March 8, 2008

Most software companies have the same difficulties in tracking employee’s time and attendance as other companies do, often dealing with the same concerns and the same technology shortfalls. Most company managers consider that time management is one of the greatest challenges they face, even in high-tech businesses and that’s true.

There is a challenge to make sure that people are working on what they were assigned to work on and tracking the amount of time that is spent on productive versus nonproductive work becomes a necessity in high tech environment. The results of such a study are often quite surprising for companies and managers.

The most critical elements of any project are the ability to inform workers what tasks they have been assigned to, and the ability to track what the time was spent on. Executives tend to estimate on the high side when they are looking at time spent on the job. They express expectations that most of the employee’s working time is productive time. They are generally shocked when they learn that in fact only half or slightly more is productive working time. They are also dismayed to learn that the fault lies within their own project systems, not necessarily in employee’s dishonesty or intent. Corporate infrastructure can simply get in the way of employees spending all their time productively and that seems to be a reality across company types or products that are produced.

One of these keys to help employee’s productivity is to have systems and processes in place that minimize the time that employees will spend on red tape and administrative tasks. One of these is automation, but another important part of this is having productive meetings and reports. Many employees spend their days attending long meetings where little seems to be accomplished. It is up to managers to reduce the number of meetings and to make sure that these meetings are efficient when they take place.

Getting back to and sticking to the basics is the general rule of thumb. Even in software development and management companies, the 80/20 rule applies. Twenty percent of the organization delivers eighty percent of the value and that’s a hard statistic to refute or overcome. For the rest of the organization, this means finding out what the other part of the company is doing correctly and then seeking ways to adopt the successful methodologies and practices.


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