Imagine suffering from a persistent toothache. The pain is pretty bad, and it just won't go away, but you might hesitate to visit the dentist due to costs or simply not having enough time.
But of course, ignoring the issue only leads to bigger problems down the road – and what started as a manageable situation turns into a major hassle.
This example illustrates why companies reach out to consultants: they're facing challenges they can't tackle alone, and postponing action could lead to even greater losses. That's why consulting firms need to be nimble and adapt quickly as their clients' needs evolve, especially in our fast-paced world where new business types are constantly emerging.
With technological advances being one of the top factors driving change in business operations, it is essential for consulting firms not only to stay current with these changes but also to simplify processes for their consultants.
More than just giving advice
While some people might be under the impression that consulting firms are only there to provide advice, this isn’t the case. Consulting firms often need to go beyond simply providing advice and take on projects that require resources, knowledge, and skills that go beyond what a single consultant can offer.
According to Harvard Business Review, consulting is composed of eight fundamental goals:
- Provide information to clients
- Solve their problems
- If the problem needs redefining, consultants can conduct a diagnosis
- Give recommendations
- Implementation assistance
- Assist in building consensus and commitment among participating members
- Facilitate learning for future-proofing
- Implement organizational effectiveness across all departments
A 2018 survey found that nearly 10% of every dollar spent by a company is lost due to poor implementation of business plans and strategies. This makes it even more important for businesses to make the most of their investments in consulting services.
Consulting firms, on the other hand, need to add another item to the list: time tracking. Time tracking is critical for consulting firms to ensure that they are providing their clients with high-quality services while not only keeping track of their projects but also showing transparency in their billing.
Tracking time: How it helps in the pillar objectives of consulting
Time tracking software is a tool that helps consulting firms manage their projects more efficiently. It allows them to easily track the amount of time they spend on each project and accurately bill their clients for the services rendered.
It also provides consultants with an easy way to assign tasks, monitor progress, and generate reports that provide insights into how resources are being used and what changes could be made to improve efficiency.
But there's more to it.
Benefits of time tracking for consulting firms
Before diving into the benefits of time tracking, let's take a look at where it might happen on an organizational scale:
- An individual consultant tracks their own time and progress
- Organizations may track the progress of multiple consultants
- Project managers can monitor the performance of team members
- CEOs and other senior executives can view a comprehensive overview of all projects in their organization
This helps you project where time tracking can be most beneficial. For consulting firms, there are a number of advantages to implementing time tracking:
Accuracy in tracking
A 2022 Statista survey mentions that 36% of US drivers lose four to six minutes due to drop-off points that are difficult to find. Aggregate that, and logistics companies lose more than two billion dollars due to the absence of one factor: accuracy.
Time tracking software helps make the process of tracking accurate by making sure that all data is in one place and accessible to everyone.
Similar to how teachers and lawyers swiftly switch between tasks, consultants often find themselves jumping from one project to another.
With client bases growing ever larger and unlimited projects coming in on a daily basis, it can be very difficult to accurately track the amount of time spent on each project. This is where time tracking software comes in – providing an easy way to keep track of tasks and bill clients accordingly.
Billable rates and hours may vary significantly for each project. Tracking time accurately helps ensure that consultants are paid what they’re owed and that clients are billed correctly according to individual consultants' hourly rates.
This is made simple when consultants log their time and activities in real-time, which also provides more accurate estimates when it comes to future projects.
Transparency and visibility
Aside from consulting firm managers, their clients also benefit from time tracking software. As customers keep changing their demands, and competition gets tougher with each passing day, transparency has become an essential element for success in logistics.
Time tracking apps come to the rescue here, too, as their ability to provide visibility into time spent on certain activities or tasks can be beneficial for both clients and employers. This way, businesses increase transparency with customers, providing them with exact information on project costs as well as timesheets that give a clear insight into how time was allocated across projects.
It also allows clients to be updated in real-time about project progress while also being able to approve or deny requests made by contractors – making sure contracts are kept up-to-date and accurate at all times.
Furthermore, this level of transparency can help build trust between both parties while improving customer satisfaction because they’re well-informed about what is happening throughout every step of the operations management process.
Improved overall profitability
The US consulting industry enjoys a market size valued at billions of dollars. Now, who doesn’t want to take a slice of that pie?
Well, the key to boosting your bottom line lies in time tracking. It allows consulting firms to make better plans and projections for future projects while ensuring proper billing as well as timely payments.
Time tracking software can be used to analyze trends associated with employee productivity and customer behavior which helps identify potential pitfalls before they occur. Knowing exact billable hours ensures that consultants don’t undercharge or overcharge for their services, thus helping them maximize their profits.
Before investing in any new software, you’ll need to analyze how it will benefit your business. Factors such as cost-effectiveness, data accuracy, and ease of use must be taken into consideration when selecting the right time tracking software for your firm.
That said, predicting project profitability becomes easier when you can accurately track the amount of time and resources spent on a project. This is why investing in time tracking software proves to be an invaluable asset for consulting firms.
Valuable time tracking software key features
All of the benefits of time tracking apps come from some key features that must be taken into consideration. Here's a list of the most important features to look for when shopping around:
An intuitive user interface
Your consultants may lose both time and interest in using software if it's not user-friendly. To maximize productivity, look for software with an intuitive user interface.
It takes only a little amount of training to get your employees up and running. The best platforms out there offer mobile apps and browser extensions as well, so your consultants can track time wherever they are.
Reporting and analytics in real-time
Experts believe that human-level AI could exist in the near future. If we can't beat AI in terms of speed, we'll just have to join it.
There are platforms that let you generate reports in a few clicks and visualize data through sophisticated analytics. The best part is that detailed reports are generated in real-time, so you can make informed decisions on the spot.
Modern businesses – those with unlimited projects coming in every day – thrive when they connect their systems together. Not only does it save time, but it also decreases operating costs by streamlining processes.
Time tracking tools should offer a variety of integrations with popular applications such as Google Calendar or Slack and browser extensions to increase efficiency in operations management. The next features add to this concept.
You can stay on top of your project with automated notifications to alert you when something needs to be done. This could include sending emails and pushing messages through mobile applications to team members whenever they need to take action on a project.
These notifications simplify task management by making it easier for everyone involved in the project. As a result, tasks don't get forgotten or overlooked.
Streamlined payroll, invoices, and billing
The last thing you want to do is manually calculate billable and non-billable hours. An automated time tracking tool provides an accurate record of billable hours that can be used to simplify the payment process for both your firm and its customers.
You won't have to worry about overbilling or undercharging ever again with streamlined payment processes integrated into your operations management system.
On top of productivity-app integrations, payment channels can also be integrated so that you can process payments quickly. All of this adds up to a more efficient and profitable business.
Data security and privacy
Many clients and customers have strict security requirements when it comes to their data. With some of their information mixed in with yours, it's important to ensure that their data remains safe.
Time tracking software should employ the latest encryption technology and security measures to protect all of your data from unauthorized access. This includes both internal and external threats, so make sure you're aware of what your system can do to keep everything secure.
Wave your hands goodbye to tedious admin tasks and take time tracking to the next level. With these additional features in mind, you can find a platform that fits your consulting firm's needs perfectly.
Get your hands on Harvest: The best time tracking software
Harvest is our leading time tracking platform for modern businesses. With Harvest, you get all of the features mentioned above plus additional ones such as flexible invoicing and payment plans, fast detailed visual reporting, task management, and more – almost everything you'll look for in project management tools.
We take automation to the next level, ensuring that your operations are as streamlined as possible. It allows you to easily track employee hours, invoice customers, pay bills, and generate detailed reports with ease.
The best part? Harvest is cloud-based, so it can be accessed from anywhere, making it perfect for remote teams or businesses with multiple locations. Plus, our user-friendly interface can help you get started without any additional help needed.
Take your consulting firm's operations management up a notch with Harvest! Sign up now for a free trial.