In the first part of this blog series, we showed you why detailed timesheets are not only unnecessary, but positively damaging. In this part, we tell you about a process that can replace the use of timesheets and show what effects it has on an organisation.
The answer: Project flow
The answer doesn’t have anything to do with timesheets, but takes the form of three changes which the organisation can make:
1. Reducing the amount of work to a sensible level
If I do fewer things at the same time, then everything will be quicker. Resource capacity will be sufficient for the task at hand. Instead of multi-tasking, I’ll concentrate on one thing at a time. The projects will have more resources dedicated to them. This means that projects will be completed more quickly. This has a positive effect on the cost-effectiveness of the organisation.
2. Redefining personal reliability
Until now, it has been defined by the ability to meet deadlines and budget constraints. Now reliability means the following: I concentrate on one task at a time, and do everything to make sure that this task is completed to a sufficient standard as quickly as possible. This means that projects can be completed more quickly. Fewer resources are used.
3. Resource managers are able to set priorities effectively
When two projects are competing for exactly the same resources, resource managers know precisely which project they should concentrate on, and can do so until it’s finished. Meanwhile, the other project stays in the queue. This means that projects, and the individual tasks in those projects, can be better served with resources. Thus, team members are concentrating on one thing at a time instead of chopping and changing in multi-tasking mode.
These interventions lead to the results described below. A large weight of recent experience confirms this – not just for our own customers, but in organisations worldwide.
Figure 1: Project flow
When employees are no longer hopping about between different tasks, but are concentrating as members of a team on one project task, any lack of clarity about time division remains minimal.
Can we achieve the aims of timesheets in another way?
One reason for using timesheets was to improve the quality of future planning. It has been shown that keeping timesheets cannot achieve this aim. However, if we replace damaging multi-tasking with productive mechanisms and analyse the resultant data, we have a wealth of experience which we can draw on for future project planning.
A second motivator was the need to measure the actual work burden on groups of resources. This can of course be achieved in the way shown above. But in fact, the actual work burden isn’t the important thing. The important thing is to know what the future, planned use of resources will be like. The aim here isn’t to use them at full capacity – we know now that this leads to inefficiency and ineffectiveness – but in order to predict whether the planned usage will lead to a chronic overload.
The achievements of team members and resource groups are no longer judged on how well they kept to a plan; I, as a manager, can judge whether they behave as I expect them to. That is, whether they perform a given task, concentrate on it and complete it as soon as possible. No measuring instrument helps to make such a judgement of their achievements – this can only be achieved by observing the work and communicating with team members. This is how we can decide whether team members need further training, for example. Managers who judge their employees on the basis of a legend used in timesheets are transferring this responsibility to an inanimate system.
Can we tell without the use of timesheets whether a project was worth it? Yes, we can. Because now we have the actual data from the project direction system.
Timesheets are often a way of glossing over ineffective working practices. Instead of using them, managers should concentrate on improving working practices in the organisation. This leads to a significant improvement in performance. In our work with clients, the change process that we accompany always has as a first step the suspension of the existing timesheet system – at least temporarily – so that its disruptive effects are brought to an end.
Both managers and other employees will benefit from more efficiency, effectiveness and satisfaction. Therefore, senior managers in general should ensure that the use of detailed timesheet becomes and stays a thing of the past.
You can find our detailed webinar on this topic here:
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