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Time Tracking Investigation

by zhouya7 / June 11, 2013 6:26 AM PDT

Currently, I am working on a time tracking project. I would like to see if you have any insights as to how you would approach this problem.

Current Situation: Global Management wants to see how employees at different regions (in different countries) are allocating their time without being invasive. The type of work these employees are doing are process/operational work, not consultancy/project type work. At the end of the month, management wants to see for example, at region Z, what % of worker's time is allocated for activity A and % of time is allocated for activity B. Or are region Z's workers more focused on activity A than region X's workers?

Any insight would be great. If you have any questions, do ask! Thank you.

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So why isn't the usual method used?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 11, 2013 6:55 AM PDT

I have to start with a few questions such as do you recall your statistics class where we don't need to measure everyone and everything they did to get an answer within a degree of confidence. If you must know EXACTLY the percent with no margin of error then you have frankly gone off the deep end and must intrude on everyone's machine to install a "Mr. Burns" type app to report home with what you want.

Most folk will do the old Nielson rating method and pick out a few random candidates and use that for the sample set.

So my last question is going to inflame the non-statistician. Is this a Mr. Burns' method or are statistics good enough?

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It is a little bit complicated
by zhouya7 / June 12, 2013 4:11 AM PDT

Thank you for your response and taking your time to read my post.

There is already a solution (but very primitive office excel solution) that is being used right now. We are looking to find a more supportive solution or another solution that does what we are looking for.

Current Solution: One month of each year is chosen to do time tracking (in other words, 30 days out of 365 days is time tracking days). At the end of each day, each person (around 160 around the world) is responsible of manually inputting how they allocated their time to an excel file, which is then manually consolidated into a master file to be analyzed. These inputs are very simple and rough. Each day, they probably only input about 4 or 5 different activities they did for that day. For example: I am John Smith (one of the 160 people) and today, I spend 1 hour on email today, 2 hours on meetings, 2 hours on activity A, and 2 hours on activity B.

So to answer your question, we are looking at an accuracy of only +/- 15 minutes. The problem we are really having is to find a solution that has simple parameter change (since excel macro isn't easy to change for users) and has an automatic data consolidation function. So right now, we are looking at any other solution that does the same thing we are trying to achieve right now.

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Looks like Mr. Burns to me.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 12, 2013 4:21 AM PDT

OK, since you wrote that we must measure all 160 people and it is unacceptable to take a sample of say 10% of the workers in each region and use statistics. This is not statistics at all at this point but a census.

The solution as I see it is to hire a programmer to make up a web site that the user logs into and clicks the tab on the current project they are on as they change tasks. That's the non-intrusive method.

Your programmer could craft another solution which uses the native Windows Event reporting which can send all app launch events and closure of the apps then write an app to analyze the results. That could cost you a few 100K so my bet is the web time card method is the best.

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This. Mr.Burns it is
by zhouya7 / June 12, 2013 6:30 AM PDT

I miss-read your first response. Indeed, we are using the "Mr.Burns" method because we have no choice. People have different tasks at different times at different locations. Everyone's tasks are divided differently and frankly, even if we took in everyone's input, there are still going to be small amount of error we need to account for (in the +/- 15 minute). If we did just pull a sample of 10%, that would only be a total of 16 candidates. That means, each region has only 4 or 5 representatives and their input would not representative their own region.

Your two suggestions are very similar to what I had in mind. However, I am looking for a solution that has been implemented already (Software like Rescue-time, Harvest, Replicon), since they will be much cheaper than developing a completely customized solution ourselves. However, I haven't found a single solution that does what we are looking for. All of these software are payroll, billing, productivity tracking tools, while I am looking for a tool that is focused on activity tracking tools that has good online support and has sufficient data consolidation capabilities.

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So like others before you.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 12, 2013 6:37 AM PDT
In reply to: This. Mr.Burns it is

I've fielded this question many times. There is no ready to use app that does exactly what each person has asked in the few hundred times I've been asked for this. In every case the company didn't want to use the usual solutions and insisted on something that meant it was going to be custom built for them.

Good luck in your search but I think you'll have to settle for something close enough. That is, I'm using what I observed from the past as my answer.

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something close it is
by zhouya7 / June 12, 2013 7:02 AM PDT

Thank you for your responses Bob. It is my hope that I can find a solution close enough to what we need and go from there. Of course it doesn't have to be what we are looking for exactly, as we always have room to adapt to something that isn't fitting in 100%.

If anyone has/know of a similar solution to what we are looking for, let me know.

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The closest I found
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 12, 2013 9:20 AM PDT
In reply to: something close it is

Was a semi custom app that would on queue at say 10 minute intervals run the old TASKLIST. is among the hundreds of web pages about this.

Said tasklist can be scheduled via the Windows scheduler or if configured just so, be used in so many ways I can't begin to list them here. Your IT staffer should be doing a facepalm about now.

Now that we have all this data flowing in with tasklist it's just a matter to sift the data to see what's in use at the time and use that to see what the user is running at that moment.

I think the web page with big buttons to select what I'm doing now would be easier.

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Best Software For Time Tracking
by Gracebjorn / August 8, 2013 5:26 AM PDT

You will have to try using Replicon's online time recording software, where it helps you to solve all your issues related to time management and time tracking. I'd suggest it if you are in need of a software that can help you organize and schedule the tasks based on your priorities.

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