While running a small business can certainly be rewarding, it comes with its own set of challenges too. From managing team members to handling clients and vendors, maintaining your supply chain inventory, and balancing a business and everything that comes with it can be stressful and strenuous.
Keeping everything organized is easier when you utilize tools like time tracking software to improve efficiencies between all aspects of your business, while also providing insight into areas you could streamline.
Incorporating time tracking tools into your daily operations can streamline your processes, help with team management, and better control your supply chain, providing you with the tools to help easily create more accurate project budgets and estimates for your clients.
Here’s how time tracking can help you overcome supply chain management challenges.
Operational benefits of time tracking software
When you’re trying to keep your operations running smoothly and identifying opportunities for improvement, finding those areas requires a deeper analysis of your business.
One approach is to analyze how your team is utilizing their time, understand their downtime, and know if you can reallocate resources to speed up workflows. An easy way to do this is to incorporate time tracking into your daily processes, which can help provide insight into how people allocate their time and whether they could be more efficient.
Instead of using old-school methods, like manual time input into Spreadsheets, time tracking software can simplify many of these tasks by generating detailed reports and customized invoices so you and your team can get paid quickly.
Implementing time tracking software will save you time and, most of all, help streamline operations. By tracking hours using Harvest’s platform, you have more accurate payroll, better inventory management, insightful productivity analysis, and improved communication between team members and clients. This will increase efficiencies in your business, helping you stay on time and within budget.
More effective strategies
Being able to see what holes exist within your operations, and being able to create more effective strategies is a significant benefit of using these tools. But not all time tracking software is built the same. When you’re evaluating time tracking software, you should make sure the platform gives you insight to:
- Track employee progress
- Analyze productivity
- Produce detailed reporting
- View data in real-time
- Allocate assets
- Communicate better
- Increase collaboration
- Improve efficiencies
Using time tracking will provide you with crucial insights and show you areas that you can focus on to improve your overall efficiency. As you gain insights into your team's productivity and resource management, you’re able to create more accurate estimates for future projects and identify areas of concern and possible solutions when problems come up.
In addition, you’ll have more control over the daily functions and be well-equipped to handle issues as they arise by knowing whether you need to add to a team, reallocate resources, or provide additional training.
The tools that will help automate your operations by analyzing the information you collected through time tracking software will inform your decision-making, which gives you the opportunity to refine your operations and create more efficient processes that can handle the following:
You can improve your inventory management by keeping track of what products are shipping, which ones are received, and scheduling new orders ahead of time. This is all made possible by analyzing the data you’ve collected, tracking the amount of time it takes for your operations to receive, pack, and ship products, and the time your team takes to complete these tasks.
Documenting your time spent and existing inventory will provide you with better insights into budgeting for future projects. In addition, with automated reports, you’ll be more efficient in your operations and spend fewer hours trying to pick, pack, and ship your products, helping keep your costs lower.
Supply chain and logistics management
Managing people and tracking their time is one thing; handling problems with your supply chain and logistics management is another issue. Using time tracking software allows you to see how much time is spent on order fulfillment and whether it is cost-productive to continue. This will help you with pricing and budgeting for future projects, boosting your long-term profits.
For example, if you’re selling consumer goods and your supply chain is unstable, the logistics become botched as a result — which can cost you more money and create potential reputational damage.
If that’s the case, finding new vendors to work with that can provide your items regularly and on time may be better, but you wouldn’t be able to analyze this without the data you collect from time tracking.
Looking at inventory insights and how much time team members spend on a task will help you make better, more informed decisions that could positively impact your profits. As with logistical analysis, the more you understand how your employees are spending their time will give you insights into ways to assist them in becoming even more productive.
Also, understanding how much time your team takes to complete a task and the number of resources needed will provide you with the information you need to make better estimates for future clients.
A considerable cost for most businesses is associated with warehousing. Time tracking your warehouse team and understanding your inventory needs will help you determine the most cost-effective way for your operations.
For example, suppose you’re spending a lot on warehousing and labor. By analyzing where your team is spending their time allows you to find holes that you can fill to save money on costs associated with your operations and find manageable solutions to increase profits.
In any business, customer service is crucial, especially in businesses that sell directly to consumers. Time tracking tools allow you to track the hours spent on each task and project in your supply chain. This data can then be used to identify areas of inefficiencies, effectively manage resources, and make improvements where necessary.
When you have better data, you will have a clearer picture of the amount of time it takes to fulfill an order. This will assist you in answering frequently asked questions, giving your customers an accurate timeline for delivery, and improving your customer service.
When you incorporate time tracking into your supply chain management, you’ll have insight into what operations are working well — and which ones are underperforming. These insights will help you optimize your processes, generate new strategies, and give your team members a more accurate picture of how much time is spent on each task, allowing them to better manage their resources.
Understanding how your teams are most effective and optimizing their workflows will provide you with greater quality control. This allows you to further enhance your customer service, identify the areas that are inefficient, and make necessary improvements to ensure that processes run smoothly and that products are produced with the highest quality standards.
If you can collect insights that can help you provide greater value for your customers, you’ll improve your brand reputation and help generate future sales.
Time tracking software can also be used to forecast your supply chain needs. By analyzing this data, you can more accurately create forecasts of future demand and production levels, allowing you to manage your resources more efficiently, keeping within budget and ensuring that they meet customer needs.
With accurate forecasting, you can better assist future projects by allocating resources and adapting timelines to aid your teams.
Working with teams, clients, and vendors can be a lot to keep track of, and often in the supply chain, the vendor can be the most disruptive. It can be tricky to communicate your needs if you rely on a vendor to procure items for you. By collecting data through automated time tracking software, you can better communicate with your vendors to meet deadlines and provide quality products.
Automated time tracking tools also give your teams an accurate picture of how much time is spent on each task or process, allowing you to manage vendor relationships better and ensure that they get the best value for your money.
Team member workflows
By keeping an accurate record of your team’s workflows, you simplify billing and payroll, resource allocation, inform your budgeting and planning decisions for future projects, and ensure your team is not experiencing burnout.
As you track your team member’s time, you’ll have a better idea of the processes that produce the best outcomes and which seem to take longer than expected. These insights will help you better plan your systems and workflows to support your team more effectively while meeting client demands more efficiently. Together, the insights you gather from time tracking software will provide you with a solid foundation for your team to perform at their best.
Supply chain disruptions can cause problems for even the highest-operating organizations. Understanding how you can adapt to unforeseen inevitabilities will keep you flexible even under the tightest of deadlines. Time tracking will highlight areas where your teams are able to absorb more work without setting back other timelines, keeping you on time and within budget for your deliveries.
Using time tracking to troubleshoot issues with supply chain management
Onboarding a new client can be exciting, but what happens when your supply chain has a breakdown? What can you do to keep your projects on time and within budget when you don’t have control over your supplies?
Many businesses scramble to fulfill their orders when supply chains break down. But if you can manage existing inventory and plan for unexpected events, you’re more likely to succeed. Supply chain management plays a critical role in many business operations, but despite its advantages, problems can be associated with it.
Let’s discuss some of the common challenges faced by companies that rely on supply chain management, and how time tracking can help.
Lack of visibility and transparency
The lack of visibility between your team's different departments can lead to all sorts of disruptions, which can cause all types of operational delays. It’s true that disruptions are bound to happen, and your goal is to minimize the damage that disruptions cause to your supplies and timelines.
However, planning for these inevitabilities is easier when you have the insights from time tracking that are accessible and shared by everyone involved. By quickly generating reports using time tracking software, you can identify other projects or departments to reallocate your resources.
Fragmented procurement processes
A common problem associated with poor supply chain management is fragmented procurement processes. This problem can lead to more time spent ordering goods and services from multiple vendors instead of integrating everything into a single purchasing platform.
The more vendors you use, the greater chance of a supply disruption, which can throw your entire operation out of whack. Multiple suppliers may have different delivery times and logistical systems that may not best suit your needs, creating backlogs and delays in finishing your commitments on time.
By tracking your team members’ amount of time dedicated to fulfilling each order, you’ll have the information you need to determine if the problem is your system and where to make the necessary tweaks. You may also determine that the problem is with your suppliers, in which case you’ll need to find more suitable vendors.
By streamlining your ordering process, you’re able to save time on ordering and labor (money) to improve delivery timelines — keeping your customers happy and deliveries on time and within budget for your tasks.
Increased shipment time equals decreased delivery time
As the global economy becomes even more intricate and dependent on other countries for fulfillment, new initiatives and regulations can impact transportation and shipment times.
These new layers add additional complexity to your supply chain as you have to account for every international border your products will pass through when calculating delivery times — and anticipate potential disruptions.
Longer times for procuring and shipping your items to customers negatively impact your customer satisfaction and brand reputation.
Regulatory compliance issues are out of your control. But tracking your team members' time to complete each task will help outline if the problem is external to your operations or if it’s something you can change with how your team conducts itself during work. Factoring in various regulatory compliance and shipping times can be easy with the aid of automated software that can record, track, and report inventory and shipping times.
High overhead costs
Finally, running your business based on budgets that become overrun due to issues that spring from supply chain disruptions can cause a lot of damage.
To overcome this, you need cost-efficient solutions such as time tracking software that provides accurate time keeping capabilities to stay on budget with hours spent, inventory, order processing, analytics reporting, and vendor performance monitoring.
Preparing your logistical teams to plan for inevitable supply chain disruptions will lower overhead costs and keep your deliverables on time. By utilizing time tracking software in your operations, you can learn to be more efficient, find better vendors to meet your needs, choose better delivery options, and enhance customer service.
Avoiding foreseeable issues with your deliveries
Time tracking software will pinpoint areas that require more attention and could derail your entire operation. Delivery delays create unhappy and dissatisfied customers, damaging your brand reputation along the way.
When you lose customers, it’s an uphill battle to bring them back. Avoid these time delays by having data inform you of potential problems and delivery issues that stem from supply chain disruptions.
Time tracking software will automate your reports which will help you know when to reorder items, which items in your inventory are sitting, and how long it takes your team to receive, process, and complete orders so that you can provide accurate estimates for delivery.
For many small businesses, it can be overwhelming to handle and manage all the tasks on your plate. Automated software can take some of the more labor-intensive tasks from you, allowing you to focus on those tasks that matter the most.
Incorporating new ways and strategies to stay on task and within your budgets while minimizing any problems and disruptions from supply chain management is made easier with time tracking software. If you’re curious about how time tracking can save you money and help streamline your operations, sign up for your free trial from Harvest today.