“I want to play a game”. How we almost doubled a number of billable hours in one month

This is a story about time tracking competition in our company. We managed to double a number of billable hours in a month thanks to this strategy. Maybe you will be inspired by this example and introduce something similar in your organization?


Time tracking company has problems with time tracking implementation? How weird does it sound to you?

But after all, we are humans and like all the rest we go through some turbulence when we “must” do something… Even when it is such a profitable process as time tracking.

Hopefully, we have found out a trick that changed this compulsion into a… pure fun!

tug-of-war graphics

Note: This is a story about time tracking, but competition method can be used in various cases and is irreplaceable for achieving business goals!

Face the facts. Implementation of time tracking software is not a child’s play.

Believe me… We’ve been through this ourselves. But, on the other hand, time tracking gives you an opportunity to become a serious Task Force.

Do you remember the team from “Inception”? How many things they managed while the van was falling from the bridge? Good time tracking is something like that 😉

We also wanted to be like those guys (and girl) but were temporarily lacked of inspiring ideas… Then it suddenly came to our CEO while he was meditating in his office (he just loves to meditate):

A competition!

At sight we divided our whole crew into smaller teams, established rules and the game began.


Results exceeded our expectations.

Here are two reports generated for one of the teams. One from March, before we launched time tracking competition, and one from April, when the competition was finally over. Reports show each worker’s tracked time during month and amount of their cumulative tracked time.

Players: Magda (marketing), Janek (marketing), Przemek (development), Kuba (sales)

March – common work month:

data screenshot

April – a month of fierce rivalry :

data screenshot


176 monthly tracked hours more in a team of 4 people.

It means that, statistically, every employee in our Fantastic Four began to track 44 hours monthly more!

Why time tracking is hard?

But let’s start from the beginning.

Why making friends with time tracking app is so hard that you have to invent tricks to manage it?

Because Time tracking is a process. You can’t just set up time tracking app in your office, lean out the door and shout: “All right, everybody, you all track time from now!”


Because you have to tell your employees how and why to do this.

What will happen if you don’t?

Chaos. Look at our example. TimeCamp consists of three departments: software & website development, sales and marketing. Every department has different number of workers, different types of tasks, different work style and… different personalities. This last factor is a millstone around a neck when it comes to proper time tracking implementation.

With sweat and tears we successfully overcame problems with time tracking across departments, projects and tasks structures.

As far as this article is about our competition, I will not describe the whole process here. And I even don’t have to to this as we have already done it it this article:

10 Fatal Mistakes That Killed Our Time Tracking Implementation.

But was it all? Definitely not. We noticed a BIG PROGRESS, but there was still a lot of work to do.

Spirit of team sport: Business goals vs Human nature

Overcoming technical obstacles was a 50% of success. All of us began to fill timesheets properly. The second 50% ahead was: how to make a whole team to fill their timesheets perfectly. When I say perfectly, I mean: constantly, successively, without forgetting and even with pleasure.

But how to program people’s mind to treat imposed, additional task (you know, filling timesheets, clicking timer, all that interrupting stuff) like something good for themselves?

We made this task a source of competition. The old-known truth is: everyone do better when they have:

the prospect of valuable award,

other folks to compete.

When I talk about valuable award I do not necessarily mean “welfare of our company”. We don’t have to be such idealistic. People want to play for tangible goods. And they simply love to compare to others. That’s the essence of most human beings nature. We inherit from animals. No culture can kill it in us overall.

The best in competition is when you are a part of a team, you feel a healthy pressure of responsibility. As far as you are all right with letting down yourself, you will be very careful not to become “this guy because of whom our team lost out”.

“And either we heal, now, as a team or we will die as individuals!”

Al Pacino, Any Given Sunday

It really works. Thousands of athletes in the world just can’t be wrong 🙂

Some strategy: How did we organize time tracking competition?

We made a Time Traffic Kick-Off Meeting during which we:

1. Divided us into teams.

To make the game more interesting, teams were divided by draw. We had to be in groups with people from outside own departments, who we didn’t know as well as ones we work with every day. It was highly motivating, because it was harder to excuse ourselves with words “oh, stop, you know well that I’m scatterbrained, I don’t always remember to fill timesheet”. People who are closest to you easier forgive your little imperfections.

2. Unified tasks’ structure

Who knows if it is not the hardest part of time tracking lesson. We had to beat our brains out to manage how to make tasks’ structure similar in development, sales and marketing departments!

How we did it? We simplified each department’s work areas as much as it was possible. Every department had only a few, very general types of tasks, to which employees could track time. Also, to keep our structures clean, we prevent most of members to add new task.

3. Defined time.

The competition had to take one month: from 1 to 30 April.

4. Defined goals.

In fact, there were 2 kinds of goals:

– Company business goal: the more time we track, the more data about our work time administration we have.

We need these data to increase profitability, improve efficiency, plan and estimate projects for clients. In short, to work smarter and be more and more profitable.

– Competition goal: one day off and cinema tickets for victorious team

“Hoo – ah!” (Let mi quote Al Pacino once again).

Finally I get this honor to be in a victorious team and we could celebrate our victory, trembling and bitting our nails off on “Babadook”. (Who chose this movie, by the way?!)

Do you have any other inspiring productivity tips? I would love to know them.

Come on, share!

“I want to play a game”. How we almost doubled a number of billable hours in one month

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