We’ve previously explained why it is important to track time, collect data and use the results for improvement. Simply buying an office time tracking solution might be a good start, but it’s no guarantee that at the end you will make a positive change. Yes, many companies might have bought the same software and many of them implemented it successfully; yet, some have failed. In this post, we will try to figure out why – so that instead of becoming one of the „some,“ you be one of the „many.“

Many data-centric companies make common mistakes which lead to situations where at best, you are collecting data that is hard to analyze and at worst, is a total waste of the organization’s time. Tools are just that – tools; most of their value lies in the way you handle them. Bellow are the most important points to ensure in order to successfully utilize an office time tracking software and make sure you return your investment in it.

1. Have a clear vision of work structure.

Your business is advancing, you hired more people in order to get the job done and now you need a tool to organize it all. Great, but why would you need time tracking? Do you have a distinct concept of how an employee’s working day should look like? Can you define precisely which behavior would be “satisfying” or “dissatisfying“? Or do you just want to know what they are doing? That is fine, too; but know that a software can’t tell you whether your employees were spending their day productively unless you know what that means first.

Like any other innovation, this too must have a detailed strategy behind it, so make sure you don’t just leave the whole thing to chance.

2. Be transparent.

Now this is important. If you want to make a change, you need your people to change; if you want to get your people to change, you must let them know if they are wrong. Furtively “spying” on your employees’ time consumption would aid you for a while, but it wouldn’t make a positive change – it won’t make your “implementation strategy” come true. Even worse – it could deteriorate your company’s working culture and cause more damage than good.

3. Explain the purpose to everyone.

So you know what you want to accomplish and you’ve announced it to everyone – great. But it won’t work out that easily unless your employees understand why they are being tracked. Explaining that you need to understand their working habits, catch a sight of potential problems, use the data for metrics – any of these would be better than simply saying “it’s got to be done.” After you get the first results and have deduced what you need from it, make sure you gather your employees for a brief review of how your new software has helped and caused a positive change that benefits everyone. Try to show a single daily report – it’s even possible that most of them aren’t quite aware themselves of how much time they throw away every day.

4. Make it obligatory to everyone or don’t make it all.

It is the productivity of people who get the real work done that you want to maximize, but in order to succeed as an organization, everyone must work as one. Employee, manager, or a CEO – if one’s time is being tracked, so should everybody else’s. It’s not just because of  effectiveness; it’s also for the sake of morale. If the superiors share the results with their employees, it will feel like they are all part of the team.

5. Appoint a single person to be responsible for the project.

It could be the CEO, it could be the HR manager, or it could be anyone else; but the practice has shown that when everybody is responsible – nobody is responsible. Name a person in charge of creating a strategy, setting the clear objectives, communicating them to employees, collecting and analyzing the results – this makes it much more likely that the whole process will be a success.

6. Analyze the data.

The whole point of time tracking is making a positive change in your business. Keep in mind that the main goal is creating an insight of how the things are getting done; compared to how they should be getting done – not catching which of your employees played solitaire last Friday and how many times Kelly played Despacito (although we agree that in this case anything more than zero is unacceptable).

7. Share the best practices and show appreciation.

Many office time tracking solutions have an option where websites and applications can be labelled as “productive” or “unproductive”. They also generate detailed reports, which you can use every once in a while to compliment your best employees and motivate others. It doesn’t have to be much, but it would definitely create a positive atmosphere to award the last week’s “hardest working bee,” who spent the most of  his or her active time on “productive” sites and apps, with a Monday morning muffin.