Need for better time reporting systems

System Background (circumstances):Most of the employers uses a web based time logging application that falls into the category of time attendance systems that we are addressing in this discussion. The goal of the system is to track employee hours spend during a working day under various project heads. The idea is that the top management should be able to see the actual hours put by employee for assigned project tasks. Doing this, will enable them to track project performance based on comparison of planned and actual hours worked. The data is also used for calculating actual costs and variety of expense reports.

How does the system function?Company has broken down the projects under various portfolio (capex, BAS(business as usual), strategic projects, internal project etc). Each portfolio is further broken up into individual projects with specific ids. Each project is then broken up into specific PM phases. So, when we are working on a project B and C, we are required to log on to timesite and enter the hours worked and details of work done for each project task ids, at the end of the day, each day. So by the end of the month (or any time), the top management can log in and see how many actual hours have been put for those 2 projects. Many companies uses this kind of system to calcualte actual costs and is thus used for cost performance monitoring and control. Work is going on to integrate timesite with our project task tracking system to arrive at actual effort estimations.

How well did it work, both technically and organizationally?Most of the companies seem to be quite satisfied with its performance towards cost performance monitoring and control. I, personally believe that the time reporting systems are in a growing stage. Several integrations need to be done to fully do automated earned value calculations and performance monitoring. Its not widely accepted organizationally since employees complain of too much time spend on tracking hours, but its being made a requirement for each employee due to its linkage to direct client billing systems and expense reporting. According to me, it is a nice strategy towards better project management.

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