Accurate work time records are essential in different fields. Here’s how time tracking with Chrome extensions can help achieve better accuracy.
Time tracking is not just another trend – it has very real benefits for businesses.
The Time Is Money study by Accelo revealed that unrecorded work activities and hours result in about $7.4 billion daily loss in the US professional services sector alone. Data presented in this paper also showed that moving from monthly / weekly timesheet updating to daily time tracking would allow saving up to $52,000 per employee every year (in billable hours). Yet unfortunately, the results of our own study have demonstrated that only 21.8% of employees track time multiple times a day, and 29.1% do it once a day, whereas nearly 40% of working time across organizations is not even adequately recorded.
Therefore, if you think that the utilization of a work hour tracker app will help you increase organizational productivity and cost efficiency, you guessed right.
However, the choice of the right time tracker isn’t a piece of cake.
Numerous types of time tracking software exist nowadays. Available tools broadly vary in functionality, prices, and compatibility with other apps and platforms. At that point, how is it even possible to select a perfect instrument if you know very little (or even less) about work hour trackers and have only a vague idea about how they work?
Don’t worry – this guide is here to bail you out of this difficulty regardless of whether you are just starting to explore time tracking or if you already have enough experience but would like to find a more suitable option for your team.
We present a list of 5 main factors to consider when selecting a time tracking tool:
- Team Type,
- Team Workflow,
- Leadership Style,
- Teamwork Style,
- Team Size.
Consider them to identify your team’s needs along with the preferred time tracker requirements, and you will become able to reap off all the benefits that work hour trackers may offer.
Without further ado, let’s explore each of these factors deeper.
Different types of teams have disparate sets of work-related needs. Hence, when choosing a perfect time tracker, you must take into account whether your organization is web-based, international or located in a single office space.
Do you manage an international company that has facilities in several distant countries? The time zone management feature, which some of the time tracking products include, will be very useful for you. It will give you an accurate picture of local time in each of your offices, aid in arranging meetings and negotiations with international team members and save you a tone of time and energy by making all this as simple as ever.
Would you like to impose a certain level of control over employees who work from home? You may appreciate the clock-in and clock-out feature that many time tracking apps have. With its help, you’ll be able to see when (and even where) your subordinates start and end their workdays and, thus, will worry whether they spend time doing their jobs at least a bit less.
Is it critical for your employees to be able to track time on the go, from different devices and through various platforms? When employees are regionally distributed and utilize highly diverse devices to perform tasks, product compatibility may become a problem. Therefore, you should make sure that the time tracker you assume to buy can be installed on and accessed through multiple types of technology.
By answering these and other relevant questions regarding the needs of your team based on its type, you will find an optimal time tracking solution and decrease the amount of effort needed to manage your projects.
A workflow is a course of activities that you and your team perform in a stepwise manner (either individually or collectively) to attain formulated project and business goals.
Let’s take a workflow of an illustration design project as an example. The list of steps involved in its completion will be something like this:
The above example is just a simplified version of what an actual workflow could be. Still, it gives a glimpse that work on a single task may require ongoing dialogs, input from several parties and precise coordination of efforts.
Due to this, before buying and using a time tracking app, you need to consider how your employees perform tasks and which activities are involved in their work processes. The components of your workflow will substantially define what features your ideal time tracking tool should have.
Are your employees required to make daily progress reports, attend regular meetings and discuss matters several times a day? If yes, a great option for you would be a time tracking product that incorporates such additional features as
- notifications to remind everyone of upcoming meetings and soon-to-due tasks,
- and a messenger to foster nonstop information sharing.
Do you interact with your customers throughout the project’s life cycle and perform precise calculations to charge them per each billable second of your specialists? In this case, you will do well out of a time tracking tool that supports
- automated billing per hours tracked,
- and integration with external apps you normally use when communicating with customers.
Overall, by evaluating your workflow carefully and making a purchasing decision based on the results of this evaluation, you will gain a chance to streamline some of the essential work activities, increase performance efficiency and improve workflow outcomes to a considerable degree.
Leaders are key players in teams. The way a leader approaches employee supervision and project management often determines subordinates’ productivity outcomes and performance effectiveness. Myriads of leadership styles are distinguished nowadays, and, needless to say, their unique characteristics require a disparate array of tools for the management of team activities.
Are you focused on operational and informational transparency, and do you aim to include every employee in the decision making process as a democratic leader would? If the answer is yes, a work hour tracking app enabling users to access their colleagues’ time tracking data and send messages and notes to each other will be perfect for you.
Are you an autocratic leader who prefers making decisions independently, finds comfort in controlling each detail and expects faultless compliance with rules from your employees? Then, consider buying a time tracking app that will let you configure permissions and restrict data visibility for different users. It would be even better for autocratic leaders if apps of their choice have real-time clock-in features and advanced user notification systems.
Do you like to plan everything in advance and utilize evidence to support various decisions as a strategic leader would? The ability to create future-oriented employee schedules and conduct detailed analyses based on time tracking data would be of tremendous help.
Identify your behavioral preferences and expectations as a leader and a manager prior to selecting a time tracking tool for your team. Remember that apps available in the market allow for different levels of employee supervision and empowerment, user privacy and communication, data analysis and strategic allocation of resources. Therefore, some of them will suit your leadership style more than others.
Teamwork is all about collaboration, and a plentitude of its potential and actual benefits, including innovation boost and increased employee satisfaction, are widely discussed across a range of information resources nowadays. However, as in the case with leadership, there is a plethora of ways to approach teamwork since different teams apply highly diverse action taking, decision making and communication styles.
Do your employees prefer to perform tasks in close collaboration with each other? In this case, choose a tool that provides users with space to communicate online in real time and with access to data on each others’ work progress.
Do you let employees choose when they want to work and swap shifts with each other? Then, an app with a shift bid feature will be of extra worth for your team and will facilitate the interactive scheduling process considerably.
Does your teams adhere to the Agile Manifesto principles and aim to create a highly interactive and responsive workplace environment? You will benefit from combining the time tracking functionality with the Kanban and alike systems for feasible and adaptive project management since they foster
- flexible task management,
- quick creation and editing of tasks,
- and a visually appealing overview of project progress and status change.
By reflecting on your team’s work style, you will find out how flexible and collaborative your workplace environment and dynamics are. With this knowledge, you will obtain an opportunity to select a time tracking app that has a variety of valuable features for supporting (and even improving) the way work is done in your company.
Organizations of varying sizes broadly differ in their capacities, internal operation structures and workplace dynamics. In this way, the size of the team will influence your app purchase decision by dictating how much money you can spend on the product, as well as your need for customizable settings and simplicity.
Do you have a medium-sized business and does your team consist of about a hundred employees? In this situation, a high-quality solution may cost you a lot since many companies selling time trackers charge monthly fees per each user. Still, you could look for time trackers whose pricing depends on the variety of features included rather than on a number of users. Luckily for you, some options (even the free ones) that afford an unlimited number of users do exist.
Do you want to align tool configurations and settings with specific policies adopted in your company and increase the convenience of software utilization for different departments and employees? If so, customization of settings is an indispensable app attribute for you since it is crucial for
Switching off unnecessary tool functions,
Tailoring timesheets, corporate calendars and various reports to specific organizational needs,
Managing user permissions and data visibility.
Do you have only 10 subordinates who are technologically savvy, and are you convinced that they can learn almost anything in a relatively small amount of time? If yes, then go ahead and purchase that state-of-the-art, super complex piece of software with hundreds of advanced features.
Do you have doubts about whether every member of your massive team will be able to familiarize themselves with an overly complex tool quickly and well? Then focus on simplicity of a tool’s interface and functionality. Otherwise, you will fail to integrate time tracking into your team’s workflow, and your colleagues won’t be motivated enough to perform this task regularly. As a result, the very point of looking for a timesheet app will be lost.
Motivating Your Team to Use a Time Tracker
Now that you know how to select a perfect time tracker for your team, let’s discuss how you can motivate your subordinates to track their work hours daily.
As you have already learned, the simplicity of a tool is one of the major things facilitating the adoption of time tracking in organizations (and we will explain this in greater detail shortly). However, process complexity is merely one of the multiple reasons why employees may resist the utilization of time trackers. Here are a few of them:
- Remembering how much time is spent on each task is demanding, especially when workers have to switch a lot between different assignments throughout the day.
- Employees frequently regard time tracking as a low-value responsibility and think that its performance doesn’t generate direct benefits and only prevents from focusing on “real work.”
- The requirement to track each minute creates additional pressure and emotional draining.
- Extra efforts and time are always needed to get accustomed to a new time tracker – yet another tool on top of the already employed professional instruments.
Doesn’t this list look like a bunch of good reasons for not implementing a time tracking app at all?
Nevertheless, keeping track of work hours has a multitude of advantages. The practice helps teams to
- be more transparent with customers,
- detect workflow optimization opportunities,
- improve the outcomes of estimation, forecasting and planning activities.
Fortunately for all of us, there are efficient ways to get hold of the above benefits by making the experience of adopting new time tracking tools less traumatic. The 5 main ones are listed below.
1. Explain why it is important
Misunderstanding of the exact reasons behind performing new activities and their forceful imposition on employees play a primary role in the formation of resistance to change. Therefore, it is crucial to communicate with your subordinates both before introducing a new tool into the company’s workflow and throughout the process of its integration. When talking to your team members about the upcoming change, explain why the use of time tracking will benefit the company as a whole. At the same time, be sure to emphasize which advantages different employees and departments can gain from this practice individually.
For example, accurate billing and payroll calculation will become a key advantage for accountants. At the same time, project managers will appreciate the ability to improve their planning and estimation capabilities when using a good piece of software. By showing these pros of app-supported time tracking to your team members and explaining that this practice is absolutely risk-free for them, you will able to improve employee attitude to change.
2. Keep the process easy
In the situation of employee reluctance to perform time tracking, a complicated onboarding process can decrease employees’ motivation and morale even more. To avoid this, an app of your choice must have an intuitive and user-friendly interface and a reasonable number of functions and shouldn’t require a time-consuming onboarding process.
A perfect tracker never has unnecessary features that only distract users by cluttering the view, and actiTIME is an excellent example of such an uncomplicated solution. It provides a chance to switch off and hide all the unneeded functions, which creates a positive user experience.
Also, remember that in order to be convenient, a time tracking app must have a mobile version. Even if you don’t have remote staff members, a vast majority of employees still utilize mobile devices for checking work updates. Because of that, a mobile app will make time tracking experience much more holistic and handy.
3. Lead by example
You can send reminders or make up elaborate incentives to motivate your subordinates to fill out timesheets. However, all these methods can hardly be more effective than leading by example. Performing the newly introduced practice yourself is the best way to stimulate your colleagues to incorporate it into their workflows as well. So, track your working hours first, analyze your results and be sure to share your experience with the team. By doing so, you will eliminate the risk of double standards and employee disappointment and, instead, will make your subordinates more enthusiastic regarding time tracking.
4. Appoint responsible managers
The first rule of efficient management is task delegation. For this reason, don’t try to monitor the entire process of implementing time tracking on your own – you are bound to fail in doing so if your team is large enough. Instead, allocate this responsibility to other employees (preferably team or unit managers) who will both control the performance of time tracking and apply app-based data on employee progress in their daily work activities.
After setting responsible persons, let them know what their roles are in terms of organizational time tracking. Clarify their duties and educate them on how to utilize time track data for improving employee performance. Such a simple instruction session for time tracking supervisors will speed up the integration of this activity into the company’s workflow and will aid your team to start enjoying the benefits of time tracking quicker.
5. Use time tracking reports
Time logs are a source of vital data for businesses as they substantially assist in optimizing workflows. Nevertheless, to do so, they first need to be collected, organized and analyzed. Thus, reports generated by using a time tracker app are of tremendous help here. By running time tracking reports, you can detect various productivity and performance issues and access evidence for making better decisions regarding resource allocation and performance efficiency enhancement.
To motivate your subordinates to track time, don’t forget to show how they can deploy the submitted data for their own advantage as well. For example, by evaluating personal performance indicators, employees will be able to detect some areas for personal improvement and eliminate barriers to better outcomes (with a leader’s assistance, of course). In this way, it will be possible to make the workplace environment more comfortable and stress-free and gain more opportunities for professional self-realization.
The purpose of this guide was not to incline you to purchase a particular product but to give you a hint on how to approach the app selection process.
Reading this text was a good beginning, yet you’ll have to do all the job of analyzing your team’s characteristics yourself.
While engaging in this next step, you may start exploring time tracking apps available in the market. We have already made plenty of listings and reviews of various tools and even created an interactive app selector that can assist in choosing a perfect instrument based on the features you need – feel free to take a look at them as well.
Do you have any comments and questions regarding this guide? Please share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.