Analyzing Time Tracking Data for Project Post-Mortems

Analyzing Time Tracking Data for Project Post-Mortems

Jelena Lukic
Written by Jelena Lukic
March 19, 2024

Project post-mortems are an essential practice in project management.

They provide an opportunity to review and reflect on the completed project and learn from its successes and failures.

Project post-mortems can help your team improve their processes, methods, and tools.

Additionally, they can point your organization toward achieving better results in future projects.

However, conducting a project post-mortem is not a simple or straightforward task.

It requires a systematic and comprehensive approach and involves various sources of data and feedback.

One of the most important sources of data for project post-mortems is time tracking data.

This data provides valuable insights into the project performance, team efficiency, and resource allocation.

Here is how you can use it.

The Value of Time Tracking Data in Project Post-Mortems

Time tracking data can provide a wealth of information and insights for project post-mortems, such as:

Performance Evaluation

One of the main purposes of project post-mortems is to evaluate the overall project performance.

This means understanding whether the project met its objectives, scope, budget, and schedule.

Time tracking data can help in this evaluation by providing objective and quantifiable measures.

It will show you how much time was spent on the project tasks and deliverables.

Then, you’ll be able to see how it compared to the planned or estimated time.

For example, time tracking data can help answer questions such as:

  • How long did the project take to complete?
  • How did it compare to the original timeline?
  • How much time was spent on each project phase, task, or activity?
  • How much time was spent on productive or value-adding tasks, versus tasks like meetings, administration, or rework?
  • How much time was spent on billable vs non-billable tasks, and how did it affect the project profitability?
  • How much time was spent on different project roles, functions, or skills?
  • How did it affect the project quality and efficiency?

Fun Fact: Project post-mortems are a valuable source of documentation and knowledge management. They capture insights, best practices, and lessons learned, which can be shared across the organization. This knowledge repository helps future project teams avoid repeating common mistakes.

Identifying Successes and Challenges

Another purpose of project post-mortems is to identify and acknowledge the successes and challenges encountered during the project.

This way you can recognize the achievements and failures of the project team and stakeholders.

Time tracking data can help by highlighting the time spent on various tasks or phases.

Analyzing time data in project post-mortems reveals what went smoothly and what obstacles were faced.

For example, time tracking data can help identify:

  • Schedule compliance or lack thereof for different tasks and phases
  • Their budget adherence
  • The quality of each aspect (whether it needed rework and why)
  • The difficulty and resource utilization of specific activities

Capturing Lessons Learned

A third purpose of project post-mortems is to capture and document the lessons learned from the project.

A post-mortem’s purpose is to derive insights and recommendations for future improvements.

Time tracking data can help capture:

  • How the project team can improve their time estimation and allocation skills.
  • Which time management and prioritization skills need improvement.
  • Potential improvements to time tracking tools and processes to avoid complexity or tediousness in time entry and analysis.

Fun Fact: The term “post-mortem” in project post-mortems is borrowed from the medical field, where it refers determining the cause of death. In project management, it represents the examination of a completed project to evaluate its successes, failures, and lessons learned.

Limitations of Time Tracking Data

While time tracking data can be a valuable source of information and learning for project post-mortems, it can also have some limitations, such as:

Accuracy and Reliability

The quality of time tracking data depends on its recording and collection.

The data relies on the memory and honesty of the project team members, who may not always remember or report their time accurately or consistently.

Time tracking data can also be affected by human or technical errors, such as forgetting to log hours, logging hours incorrectly, or having issues with the time tracking tools or systems.

The main accuracy issues encompass:

  • Underreporting or overreporting hours
  • Estimating or rounding
  • Double-counting or missing hours

Complexity and Tediousness

Another limitation of time tracking data is the complexity of the data entry and analysis.

Time tracking data may require significant time and effort to log and categorize the time spent on tasks or projects.

The analysis can also be hindered, as it often involves large amounts of data and information. Hence, it requires advanced skills and tools to process and understand.

The biggest reasons for complexity are:

  • The number and variety of tasks or projects
  • The frequency and granularity of time entry
  • The diversity and sophistication of time tracking tools and methods

These factors can discourage or demotivate the team members from entering and managing their time data.

You can prevent them by choosing a time tracking tool with a simple input and intuitive interface.

The process shouldn’t take away your team’s valuable time.

Fun Fact: In addition to post-mortems, some project teams conduct “pre-mortems.” Instead of analyzing a completed project, a pre-mortem is conducted before the project begins. Team members imagine that the project has failed and identify potential causes of failure. This exercise helps anticipate risks and proactively address them.

Strategies for Effective Use of Time Tracking Data

Fortunately, you can enhance the quality of time tracking data.

Then, you’ll be able to use to its full potential in project post-mortems.

Enhancing Data Quality

Here is how you can improve time data’s accuracy and reliability:

  • Regularly audit and review it: This can help to verify and validate the time data, and identify and correct any errors or inconsistencies in the time data.
  • Encourage honest and accurate reporting: Reduce the underreporting or overreporting and increase the trust and transparency of the time data.
  • Provide feedback and recognition: Reward the team members for entering and managing their time data.

Simplifying Data Analysis

Another strategy for effective use of time tracking data is to simplify the data analysis.

This way, you will make it less complex and tedious for your team.

  • Use intuitive and user-friendly tools and methods for data analysis: Reduce the time and effort required for data analysis. Make it more accessible and understandable for the entire team.
  • Use visual and interactive tools: Enhance the presentation and make the data more engaging and appealing.

Utilizing Other Sources

Time tracking data can be complemented with other sources of data and feedback.

This way, you’ll be able to provide a more holistic and balanced view of the project performance, challenges, and lessons learned.

Some of the other sources are:

  • Surveys and Interviews: Gathering qualitative feedback to understand the context and reasons behind the time spent on tasks or projects. Surveys and interviews can help to capture opinions, perceptions, and emotions about the project and provide a deeper and richer understanding.
  • Observations: Observe the team members and their work behavior and performance. Observations can help you capture your team’s interactions and outcomes and provide a more objective and realistic view of the project execution.
  • Project Artifacts: Review tangible and intangible outputs and outcomes of the project. These include the project deliverables, meeting notes, communication logs, etc. Project artifacts can help you document and demonstrate the quality and efficiency of the project. Additionally, they provide a more concrete and measurable view of the project results.

By using these other sources of data and feedback, you can gain a more comprehensive and balanced view of the project.

Also, you’ll avoid relying solely on time tracking data, which may have some limitations and biases.

Fun Fact: Project post-mortems can involve a technique called “retrofuturing,” which encourages participants to imagine how the project could have been even more successful if they had access to future technologies or knowledge. It sparks creativity and helps generate innovative ideas for future projects.


Time tracking data can be a great tool in project post-mortems.

It can help you review resource allocation, evaluate team and individual performance, and guide you toward process improvement.

However, there are some issues to look out for.

Namely, time tracking data isn’t enough for evaluating a finished project.

It should be used along with other qualitative and quantitative data, like

  • Feedback
  • Project outcomes
  • Client satisfaction

Hence, you’ll have to combine it with other sources.

Additionally, you’ll need to pay attention to the data collection itself.

A simple time tracking software will allow your team to provide accurate data quickly and efficiently.

Time Analytics – Your Partner in Resolving Post-Mortems

Time Analytics is a time tracking solution that caters to businesses of all sizes and industries.

Its intuitive interface helps all users create quick and accurate time entries, no matter their computer skills.

Each entry is connected to its task, project, and client.

Additionally, they feature billing rates, fees, and project-related expenses.

Finally, the team members can add quick notes to enhance the analysis.

Improve your team’s time tracking experience without sacrificing data quality with Time Analytics!

Give the software a try in a free 14-day trial.

Jelena Lukic

Jelena has a Master’s Degree in teaching Serbian literature and language. Creative writing is her biggest passion.

Join thousands of companies that grow with Time Analytics

Miras Managment
Zabriskie studio