Keeping a project on schedule and under budget requires intuition and insight. However, to know what’s going on and to make informed decisions on the go, we must first have the data and the tools to analyze it. Fortunately, time tracking tools provide the reports you need to keep projects healthy. Here are three essential time tracking reports to make your next project profitable and on time.
Viewing time by project
When you are juggling multiple projects you need to know how much time is going to each project. Sometimes the one thing preventing a project from being successfully completed is another project. This type of report reveals which projects are stealing too many resources, and which projects are being neglected.
This report is especially helpful when you timeframe it. For example, looking at how much time was tracked on each project for each of the last few weeks, you can quickly tell if a disproportionate increase in project time is just a one time anomaly or a trend that needs to be corrected. Running the same report timeframed by day can reveal which projects are in danger of stalling out.
Viewing time by person
Teams that work on multiple projects often get pushed and pulled in several directions at once. Keeping everyone focused on their priorities is critical to successful project management. However, the goal of analyzing time tracking data by person isn’t to monitor the individual, it’s to maintain the team’s momentum, focus, and overall happiness.
Productive teams are those that are consistent and efficient. So, most of the time this report will be predictable and, perhaps, even unecessary. But, viewing time by person can also reveal anomalies that signal early burnout or someone “going rogue” and spending too much time on a project.
Viewing time by task
The most common approach to managing a project successfully is to first break the work down into smaller tasks. When you also track the time spent working on each of those tasks the data becomes indispensable in managing the project.
Because, sometimes all it takes is one small request, one tiny change in scope, to completely derail an entire project. Other times, it might be one or more tasks that were overlooked entirely. Whatever the cause might be, this report will help you catch problems early on.
The ability to view time by task on a project is the most powerful reporting tool out of the three mentioned here. If you only implement one of these reports, this is the one you should use. Because it gives you a task by task accounting of how your time was spent, it will show you exactly what went wrong.
How to get started using these reports
When it comes to selecting the right time tracking software for your team consider the depth and breadth of reports it has to offer. At a minimum it should include the three types of reports mentioned here. Then commit to tracking time on at least one project and its tasks. As the project progresses, start running these reports at regular intervals and apply what you’ve learned from the data. Once you’ve incorporated time tracking into your day-to-day workflow you’ll wonder how you ever got by without it.