This is first article in our series on Timesheets and why you should be using them.
Teams that don’t use timesheets tend to be resistant to the idea of using timesheets. Not because they have prior (bad) experiences, but for the simple reason that they don’t think time recording is a practical use of their time.
Back in the days when timesheet apps were clunky and awkward to use, that was probably true. Today, online project management time tracking software makes it easy to link the tasks you work on to the time you record.
Getting started using timesheets on your project is really easy. Here’s a simple approach to introducing timesheets to your team.
Step 1: Explain Why Timesheets Matter
First, have an honest conversation about why you want to use timesheets. There are lots of benefits of time recording. Some or all of these might apply to your business:
- Better data about how long tasks take so that you can use this to estimate more effectively in the future.
- Better visibility of where time is being spent so you can adjust your plans if necessary.
- Better awareness of who is busy and who could take on more tasks.
Timesheets are not a way to micromanage your team or to beat them up about not doing enough hours. Timesheets work best in environments where you measure success by results and not the amount of time people sit at their desks.
Introduce the idea of timesheets in one of your regular meetings. Explain why there is a business value in using them and answer any questions they may have. Note down any concerns that you hear and then find ways to address them before Step 2…
Step 2: Show Them It’s Easy
Show them the software you have chosen. Let’s take a step back – don’t even attempt to rollout timesheets if you don’t have the software in place to record time. You can’t expect to get buy in or accurate results if you want your team to note down their hours on paper or on a spreadsheet. So make it easy before you show them how easy it is.
The best way to introduce your team to timesheets is to hold a brief demo. Get someone to walk through the process of creating a timesheet and submitting it. Make it realistic but practice in advance! Just like you would ensure your demo was working before you took a prototype to a customer, give this the same due diligence. You will win your team over if you appear confident and know how to navigate your way easily around the time recording app.
Ask for their questions (again) and answer them. Be clear about whether this is going to be a trial to see how it goes or whether timesheets are here to stay.
Step 3: Train and Support
If you are using a project management app that has a timesheet feature, like our tool, you’ll find that the training to use the actual tool is easy. That’s if you need to do any at all. Intuitive apps are straightforward for people to pick up, especially if it’s in the context of an online software suite that they use every day anyway.
The following is a short tutorial on some surprising uses for timesheets.
The training you’ll need to do is around the business change and cultural shift to time recording. Oh, you thought you’d got that covered already? Those first two steps were only the start: you’ll need to do a lot of reiterating why you are now tracking time.
Support your team through their first week using timesheets by:
- Sending reminders that they need to fill their timesheets in.
- Telling them you are around to help them work out how to do it if they can’t remember.
- Offering to review their timesheets before submission.
- Reiterating that it isn’t about monitoring their hours.
Step 4: Share the Results
Aggregate the results from the timesheets and share the results with the team. One company that did this realized that a lot of their project managers were traveling extensively and not working while they were traveling (as it wasn’t safe to do so). They clocked up a lot of hours of non-productive time. The company changed its approach to virtual working shortly afterwards.
Help your team understand what the data in timesheets is good for. That might be in promoting virtual working and reducing travel time or getting better project estimates.
Talking openly about how the timesheet data is being used helps address fears that the information is going to be used to chase them up or make them do more hours. People gain confidence from seeing that the data is being used in practical ways.
Follow up: Ongoing Monitoring
Getting started is one thing, but keeping the momentum going is something else. Once the novelty has worn off but before it becomes a habit – that’s the gap you have to plug with support and monitoring and a bit of chasing for those who are, let’s say, less enthusiastic about this additional task.
Continue to explain what you are doing with the data. Make a review of the week in timesheet terms a regular feature of your project team meetings. Every time you can connect timesheet data to a project success, such as improved task estimates or amending the schedule based on last week’s activity, call it out. Show people how their efforts in time recording is making a difference.
Time recording boosts productivity because even after you remove the time it takes to enter the data you gain in the ability to better allocate resources and estimate work. The data helps you be more proactive so your projects are more successful and less risky as a result. And the transition to using timesheets can be really easy if you use the tools already embedded in enterprise-grade project management software.
Your team can record their time from the same interface they use to manage their projects with ProjectManager.com. Integrating your timesheets and your project schedules makes it easy to log time and then analyze the results. Why not give it a try today?