work sampling vs. time tracking

A lot of companies regularly use a time tracking system. These systems usually record the time spent on products/ projects related to the client. So why could it be useful to carry a Multimomentanalysis as well?
The question can be easily answered.

The special nature of a multimomentstudy enables it to deliver much more information and much more detailed results which give the best basis to install a continuous process of improvement. Also work sampling offers a record related to tasks while a time tracking system only works related to projects.

This comparative study gives some more insights - questions:

  • Which tasks keep the (project management) team busy?
  • How often does the team work targeted/not targeted?
    - Examples: meetings, administration
  • How can we use the data won from the time tracking system to improve processes?
    - Where is the time tracking system limited?
    - Which recordings make sense and which do not make sense?

The following processes, i.e. tasks were installed to answer the question: What are you doing right now?


  • own project
  • third project


  • e-mail/telephone
  • project abc
  • training
  • others


  • production
  • quality control
  • quality management
  • registration
  • purchase/planning/export


  • own project
  • third project
  • general work
  • production

The participants where asked randomly selected averagely all 20 minutes. Smartphones where used for the interview.

These results could be established:

work sampling with

time tracking

35% of total time spent on own projects

Not recorded

20% of total time spent on other projects

Not recorded

18% for other departments

Not recorded

17% for administrative activities

Not recorded

10% in product-independent meetings

Not recorded

Not recorded

37% product-related

Not recorded

63% not product-related


In the phase of analysis, the first deciding differences between MMA and a time tracking system occur. Time tracking systems offer no level to interpret and analyze information in a deeper way. 

The following questions must be answered:

  • Why does the team does not work targeted 41 % of time?
  • What kind of tasks are responsible?
  • Why can knowledge could not be gained from the time an attendance system?

result of work sampling study


The team spent about 12% of the time in meetings, which are just in 10% of the time targeted. The meetings are recorded on a level of about 13 % by the time tracking system. Only 60 % of all and only the product-related meetings were recorded by the time tracking system - all others were completely neglected. The MMA offers more detailed information and a different point of view.

It recorded 17 % for administration, while the time tracking system recorded 24 %. The study evaluates certain tasks differently from the time tracking system.
Example: To work out a SOP work sampling is related to Quality Management while the time tracking system relates the SOP to administration.

Conclusion and action plan

In future meetings are directly recorded as administration in the time tracking system. A time tracking system has a much bigger factor of blurring than a Multi-Moment-Analysis. As MMA works in a much more detailed way and more accurately it offers answers to questions which a time tracking system alone cannot answer.

To bring it to the point:

  • A time tracking system relates the work to products, projects and clients.
  • A work sampling study points out the distribution of tasks, independent of projects and clients.

If you want to look on groups and teams which over work several projects and subjects, the time tracking system cannot offer you answers. Just the Multi-Moment-Study will give you enough data and analysis to optimize processes continuously. It also provides you with reasonable data to evaluate the installation of a time tracking system related to the administration time spent on this system itself.