Tracking time is one of the most worthwhile endeavors that a company can pursue to improve their productivity and profitability. But, it’s not an easy undertaking. Many companies have deployed time tracking software with the best of intentions, only to abandon their efforts later. There are a number of reasons why an organization fails at tracking their time. This article will focus on just one culprit — the absence of a long term plan. If you find yourself deploying time tracking software for your team, here are a few benefits that can be harvested from building a forward-thinking strategy.
Think Beyond the Weekly Timesheet
A weekly timesheet is an indispensable tool for capturing each person’s time. However, it’s not suitable for managing projects or billing clients. Consider the features you will need for running a small business beyond payroll. Delivering projects on time and under budget requires advanced reporting to reveal anomalies that could derail your efforts. Look for time tracking software that features time estimates and reports that will compare actuals and estimates in real time.
Billing clients requires building invoices. Depending on your client’s needs, your invoices will range from a single line item to a detailed accounting of billable hours. If your clients don’t currently expect a detailed bill of services, think ahead to how such a report will bring more transparency and trust into the relationship, and how that will benefit your bottom line in the long run.
Combine Your Time Tracking and Task Management Efforts
Most companies track their time in one application and manage their tasks in another. These apps might have integrations that will pull data from one to the other, but they can’t correlate time and tasks. Knowing exactly where your time is going is a huge advantage for improving productivity and profitability. It means you can see which projects were successful, or not, then take any measures necessary to ensure the next project is a success.
Look for time tracking software that not only features task management, but maintains a tight integration between the two. In addition to gaining a deeper understanding of where your time is going, you’ll also know who’s working on what — in real time. The sooner you can respond to potential issues, the easier it will be to keep your projects on track.
Categorize Your Time into Buckets
Time tracking is useful for more than just managing projects and billing time. It has the potential to give you insights into your business. Insights that will show you how to become more productive and profitable. One way to achieve this goal is to have your team categorize their hours when they enter their time.
For example, We’ve consulted with companies who created buckets for tracking tax-deductible research and development time, and others buckets for different areas of specialization. As a result, they are able to perform a comparative analysis of their time and extract answers to their most important questions. Look for software that features custom categories and create buckets that are both meaningful and practical for your company.
Before You Begin
We’ve been helping small businesses and teams onboard time tracking software since 2006. The most common mistake we see is the failure to implement a long term plan. Most companies will deploy time tracking because they are trying to fix an immediate problem. As important as that is, it’s equally as important to know what you’ll want to do after solving it. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself scrapping months or years of hard work only to start over with a new plan. Before you begin, come up a list of questions that you’d like answered in a year or two, and let that guide your time tracking plan.