Here's how you fix it
Interested in a better solution? Let's go over your options
Solution A: Give up time tracking and project controlling altogether
Suitable for: Smaller companies (with liquidity problems)
In all honesty, you can't really recommend this to any company.
Turning your back on time tracking equals letting money slip through your fingers.
Still, the question is legitimate: Why stick to a time-consuming process that only delivers questionable results anyways?
Especially when it's a struggle for bare survival - and that can happen to anyone who loses an important customer - the question of project efforts is understandably the last concern.
Even if you don't like to deal with numbers - and don't have the corresponding expertise in the company, you can still manage to plan with your gut feeling, at least for a while, when working in smaller teams.
Solution B: Increase appreciation for time tracking
Suitable for: All company sizes
This may sound esoteric at first. But let's remember: Time is recorded badly because employees can't get anything for it. Most of the time, not even a thank you.
When time tracking is seen and appreciated, it will increase the time tracking morality immediately.
- Communicate to all employees the importance of time tracking for the company's success (and thus their next raise) as outlined above. How? Don't get it over with a 5-minute speech. Rather offer a workshop about "How our business works".
- Put fixed blockers in their calendars twice a day. During those mini-appointments, the entire company will track their times. The most suitable times to do this would be before lunch or before the end of work. Project times of the morning and afternoon should (mostly) be present during those times.
- To increase the employees' acceptance of this, you could appreciate their spent time by symbolically giving it back to them. For example by adding 5 minutes to the lunch break or putting the end of work 5 minutes earlier.
Solution C: Automatic time tracking integrated with your project software
Suitable for: All company sizes
Automatic time tracking.
This doesn't mean stopwatches but rather intelligent time trackers: all computer activities in files, e-mails, and programs, as well as all offline times and calendar appointments, are measured automatically and displayed corresponding to their order.
That way employees can see their day as a timeline and use this memory aid to precisely assign their times to projects even after several days.
With just one click they can then export those entries to the project software.
It's crucial, that only the employee himself can see this timeline. The complete time measurements are only stored on his device and not on the server. Therefore, monitoring is out of the question from the beginning.
Why it works well: The concept doesn't deny that time tracking isn't a priority for employees and is usually done in retrospect.
Automatic tracking helps employees to forget about tracking for good, helps them to focus on their work, and to decide by themselves when to make time entries. No matter when they do it, for sure they'll be more exact than daily estimations.
When assigning project times becomes easier with the memory aid and eliminates agonizing oneself over making up times, that's when the accuracy of times really increases.
Tool recommendations: Interested in automatic time tracking? Then take a further look at memtime, time by ping, chrometa or wisetime