I’ve been having so many conversations with people about resource management lately. It appears to be one of those areas of PPM that we still struggle with and the conversations have all been about – do we do resource management from the bottom up or top down. In this guest article from Germain Paris, a consultant at Genius Project, we take a look at the bottom up – the time sheet. After all, many organisations still want to see exactly what their people are working on but it’s not without its problems….
In 2015, just under a third of projects managed by companies were delivered on time and within budget, according to Standish Group. If project management is a strategic issue for companies, delivery on time and costs remain a daily challenge. The project leader has a delicate mission: the optimal management of resources and costs in a rapidly changing environment.
The advantages of time management
An employee who performs tasks to advance a project is a cost that must be optimized. To monitor and plan the effort, we need to measure it. It’s usually evaluated in days and hours of required work.
To plan a project and budget, it’s essential to know the workload and the resources required. The project manager estimates the needs for a project. He or she uses past projects and current tasks to make the estimation. With this information, the project manager can schedule tasks, evaluate the timeline and plan the project.
During the course of a project, the project manager follows the work of teams with the help of reports and dashboards. In an enhanced productivity context, many tasks are automated. The hours spent on projects are followed via time sheets. The employees fill out weekly or daily time sheets, which permit a view into the distribution of working hours on tasks or projects. An accurate assessment of time allows the maximum return on investment for projects, and more accurate billing by service companies. Service companies can also create more realistic estimates and better anticipate the actual project needs. For employees, keeping up to date time sheets allows for better organization.
The time sheet allows us to see the progress of the project and workload. It’s therefore possible to recalculate the time required on a project but also to modify tasks, in case some people are being overworked.
Management should help employees, not burden them
Process automation involves time tracking. Many software programs exist to help organizations track time spent on projects or tasks. Here are some tips to ensure useful time sheets for the organization:
Create clear headings, but not too many. The easiest way is to start from the project. Secondly, outline project deliverables, explicitly for employees. The more clear the sections, the more employees will fill it. Activities should be precise, but not too detailed, in order not to waste teams’ time. We must also not forget the extra activities that are often quite time-consuming, such as, training, administration … and holidays!
It’s important to communicate the purpose of the implemented system. Whether it’s complete project management software or time tracking application, it’s important that the employee understands why the system is deployed. The goal isn’t increased monitoring but better estimation, and improved task distribution. Communication is essential and must be done in advance, so that employees get used to the idea and understand the benefits.
We should also remember one more thing during the implementation of time records within a company. The process should be clear and known to all, ie. when should employees send out their time sheets, and how are they validated and approved.
Time tracking is an essential activity for companies wishing to optimize their operations and resources. Project management tools allow organizations and teams to link this information to projects and thereby make projects more efficient, from planning to delivery.