Time Is of the Essence: The Role of Time Tracking in Project Management

By: Shubham Gupta on April 3, 2023
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Do you struggle to stay on top of project deadlines? If you're in charge of a project or a team, it's crucial to know how long each task takes to complete so you can ensure everything is done on time. Without accurate time tracking, you risk missing deadlines, overspending, and wasting resources.

In fact, 71% of project managers say "meeting project timelines" is included in their job performance review*. This highlights the importance of accurate time tracking in achieving project success. Without it, you may feel like you’re navigating a task list without any landmarks.

To understand the essence of time tracking in project management, we spoke to Stefan Chekanov [1], co-founder and CEO of Brosix (a platform for better team communication) who walked us through the "what, why, and when" of it. He also shared some best practices for effective time tracking that can improve overall project performance.

“Time tracking isn't just about knowing how long a task takes; it's about understanding how to make the most of the time we have to achieve our project goals.”

Stefan Chekanov

Co-Founder and CEO of Brosix

What is time tracking in project management?

At its core, time tracking is a way to monitor and record the time spent on various tasks or activities within a project. This can include everything from brainstorming sessions to actual work performed on deliverables. It helps you stay on track and avoid falling behind schedule.

Why is time tracking important in project management?

Projects are prone to delays, and time tracking provides an easy-to-follow timeline to keep you on schedule. It also enables you to monitor progress, spot bottlenecks quickly, and take proactive steps for corrective action.

Here are the benefits you'll see as a result of better time tracking:

Project deadlines come easier

When you understand the urgency of each task, you prioritize better and finish them faster. With time tracking, you can complete all your tasks by their due date, stay ahead of deadlines, and prevent last-minute rush. Leveraging a robust time-tracking software solution is a great option as it helps identify productivity gaps and provide insights to optimize workflow for timely completion.

How to get started

  • Create measurable goals and set benchmarks for each task.

  • Set daily and weekly goals to keep a closer check on short-term milestones.

  • Monitor progress regularly and take corrective action as needed.

  • Track your efforts on all the activities and keep a record of your progress.

Resource utilization is well-optimized

Using your resources (such as time, money, and manpower) efficiently, when working on a tight deadline and budget is crucial to the success of any project. Use the power of time tracking to better understand how you are using resources, identify any gaps, and create strategies to optimize resource utilization. You can also adopt resource management software to track availability, workload, and allocation of resources for maximum efficiency.

How to get started

  • Create a centralized resource management system to enable transparency.

  • Evaluate current resources in terms of cost and need and track resource hours for better forecasting.

  • Automate processes (such as task allocation and scheduling) whenever possible to increase efficiency.

  • Timely measure utilization rate and optimize it to reduce resource wastage.

Scope management is fully enhanced

Scope management is everything you do to ensure that all the deliverables of a project are completed within projected timelines and budgets. Time tracking helps with this by giving you visibility into the progress of each task, enabling you to monitor and manage changes in scope throughout the duration of a project by tracking time spent on each task. This ensures that scope creep is minimized, and the project runs smoothly.

How to get started

  • Clearly communicate and document expectations for each task.

  • Set time limits and expectations for each deliverable.

  • Track scope creep by monitoring changes in scope.

  • Reevaluate the project scope as needed to ensure it is still realistic.

Your future projects become easier

Time tracking helps save time in the long run by giving you an accurate estimate of how much time and effort is required to complete each task. You can use this data to better understand the project timeline, anticipate any delays, and create a more efficient workflow for future projects, especially if you're handling multiple projects of similar nature. Having data from previous projects can make your future projects easier to manage and complete in a timely manner.

How to get started

  • Constantly review and update time-tracking data.

  • Use previous data as a benchmark for estimation.

  • Compare actual data against estimated timelines and budgets.

  • Identify and document lessons learned for future projects.

When is time tracking essential in project management?

Time tracking is a critical component of project management that should be prioritized at every project lifecycle. In the planning stage, time tracking focuses on researching and defining the project's scope and risks. During project execution, tracking the time spent on each task helps identify potential issues and bottlenecks in the workflow. 

In the closeout stage, tracking time spent on tasks such as summarizing and reviewing results helps document the project's progress. Moreover, using the data from past projects helps estimate timelines and budgets for future projects. All in all, tracking time throughout a project provides valuable insights into the project's progress, helps identify potential issues early on, and enables better decision-making for future projects.

Example of a time tracking dashboard from BigTime

Example of a time tracking dashboard from BigTime (Source)

Time tracking best practices: The pathway to efficiency and productivity

Time tracking in project management isn't just a matter of logging time—it's also important to have an effective strategy in place.

Here are some tips and best practices for implementing successful time tracking in project management:

  • Set clear guidelines and expectations: Establish clear expectations for time tracking from the start, such as which tasks must be tracked and how often they should be reported.

  • Communicate the importance: Make sure employees understand the importance of time tracking and how it helps the company achieve its goals.

  • Ensure regular reporting and review: Regularly review and analyze time-tracking data to identify areas where team members may be struggling or where tasks are taking longer than expected.

  • Check integration with other project management tools: Make sure the time-tracking tool you choose is compatible with the other project management software you use.

  • Encourage team participation and buy-in: Encourage team members to actively participate in the time-tracking process and listen to their feedback on improving it.

Survey methodology

Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace 2021 Survey Results

* Software Advice conducted the Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace Survey in December 2021 of 528 U.S-based professionals who manage projects at their small to midsize business. Respondents were screened for employment status (full-time), size of business (2 - 500 employees), and involvement in project management (extremely involved).


  1. Stefan Chekanov, LinkedIn