Enterprise Time Tracking Software Idiocy
Of course, companies need to know what their employees and consultants are spending their time on. This is not the problem. But ERP systems' (they want to be called this, but they aren't). The problem is, in a word, usability. And this leads back to the classic dichotomy between the two types of software in the world:
Elective Use Software
Compulsory Use Software
Elective Use Software:
By definition, it's what a user elects to use. In order to be elected, this software must provide some sort of value or reward to the user, usually revealed in a day-in-the-life product planning exercise. The test is simple: Does a user's day or particular activity get markedly better with the product vs. without? One can also use the term made famous (but not invented by) Steve Jobs: "suck less"
The hallmarks of software of this sort then, is that provides utility, and so is actually something you can use, and will use because it makes your day better. Not only that, but most software of this nature also has the job of convincing you of the utility it provides quickly, and intuitively.
Compulsory Use Software:
Classic IT software falls very much into this category, as does just about anything labeled "enterprise". Because the person purchasing the software is not the person using it, usability, and by extension, productivity takes a back seat. Really. Look at SAP, look at the time entry systems where you work, and stuff written by your internal IT departments for internal consumptions. Cumbersome user interfaces, unclear instructions, and overall very unintuitive.
The irony. The enterprise planning software and time trackers actually impede productivity as they are designed today. Bravo.