Why you should start tracking time automatically
When people ask us "Why do we need automatic time tracking?", we usually start by asking "Why do you need time tracking at all?“ Answer: You want to know how much time is spent on your tasks. Be it to calculate how much you can charge your clients or to be able to plan upcoming projects profitably. So it’s a good idea to track time. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work. That’s an open secret.
The hours you are currently tracking are incorrect
If you ever had to do time tracking yourself, you already know: it sucks. It’s hard to remember what you’ve worked on – even if you do it the same day. According to the study "Time is money" in the Harvard Business Review, the accuracy of same-day time tracking is at 67 percent. So 33 percent are forgotten or assigned to the wrong projects. If times are estimated only once a week, the accuracy drops to 48 percent.
Sure, it would be possible to track times more accurately. All you’d have to do is keep looking at the clock throughout your day and note down times when changing tasks. Or press a stopwatch before and after each task. Or just update your hours constantly in your timesheet. This sounds simple in theory – but in reality it would constantly interrupt your workflow.
Even if people wouldn't forget to stick to this continuous method of time tracking as soon as they have to focus on their actual work: Why would anyone want to put in the effort after all?
Employees don’t have incentives to do time tracking
While freelancers need to be accurate with their time tracking to get paid – employees are not really obsessed with accuracy. For at least two good reasons:
Nobody can verify whether the times were tracked realistically or arbitrarily. Managers can only check whether times have been tracked at all.
If no one knows whether something was done well or badly, you can't make a name for yourself. Why should I invest my time as an employee in a task for which I can never be rewarded or promoted?
Don’t get us wrong: The majority of employees is super loyal to their companies. But hardly any employees see their contribution in documenting their work – but in their work, to say in their value-adding activities themselves: Consulting, ideas, design, development or project management. This is where the talents are, this is where the motivation lies, this is where feedback is provided.