may also want to have hourly rates in your timesheet software, so that you can easily track cost, revenue and profit per hour and get an overview of this in your reporting.
This should of course be an option, so that if you don’t have the need for tracking expenses and rates, you don’t need to pay for this as part of your solution, but only if you need it.
So what should you do now? Make sure that you select a time reporting solution that lets you report hours via your Outlook calendar and also comes with strong reporting and data sharing capabilities.
Don’t wait. The longer you wait, the more costly it will be for your organization. Get started now!
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