Let’s talk racing. It could be cars, horses, or people, making laps around a track in an attempt to cover a certain distance in the shortest time possible. The ultimate goal being to win the race or, at the very least, beat their previous time.
For the novice participant, they’ve trained and feel ready to compete because they’re in fighting shape. But quite often, they finish in frustration because they didn’t understand that timing is key to winning the race.
This principle holds true for accomplishing work, too. When time spent on tasks gets away from you, chaos is on its heels. Tracking your time effectively can bring clarity that isn’t possible when you have no solid strategy for keeping up with tasks.
Being aware of how much time you spend on certain tasks, collaborations with other staff members, or even mundane activities allows you to be mindful of areas where improvements can be made. By studying the data gathered through time tracking, organizations can spot trends in spending that can lead to increased profitability and better performance all around.
But first, what is time tracking?
Time tracking defined
Time tracking is a key part of modern business operations. This process of logging hours worked by employees allows organizations to accurately assess their payroll while providing managers with valuable data on the performance of their staff. Time tracking entries are used to determine how much time is spent working on specific tasks and projects.
This information can be used by managers to assess the efficiency and productivity of their employees as well as to identify tasks that may be taking too long to complete or areas where improvements in workflow are needed.
This also helps companies measure employee workload and prevent overworked staff from burnout or low morale. With accurate time tracking in place, employers can create a better working environment for their staff and make sure that their resources are responsibly managed.
Two types of time tracking: personal and project
Personal time tracking is a method of measuring and monitoring the performance of employees within an organization. It's a record-keeping process that allows you to accurately monitor how long each employee spends on tasks, as well as their productivity levels.
On top of that, it provides businesses with the data they need to optimize their processes and overall operations by providing visibility into inefficiencies, such as long lunches or excessive breaks. With this information, managers can develop customized strategies to improve productivity and efficiency throughout the organization.
In contrast, project time tracking is a method of recording and auditing the hours an employee spends on a specific project. It focuses on tracking the amount of time spent by each employee on individual tasks associated with a particular job or project at hand.
Companies have been using this form of time management for decades now to ensure that client-related projects remain organized and completed in a timely fashion. It also helps administrators better manage resources more efficiently by allowing them to plan for potential roadblocks and stay ahead of schedule changes caused by external factors like weather-related delays or vacations taken by critical personnel.
Time tracking benefits
Time tracking offers many tangible benefits to both your team and your business. For individual workers, it can be an eye-opening experience to discover just how much time they spend on mundane or non-billable tasks. By closely tracking their time, employees are able to carefully reflect on what activities are taking up most of their day, allowing them to reallocate their time in a more productive manner if necessary.
Businesses also stand to benefit greatly from time tracking systems as a way of gaining increased transparency into work processes and managing employee productivity. Tracking working trends makes it easier for managers to identify which tasks are quickly completed and where processes are bottoming out, and helps them make informed decisions about adjusting workloads or streamlining processes when necessary.
Time tracking allows you to understand how much each task costs the organization so decisions can be made on how resources can be allocated most effectively while staying within budget constraints and company goals.
1. Knowing what each task requires in terms of time and resources
Time spent is an essential indicator of the resources needed in a particular department or team. It is vital information that can help manage resources and ensure everyone contributes an equal amount. Time spent is also indicative of how much value each individual contributes to the team, allowing for adjustments in terms of input distribution if it turns out one person does most of the work compared to others. This allows for increased productivity and efficiency, ensuring that all members bring value to their team and overall organization.
By precisely measuring time spent, organizations can make informed decisions on their resource allocations, identify any underperformance issues, and adjust accordingly. Moreover, taking a closer look at how resources are used helps to identify areas where these need to be supplemented with more people or other inputs.
Being aware of the locations where the demand for resources is highest ensures that improvements are made on a continuous basis, helping teams become more productive and successful.
2. Process transparency
Time tracking can be a great way to increase transparency in work processes. The ability to see the duration of tasks and activities helps company leaders gain insights into mundane projects as well as larger, more complex endeavors.
Having centralized information about the amount of time it takes to complete various jobs also offers your team a greater perspective for evaluating their own productivity and goals. Tracking is especially valuable for organizations that have multiple departments and need access to data from all sources.
In addition to providing visibility to those already involved in the process, time tracking is an invaluable tool for setting expectations and inspiring performance. With recorded timesheets, team members can track their individual successes and failures against agreed-upon metrics, compare accomplishments with others’ results, and make modifications where needed.
With detailed reporting, management gains access to reliable data regarding the total hours put in by each team member on specific tasks or projects. This makes it easier to recognize achievement while simultaneously setting up benchmarks.
3. Reduce project bottlenecks
Time tracking also helps identify potential bottlenecks that could slow down the progress of a project, allowing you to take action to eliminate these hurdles. Generally, these bottlenecks are not always related to people’s performance as they can be associated with other factors like resources, tasks, etc. In this regard, keeping track of time and assigning regular duties to each team member can optimize the workflow so that there is no disruption in the process of completing a task.
Once you have identified the most commonly used resources in each process and estimated how much time it takes for each step involved, then you can start making changes or adjustments. This way you can easily lessen the potential issues that may arise due to delays or human error and increase overall efficiency in your project.
4. Improve team accountability
Maintaining employee accountability is essential to achieving success as a team. Time tracking helps hold individuals accountable and encourages them to focus on their tasks at hand.
With the ability to register time spent on certain projects, everyone starts to realize that the clock is ticking and tries their best to be as productive as possible with their allocated time. With this type of accountability, your team will start to notice trends and patterns in their work hours and strive to reduce non-billable work.
Time tracking offers the opportunity for reflection and adaptation in order for the entire team or company to continue progressing toward its mission. Having an awareness of how much time is being devoted to each task also allows employees or teams to ask if it was worth the time spent towards the broader goal (e.g., business mission).
This provides invaluable insight into ensuring efficiency, accuracy, and effectiveness in workflow management across all departments. Ultimately, when done correctly, increased accountability can create a stronger sense of responsibility amongst workers — which in turn leads to better performance within the workspace.
5. Increased awareness of operations and billing
By recording the amount of time spent on client work, you can accurately generate a billable utilization report that highlights the productivity of individual contributors and the organization as a whole.
This data can provide valuable insight into where improvements can be made, such as allocating more resources to different tasks. Knowing how to maximize and optimize time is crucial for raising billable hours that will increase profitability.
When it comes to billing, the focus should be placed on not just what has been billed but also what hasn’t been invoiced yet. Make sure to verify all accounts receivable balances against any unpaid services so that nothing slips through the cracks and gets left off your invoice total.
To prevent late payments, set up automated payment reminders and include detailed line item descriptions in their invoices which show customers exactly what they are paying for.
Clarification leads to better accountability across all parties involved. With this understanding of your billing practices and proactive efforts to become more efficient operationally, your business will gain an edge over competitors.
6. Tracking where your budget is spent
Maintaining a close watch on the budget is an important task for any project manager. One of the best ways to ensure that your project budget remains within actuals is to track time spent on tasks and projects.
By keeping employee time tracked, you can gain insight into how the budget gets burned. This will help identify where resources are being allocated and allow you to more accurately monitor spending against predetermined budgets.
Time tracking also allows you to ensure that overall costs remain within your budget. Here all of the stakeholders involved will be able to collaborate more effectively and all of the necessary resources can then be appropriately allocated for each task or project.
Plus, with widely accessible tools such as payroll systems, this information can easily be stored and shared amongst team members in order to track budgets in both real-time and historically. Overall, effective time tracking is essential for any successful budget planning process and it helps guarantee that resources are optimally used at all times.
Time tracking can help you overcome the chaos and achieve more clarity in your business. Imagine how much clutter will clear not only from your desk but also from your mind. Wouldn’t that be amazing?
Why not put time tracking to the test? You can sign up for a free trial of Harvest to experience the benefits of great time tracking for yourself.
And if you still have questions, we would be happy to have a chat and clear up any mind clutter. After all, you don’t need more chaos and clutter, you need clarity.