By Alan Crean, SME in Lead 2 Cash in Professional Services, SME in PPM & Resource Mgt within IT Shared Services Organizations
Many project managers find that, among their many other responsibilities, ensuring their team’s time sheets are properly filled out can be one of the most difficult to manage. However hard, ensuring these timesheets are regularly and accurately submitted is the crucial first step in effective resource management during a project. Even with a Project Portfolio Management (PPM) tool in place some employees get bogged down and either inaccurately or only partially input time. To combat this common issue here’s a short list of tips to encourage employees to fill out their time promptly and accurately which allows managers to better understand where their work-force and budget are allocated.
- Keep It Simple: Employees should not have to spend more than five minutes per day to complete time sheets.
- Make Submissions Easy: Entering time gets increasingly complicated and tedious when time tracking processes have multiple entry points or lack a mobile time entry capability.
- Gain Trust: Managers should be transparent when explaining how time sheet data is used (or not used).
- Don’t Penalize People for Being Honest: Rather than penalizing employees for spending time on non-project activities, use time sheets as an opportunity to understand how business processes are operating.
- Avoid the Penalty System: If threats are made they must eventually become a reality and team members will either stop trusting their managers or doubt their intent to follow through.
- Be Flexible about How the Time is Tracked: Employees will watch the clock and get creative with 15 minute excuses here and there if time tracking processes are excessively strict, therefore time sheets should not be precise to the minute when tracking non-billable or non-customer project activity.
- Show Value & Make It A Medium: Make metrics such percent complete, time to complete, actions, and outcomes visible to team members to add value to their efforts on entering accurate time sheets.
- Limit the Number of Time Tracking Items: Auto feed time sheets with the specific projects team members are working on, remove completed projects, and bucket general items to decrease confusion and time.
- Automate Time Tracking Approval: Workflows save time and create speed – having time sheets approved is like getting a LIKE on Facebook.
- Use Automated Reminders: Alerting team members without the need for multiple email reminders increases the ability to collect time sheets on promptly.
- Pick Your Battles: If time sheets are used as data in an appraisal process, make it discrete. Hide or minimize raw data numbers from the conversation. This step stops any office rumors that eventually impact how teams input their time updates.
We would like to hear more about how your organization uses time sheets to manage work flow and accurately allocate time and assets to projects. Feel free to post your own time sheet tips in the comments section below, or reach out to us on Twitter at @_Changepoint.