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Jan14

Why Some Time Tracking Software Fails


Some time tracking software simply fails when a company tries to roll it out. There are some things about some software solutions that make it obvious that they’re not going to work out. Knowing them ahead of time can save a lot of time and money.

Low Data Portability

Any serious time tracking software should have a good API. This allows people with database skills and other advanced skills to pull data from the system so that they can work with it. It also allows them to shift data around within the program. The data should be complete, including records related to jobs when people logged in and out and so forth.

Complex Interface

There are enough standardized designs in software at this point that having a very complex interface is just not necessary. People understand how to work with some commonly used interfaces and changing everything around on them causes more problems than it solves.

People are, for instance, used to having a separate dashboard from which they administer programs. The features on the program are usually put into use in a separate interface. If they want to change something about how the program’s set up or works, they’ll know to look for the dashboard interface, and that seemingly small design consideration can mean that the software is easy to use and, therefore, that it does get used at all.

Tabs, pull-down menus and other feature make any software easier to use, simply because people understand them. If it takes a great deal of training to get someone familiar with the interface on a program, it’s likely that they’re going to have a hard time actually using it.

Poor Security

Time tracking software should be secure, but it should also be easy to add and remove people from projects. There doesn’t have to be a huge barrier to this and someone administering the system shouldn’t have to learn about concepts such as permission levels and so forth to get someone on the system.

Poor security doesn’t always just mean a lack of security. It can also mean good security poorly implemented. Good security implemented in the right way makes software easy to use, and preserves the administrator’s ability to grant different levels of access to different people quickly.

Too Much Involvement

Time tracking software should be easy enough to use that employees can use it and forget about it. For instance, if they have to time themselves on a clock and then enter that information into the system separately, it creates two extra steps that don’t need to exist.

Good time tracking software should allow the employee to simply click a button to start tracking their time. Once the counter starts running, they shouldn’t have to think about it until they stop the counter. This allows them to stop paying attention to anything but the work that they need to get done and that can relieve a lot of stress. Once again, if it’s easy to use, people are far more likely to actually use it.

Adds Steps, Doesn’t Remove Any

Some time tracking software adds steps for managers that are unnecessary. For instance, a manager should not have to create separate report to see the total hours on a project versus the hours during a week or so forth. This should just come down to clicking a button and getting the information that they need.

Time tracking software that fails oftentimes makes it harder to get information than it was before the software was implemented. This is really a design consideration more than it is a technology consideration. Any computer can calculate time however it needs to be done, but making that information accessible is all about good design and good design is what defines a lot of the best software.

It’s Chained to the Desk

While some businesses will always need an office, the office is becoming less and less important in today’s world. There’s really nothing in an office space that cannot be accessed from anywhere else. Taking advantage of this should be part of any time tracking tool and, in fact, software that doesn’t take advantage of it outdated for today’s world.

It’s easy to understand why this is the case. Contractors—programmers, designers, writers—may be called in on a project but may have no reason to be in the office and, in fact, many such individuals will not work anywhere but their own office. When they can clock in to a project from anywhere, it’s easy for management and others to see that a project is getting worked on. This allows them to be part of the team without having to come into the company office.

If the time tracking software only works within the office, it’s likely to fail in today’s world. Simply put, today’s workers aren’t thinking of work as something that they need to be in an office to get done and, because of that, companies have to accommodate them by making their time tracking software more mobile.

Bad Reporting

Finally, when the project is done, the time put into it needs to be analyzed. If the reports and the interface are not easy to read, this creates a nightmare. If the reports and interface are well designed, however, it barely takes any time at all.

Very simple design considerations, such as arranging timelines in a sensible way, making it easy to add notes without cluttering up the timeline and color coding time spent can all make assessing the information gathered easier.

When a project is being analyzed in a meeting, it’s a lot easier to keep information flowing with good visual reports that are easy to read and understand. The reports generated by time tracking software should do this and, if they are lacking, then the software may be lacking, as well.

When time tracking software works out for a business, it’s usually because of good design, ease of use and the fact that, in the end, it produces very useful information for the business.

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Yast is a software company that builds easy-to-use, but powerful software. It's easy to make things complex; it’s incredibly hard to make things easy.

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Yast has to be the easiest to use time tracker, period. Keep up the great work! Glenn Murray - Divine Write

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