Efficiency and productivity are key factors for project managers. Keeping their projects on track require them to master essential skills like time estimating and planning. Therefore, they need the right tools to measure these factors and be successful in planning and executing each project.
Time estimates drive the setting of deadlines for project delivery and planning, and will therefore affect other people’s assessment of your reliability and competence as a project manager. Learn how to make the most out of them next.
Why estimate time?
Estimating time allows you to stay on time and on budget, helping you meet the deadlines you set, earning the trust of your clients. It also helps as a guide: you can tell your team members how many hours they should spend on a specific task. For this, it is important to establish feasible and realistic time estimates so as not to trigger stress!
Remember that estimating time is a skill. Certainly, not an easy one. Usually, people tend to underestimate rather than to overestimate, which can sometimes be dangerous. If you take too long to complete a task, you will have an angry client or boss. And if you overestimate instead, you will probably deliver things earlier than expected, but you may lose potential clients along the way. Overestimating is not the answer either.
How to estimate time accurately?
Get to know your team and get them involved
TrackingTime user skills help you assign the right tasks to the right people. Knowing what you are delegating to who will help you estimate time more accurately. If you assign a task involving Java Script to someone that has been tracking that skill for 1,000 hours, the estimated time will be shorter than if you choose to assign the same task to someone who has spent 200 hours on it.
Good communication with your team is really important. Ask them how much they think they should take on that specific task and let them set their own estimates and deadlines, so they get more involved in the process.
This way, they will have to comply with their own time estimates, instead of the estimates and deadlines imposed by others. By doing this, you will also develop the estimation skills of the team members This is not a minor detail, as it will lead not only to more accurate projections and better productivity but will also encourage staff autonomy and self-reliance.
Burn and learn
Once the project is complete, you should compare the project and task estimates with actual work time using TrackingTime reports. This powerful tool will be extremely useful for future projects and tasks.
TrackingTime Timelines will also help you to learn from history, and will be handy in evalutating how the project developed and at what point in the project milestones were reached. Timelines tell the story of the project and display tagged information.
How can time cards help you estimate time and plan projects?
Keeping track of time and attendance is not an easy task. Especially if you still use Excel or paper to keep track of your employees’ clock in and out times. Is the control of your employees’ working hours a sheet of paper that they hand out every week? Do you still use spreadsheets to keep track of entry and exit times in your company? Then it’s probably time you started thinking about having a better system to streamline this process and save time and money.
The time card process is specifically designed to help you do just that. Do you know what a time card is? Simple, it is a method for recording and tracking the amount of time an employee spends on each job.
Why are time cards effective to boost productivity?
Time cards improve project execution, decision making, and compliance with labor and government regulations. And can benefit not only companies, but their employees as well. In other words, time cards can help your business in many ways:
- Time cards are an excellent tool to maximize the productivity and profitability of companies, in addition to allowing better control of labor costs.
- By using time cards to measure employees, you can analyze all the resources of the workforce that a company has, streamlining and improving its administrative processes.
- Analyzing time and attendance will be simpler and more precise. Thanks to an automated system, you will only need to consult them whenever you need them.
- You will be able to control attendance, delays, breaks, and overtime worked by your employees.
- Reducing the workload of administrative employees, since the automation of tasks will allow them to dedicate that time to more productive tasks.
- By controlling overtime, breaks, and leaves, employees will benefit, as they will know how much their work is worth and how much it corresponds to their salary payment.
- Reduces the time taken by workers to clock in and clock out. This is one of the great advantages of automatic time cards, as it facilitates the cumbersome task of filing schedules in Excel or manually.
- Increases employee security, by reducing control and monitoring time, workers are more efficient, increasing their productivity and commitment to their work.
- Time cards allow you to discover the most productive schedules of each worker. Thanks to this system, you can organize the schedules of each employee, allowing agreements and proposals for schedules, and margins of entry and exit.
Improving productivity and efficiency in your organization
No matter how productive your team is, there are always some ways you can jump in to take workplace productivity to a whole new level. Let’s dive into something that will really help us to better understand productivity and efficiency.
In this way, efficiency means a performance level as a process that uses the fewest inputs to create the most outputs. On the other hand, productivity is the average measure of efficiency in production. It can be expressed as the ratio between the outputs and the inputs used in the production process.
Differences between productivity and efficiency
Although many people see productivity and efficiency as synonymous, they are different concepts. The two terms are related but not interchangeable. The difference between them is a discussion between quality and quantity.
For instance, a productive person is someone who gets things done. However, those accomplishments could be short-lived if that person doesn’t build their strategy with long-term results in mind. This is why, for the most part, efficiency and productivity can be at odds with each other.
Let’s take a look at the difference between productivity and efficiency. We will compare them and analyze several examples so that you clearly understand the subtle differences between the two.
There are different formulas that you can use to measure productivity at different levels, such as employees, organizations, and software.
To calculate employee productivity, you can use the simple equation below to track individual, team, or department productivity.
Total Output / Total Input = Labor Productivity
Suppose you have a business that produces $50,000 worth of goods in one week (output). And this is done using 1,000 hours of labor (input). In order to calculate the labor productivity of your company, you must divide 50,000 by 1,000, which equals 50. This means that your company generates $50 for every hour of work.
You can also approach work productivity from the perspective of individual employee contributions. So, instead of using hours, you would use the number of employees as input.
For instance, if the same company has 20 employees and generates $50,000 worth of goods in one week, you would divide 50,000 by 20, which would equal 2,500. This means that each employee produced $2,500 for your company that week.
Even if you have a small company of your own that does something like retail arbitrage, your work productivity is important and should always be measured. Doing so will help you be more productive with your time.
While productivity calculates quantity, efficiency is more about measuring quality.
It is possible to calculate a high productivity number for each employee in your company. But that number alone does not give you insights about the quality of work you get from each employee.
As stated above, an employee may appear quite productive, but actually produce low-quality outputs.
You need a benchmark to compare productivity data.
You can compare your current productivity with the standard level of effort required to achieve the same output. Divide the standard hours of work by the amount of time worked, then multiply that figure by 100. The higher the final number, the more efficient the employees are.
This is the equation for calculating efficiency:
(Standard Labor Hours / Amount of Time Worked) x 100 = Efficiency
So if your company’s standard labor hours for a particular project is 70 and the actual amount of time worked is 82, you would divide 70 by 82 and then multiply the answer by 100, getting an efficiency of 85%.
How to improve productivity in the digital workplace
Business users are becoming increasingly overwhelmed by the flood of emails. More and more companies want to do without Excel spreadsheets and rudimentary office applications from the PC era. Classic intranets are an unreasonable demand for those used to the usability of modern devices and apps. In times of social media, smartphones and AI, communication and collaboration solutions are no longer sufficient to manage daily work.
With this in mind, modern business collaboration solutions are on the rise. They offer useful tools for planning, communication, and productivity. They replace the good old email and office programs while opening new possibilities for effective business collaboration.
With teams, Microsoft is now expanding its product portfolio. This new tool competes directly against Slack. At the end of 2016, they released it as a preview version. Basically, the program has almost exactly the same feature set as its competitor.
Slack recently wanted to make an $8 billion takeover bid, Business Insider reports. But Bill Gates personally broke the deal.
Instead of spending so much money on Slack, the company should rather invest the money in further development of its own productivity products to make them even more attractive for business customers. Teams seems to be one of the results of this strategy.
As one of the world’s largest business software vendors, Microsoft places great importance on adaptability and security. Important factors are among the most important purchase criteria, especially in the business sector. Teams include extensible APIs to fit the workspace. Configurable tabs also offer quick access to frequently used documents. And it enables the integration of third-party services, like Asana.
In addition, Microsoft has integrated support for the Microsoft Bot Framework. This way, companies like Slack can develop their own bots and integrate them into teams. As for security, data is always encrypted. And it supports important compliance standards, such as EU Model Clauses, ISO 27001, SOC 2, and HIPAA.
Workplace by Facebook
With Workplace, Facebook is entering the business productivity software market for the first time. In short, the new communication platform offers an internal Facebook as we know it privately. Therefore, it is not necessary to explain the system in this regard. And most users should be able to find their way around quickly.
With familiar features, Workplace is easy and intuitive to use right from the start.
It is important to note that in the business version there is no advertising and the data of the personal accounts on Facebook and Workplace are completely separated from one another, assures Zuckerberg’s Company.
Workplace makes a similar distinction between the actual app and the messenger. The so-called “work chat” in this context enables group chats, calls and video calls, as well as file and screen sharing. In this sense, it competes directly with Slack and Teams. As with the standard version, the new Facebook for companies lives primarily from groups.
Administrators that manage these can be private or public. All internal communication in the company, but also the external communication with customers and partners, can take place through such groups. For example, these may include members of a specific specialized department, location, or project team.
Productivity measures output over time, while efficiency measures input versus output. Together they can show how quickly a task is completed, the resources needed to complete it, and (through analysis) whether it is all worth your investment.
The term “time estimation” refers to the assessment of the number of hours needed to complete a task or a series of tasks. The deeper your understanding of work specifics and nuances is, the more accurate the time estimates you will receive.
Yes, a timecard is a legal document. Time cards must accurately reflect all hours worked. Misrepresentation of hours worked or forgery is a violation of the law.