Are you trying to improve efficiency in your company? So is probably every other business owner and executive out there. And there’s nothing strange in this - working faster means being able to take on more clients and projects without the extra cost of having to hire more staff.


And just like with so many business metrics, the first step to improving efficiency is measuring it. A very easy and accurate way to do just this is using a task timer such as Workpuls.


This kind of time tracker works by detecting apps and websites that employees use and tracks how much time they spend on these tasks. The same can be done for projects. Workpuls, for instance, has a functionality called automatic time mapping which assigns time to specific project based on the names of the files that employees are working on.


By now it should be obvious that a task timer is a powerful little tool that can measure time very precisely and requires next to no effort on your side. However, pure time tracking is just one dimension of work efficiency. If time tracker tool was all it took to estimate someone’s performance and make decisions on how to improve it, there would be no need for managers and HR department.


Yet, here you are.


Estimating time is a big part of gauging how efficient your workers are and there’s no better way to do it than by using a task timer, but using it without looking at any other factors can lead you towards serious misconceptions.


We’re going to look at four cases when the first impression upon looking at time tracking data is wrong.

Case 1: Taking too Many Shortcuts


Don’t get this the wrong way - shortcuts can be a great thing! Employees who know how to do a task in as few steps as possible while achieving the required outcome should be considered very effective. It’s those who skip the important steps you should keep your eye on.


Let’s take an example. For instance, you assign three developers similar tasks. Your task tracker shows that two of them completed it in 4 hours and one of them managed in less than 3. On top of that, everything works as it should. Logical conclusion? The fast employee is better than the others.


But you take the time to look at the whole process and the code, and you realize that the code isn’t commented, most of it is copied from online resources, variable names make no sense in the larger context, the task didn’t go through official testing channels and so on.


These are the things that don’t really affect whether or not something will work or even its quality. But they do affect compliance.


An employee can finish a task fast, but if they use workarounds that don’t comply with standards, they will very likely have to go back to that task or, even worse, the next person handling their work will.


Gauging this aspect of efficiency can be tricky to get by relying exclusively on task timer data.

Case 2: Sloppy Work


Another factor that time tracker programs can’t measure is the quality of work.


Even though taking quality into consideration is pretty intuitive, it’s not difficult to get carried away with all the precise data that a task time tracker can offer and forget about such a fundamental aspect of someone’s performance.


Even though an employee finished a task in half as much time as their colleagues for a similar assignment, if their work turns out to have serious shortcomings and mistakes, speed isn’t equal to better performance.


Don’t sacrifice quality for better task timer results. Efficiency shouldn’t be an excuse for sloppy work.


But does this mean that extra time dedicated to a task always leads to higher quality?

Case 3: Perfectionism


Taught by the previous two cases, you decide that quality is everything you should focus on and if you see someone who’s super slow according to your time tracker for work hours - well, that just means they pay more attention to details and therefore their work will be better. Let them take all the time they need.


Hate to break it to you, but you shouldn’t throw time out the window and forget about it just yet. An employee taking their time might as well be a case of being overly detailed.


Double-checking your work is commendable but triple-checking it is very likely a waste of time. Similarly, manually going over the data collected automatically is a good practice but collecting the data entirely manually is simply inefficient if there’s an automatic solution for it.


So, in case hours time tracking detects someone who’s particularly slow, make sure they’re not wasting some of that time on unnecessary details and processes.

Case 4: Out of Their Depth


Our final case will deal with a phenomenon that should be easy to spot, but nonetheless deserves a mention as another example of how keeping a tight focus on an hour tracking system while disregarding everything else can be extremely misleading.


To illustrate this, say you have a bunch of junior designers. You give them all a similar task one day and most of them finish it in 2 hours, while one or two do it in three and a half. You think ‘They must have done an exquisite job with a lot of intricate details’ but when you open their files all you can see are very basic designs very much like those of their much faster colleagues.


This could be an indication that they’re not very proficient with the software they’re working with or the kind of task that was assigned to them. Either way, they need more training and additional support. Detecting this need early will improve efficiency in the future, so that’s another reason why you should consider the actual work done along with the time needed for it when measuring efficiency.

Conclusion


Task timer is a mighty little piece of software that you’ll no doubt find extremely useful because of its ability to measure time very accurately. However, if you rely solely on it and disregard the quality of work, you’ll very easily be misled. The answer to the question from the title - is faster always better or does more time mean more quality - clearly demonstrates the importance of critical thinking in your management.


And the answer? It depends.


Kronos Humanity Timeclockplus Tsheets Wheniwork Deputy Replicon Jibble EbilityTimeTracker OnTheClock
OVERVIEW
Price (per month)Available upon requestFrom $2 per userAvailable upon requestFrom $6.40 per user + $16Free for up to 75 usersFrom $2.50 per userBasic plan: $30 for 5 users + $5 per additional userFrom $1.50 per employeeFrom $4 per user + $8From $2.20 per user
Free trial30 days14 daysYes14 days14 days14 days30 days
Ease of useDifficultEasyDifficultVery easyEasyEasyDifficultVery easyEasyEasy
FEATURES
Timecard management
Scheduling
Shift Trading
Timesheets
Break time management
Real-time tracking
PTO Management
Payroll
Invoicing
Client billing
GPS tracking
Clock out reminders
Alerts
Manual time
PUNCH-IN METHODS
Web app
Mobile app
Time clock device
Time clock kiosk
Facial recognition
Fingerprint scanning
Geofencing
Group punch-in
REPORTING
Visual reports
Email reports
Time rounding
MANAGEMENT
Permissions
Manager approvals
Add time for others
Integrations
PLATFORMS
Web
Android app
iOS app
Mac desktop app
Windows desktop app
Linux desktop app
OTHER
SupportPhone and onlinePhone and onlinePhone, chat and onlinePhone and chatEmail and onlineChat and phonePhone, email, chat and onlinePhone and onlinePhone, email, chat and onlinePhone and online
Knowledge base
Video tutorials
Community forum
API
Workpuls Hubstaff Toggl TimeDoctor Harvest TimeCamp Timely Everhour Tick TMetric
OVERVIEW
Price (per month) $6 per user $5.83 per user $9 per user $9.99 per user $10.80 per user $5.25 per user $99 for 5 users $7 per user $19 for 10 projects $5 per user
Free trial 7 days 14 days 30 days 14 days 30 days Yes 14 days 14 days 30 days 30 days
Ease of use Very easy Difficult Difficult Very easy Easy Very easy Easy Difficult Very easy Difficult
TIME TRACKING METHODS
Manual
Start/stop buttons
Automatic time mapping
IN-DEPTH TASK AND PROJECT ANALYSIS
Sreenshots
App and website usage
Activity levels coming soon
Real-time tracking
TASK AND PROJECT MANAGEMENT
Project adding
Project templates
Project status
Task assignment
Task priorities
Budgeting coming soon
Mark billable/non-billable hours
Payroll calculation
Invoicing
ALERTS
Idle time reminders
Deadline alerts coming soon
Budget alerts coming soon
REPORTING
Client login
Productivity analysis
Email reports coming soon
PLATFORMS
Web
Mac desktop app
Windows desktop app
Linux desktop app coming soon
iOS app Beta
Android app
Browser extension Chrome Chrome, Firefox Chrome Chrome Chrome, Firefox Chrome Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Edge
OTHER
Support Phone and online Email and online Email and online Online Online, email and phone Email, online and support ticket Email and chat Email and chat Email Chat
Knowledge base
Video tutorials
Integrations coming soon
API
On-premise hosting

Ready to Take Full Control Of Your Workplace?

Try the simplest solution today…

Try Now For Free