I talked with couple of friends of mine who reported that their companies track everything they do. Ranging from pretty much going to toilet to drinking coffee to sitting in meetings to other stuff one does at work, they track everything.
And… then they (seemingly) don’t do anything with the numbers (or read them wrong, or give such penalties that people start to lie about numbers which effectively leads to the same thing).
I know some guys like to track their time (and it can be a good thing, maybe), but I’ve always liked to track more about the result side of things. Of course both are important if you want to analyze (it’s important to know how much certain project took resources and compare this with the results), but if you’d need to pick one: pick the results – count the achievements accomplished in certain time for example.
Some managers make it a must thing to track everything in micro level. You need to calculate how many hours you put into planning and brainstorming and meetings and coffee drinking and whatnot. Sometimes it starts to puzzle me how much these guys put time into tracking time (maybe some companies actually track time they put in tracking time…).
If they actually use the numbers, then good… but if they first require everybody in the team to give a detailed numbers of how many hours they spent coding different things, I think they are quite in the wrong track.
If they only ask Joe to report his 151 hours of programming (and do nothing), then things are bad.
If they actually use Joe’s numbers to estimate how much something took time, and what Joe should do (and whether he should do more programming) then we are getting somewhere.
Although… people work in teams. Team consists of several people. Tracking Joe’s, Tim’s and Eric’s time separately doesn’t necessarily help much. Knowing that these guys spent 308 hours last month to program doesn’t help much either. If they know that these guys managed to finish X number of features in 308 hours can be helpful. You can use it to estimate future features (and their costs) and help make decisions. If on the other hand you “do this stuff anyway” – what’s the point of tracking time?
How much your team spends in tracking time? Is it really useful? Do you use the numbers for something?