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the risk of time sheets incomplete

2015.01.05

I work in an industry where records of time spent on distinct projects are required of knowledge workers. It's a pain in the ass, quite frankly.

But it's also vital to the health of a service organization for some simple reasons, some of which are obvious but one of which is not. First, the obvious ones:

  1. All billable activities are based on provable time spent on billable activities.
  2. It's impossible to refine the project estimation process without feedback on every project.
  3. It's also difficult to explain why staff shortages exist until you understand where time is going.

Lastly, it's impossible for any knowledge worker—whether management or otherwise—to improve their effectiveness unless they know where they're putting time that they shouldn't. Knowledge workers have to focus on essentials if they're to function, as all of their output only has use if it's of value to their clients or colleagues (and preferrably the former). Paring down one's activities to just those essentials is very hard when you can't reflect upon the time you spent on different non-essential activities over the course of a period.

In my experience, time spent on doing non-essential activities is a major threat to the well-being of a team of knowledge workers. It's also a killer for one's personal effectiveness, and as such for one's results.

Time records are a risk management must.

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