Top 10 Timesheet Tips

Monday, February 24, 2014

Some project managers find it hard to get their teams to complete timesheets. It doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, completing your timesheet can be a quick job if you do it regularly and use an online system like TimExPro that makes it easy for you. Here are our top 10 timesheet tips in case you are struggling to get accurate time data from your team.

1. Include Vacations

Make sure there is somewhere on the project timesheet for team members to book their vacation time to. If they are on the beach or taking photos of a new city they won’t be working on your project, so make it easy for them to record this absence as holiday. Encourage them to complete their holiday timesheet time in advance as this will also help you understand when they are available for project tasks.

2. Include National Holidays

You wouldn’t schedule any project work to happen
national holidays
on a national holiday (unless that was required by the project schedule) so make sure that team members have the opportunity to book hours to ‘national holidays’ as a task so that they aren’t booking time to your project when they were at home or away for the weekend.

If you can, pre-populate the timesheet templates with this already completed for the relevant days, as this will save your project team members a job.

3. Include Non-Productive Time

Project team members might book 8 hours a day to your project, but in reality they don’t spend 8 hours a day working on it. They take calls about other projects, they drink coffee, they talk to a colleague they haven’t seen for a while. Make sure that they can book the appropriate amount of time to other projects or to ‘non-productive time’ and let them know that you expect a certain proportion of time to be accounted for in this way.

4. Do Them Regularly

Do you remember what you were doing two weeks ago? Probably not – projects are so fast-moving and things change all the time, so it’s hard to recall what happened earlier this week, let alone earlier this month. Doing your timesheets regularly is the only way to gather accurate information when it is fresh in your mind.
You should complete your timesheets at least once a week, and make sure your team members do this too. Chase anyone who doesn’t complete them on time, but don’t leave it until last thing on a Friday afternoon when everyone is keen to get home for the weekend. The risk then is that they’ll rush the exercise and book time to any activity instead of the correct ones.

5. Set A Good Example

If you don’t complete your timesheets accurately and on
set a good example
 time, how do you expect your team members to? And if they hear you complaining about how hard it is to fill them in or what a waste of time it is, they will take their cues from you. You set the tone and the culture for the project team, so it is important to lead by example.

Put a regular task in your diary so that you don’t forget. Be positive about your use of timesheets and your compliance with the policy, and make everyone else on the team feel that it is a normal, productive part of being on a project.

6. Explain How The Data Is Used

People often worry about why you want to know exactly what they are doing every day. In difficult economic climates, or companies that are going through redundancy programs, employees might be worried that the data will be used against them somehow.
Tell your team what you are using the data for – validating project estimates, checking schedule progress and ensuring that the project is progressing according to plan. They shouldn’t be worried about the data being used for anything else. If you think it will help and you can genuinely do this, tell them that it won’t be shared with anyone outside of the team.

7. Make It Easy To Add New Tasks

Projects, by their nature, involve change. There might be a change to scope or an issue that requires new, unplanned work. Make sure that project team members can easily add this new work to their timesheets. This ensures the integrity of the data and gives them the chance to complete it accurately instead of booking it to another, inaccurate task.
Of course, you don’t want your project timesheets to include hundreds of tasks, but if a new task is worthy of being a timesheet item, make the process to add it or request it as easy as possible.

8. Include Sickness Absence

Unfortunately, team members get sick, so
sick businessman
 make sure that there is a line they can use to record any time out of the office due to sickness absence. There should also be lines for other absences, such as paternity leave or jury service.

9. Do Them Online

If you make your timesheets available online, no one will have an excuse for not completing them! Online timesheets are accessible from everywhere, even from home if you have forgotten to complete them before leaving the office.

10. Use Reporting

Reports can show you who has not yet completed their timesheets this week. You can then chase them up, instead of sending an email to everyone on the team when some of them will have already done their submissions.
You can also use timesheet report data to validate your estimates and review your project plan information. Check that you are on schedule by making sure that the hours spent on a task broadly add up to what you had forecasted. If they don’t, you’ll need to make changes to your schedule accordingly. Many online project timesheet applications have a built-in suite of reports that you can use or tailor to your needs.
Doing timesheets doesn’t have to be an administrative overhead. If you set a good example and take the worry out of completing the data, team members will soon have confidence in the process and make time each week to enter accurate data. In turn, that will give you the information you need to manage the project effectively and successfully.
Use the professional timesheet features of TimExPro to manage the time spent on your project. Your team members can access their timesheets from anywhere and you’ll always have a real-time view of project progress.

Check out our easy and simple solutions for timesheets :

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