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Project time management software: what to look for, what to avoid

Last updated on
September 4, 2021

It’s no secret that one of the most important factors of successful project management is good time management. Staying on top of all the time your team puts into a project – and being able to proactively call when to adjust expectations and resources – is what project time management is all about. Besides, without knowing how project time is actually spent, you can’t begin to create more precise timelines for future deliverables.

As digital transformation continues to gather pace, more companies are investing in robust project time management software to help them keep tabs on time. Time is money, after all, and when time slips through your fingers, money does too. There are a variety of solutions out there, depending on the level of granularity, reporting, forecasting and insights you require. So, how can you find best project time management software for your budget and needs?

Why is time tracking key to project management

Managing your time effectively is essential to good project management; every project you’re working on, or will work on, has milestones and deadlines – and if you want to meet them, you need to develop and deliver against a watertight schedule.

Managing a project, with its many tasks and intricacies, can seem overwhelming at times, and cost and scope are just as crucial to monitor as time. To make things that bit easier, most companies use one of the many project management software solutions out there – but increasingly, people are waking up to the importance of utilizing time tracking to improve planning and scheduling, boost the precision of estimates, and bill clients quickly and accurately.

For these reasons, if a project management tool doesn’t have time tracking capabilities, it can only be so useful. You need to be able to accurately track project time to understand how you’re performing – and identify any blockages or issues before they get expensive. If you can’t measure your time, then it’s likely that not only will that run away from you, but cost and scope will too.

The benefits of project time management software

Today, when teams are dispersed across different offices, countries and time zones, it becomes even more crucial to track project time. If team members aren’t tracking their time, project managers have no way to follow project progress in real-time, let alone ensure everyone is sticking to their individual project schedules and deadlines. Tracking time also keeps a record of how long different tasks take – data will help you create more accurate reports that can be used as a reference when estimating time and resources needed for future projects.

But tracking time isn’t just beneficial for project managers; it benefits project members just as much – and if you’re investing in new project management software, you want it to enable every member of the team. With the data gleaned from time tracking, employees can learn how long different tasks tend to take them, which helps them develop more realistic schedules and manage expectations around their productivity. It also allows them to reach out to the project manager if they realize they’re running behind schedule, which protects against stress and burnout.

So, if you’re thinking of buying project management software, it’s vital to look for tools that capture every second of project time. The right project management software should absolutely come with time tracking capabilities – but it’s important that time tracking is done in a way that doesn’t add to your list of responsibilities. Many project management tools state they have tracking capabilities, but require employees to start and stop timers as they jump between tasks and then enter their time data manually. These types of tools place the burden of time tracking on employees, and produce inaccurate project time data.

Types of project time management software

So what type of project time management software should you be looking for, exactly? There are hundreds of project management tools out there for vast and varied needs, and it’s important that the tool you choose helps you improve communication, project planning, and collaboration as well as time management. Ultimately though, you need a project management tool that comes with automatic time tracking capabilities.

Automatic time tracking tools run in the background capturing every second of project time while team members work. They guarantee accurate time reporting without introducing an extra weight on employees’ shoulders. Many provide real-time project dashboards and intuitive reporting to help you stay on top of project performance and direction, allowing you to monitor project budget spend, time on all project tasks, and individual activity from one space.

With automatic time tracking software, you can also see precisely how many hours each project member has worked against their capacity, allowing you to allocate resources fairly and protect employees from overworking. If that weren’t enough, the tracking data provided by tools like Timely also ensures accurate project billing, and provides an objective record of everything that goes into your project to help you improve future estimates and project rates.

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