“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” – it would be hard to find a more apt quotation to describe the merits and challenges that accompany the roll-out of a time tracking initiative in an organization that has never tracked actuals before.
I provided some tips in a much earlier article to reduce the likelihood of experiencing an open revolt with such an initiative, but didn’t answer the one question that is in the minds of all affected staff: “What’s in it for me?”. As I’ve previously written in this blog, if you can’t provide a person with a clear understanding of how a proposed change will benefit them, you increase the likelihood of resistance.
In the case of time tracking, this resistance may be subtle – you might get a complete time sheet, but the individual might have filled it out with minimal effort and dumped all of their hours into the most generic bucket possible. Worse still, if functional managers are not reviewing the hours entered by their staff for completeness and accuracy, there is no way to identify such resistance. Senior management in turn might use the time actuals for project staging or resource capacity planning purposes – both will be heavily impacted by poor input data.
Given these risks, it’s worth the effort to identify and communicate tangible benefits to the two pivotal roles in the time tracking process – the tracker and the reviewer.
For the tracker, a benefit is that good quality actuals should help to eliminate the complaint “My boss does not know how busy I am or what I am working on”. Another benefit is that if the time data is used to justify reduction in the number of in-flight activities or to better address the 80/20 operational utilization issue, this should translate into less multitasking and better focus on higher value activities for a resource.
For the reviewers, the benefits of ensuring complete and accurate data for their teams are that they can provide better resource availability estimates for operational and project work (which in turn should reduce the incidence of resource contention issues) and they will also have quantitative evidence to justify the need for either more resources or for more disciplined project prioritization. As with most services, if a consumer has no idea of capacity, the expectation is that availability is unlimited and they are more likely to submit “stream of consciousness” requests. Once project requestors and sponsors have a better understanding of capacity limits, the climate is likely to be more favorable for prioritization discussions.
Providing meaningful value propositions is no guarantee that a time tracking initiative will succeed if senior management does not act appropriately based on the captured time data, but that’s a topic for a different article!