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3 Ways To Get Your Team To Track Time

Thomas FuchsThomas Fuchs

You run a business, and your business runs on time. Whether your need to bill your customers, or knowing which projects use up precious resources—you rely on accurate and timely time tracking: who did what when, and for how long.

In the minds of your team members time tracking probably is far down the list of what they think is important. That’s not necessarily a bad thing—they are more interested in getting their work done than in administrative processes. For them, tracking time is a chore at best, or at worst something dreadful and despised, especially if they need to fill in a backlog of days or weeks and have to guesstimate what they did on that afternoon two weeks ago.

Needless to say, lecturing people about “compliance” will rarely do anything but create resentment and while data might roll in quicker for a while it will probably be of worse quality. Plus, you don’t want to treat your team like school-children.

What to do? Here’s 3 tips to get your team to track time, on time!

1. Use a time tracking app that is optimized to get out of the way

There’s many reasons why people hate tracking time, but on the top of the list of time tracking hatred is “the application we use to track time is clunky, slow and generally horrible”.

Your time tracking apps’ number one priority, like all business software, is to make your business more money. Because time tracking by itself is not an activity that makes money, but something that’s administrative, the best way to help the goal of making money is actually to get out of the way as much as possible.

People want to get their work done—not wait forever for things to load, use complicated user interfaces or spend hours configuring things.

Business applications don’t have to be intimidating and boring. Freckle is optimized for extremely fast loading and offers to quickly track time on every single page in the app. Power-users don’t even have to take their hands of the keyboard (mouse-free entry!). Meanwhile the interface has friendly colors and is super-easy to pick up for time tracking newbies. If you’re on a Mac, the menubar app even provides a global keyboard shortcut to quickly log time.

2. Provide multiple ways to track time

As the old saying goes, if the team member doesn’t come to the time tracking app, the time tracking app must come to the team member.

People aren’t always in the office, on their computers. Maybe they’re in a meeting, visiting a customer, on a plane or having a great idea in the shower.

Freckle, in addition to the web app, provides multiple ways to track time, among them a Mac app, an iPhone app, a mobile web interface, integrations with hundreds of other applications, and for developers a full API and automatic tracking of time from Github and Beanstalk. (We’re still working on an app to install in your shower.)

3. Automatically remind people about what they tracked

Even the best-disciplined coworkers will forget to log their time here and then. That’s not a big deal as long as they go in and fill in the gaps. It’s good to do this periodically and on a schedule. Making a habit out of this takes the edge off something that’s a source of guilt and stress.

Of course you don’t want to have to manually remind everyone to do this, and send out lots of “Hey, can you fill in the time for last Friday?” emails. No one wants to start their week with the added stress of having done a bad job keeping track of their time.

Freckle provides a handy, individualized weekly report, sent to your team members’ inboxes automatically every Monday morning. Moreover, this automatic report is a judgment-free zone (there’s no comparisons with other team members, for example) and that works best to make filling those time tracking gaps stress-free.

In retrospect, you could say that in order to improve compliance and quality of data, your time tracking app has one job: treat your team with respect.

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Ready to take the plunge to time tracking that makes your team happy? Start your free 14-day trial right now!

Thomas’ work on Prototype.js, Zepto.js and Micro.js has made him a certified JavaScript Guru. Before founding Freckle, Thomas was consulting with some of the world’s best known companies on their craziest interactive JavaScript needs. A Ruby on Rails core alumni, he is passionate about creating the best user interface experience possible and penned the Scriptaculous JavaScript UI library to share the love, counting sites like Apple.com and Nasa.gov among its users. Thomas’ master plan: work toward a more delicious web using open source goodness.