Automatic Time Tracking: Skipping Timesheets and Still Getting Time Data

We Help Your Agency Reach New Heights

Switch from multiple tools and spreadsheets to one scalable agency management system.

Let’s face the tough truth: people hate filling out timesheets. 

What’s worse, one key metric you need to follow to run a successful agency is utilization. You can’t calculate utilization unless you have a true picture of where your agency’s time is going, can you?

Why people hate filling out timesheets:

“It’s a waste of my time” 

“My team lead will micromanage me if I track time” 

“I feel like I’m being watched”

Then, there are those of us who don’t mind tracking our work hours. But in a hyper-digital workplace, we’re faced with factors that hinder deep focus. It’s hard to dedicate bigger chunks of time to one concrete to-do. Things like multitasking, ad-hoc video meetings, and never-ending notifications buzzing within different apps — all this affects even the most conscientious workers’ ability to answer: Where did my time go?

Hack Timesheets and Start Unlocking Your Agency’s Full Potential

In Productive, you can check your agency’s pulse in real-time within Reports. However, to unlock the full potential of your agency’s end-to-end management tool, first things first: you need to keep track of everyone’s time. 

See also: 13 Best Agency Time Tracking Software

Dream: Accurate data about your agency’s utilization and profit in real-time
Reality: Your team resists tracking
 time on a daily basis

We’ve been working with agencies of all shapes and sizes for the past five years—we know your pain. It’s not easy to find ways to incentivize, motivate (or shame) your team members into filling out timesheets. This is why we came up with a different method: Automatic Time Tracking.

Automatic Time Tracking and How It Works

The concept of Automatic time tracking is based on the facts that:

Your team members usually resist tracking time

As a manager, you always create a resource plan anyway

That plan can get copied directly into timesheets.

If you haven’t been tracking time at all, or you can’t convince your team that it’s crucial, this option can be a win-win for you because:

You eliminate the overhead of copy-pasting those hours into a spreadsheet

Your team members won’t need to track time.

How to Use Automatic Time Tracking  in Productive

1. Map your entire project out 

Using Productive’s Project Management and Scheduling features, assign team members to different tasks, and allot time for various deliverables.

2. Turn on Automatic Time Tracking

Now, your team members’ time starts getting logged based on the hours you scheduled. When you apply this method, they don’t need to track their time at the end of each day.

3. Review daily for accuracy

You can check in with team members daily (or however often you prefer) to ensure the accuracy of the time that’s automatically being tracked for different projects. 

5. Adjust plans in Scheduling 

In case your plan changes, you can adjust it with a single click. 

You can find more details and an example in this Automatic Time Tracking help article.

Automatic Time Tracking Is Better Than No Time Tracking at All

Some benefits that come with automated time tracking include:

1. People who are doing creative work don’t do admin

Most agencies can fit their people in two buckets: producers (creatives) and managers. Experience has shown that the creative bunch are usually those who see less benefit in tracking time and doing administrative work. We even wrote some tips on how to get creatives to track time. By using Automatic Time Tracking, you alleviate the pain for them. Maybe you’ll earn some brownie points along the way, too.

Via Giphy: “I tracked your time for you, am I not the best project manager ever?”

2. Focus on delivering the best possible quality within the available time frame

As a manager, you need to round off an estimate of hours you spent on a client and secure higher margins, not use precious energy trying to figure out where each minute of time went. During the process, you’ll put a lot less day-to-day stress on your team.

3. Enhance ownership and responsibility

With automatic time tracking set up and going, you can ask team members for their opinions, like this:

“Was the time estimate I made for this project accurate?” 

“Hey, can you tell me if there’s a way I can improve the estimate for the duration of that task for next time?

This approach will deepen trust and ignite empowerment. Instead of making team members feel micromanaged, you’ll enhance ownership and responsibility.

One Giant Leap Towards Utilization and Profitability

Automatic Time Tracking will never be as accurate as when your team members track their own time. But hey, it’s certainly better than not having any data at all.

Think of Automatic Time Tracking as one small step for you as a manager, and one giant leap for your agency’s utilization and profitability.

Whether it be in Productive’s Scheduling, or eventually getting your team to track time on their own, knowing where your resources are going is key for your agency’s success.

For any questions or help, reach out to our Sales team!

Marija Kata Vlašić

Content Marketing Specialist

Related articles