90 Percent

Project management, productivity, change management, and more!



5 tips for proper time tracking


Source: matei

A while back, I wrote an article that gave several reasons to track time for your personal gain. In this article, I’m referring to the whole team’s time, and want to concentrate on the effect it has on your projects.

First, let me describe what I mean by “Proper time tracking”:

  • Reliable: If hours are entered randomly by people, then the numbers are not reliable;
  • Updated: Updated information means that all information (so all the time) is available when reporting;
  • Indicative: The numbers needs to show what was done, for how much time, and by who.

In general, people are not aware of the importance of time tracking, and see it simply has a way for management to make sure people do their weekly hours. This lack of knowledge towards how the hours are used will affect how the team enters it’s time and will affect the 3 elements mentioned above.

It’s important that proper time tracking is available for you to track your project’s costs, so here are a couple of tips to have that information available:

1. Must be done daily

There are lots of team members who log their time once per week (or worst), this results in:

  • Huge amounts of time tracked at once: This can be devastating, if you did your report on Tuesday and reported your project was healthy, and one week later, 150h was added suddenly because 2 team members entered a whole week of work the next day, then your project can go from healthy to under budget quickly.
  • Drop in the time’s accuracy: People barely remember what they did at the end of a day, so imagine at the end of the week! Some add inefficiency in all this by noting their time somewhere on a piece of paper or a .txt file, and then they re-enter all their time in the time-tracking tool at the end of the week. It’s faster to simply enter the time at the right place.

Time must be logged daily, so invite people to enter their time at the end of the morning and at the end of the day, it’ll be quick, not to mention fresh in their memories.

2. Must be simple & fast

As any tools used, the simpler/fast it is, the more people will use it regularly. As for time-tracking, as mentioned above, you want it done on daily basis, meaning that the tool must be efficient.

Furthermore, if it’s slow to enter your time, then people will waste time doing this, and the idea behind time-tracking is to be efficient with those numbers, not waste time!

3. All hours must be entered

There are a couple of reasons why people do not enter all their time in the project:

  • They don’t enter overtime since it’s not paid;
  • They enter their time somewhere else so that the project’s actual costs are reduced (or appear reduce at least).

Both habits reduces the project’s real hours (on paper), and although at first glance, it may seem”okay” for some to do this, not only is it not honest, it can have a devastating effect on your project and on future effects:

  • Estimating often uses past Budget past completion as a reference, if those numbers are not reliable, then it can impact estimates using them;
  • As you track your project’s action cost, it may seem as if the project is at a better place than it really is, affecting the decisions made by you and your team, which will result in more overage.

So it’s simple, all hours spent on the project should be entered, and “excuses” to log the hours somewhere else should be discarded.

4. Must monitor time-tracking

Unfortunately, people may enter their time in the wrong place, or make errors entering them. For example, 1h on a task can easily become 10h with a simple typo. People may also confuse projects or simply “dump” their hours at the end of day without proper accuracy.

Monitoring hours means looking at hours logged by each member, and assess if it makes sense. If it doesn’t then it should be discussed with the team member, and if an error was made, then it must be corrected.

You’d be surprised how many errors can slide in your project’s actual costs.

5. Time tracked must be indicative

Often, time-tracking tools will offer a “Comment” functionality, which helps PM understand what the team member did specifically. This can also be very useful when working with retainers when reports need to be done. However, this comment needs to show something relevant, otherwise it’s simply a waste of time. Here are examples I’ve seen in the past:

  • Time entered under “Client X”, under “Project Z”, for Task “Back-end developing”, the comment was “Programming”.
  • Time entered under “Client Y”, under “Project A”, for Task “Front-end developing”, the comment was “I developed for Project A”.

You get the idea!

Rusted wheel

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4 ways processes can prevent efficiency

Rusted wheel

Source: dhester

When working in teams, especially as the team is bigger, processes are what guides everyone, and helps everyone work together towards the same goal.

But have you ever felt as if the processes in place seem to add complexity rather than help? Here are some ways this might happen:

Who does what

Processes is not only what should be done, but by who, and sometimes, that’s just no clear enough, which creates expectations that are not met, therefore confusion, frustration, and conflicts rises from this.

In a struggle to get this clear, sometimes so much detailed/granular instructions will be given at the same time that people will get lost or confused in it.

Billable VS Non-billable hours

Tracking productivity by calculating & monitoring how any hours each spend on projects VS hours spent on internal tasks is important to make sure people are working on what brings in the money.

Non-billable hours include anything that’s not going to get a bill out of the door, meaning amongst other things: working on tools, template, processes, or any other ‘internal’ work. This is as still very important work since it affects all the work that’s going to be considered ‘billable’.

If no importance is given to those non-billable hours, then everyone will avoid to contribute on any of the above elements, and nothing will get fixed or improved.

Another negative effect this can have is how people enter their time; since non-billable hours have no value, people who need to work on internal stuff will be reluctant to do so, or even worse, they will enter their time in projects so that they seem to work on billable tasks. This adds a whole level of lying and deceiving that you want to avoid.


Sometimes it will be part of processes to use specific tools, whether it’s because of reporting, or more typically, because ‘people are used to it’. These tools are not always the best, and when forced to use them, will only slow people down, reduce motivation, and even completely prevent some to do their job.

Inappropriate for certain projects

Big chain of processes can be great and even absolutely necessary for big projects, or projects with typical deliverables. However, when you are tackling smaller projects, or retainers, well then processes should be adapted. You don’t want to spend your whole budget on internal processes and have nothing left to do the work!


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5 tips to delegate appropriately

Delegating is a skill that can be a very important part of your role, or it can simply be useful when you need help. Regardless, there is different ways to do it, and here are some tips to do it right:

1. Give a heads up

Depending of the environment where you work, people may be busy on a regular basis. They plan their time, and commit to deliveries all the time according to the tasks they have. If you do not give a prior notice, and delegate at the last-minute, they may not be as capable of committing to your request, or they may have to break other commitments.

Let them know before that you will have a request for them, and give them a high level idea of the request or time required so they can add this to their list of tasks.

2. Avoid barking orders

Delegating may very well be expected of you because of your role, or it might be because you need help. No matter the reason, respecting your colleague by asking them nicely is simple, and makes all the difference in the world for your colleague’s moral. A higher moral will raise motivation which also raises chances that your request is done properly in time.

So instead of “Do this!”, how about a “Could you please do this?”. And no reason not to add a smile on top of that 🙂

3. Explain why it should be done

There is nothing that de-motivates more than not knowing why you are doing something. You question the request, you complain about it, you slow down or switch to another task, and it will probably not get done properly.

When you send someone a request, how about a simple explanation of why it needs to be done, and why it’s urgent, or important!

If you send your request saying it may be a good chance to obtain a new contract with a client, they will take it more seriously than just sending them “Do this report”.

4. Give clear expectations

This is important in all the communication you have at work, but when delegating, if you want to raise chances of receiving what you need, then it is important that your expectations are clear. If your colleague is guessing what needs to be done, chances are you will not receive what you needed.

For example, if you ask for a “maintenance report” for the client, well you may receive an Excel spreadsheet with hours per role (designer, developer, etc.). However, it’s not what you wanted to send, you wanted to send a PDF file listing tasks with hours spent for each. Well, simply state it, it doesn’t take much more time to tell, and will prevent wasted time from your colleague, and even yours.

5. Give a due date

Give a measurable due date, is it in 3 hours? Is it for tomorrow end of morning or tomorrow first thing in the morning?

By the way, ASAP is not a due date! Everything should be done ASAP, it’s like saying everything is ‘high priority’ which means that nothing is high priority.

If you don’t give due dates, don’t expect to have it done exactly when you need it. Furthermore, the team will have a hard time prioritizing all their tasks and confusion may rise.

In conclusion

If you delegate properly, you raise the chance of receiving what you need, so there is no excuse not to do it, and people will respect you for doing it properly.

Do you have any more tips to share?