This Week on Freaky Friday: Tracking down the time monster*

Today I want to write about a phenomenon that accompanies us all – time tracking. It is a fundamental issue in all projects, be it ecommerce or what ever. Time tracking is nearly always the basis for writing an invoice after something is done, or to know when the invoice is too high … But even with this fundamental importance in nearly all projects I have seen so far, something with time tracking goes completely wrong. Why is this?

The baseline is: people do not like to be controlled. But it also is: it needs to be done. Without a proper time tracking it is nearly impossible to write an invoice that makes sense. Sense in the meaning of: really covering your costs. Also you can’t do a proper planning of tasks, since you do not know what time these tasks took in the past. And in the end you can not make a project controlling that is worth a penny.

If people are forced to track their times, the question is: what do you expect from them. I saw a lot of companies that tried to track all time. Meaning 8 work hours a day, to bill these hours to the client. Wow. The result was the same everywhere: some insurrection and after a while everybody tracked a minimum of 8 hours a day. What a nonsense! You still saw people standing at the coffee machine, smoking or chatting. Are people working productively 8 hours a day? I doubt it. So if you as a company expect 8 hours they will be tracked at some point, but simply by adding up to the real work. And in the end you think you have great numbers for billing and controlling, but in the end they are pretty blurry. Only few companies I know allow for real time tracking, meaning to track only the time you really work on client stuff. They simply add a factor afterwards when it comes to billing to level the productive with the non productive work. And this works well, because they have pretty accurate times, when it comes to estimations for tasks. And nobody asks naggy questions, why the time sheet does not have 8 hours per day on it…

So I guess it’s clear what to do? Since this is the guerrilla handbook of how to bust a project we ignore the time tracking. Even if you are forced to it due to your organisational structure, you still can fake the numbers and write in fantasy values. If you are on an IT project it’s usually even easier, since most programmers do not like time tracking. So if you just now and then let it drop in meeting that everybody has to track, but do not force… And if someone wants time tracking really badly – go for tracking the whole work day… Exactly, you will get bad and inaccurate numbers without doing anything. And: It wasn’t you who typed in the hours.

* Legal disclaimer: This feature is an excerpt from the book project “How to wreck your projects” (still to be finished). What you read here may cause havoc to your project, when applied. Neither nor the author will take any responsibility for the effects. So read carefully. You are responsible for any action you take (or not take) after reading!

(Picture by lett-A=)

One Response to This Week on Freaky Friday: Tracking down the time monster*

  1. emma says:

    Hey Kai,

    I do agree that a time tracking solution is nearly next the thing to do for your business projects to run efficiently and easily. In this context, would definitely like to mention about Replicon’s time tracking softwaresolution that is a totally hassle free application. It has such simple to use interface and has done wonders so as to effectively manage our projects since we started using it. 24*7 back up support.. Awesome!!

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