How web-based time tracking software pays for itself

| October 13th, 2009 | , ,

In this current economic landscape many small businesses are looking for ways to save money and increase productivity. Smaller and tighter budgets require us to be more frugal with our spending while still meeting our goals and expectations for the business. For web designers, developers, creatives, marketers and others providing a professional service and billing hourly, there is extra pressure to track and bill every minute of billable time.

It may seem counter-intuitive to sign up for a paid online time tracking service like Intervals, but the truth is that doing so will increase your revenues. How exactly? I can think of at least three ways, all based on our own experiences tracking time over the last nine years at Pelago.

Increase billable hours

Tracking your time using online software makes the tedious task more persistent in your day-to-day. By using web-based timers it’s as easy as clicking a button to start and stop timers. A few more clicks and the billable time has been applied to the client’s project. No more jotting down notes on paper timesheets. No more creating rows and filling in cells in Xcel. And no more writing down start and end times for every task performed.

The ability to juggle multiple persistent web-based timers increased our own billable hours by 30%. A good amount of the lost time that used to slip through the cracks of our previous time tracking methodologies was now being recorded. We went from an average of 5 billable ours per week to 6.5 (unbillable hours account for an additional one or two hours a day). Let’s assume an hourly rate of $100. We just increased our billable revenue by $150 per day, $750 per week, and $3000 per month. A company using the Intervals Top Shelf plan could make the $175 monthly fee back in one or two days.

Spend less time tracking time

The single biggest burden of using outdated time tracking methodologies, such as Xcel timesheets, is the amount of time it takes to track your time. We would easily spend at least four hours a week recording time into Xcel. When you add up that four hours with the other billable hours lost due to poor time tracking methods, you realize you are losing money due to inefficiencies. Removing barriers to tracking time smoothly and efficiently is an easy way to increase your billable hours and revenues.

Invoice and collect payment easily

Most time tracking solutions available online today (including Intervals) offer you some way to invoice clients for billable hours. It makes sense that invoicing and time tracking would be included in one application and makes it incredibly easy to collect payments from your clients. Whether you bill clients per project or on a monthly basis, a few clicks of the mouse is all that is needed to generate an invoice and email it. Collecting payments from clients is an important aspect of keeping consistent cash flow coming into a small business. The easier it is to collect money owed the easier it will be to regulate cash flow and reduce the number of ups & downs that can plague a small business.

There are some still convinced that tracking tasks and time in a moleskine journal or an excel timesheet is the best methodology for running a small business. If that’s what works for you than more power to you. But for the majority of us looking for time-proven ways to increase productivity and revenue across a group of people, web-based time, task and project management software is one of your best options. Find a solution that fits your style of workflow and give it a whirl. Getting comfortable with running your business online is the easy part. The hard part will be figuring out what to due with your newfound free time.

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9 Responses to “How web-based time tracking software pays for itself”

  1. Michael Melanson says:

    How are any of these supposed advantages specific to web-based software?

  2. John Reeve says:

    Because the persistence of web-based software across multiple platforms and locations makes the user experience consistent for everyone working on the same team. Uniformity helps remove barriers of difference that might otherwise trip up employees trying to track their time. In addition, web-based software can be up and running in minutes, whereas desktop installations require some level of IT and updates across machines.

    While the above may not be unique to web-based software, it is true that web-based software makes these tasks easier than other types of software.

  3. Primary Work at Home says:

    This web based software is useful but it’s not really dependable and that is the reason why web owners still prefer hiring someone to do it manually.

  4. John Reeve says:

    I disagree. Web-based software is becoming more and more dependable each day. The technology continues to improve as do the apps built on it. Every web design and development shop I have spoken with — and other small businesses who bill hourly — who manually track their time are all looking for something more reliable and consistent. Manual trime tracking is too susceptible to human error and is a waste of time.

    The ROI of moving to a web-based or installable application is reason alone to do so. But I’d love to see examples of people who are manually tracking their time in a way that is both efficient and productive.

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A collection of useful tips, tales and opinions based on decades of collective experience designing and developing web sites and web-based applications.

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Intervals is online time, task and project management software built by and for web designers, developers and creatives.
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John Reeve

John is a co-founder, web designer and developer at Pelago. His blog posts are inspired by everyday encounters with designers, developers, creatives and small businesses in general. John is an avid reader and road cyclist.
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Michael Payne

Michael is a co-founder and product architect at Pelago. His contributions stem from experiences managing the development process behind web sites and web-based applications such as Intervals. Michael drives a 1990 Volkswagen Carat with a rebuilt 2.4 liter engine from GoWesty.
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