A Tale of Terror and Delight: How time tracking improved this project manager’s life

| , Solutions Consulting Manager

When I walked in to my PMO Manager’s office and sat down for our one-on-one, I was not expecting to hear the one sentence I never wanted to hear. “We’re going to start tracking project time.” Nooooo! My boss tried to make it positive by listing benefits. Yes, it would be nice to have historical data, but it’s not necessary for me to be able to do my job. And yes, it would be nice to see just how much time my project team members are spending on their work; but I don’t need that much detail. I’ve never done it before, and certainly don’t need to start now. As soon as I promised my boss I would give it the old college try, he informed me this is now part of my performance goals. Great…

Week 1: I had no idea that I would need to block off my entire Friday afternoon just to fill out this timesheet. Adding a note in to each entry takes time and it’s tough to think back to exactly what I did during that hour or two. My team members started complaining to me that it was taking up time that they could be spending on their project work. Not sure if I want my team spending time on filling out their timesheets when they could be using that time to get actual project work done.

Week 2: I started taking a few minutes each day to record what I worked on, instead of waiting until the end of the week. It doesn’t take up as much of my day this way. I saw a timesheet report that showed how much time each of my team members are tracking against the project work. It’s actually pretty interesting to see what was estimated compared to how much time they actually spent on it. But I’m not sold yet.

Week 3: I showed my project timesheet report to the project’s business sponsor, and she loved it. What a fantastic and unexpected surprise! She was very impressed that we are collecting this information and asked if she could share it with her larger team. We were also able to have a great conversation as a result of reviewing the report together. I have been asking her for more time from the team members that are assigned to the project, but she had said that they are too busy on other work. Now she can see that we will not meet the deadline if we continue at the current allocation level, and has approved them to spend 100% of their time on my project until it is done. Oh, happy day!

Week 4: Wow, it’s hard to believe that I was completely against time tracking just a few weeks ago. It’s astonishing how much more information I have now. I’m realizing it’s not just me that is seeing good things come out of it as well. My PMO Manager told my team that he shared with the leadership committee the time tracking report that shows where the project managers are spending their time. Doesn’t seem like much, but he was able to show exactly what we’re working on, gain approval to extend the deadline on a few projects, and even received the green light to hire another project manager. This helps me directly because it will lighten my project load significantly. Amazing that an extra few minutes of my time each day can result in such positive decisions!

Just one month ago, I vehemently argued against using my precious moments to track time. Now I won’t even consider going back to not doing it. The key to appreciating time tracking? Knowing that it’s bigger than you. Sacrificing a little of my time is worth it when the rewards are big and directly benefit me. The added bonus is that it helps my team, my boss, and even other teams too. Ultimately, all the data we are tracking gets rolled up to the organization level and helps answer questions like, where are my people spending their time, how much time are they spending on that work, and when will they be available for more work. As the answers I always knew become proven through reports, I’m able to do my job better and spend less time trying to guess when my projects will be done. No doubt, it’s a win-win for me and the entire company.

Think you can’t make a similar change in your organization? That it’s too much of a culture change? We’ve got the best place for you to get started. Take a look at our time tracking whitepaper, “Don’t Go Up In Flames: Navigate Time Tracking Acrobatics Within the Enterprise” and find out the benefits you have to gain from tracking time in your organization. My favorite tip? Make sure you select a solution that offers mobile time tracking to make it even easier for everyone. Whether you’re in between meetings or on the train going home, you’ll get your timesheet in before that Friday afternoon deadline – no excuses.