Tips to Track Project Time
Tracking project time in terms of progress of tasks and output of team members is an important and indispensable activity of real time project management. The best ways to do do include:
1. Effective Use of Time Management Software
The traditional way of project time tracking is through time sheets where each employee notes down the time spend on each task. The earlier pen and paper based time sheet have given way to electronic and online time management software that offers scope for much automation and easy analysis of time records. The best project management time tracking software is that which:
- allow for direct linkage to other processes such as duty rosters, payroll, client invoicing, and the like
- allow various analysis options that determine productivity of each employee, identify tasks that take more time than planned, identify scheduling complications that require attention, and the like
Some project management time tracking software available in the internet includes:
- Replicon, a web based time sheet that comes in project and billing editions, and in a time and attendance edition
- Journyx, a time management software with various options such as billing-based or project-based, and allowing integration with Microsoft Project, Quickbooks, ADP, Paychex, Ceridian and other payroll applications.
- Virtual TimeClock '10, computer-based software that allows for various customizations to control, collect, and report employee's work, vacation, leave, and other benefit time.
- Harvest, which allows assigning the time to a project and or task, and adding notes describing the type of time spent. This software integrates an expense tracker as well, but does not allow generation of invoices and as such does not serve the full purpose of project time and expense tracking.
2. Empowerment of Supervisors and Line Managers
Apart from relying solely on such time management software, the best form of project time tracking is empowering supervisors or line managers to track progress and make necessary adjustments in work schedule to ensure that the project remains on task. The project manager ideally needs to review the progress at the end of the day and set fresh targets for the next day or week to the line managers.
3. Adoption of Critical Path Method and PERT
Adoption of the Critical Path Method and PERT facilitates easy tracking of project time. The Critical Path Method (CPM) lists down all activities that require completion, categorized within a work breakdown structure, along with the time or duration that each activity will take to complete, and also traces the dependencies between the activities. This allows determining the "critical" activities, and activities that can be delayed without making the project longer. Project managers tracking project time can give priority and assign more resources to complete “critical" activities to ensure the project does not lag.
Image Credit: flickr.com/Crispin Semmens