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Time tracking – administrative burden or strategic tool?

If I say “time tracking”, what is the first that comes to mind? An administrative nightmare for both employees and management? That it is done exclusively for the customers' sake? Or that you simply do not want to spend your time tracking it?

How do companies take advantage of time tracking? Several studies confirm the employees' tepid interest in time tracking. The majority of the employees are frustrated about the demands time tracking put on them, and see it as meaningless, a waste of time and in the worst case - control and suspicion from the employer.

From our experience the general problem with time tracking is that the employees do not know or cannot figure out what the management use the information for. The management needs to make a clear statement about what the time tracking data is used for. If it does not make sense for the management team, it does not make any sense at all for the employees.

Time tracking tools can be used strategically and with great advantage. Many companies have chosen to track time in order to invoice customers. From our point of view, it can also of great value if you internally pre-estimate the amount of hours for e.g. new bizz activities and business development. Time tracking links several business areas in the organisation, thereby creating an overview of the business and mutual support and pressure in projects.

Do not underestimate the value in letting the employee see his/her own time estimates in real time. The side effects of this will be a more acutely estimated and prepared budgets. Furthermore it can be used as preparation for staff development interviews, and/or to as an overview of what they spent their working hours on. With the basis of factual data both manager and the employee can have a dialogue with the root in facts instead of estimates and be more efficient about adjusting the resource estimates.

The production machinery in a company is usually regulated, controlled and automatized. But in a knowledge company the production machinery consists of people. Therefore, all the business knowledge is concealed in the hours the employee spends on his/her work. The frustrations stops once everyone understands why business knowledge needs to be registered and analysed.

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