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When Forrest Gump spoke philosophically about how “life is like a box of chocolates, because you never know what you’re going to get,” he meant it in positive and inspiring way.Forrest Gump and time logs
 
However, if Forrest were a project manager or worked in the project management office (PMO) – instead of co-founder of the enormous multinational Bubba Gump Shrimp Company – then he’d probably have a far darker interpretation of life’s unpredictable nature. Because instead of waiting at the bus stop opening up boxes of chocolate and chatting with strangers, he’d be waiting (and waiting…waiting…) at his desk for project staff to submit time logs in order to manage budgets and billing.
 

Overtime for Hunting and Gathering?

What’s behind this common condition that turns employee task management into employee task misery? First of all, it’s not that people are annoyed at the very idea of logging time. The concept has been around forever. Really, would anyone be surprised if archeologists unearth a human being flash-frozen in the process of submitting a hunting and gathering prehistoric time log?  
 
And so, if the concept of time logs doesn’t horrify, then the roots of this dreadful employee task management epidemic must lie elsewhere. And digging deeper in that direction reveals, indeed, that the problem is both process and technology-based.
 

“Time Logs, How Much Do I Hate Thee? Let Me Count the Ways…”

Specifically, here are five things that project team members – and employees in general – hate about submitting time logs, and why project managers and PMO staff would rather give themselves a root canal than deal with this problem again and again:
 

1. Inefficiency: Time logging is supposed to be about a task; not a task in itself! However, that’s what happens when the process is inefficient. Instead of taking seconds and few taps or clicks, team members must set aside time and plod through screens – which they gladly forget to do.
 
2. Inaccuracy: When they’re on the job, team members aren’t glancing at a clock or their watch every few minutes to track time: they’re focusing on the task at hand. Unfortunately, this triggers guestimating when it comes to completing time logs. Naturally, team members don’t take something seriously or treat it as a priority when guestimating is the central characteristic.
 
3. Inconvenience: The irony of most so-called “office workstations” is that most of the time, team members aren’t in the office or at their workstation. Rather, they’re in a meeting, visiting a client, on-site at an implementation, and so on. Asking them to wait until they get back to their office workstation to submit their time log is unappreciated, inconvenient, and easily leads to errors if/when they finally get to it.
 
4. Lack of Visibility: The world of work is shifting to one that is more employee-centric – except when it comes to time logging. In most environments, the function is still stuck in an “old school” approach that expects staff to submit data, yet have no visibility into their time log history, personal calendar, and so on. Unfortunately for project managers and PMO staff, it’s an expectation that often goes unmet.
 
5. Lack of Collaboration: While at a granular level tasks are owned by individual team members, they’re not completed in a vacuum. Often, team members need to collaborate or clarify task-related issues before they submit time logs. However, the same “old school” approach noted above makes this tedious, which is why many team members don’t bother collaborating or submitting time logs. It’s not that they can’t be bothered, but rather the opposite: they’re already bothered, and are trying to lessen the burden.

Making Employee Task Management Part of the Solution

Let’s face it: time logging isn’t particularly exciting and inspiring, and Forrest Gump wouldn’t have gotten very far in life this was his guiding metaphor. But there’s no reason why it should turn employee task management into employee task misery. And that’s where Clarizen makes a transformative difference.
 
At Clarizen, we’ve designed our cloud-based project management software with managers and employees in mind; not the former instead of the latter.
 
That’s why Clarizen features robust, yet easy-to-use time tracking tools that meet the needs of today’s demanding enterprise project teams. Wherever they are and whenever they’re working, team members can log into Clarizen and:
 

• Submit accurate time information in a matter of seconds wherever they are via the Clarizen mobile app.
• Conveniently and accurately track time down to the second using the built-in stopwatch.
• View their personal calendar to track and analyze historical time logs, as well as monitor and prioritize task assignments.
• Access updated task information and all other relevant details, including customer notes, documents, etc.
• Communicate with team members with the social collaboration capabilities before, during or after a task.

 
And at the same time, project managers and PMO staff can just as easily:
 

• Capture all billable time (minutes, hours and/or days) that team members and outside consultants spend on each project or change request.
• Create automated workflows to: link hours worked to work items and projects; populate the correct billing rates for each resource level, task and work item; and assign timesheets to various departments.
• Export timesheets into a variety of formats for distribution and storage.
• Connect information directly to billing and invoicing systems (internal payroll, external customer, etc.).

 
Simply put, work is challenging enough. Clarizen makes time logging part of the solution for team members and managers – not part of the problem! Learn more through a free 30-day trial.
 

Helena Bachar
Helena Bachar, Product Director