Are Check-ins The Future Nirvana of Time Tracking?

Time tracking has always been at the forefront of the internet of things – from the early days of punch cards fed to a mainframe to more recent advancements such as interactive voice response and biometric devices.  How do advancements in SoLoMo technology open up even further possibilities?

Time tracking itself began as a compliance necessity – ensuring people were paid for the proper time worked and no one (especially the company) was getting cheated.  However, tracking time worked has generated far greater benefits than just that.  Knowing when, how many, and on what people work allows for optimized near-term scheduling and, when tied to outcomes (such as widgets sold, widgets produced, and customers satisfied), it can enable predictive planning – including hiring, scheduling, and deployment.  In other words, collecting data on what people are working on and tying that to desirable outcomes can mean big money.  Meanwhile, technology advancements – in particular, biometric devices – make this data more accurate and due to ease and speed, more specific.

For those whose paycheck is tightly tied to clocking in and out, this works great.  However, there is a huge gaping void of workers whose work activities are a complete mystery.  For this population, the act of filling out a timesheet – though often tried at companies to get a “handle on things” – leads to complaints and non-compliance, at best, and mutiny and attrition, at worst. There have also been attempts to raise things up a level – via goal tracking.

Tracking progress and completion toward goals (that could also be tied to projects and outcomes) would garner a similar level of visibility into the work activities of a more elusive population. However, getting individuals to track goals day-to-day is even less realistic than getting people to fill out a timesheet. “We would love it if people did that,” remarked an HR executive in a recent interview.  But they don’t.  It’s a burden and doesn’t help them get work done.  It sure would be great data to have though.

Enter “checking into work objects.” Just as Foursquare and Facebook Places (soon to be replaced by embedded check-ins) allow a consumer to check into a restaurant, airport, or other spot of interest – and then enables others to comment, share experiences, and make suggestions (in addition to suggestions and “offers” made by the system itself), work systems could allow workers to check into a project, customer, product, etc., forming the basis of a useful, collaborative work activity.

This is just what DoubleDutch proposes with its new Hyve product.  Such a mechanism bridges the unstructured, natural way of working of a large population of knowledge workers and structured data collection that can be used for high value visibility and decision making.

Though check-in data cannot replace the highly granular and accurate time keeping made possible by badge swipes and biometric devices, perhaps there will be a marrying of the two for the on-the-clock crowd as well.  With mobile devices becoming more pervasive, an increased desire for social-based work environments, and increased mobile device sophistication (such as QR code readers), checking into work may become a natural and productive way to keep time.

DoubleDutch screenshots:

Visibility into what people are actually working on – made possible by structured data collection

For more on this subject, check out (DoubleDutch CEO) Lawrence Coburn’s blog post on work objects.