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Time Tracking - Pro and Con

  • 1.  Time Tracking - Pro and Con

    Posted 04-30-2022 21:55

    I've been asked a lot by the TBM Community if time tracking is still being used today across IT Organizations. For some companies, you can't track the time of FTE's. In my old-old-old IT life, I would track via excel and would ask service teams to provide me their efforts by a % by service offering (not service).

    As of today, where do you stand with time tracking for projects and TBM integration?


    PS: Thanks in advance for the feedback.

  • 2.  RE: Time Tracking - Pro and Con

    Posted 05-01-2022 09:07
    Hey Tim! 

    Hope you're doing well! 😊

    Found some great discussions on the topic on Community!

    1) https://bit.ly/3LCAD2M
    2) https://bit.ly/3vWgcav
    3) https://bit.ly/3LxyQMs
    4) https://bit.ly/3LCAD2M

    Jenny Franklin
    Memphis TN
    (901) 389-0502

  • 3.  RE: Time Tracking - Pro and Con

    Posted 05-01-2022 09:23
    As always, Jen is the superstar!


  • 4.  RE: Time Tracking - Pro and Con

    Posted 05-01-2022 09:55
    Back at ya!! 🤩

    Jenny Franklin
    Memphis TN
    (901) 389-0502

  • 5.  RE: Time Tracking - Pro and Con

    Posted 05-02-2022 01:57
    We track time against what we call service orders (SOs). Don't know about the accuracy of the data, but we use it to allocate labor costs.
    It is a manual process, and don't know what they do with SAFe trains, etc.

    Guillermo Cuadrado
    Senior Technical Manager
    Amadeus Data Processing GmbH
    +49 8122433565

  • 6.  RE: Time Tracking - Pro and Con

    Posted 05-03-2022 19:31
    We do use time tracking data, currently to allocate labour cost to Projects and then up to Services, but in the near future we plan to use Service Now ticket data (INC, REQ, CHG etc.) to allocate 'BAU' labour cost to Services. We will need to come up with a assumptive method to extrapolate ticket duration to labour cost,  (e.g. if ticket was open for 3 days, assume 4 hours of actual labour effort, by whatever Tier 1, 2 3 teams were assigned to resolve the ticket), but if that ratio is agreed by Service Owners then I would consider that a 'good enough' blend of assumptive and consumptive allocation, at least to start with.

    Quentin Kynoch
    Head of IT Business Management
    KPMG Australia
    Sydney VIC

  • 7.  RE: Time Tracking - Pro and Con

    Posted 05-10-2022 07:51
    We are in the process of eliminating the majority of time entry with our strategic shift away from projects to products.  Our new methodology is going to leverage the JIRA ticketing information to perform a cost allocation to the work performed based on the labor, contracts, and non-labor in cost centers.  We are in deep discussion on whether the basis should be the # of stories or the # of story points per story/work item/task in JIRA.  Historically we were heavily reliant on time entry to track spend on projects and to allocate costs.


    Chris Curtis
    Director - Change Management and Data Analytics
    Freddie Mac
    McLean VA

  • 8.  RE: Time Tracking - Pro and Con

    Posted 05-11-2022 10:18
    We are also moving from projects to products, and recently decommissioned our FTE time tracking tool and are now using Rally (similar to JIRA). We use the Story Points and originally converted those to hours, and then converted to dollars based on a standard rate specific to each product group. That was a little challenging to right size, maintain, and match to what we expected. So instead, we now have fully funded teams based on operational work and quarterly OKRs/objectives - fixed capacity team based on expected quarterly work. Then we use the story points as well as story tags (operational/investment) to determine the % of the team working on operational work versus investment work. This then feeds into our capitalized spend (investment related work) billing.  So far so good.  To note, we use the Apptio CT, ITP, and Bill of IT modules to complete this end to end process.

    Lisa Hennemann
    IT Financial Management
    Ford Motor Company
    Allen Park MI

  • 9.  RE: Time Tracking - Pro and Con

    Posted 05-11-2022 11:28
    We rely heavily on time tracking in ServiceNow to projects, enhancements and operations. However, we do not require a full 40-hr time card from all resources. Staff Augmentation resources and non-officer FTEs are required for full time cards. However, officer resources and vendor managed service teams are required to only report project time. We use datalink to bring in time data directly, and use it to calculate actual time worked to projects in PFP, and also created reports in CT to auto-allocate vendor invoices to projects and operations based on time data in SN.  

    We are encountering difficulty in keeping the labor pool fresh and updated with correct rates in Apptio to support our reporting - right now it's a manual effort, as we do not have a system that ties resources to contracts to rates in one place in real time. Researching options there and am hoping for more responses to this thread to gauge if what we're doing is most efficient..

    Christina Pastella
    Tokio Marine North America Services
    Bala Cynwyd PA

  • 10.  RE: Time Tracking - Pro and Con

    Posted 05-13-2022 16:39
      |   view attached

    As with any other data source you need to evaluate the business need against data quality as categorized by good, better, best. I have done extremely detailed time tracking by task, tagged to service, project, and application meta data – updated nightly from Planview to Apptio via API.  And then thrown it all away… 

    There are a couple of instances where detailed time tracking is important and valuable

    • Time and material chargeback by hour (generally app dev or support services by a shared services organization)
    • Separating capitalizable labor from operational labor

    Even for these instances – Keep it simple!

    For most other use cases time tracking is usually more burden than it is worth and has it own potential accuracy issues.
    First answer these two questions…

    What business decisions or budget decisions are dependent on granular and accurate time tracking?
    How much deviation in cost is there between super accurate, granular time tracking vs estimation by percentage of FTE?

    Whether or not you do time tracking, you still need to allocate labor, so there needs to be an understanding of your fully burdened internal and external labor costs. For privacy reasons, fully burdened labor costs should not be by named resource. It is better to have an (annual) average rate by role and allocate that to the associated products, services. This approach also solves the maintenance issue as resources are added or removed from tasks, projects, products, etc. Resources only need to be mapped to a role. This can be a single schedule of role rates or there can be one for internal labor and one for external labor – if they differ significantly.


    Attempting to reconcile external labor time tracking to contractor invoices from the GL is fraught with issues. Primarily, there is latency between time tracking and invoices from contracting vendors. If travel expenses are involved, it makes it more difficult. It will not tie out and time tracking could be 30, 60, 90 days ahead of what is in the general ledger and at times this information crosses fiscal boundaries.

    In most use cases a logical allocation of FTE cost by role to a service, product, application, etc is sufficient. For example, if the service owner for storage has 5 FTE working for him/her, is time tracking going to give that person any better understanding of the demand on those individuals? Is it going to change the overall cost per GB for storage? Are they spending significant time on tasks that are outside the scope of storage and back up services? Are those individuals funded outside of that infrastructure department?


    Similarly with tickets or stories it is difficult to come up with a time spent on per unit basis that accurately reflects effort and cost. The relationship between how long a ticket is open and how much effort by skill level of resource is vague and varying. I have found that for cost use a simple allocation method but for continuous improvement use ticket count to know which products or services need the most attention.

    Anyone that has heard me speak or attend one of the TBM classes I've taught, would have heard me talk about the distinction between a cost model and a spend model. Related to time tracking, the spend model (money out the door) ties out to the general ledger and is using the contractor invoices as they are incurred. This model would also be used to show budget variances. However, the cost model shows the cost of services, products, etc inclusive of labor where labor in the cost model is based on role rate regardless of the mechanism of determination (time tracking, % FTE, hybrid, etc). This is what will be used for showback/chargeback to the clients. There will be a variance between cost model and spend model with this mechanism so take the variance into account when adjusting role rates for the next fiscal period – improving accuracy and minimizing the variance YoY.

    attached is a deck describing the justification to dramatically reduce the time tracking burden



  • 11.  RE: Time Tracking - Pro and Con

    Posted 05-16-2022 07:06
    Edited by Guillermo Cuadrado 08-29-2022 02:23
    The document summarizes well the issues around time tracking. We have tried many times over the years: now we have a more or less stable situation, but one wonders about the accuracy of the data.
    As the paper suggests, if you have a very detailed concept, using it becomes a chore. If it is too simple, it might not reflect reality, and we might be better off going back to assumptive cost allocation: we kind of know what a team is doing, e.g. what applications they might develop or support, etc. This approach would also apply to release trains in SAFe.
    After many years of debating the topic, we came up with a set of activities per team. If I have to judge by how I use it, there is little value in the exercise: either it's a terrible overhead, or we just use it to get away with the bare minimum. This is well reflected in the paper.
    Our DevOps teams use a very straightforward method: all their labor costs go directly to the BU that sponsors them. No details, but no headaches either.

    Guillermo Cuadrado
    Senior Technical Manager
    Amadeus Data Processing GmbH
    +49 172 8696 790

  • 12.  RE: Time Tracking - Pro and Con

    Posted 08-25-2022 12:06
    Edited by Anne Pietersma 08-26-2022 03:48

    I'm working for are a construction company and our Business is facing a shortage of labour in these times, while on the other hand profit margins on construction projects are still very low.

     Time tracking is currently seen as an important practice to ensure efficiency and transparency for the utilization of human resources towards our customers. A challenging process that we want to further optimize and therefore a good understanding of the problems and causes in this process domain is important for us.

    I came across some great articles and discussions about time tracking in IT. I'm now looking for people of organizations who face similar challenges around time tracking and who are willing to spar with us about their approach and solution direction?

    Thank you in advance.


    Anne Pietersma
    IT Asset Manager
    Royal BAM Group N.V.

  • 13.  RE: Time Tracking - Pro and Con

    Posted 09-02-2022 10:40
    Hello Anne;

    The approach our company took was using work orders to track time.  Our system allowed for tasks within the work order that we aligned to the types of work we wanted to track.  The key was to keep the number of tasks manageable - we had 7.  This allowed for a high level categorizations of tasks - Application Development, Application Support, Portfolio Management, Training, etc.  

    In order for this to work effectively, one needs to understand if their time reporting system accepts work order as an element of one's time, if that information is pushed to the financial system.  Within the work order itself, can an application be identified to associated the work order.  We setup work orders for each application.    Also, there is a lot of change management that occurs around this - everyone needs to understand the work orders, ensuring managers are appropriately managing their work orders.  We had a program around this with one person managing the program on a part-time basis.

    What this approach did for us, is we were able to calculate our total cost of ownership per app and understand which applications we were spending our time and the nature of the work we were doing.  As an example, we don't want to have dev work being performed on apps that are set to be retired or low business criticality.  We also were able to determine if folks were spending too much time on management type work - portfolio management, training, etc. 

    I hope this helpful, happy to have a conversation around this.

    Donna McFarland
    Information Technology Manager
    Exelon Business Services Company, LLC
    Philadelphia PA