Project time tracking

Working time vs. project time recording - The 5 biggest differences

Working time and project time tracking are two fundamentally different concepts in time management. While working time tracking records individual working time, project time tracking focuses on tracking the time spent on specific project activities.
Working time recording vs project time recording - The 5 biggest differences

Working time and project time recording are two concepts that play an important role in the corporate world. Although they may both seem similar at first glance, they are actually quite different in their functioning and objectives. In this article, we will look in detail at the differences between working time tracking and project time tracking to get a clearer understanding of these two aspects of time management.

Recording working time - The cornerstone for every company

How is timekeeping actually defined? Well, timekeeping is a widely used concept that involves the basic recording and recording of an employee's working hours. So far, so good. But it is also an important method for tracking and accounting for an employee's working hours, leave days and other absences. In Germany, at the latest since the BAG ruling from September 2022 the daily working time must be recorded. This is the only way to ensure compliance with the working time regulations.

How does working time recording work?

Many roads lead to Rome - This is also the case when it comes to recording working hours. Because: At the latest with the BAG ruling of September 2022, the recording of working time became mandatory in Germany. The Draft bill of the BMAS goes one step further: the draft stipulates that working time must be recorded electronically. Exception: Companies with less than 10 employees are exempt from the electronic recording obligation, but must still document their times - whether manually, on paper or via software is up to the companies. It is also important to note that the records must be kept for at least two years!

Importance of working time recording for employers

For employers, timekeeping is crucial to track productivity and labour costs. It makes it possible to monitor overtime and minus hours, as well as the Holiday and absence management to keep an eye on. In addition, recording daily working hours helps companies comply with working time regulations and can help avoid conflicts that could arise from unpaid overtime or inaccurate working time reports.

Advantages of working time recording for employees

Of course, employees also benefit from accurate timekeeping. This is because it enables a precise record of hours worked and ensures that overtime can be compensated in a more defined way. In addition, transparent working time recording can strengthen employees' trust in the company. Advantage: With modern software solutions for working time recording, employees have no additional administrative work. An example calculation: an employee spends about 10 minutes a day manually entering working time into an Excel list. This includes the time he needs to search for the file, open it, make entries, save them, make corrections, etc. This results in monthly costs for the employee. This results in monthly costs in the amount of 86.73 EUR (assuming a average hourly wage for full-time employees of EUR 24.77). A software for recording working time can reduce the costs AND the workload to a considerable extent!

Project time recording - insights into the heart of project management

In contrast to pure working time recording, project time recording is a concept that is closely linked to the management and controlling of projects. While working time recording focuses on the individual working time of an employee, project time recording is dedicated to tracking the time spent on the implementation of a specific project.

How does project time recording work?

Project time tracking records the time spent by individual employees or teams on various activities within a project. These activities or tasks can be tasks, meetings, tests or other project-related expenses. By tracking time at the project level, organisations can better understand and manage the progress, efficiency and profitability of projects. Furthermore, through accurate project management and recorded project times, subsequent projects can be better calculated so that all resources can be planned fairly before the project starts. With a Software for project time recording this process is much more accurate & time-saving.

Importance of project time recording for employers

Accurate project time recording is extremely valuable for companies. But why actually? It is the foundation for project management and budgeting of any project. Project managers can thus monitor the Keeping an eye on the progress of projects, identify bottlenecks and use resources optimally and efficiently. The more accurate project time tracking is, the better companies can assess the profitability of projects and make future estimates more accurately.

Advantages of project time recording for employees

Project teams also benefit as users from efficient project time recording. They get a clear overview of their project-specific tasks and the planned time needed to complete them. This enables all team members to better plan their time, set priorities and avoid bottlenecks. The transparency of project time tracking also allows them to evaluate their own performance and possibly make optimisations to work even more efficiently and purposefully.

The 5 big differences

"Enough words have been spoken, now let us finally see action! Although there is no mention of project time recording in Goethe's Faust, this quote is quite apt, because: Now that we have explained the meaning and functionality of working time and project time recording, let's focus on the 5 main differences between the two approaches.

Focus and objective

The main difference between working time recording and project time recording is probably the focus and the objective. Working time recording focuses primarily on the individual working time of employees. Thus, payroll, overtime and compliance with working time regulations can be managed in a cost-efficient and time-saving way. Project time tracking, on the other hand, aims to measure and manage the time spent on specific project activities in order to optimise project performance and use the budget effectively. Both approaches can of course be done manually. But it makes rather little sense, as it is error-prone and time-consuming. Why not save time and money? With a cloud-based solution, it's all the easier.

Time units and levels

Another important difference concerns the time units and levels that are recorded. While in working time recording mainly the daily working hours of an employee are recorded, in project time recording the focus is on recording specific project activities. This leads to the greatest possible transparency vis-à-vis the customer, since billing can be done on an hourly or even minute basis. A suitable software solution for project time recording supports companies in From the offer to for invoicingso that they retain full control over their projects at all times.

Relevant coverage areas

All at once or each for themselves? Depending on the function an employee has in the company, the areas of coverage also differ. The pure recording of working time usually concerns the entire workforce of a company and is often standardised throughout the company. In contrast, project time recording is limited to specific projects or project teams and can vary - depending on the requirements or complexity - of a project. With a reliable software solution, you can reconcile both. ZEP offers, for example, in the Professional" version Additional modules with which pure time recording as well as project-specific times can be recorded, documented and accounted for.

Intended use

What are working times recorded for? And what is important in project time recording? Well, data from working time recording is mainly used for payroll accounting, regulating working time and - very importantly - for compliance with legal regulations. As you can see, time recording is not an annoying evil, but protects employees from accumulating too much overtime and requires employers to comply with working time laws. Project time tracking, on the other hand, is about assessing the progress, efficiency and profitability of projects and optimising project planning and costing. Appropriate project time tracking software can help companies plan resources for future projects so that no project participant is over- or under-utilised.

Reporting & Analysis

Why and for what purpose are working and project times actually recorded? The type of reporting and analysis are also very different in both models. Because: The results of pure working time recording can usually be presented in the form of working time accounts and salary statements. Whereas the results of project time recording are often presented in comprehensive project reports and analyses that cover various aspects of project management. In this way, those responsible always maintain an overview of detailed project controlling and can present the client with transparent accounting and a comprehensive project report. This guarantees that no misunderstandings arise.

3 Commonalities & Synergies

Despite all the major differences, working time recording and project time recording also share a handful of similarities and can complement each other. Because: Both working time and project time recording are valuable tools for resource management in a company. While working time recording helps to track and optimise employees' working time, project time recording enables better planning and use of available resources in the context of specific projects. Furthermore, both recording options contribute fundamentally to cost control. By tracking working time, companies can better monitor and manage labour costs per se. At the same time, project time tracking helps to improve budgeting and cost estimates for projects and to identify potential cost overruns at an early stage. Last, but not least, both working time recording and project time recording help to increase efficiency in a company. Bottlenecks can be identified at an early stage and workflows optimised.

The keys to time management

What can we ultimately conclude? So, working time recording and project time recording are two essential tools for time management in companies. Whereas working time recording focuses on individual working time and concentrates on the administration of hours and salaries, the Project time recording a detailed tracking of time spent on specific project activities to optimise projects and resources. And: although they are sometimes very different in their goals and modes of operation, work and project time tracking complement each other and together contribute to increasing the efficiency and profitability of companies. Careful implementation and use of both approaches can become an invaluable tool for companies to manage and plan resources and projects.

In today's ever-evolving digital business world, it is therefore crucial to use the right tools and technologies for work and project time tracking. Why? To gain competitive advantage and be successful. Modern software solutions like ZEP support you in digitising your everyday business.

Tanja Hartmann CEP

Tanja Hartmann

Content Marketing Manager at ZEP

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