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Friday, 18 July 2014 22:04

Top 5 Trends Highlighted by Your Time Tracking Software

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There's a pretty major misconception out there that tracking time is completely boring, unneccessary, and straying on the edge of micromanagement. At best, it is a necessary though disliked factor of determining wages and billing; at worst, it is seen as a method of keeping employees under totalitarian scrutiny, a waste of time, and inefficient. However, the truth is that time tracking, when instituted properly, can have massive benefits for a company and for its individual employees. Indeed, there are many trends both short and long-term that time tracking software can bring to the forefront of the ROI discussion. The following are five trends that can help determine the success or failure of a company.

The Inefficient Afficionado

It might seem relatively minor in the short-term, but overall employee inefficiency can become a serious drain of money on the company. Of course, the biggest issue is the fact that, without tracking the work an employee does, it is difficult to know just how much they contribute to the success of your company. Often, the employee has no knowledge of the fact that they are inefficient when they are just performing their tasks without evaluation or modification. Keeping track of each individual task that employees spend time on will reveal potential issues before they become a drain. Many times, even slight variations in responsibility will eliminate fiscal losses long term.

Note that this does not mean saddling the employee with more and more work. Rather, it means giving them work that they are more efficient at, or that will prove more beneficial to the company.

Overworking the Employee

Similar to employee inefficiency, this is one of those problems that often reveals itself only when it is too late to do anything about it. Inevitably, in any organization, there will be those individuals who are talented at many things. The temptation is to give them more and more responsibilities. While this may initially be viewed positively by the employee, eventually it can prove too great a strain, particularly if promotion of that employee is not possible. Over time, the employee can lose job satisfaction, and may even leave the company.

Aside from losing an asset to the company, this can have an even more insidious and damaging effect. The loss of an employee who is responsible for numerous key tasks within a company can bring operations to a standstill, particularly if there is no replacement on the radar. Thus, it is necessary to allocate responsibilities fairly. With proper time tracking software in place, you can glean from the system that another employee is nearly as efficient at a task, yet has much more free time than the heavily burdened resource. Moving that task to the nearly-as-efficient employee can then free your burdened resource to focus on more pressing work, and will also spread the tasks around. In doing this, the well-being of an entire business doesn’t rest on the shoulders of one talented individual. Not only this, but it will lighten the company culture for the entire organization and allow for a better atmosphere in the workplace.

Overdue and Overbudget

Failing to track time on important projects, particularly those done for an outside client or which have non-negotiable budgets or deadlines, can prove disastrous. Billable time, pending invoices, and commission-based projects would be a completely wasted effort. Often, problems emerge as a result of shoddy planning or estimates that are little more than guesses. If a project gets off track early on, then the problems typically compound over time.

The key is being able to identify problems as they happen, which really cannot be done unless progress is tracked. Further, keeping a backlog of tracked projects allows for better estimates in the future. Corrections will become less and less necessary as more experience is gained.

PTO Issues

This is a big one. When a business schedules for a new quarter or assigns human resources to a project, they will typically check an employee’s schedule to ensure that they are available. However, the odds are that top executives aren’t privy to the nuances of individual employees’ personal schedules. Indeed, it would be unreasonable to expect them to be. However, when a key employee has planned a trip right when they are scheduled for a project, issues arise and can derail even the best laid plans. For that reason businesses need to be able to see when an employee is going to be gone.

Good time tracking software allows for this through advanced notification and scheduling of time off, as well as integrated permissions systems to make sure that a vacationing employee doesn’t disrupt the flow of business too much. While this can at first seem oppressive to employees, it actually serves to protect them as much as the company. If they find out that their involvement on a project is absolutely critical, they may have to cancel plans and possibly lose money on booking fees and flights. It is much better for all parties to know the actual availability of employees.

The Price is Right

Internal costs are often overlooked simply because many of them are deemed “necessary expenses” and then forgotten. But for many businesses, especially those just starting out, internal costs can actually eat up a significant portion of revenues. While the internal costs of business are too variable to make sweeping points around in this article, suffice it to say that there are many instances in which time tracking programs can eliminate unnecessary expenses.

For instance, are you a B2B services firm that sees few sales towards the end of the year? Encouraging employees to take time off then, or even increasing the number of company holidays around that time, can actually decrease the amount spent on wasted electricity. You can even reduce the number of company holidays during more profitable times of the year while maintaining employee satisfaction.

Let’s assume that you hire someone to work in your building, yet find that the majority of their time is spent on tasks they can do at home. Allowing them to telecommute can save on utilities while allowing them more autonomy. Identifying where and when you can cut internal costs can save buckets of money long term.

So Where Does That Leave You?

These are but a few of the trends that time tracking software can identify -- and they're game changers for small and large business alike. Like any tool, it can be used or misused within an organization, yet without it some tasks would be significantly more difficult or even downright impossible. The implementation of a time tracking system can drastically improve efficiency, employee satisfaction and corporate profitability.

About the Author: Curt Finch is the CEO of Journyx. Journyx strives to be relentlessly creative and to build tools that help you spend your time on things that matter. After all, time is all we have. Founded in 1996, Journyx offers customers two solutions to reach the highest levels of profitability: Journyx – project, time and expense tracking software – and Journyx PX – resource management software that provides work and financial forecasting for a complete picture of project and budget status, employee time and availability. Connect with Curt on Google+.
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Curt Finch is the CEO of Journyx. Founded in 1996, Journyx automates payroll, billing and cost accounting while easing management of employee time and expenses, and provides confidence that all resources are utilized correctly and completely. Curt can be found on Twitter at @CurtFinch and on Google+ at +CurtFinch.

Website: journyx.com/company/curtfinch

2 comments

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 13 August 2014 07:31 posted by Andrew Kallman

    When I was at NPG, we found that after we sorted all of our development teams into dedicated, persistent Agile teams that time tracking was no longer needed.

    At the Portfolio / PMO levels we had all of the costs for each and every team member. Over time we noticed that since the teams were dedicated that they became a fixed cost (the year-on-year numbers were amazingly consistent). And, so if needed, we could reverse-engineer the cost/time spent on any project based on the total duration of the project. So time tracking was not needed (it added no value in the big picture).

    Time tracking is a legacy of traditional thinking and is anti-Agile/Scrum. From a lean perspective, time tracking can be viewed as "waste." Jeff Sutherland addresses this issue here:

    http://www.scruminc.com/time-tracking-is-anti-scrum-what-do-you/

  • Comment Link Thursday, 07 August 2014 14:50 posted by sophie ot123

    We have been using http://www.officetimer.com/ employee time tracking software for our employees, and we are quite happy with it. Moreover, it is priced reasonably. It has all the features that a project manager would look for.

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