Tracking Planner Time

Dear Management Doctor: 

Do you have any information regarding tracking planner time spent on projects, application, plans, etc?

Mile Murphy

Dear Mike,

Knowing planner's time is important for setting staffing and fees for applications and for establishing a long range planning work program.

For most of us in the consulting business, this is a routine activity. All of my staff methodically track their time and it is then entered into an accounting program so we can analyze how we did on each project and then refine our proposals for the next contract. Virtually all of our contracts are fixed fee so it is essential we refine our ability to project cost.

The way you do this will vary by each organization and each person and how refined you need the data to be. In my case, I track my time to the nearest quarter hour and simply mark when I start and end a project on my daytimer. I suggest not trying to track in less than quarter hour increments. A few places even go to the nearest half hour.

Some people have a way to record time on their computer. Some of the new application processing software actually have a feature built in for tracking time.

Tracking planner time is a hard sell in most government planning departments. Out of 170 contracts we have had, only four or five communities actually have planners track time. However, some communities have fees for some activities based on actual time. Obviously, for these communities it is essential that staff track time, at least for those projects.

Since it is so hard to get an entire staff to consistently track time, another approach is to have staff track time for a limited period of several weeks and then use this data to make estimates for staffing and fees.

Hopefully a few of our emailers will have developed systems that they find workable that we can share with you. Let me know how things work out.
The Management Doctor

P.S. Click here to read a similar article I wrote for our website some time ago. It has some nice responses from our emailers.

trainingcompany hot infomanagement doctordumb stuffconsultingpublications