The term “time tracking” can bring to mind the outdated practice of punching in and out and bosses who furiously micro-manage every second of the workday. But these negative connotations overshadow the good side of time tracking. Making it easy for managers to see exactly how and where their team members are using their time actually leads to many positive outcomes—which aren’t achievable without that visibility.
For some, time tracking feels like an indicator that you don’t trust your workforce. But there’s a powerful distinction between holding team members accountable for every minute of their day and accurately tracking the time invested in each project. By empowering managers to understand and quantify how much work is needed to complete a project, time tracking can actually enable them to plan better, ensuring no individual gets overloaded. It also helps ensure that the value of time invested is appropriately billed and considered when estimating future projects.
When it comes to time management, companies in the services industry need to strike a balance between oversight and insight. That means giving employees enough leeway to have a productive day so they can stay on track with client commitments without moving into the realm of burnout. Understanding the value of time tracking and how to manage it in a positive way will help your services company stay ahead and build even greater success.
Time Management: Good for Projects, Processes, and People
Time tracking is an effective way to keep your resources accountable, especially in the era of remote work. But accountability is just the beginning. Reporting time use creates additional, more critical benefits across service-based businesses. When implemented well, time tracking can mean the difference between project success and potential losses. Here are just a few of the ways modern time-tracking can improve your processes, projects, and outcomes:
Bill More Accurately
Every minute that’s left off of time reports is a minute that can’t be billed. While minutes may not seem like a lot, they add up quickly. Time and, as a result, money lost due to inaccurate reporting, estimation, and late timesheet add-ons can cost thousands of dollars over the course of a year. Don’t let incremental loss negate your team’s hard work and commitment by eating into profits.
Plan Better and Stay On Track
Creating accurate, detailed project timelines and estimates for your team and your clients is critical for predictable, successful projects. To do that, you need to be able to measure both against your team’s actual time use to help managers stay up to date on progress. Plus, you’ll be able to improve future project estimates based on previous work, which is only possible with accurate time entry.
Stop Wasting Time
According to a study conducted by professor Joseph Ferrari of DePaul University, 20% of men and women in the US are chronic procrastinators, constantly putting off work, even when it's urgent. Time tracking can shine a light on the major gaps caused by procrastination and help you reduce delays. This critical improvement can help individuals overcome what’s holding them back and create a positive ripple effect throughout your company.
Time tracking also gives you the information you need to help evaluate your workflows. By starting with your original project timeline, you can compare the realities of work with your original ideal to help managers pinpoint areas or processes that need improvement. This can help both full-time and freelance resources make better use of their time by streamlining efforts and removing the roadblocks that lead to too much time spent on specific tasks.
Choose Clients Wisely
All clients are not the same—some will always bring complications that result in longer projects. Whether issues come up due to task complexity, unrealistic demands, or constantly changing expectations, you can only fix or at least plan for what you know. Gaining visibility into which clients and projects take more time than others can help you make informed, effective decisions and retain your best customers.
In addition to improving productivity, seeing how much time each of your resources spends on billable work can show you when a team member is being overleveraged and may be in danger of burnout. Time-tracking insights can help a resource manager delegate work more evenly, bringing better balance to workloads and keeping critical team members healthy and productive. To keep people onboard for the long term, don’t overload them.
The benefits of effective time tracking add up to better-informed management, more support for your workforce, and a more accurate, profitable way of doing business. A time-tracking system that supports resources and provides visibility into project performance will help you identify internal strengths and weaknesses, and better communicate the advantages of this often-criticized task. By tapping into the insights time tracking provides, you can drive critical, incremental improvements that strengthen your business over time.
Take Resource Management to the Next Level
Time tracking is just one element of making the most of each resource. Optimizing your resources requires a detailed strategy. Learn how to manage your team even more effectively and set up everyone to do their best work in our new ebook, “The Step-by-Step Guide to Resource Management.”