Carrot or stick approach- what works for getting time sheets done?

Time sheets are boring. Which is why it’s so hard to get people to do them – on time. But not having time sheets done is causing headaches for a lot of agencies.

We know why they’re important. Time sheets are the foundation for estimating jobs accurately, particularly in the digital services industry where scope changes and cost overruns are very common.

But if you are serious about measuring profitability on each job you take on – and to guarantee the long term health of your business, then time sheets are essential. If this part of your business is not working it’s a major red flag. It’s a sign that there are major problems with  the team culture and processes within your company.

However there are some tactics you can implement straight away depending on whether you prefer the carrot or stick approach to motivating people:

  1. Gift vouchers to those that complete time sheets
  2. Be clear that each person’s job is dependent on filling out the on time sheet accurately. A nicer way of saying this is to link the goal of achieving profitability with the role and emphasise this at review time
  3. It’s amazing how a simple gold star chart placed in a highly public area to encourage time-sheet compliance by each employee on a weekly basis can work!
  4. Name and shame in the weekly meetings
  5. Or for more drastic measures pay people by the hour.

There are technology solutions. The Project Factory for example, uses Assembla for job tracking and ticketing. This system works extremely well in an agile environment. As does Jira (provided by Australian company Atlassian) and PriorityCentre by another local company Mijura.

I’ll leave you with this approach from JWT’s innovation agency Casa with a fun YouTube video to go with it – perfect for a Friday afternoon:

Thanks to Emily Frances Know at Deepend for the reference.

If you have successful approaches – share them here.

About Claudia Sagripanti

Involved in the evolution of mobile marketing and advertising from the early years, including co-founding Mobile Marketing and Advertising Awards, founding chair of AIMIA's Mobile Industry Group, development of mobile advertising guidelines for industry as well as commercialisation strategy.

  • Tim Parsons May 30, 2012 at 02:41

    Hi Claudia !

    Another idea for you via Atlassian’s Jira and the Scrum processes we’ve adopted : tracking time to power project “Burndown” charts.

    Estimating project effort as hours required to complete a series of tasks, and then doing daily standups to track progress against estimates (the essence of the Burndown process), drove our dev team to propose (and enforce) the logging of time against tasks without management input. Yep this was driven bottom up – with management support – not dictat.

    Put another way, by making task tracking a team goal – demonstrating progress to one another – time tracking can be transformed from a bureaucratic management overhead to an interesting team and individual measurement process – with some cool infographics to boot.

    • Claudia Sagripanti May 30, 2012 at 12:33

      Thanks Tim. Great addition to the discussion. It’s the public or team accountability that works best.

  • [...] to this part of the process. If you missed the earlier discussion on time sheets you can review here on the Digital Nation [...]

  • [...] more on timesheeting and ways to encourage staff to do it – read my previous post here or for  other reviews of PM [...]