When time is money, it’s imperative you understand how that time is being used, especially in industries like Professional Services. But not all time tracking is created equal. Recording time after the work has been done is a good place to start but there’s a whole host of ways time tracking can be used for ongoing business improvement. In this article, we explore some of the potential benefits that effective time tracking can bring to an organization.
What is time tracking?
First up, let’s be clear on what time tracking is. It’s not simply tracking time spent on client work so it can be charged back. To maximise the benefits of using timesheets, every part of an employee’s role from the billable to the non-billable (including administrative and scoping and quoting tasks) should be tracked in order to gain true business insights. There are numerous ways in which to capture this information. Here at Mission Control, we believe the best software should fully integrate time tracking into all aspects of the business. Timesheets should shape the way we plan, implement and review our workflow. So with a timesheet function in place, what benefits can an organization expect to see?
- Record time to save time
In the past, timesheets have received a bad press. We’re talking the pen and paper days where timesheets were seen as another administrative task to add to an already heavy workload. But introducing timesheets into a business shouldn’t increase workload, but rather save time in the long term. At Mission Control, we’ve flipped this retrospective approach on its head with a forward-focused Timesheet function that sets out time expectations upfront. As a project is built, tasks are assigned to project members with clear allocation of time and resource. So a team member’s action list also effectively becomes their timesheet, simply recording time as tasks are ticked off. With ‘real-time’ tracking, accuracy also improves. The more accurate the tracking, the better the business insights. There’s lots of automation possibilities with individual time tracking too: A popular function in Mission Control’s Timesheet function is our Calendar Converter, which displays your Project’s Actions and Salesforce Events, allowing quick conversion to Timesheet entries.
- Boost morale
Arguably one of the greatest contributors to low team morale is a lack of clear communication within the project team or wider organization. By using timesheets upfront to clearly show what is expected in a given week or month by a project team member, there’s little room for misunderstanding. It also allows for conversations to be had (and concerns to be raised), before a project action blows out.
Collaboration can be an important component in nurturing team morale. So if it’s required on a task at Mission Control, we set that out upfront – in our Timesheet function. We’ve also added an IM tool (Chatter) to fully support easy and efficient collaboration between team members.
Timesheets can also help highlight skills of employees in certain areas – both what they can complete more efficiently than their peers but also areas for improvement. By gaining an awareness of this and being able to address this with solutions like training and professional development, everyone wins.
At a bigger picture level, timesheets should give a greater insight into what to expect from different roles within a project team, whether that’s an 80% / 20% split of billable / non-billable hours or something different. By knowing what to expect from a role and communicating this upfront, everyone is on the same page on what success looks like.
- Optimize the admin
Administrative tasks are essential to any business but can be time consuming. A good timesheet system will allow you to streamline admin processes that need to happen. Payroll processing can be made much simpler with effective capturing of worked hours, PTO / annual leave, accruals and more. Another administrative area that can reap benefits is billing. Automated billing can be set-up when certain milestones or actions are completed, all tracked and then activated within the timesheet software. In industries like Professional Services, timesheets can also support more accurate billing with a breakdown of worked hours readily accessible. This is also useful to support conversations where project scope might be starting to creep.
- Know your bandwidth (and support business growth)
Anyone working within Professional Services will be acutely aware that a common issue consulting teams struggle with is knowing what their capacity is. By using a timesheet system that maps out existing commitments across each employee, it is easy to see what the bandwidth is to take on more work. If there isn’t capacity, but there are active opportunities, timesheets can support a business case on increasing resource, whether in the short term or as part of a long term business growth plan.
Good timesheet software should also allow you to identify any bottlenecks way ahead of time. It empowers Project Managers to explore solutions before deadlines and cashflow are impacted.
- Improve efficiencies
Perhaps the most significant benefit timesheets bring to an organization is the opportunity they create for improving efficiencies across the board. By accurately tracking time, a business gains invaluable insights into why and how departments, projects and roles differ in profitability. These insights can allow savings to be made by making smarter resourcing choices to boost productivity and also address creeping costs such as overtime. This can also lead to more accurate and, sometimes, more competitive quoting on future projects. The insights gained from timesheets help identify areas for improvement within the business, which can ultimately shape future business decisions and direction. Mission Control have helped hundreds of businesses create efficiencies within their organisation, including Chris from BRANZ, who discusses the impact Mission Control has had on their business efficiencies, watch here.
At Mission Control, we’re big believers in continuous business improvement. We also believe that this can’t be achieved without understanding our business in the here and now – what’s working, what’s not and where we can improve. Timesheets are a critical tool to see what’s happening with an organization’s resources, giving confidence to business leaders to make informed decisions moving forward. Implementing a timesheet tracking system within a business can revolutionize the way it operates. If you’re interested in exploring how timesheets could benefit your business, reach out to our Mission Control team today.