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How to Track Time Between Stages of a Project

How to Track Time Between Stages of a Project

5 minutes

July 28, 2023

Welcome back to Smart Tips, where we dive into practical insights for project management and productivity enthusiasts. In the latest episode, Jeff Gonzalez from Smartsuite gives us a walkthrough on tracking time effectively throughout your project's lifecycle. So let's unravel this puzzle and help you gain enhanced control over your project timelines.

Understanding Project Time Tracking

The life of a project manager is filled with tasks, deliverables, and crucially - timelines. But how can you ensure you’re spending the right amount of time at each stage of your project? Whether you're knee-deep in analysis or pushing forward in the planning stages, tracking the duration of each phase is key to streamlining operations.

Why Time Tracking Matters

Tracking time isn’t just about recording hours; it's a vital aspect that informs efficiency, resource allocation, and operational flow within your projects. When you know the length of time spent on each phase:

  • Analysis: Time in this phase impacts how well you understand the problem you aim to solve.
  • Planning: Time here reflects how detailed and robust your strategies and plans are.
  • Execution: Tracking time in the execution phase helps understand productivity and pace.
  • Completion: Timing the wrap-up phase can highlight your team's ability to meet deadlines effectively.

How to Set Up Time Tracking in Project Management?

We take the complexity out of the process by relying on automations within the project management solution. But before we jump into automated time tracking, here’s a glance at a critical element— the 'now' formula we'll be utilizing. This simply returns the current date and time and is crucial for our discussion on automations.

Automating Your Way to Better Time Tracking

Automations are the unsung heroes of efficient project management. They systematically document each switch between stages. Instead of manually entering the current time when a stage changes, automations do that for you.

Setting the Stage for Automation

In the projects application, identify the status field that defines each stage of your project. You would typically have stages like:

  • Analysis
  • Planning
  • In-Process
  • Complete

Adjacent to these stages are date fields that capture the transition times.

Triggering the Time Stamp

With automations, you set a trigger for when the record, or in our case, the project stage, is updated. For instance:

  • When the status changes from 'Analysis' to 'Planning,' the automation records the current time in the specific date field.

This is replicated across all stages, ensuring you capture when each stage was entered and when it was exited.

Calculating the Time Difference

The real power lies in the comparison. Using a date diff function, you can compare the creation date of the project to the date when it switches to a new stage. You can then express this difference in days, giving you an exact count of time spent in each stage.

Creating an Insightful Time Assessment View

While adding fields to your project application might seem overwhelming, they carry significant worth. Consider creating a dedicated 'Time Assessment View':

  • Custom Views: This view should only showcase the relevant time tracking fields, keeping other views clutter-free.
  • Under the Hood: These fields generally operate "under the hood", providing insights for operational or leadership teams without cluttering your daily project views.

You might wonder, "Which stage generally consumes most of our time?" A custom view like this can help you derive averages and understand where the bulk of your efforts are going.

Bringing It All Together

Simply setting up stages and hoping for the best isn't enough. Through strategic tracking of time, powered by smart automations, you can gain actionable insights into the flow of your projects. Remember:

If inspiration is what you're seeking, I hope this episode has served its purpose. Implement these strategies and watch as your project timelines become clearer, and your management becomes more proactive.

Stuck or Curious?

Questions are the stepping stones to learning. If anything remains unclear or if you’re hungry to discuss more, don't hesitate to reach out. We've got a responsive chat service, a buzzing community forum, and of course, a comments section right below— just for your insights and inquiries.

Managing your project timelines need not be a daunting task. With the right tools and a bit of automation magic, you become well-equipped to lead your projects to success — efficiently and on-time. So go on, give your projects the time tracking sophistication they deserve and watch as you master the flow of time within your workflow!

Remember: Time tracked is insight gained. So set up your stages, cue in your automations, and let's get tracking!