At TimeLog, we have more than ten years of experience in implementing time registration systems in companies of all sizes. So if you’re a corporate or departmental executive, and your company has yet to start tracking its time spent on business processes, allow us to present nine tips for ensuring an effective implementation.
1. Register everything
If you track time internally as well as externally, you’ll gain invaluable insight into the time your employees spend on internal and external events – not to mention the possibility of analysing what your internal time is spent on. On the other hand, if you register only external or billable time, determining whether time registrations have been performed by everyone (and correctly) becomes unclear. We therefore recommend that you register everything regardless of internal distribution.
2. Not two people are alike …
For some employees, time registration is a natural part of their work because they like knowing what their time is spent doing. Other employees loathe time registration. No two people are alike and, as such, they’re motivated by different factors.
In our experience, honesty is the best policy. Communicate the aim of time registration continuously, and be absolutely clear on why you register your time: is it to ensure all billable hours are invoiced? Is it to help manage fixed-price projects? Or is it to improve resource allocations for events, projects and customers?
Whatever the purpose, or purposes, make sure you communicate them clearly to your employees. Once your time registration system is up and running, check whether some employees are having difficulties registering their time. If so, motivate them in the best possible way.
3. Introduce SOPs
Time registration is a process based on introduction and monitoring – just like all other business processes. That’s why we recommend introducing standard operating procedures (SOPs), e.g. finishing the weekly timesheet by Monday 11 a.m. or registering time spent on all work before leaving the office.
Be careful not to overdo it on these SOPs. Establish procedures that you consider realistic for your colleagues and yourself – then stick to them.
4. Don’t forget the comments
Introduce a process in which employees can add brief comments to their time registrations. In case of exceeded deadlines, these comments could mean the difference between invoicing a project or not. Also, time registration comments offer invaluable insight into how time allocated for projects is actually spent.
5. Show the purpose of time registration
If you’re a project manager and track your time spent working on projects and adding useful comments, but do not have access to invoicing and report creation features, the benefits of time registration are easy to miss. That’s why it’s a good idea for management to show employees how time registration data is used.
For example, showing the employees how invoices are created, including line comments, or how project managers now have a sounder basis for creating reports. Presenting these benefits at joint meetings is a great way to show the employees the benefits of time registration.
6. Communicate the results
Companies which have recently started registering time usually experience an increase in invoicing percentages. Similarly, increases in revenue due to the support feature are common, as are discoveries of which customers actually cost money. Make sure that you communicate positive results such as these, as they serve as a motivator for time registration and help increase the understanding of the project in general.
7. Designate time registration responsibilities
Make sure you place the responsibility for time registration with specific employees. Who’s in charge of checking if weekly timesheets have been closed by Monday or whether project managers have all necessary time registration data for invoicing by the end of the month? Designate an employee in charge of time registration, and make sure they’re motivated. This is why the aim of time registration needs to be clear to everyone in the company.
8. Make life easy for your employees
There’s no need to make time registration more detailed than what’s needed for your own customer documentation or for generating project or company reports.
Some project managers believe that precise data yield better results. In many cases, this entails creating several accounts or activities, for which employees are then expected to track their time. However, having to time register in several systems usually runs the risk of losing track of where and when a given period’s work has been accounted for – and it rarely improves project overview and usability.
Another typical result is that the project manager wants to save time by creating a standard template for each customer or project containing a series of tasks or cases for time registration. Handy for the project manager, as it’s a quick way to create a project; bothersome for the employees, as they have to spend extra time searching a huge number of tasks, some of which are irrelevant.
So, carefully consider the best way for your employees to register time.
9. Added focus on support and adjustments
In particular, support and adjustments following project sign-off require precise time registration. In some cases, a lot of time spent on these final stages of a project are not registered today and therefore not invoiced. Make sure you focus on the importance of adding comments to each time registration line in the grey areas of what to include and what not to include on the customer’s invoice.