Project Management Time Tracking: Tools & Insights

When it comes to managing projects, time tracking is by far the best way to keep projects on track.

In today’s fast pacing world, if you’re not tracking how much time you and your team are spending on tasks and how much progress you’ve made, you’re probably not being as efficient as you should be and not nearly as profitable as you could be.

Time tracking and effective time management can help you achieve all this and much more.

In this blog post, we’ll take a deep dive into what project management time tracking is, the benefits of time tracking, and the best project time tracking apps out there.

Let’s kick off by discussing what project management tracking is all about.

Looking for the best time tracking software for project management?

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What is project management time tracking?

Project management time tracking means analyzing the progress of tasks and projects, recording the time you spend on each one, monitoring and optimizing the use of resources, and ensuring projects are on schedule and within budget.

Simply put, project management time tracking ensures that teams fully understand how they spend their time. When done efficiently, team collaboration software can help improve teams’ communication and workflow, offering insights that enhance their productivity.

TIP: Timekeeping rules for employees

Why should I use time tracking in project management?

When you’re managing complex projects and have no way to track spending and resources, it’s much easier to run into problems. That is why time tracking is crucial in project management.
Some of the reasons why you should use time tracking in project management include:

  1. Track your teams’ efficiency: Team time tracking can offer a clear view of your team’s performance. With time tracking, you can identify areas that need improvement and tasks that can simply be eliminated. Additionally, it provides you insights for feedback to enhance your team’s overall efficiency.
  2. Optimize planning and resource allocation: Accurate time tracking data can help project managers like you understand how much time their team will need for a specific task or project. With this information, you can allocate resources more accurately, ensuring that the right team members are assigned to the right tasks at the right time.
  3. Accurate time estimates: By leveraging time tracking data, you will know how much time you and your team have spent on similar projects or tasks. This data enables you as a project manager to make more accurate time estimates for future projects, improving your project planning and scheduling.
  4. Meeting deadlines: When you track time spent on tasks, it’s easier to get an overview of how a project progresses and identify potential bottlenecks. With this data, you can change course if necessary, ensuring that projects are completed within the deadlines you have agreed with clients.
  5. Reduce time-wasting activities and spot inefficiencies: Time tracking helps identify activities and tasks that take too much time and will not contribute to the project’s positive outcomes. As a project manager, you can simply eliminate time-wasting tasks and inefficiencies, which helps to streamline processes and improve your team’s overall productivity.
  6. Support decision-making: By tracking time, you’ll gain critical insights that can help your decision-making process and, ultimately, contribute to the project’s success. It will also help you and your team members stay aligned with project goals and deadlines because everyone will have complete visibility of how the project evolves and the reasoning behind certain decisions.
  7. Billable time and invoicing: Accurate time tracking is crucial for the different types of project billing. For any business that needs to track billable time, using time tracking software ensures that billable hours are accurately recorded, leading to transparent invoicing and a closer relationship with clients.
  8. Revenue and costs: ensuring accurate billable time is a smart strategy to increase revenue and reduce costs. Time tracking ensures that you capture and bill more time, stop giving your time away for free and undercharging.

Read: What are time wasters and how to identify them?

Free eBook: The Project Manager’s Handbook on Time Tracking

Get your step-by-step guide to master time tracking as a Project Manager

How to track time spent on projects

There are several ways and tools for tracking time spent on projects. Each one has its pros and cons, so when selecting a time tracking method, it’s important to pick the one that best fits you and your team.

Start by assessing your team’s size, the project’s requirements, and project reporting needs to find the most suitable approach for tracking time spent on projects.

Here are a few practical ways to track time in project management:

Automated time tracking tools

Automated time tracking tools use software or apps to automatically track time by monitoring activities on computers or mobile devices.

  • They provide the most accurate time tracking methods, eliminating the potential for human error. Time tracking tools capture data in real-time, reducing the risk of forgotten or misreported hours.
  • Another benefit is that employees can focus on their work without the need to manually record and calculate their time as time tracking runs in the background. The streamlined time tracking process saves valuable time and improves productivity, allowing for more efficient project management and resource allocation.
  • Automatic time tracking software provides detailed reports and analytics that offer valuable insights into how time is being allocated across different projects, tasks, and clients. This data enables you to optimize workflows, identify bottlenecks, and make informed decisions based on actual time usage.
  • Time tracking apps are perfect for remote teams as they don’t require you to visit the office to track your time.

ProsCons
– Accurate time tracking
– Time is tracked automatically
– Detailed insights
– Perfect for remote teams
– Mobile apps
– It doesn’t always capture non-digital work
– In some cases and apps, it raises privacy concerns

Manual time tracking

Manual time tracking is one of the traditional methods for tracking time on projects. It involves manually recording the time spent on each task using spreadsheets, timesheets, or project management software.

Despite its traditional approach, it allows for some flexibility and customization. However, it is a time-consuming time tracking method, prone to human error.

ProsCons
– Free
– Flexibility
– Customization options
– Can capture non-digital work
– Suitable for small teams or simple projects
– Time-consuming, requires manual data entry
– Prone to human error
– May lack real-time insights.

Read also: Measuring project profitability

Timesheet apps

A Timesheet software offers teams a digital platform to track and log their time on specific projects.

It looks like a convenient solution on paper since it makes it so easy to monitor employee time. However, it relies almost entirely – if not wholly – on manual registering, which may lead to several time tracking discrepancies.

ProsCons
– Convenient and accessible
– Easy monitoring of time allocation
– Creates a database of digital records
– Suitable for remote work
– It may requires manual input and discipline to log time consistently
– It’s prone to inaccuracies

Project management software solutions

Several project management software solutions already offer built-in time-tracking features.

It allows team members to track time within the same platform where they manage tasks and projects.

It also offers seamless integration but may require additional training and setup.

ProsCons
– Seamless integration with project and time management workflows
– Unified platform
– It may require additional training
– Limited functionality compared to specialized time tracking tools
– These tools might be not as accurate and reliable regarding time tracking data and insights

Project managers’ roles and responsibilities

In our post, you find the roles and responsibilities of a project manager that will lead him to the success.

Clock-in/Clock-out systems

Clock-in/clock-out systems are another simple, traditional method for tracking time at work. The main purpose is to get teams to log their working hours using physical time clocks or digital systems. They are widely used in bigger teams, which mainly work on-site. However, clock-in/clock-out systems have some significant drawbacks:

  • Implementing and maintaining clock-in/clock-out systems can be costly and time-consuming. It requires investment in hardware (such as time clocks or biometric scanners) and software, along with ongoing maintenance, updates, and troubleshooting.
  • Traditional clock-in/clock-out systems are susceptible to fraudulent activities, where one employee clocks in/out for another, or manipulation of time records. These practices can lead to inaccurate time tracking and payroll discrepancies.
  • Clock-in/clock-out systems may not be suitable for workplaces that embrace flexible work arrangements like remote or hybrid work. They are primarily designed for tracking fixed working hours and may not accommodate variations in work hours or locations. This can result in incomplete or inaccurate data.
ProsCons
– Suitable for on-site teams
– Easy to use
– Can track breaks and overtime
– Suitable for larger teams
– Costly and time-consuming to implement
– Susceptible to manipulation of time records
– Limited flexibility for remote work

Biometric time tracking

Biometric time tracking systems are a relatively new way of tracking time in project management. It includes using biometric data like fingerprints or facial recognition to record people’s working hours.

Although it offers accurate and secure time records, they raise privacy concerns.

For the time tracking system to work correctly, employees need to provide biometric data, and it’s not something that everyone will be comfortable with.

In addition, a biometric time tracking system requires implementing biometric devices on site, such as biometric clocks.

ProsCons
– Accurate and secure time records
– Suitable for larger teams
– Provides audit trails
– Requires implementation of biometric devices
– Potential privacy concerns
– It doesn’t capture non-office work
– It doesn’t provide detailed data (time spent per task, client or project)
– Not suitable for remote teams

Summary

The main goal of tracking time spent on projects is to gather accurate data that can help you analyze and improve your project’s efficiency, the way you allocate resources, and your teams’ overall productivity.

That is why choosing a time tracking method that aligns with your project’s requirements, team size, and workflow is so important.

So before picking a time tracking method, consider factors such as tracking accuracy, integration capabilities, and the level of detail needed for your project management and reporting purposes.

After you’ve selected the methods that best fit your goals, give it a go and experiment with different techniques and tools that can help you find the best fit for you and your team’s needs.

Free eBook: The Project Manager’s Handbook on Time Tracking

Get your step-by-step guide to master time tracking as a Project Manager

The best project time tracking apps

When it comes to project management time tracking, several apps offer an efficient way to manage time spent on tasks and projects. Here are the 10 best time tracking apps available:

1. Timeular

Timeular is the most effortless and accurate project time tracking app, with a wide range of features designed to make project management as efficient and profitable as possible.

Handy features such as reminders, automated tracking, detailed reporting, leave tracking, and integrations with popular project management tools make it the go-to time-tracking app for anyone looking to take project planning and resource management to another level.

Pros

  • Budget views and reporting: Track time spent on projects and create accurate, comprehensive reports.
  • Calendar view: Create new activities by dragging and dropping them on your calendar.
  • Integrations: Connect to Jira, Asana, Toggl, and any other tool you work with.
  • Leave tracking: Easily manage all types of employee time off in one place. Track paid time off, sick days, time off in lieu, and many more.
  • Keyboard shortcuts: Switch between tasks quickly using handy keyboard shortcuts.
  • Automatic tracking: See which apps, docs, and websites you’ve used at which time and what was in your calendar, and then add them to your time tracking overview in one click! Your privacy is protected 100%: The data is stored solely on your local machine, so nobody else can access it.
  • Timesheets are filled out automatically, so you have time for more productive tasks.
  • Desktop and mobile app: Track time quickly wherever you go with a mobile app for iOS and Android
  • Physical time tracker: Simply flip the Tracker when you wish to start tracking time on a new task.
  • User privacy: Users’ time data is confidential.
User Reviews PlatformUser Reviews Score
Capterra4.6
G24.5
Apple4.6
Google3.7

Looking for the best time tracking software for project management?

Try Timeular for free and join thousands of project managers who track their time with us!

2. Asana

Asana is a widely known and one of the best project management tools, also known for its built-in time tracking feature.

However, Asana’s time-tracking feature is less robust than other time trackers software, leading to several inaccuracies when tracking billing hours, resulting in lost revenue.

Cons

  • Limited reporting and analytics options
  • Inconsistency in tracking billing hours when compared to other time-tracking tools
  • Building time sheets is time-consuming
User Reviews PlatformUser Reviews Score
Capterra4.5
G24.3
Apple4.7
Google4.4

Connect Timeular with Asana to track time automatically

Try Timeular for free and join thousands of project managers who track their time with zero effort

3. Basecamp

Basecamp is a project management tool system that helps to monitor the progress of tasks and projects. It allows you to integrate with popular tools and apps, i.e. Slack.

However, the design system looks outdated, and users sometimes have issues recording their activity status.

Cons

  • Outdated UX/UI design system
  • Lack of real-time tracking and notifications
  • Occasional glitches when downloading on the mobile app

Read also: Basecamp time tracking

User Reviews PlatformUser Reviews Score
Capterra4.3
G24.1
Apple4.7
Google4.7

4. Xero

Xero is a task automation software for accountants that has time-tracking features, allowing you to track billable hours and integrate them into your invoicing system.

However, some billing features are not intuitive and or user-friendly. For example, you can’t set up manual recurring payments.

Read also: Xero time tracking

Cons

  • Time tracking features are only available in two of the three plans
  • Project managers are not allowed to assign multiple employees to the same task
  • The billable hours tracking feature is not as robust as other project management tools

It might be useful: Free billing timesheet templates

User Reviews PlatformUser Reviews Score
Capterra4.4
G24.4
Apple4.6
Google4.1

5. BambooHR

BambooHR is a widely cloud-based tool for human resources management.

The main benefit of BambooHR is the way you can easily streamline the onboarding process for new employees and effectively manage employees’ information, such as compensation matters.

However, BambooHR human resources features are highly focused on US-based employees. If you need to manage different teams across several countries, other management tools besides BambooHR can offer better project management integration.

Cons

  • Lacks employee scheduling features
  • Reporting inconsistencies
  • Limited customization features for teams outside the US
User Reviews PlatformUser Reviews Score
Capterra4.6
G24.5
Apple4.3
Google4.7

Track time assigned to each client, project and activity to estimate your workload

Try Timeular for free and join thousands of project managers who track their time with zero effort

6. Hubstaff

Hubstaff, a great Harvest alternative, is an employee monitoring app. It offers features like GPS tracking, activity monitoring, and productivity analysis, which could be helpful for businesses that require detailed activity monitoring.

However, if you care about employee privacy, Hubstaff is probably not the best time tracking app for your team as it provides screenshots feature capable of monitoring device activity.

Cons

  • Complex setup and big learning curve
  • Restricted integration options
  • Privacy concerns
  • Requires an internet connection for accurate tracking
User Reviews PlatformUser Reviews Score
Capterra4.6
G24.3
Apple4.5
Google4.1

Read also: Top Hubstaff alternatives

7. Wrike

Listed in the top remote time trackers for employees, Wrike allows you to log billable hours and create accurate timesheets. However, you can’t track time automatically with Wrike. You’ll need to manually start the timer whenever you want to track time spent on a task.

If you forget to turn off the timer after completing a task, your time tracking data will be inaccurate, leading to significant issues when submitting billable hours to clients.

Cons

  • Lack of automatic time tracking
  • Reporting inconsistencies
  • The interface is not user-friendly

TIP: Don’t waste time with manual time tracking. Find out how this Wrike time tracking integration boosts your productivity.

User Reviews PlatformUser Reviews Score
Capterra4.3
G24.2
Apple4.6
Google4.1

8. Jira

Jira time tracking system is a popular choice among engineering and software development teams for task management and project progress monitoring. Time tracking is an additional feature.

However, if you’re not part of a development team using Jira on an everyday basis, you will most probably not like its complex interface.

Cons

  • Complex setup and steep learning curve for non-technical users
  • Collaboration features are pretty limited
  • Occasional issues with loading times
User Reviews PlatformUser Reviews Score
Capterra4.4
G24.3
Apple4.7
Google4.4

9. Toggl

Toggl project management app can be used for real-time tracking, timesheet management, and comprehensive reporting. And, for those reasons, it’s considered one of the best time trackers.

Cons

  • Free version with limited functionality
  • Lacks advanced project management capabilities
  • Occasional syncing issues
User Reviews PlatformUser Reviews Score
Capterra4.7
G24.6
Apple3.2
Google4.6

Toggl vs Timeular: which one is better?

Read our detailed comparison guide and find the best time tracker for your project!

10. Harvest

Harvest is known to be a highly versatile time tracking software that allows you to track time, generate invoices, and track project expenses, which makes it a reliable alternative to Time Doctor.

However, just like Toggl, learning to track time and create invoices in Harvest is more challenging than it may seem at first sight.

Cons

  • Steep learning curve
  • Customization options for invoicing are limited
  • Integration choices are restricted
User Reviews PlatformUser Reviews Score
Capterra4.6
G24.3
Apple3.8
Google2.8

Project time tracking: the key to successful project management

Project time tracking is the best-known secret for effective project management. It’s the easiest way to check project progress and ensure you and your team are on track. If something isn’t working, you’ll know about it immediately, and you can change course so that nothing falls through the cracks.

If you’re ready to start tracking your time and improve your productivity, check Timeular time tracking app. Whether you’re managing a team at work or working on your projects, Timeular will help you ensure every task gets done and everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing and when.

Take the first step today and discover how project management time tracking can enhance your project management skills and make you more productive.

Read also: What is project management tracking?

FAQ

Do project managers track hours?

Yes. Project managers can track hours and monitor project progress, decide which resources to allocate at any given time, and ensure they are within budget. Tracking hours can also help project managers identify any constraints to project progress and ensure positive outcomes.

What is agile time tracking?

Agile time tracking is a time tracking method used in Agile project management. It includes tracking the time spent on each task to measure a team’s efficiency and productivity, identify bottlenecks, and improve planning and estimation of future projects.

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