The Quantifiable Agency: Using Time Tracking Data to Measure Project Health

John Reeve | January 13th, 2015 | , ,

The quantifiable agency: using time tracking data to measure project health

Wearable fitness trackers are at the forefront of one of the fastest growing industries today. These devices empower people to take their health into their own hands. By tracking and analyzing our body’s data we can make more informed decisions about our health and well-being. This trend in tracking our bodies is becoming widely known as the quantifiable self.

Tracking health is not just for individuals. Agencies have a lot to gain from tracking and analyzing their own business health. Most already track revenues and profits, but what about time?  Time is one metric, like calories, that agencies can track and analyze on a daily basis. Yet, most don’t. The quantifiable agency is one that tracks their time and uses the data wisely to make more informed business decisions.

It doesn’t matter if your agency bills for their time or not. Measuring project performance by knowing the amount and value of time spent on projects will help any agency succeed. All it requires is some project time tracking software and a little discipline to generate a wealth of data.

Amount of time

The first thing time tracking software is going to tell you is the number of hours spent on various projects and tasks. At the high level you can deduce whether you’ve been working too many, or too few, hours. Digging into the data will reveal projects that took up too much time, or were neglected. It can also reveal people who are overworked, or not pulling their weight.

Good time tracking software will break down your data into several different views to help you make more informed business decisions. Should you hire another freelancer? Should you fire a client? Just reference the data to find out.

Value of time

The second thing you will want to focus on is the financial value of your time. Whether your are billing your projects at a flat rate, or hourly, this data is important. Understanding the value of your time should be factored in to writing new contracts and hiring new people.

Once a project is complete, divide the client payments by the number of hours to see the actual hourly value of your time. This simple exercise can reveal if you are charging your clients too little. When you look at the hourly value of your time, it’s easier to justify raising your rates. The data is also useful for tracking profit margins once you’ve paid out your employees and subcontractors.

Understanding your time

Time is a valuable, yet limited, resource. Agencies have only so much of it to give. Work too little and there won’t be enough revenue. Work too much and people will get burned out. By tracking this time the agency can gauge overall health using actual data. Because a healthy agency is a profitable one.

Photo credit: osseous

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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
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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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Jennifer Payne
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Jennifer Payne

Jennifer is the Director of Quality and Efficiency at Pelago. Her blog posts are based largely on her experience working with teams to improve harmony and productivity. Jennifer is a cat person.
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Michael Payne
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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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